Golf Buzz

October 22, 2015 - 10:53am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jonathan Byrd
With darkness setting in, Jonathan Byrd abruptly ended a playoff in Las Vegas in 2010 with a walk-off hole-in-one for his fifth PGA Tour victory.

Five years ago this week, Jonathan Byrd provided arguably the coolest ending to a tournament you'll ever see.

On the fourth hole of a playoff at the 2010 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open with Cameron Percy and Martin Laird, Byrd was the last to tee off on the par-3 17th at TPC Summerlin, a 203-yard hole.

RELATED: New long-drive champ nearly covers four football fields with winner

That's when he did the unimaginable: he made a hole-in-one to close out the tournament and pick up his fifth PGA Tour win (he's had one more since).

Check it out here:


October 22, 2015 - 8:13am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tim Burke
What does it take to win the World Long Drive Championships? Just a few pokes that register in the FOUR FOOTBALL FIELD range. That's what Tim Burke did on Wednesday night.

The World Long Drive Championships is a sight to behold.

Last night in the final from Oklahoma, Tim Burke -- the 2013 champ -- walloped a winning drive of 394 yards to take the title for the second time. As you'll see in the video at the bottom of this post, that drive was hit with a wind blowing into Burke, which makes it even more impressive.

RELATED: Low blow -- man's bank shot turns into bad news for golf buddy

And that wasn't even his longest drive of the competition. The 6'6", 230-pound Burke had drives over 400 yards -- FOUR FOOTBALL FIELDS, FOLKS! -- in the quarter and semi finals.

For perspective, Anirban Lahiri won the PGA Championship Long Drive Competition at Whistling Straits in August with a 327-yard smash...

... Which brings me to one of my favorite old golf jokes that Burke could use on Lahiri:

Burke: "Did you hear about the new Wal-Mart they're building?"

Lahiri: "No. Where?"

Burke: "Between my ball and your ball."

For the win, Burke took home $150,000.

Here's the entire final Long Drive match between Burke and runner-up Jeremy Easterly:


Oh, and here's video from Lahiri's win at Whistling Straits:


Maria Rodriguez
Maria Rodriguez via Instagram
We don't know where Maria Rodriguez's shot ended up, but we do know it started out in a very unusual location.
OK, I'm not sure where this shot fits in the pantheon of golf trick shots. I'm not even sure it counts as a trick shot. 
But I am sure I've ever seen anyone do this before.
The golfer swinging the club is University of South Florida junior Maria Rodriguez. The young lady serving as the human teebox is her freshman teammate, Maria Merchan.
Does this count as freshman hazing? Or are these two just extremely confident in Rodriguez's swing? I don't know, but I do know this – I would never volunteer to play either role in this particular shot.

Things you can do with a big butt and a good golf swing @nanimerchi

A video posted by @marirodriguez on

Back to the Future
TaylorMade via Twitter
TaylorMade showed us drivers from then and now in a "Back to the Future" setting.
As I'm sure we all know by now, today is "Back to the Future Day." In the 1989 movie "Back to the Future Part II," Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) travels to the future – October 21, 2015 – to save his yet-to-be-born children.
The movie, as best as I can recall, was pretty good, and lots of people are having lots of fun with the date today. My colleague Mark Aumann even showed us a "Back to the Future"-themed golf cart that some folks up in Canada have built.
A lot of the big golf equipment companies have made note of the day on social media as well, and some of their posts are well worth sharing. My favorite one is from TaylorMade, showing us drivers from then and now in a "Back to the Future" setting. It's directly below, followed by some of the other best ones:
And then, to cap it all off, there is this little cinematic jewel from Gary Player and the guys at Callaway. Enjoy – and remember to charge up your flux capacitors:
Sammy Schmitz
Chris Keane/USGA
Getting to Augusta National has gotten a lot easier for U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Sammy Schmitz.
Remember Sammy Schmitz – the guy who recently clinched his victory in the U.S. Mid-Amateur by making a hole-in-one on a par-4 hole? By earning that title, Schmitz received a place in the 2016 Masters.
That's the good news. The bad news – all his expenses involved in practicing and playing at the Masters are on him.
So on Sunday, his wife Natalie set up a GoFundMe page to try to raise a few bucks to mitigate some of the costs that Schmitz – a 35-year-old regional director for a health care company in Wisconsin – will incur. 
"We currently live in a small town in Wisconsin where the winters are filled with snow and the cold temperatures will make it almost impossible to practice," Natalie wrote when she launched the page. "Being a nurse I can only pick up so many extra shifts to help support my husband."
And in three days, they raised $25,000!
In fact, they got so much money so fast that they have called a halt to the proceedings.
"I have decided not to accept any more donations until further necessary," Schmitz wrote in an update on the page today. "I started this fund less than three days ago and can't believe how much support we received locally and nationally."
The money that Schmitz received will be "governed" by the Minnesota Golf Association, and Schmitz plans to use it to help pay for his preparations, including some practice rounds at Augusta National before Masters week. Any money left over, he said, will be donated to the MGA.
October 21, 2015 - 10:23am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rickie Fowler
USA Today Sports Images
Rickie Fowler is making his 2015-16 PGA Tour season debut this week at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

The PGA Tour is just outside Las Vegas this week for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin.

It's the second event of the 2015-16 PGA Tour season and there are plenty of big names teeing it up.

RELATED: Shriners Open tee times | Weekly schedule | 'Back to the Future' cart

An early-season event? Yes, but it can also be a tone-setter for a lot of players. Here's a look at the five players you'll want to keep a close eye on.

5. Ryan Moore
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
T10 at Open
Reason to watch: Though he missed the cut in Vegas a year ago, Moore counts the tournament as one of his four PGA Tour victories, having won in 2012. He also comes into this week on the strength of a T10 in the season-opener a week ago. I'm expecting a strong push to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team by Moore -- a former U.S. Amateur champion and two-time U.S. Publinks champ -- this season, having come up just short a couple of times.

4. Kevin Na
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
Second at Open
Reason to watch: A driver off the deck in a playoff last weke at the Open may have cost Na his second PGA Tour title. How will it impact him this week? Is he over it like he said he is? We'll find out over the next several days, but one thing is for sure -- there's no better place for Na to have a bounce-back than at the site of his only PGA Tour win in 2011. That's what he's facing this week.

3. Brooks Koepka
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
T41 at Open
Reason to watch: Do you realize Koepka is the 12th-ranked player in the world? That puts him ahead of the likes of Matt Kuchar, Adam Scott. Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer and Phil Mickelson to name a few. Koepka will be looking to add to his PGA Tour win total this season and Vegas -- where he finished T4 a year ago -- might be just the place to start.

2. Jimmy Walker
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
Reason to watch: Though he has cooled off as of late, Walker has established himself as one of the most rock solid players on the PGA Tour over the last two seasons. At this time two years ago he had just picked up his first PGA Tour win. Now he has five total, as well as several close calls. With a T4 in Vegas last year, it's certainly a course that Walker enjoys.

1. Rickie Fowler
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
Reason to watch: Fowler has been a star since he turned professional. Over the last two seasons, however, he's become a legitimate superstar -- someone who you expect to contend each and every time he tees it up. This will be Fowler's first start of the new season -- one in which you can be sure the Ryder Cup and winning a major championship are on the front of the mind.

Here's how my five to watch fared at last week's Open:

5. Tony Finau -- T32
4. Brandt Snedeker -- T17
3. Justin Rose -- T6
2. Steven Bowditch -- Missed cut
1. Rory McIlroy -- T26