Golf Buzz

October 28, 2013 - 10:53am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Lydia Ko
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Lydia Ko, 16, will be a full member of the LPGA for the 2014 season.

A couple of weeks back, we learned it was only a matter of time before 16-year-old New Zealand golf prodigy Lydia Ko would join the professional ranks.

Then, last week, Ko released a fantastic video making her jump to professional golf official.

The only question left was: Would Ko -- a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour -- be granted membership to the tour?

RELATED: Lydia Ko helps launch latest iPhone in New Zealand

The LPGA requires its members be at least 18 years old.

Golf Channel's Randell Mell explained in a report: "As a non-member winner of a tour event, Ko is entitled to claim tour membership. She could seek to claim immediate membership for the rest of 2013 and through 2014. Or, she could defer membership to next year. However, Ko can’t do either without first obtaining a waiver of the tour’s age restriction. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan holds the power to grant or deny such petitions."

Well, Ko applied for the waiver and the waiver was granted. She will be a LPGA member beginning with the 2014 season

"This decision ensures that Lydia can attend all of our LPGA rookie development sessions that take place in the early part of the year," LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said in a release. "We are looking forward to having Lydia as a full-time member for the 2014 season. It is not often that the LPGA welcomes a rookie who is already a back-to-back LPGA tour champion."

Ko is expected to make her professional debut at the CME Group Titleholders next month.

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

 

October 28, 2013 - 9:43am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
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On Monday, Tiger Woods made his first public comments about Brandel Chamblee's cheating insinuation in a recent Golf.com column.

In an Associated Press report on Monday, Tiger Woods said he was ready to move on from Brandel Chamblee's insinuation of cheating in a Golf.com column posted two weeks ago and added that it was up to Golf Channel -- Chamblee's primary employer -- to decide what would happen next.

In the Golf.com column, Chamblee gave Woods a grade of "F" for his 2013 season, writing that Woods was, "a little cavalier with the rules."

READ: Rory McIlrory edges Tiger Woods by one shot in 18-hole exhibition

"All I am going to say is that I know I am going forward," Woods said in the AP report, before his exhibition match with Rory McIlroy at Mission Hills. "But then, I don't know what the Golf Channel is going to do or not. But then that's up to them. The whole issue has been very disappointing as he didn't really apologize and he sort of reignited the whole situation.

"So the ball really is in the court of the Golf Channel and what they are prepared to do."

After the piece was published, the longtime agent of Woods -- Mark Steinberg -- suggested he might pursue legal action against Chamblee for the insinuation that Woods was a cheater.

In Monday's report, Steinberg said, "I'm all done talking about it and it's now in the hands of the Golf Channel. That's Tiger's view and that's mine, and all we want to do is move forward. And whether the Golf Channel moves forward as well, then we'll have to wait and see."

Chamblee sent out a series of tweets last week to address the situation, "I want to apologize to Tiger for this incited discourse," and that "I was not asked to apologize." He also said his "intention was to note Tiger's rules infractions this year, but comparing that to cheating in grade school went too far."

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

 

October 28, 2013 - 9:14am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Ryan Moore
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Ryan Moore (left) is congratulated by Gary Woodland after winning on the first hole of a sudden death playoff in Malaysia on Monday.

Ryan Moore won the CIMB Classic on Monday, edging out Gary Woodland on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff with a birdie.

The tournament -- the third on the PGA Tour’s new wraparound schedule -- was played in Malaysia. There were two significant weather delays in Sunday’s final round, which meant there wasn’t enough daylight to contest the playoff that evening. Moore and Woodland – both looking for respective win No. 3 on the PGA Tour -- returned Monday morning (primetime Sunday evening for those on the east coast of the U.S.) -- to play the lone hole of the playoff.

The victory was Moore’s first since the 2012 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

MORE: Final CIMB Classic leaderboard | Final recap | Your favorite golf games to play

Here’s a look at the highlights from Monday’s playoff:

 

 

The PGA Tour moves to Shanghai, China this week for the World Golf Championships- HSBC Champions.

And now, on to more golf...

EXHIBITION GOLF: For the second consecutive year, Rory McIlroy defeated world No. 1 Tiger Woods in an 18-hole exhibition match in China. McIlroy fired a 6-under 66 at Mission Hills on Monday, one shot better than the 67 by Woods. Also: Tiger comments on Brandel Chamblee.

EUROPEAN TOUR: The finish wasn’t pretty -- a knee-knocker of a double bogey on the 72nd hole -- but it was good enough for Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano to win the BMW Masters in Shanghai on Sunday. Fernandez-Castano had a three-shot advantage when he teed it up on the final hole, but struggled mightily on the last before closing out the win… In other news from the BMW Masters, England’s Simon Dyson was disqualified Saturday morning after video surfaced of the player seemingly touching his putting line by tapping down a spike mark with his golf ball.

Here’s video footage of the infraction:

 

 

Like the PGA Tour, the European Tour is in Shanghai this week for the co-sanctioned HSBC Champions.

LPGA TOUR: There’s no hotter player in the ladies game right now than Suzann Pettersen. Pettersen successfully defended the Sunrise Championship in Taiwan Sunday. It was her fourth win on the LPGA Tour this season and her third victory in her last five starts. The Norwegian star closed with a 3-under 69 for a five-stroke victory over Solheim Cup teammate Azahara Munoz. The LPGA Tour takes a short break before teeing off the Mizuno Classic on Nov. 8.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Kenny Perry made a 10-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff with Bernhard Langer on Sunday to win the Champions Tour's AT&T Championship. The victory was the third of the year for Perry, who is No. 1 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. Perry and Langer each shot 5-under 67 at TPC San Antonio's AT&T Canyons Course to finish regulation at 13-under 203. Perry dramatically saved par on the final hole of regulation when he holed an 18-foot putt. The Champions Tour moves on to TPC Harding Park in San Francisco this week for the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

AMATEUR GOLF: Chang-woo Lee of South Korea won the Asia-Pacific Amateur by three shots Sunday to earn a trip to the Masters in April. The winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur gets an invitation to the Masters and is exempt until the final qualifying stage for the British Open. Hasegawa also gets into final qualifying for the British Open. Defending champion Tianlang Guan, who turned 15 last week, shot 73 and finished eight shots behind.

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

October 27, 2013 - 6:23pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Mike Small at the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame
Courtesy the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame
PGA Professional Mike Small posed by his "wall of fame" at the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame.

If you're a regular reader of PGA.com, you know that PGA Professional Mike Small owns a list of accomplishments unlike any other golfer around. And on Friday night, he became the youngest person ever inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame.

Small, 47, was part of the 15th class to be inducted into the Illinois hall, along with his fellow PGA Professional Bob Harris and PGA Tour and Champions Tour standout Jay Haas.

Small was born in Aurora, Ill., and was a teammate of PGA Tour star Steve Stricker at the University of Illinois, where he played an integral role on the Illini's 1988 Big Ten Championship team while finishing second behind Stricker for the individual Big Ten title. He turned professional in 1990, began competing on smaller tours and became a PGA member in 1996. The following season, he won the Monterey Open and Cleveland Open and finished in the top 15 on the Nike Tour money list, which earned him his PGA Tour card for the 1998 season.

A few years later, Small became the head golf coach at Illinois, which has become a national powerhouse under his leadership. During his tenure, the team has captured five Big Ten titles (2009-2013) and competed in eight NCAA National Championships (2002, 2003, 2008-2013). Small has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year six times (2002, 2009-2013), and this year's team finished as the NCAA runner-up.

In addition, he's captured the Illinois PGA Championship a record nine times (2001, 2003-2010), the Illinois Open four times (2003, 2005-2007) and the 2007 Illinois PGA Match Play Championship. He's the only person to win both the Illinois PGA Championship and Illinois Open in the same year – a feat he's accomplished four times.

MORE ON THE HONOREES: Read the official release from the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame

Nationally, Small has won the PGA Professional National Championship three times (2005, 2009, 2010), tying Larry Gilbert as the only three-time winners of the prestigious event. He has been honored as the PGA of America Player of the Year three times (2006, 2007, 2010) and is a four-time member of the U.S. PGA Cup team. He has competed in eight PGA Championships, making the cut three times (2005, 2007, 2011), and played in three U.S. Opens. He's also the only member of the Illinois PGA to win the PGA Professional National Championship.

Harris, meanwhile, became one of the greatest Illinois PGA Professionals to ever play the game, earning NCAA team and individual championships and competing in the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship. He also was the PGA head golf professional at one of Chicago's most prestigious country clubs.

Now 84, Harris began caddying at the age of 12. His high school didn't have a golf team, but he played at San Jose State University, where in 1948 the team won the NCAA championship and he was the individual champion. He served in the military for four years during the Korean War, earned his PGA membership in the mid-1950s and began a quarter-century run at Sunset Ridge near Chicago.

Harris won the Illinois PGA Match Play Championship a record six consecutive times (1958-1963), the Illinois PGA Championship twice (1959, 1961) and the Illinois Open twice (1955, 1956). Nationally, he competed in the Masters twice (1956, 1961), the U.S. Open seven times (1949, 1955, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1968) and the PGA Championship three times (1959-1961). And at one point, he held nine scoring records at golf courses in the Chicagoland area. 

A HOOSIER HONOR: PGA President Bishop inducted into Indiana Golf Hall of Fame

Haas, one of the most consistent players in PGA Tour history, holds the record for most career cuts made on the tour with 592. Playing for Wake Forest, he won the NCAA individual championship in 1975 on a team that Golf World called "the greatest college team of all time.'' The Wake Forest teams headed by Haas and Curtis Strange won the NCAA team championship in 1974 and 1975.

Haas, 59, grew up in Belleville, Ill, made his first hole-in-one at age 10 and was the Illinois State High School champion his junior year. At Wake Forest, he was named to the NCAA All-America team four consecutive years (1973-1976) and earned All-ACC honors in 1975 and 1976, the first two years it was awarded. Also, in 1975 he received the Fred Haskins Award, given annually to the most outstanding college golfer in the United States.

He won nine times on the PGA Tour, competed in the Ryder Cup three times (1983, 1995, 2004), owns 16 Champions Tour victories, and was the Champions Tour Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007. He received the 2004 Payne Stewart Award, presented to a player sharing Stewart's respect for the traditions of the game, and the 2006 Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the USGA.

 

October 26, 2013 - 7:26pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Muira MB001 irons
Courtesy of Miura Golf
The Miura MB001 irons features sole refinements that help them travel effortlessly through turf.

Miura Golf, the Japanese maker of what it calls ''the world's finest forged golf clubs,'' takes its time when it comes to creating new clubs. 

"We don't automatically bring out a new blade every year," said Miura President Adam Barr. "The only calendar we operate on is the one in the minds of the Miuras. When they say a club is ready, we go.''

It's ''go-time'' at Muira Golf right now, though, as the company rolls out the MB001 iron set – the latest creation of founder Katsuhiro Miura and sons Yoshitaka (a club grinding expert) and Shinei (who supervises the forging operations at the company's factory in Himeji, Japan).

The MB001 muscleback is Miura's first new blade iron in six years, and joins the Tournament Blade and the Series 1957 Small Blade in the Miura catalog for better players. The company also offers several cavityback iron sets along with hybrids, wedges and putters.

"This is a big event," said Barr. "The MB001 contains the benefits of all the lessons we have learned in watching irons perform, since the Tournament Blade came out in 2007 and the Small Blade arrived in 2006."

The MB001 features sole refinements that help it travel effortlessly through turf. The sole's shape and size – subtly adjusted from earlier models – gives the player a better chance of keeping the clubface square at impact. A thin top line presents a simple, clean look that reduces distraction.

The flow of steel from the hosel to the low-offset clubhead is smooth and non-reflective, and Yoshitaka Miura focused on the relationship of the toe and heel so that they look harmonious as a whole. The compact clubhead is nearly the same length heel-to-toe as the Tournament Blade and, like that club, offers plenty of "face space" without looking overly long. 

The clubs have a more upright appearance at address that helps the player feels closer to the ball, and able to see all of it without needing to adjust away from a comfortable head position. This better view of the ball, says Miura, lends pre-stroke confidence. 

The MB001 will be available from authorized Miura dealer/fitters worldwide in early November. They carry a suggested retail price of $235 per club, though the price may vary with different shaft options.

Here is a video with more information on the new Miura MB001 irons:

October 26, 2013 - 3:48pm
Posted by:
John Kim
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Cordillera Ranch
Courtesy of Cordillera Ranch
Players at Cordillera Ranch are raving about the new Zeon Zoysia grass.
There are some serious questions that are lingering in my mind about how golf is going to work in the Olympics. How will teams be established? What will the format be? What about the alligators on the course?!
 
But one topic that seems to be a sure hit will be the turf used at the Gil Hanse designed course outside of Rio de Janiero.
 
Why? Because people are testing out the Zeon Zoysia strand at Cordillera Ranch just north of San Antonio.
 
Zeon Zoysia is supposed to be drought resistant, a perfect grass for the fairways and tee boxes at the Jack Nicklaus designed Cordillera Ranch.  The course currently under construction near Rio de Janeiro will also use the same strand for its fairways, tee boxes and its rough.  (Cordillera has Bermuda rough and A-5 bentgrass greens.)
 
What's more, both courses are supplied by Bladerunner Farms in Poteet, owned by turf-grass expert David Doguet. Zeon Zoysia was developed by Doguet, and Bladerunner is the largest privately held zoysia breeding facility in the world.
 
"Our members love it because the ball sits up on it like a tee," says Cordillera Ranch Director of Agronomy Mark Semms. "It is the most playable fairway turf on the market because of its blade density."
 
One impressed member is PGA Tour player (and recent Frys.com champion) Jimmy Walker.  
 
"We've been to the most premier golf courses in the country and we just marvel at what an amazing facility that Cordillera is," says Walker. "There's nothing like it in the country."
 
Last spring at a corporate outing, one golfer dropped a ball onto the practice tee and swung a 3-wood, making easy and pure contact. He turned around in amazement and remarked, "Wow, that zoysia is phenomenal."  That golfer - Hall-of-Famer Greg Norman.
 
 But having favorable lies is only an ancillary benefit of Zeon Zoysia, says Semm. 
 
"We selected the grass because it assimilates perfectly to the climate of this region," he adds. "It uses between 30 and 40 percent less water and fertilizer, is drought tolerant and able to persevere through extreme conditions."
 
The turf's protection against cold weather and long periods without water is dormancy. Normally a translucent green, Zeon Zoysia will "dim out" to a muted green and ultimately, light brown.  It only takes a few consecutive days over 75 degrees, however, to restore it to its native grandeur.
 
"Zeon Zoysia is very environmentally friendly," Doguet told Golf Course Industry earlier this year. "The grass needs very little water, and very low amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, while still looking and playing great. The grass will create a world-class playing surface for the Olympics, and for many years to come."
 
PGA, LPGA, and European Tour players encounter nearly every type of turf during the season - bentgrass, Bermuda, fescue and even the invasive Poa annua. Due to its limited growing range, however, zoysia grasses aren't as prevalent at tour venues. 
 
"Most of them have played on it at some point, but not necessarily Zeon," says Semm. "They are going to be pleasantly surprised and with the lies they'll get, it will only make the best players in the world even better." 
 
Zeon has the same effect on members' games. But the grass's dormant periods require an explanation, up front.  
 
"There's an educational process with new members, but once we explain the environmental and playing benefits, they get it quick," says Semm. "Eventually, they get spoiled and don't even want to play on Bermuda fairways anymore." 
 
So regardless of what country you're pulling for or any other questions you may have about golf's glorious return to the Summer Olympics - the one thing that you probably won't have to worry about is the condition of the course - validated by the reception and performance at one particular club in the U.S.  Now those alligators...that's another story.