Golf Buzz

September 18, 2013 - 6:43pm
Posted by:
John Kim
john.kim's picture
Welcome to the 2013 PGA Cup
PGA.com
The 2013 PGA Cup promises to be an intense and exciting battle between two great squads.
Perhaps the question I've been asked the most in my years working in the golf industry is, "What's your favorite golf event to attend?"
 
The answer never fails to surprise - but it's totally sincere.  My favorite event in golf is the PGA Cup.
 
I can hear you all the way from De Vere Slaley Hall, Hexham, Northumberland, England. "The what?!"
 
In short, the PGA Cup is the same competition as the more heralded Ryder Cup - but the players are the top playing club professionals from each side of the pond (Team USA vs. a team from Great Britain & Ireland). Like the Ryder Cup, the competition is jointly managed by The PGA of America and a European partner (in this case, The PGA). It has the same five-session format (two foursomes, two four-balls and a singles match) and, though certainly less fanfare, it has every bit of the passion, enthusiasm, intensity and camaraderie of its more celebrated sibling event.
 
So now you're thinking, "You're just saying this because you work for the PGA."
 
Well, keep in mind The PGA of America puts on many great championships. I'm not sure they'd love me ranking one above any other (and hey, these include one of golf's four majors - the PGA Championship, the most prestigious major in senior golf (Senior PGA Championship), the PGA Professional National Championship and yes, the Ryder Cup). But if I had to choose one event to attend, to witness and enjoy and be a part of? Well, I'm here in the UK this week for a reason.
 
So this brings us to "Why? What's makes this event so great and why should I (the golf fan) care?"
 
In addition to what I mentioned earlier (the very real intensity, drama, passion, etc.), there are other reasons the PGA Cup has always resonated within me.
 
These players have so much talent (every member of the U.S. team has played in at least one major championship and the GB&I team is stacked full of players that have European Tour experience) and the desire to win the Llandudno International Golf Trophy is as fierce as any trophy in golf. Yes, I said any trophy in golf. (You can read more about the storied history of the event here.)  
 
Even more, none of these guys are in this for a paycheck (no money here) or an endorsement deal. The concept of team here really means something. These players eat together, practice together, travel together. The desire to perform for each other reaches a level I don't think I've ever seen in golf. Real tears and real emotions flow freely at the PGA Cup. Earlier this year, one of the American players - Chip Sullivan - stated after he had qualified to play in the PGA Championship that, as happy as he was, he was even more concerned about making the PGA Cup team. And the folks that know about this event never batted an eye. That's how special it is. 
 
And there's another significant reason. It's a bit cliched, but it's really true: Patriotism.
 
When the Ryder Cup is played, there are many American fans that will root for a Rory McIlroy, a Graeme McDowell or an Ian Poulter over many American players.  It's just fact - they have huge fan followings. But outside of the real hardcore golf fans that know of the exploits of a Mike Small or Rod Perry, for example, the golf public knows little about the individual players in the PGA Cup.  
 
And that's OK. That's almost the beauty of it. Because none of these guys are here for individual glory. They all wear the same shirt with the same flag on it. And this is what matters to them. They want to win for themselves, each other, their captain (the ever-popular PGA Honorary President Allen Wronowski), their association and, just as importantly, the United States of America. 
 
You can see lips quiver when the National Anthem is played. The red, white and blue will be on display here in the English countryside this week - and of course, a very proud contingent of Great Britain & Ireland fans will answer right back. I liken it to college football.  You don't have to care that you don't know every player. You love the logo on the helmet more than anything (SEC fans, talking to you.)  Or like the Olympics, you can watch any event and you already know what team you're going to scream your guts out for.  It doesn't matter if you know the names or even the sport itself. 
 
Finally, I've been given an unbelievable opportunity this week to do something that I'm not sure has ever been done in golf before.  I've been afforded access to areas, conversations and meetings that no one outside the team (any team) has seen. I've already sat in on a rules meeting with both teams and officials and a team huddle in the USA team room. It's fascinating. Any golf fan would feel like hearing and seeing some of these things is a peek at what makes great events...great. Really great. 
 
So my job this week is to share some of that passion - the passion of the event and my passion for the event - with you.  I'll write about it on PGA.com, where we will have comprehensive coverage of course.  You can also follow along for updates and special scenes via our Facebook page and Twitter account.    
 
You may or may not feel like it's your favorite event in golf at the end of the week.  But I promise you, if you give it a good chance, you'll develop an appreciation for it that you did not have - and it will take its rightful place as one of the premier international team events in the golf world. 
 
Let's have a great week. 

You can follow John Kim on Twitter at @johnkim
 
September 17, 2013 - 9:42pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Southern Cal women's team
NCAA.com
The University of Southern California women's team won the 2013 national championship at stroke play, but will have to try to defend its team title under a match-play format.

A few years after the NCAA Division I men's golf championship switched to a combination of stroke play and match play, the women will follow suit starting in 2015.

Even after the change goes into effect, the individual champion will still be decided by 72 holes of stroke play. The full field will compete for the first three days, after which there will be a cut to the low 36 players and ties. The individual champion will be decided on the fourth and final day of stroke play, while the top eight teams after 54 holes of stroke play will advance to match play.

The team title will be determined over the final two days of the tournament. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be held the day after the individual champion is crowned, with the final staged on the sixth and final day of competition.

The new format is a marked change from the existing system in which the women's team championship is decided over four days and 72 holes of stroke play. And when it goes to the new format, the tournament will switch to a Friday-Wednesday schedule, which will allow the Golf Channel – which will begin televising it in 2015 – to devote more airtime to it without bumping into its pro tour coverage.

''Over a year ago when our committee met, one of the topics discussed was how we could grow our sport and provide our student-athletes more exposure,'' Division I Women’s Golf Committee Chair Theresa Becker, the associate athletics director at Kansas, said in a report on NCAA.com explaining the format change.

The 2015 women's and men's championships will be played at the same venue, The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla., in successive weeks. The women will play first, with the men staging their event after the women's championship is finished.

 

September 15, 2013 - 10:19pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Luke Donald's clubs at Conway Farms
Luke Donald via Twitter
Luke Donald's clubs have been on display since he shot a course-record of 61 there a few years ago. Now that Jim Furyk has posted a 59, will his sticks replace Donald's?

Winning the Daytona 500 is every NASCAR driver's dream. But when they give you the trophy, they also take away your car and put it on display for a year.

The same kind of thing happened to Luke Donald when he set the course record at Conway Farms, the course that's been hosting the PGA Tour's BMW Championship the last several days. Donald set the low mark of 61 there a few years ago – and to commemorate his accomplishment, Conway Farms put his clubs up on the wall.

And there they remained – until Jim Furyk carded his 59 on Friday. So, finally, Donald might get to reclaim his precious sticks.

''Well at least I get my clubs back!,'' he tweeted on Sunday, adding the hashtags #CourseRecordSmashed and #Furyk59 along with the photo above of his clubs on display.

We should note that Donald said last week that he set the Conway Farms course record before ''they Luke-proofed'' the layout by adding some length and making a few other changes over the past few years. He said he wasn't sure what the low score had been since those changes were made.

Whatever it was, it became moot when Furyk signed his scorecard on Friday. And might we presume that the folks at the Farms have or will request his clubs? 

Wonder if he'll turn them over? We better keep an eye on Furyk's caddie, Fluff Cowan, on the final green Monday to see if some big scary dudes show up to confiscate them!

Okay, just kidding about that, but Furyk already has had to replace one item from his record round. The World Golf Hall of Fame requested a memento, so he signed his glove and turned it over to them.

 

 

September 12, 2013 - 9:15am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Dick Fowler, P.I.
YouTube
In the latest Farmers Insurance, Dick Fowler, P.I. commercial, Rickie Fowler is bringing justice to the fairways once again.
 
Well, folks, buckle up because Dick Fowler, P.I. is at it again.
 
I've read mixed reviews on these commercials, but I don't get it. I'm all in. I think they're hilarious. They make me think back to those cheesy action series shows in the 1980s like the A-Team. Maybe it's nostalgia. Maybe it's just darn funny.
 
Either way, I really like the latest effort: Driver v. Driver.
 
To set the scene, Rickie Fowler -- as Dick Fowler, P.I. -- pulls back his club to hit a tee shot. Just as he's about to start toward the ball, an obnoxious driver of a car lays on the horn. 
 
Needless to say, that didn't sit well with Fowler and he sprung into action.
 
 
Extra points, in my book, to the folks at Farmers for the disclaimer you'll see at the bottom of the screen toward the end of the commercial. 
 
This might not be everyone's cup of tea, but can we all agree it's a step up from the Golf Boys?
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
 
September 12, 2013 - 12:29am
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Arron Oberholser
Getty Images
Arron Oberholser says "it's very disappointing" to think about retiring so soon, but adds that he's okay with the idea that his playing career might truly be over.

Arron Oberholser was really hoping that this comeback would be the one – the last one. Instead, it lasted only one week – and it might mark the end of his promising but oft-interrupted career.

Oberholser, 38, withdrew from the Web.com Tour's Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship on Wednesday because of recurring pain in his left hand, and said afterward that his competitive career – during which he has missed close to five years because of wrist and hand issues – is likely over.

''I don't know where I'm going to go from here. Home first of all to talk to the doctor and my wife and figure out if there’s anything else I can do,'' he told PGATour.com. ''I feel like I've pretty much exhausted all efforts and now it may be a matter of the ''R'' word. The forced R-word is looming over me more than ever now.''

If this is indeed the end of his playing career, he added, he's okay with that.

''I've thought about that a lot and if that's the case and I decide to do that (retire), then I'll accept that,'' he said. ''There might be a little bitterness, I won't lie about that. Five of my best years were taken away from me, but it's a professional sport and these kinds of things happen. I'm not the only guy that this has happened to.''

Oberholser, 38, won twice on the Web.com Tour in 2002, jumped up to the PGA Tour in 2003 and played more than five years without incident. His best season came in 2006, PGATour.com said, when he made 20 of 23 cuts, had 13 top-25 finishes and ended the year No. 23rd on the money list.

After his latest absence, he teed it up in the first Web.com Tour Finals event, where he posted encouraging rounds of 66-68-68 before a final-round 73 bumped him down into a tie for 18th place. Unfortunately, the pain returned, and he was forced to skip last week's second Finals event. He was hoping to play both this week and next week before the pain flared up again during his pro-am round on Wednesday.

''It's very disappointing. Because of the way I played and how it felt for the first three days in Fort Wayne, I really thought I licked this thing,'' he said. ''I thought I was on my way back up to where I was and where I have been and that I was just continuing a journey with a minor five-year gap. Unfortunately, it might not work out that way.''

 

September 11, 2013 - 2:19pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
The Short Game
Phase 4 Films and Samuel Goldwyn Films
Alexa Pano and Allan Kournikova in "The Short Game."
The golf documentary "The Short Game" is nearly set for its anticipated opening in U.S. movie theaters.
 
The feature length film from Phase 4 Films and Samuel Goldwyn Films received a 2013 South by Southwest Film Festival Audience Award for Documentary Feature. It was named a must see at the festival by Yahoo! Movie Talk
 
 
Here's a basic summary of the film from the press release:
 
"The Short Game" follows the lives of eight of the best 7-year-old golfers in the world as they train for and compete in the World Championships of Junior Golf. The annual tournament held at golfing mecca Pinehurst, North Carolina, brings in 1,500 young golfers from 54 different countries and determines who will be crowned golf’s next phenom. In its course, the eight stories entwine to form a fascinating and often funny portrait of a group of very young athletes and their families, in which the narrow-focused, peculiar and highly competitive junior golf subculture becomes both a window into contemporary global society and an inspiring reflection of the human condition.
 
The movie will feature cameos by "some of golf’s most iconic playing and teaching legends," including PGA members Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam, Bob Toski, Chi-Chi Rodriguez and PGA Honorary Member Gary Player. 
 
 
The movie is partnering with the PGA of America to help promote the film.
 
“The PGA of America is proud to partner with Phase 4 Films and Samuel Goldwyn Films in the promotion of ‘The Short Game,’ which is a very fun and entertaining movie on the ups and downs of competing in junior golf,” said PGA President Ted Bishop in the press release. “We believe it is important to lend our support to this motion picture, which advances the game of golf and introduces it to new and exciting audiences. This is a film that everyone can enjoy for its humor and compelling nature of showing the commitment these junior golfers make, in order to play the game against the best young golfers in the world"
 
Said Berry Meyerowitz, President & CEO of Phase 4 Films: “This movie is for golf fans of all generations, as it communicates the important message that working hard will help you to achieve your goals and dreams.”
 
The movie is directed by Emmy Award winner Josh Greenbaum. Entertainers Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel are among executive producers on the film.
 
“The Short Game” will open in select cities on September 20th. For more information, visit www.theshortgamemovie.com
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.