Golf Buzz

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 Tour Finals -- is a player to watch this week in the 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 Open at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif., is the first event of the Tour's new wraparound schedule.

Follow the leaderboard on this weekend'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 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 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 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 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
tj.auclair's picture
FarmLinks Golf Club
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

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, or check it out on Facebook.

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

October 9, 2013 - 8:35am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Jason Day
@JDayGolf on Twitter
Jason Day (second from the right) summed up his experience with the Blue Jackets beautifully in this tweet: "Looking like a seasoned vet, skating like a beginner with a chair."

When you think Australian, the first thing that comes to mind is hockey, right?

We didn't think so.

But on Tuesday, hockey was on the mind of Australian golf star Jason Day, as he took the ice with the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets.

RELATED: What we learned from the Presidents Cup

You can watch how it played out here:



A little reminiscent of a baby giraffe learning to walk, no? Just kidding. That wasn't bad for a guy who has never been on skates before.

In case you're wondering how this all unfolded, Day -- now a resident of Westerville, Ohio, which is his wife Ellie's home town -- has become golf buddies with Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski (they're both members at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, where Day represented the International team over the weekend in the Presidents Cup).

Tuesday's practice was neither a game-day morning skate, nor was it the day before a game, making it the perfect time to extend the invitation to Day.

READ: Man, dressed as dog, aces hole and wins new car

“Man, it was tough,” Day told while cooling off in the Blue Jackets dressing room. “I thought I was going to be one of those people that just holds on to the glass the whole time. I think I did alright for being out on the ice for the first time ever, but I had these boys helping me.

“It’s kind of a new appreciation for how skilled these guys are; they obviously work hard, but to do what they’re doing on thin blades and make it look like they’re running around and the puck control is amazing.”

We're pretty sure Day will be sticking to golf.

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

October 8, 2013 - 1:14pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Golf dog
This lucky dog won a brand new car for a recent ace.

In news you don't expect to read every day, a dog in Massachusetts received a 2014 Ford Fusion recently as a prize for a hole-in-one.

What? Well, a man dressed as a dog.

A memorial tournament was being held at Presidents Golf Course in Quincy, Mass., where the prize for an ace on a par 3 was supposed to be a new Ford Fusion by Quirk Auto Dealers in Quincy.

READ: Your biggest golf course pet peeves

The hole was meant to measure 185 yards in length. However, whomever put the course set up together dropped the ball and set the hole to the length of 160 yards.

During the tournament, a man dressed in a dog costume -- minus the head -- did the unthinkable and aced the hole.

Initially, Quirk wasn't going to cough up the car because the hole's measurement wasn't what it was supposed to be.

Naturally, the dog/man's friend then took to Reddit, as often happens in these cases of perceived wrongdoing, and made his case.

“My buddy hit a hole in one at a charity golf tournament,” wrote the friend. “He was dressed in this costume (head was off) and it was at a ‘win a car’ hole.”

READ: Your favorite things about Fall golf

The friend then vented a little more about the injustice, making the argument that since the hole was still a legit 160 yards and that the dealership had plenty of time to correct the distance, that his buddy should be driving away in this $35,000 car.

Well, this story has a happy ending. Via its Facebook page, Quirk announced it will award the car to the dog after all.

Here's the statement:

Hello Facebook - We will be awarding our Golf Tournament Winner a Brand new Ford Fusion. We want to let you know that we did indeed buy insurance and the official rules of the contest were not exactly followed (for one he's a dog). That said we think that our winner had "one hell of a great shot!" and the outfit was second to none! Congratulations Cujo! Come Forward and claim your prize!

Good thing Quirk delivered. Nobody likes seeing a puppy sad. 

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

October 8, 2013 - 12:53pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tom Watson
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Tom Watson, 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain, is designing a nine-hole course in his home state of Missouri for children and those learning the game.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson is helping design a nine-hole golf course being tailored to children and others just learning the game.

The course, which will be alongside the 18-hole Mozingo Lake Golf Course in Maryville, Mo., is described as, "challenging, but not discouraging."

The newspaper reports that Watson paid a recent visit to the cleared land with a rangefinder in hand and began sketching out holes on paper.

READ: Exclusive Ryder Cup 2014 Captain's Blog with Tom Watson

"This golf course is short by normal standards," said Watson in the report. "This course is designed for beginners, for kids or anybody, really, to play the game where you aren't forced to play 400-yard par 4's or 500-yard par 5's or 180-yard par 3's.

"That's the whole idea for this, to make it fun for them and not too long, where they can hit a shot and get rewarded for it."

The course is expected to cost $550,000 to build and donations and commitments of $125,000 have already been raised.

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

October 8, 2013 - 12:33pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Brandt Snedeker
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Brandt Snedeker, a member of the winning U.S. Presidents Cup team on Sunday, was hoping to see older brother Haymes play in this week's U.S. Mid-Am. Those plans were foiled when Haymes lost his first-round match.

Haymes Snedeker -- older brother of PGA Tour star Brandt Snedeker -- was hoping to have his little brother in his gallery for a change.

Haymes, 37 years old and winner of the Golf Channel's Big Break X five years ago, was competing in this week's U.S. Mid-Amateur at the Country Club of Birmingham in Birmingham, Ala.

Brandt, four years younger than Haymes, was hoping to catch first-round action in the Mid-Am on Monday. After Sunday's victory in the Presidents Cup, however, Brandt was too tired to get to Birmingham. So, he sent Haymes a text message saying he would head to Birmingham if Haymes won his first-round match.

RELATED: What we learned from the Presidents Cup

It didn't pan out, as Rhode Islander Brad Valois handed the older Snedeker a 2-and-1 defeat.

"I know he was excited to come down here," Haymes, who works in real estate and is a part-time municipal judge in Fairhope, Ala., about 3 1/2 hours south of Birmingham, said in the USGA report. "It’s a shame I couldn't win one match."

One of the perks of winning Big Break in 2008 for Haymes, was a sponsor's exemption into the PGA Tour’s 2009 Children’s Miracle Classic at Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. That remains the only time since Brandt turned professional that the brothers were able to compete in the same event.

For the record, Brandt finished tied for 60th that week, while Haymes missed the cut.

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