Golf Buzz

March 19, 2014 - 5:52pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods, to break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 pro majors, will have to overcome his advancing age and injuries, not to mention the ever-improving group of young players emerging on the scene.
Tiger Woods isn't playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week as he rests his ailing back, but he's still very much the topic of conversation at Bay Hill.
 
On Wednesday, Palmer himself was asked about Tiger's career-long quest to break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 professional majors. 
 
The King's take: It's going to be "tough" for Woods to break the record, for several reasons.
 
"I don't think 38 years [Woods' age] is the ultimate stopping point for his quest to do what Jack did," Palmer said. "I think it lessens the possibility of that happening. … It's going to be tough to keep the concentration and the type of the game that is necessary to win majors."
 
The King also believes that the ever-more-impressive collection of fast-rising young players poses a serious threat to Woods.
 
 
"These young guys are tough, and they're strong," he said. "And if they continue to play as well as they've been playing, it's going to be tough for anybody – whether it be Nicklaus or Tiger or whomever it would be – to continue to win major championships." 
 
And as the younger generation improves in both skill and attitude, Palmer sees that Woods' aura of invincibility might not be what it used to be.
 
"The fear of a player being so good that they back off, I don't think that's the case anymore," Palmer said. "I think that the players that are going to win, and win major championships, have to be physically fit, mentally fit and they're going to continue to be tough to beat." 
 
As for the Arnold Palmer Invitational itself, we've got it covered from head to toe. You can check out the tee times and leaderboard, see who TJ Auclair says are the five players to watch, read about how the tournament is carrying on without Woods, catch some inside scoop on the goings-on from Bay Hill's PGA Director of Golf Brian Dorn and even see our pre-tournament photo gallery.
 
The Associated Press contrbuted to this report.
 
 
March 19, 2014 - 4:05pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Phil Mickelson
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Phil Mickelson has decided to play the Valero Texas Open next week in addition to the Shell Houston Open in two weeks. That means the three-time Masters champion would play both Texas events before he arrives at Augusta National for the first major of the year.
 
Mickelson hasn't played the Texas Open since 1992. It now is played on the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.
 
This is the second straight year the Valero Texas Open has landed a top player at the last minute. Rory McIlroy played last year and was runner-up to Martin Laird.
 
Mickelson prefers to play before majors. He previously has said he would play the Shell Houston Open, which is the week before the Masters. He had been undecided on the Texas Open.
 
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 
March 19, 2014 - 3:00pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Happy Gilmore
YouTube
This 1980s video arcade remake of "Happy Gilmore" is fantastic.

If you grew up playing Nintendo and enjoying games like Tecmo Bowl, RBI Baseball, Super Mario Bros. and more, you're going to love this video put together by the folks at CineFix.

In the video below, CineFix presents the Adam Sandler movie "Happy Gilmore" in the form of an 8-bit video game. If you remember the movie at all -- and you probably do if you're on a golf-related website -- this video is hilarious.

Grab some popcorn and enjoy the next 2 minutes and 45 seconds.

CineFix says via its YouTube page, that it uses, "8-bit Cinema and 'gamifies' your favorite Hollywood Blockbusters into 80's arcade and NES inspired action!"

They nailed this one.

h/t Shane Bacon at Yahoo! Devil Ball Golf

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

 

Cale McLellan
Back 9 Network
Cale McLellan defied some amazing odds to card two aces on back-to-back holes.
By Matthew Castonguay, Back 9 Network
 
The hole-in-one is arguably the most difficult thing to attain in all of sport. There is seemingly no rhyme or reason as to who makes one. We’ve seen aces worth millions of dollars and aces by 92-year-old women. We've seen walkoff, tournament-winning holes-in-one and ones that have skipped across a pond. But hold onto your hats, because now we have back-to-back aces by a golfer barely in his teens!
 
That feat was accomplished by Cale McLellan, the son of San Jose Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. Cael was playing in a tournament at Santa Teresa Golf Club Short Course in San Jose, Calif., this past weekend when he aced hole Nos. 8 and 9 with consecutive swings.
 
 
Cale finished third overall in the tournament, which is impressive in its own right, but the story is obviously the aces. Keep in mind, the odds for an amateur making a single hole-in-one are 12,500 to 1. The odds of someone making two in his or her lifetime are significantly higher.
 
Two in a row has actually happened before. In 1971 at the Martini Tournament in Sandwich, England, John Hudson made one on the par-3 11th hole and another one on the par-4 12th hole. The odds of achieving that? According to a story by Golf Digest, only 1 in 50 million.
 
Now it makes sense that amateurs would have longer odds at pulling off the same improbable feat. According to U.S. Hole In One, the odds of that run nearly 156,250,000 to 1, or about the same chances as winning the Powerball lottery.
 
Cale was interviewed after his amazing performance:
 
 
 
 
March 19, 2014 - 8:41am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Keegan Bradley
USA Today Sports Images
In Keegan Bradley's lone Arnold Palmer Invitational appearance a year ago, he finished in a tie for third.

Things just got a whole lot more interesting for the field at this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where Tiger Woods announced his withdrawal from the tournament on Tuesday, citing back problems.

Interesting? How so? Consider this: Woods, the defending champ, has won at Bay Hill an incredible eight times over his career. He has more wins there than on any other course on Tour and had successfully defended his title five of the seven times he's been in that position.

While Tiger will surely be missed, it could be said that the tournament is now wide open with his unfortunate absence.

RELATED: Tiger Woods withdraws from Bay Hill | Bay Hill photos | Leaderboard

Since the perennial favorite at Bay Hill (and every other tournament he's ever played in) is sidelined, here are five players to look out for this week at the home of the King.

5. Patrick Reed
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation and the WGC-Cadillac Championship
Reason to watch: This is Reed's first start since winning at Doral, where he declared he was a top-5 player in the world. Since then, there's been a lot of talk as to whether he may have jumped the gun with that assessment. U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson said he understood why Reed made those comments and it was hard to argue otherwise, seeing as Reed won three of the last 14 events. With a top finish, or better yet a win at Bay Hill, Reed could make an even stronger case for his bold statement.

4. Adam Scott
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T6 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: Before the start of the new season, and we're paraphrasing here, Scott said something to the effect of he would be playing less to contend more. A wise choice for a player whose career now, after winning the 2013 Masters, will be defined by the number of majors he wins. This week marks just his fifth start of the season on the Tour and the first time since 2009 that he's actually played in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He should be fresh and I think it's understood that Scott is doing everything he can to prepare for his Masters defense.

3. Graeme McDowell
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Third at the WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: McDowell has been a top-10 machine lately. He's had five starts in the 2013-14 season and four of those have yielded a top-10 finish. He was the runner up at Bay Hill in 2012. I've got a good feeling about McDowell this week.

2. Keegan Bradley
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T10 in the CIMB Classic
Reason to watch: Because he's been so good, I think we often forget that Bradley has only been a full-time Tour player since 2011. In fact, last year marked his first start in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and it resulted in a tie for third. We all know Bradley is an intense player. If he's in the mix on Sunday, it's going to be a lot of fun to watch.

1. Justin Rose
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Fifth at the WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: It appears the 2013 U.S. Open champion's nagging shoulder injury is feeling better, evidenced by his tie for eighth in last week's Valspar Championship on an extremely difficult Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort. Maybe that will give Rose some confidence this week at Bay Hill, where he was the runner up to Tiger a year ago. It could be that his game is getting in proper shape just in time for the Masters, which is right around the corner.

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

 

Tiger Woods
Getty Images
Tiger Woods said on his website Tuesday that he won't be able to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational and that it istoo early to say how he will be for the Masters next month.
Tiger Woods pulled out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational late Tuesday afternoon because of his ongoing back pain. Here is the complete report from Associated Press Golf Writer Doug Ferguson:
 
Tiger Woods withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Tuesday because of persistent pain in his back, creating even more uncertainty for golf's No. 1 player with the Masters only three weeks away. 
 
And that's if Woods can even play in the Masters. 
 
"I personally called Arnold today to tell him that, sadly, I won't be able to play in his tournament this year," Woods said on his website. "I would like to express my regrets to the Orlando fans, the volunteers, the tournament staff and the sponsors for having to miss the event. Unfortunately, my back spasms and the pain haven't subsided."
 
 
Woods had to withdraw after 13 holes of the final round at the Honda Classic three weeks ago because of what he called back spasms and pain in his lower back. He tried to defend his title the following week at Doral, only for his back to flare up again in the final round. He closed with a 78, the highest Sunday score of his PGA Tour career and the first final round without a birdie. 
 
After a week of rest and treatment, he didn't feel fit to play Bay Hill, where he is an eight-time winner, including the past two years. 
 
"I am certainly sorry that Tiger is not able to play," Palmer said. "Quite obviously, we will miss having him here this week. He called me to tell me that his back was still giving him a lot of trouble and he didn't feel he should play. I told him I understood and wished him well." 
 
This is only the second time that Woods has not played Bay Hill. He also missed in 2010 when he sat out more than four months during the scandal in his personal life. 
 
 
The Masters, which is April 10-13, is the only major Woods has never missed. 
 
"It's too early to know about the Masters, and I will continue to be evaluable and work closely with my doctors," Woods said. "I feel badly that I won't be able to play in this great tournament this week." 
 
Woods first showed signs of back pain at Bethpage Black at The Barclays in 2012, which he attributed to a soft bed at his hotel. He felt twinges during the final round of the PGA Championship last year, and when his back bothered him in the final round of The Barclays two weeks later, he said it was unrelated. 
 
This has been the longest sustained problem with the lower back. "A bad back is no joke," Woods said at Doral. 
 
Woods is off to the worst start of his 18 years on tour. 
 
At Torrey Pines, where his eight victories included a U.S. Open, Woods shot his highest score on American soil with a 79 to miss the 54-hole cut. He tied for 41st in the Dubai Desert Classic a week later for his worst finish in that event. 
 
Woods had said he spent his offseason working on his body and didn't spend enough time on his game, so it was troubling for him to then deal with yet another injury. He shot a 65 in the third round of the Honda Classic before having what he described as back spasms similar to The Barclays last year. 
 
 
At Doral, he was only three shots out of the lead going into the final round and in the penultimate group when he said an awkward stance while playing out of a bunker on the sixth fairway of the Blue Monster caused his back to start hurting again. 
 
"That's what set it off and then it was done after that," Woods said at Doral. "Just see if I could actually manage ... keep the spasms at bay." 
 
Woods had said at the start of the Florida swing that he was taking a look at his schedule leading up to the Masters, though he never made it clear if he intended to add another tournament. Woods rarely gives a "yes" or "no" to questions pertaining to his plans. 
 
He has never played the week before any major except for the PGA Championship. 
 
In 2010, after revelations of extramarital affairs, Woods had gone 145 days without hitting a meaningful shot when he arrived at Augusta National. He opened with a 68, his lowest first-round score ever at the Masters, and wound up in a tie for fourth. 
 
Swing coach Sean Foley said he would not read too much into how Woods can prepare for the Masters if he can play. 
 
"I've been coaching on tour long enough now to know that Tuesday doesn't affect Wednesday. There's no rhyme or reason to performance," Foley said in a telephone interview. "Tiger is always about the majors, and he's solely about the majors now. He's got to do the right thing. He's just doing the right due diligence about it."