Golf Buzz

March 6, 2014 - 9:42pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Henrik Stenson at Doral
Henrik Stenson endured a second lowlight in five years at Doral on Thursday, but this time he at least got to keep his clothes on.
The newly renovated Blue Monster at Trump National Doral is eliciting a wide range of opinions from the players in the Cadillac Championship. We can forgive Henrik Stenson if his view opinion isn't as positive as some of his fellow competitors.
 
Why, you ask?
 
Well, though it's really no fault of the course, the Blue Monster gave the world No. 3 a real head-shaker of a moment on Thursday – for the second time in five years.
 
Stenson hit his drive down the par-4 second hole, and pulled out a wedge. Instead of sticking it close, though, he inexplicably hit a dead cold shank. The ball shot right at about a 60-degree angle, flew over the gallery and wound up a good 50 yards right of the green. 
 
No one ever found the ball, and Stenson wound up making a double bogey.
 
 
Now, remember up above where I said this was the second time the Blue Monster has gotten Stenson? It was right here at Doral back in 2009 when he hit a drive into the mud, setting up one of the most memorable recovery shots in PGA Tour history.
 
In that instance – which happened only a couple hundred yards away on the par-4 third hole – Stenson surveyed his wayward tee shot, then stripped down to his underwear and his glove and climbed down into the goop before successfully – and messily – splashing out. He explained later that he didn't want to play the rest of the day with mud all over his clothes. 
 
He did look great the rest of the day, but it might not have been worth it. The video of that shot remains one of the most famous, or should we say infamous, in golf history. And, he admitted later, "I'll probably take that to my grave with me."
 
Here are the two shots, with the shank on top and the mud ball below:
 
 
March 6, 2014 - 8:33pm
john.holmes's picture
Light-up golf ball
The Light-Up Golf Ball from Night Sports is LED-infused with a light that can illuminate the ball for up to eight minutes.
A “flashy” golf ball might just be the answer to golf course overcrowding or lack of day tee times: glowing balls that light up on impact.
 
That’s the story being reported on TIME Magazine’s tech website, which details the Light-Up Golf Ball from Night Sports. The glowing pellets are LED-infused with a light that can illuminate the ball for up to eight minutes as you search for it in the black of night. It’s like your own mini-lighthouse!
 
 
Each ball reportedly has a 40-hour battery, making them perfect for multiple after-hours rounds. The only trick finding a golf course that will allow you to play at night. (Stupid rules.)
 
But therein lies an opportunity many golf courses may consider. If their patrons complain about finding a tee time on a busy Sunday, or if the course is prone to overcrowding, extending tee times past dusk may be the answer.
 
Oh, and if you’re wondering whether or not night golf is any fun, here’s a video I took of Graeme McDowell defeating me in a closest-to-the-pin contest in Chicago from 2012*. It’s a little hard to follow the golf ball tracer, but the guy stuck it to three feet.
 
 
(*Note: All that’s required to have a similar experience is the 2010 U.S. Open Champion and gallons of Guinness Black Lager.)
 
 
 
March 6, 2014 - 7:27pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Justin Rose swing sequence
Justin Rose via Twitter
Justin Rose shows no obvious problems in his right shoulder in this swing sequence from Doral.
The photo above has got to be the coolest thing I've seen all day – Justin Rose shared it on Twitter early Thursday. The reigning U.S. Open champ was working with his TaylorMade SLDR driver on the range at Doral yesterday when it was taken.
 
Rose, who won the Cadillac Championship in 2012, has been struggling with tendinitis in his right shoulder issue this year – he dropped out of the Honda Classic last week after he also had to cancel planned starts in Abu Dhabi and at Torrey Pines to start his 2014 season. He did finish 45th at Riviera and made it to the second round of the Accenture Match Play.
 
I'm no swing coach, but his motion looks nice and athletic. But mostly I just like seeing all those points of his swing in the same image.
 
Also extremely cool is the video I've embedded below. It's a swing analysis of Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who is also in the field at Doral, by Billy Kratzert on PGATour.com. The fast-rising star from Thailand, listed at 5-foot-8 and 229 pounds, has been nicknamed "Big Unit" because of his beefy frame, and his swing – especially that backswing – is very reminiscent of John Daly's.
 
Despite his girth, the 24-year-old has a history of global success on the links. He won his age group at the Junior World Championships in both 2003 and 2004, and was on Thailand's gold medal team at the World University Games. He owns victories on both the Asian and European tours, and finished 25th at the PGA Championship last fall.
 
Aphibarnrat is 1 over through 15 holes in his Cadillac Championship debut. He is ranked 71st in the world.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mantys golf buggy
Courtesy of Mantys
The Mantys is like a Segway, but has four wheels and carries both you and your golf bag.
Maybe you don't like to walk when you play a round of 18. The clubs are heavy whether on your shoulder or on a pull cart, golf courses have lots of hills, and it's often hot outside.
 
But maybe you don't like to ride in a cart either. You spend 40 hours a week sitting at a desk; the last thing you need is another four hours on your rear.
 
Then the Mantys may be for you. It's like a Segway – the two-wheeled, stand-up electric scooter that moves when you shift your weight – but it has four wheels and carries your golf bag. You stand on two platforms similar to skis and shift your weight to move in the direction you want, while also holding onto two handles that control your forward/reverse speed and the brakes.
 
 
You could call this the ski counterpart to the GolfBoard, which resembles a snowboard or surf board.
 
The Mantys units can reach about 10 mph, last up to 27 holes, and come with a scorecard holder, ball and tee holder, and cup holder. They're also able to fold down and fit in your car, but weigh more than 100 pounds.
 
And they're not cheap. One scooter costs $4,500 on the retail website for Hammacher Schlemmer, and that doesn't include shipping. Mantys is made by a company based in the Netherlands, LEEV Mobility, and the products are more readily available in Europe.
 
 
March 5, 2014 - 4:18pm
Posted by:
PGA.com
tj.auclair's picture
Paul McGinley
Getty Images
European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley is expected to reveal his vice captains at a press conference on March 6.

Tune in to RYDERCUP.com at 6 a.m. EST Thursday morning (March 6) to watch live video from Dublin, Ireland, where European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley is scheduled to make an announcement regarding his vice captains for the 2014 matches.

The 2014 Ryder Cup will take place at Gleneagles in Scotland, September 26-28.

You can click here for complete coverage of the U.S. Team and click here for complete coverage of the European Team.
 

March 5, 2014 - 1:36pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Phil Mickelson
USA Today
So far, 2014 has been less than stellar for Phil Mickelson. Will that all change this week at Doral?

This will be a fun -- yet interesting -- week on the PGA Tour. Why? Well, the Tour returns to a popular venue that won't look anything like the way they remember it this time a year ago.

Two years ago, Donald Trump acquired Doral and hired designer Gil Hanse to make extensive changes and renovations to the course long known as the Blue Monster, which plays host to the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

This week, for the first time, the players and the fans at home, get to see these new changes. What kind of impact will the tweaks have on the outcome? Tiger Woods, for one, probably wasn't happy to hear about any changes at Doral. Over the course of his career, Woods has been four-time winner there and -- in fact -- is the defending champ this time around.

RELATED: Photos of the new Doral | Video: Trump talks about DoralFamiliar place no one recognizes

However, with the overhaul at Doral, coupled with Tiger's recent back issues in on-course struggles, it's anyone's guess as to how well he'll perform. Could he win? Sure. Will he? Who knows?

In the meantime, here are five players other than Tiger you may want to pay attention to this week.

5. Nick Watney
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T24 at the Honda Classic
Reason to watch: OK, so Watney's T24 last week is his best finish this season. Certainly not anything to write home about. He's been a winner and a runner up at Doral the way we used to know the course. While the layout might be different, I have a feeling that the venue -- in name alone -- could bring back some good vibes for Watney. While that T24 was his best finish this season, it should also be noted that he's made the cut in seven of his eight starts. He hasn't done anything spectacular, but he's also been around for a lot of weekends. He just needs to put four rounds together.

4. Sergio Garcia
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Fourth at WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: Garcia has made four starts this season and his worst finish is a T11 in the CIMB Classic. The other three have been top 10s. That's some stellar golf. His entire career, Garcia has been one of the best players in the world with a driver in hand. That will bode well at a long Doral. His downfall -- always -- has been the short stick. It seems as though he's had the putter under control this season based on his finishes. Let's see if that translates at Doral.

3. Jason Day
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Winner of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
Reason to watch: Day is making his first start since winning that scintillating Match Play final over Victor Dubuisson in Tucson a couple of weeks ago. This will be Day's fourth start overall on the season. Aside from the win, he also tied for second at the Farmers Insurance Open. Since the Match Play was clearly the biggest win of his career to date, I expect Day to carry that confidence into Doral and, also, into the major season.

2. Phil Mickelson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
14th at the WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: Over the course of his career, Phil Mickelson has owned the West Coast Swing. That wasn't the case this year. In three starts, he cracked the top-20 once -- that was a T19 at Pebble Beach. Of course, he did withdraw at Torrey Pines citing back pain. Mickelson tees it up this week after missing the cut at last week's Honda Classic. If the new Doral is anything like the old -- and in certain aspects it has to be -- the risk/reward factor is huge. That's the type of golf Mickelson thrives on. He takes chances and doesn't worry about going down in flames. That has made him one of the most exciting players to watch for the last several years. He's got to get some good vibes going before the majors get here and this would be a good place to start.

1. Rory McIlroy
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T2 in a playoff at the Honda Classic
Reason to watch: In the grand scheme of things, McIlroy was brilliant at last week's Honda Classic, even if he did play the final three holes 2-over par (4-over 74 for the final round). Needless to say, that playoff loss to Russell Henley had to sting a bit. McIlroy hit one of the best shots of his career when he had a chance to win in regulation -- a 5-wood from just over 240 yards that settled 12 feet from the hole to set up what could have been a winning eagle. Anyway, he's eager to get over last week. And, with the game McIlroy has displayed so far in the last three months, it looks like he's back on track to being the player we all knew pre-2013.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.