Golf Buzz

January 22, 2014 - 6:50pm
Posted by:
John Kim
john.kim's picture
PGA President Ted Bishop, Baseball player David Price
PGA.com
PGA President Ted Bishops accepts a signed Rays jersey from star pitcher David Price

One of the great things about the PGA Show (amid many awesome things) is the star-studded line-up of celebrities and personalities that appear - simply out of there love of golf. That passion for the game, which knows no bounds of high-profile stars or the most average of "Joes", was certainly evident on the mammoth show floor on Wednesday.

One of the biggest names, a special guest of The PGA of America, was 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner David Price. Sports fans know him as one of the most talented, charming and cheerful players in all of baseball. Few know that he is also a golf nut who plays as often as he can - even taking his clubs on the road during the season.

So when the PGA of America sent a special invitation to Price to tour the world's largest golf industry gathering, the hard-throwing left-hander jumped at the chance.

But before he made his rounds, he first presented PGA President Ted Bishop, (a Yankees fan) with a Rays baseball jersey which Price signed before presenting it to him. Bishop, an enthusiastic Yankees fan, quipped to Price that he would look good in pinstripes soon. Price just laughed. The two could have talked baseball for hours, but of course, both had places to go.

Bishop invited him to play golf or visit any PGA of America championship. Price remarked that he had plans in August (PGA Championship) and September (Ryder Cup) for awhile, but ultimately, would love to take him up on it. The two shook hands and made their ways to their next respective stops. President Bishop was off to meet with one of the world's most influential businessmen, Donald Trump. Price was off to conquer a whole new world of his own. 

 

January 22, 2014 - 11:40am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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hole in one

If you've never experienced the exhilaration that comes with getting a hole-in-one, trust me, it's awesome (my lone ace came 17 years ago at the age of 16). It doesn't matter how well, or how poorly you play the game, no one cane ever take that hole-in-one away from you.

But what about making two aces in three days? Remarkable, right? But then, after the two aces in three days, how about closing out your week with a double eagle to boot?

Bob Hullender, a 76-year-old from Texas, did just those things in a five-day stretch that began on Jan. 3.

RELATED: Joost Luiten makes rare albatross at Volvo Golf Champions

Hullender isn't your weekend hacker, mind you. The established tournament player who resides in San Antonio is the oldest to win a Texas State Amateur championship (1996), is a four-time Texas Senior Amateur champ, was three times a medalist in the U.S. Senior Amateur and the runner up at the 1994 U.S. Senior Amateur.

PlaySanAntonioGolf365.com writer Tim Price reported the incredible news (h/t Geoff Shackelford):

Though these were recreational rounds of golf away from formal competition, it still doesn't take Hullender long to place the accomplishment in his career.

"In just playing an every-day round of golf," Hullender said, "it's got to be up there."

Up there, like the odds of such a thing happening on a golf course in the first place. Just to make one hole-in-one, the odds of a low handicapper like Hullender making an ace are 5,000-to-1 according to the National Hole-In-One Registry. For that player to make two holes-in-one in 18 holes, the odds skyrocket to 67 million-to-1.

No, Hullender didn't make his in the same round, but who's counting when they came just three days apart? And then the next day he makes his double-eagle, which is universally regarded as more rare than a hole-in-one.

So what fluke allowed Hullender to pull off this sequence?

"There were no 'weirdos' about it," he said. "I knew I had the right club in my hands."

We love the confidence. And if there was any doubt about the strength of player Hullender is, check out the club selection and yardages from the 76-year-old for these three shots:

- The first hole-in-one: 7-iron from 158 yards
- The second hole-in-one: 9-iron from 138 yards
- The double-eagle: 3-hybrid from 215 yards

Amazing, amazing stuff.

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

 

 

January 22, 2014 - 10:54am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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John Daly at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
Getty Images
John Daly strolled the fairways of Qatar in "Augusta Magic" pants from Loudmouth Golf on Wednesday.
Whenever John Daly plays in a tournament, we all want to know two things – what did he shoot, and what pants is he wearing.
 
As it turns out, we here in America aren't the only ones.
 
Daly is playing in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters this week. The event started today (it ends Saturday), and Daly's pants were the subject of a post on the European Tour's website.
 
Near the end of their running coverage of the first round, our friends over there posted this:
 
''For all those who have been on tenterhooks all afternoon wondering what outfit John Daly had on, then wait no more. As you can see, our musings of nuclear colour schemes earlier in the round were indeed true.''
 
As you can see by the photo above, Daly definitely didn't disappoint.
 
A quick visit to the Loudmouth Golf website reveals that this pattern is called ''Augusta Magic,'' and they retail for $99.50 per pair.
 
Several of us on the PGA.com staff are down in Orlando this week for the big PGA Merchandise Show, where Loudmouth is one of the apparel exhibitors. I haven't been by their booth yet, but I bet they're smiling just a little bit bigger today.
 
Daly should be smiling, too – he opened with a stellar 67. He's only three off the lead, tied for eighth, and is the top American after the first day.
 
 
 
 
January 22, 2014 - 9:19am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tiger Woods
Getty Images
No player has dominated Torrey Pines quite like Tiger Woods.

One of the most scenic stops on the PGA Tour -- Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif. -- plays host to this week's Farmers Insurance Open.

Tiger Woods is the defending champion at Torrey, a place where the world's No. 1 golfer has won an incredible eight times as a professional, including the 2008 U.S. Open. This marks Tiger's first start of the 2014 season.

SCORES: Follow the Farmers Insurance Open all week with PGA.com's leaderboard

There's so much to love about the South Course at Torrey Pines -- the breathtaking views, the paragliders and especially the risk-reward, par-5 18th hole. That was the scene of Tiger's dramatic 72nd-hole birdie in the final round of the U.S. Open, which forced an epic Monday playoff with Rocco Mediate.

Unlike the last couple of weeks on Tour, the Farmers Insurance Open isn't the kind of tournament where you get lapped by the field for making pars.

With that, here are five players to watch:

5. Nick Watney
Best finish in 2013:
Second in the BMW Championship
Reason to watch: The bottom line is that Watney is downright comfortable at Torrey Pines. He's finished in the top-10 at Torrey Pines in four of the last five years, highlighted by an impressive win in 2009. Like a lot of players, this will mark Watney's first start of the new calendar year and the first time he tees it up on the PGA Tour since early November. There might be a little rust, but surely he can brush that off at a place that really seems to suit his game.

4. Charles Howell III
Best finish in 2013:
Second in a playoff at Humana Challenge
Reason to watch: There are many stops on the PGA Tour where one can say, "The only thing Charles Howell III hasn't done there is win." Torrey Pines is near the top of that list. Howell is such a solid player and it's nearly impossible to believe the truth that is he's only got two PGA Tour wins. Howell's best finish at Torrey was sole second in 2007 and he's sprinkled in a couple of top 10s since. Will he win this week? Who knows? Will he be contending? Probably. Howell -- unlike many -- has played lots of golf in this new season. He's already got seven starts under his belt for the 2014 season and four of those have been top-8 or better.

3. Brandt Snedeker
Best finish in 2013:
Winner of AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and RBC Canadian Open
Reason to watch: With a win and two runner-up finishes in his last four starts at Torrey Pines, Snedeker is a force in La Jolla. If the putter is behaving -- and it typically always is for Sneds -- he's going to be in the mix. In three starts this new season, Snedeker has left something to be desired with finishes of T55, T11 and T58. Look for things to turn around this week.

2. Phil Mickelson
Best finish in 2013:
Winner of the Waste Management Phoenix Open and The Open Championship
Reason to watch: It could be argued that no player on the PGA Tour has logged more rounds at Torrey Pines than Mickelson. It was his backyard growing up. He loves the place -- though hasn't been in love with some of the changes over the years. The last couple of years (at Torrey) haven't been anything of note for Mickelson -- a missed cut in 2012 and a tie for 51st in 2013. In 2011 though, Mickelson finished second. Over his career, Mickelson has won at Torrey Pines three times, but the most recent of those three was 13 years ago in 2001. Lefty is coming off a tie for second last week in Abu Dhabi. So, he'll have plenty of confidence when he tees it up on Thursday.

1. Tiger Woods
Best finish in 2013:
Winner of the Farmers Insurance Open, World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, The Players Championship and the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Reason to watch: Like I said in the intro, Tiger has won at Torrey eight times as a professional. What many players would consider a great career in terms of wins, Tiger has had just at one venue. Like so many times in the past, we've seen Tiger start out a great year at Torrey Pines. This shouldn't be any different.

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

 

Ken Griffey Jr.
Mike Benzie, PGA.com
Ken Griffey Jr. modifies his loft on the Nike Covert 2.0 driver. Griffey Jr. said he typically likes an 8-degree setting, but Nike had him up to 10.5 degrees.

Ken Griffey Jr. was among the longest of several Nike athletes driving golf balls into the massive 42-acre circular driving range at the PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day Tuesday. Griffey Jr. hit about 30 balls with the Nike Covert 2.0 driver. 

Here's a look at his swing:

 

His drives, calculated by Nike as he hit them, ranged from 270 to 290 yards and he was the longest of all the athletes attending, according to Nike. Also there: Griffey Jr.'s father Ken and brother Craig. Former baseball star Fred McGriff, saxophonist Mike Phillip, former NBA star Ron Harper, and former NFL stars Sterling Sharpe and Ryan Longwell.

PHOTOS: New drivers on display at Demo Day

Griffey Jr. said he's about a 9 handicap. He normally uses less loft - he prefers about 8.5 degrees, but Nike had him adjsut to 10.5 degrees with the driver. Griffey Jr. lives in Winter Garden, Fla. (where Demo Day is located) and plays his regular golf at Isleworth Golf and Country Club, also in Orange County. 

VIDEO: PGA.com's interview with Griffey Jr.

Longwell is the top golfer among the group, said Nike, boasting a 0.5 handicap. He was topping out at around 280 yards on his drives, according to Nike. Longwell said he grew up around the game with his father Paul a golf pro in Seattle. (By the way, Longwell said he's all-in with the Seahawks for the Super Bowl).

Approximately 100 golf companies attended the show at the Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge in Winter Garden, Fla. The PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day is run by the PGA of America and precedes the PGA Merchandise Show, which runs Jan. 22-24 in Orlando.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 21, 2014 - 10:33am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Patrick Reed
Getty Images
Patrick Reed made a huge move in the latest Ryder Cup standings, moving from No. 81 to No. 11 after winning the Humana Challenge on Sunday.

Patrick Reed's victory in the Humana Challenge on Sunday was the second of his career on the PGA Tour -- and second in his last nine starts. It also went a long way toward putting Reed in the Ryder Cup conversation for Team USA this fall.

Reed entered the Humana Challenge sitting at No. 81 in last week's U.S. Ryder Cup points standings. Following the victory, Reed rocketed to the No. 11 spot.

The bad news for Reed is that he was scheduled to play in this week's Farmers Insurance Open, but was forced to withdraw on Monday, citing displaced ribs.

2014 RYDER CUP: U.S. points standings | How U.S. Points are earned | Team USA | Team Europe

Zach Johnson, meanwhile, continued his incredible form. Johnson's tie for third at the Humana Challenge was his 11th top-10 finish in his last 14 starts, and good enough to move up two spots from No. 6 to No. 4 in the latest standings.

Here's a look at the current top 12:

1. Jimmy Walker
2. Phil Mickelson
3. Jason Dufner
4. Zach Johnson
5. Dustin Johnson
6. Harris English
7. Webb Simpson
8. Chris Kirk
9. Ryan Moore

-----------------
10. Brian Stuard
11. Patrick Reed
12. Matt Kuchar

Others making a move in the right direction at the Humana Challenge were Webb Simpson and Ryan Palmer. Simpson's tie for 23rd (thanks to a final-round 64), moved the former U.S. Open champ from No. 9 to No. 7. For his part, Palmer moved from No. 65 to No. 17 based on his second-place finish.

Tiger Woods, currently No. 23 in the latest standings, makes his 2014 season debut this week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines -- a venue where Woods has been a winner on eight occasions as a professional, including the 2008 U.S. Open.

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