Golf Buzz

October 10, 2013 - 9:48am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Lydia Ko
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As an amateur, New Zealand's Lydia Ko has already won four professional events. All indications are that Ko is ready to turn professional.

Lydia Ko, the teen star from New Zealand and No. 1-ranked woman amateur in the world (she's also No. 5 in the world among all female golfers), is ready to make the jump to professional golf.

The 16-year-old, who turns 17 next April, has decided that her next start in a professional event will be as a professional, according to a report by GolfChannel.com's Randall Mell.

PGA Professional's amazing hole in one feat during round

Mell wrote that Ko's mother, Tina Hyon, told GolfChannel.com Wednesday that Lydia will make the trip to Naples, Fla., for the LPGA's season-ending CME Group Titleholders next month and is also considering a possible spot in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico the week before.

“If she plays any pro events now, she will play as a pro,” Hyon wrote GolfChannel.com in an email.

Here's a fun video from New Zealand Golf showing Ko as an 8-year-old on the golf course and tracking her rise to fame:

 

 

Ko is already well-versed in the professional game with four professional wins as an amateur, including a successful defense of her CN Canadian Women's Open in August on the LPGA Tour. When Ko won the event in 2012 at age 15, she became the LPGA's youngest winner.

The LPGA requires its members be at least 18 years old, but Ko's mother told Golf Channel that the family has officially filed a petition seeking a waiver to the rule.

Mell writes: "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."

Lexi Thompson won the Navistar Classic in September of 2011 at age 16. She petitioned a for a waiver of the Tour's age restriction -- deferring to the 2012 season -- and was granted the waiver shortly thereafter.

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

 

October 9, 2013 - 6:16pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Craig Thomas
Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
If Craig Thomas' practice round at the Southworth Senior PNC on Wednesday is any indication, he's a red-hot favorite this week.

How do you warm up for a tournament? Well, if you're PGA Professional Craig Thomas, you don't just make an ace in your practice round. You make two aces. 

Not only that, you make both of those holes-in-one in the span of three holes.

Had a hole in one? Register your hole in one at the official PGA.com hole in one database

Thomas, the PGA head professional at Metropolis Country Club in White Plains, N.Y., aced both the 15th and 17th holes at Creighton Farms in Aldie, Va., on Wednesday during his final warm-up for this week’s Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship. Thomas, who turned 50 in August, is making his debut in this event, the biggest for PGA club professionals age 50 or older.

SOUTHWORTH SENIOR PNC: Follow all the action along with us

Thomas used a 7-iron on the 169-yard, par-3 15th at Creighton Farms, and holed out a 5-iron on the 205-yard, par-3 17th hole. Unfortunately for him, he didn't see either go in. 

''My eyes are going, so I tell my playing partners that I haven’t seen a ball even land in a year,'' Thomas told Randy Stutzman of The PGA of America. ''Brett Upper told me the ball bounced once and went in on 15. And on 17, Mark Mielke said that 17 is an easy par 3. He said, 'You hit it left and the ball will go down to the hole, or hit it right, and it works about the same way.' 

''Mark said that I hit it 15 feet short and left and the ball trickled toward the hole. I thought there's no way this could happen again. But it did.''

The practice round itself is kind of unique - score isn't kept and pros will sometimes putt multiple times on the green, but Stutzman said both aces were legit. One ball on each. 

There are several sources that cite odds, but for a Tour caliber player, the odds range at about 3,000 to 1 for a hole in one. Two aces in a round and the odds go to 1 in 67 million.And if you think making two aces in one round is amazing, check this out.

Before Wednesday, the most recent of Thomas' nine career holes-in-one came on the 17th hole at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis. – during a practice round for the 2004 PGA Championship.

 

 

 

October 9, 2013 - 3:19pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Muirfield Village
www.Dispatch.com
This golf ball sculpture was stolen from just outside the gates of Muirfield Village on Monday.

Thieves have until Sunday to return an oversized golf ball and tee to the folks at Muirfield Village -- site of the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament and last week's Presidents Cup -- or else.

Columbus Dispatch writer Randy Ludlow reports that Dublin police announced an amnesty offer Tuesday after the giant golf ball, decorated with the Memorial Tournament logo, disappeared on Monday.

Ludlow writes, "The stand, tee and ball are about 5 1/2 feet tall and weigh more than 200 pounds. The ball is 3 feet wide. Suffice it to say, no one stuffed it into his or her pocket."

RELATED: Man, dressed as dog, wins new car after hole in one

Dublin police say no questions will be asked, and no charges filed, if the $2,500 sculpture is returned, undamaged, before midnight Saturday. After that time, those responsible will face felony charges.

Ludlow's report also states that 18 of these golf-ball sculptures, "sold for $1,500 each to sponsors who then paid artists to decorate them for the '18 Drives Through Dublin' public art exhibit that began before the Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

"The giant golf balls are scheduled to remain on display throughout Dublin until June 2014, after next year’s Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village is completed."

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

October 9, 2013 - 2:10pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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James Driscoll
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Throughout the new season, James Driscoll will be wearing clothes from a number of different designers.

PGA Tour golfer James Driscoll will be making a fashion statement on the fairways this season after signing a deal with TRENDYGOLF USA -- America's leading online retailer of designer golf-lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories.

In most cases, touring pros either endorse a clothing company or their clothing is also a part of their respective equipment deals. For example, Nike equipment-sponsored players also wear Nike clothing and footwear.

That won't be the case for Driscoll, who will routinely be wearing different names.

RELATED: Five players to watch in this week's FRYS.com Open

As part of this relationship, the 36-year-old Boston native will carry a custom-made TRENDYGOLF staff bag in competition. Included in the program will be a diverse range of pieces from Aquascutum, Armani, Chervo, Colmar, Dunning, Elevee, Gabicci, Galvin Green, Golfino, Hugo Boss, J.Lindeberg and others.

“This relationship with James is a major step forward in how we communicate our belief that the way you dress definitely affects your game,” says Adrienne Cass, Managing Director of TRENDYGOLF USA. “He’s a fantastic player, has a very athletic build and will embody how trends should be worn by choosing outfits that properly fit his body type and the climate conditions.”

Driscoll will work with TRENDYGOLF on a weekly basis to choose outfits that best suit his look, mood and location. Aside from the arrangement being unique -- Driscoll wearing a different name regularly -- the deal is also unique because his looks will always be available for immediate purchase to fans on TrendyGolf.com.

“Getting to mix and match all the brands from day to day over the course of the season is going to be a really cool opportunity,” says Driscoll. “Essentially, TRENDYGOLF will be my personal stylist and help to make certain I have the same sense of confidence inside the ropes that I get off the course when I wear clothes that look great and fit well.”

To learn more about TRENDYGOLF USA, visit www.trendygolf.com. You can also like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, @TRENDYGOLF.

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

October 9, 2013 - 11:09am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Trevor Immelman
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Past Masters champion Trevor Immelman -- coming off a win during the Web.com Tour Finals -- is a player to watch this week in the Frys.com Open, which marks the start of a new PGA Tour season.

Hard to believe, but the new 2013-2014 PGA Tour season tees off this week.

But wasn't the Tour Championship less than one month ago? It sure was. But, this week's Frys.com Open at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif., is the first event of the Tour's new wraparound schedule.

Follow the Frys.com leaderboard on PGA.com this weekend

PGATour.com's Sean Martin has a great breakdown of all the things you need to know regarding this unique 2013-14 season, including -- most notably -- that the winners of the six tournaments that take place before January 1, 2014, will be granted an invitation to the Masters next April. Previously, winners of these six events did not get Masters invitations when the events did not offer FedExCup points.

With a new season upon us, here's a look at five players to watch in this week's Frys.com Open.

READ: Sean O'Hair looks for head start on second chance

Player: Gary Woodland
Best finish in 2013: Winner of the Reno-Tahoe Open
Reason to watch: Woodland's got to be chomping at the bit knowing that a new season starts almost immediately after his solid finish to the previous season. Woodland was so-so for much of 2013 -- evidenced by the fact that his win two months ago was one of only two top-10 finishes all year -- but turned it on at the end. Along with the win in Reno, Woodland also registered a runner-up showing at the FedExCup Playoffs opening Barclays. The strength of that finish, along with a tie for 22nd at the BMW Championship, helped secure a spot for Woodland in the Tour Championship. He tied for 22nd at East Lake and ended the season at No. 23 in the final FedExCup standings.

Player: Billy Horschel
Best finish in 2013: Winner of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Reason to watch: There are many reasons to watch Horschel. Aside from being one of the PGA Tour's rising stars, he's also one of the fieriest competitors. Through most of April of this year, Horschel was arguably the hottest player in the world. Starting with a tie for second at the Shell Houston Open, Horschel finished no worse than a tie for ninth in a four consecutive starts (also tied for third at the Valero Texas Open; tied for ninth at the RBC Heritage; and capped off the stretch with the win in New Orleans). Horschel cooled off considerably after that run, but still picked up a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open (everyone remember those hideous Octopus pants?) and ended the season with a tie for seventh in the Tour Championship... all of which brings us to the Frys.com Open where Horschel tied for seventh in 2011.

FRYS.COM OPEN: Which big names will play at CordeValle in near future?

Player: Hideki Matsuyama
Best finish in 2013: Tie for sixth in the Open Championship
Reason to watch: You want to talk about rising stars? The 21-year-old from Japan turned professional in April 2013 and proceeded to win his second professional tournament (the first was as an amateur), the 2013 Tsuruya Open on the Japan Golf Tour. After a tie for 10th at the U.S. Open, Matsuyama cracked the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking. In case anyone thought that was a fluke, Matsuyama backed it up with a tie for sixth in the Open Championship. Because of his lack of status in 2013, Matsuyama only had seven starts on the PGA Tour. He made the cut in six of those and finished in the top 25 each time. Matsuyama was also a member of the International team at last week's Presidents Cup.

Player: Trevor Immelman
Best finish in 2013: Tie for ninth at the RBC Heritage
Reason to watch: After a win at the 2008 Masters -- the first for a South African-born player since Gary Player 30 years earlier -- Immelman seemed destined for superstardom. Unfortunately, illness and injuries prevented Immelman from maintaining his form. In fact, 2013 was the last year of Immelman's five-year exemption for winning the Masters. And it was a tough year. The 33-year-old made the cut in just half of his 24 PGA Tour starts with a lone top-10 at the RBC Heritage. Needing something to go right, Immelman snapped out of his slump in a big way, winning the first event in the Web.com Tour Finals -- the Hotel Fitness Championship -- to secure a spot on the PGA Tour for the 2013-14 season. Immelman missed the cut in each of the final three Web.com Tour Finals events, but something tells me he's delighted to turn the page on an old season and begin a new one.

NOTEBOOK: Dufner learned PGA Tour 'hard knocks' lessons from unlikely mentor

Player: Jimmy Walker
Best finish of 2013: Tied for second at the Greenbrier Classic
Reason to watch: It's almost unfathomable that the 34-year-old is still winless on the PGA Tour. It just seems like he's always in the mix. In 2013, for instance, he notched 10 top-25 finishes. Five of those were top 10s. Walker had six top 10s in 2012 and four in 2011. It's only a matter of time before he finally kicks the door in. Walker has got to be jacked for his start at CordeValle this week too after missing out on the Tour Championship by a six spots.

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

October 9, 2013 - 9:42am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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FarmLinks Golf Club
FarmLinks
The postcard-like fifth hole at FarmLinks Golf Club.

One of the most frequent reasons given for why people aren't interested in playing more golf is this: it takes too long.

FarmLinks Golf Club at Pursell Farms in Sylacauga, Ala., is on a mission to do its part to tackle the game's biggest issue when it comes to getting folks out to play.

On Saturday, Nov. 2, the course -- located an hour from Birmingham and ranked the No. 1 public course in Alabama -- is hosting an experimental, open-to-the-public day of golf on with a goal of keeping all rounds at or around 3 1/2 hours.

RELATED: Your votes for best golf courses in Alabama

A special rate of $90, 30 percent less than a regular green fee at FarmLinks, will include all-you-can-play-golf, a cart, a Southern-style lunch, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, unlimited use of the practice range and a "FarmLinks 3.5 Club" golf hat.

For almost any course this is an incredible deal. At a top-rated course, it's an absolute steal.

Tee times must be made in advance of this event and are available on a first-come, first serve basis. If you're in the area, call (256) 208-7600 to book your tee time, or email Director of Golf Terry Davis at tdavis@pursellfarms.com.

The big question here is: How do you get folks to play a round at or around 3 1/2 hours?

To that end, FarmLinks will encourage all guests to play "ready golf" on every shot, maintain pace with the immediate group ahead, keep lost-ball searches to one minute or less, restrict the use of ball markers on the green and more. FarmLinks will record data from the experiment to determine which strategies were most beneficial, what areas need improvement and provide additional methods to aid pace-of-play.

“As the world’s first and only research and demonstration golf course, FarmLinks has the unique opportunity to offer feedback and insight to the industry regarding these pace-of-play suggestions,” said Pursell Farms CEO David Pursell. “We will seek to prove that a full field of golfers can play 18 holes in less time, while still enjoying the game and not feeling rushed.”

To learn more, visit FarmLinks at www.farmlinks.org/golf, or check it out on Facebook.

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

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