Golf Buzz

February 6, 2014 - 2:48pm
Michael.Benzie's picture
Dennis Walters
PGA of America
Dennis Walters, then of Lake Worth, Fla., in a photo from PGA of America archives

We came across this compelling image today in the vast PGA of America archives looking for our somewhat regular #throwbackthursday image for our Instagram account. We wanted to know more, and all we had to go on was the following caption:

HOT SHOOTER -- Dennis Walters of Lake Worth, FL, the world's only paraplegic professional golfer, recently conducted "The Dennis Walters Golf Show" at Ferris State College's Katke Golf Course in Big Rapids, MI. Walters' clinic and trick shot exhibition was presented following the second annual PGM/Amputee Pro-Am Golf Tournament hosted by Ferris' Professional Golf management Student Association with members of the Michigan Amputee Association. Here Walters hits his "death-defying swing through fire shot," driving a ball covered by a burning newspaper. An outstanding collegiate golfer at North Texas State University, Walters was crippled from the waist down in a golf cart accident in 1974. He has perfected hitting shots from a swivel seat mounted on the side of a golf cart, providing a touring show which has been viewed by millions either in person or on TV. Walters was awarded the Ben Hogan Award in 1977 from the Golf Writers' of America for his remarkable comeback.

We then contacted Bob Denney at PGA of America to see if he knew anything more about the photo, and turns out, he knows Walters. Here is Bob Denney's report:

"PGA Honorary Member Dennis Walters first learned the game of golf at his hometown Jumping Brook Country Club in Neptune, N.J.

"On July 21, 1974, Walters’ life changed forever after a freak golf cart accident left him a paraplegic. Walters overcame the odds to play golf again, and in 1977 began a trick shot exhibition career that has taken him to all 50 states, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

"In the photo above, taken in the spring between 1979 and 1981; Walters performed what became his signature “death defying swing through fire” shot. He has since added many new and spectacular shots to his repertoire.

"Walters had never seen the photo, but added, 'Hopefully, my game and my wardrobe have improved. I recognize my old PowerBilt clubs, my Byron Nelson 3-wood and MacGregor woods. My pants are so tight they are sneaking up my legs, with my old braces exposed.' 

"Walters was born in Neptune and now lives in Jupiter – Florida – where he begins the 37th season of the Dennis Walters Golf Show Saturday at the PGA Center for Golf Learning & Performance in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The 2008 PGA Distinguished Service Award Recipient has performed more than 3,000 inspirational programs to audiences of all ages and golf abilities. 'I always encourage others to reach for a dream, and if that doesn’t work out, get a new dream,' says Walters."

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February 5, 2014 - 11:47pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki
Getty Images
Who's faster in a footrace, Rory McIlroy or fiancee Caroline Wozniacki? The answer is ... it depends.
Rory McIlroy was sitting in the airport on Wednesday, getting ready to fly from, well, somewhere to somewhere else, when his flight got delayed. To fill the time, McIlroy hopped on Twitter and said he’d do a quick Q&A with his 1.8 million followers.
 
Within minutes, he was flooded with questions ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. But he was game, and answered a couple dozen queries on everything from fiancée Caroline Wozniacki to Manchester United to his favorite movies and TV shows – even some asking for golf advice.
 
I didn’t ask any questions, but I did enjoy many of his answers. I’ve gone through his prodigious output and culled some of his most interesting responses. Here they are in text form:
 
@nkeyser3: are you serious with this whole engagement thing? Because I am single and available!
@McIlroyRory: Haha yes very serious! ☺
 
@JCraw4991: who would win in a 100m dash? You or @CaroWozniacki?
@McIlroyRory: Me but she would kill me at endurance 
 
@jameshunt96: favourite films?
‏@McIlroyRory: Batman dark knight, Superbad, old school, anchorman 
 
@whodeani12: What are your favourite tv shows?
@McIlroyRory: Scandal and breaking bad
 
 
@min19991: who should united sign in the summer?
@McIlroyRory: Sir Alex?
 
@realbuckles10: favorite NBA player
@McIlroyRory: D-Wade
 
@adam_mates: what other sports do you play?
@McIlroyRory: Tennis (mediocre), football (mediocre)
 
@xSilentSt0rmx: How often do you go to the gym?
@McIlroyRory: Try to get there 5-6 times a week
 
@davepiercefield: Rory You are a great role model for my 3 boys. Who do you attribute your character to?
@McIlroyRory: My parents
 
@emily_runs: What has been your favorite tournament you've ever played in? 
@McIlroyRory: Masters followed by Open at St Andrews
 
@gavo_1980: if u were to choose a major in 2014 to win, what would it be?
@McIlroyRory: Any of them!!!
 
@AaronBradley31: How do you fancy your chances at this years majors?
@McIlroyRory: I like them, excited for them to get here!
 
@FinnMcK95: Are you playing the WGC-Match Play?
@McIlroyRory: Yep I'll be there!
 
@Ro_Fril: when's the next time you'll be playing back home here in Ireland?
@McIlroyRory: Irish open at Fota Island
 
 
@peatree18: best thing about being a pro?
@McIlroyRory: Doing what I love for a living!
 
@PastyMalone: should I spend money on new clubs or lessons?
@McIlroyRory: Lessons
 
@jhaste76: Rory what's the main thing about hitting your woods off the deck?
@McIlroyRory: Maintain height and spine angle
 
@PaulHobartGolf: What goes through your mind on your best putting days?
@McIlroyRory: Nothing! Visualize the putt going in and hit it
 
McIlroy tied for ninth in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday, and is next scheduled to play at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship the week after next. To follow him on Twitter, click here.
 
February 5, 2014 - 5:01pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
John Daly at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Dan VanderKooy/PGA.com
John Daly is focusing on his swing this year, since he's not worried about his putting.
It's easy to notice John Daly when he's wearing those retina-searing Loudmouth Golf pants.
 
And, fortunately, it's getting easier to notice Daly up on leaderboards around the globe again. After struggling for several years, the blond bomber underwent surgery on his left elbow last July, and his results since are increasingly encouraging. 
 
In fact, his tie for 32nd at the Sony Open in Hawaii last month was his best showing on the PGA Tour in more than a year. And when we caught up to him on the range at Pebble Beach, he was optimistic – yet realistic – about the state of his game.
 
''It's been an OK year,'' he explained. ''I just haven't been able to put four rounds together.'' 
 
 
His opinion is backed up by the facts. Daly opened strong at both the BMW Masters (68) in Shanghai last fall and the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters (67) two weeks ago. He made both those cuts, then was doomed by third-round stumbles – a 78 at the BMW and a 77 in Qatar – that turned what could have been top-20, or even top-10, finishes into middle-of-the-pack results.
 
Unlike recent seasons, though, Daly is healthy enough to try to play his way back into consistency – and ''keep working and keep playing'' is definitely his plan.
 
''Mentally, I'm great,'' he said. ''Physically, [on] my left side I’m about 15, and my right side I’m about 97. Other than that, I feel good.''
 
 
On a more serious note, Daly said this year is the first in a while that he hasn't had to worry about his putting very much.
 
''I'm putting great,'' he said. ''If you're putting good, you can fire at a few extra pins and get more aggressive.''
 
Here's the video of our interview with Daly:
 
 
February 5, 2014 - 3:57pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Dustin Johnson
Getty Images
Dustin Johnson already owns a pair of wins at Pebble Beach.
This week makes for arguably the most jarring transition between two events anywhere on the PGA Tour – from the Waste Management Phoenix Open's rowdy party in the desert to the spectacular scenery and spiritual serenity of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. There is one similarity between these two disparate PGA Tour stops, though. To succeed, you must embrace the concept.
 
At Phoenix, that means dealing with the festival-like atmosphere – and that gladiatorial arena known as the 16th hole. At Pebble, it means dealing with the celebrities and amateurs – who make the event so special but nonetheless can really slow the proceedings down – along with the often damp and chilly conditions. (In fact, the highs for the four days of play are predicted to be 57, 59, 60 and 60, with a good chance of rain every day but Friday.  
 
So given all this, who's worth keeping an eye on? Here are five:
 
5. Jimmy Walker
Best finish in 2013-14 seasons: Won 2013 Frys.com Open and 2014 Sony Open 
Reason to watch: Walker missed the cut at Torrey Pines, but has otherwise been red-hot since the beginning of the new wraparound season last fall. How hot? He already has two victories, and is atop both the money list and the FedExCup points chart. Both those titles came virtue of his putting, and mastering the tricky winter greens on the Monterey Peninsula is a big key to success.  
 
 
4. John Daly
Best finish in 2013-14 seasons: Tied for 32nd in the 2014 Sony Open in Hawaii.
Reason to watch: Those pants! Also, the blond bomber is showing signs of recapturing his long-lost form as he continues to recover from last summer's elbow surgery. His tie for 32nd at Sony last month was his best showing on the PGA Tour in more than a year, and he opened both the recent Qatar Masters and BMW Masters on the European Tour strongly before falling back. As always, Big John is capable of carding some big figures, and his recent record at Pebble is poor, but he's still a fan favorite and a strong showing could give him and his legions of loyalists a big boost.
 
 
3. Dustin Johnson
Best finish in 2013-14 seasons: Won the 2013 HSBC Champions and the 2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: Johnson missed the cut at Pebble for the first time last year, but in his previous starts he won in both 2009 and 2010, tied for fifth in 2012, tied for seventh in 2008, and tied for 55th in 2011. DJ is always worth watching, just to see him bust those drives a country mile. But he and Pebble obviously get along, and his laid-back persona is perfect for this celebrity-filled shindig. Even better, his celebrity partner is his friend and future father-in-law Wayne Gretzky.
 
 
2. Phil Mickelson
Best finish in 2013-14 seasons: Won the 2013 British Open and the 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Reason to watch: In almost any tournament, who's more worth watching than Phil the Thrill? He's been his usual roller-coaster self so far in 2014, but owns a stellar track record at Pebble Beach, where he's won three times in the last decade. Mickelson has been mediocre, stats-wise, so far this season, but he's 20th in birdies, which only confirms his ability to conjure up something from nothing at almost any time.
 
1. Graeme McDowell 
Best finish in 2013-14 seasons: Won the 2013 RBC Heritage
Reason to watch: Surprisingly, this marks McDowell's return to Pebble Beach for the first time since he won the U.S. Open there in 2010. This is also his first start anywhere since early December. Expect some rust on the Northern Irishman – especially after his sluggish second half of 2013, his engagement and the opening of his restaurant in Orlando. Picking G-Mac to win seems a stretch, but it should be satisfying to see him soak up the Monterey Peninsula atmosphere in a much less pressurized situation than the last time.
 
 
February 5, 2014 - 9:27am
Michael.Benzie's picture
Peyton Manning
Dan van der Kooy
Peyton Manning talks golf at AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

We told you earlier this week about Peyton Manning's late-entry in to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and Tuesday, we were able to catch up with the NFL MVP to talk a little golf.

SEE: Tuesday photos from the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

Manning sports an impressive 4.9 handicap index out of Castle Pines Golf Club outside of Denver and is a long-noted golf fanatic, having played in the AT&T before in 2009 and a famous pairing with Tiger Woods at the Quail Hollow Championship Pro-Am. This year, he'll play with PGA Tour player Scott Langley. As you may have heard, Manning is fresh off Denver's disaapointing 43-8 Super Bowl loss to the Seattle Seahawks. 

Here are some excerpts of his brief interview with PGA.com's Dan VanDerKooy.

  • "I didn't play much as a kid. I used to say I wish I played more as a kid, but probably wouldn’t have my current job if I played more as a kid. I played football, baseball, basketball -- as far as my priorities." Manning noted that the NFL schedule lends itself to golf in the offseason and that it's typical for him to play with teammates after offseason workouts.
  • "For me, it's a good getaway, that’s kind of why I’m here this weekend ...  kind of get away from your current job."
  • On his golf talent, again, Manning is a solid golfer but still felt "so far removed (for Tour players). I know what my day job is. Just try to bang it around and hopefully not hurt anybody this weekend"
  • On his dream foursome. It's not surprising that it's his father Archie and brothers Cooper and Eli. "That’s a pretty fun foursome. We’re together so rarely, the chance for us to get together is pretty special." Eli of course lives in New York and Cooper and his father are in New Orleans, Manning said.

Here's the video:

 

 

PGA.com's Dan VanDerKooy contributed to this report.

 

February 4, 2014 - 4:37pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Caleb Watson
Bubba Watson via YouTube
Caleb Watson might need a few swing tips from Dad, but his enthusiasm is undeniable.
Bubba Watson lost a heartbreaker on Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but he's no doubt overjoyed to see his young son Caleb taking to golf already.
 
Watson shared a couple of YouTube videos this week of Caleb playing his first hole and then ''working'' on his bunker game. The youngster might need a few swing tips from Dad, but his enthusiasm is undeniable. One question, though: When does Caleb get his own pink driver?
 
Watson and wife Angie adopted Caleb, who was a month old at the time, only about two weeks before Watson won the 2012 Masters, so Caleb is coming up on his second birthday pretty soon. Watson famously tried hard to balance his home and golf lives in the months after the adoption, and it's great to see father and son spending quality time together on the links.
 
Here are the videos: