Golf Buzz

February 4, 2014 - 4:37pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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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:
 
 
 
February 4, 2014 - 2:38pm
Posted by:
John Kim
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Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning
Photo: Getty Images
Peyton Manning joins his friend Tiger Woods at the 2009 Quail Hollow Championship Pro-Am.

All eyes will be on PGA Tour player Scott Langley this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Or, I should say, on Scott Langely's group.

Why? Because also in that group will be five-time NFL MVP (including this past season) Peyton Manning.

The sure-fire Hall-of-Famer-to-be was a late entry into the field, understandable since he did have some commitments this past weekend. The Denver Broncos quarterback 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.

* A Quick Nine: What celebrity would you most like to play with **

There will be no jokes about hoping his irons are more accurate than his Super Bowl throws, or wishes his putts don't get intercepted. Nope, not from me. I'm sure he wishes he and his team would have performed better this past weekend - but is there a better place on the planet to go and get your mind off of your "real job"?  

You can follow John Kim on Twitter at @johnkim

February 3, 2014 - 10:39pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tiger Woods at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic
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Tiger Woods plans to work on his putting after a pair of disappointing starts to open his 2014 campaign.
Tiger Woods did something he's never done before last weekend in Dubai. And for once in his storied career, it wasn't something good.
 
By finishing tied for 41st in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic the week after he played only three rounds and finished 80th at the Farmers Insurance Open, Woods finished outside the top 20 in his first two starts of a season for the first time in his 18 seasons on tour.
 
Before this year, Woods' worst start to a season came in 2011, when he tied for 44th at Torrey Pines and 20th in Dubai. He started 2013 with a missed cut in Abu Dhabi, but bounced back to win at Torrey Pines.
 
Woods has won at least one of his first two starts in a calendar year an amazing nine times. And in three of those years, he won both of his first two starts.
 
 
"Unfortunately, I turned it around too late,'' said Woods on Sunday after he birdied the last three holes of his final-round 71 in Dubai. ''I drove it great today. My iron game was not as sharp as I'd like, and I didn't make anything. I had seven lip-outs. ''
 
After his disappointing showing with his approach game and his putting, he vowed to focus on those aspects of his game.
 
"I'm definitely going to work on my putting,'' he said. ''My light putting needs to be better than it has been. I'm hitting my lines, I just don't have the speed right."
 
Woods watched the Super Bowl in Dubai, then jetted off to India for a private exhibition match in Delhi on Tuesday. He hasn't yet confirmed his schedule, but he is believed to be planning to make his next start at the Honda Classic at PGA National followed by the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.
 
February 3, 2014 - 5:45pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Kevin Stadler and Craig Stadler
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Kevin Stadler (l) and father Craig played together at Pebble Beach back in 2005. In April, they'll become the first father and son to play in the same Masters.
No doubt, Kevin Stadler was thrilled to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Sunday, edging Bubba Watson by a shot on the final hole for his first PGA Tour victory. Perhaps even more thrilled was his dad, Craig Stadler – not only because his kid had finally broken through on the big stage, but also because Kevin's win means that "the Walrus" and "the Smallrus" will both play the Masters in two months.
 
Making the moment even bigger is that the Stadlers will become the first father and son to play in the same Masters. 
 
"I kept saying, you know, when he gets in, that's my last one,'' Craig Stadler, 60, said on a conference call in the wake of Kevin's victory. "I kept saying, you know, when he gets in, that's my last one.''
 
The senior Stadler, of course, won the 1982 Masters, and owns another dozen PGA Tour titles. Kevin got his first win in his 239th career PGA Tour start, though he also owns a European Tour title and four wins on what is now the Web.com Tour.
 
 
Craig Stadler was asked how he and his son compared to each other.
 
"We both love golf, and I don't know about him but I'm his biggest fan,'' he replied. "He probably doesn't know it, but I love watching him play on TV and on the Internet. He's a hell of an iron player, one of the better iron players I have seen.
 
"Other than that, we don't look even remotely close to each other," he quipped, drawing howls of laughter from his audience on the phone. (For the record, the PGA Tour website lists both father and son at 5-foot-10 and 250 pounds.) 
 
Being in the Masters field with his son will be ''awesome,'' Stadler said. ''I took him [to Augusta National], oh, ages ago, and I don't think he's been there since. Probably 20 years ago. It will be great, an awesome week."
 
 
As for Kevin, he can’t wait to get to Augusta National, either.
 
"[The Masters berth for winning a PGA Tour event] was in the forefront of my mind," he admitted after his victory on Sunday. "[Craig] probably would have liked it better if I had gotten there five years ago or so. He's been telling me for a couple of years I need to hurry up and get there before he calls it quits."
 
One more note before I let this go: Back in 2004, the Stadlers established another golf first. Craig won the Bank of America Championship on the Champions Tour, then merely minutes later Kevin won the Lake Erie Charity Classic on what is now the Web.com Tour. A father and son had won PGA Tour-sanctioned events on the same day only once before – back in 1999, when Bob Duval won the Emerald Coast Classic and son David captured The Players Championship.
 
Kevin Stadler
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Kevin Stadler takes a drop ball on the 11th hole during the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 2, 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

By Brad Gregory, Co-Chairman, PGA Rules Committee

During the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Kevin Stadler found himself in a sticky situation.

On the 11th hole, his tee shot ended up stuck to a cholla (pronounced choy-yah) cactus. Unable to play the ball Stadler decided to proceed under the ball unplayable Rule, incurring a one stroke penalty and drop a ball within two club-lengths of where the original ball lied in the cactus.

READ: Kevin Stadler makes big move in Ryder Cup standings | Full points list

The television announcers questioned whether Stadler had to retrieve the ball.

Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable) allows a player to substitute a ball no matter how easy or difficult it would be to retrieve the original ball. This was an exceptionally good thing for Stadler as those that play golf in the desert know “there is no joy-yah in cholla”.

Brad Gregory is a PGA Master Professional from Show Low, Arizona, and a Co-Chairman of the PGA Rules Committee.

See video highlights below:

 

February 3, 2014 - 11:29am
Posted by:
John Byrwa
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Kevin Stadler, 2014 Ryder Cup
Getty Images
Kevin Stadler carded a final-round 68 to earn his first win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Newly crowned Waste Management Phoenix Open champion Kevin Stadler will now begin to reap the many rewards that come with winning his first PGA Tour title.

There’s the satisfaction of realizing a lifelong dream.

There’s the gratification of knowing that you can perform at your highest level when the pressure is the most crushing.

There’s the two-year PGA Tour exemption and, of course, the hefty winner’s check.

And if that weren’t enough, Stadler and his dad, 13-time PGA Tour winner Craig Stadler, will also make history come April when they become the first father-and-son duo to compete in the same Masters.

But if he keeps up his stellar play, perhaps his most prestigious reward would come in September in Scotland.

With his white-knuckle final-hole victory over Bubba Watson at TPC Scottsdale on Sunday, the soon-to-be 34-year-old Stadler – his birthday is this Wednesday – earned a valuable 1,116.002 points to vault 38 places into the top 10 of the latest Team USA Ryder Cup Points Standings.

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

Here’s a quick look at the current top 12:

1.      Jimmy Walker (2,417.83)
2.      Phil Mickelson (2,374.98)
3.      Jason Dufner (2,261.28)
4.      Zach Johnson (2,196.28)
5.      Harris English (2,106.94)
6.      Dustin Johnson (2,012.41)
7.      Ryan Moore (1,986.20)
8.      Webb Simpson (1,982.90)
9.      Chris Kirk (1,805.31)
----------------------------------------------

10.   Kevin Stadler (1,492.70)
11.   Brian Stuard (1,228.11)
12.   Patrick Reed (1,217.55)

Watson, who played brilliantly through 68 holes, stumbled down the stretch in Scottsdale to miss out on his first win since the 2012 Masters. He drove it in the water en route to a bogey on the par-5 15th – shockingly, the long-bomber made only one birdie and three pars on the reachable 553-yard hole – then bogeyed the par-3 16th before missing a 5-foot par putt on the 18th green that would have forced a playoff with Stadler.

As a consolation prize, Watson earned enough Ryder Cup points to jump from 50th place to 19th.

Among those who also improved their respective place on the U.S. points standings were Ryan Moore, who jumped from ninth to seventh; Charles Howell III (18 to 15); Chris Stroud (22 to 21); Hunter Mahan (37 to 26); Pat Perez (33 to 27) and Brendan Steele (69 to 49).

This week, the PGA Tour moves to California’s picturesque Monterey Peninsula for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.