Golf Buzz

September 18, 2015 - 10:43am
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Bobby Jones
Mark Aumann/
Bobby Jones won golf's "Grand Slam" in 1930, then retired from competition.

ATLANTA — When it comes to the history of golf, particularly in the United States in the first half of the 20th century, it’s hard to not to be impressed with the impact of Robert Tyre Jones Jr.

That’s the opinion of Dr. Robert Tyre Jones IV, an Atlanta licensed psychologist who just happens to be the grandson of Bobby Jones. That opinion isn’t just a family bias, however. During a presentation Thursday evening at Emory University — which is concurrently hosting an exhibition of Bobby Jones artifacts this fall — Dr. Jones pointed out several key contributions Bobby Jones made to the game.

If not for Bobby Jones, there would be no mention of a “Grand Slam,” for one. In fact, Jones remains the only man in history to have accomplished the feat, winning both American and British Opens in 1930, along with both American and British Amateurs. Because he was an amateur, he wasn't eligible to play in the PGA Championship.

In addition, Bobby Jones was a pioneer in golf course design, the evolution of equipment and bringing the game to a new audience, which included women and juniors.

NAME DROPPERS: Bobby Jones Open is one (name) of a kind event

But more than 80 years after he retired from competition, Bobby Jones is still largely remembered for winning 13 major events over an eight-year span, mainly because of his fiercely competitive nature and incredible focus.

Dr. Jones said there were three reasons why his grandfather was so successful, both on and off the course:

1. He believed in predestination

“He believed a golf tournament was won or lost before the first ball had even been struck,” Dr. Jones said. “He believed that destiny was set before the tournament was played.”

According to his grandson, Bobby Jones felt that future events were ordained to happen, that there was an order already preset. And with that in mind, Jones was able to separate himself from the stress, anxiety and pressure of playing the match.

“It allowed him to have a little bit of a healthy distance from it,” Dr. Jones said. “So he wasn’t emotionally enmeshed in the event."

2. He was able to remain in the moment

“In order to be successful in golf, you have to focus simply on one shot at a time,” Dr. Jones said. “You cannot allow your mind to drift to things that which come ahead of you, or get stuck on things that have come behind you.”

Bobby Jones was so focused, his grandson said, he would sometimes be unable to remember having hit the shot.

“He didn’t even go to the mental effort of saving it in his short-term memory so that it could be later saved in long-term recall,” Dr. Jones said. “That is an unbelievable level of focus."

3. He played against the course, not the competition

“He learned how to compete against Old Man Par,” Dr. Jones said. “Because in the days when he played, if you shot par, you stood a pretty good chance of winning the tournament.”

Dr. Jones said his grandfather rarely concerned himself with his opponent. Instead, he focused on the task at hand, which was making par on each hole.

“In all three cases, those are all extremely present focus items, and that’s what allowed him — along with his phenomenal hand-eye coordination — to be such a great golfer,” Dr. Jones said. “But it did more, because golf is a funny thing.

“Golf, more than any other game, more closely mirrors life. In a round of golf, you can be everything from the hero of a side-splitting comedy to the dogged victim of inexorable fate in four hours.”

And Dr. Jones believes that metaphor turned out to be the case even more so for his grandfather, as the illness which eventually killed him came from the result of a near-fatal lightning strike during a round of golf in 1929.

More things you may or may not know about Bobby Jones, according to his grandson:

... Bobby was a sickly child and didn’t eat solid food until he was 5. Before that, his diet consisted mainly of pabulum.

… Bobby’s favorite sport growing up wasn’t golf. It was baseball. He was a catcher, then moved to the outfield because it was safer.

… Bobby’s first tournament was at age 6. It was a six-hole match between several children at East Lake Golf Club. He won a small silver cup, which he cherished and kept the rest of his life. It’s now on display at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

… Bobby first broke 80 at age 10. He won the Druid Hills club championship that year.

… At age 14, Bobby won the Georgia State Amateur at Brookhaven. He then traveled to Merion Golf Club near Philadelphia for the U.S. Amateur and led first-round qualifying, losing in the third round to the eventual tournament winner.

… Bobby was a notorious club thrower early in his career. In a 1916 match, he defeated Eben Byers — another club-thrower — and famously said, “I think I beat him because he ran out of clubs first.” An incident in which he injured a woman with a thrown club — coupled with a stern letter from USGA President George Herbert Walker — made Jones change his temperament from that point on.

… A loss at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open led Bobby to a chance meeting with golf course architect Alister MacKenzie. Since he was in the area, Bobby decided to play a round at nearby Cypress Point, designed by MacKenzie. Eventually the two worked together to design Augusta National.

… From 1916 until he retired in 1930, Bobby never lost in match play to the same opponent twice.

… Bobby was a voracious reader and had an extreme intellectual curiosity. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1922 with a mechanical engineering degree and then two years later, earned a degree in English Literature from Harvard.

… Despite being a lawyer for most of his life, Bobby never finished law school. He completed three semesters at Emory University, then decided to take the bar exam. After passing it, he dropped out and joined his father’s law firm.

… In an effort to make the game more manageable for the average player, Bobby designed the first set of steel shafts for the A.G. Spaulding Company in the early 1930s.

… Bobby made a series of instructional films in Hollywood between 1931 and 1933 to help teach the game to the average golfer.

… At 40, Bobby enlisted in the U.S. Army and came ashore at Normandy on the day after D-Day in 1943. He spent several months as an interrogator of captured prisoners of war.

… Bobby had amazing hand-to-eye coordination. He was a master at badminton, ping pong and tennis.

… Bobby’s death was indirectly the result of a lightning strike in 1929. He was playing a round at East Lake with friends when a sudden storm appeared. They took refuge next to the clubhouse, but a lightning bolt struck the building’s chimney, sending a shower of bricks and other debris raining down. Bobby was hit in the neck. And the resulting injury eventually led to fluid building in his spinal cord — syringomyelia — a crippling disease that left him wheelchair-bound. He died in Atlanta in 1971.



September 17, 2015 - 7:58pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair and John Dever
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Matt Dobyns and Ben Polland
Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
Matt Dobyns (left) and Ben Polland will go out for Team USA in the first match of the morning on Friday.

By T.J. Auclair and John Dever

SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Here are the tee times and pairings for Friday morning's opening fourballs (better ball) session of the 27th PGA Cup at CordeValle:

7:30 A.M. PT: Matt Dobyns/Ben Polland (USA) v. Michael Watson/Cameron Clark (GB&I)
USA: Dobyns and Polland are friends and finished 1-2 at the 2015 PGA Professional National Championship. Polland's the youngest player in U.S. PGA Cup history. Dobyns finished second in the PGA Championship's Long Drive Competition last month.

GB&I: Clark earned a European Tour card back in 1998 and played in the 1997 Open Championship at Royal Troon. Watson has won over 100 PGA events. In 2011, he lost a playoff and a spot on GB&I's team that played at CordeValle.
7:45 A.M. PT: Bob Sowards/Jamie Broce (USA) v. Graham Fox/David Dixon (GB&I)
USA: Broce (Toledo) and Sowards (Dublin) both hail from Ohio. While Broce is making his PGA Cup debut, Sowards is the most experienced player in the field. This is Sowards' third PGA Cup. He owns a career record of 5-3-1.
GB&I: In 2001 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Dixon won the Silver Medal granted to the low amateur in the Open Championship. Fox went 2-3-0 in the 2013 PGA Cup. He returns the U.S., where he played his college golf at the University of Alabama.
8:00 A.M. PT: Omar Uresti/Sean Dougherty (USA) v. Lee Clarke/Pail Hendriksen (GB&I)
USA: Dougherty and Uresti are making their PGA Cup debuts, but aren't shy on experience. Dougherty played in his second PGA Championship last month. Uresti is a former tour professional with four career wins. He also played in six U.S. Opens.  
GB&I: England's Clarke and Hendriksen are both 35-years-old and among the eight members of the GB&I team making their debuts in the PGA Cup. Hendriksen won the GB&I's version of the 2015 PGA Professional Championship.
8:15 A.M. PT: Alan Morin/Grant Sturgeon (USA) v. Jason Levermore/Gareth Wright (GB&I)
USA: Morin returns to the PGA Cup for the first time since 2003, when he went 3-0-1 to help the U.S. top GB&I, 19-7, at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Sturgeon was the 2014 Player of the Year in the famed Metropolitan Section.
GB&I: Wright is one of two Scots on Captain Jon Bevan's squad. He went 2-2-1 during the 2013 PGA Club at Slaley Hall. Levermore has played in six BMW PGA Championships on the European Tour. He's making his PGA Cup debut this week.
September 17, 2015 - 5:17pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Allen Wronowski
U.S. PGA Cup Captain Allen Wronowski hopes to keep a perfect home record intact when the 27th PGA Cup tees off on Friday morning at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif.

SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- Riding along in a cart, bouncing from hole to hole on breathtaking CordeValle Golf Resort's back nine Thursday morning, was PGA Honorary President Allen Wronowski, whose role this week is that of captain for the U.S. PGA Cup team.

"It's exciting and it's an honor -- period -- to be captain of a U.S. team in international competition, but to be here in your home country makes it all the more special," said Wronowski, who also captained the U.S. team at Slaley Hall in England two years ago. "It also adds a bit of pressure, too."

The U.S. PGA Cup team features 10 of the top PGA Professionals in the country, led by PGA Professional Champion Matt Dobyns, one of three veterans on the team.

RELATED: 27th PGA Cup promises great drama | Photos | Stockton visits U.S. PGA Cup Team

Wronowski said he opened the floor to Dobyns and the team's two other veterans -- Alan Morin and Bob Sowards -- to say a few words during the welcome dinner on Monday evening.

"We have a nice mix of older players and younger players," Wronowski said. "We have three veterans on this team and they relayed a great message to the other guys during our welcome dinner -- it's an honor to be here, enjoy the moment and really try to just focus on having fun with the matches. Sure, there's pressure and tension, but have fun with it. I read a story the other day where Colin Montgomerie said he couldn't pull it together for the majors because he put himself under too much pressure. But then when he got to the Champions Tour majors, he started relaxing and having fun and now he's won three so far."

Wronowski himself brings plenty of experience to the team room this week as well -- and not just from having captained the 2013 team.

"From being in the team room for four Ryder Cups and now five PGA Cup Matches, you really just want to try and create the right atmosphere -- keep it light and keep them relaxed with all the pressure," he said. "You want to make them feel good, comfortable, and then you turn them loose."

When Wronowski was captain in 2013, his team tied the Great Britain & Ireland team, 13-13 -- the fourth deadlock in the history of these matches -- but the U.S. retained the Llandudno Trophy by virtue of their win here at CordeValle in 2011.

Wronowski doesn't want to hear about a tie this week. He has just one thing on his mind this week: winning.

The U.S. owns a commanding 17-5-4 edge in the PGA Cup and, "Everyone keeps reminding me that we've never lost one of these on American soil," Wronowski said.

The U.S. actually hasn't lost a PGA Cup since dropping a 15-11 decision at the K Club in Ireland back in 2005. That might lead to extra tension for Wronowski, but he's determined not to let it impact his style as captain.

"I have a 'vested' style," he said. "It's the same model I've always used wherever I've worked. No one has ever been allowed to call me 'boss' -- we're all part of a team. It's not my team; it's our team. Everyone has had input and it will continue to be that way throughout this week."

The 27th PGA Cup begins Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. ET. 

Jason Day
PGA Tour via YouTube
Jason Day's eagle from a fairway bunker was the best sot in a day full of them at the BMW Championship in Thursday.
Jason Day leads the FedExCup points standings coming into this week and Zach Johnson won the BMW Championship when the event was played at Conway Farms two years ago. So it's no surprise that those two players would produce two of Thursday's best shots.
The cool thing is, they both made eagles out of bunkers.
Johnson drove into the front left greenside bunker on the par-4 15th hole (his sixth hole of the day), and had to hit out to a pin placement in the back right part of the long, narrow green. He swung solidly, not taking much sand, and lofted his ball up onto the putting surface, where it rolled directly into the cup.
The eagle came just after a bogey, and moved him to 2 under at the time. He is currently 3 under through 16 holes.
Day's bunker shot on the par-4 first hole (his 10th of the day) was less challenging but much longer – 79 yards out, but from a good lie in a flat fairway bunker. Even so, what he did with that shot was amazing. He lofted the ball gently out of the sand, asked it to "sit," and watched it land a little left and long.
Yet despite the ease of his swing, he had put enough spin on the ball to make it hop a couple times – and then back up directly into the cup for an unlikely eagle.
Day had gone out in 32, and followed the eagle with two straight birdies. That put him at 8 under through 12 holes, and solidly in the lead as the first round continues.
Here are the two spectacular sand shots:
Jordan Spieth
PGA Tour via YouTube
Jordan Spieth encouraged his tee shot on the par-3 second hole to "be enough," and it was, giving him an ace at the BMW Championship.
Maybe all Jordan Spieth needed was a little break. After mssing the cut in each of the first two FedExCup events, he used last week's off-week to take in a couple of football games and get his game back in shape.
So far, so good. Spieth opened the BMW Championship with an even-par 36 on the back nine, then birdied the first hole as he moved over to the front nine. He then stepped up on the tee at the 184-yard, par-3 second hole – and made a hole-in-one.
Spieth pulled out a 7-iron, and encouraged his ball to "go" and "be enough." It obviously was listening, because it landed right on the front fringe, hopped, and headed straight for the front-left hole location. A couple seconds later, it dropped in the right side of the cup for an ace.
The hole-in-one moved Spieth to 2 under for his round, and he followed it up with birdies on the third and fourth to reach 4 under.
Here's his ace:
September 16, 2015 - 3:10pm
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Henrik Stenson
USA Today Sports Images
Henrik Stenson enters the BMW Championship fourth in the points after finishing second in both of the first two playoff events.
After a week off to recharge, the 70 contenders left in the FedExCup playoffs have descended on Conway Farms Golf Club north of Chicago for the BMW Championship. The 30 survivors come Sunday night will move onto the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta, where the FedExCup champion will be crowned next week.
All eyes will be on the Big Three of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, and with good reason. Spieth and McIlroy have traded the world No. 1 ranking seemingly every week for the last month or two, and Day has been better than both lately. But there are still plenty of intriguing storylines as the PGA Tour reaches the sharp end of its season.
Here are my five players to keep an eye on this week:
5. Jim Furyk
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won the RBC Heritage
Reason to watch: Furyk shot a 59 the last time the PGA Tour visited Conway Farms, at the 2013 BMW Championship, where he finished third. That's reason enough to keep an eye on the guy, but he also comes in playing well – he's got three top-5 finishes in his last five starts, including a tie for fourth at the Deutsche Bank Championship. At age 45, he's seventh in the world ranking and ninth in the FedExCup points.
4. Hunter Mahan
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Tie for third at the Open
Reason to watch: Mahan holds the distinction of being the only player to participate in every single FedExCup playoff event ever staged – this week will be his 35th, stretching back to the FedExCup's debut in 2007. He needed a good showing at the Deutsche Bank to make it into the field this week and, at 52nd in the points, he needs another big week to keep his streak alive and move on to East Lake. The good news for Mahan is that he tied for fourth at Conway Farms in 2013, and tied for fourth in his last start two weeks ago.
3. Zach Johnson
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won the Open Championship
Reason to watch: Johnson won the 2013 BMW Championship at Conway Farms, played the course well during the 1997 NCAA finals and will no doubt enjoy a lot of Midwestern support – so if anyone will feel right at home this week, it's got to be him. He tied for fourth at the Barclays and tied for 22nd at the Deutsche Bank, so he's playing well, and he's still riding high after claiming the claret jug at St. Andrews. And at seventh in the FedExCup points, he's still got a solid chance to win the big pot at East Lake.
2. Henrik Stenson
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Second place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship
Reason to watch: At this point in the season, it's too easy to focus on just the Jason Days and Rory McIlroys of the world. To me, the most intriguing player in the field is Stenson – he's fourth in the points, despite having played only 14 events all year, by far the fewest of anyone left in the playoffs. He hasn't won this season, but has yet to miss a cut and finished second in both of the first two playoff events. And we know he can elevate his game when it matters most – he won the Tour Championship and the FedExCup crown just two seasons ago.
1. Jordan Spieth
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won the Masters and the U.S. Open
Reason to watch: After his stellar regular season, Spieth shockingly missed the cut in both of his first two playoff starts. But no worries – he had amassed enough points to all but guarantee that he'll enter the Tour Championship with a great chance to win the FedExCup. So will he be focused on winning, or simply trying to get his game back in shape? The player ranked first in the points going into next week has by far the best chance to win the FedExCup, so we suspect Spieth will try to play his best this week in hopes of grabbing that top spot currently held by Day. The question is, can he do it?