Golf Buzz

Terry Jastrow
Courtesy of Terry Jastrow
Emmy-winning golf producer and director Terry Jastrow (in white shirt) is releasing his new golf movie, "The Squeeze," in a unique partnership with Groupon.
Remember Groupon? I have to admit, I hadn't given much thought to the discount-deal website in a while – until word came out about an interesting new deal it'll soon be offering.
On April 16 – right after the Masters – Groupon will offer its first-ever digital download of a movie. And that movie is "The Squeeze," the directorial debut of Terry Jastrow, who golf fans know well for his production and direction of 62 majors over a 22-year span at ABC Sports.
Jastrow, who played college golf at the University of Houston back when the Cougars were a perennial powerhouse, earned seven Emmy Awards for his work at ABC, but this is the first movie he's written and directed. He describes it as a caper about a small-town golfer who gets caught up in high-stakes golf matches with notorious gamblers in Las Vegas. 
The promotional materials calls it "sort of 'The Sting' meets 'Tin Cup' with a dollop of 'Caddyshack.'" Jeremy Sumpter ("Friday Night Lights", "Peter Pan") plays the lead character, and Jastrow says he plays to a 9 handicap in real life. Also in the cast are Christopher McDonald ("Happy Gilmore"), Katherine LaNasa ("The Campaign"), Michael Nouri ("Taken Away") and Jason Dohring ("Veronica Mars").
Now, the deal. Groupon is offering two separate packages. For $19.99, you can get the movie plus Tom Watson's "Lessons of a Lifetime" DVD set (a $47.95 value). Or you can get the movie plus a tee time in your area via EZ Link for $13.99 (a $28 value).
"We're very excited about partnering with Groupon," said Jastrow. "The movie business is forever looking for robust new distribution outlets. If this Groupon campaign with 'The Squeeze' works, it could create another huge marketplace for movies."
Groupon has sold movie tickets before, but this is its first attempt at selling a first-run movie for the general public to screen at home. The offer go live to all Groupon members on April 16 in selected cities, with a broader offer following a few days later. 
"The Squeeze" also will run in theaters, and is set to debut on April 17. Here's a preview: 
March 13, 2015 - 4:26pm
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Jonathan Byrd
PGA Tour/YouTube
Jonathan Byrd gets congratulations all around after his ace at the 15th hole Friday.

If there's ever a spot for a timely hole-in-one, it came for Jonathan Byrd during Friday's second round of the Valspar Championship.

SHARE YOUR ACE: Tell the world about your hole-in-one on social media at #PGAace

Standing on the par-3 15th tee on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook -- and needing some positive momentum after three bogeys in a six-hole stretch -- Byrd took out a 4-iron and made this magic:



It's the first hole-in-one at that hole since 2004, when Mathias Gronberg aced it during the second round. Alas, Gronberg missed the cut that year, as Byrd was in danger of doing, because even with that 1 on his card Byrd was still two shots below the expected cut line with three holes remaining.

March 13, 2015 - 2:28pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
Tiger Woods has been on a leave of absence from the PGA Tour since Feb. 11. That leave will continue as the PGA Tour heads to Bay Hill next week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational where Woods has won eight times previously.

Since Tiger Woods announced his indefinite leave of absence from the PGA Tour on Feb. 11 for, "play, and scores, [that] are not acceptable for tournament golf," many have speculated as to when the former World No. 1 and 14-time major champ would return.

We learned on Friday that it won't be next week at Bay Hill in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where Woods is an eight-time winner. Woods had until 5 p.m. ET on Friday to decide whether he'd play.

RELATED: Woods takes leave from PGA Tour | Woods withdrawals through the years

Woods announced his decision not to play in this statement posted to at 2:45 p.m. ET:

I spoke to Arnold today and told him that I will not play in his tournament this year. I'm sorry I won't be in Orlando next week, but I know it will be a really successful event.

I've put in a lot of time and work on my game and I'm making strides, but like I've said, I won't return to the PGA TOUR until my game is tournament ready and I can compete at the highest level.

I hope to be ready for the Masters, and I will continue to work hard preparing for Augusta.
I want to thank everyone again for their support.

With Woods' decision to skip Bay Hill, the question now moves to whether or not he'll sit out the Masters. If he does, it would mark just the second time in his professional career that Woods has missed the Masters -- and the second time in as many years (he missed last year due to injury).

Woods said via Twitter he's still hoping to play at Augusta National:




Given all his success at Bay Hill, the decision to skip next week's tournament doesn't exactly bode well for the state of Woods' game since stepping away.

His last victory at Bay Hill came in 2013 when he ascended back to No. 1 in the world-- one of five wins that season, on his way to an 11th PGA Tour Player of the Year Award. 

Since then, Woods has fallen to No. 79 in the world, his worst ranking since the week before he won his first PGA Tour event as a 20-year-old in 1996. If he does not play leading up to the Masters, he will be out of the top 100 when -- or if -- he gets to Augusta.

Two tournaments remain before the Masters -- the Valero Texas Open and the Shell Houston Open. Woods has not played the Texas Open since 1996. He has never played the Houston Open, and he has never played the week before the Masters.

The decision ramps up speculation on the state of Woods -- his mind and his game -- leading to Augusta.

He has played only 47 holes this year. Woods missed the cut in the Phoenix Open with a career-high 82 in the second round. A week later, he withdrew after 11 holes at Torrey Pines for tightness in his lower back.

Since back surgery on March 31 of last year, Woods has completed only two 72-hole events. He finished 69th in the British Open, 23 shots behind Rory McIlroy. And he tied for last in an 18-man field at the Hero World Challenge at Isleworth, a course he has played more than any other.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

March 13, 2015 - 11:55am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bryan Bros.
In the latest Bryan Bros. trick-shot video, George and Wesley incorporate a moving golf cart and a gong.

Whenever the Bryan Brothers -- George and Wesley -- put out a new trick-shot video, you immediately wonder: what have they done this time?

Well, this time they used a golf cart as a prop to juggle and toss the ball before it's absolutely smashed.

RELATED: Meet the Bryan Brothers | Trick shot with live alligator | Compilation

Check it out here:

What will they think of next? We'll stay tuned.

March 13, 2015 - 9:26am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Rory McIlroy, Tom Brady, Augusta National
Rory McIlroy Facebook
Four-time major champ Rory McIlroy and four-time Super Bowl champ Tom Brady met on Thursday evening and will play Augusta National together today.

On Thursday night, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy posted a photo to his Facebook page that just oozed with greatness.

The four-time major winner posed arm-and-arm with arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time, four-time New England Patriots Super Bowl champ, Tom Brady (By the way, there's no "arguably the greatest" in regard to Brady when it comes to this writer, who is filing this post from his home, 25 short miles from Gillette Stadium).

RELATED: Over the top golf celebration | Va. Tech golf coach gets two aces in three holes

Here's the post:



How good is life for these two? Just a casual round at Augusta National on tap for Friday. That's a great way to get the weekend started early. 

Courtesy of Todd & Associates
A new 10,000-square-foot clubhouse will cap off an $8 million renovation of Maryvale Golf Course in Phoenix, Arizona.
Phoenix is hopping this time of year – the NBA's Suns and NHL's Coyotes are in full swing, 15 Major League Baseball teams are in the heart of spring training and, of course, all the golf courses are packed with golfers enjoying the gorgeous spring weather.
All the golf courses but one, that is.
The Maryvale Golf Course in west Phoenix is quiet this spring – but for a great reason.
The 54-year-old municipal facility – it's owned by the City of Phoenix – is closed for a significant renovation, and will reopen in the fall with an entirely new identity: the home course of the men's and women's golf teams at Grand Canyon University, whose campus is a few miles away.
Grand Canyon, whose teams play NCAA Division I golf in the Western Athletic Conference, is funding the $8 million facelift as part of a 30-year agreement with the city. The course, which was built in 1961, is set to reopen in October under a new name that the school will select, and the school will manage the course and pay all its operating costs.
The renovation is being done by Scottsdale-based course architect John Fought, whose renovation of Phoenix Country Club a decade ago impressed both the City of Phoenix and Grand Canyon.
"At Phoenix Country Club, he put a premium on preserving its old-school styling," said Jesse Mueller, the course's new director of golf. "John is very well known for his classic style, and we're all very excited to work with him to create a golf experience that everyone can enjoy, while also making it challenging for the collegiate players."
The renovation is all-encompassing – it entails a complete renovation as Fought will transform the course from a 6,500-yard par 72 to a 7,200-yard par 71. A 10,000-square-foot, two-story clubhouse with golf shop and locker rooms also is being built.
Among the most notable of Fought's upgrades are elevating the greens, adding some undulation to the flat fairways and rebuilding – and sometimes relocating – the course's 80 bunkers. The original routing by William F. Bell (perhaps best known for his design of the South Course at Torrey Pines) will be retained.
Even as it aged, the course maintained its popularity as a public golf facility and one of the most affordable and walkable course in the Phoenix area. Green fees, which are set by the City of Phoenix, will remain unchanged (fro $16 to $3) after the renovations, and GCU plans to launch an extensive youth program at the course.
"We want to make west Phoenix a golf destination," Mueller said. "This will just give people another reason to come to this side of town. … Our intent is to make Maryvale Golf Course a tremendous community asset as well as a tremendous university asset."