Golf Buzz

June 13, 2016 - 10:57am
Posted by:
Matt Craig
matthew.craig's picture
bear cub golf cart

What do you do if you see a black bear while you're playing golf? What if it's a cute cub?

Well it's 2016, so you better take out your phone and grab a video. That's what Adam Baxter did, a golfer from Anchorage, Alaska.

The black bear cub nosed around in the golf bags before climbing inside the cart and finding his real prize: a little liquid courage. Someone needs to help the little guy brush up on his golf etiquette, doesn't he know he needs a collared shirt?

Either way, Baxter deserves the real award here, for sharing this moment with us despite the huge momma bear waiting for him at the next tee box.

Cute? Yes. Terrifying? Possibly.

What would you all do if you saw this while you were playing golf?




June 13, 2016 - 10:12am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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U.S. Open
USA Today Sports Images
T.J. Auclair takes a look at six of the most intriguing pairings for the first two rounds of this week's U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club.

The season's second major championship -- the U.S. Open -- is upon us this week at Oakmont Country Club just outside Pittsburgh, Pa.

This week will mark the ninth time that Oakmont has hosted the U.S. Open, which is more than any other venue in the country. It has also hosted three PGA Championships, five U.S. Amateurs, three NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championships, and two U.S. Women's Opens.

The challenges at Oakmont are endless, but it might be most well-known for its thick, relentless rough.

RELATED: How to escape from thick, nasty U.S. Open-like rough

As difficult as Oakmont is, it's surprisingly also the site of the U.S. Open's record-low score. That would be the 8-under 63 that Johnny Miller fired in the final round in 1973 on his way to winning that year (the score was later matched by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf in 1980 at Baltusrol and then again by Vijay Singh in 2003 at Olympia Fields).

So what can we expect this week? As with any U.S. Open, there's no question that "par" will be a player's best friend.

With that, here's a look at the six pairings you'll want to watch for the first two rounds:




6. Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Angel Cabrera
Tee times:
1:58 p.m., Hole 1 on Thursday; 8:13 a.m., Hole 10 on Friday
Reason to watch: This is a fun group that possesses four U.S. Open championships between them, including the one Cabrera captured in 2007 -- the last time the U.S. Open was played at Oakmont. Els won his first major -- the 1994 U.S. Open -- at Oakmont and Furyk, the area's native son, tied for second with Tiger Woods in 2007, one shot behind Cabrera. Though all three players are reaching the later stages of their respective PGA Tour careers, would it surprise anyone if one of them -- or heck, even all three -- were on page one of the leaderboard late Sunday? Experience counts for a lot in majors and you'd be hard-pressed to find three more experienced world-class players than this trio.

MORE: U.S. Open tee times | Oakmont's 5 best U.S. Opens | Golf's toughest test



5. Hideki Matsuyama, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson
Tee times:
1:36 p.m., Hole 1 on Thursday; 7:51 a.m., Hole 10 on Friday
Reason to watch: The threesome of, "guys who haven't, but could," win a major at anytime right here. In just 13 major starts, the 24-year-old Matsuyama -- a two-time PGA Tour winner -- has already racked up five top-10 finishes. And we're all familiar with the plight of both Garcia and Johnson when it comes to majors, but we'll drive it home here. For Garcia: an astounding 20 top-10 finishes in the four big ones (he missed the cut at Oakmont in 2007). And for Johnson: 11 majors in the top 10, including that gut-wrenching runner-up finish a year ago at Chambers Bay when a short putt on the final hole cost him a spot in an 18-hole Monday playoff with Jordan Spieth. A win for Matsuyama would give him elite status among the game's young guns. A win for Garcia or Johnson would be a signature moment on what have already been stellar careers.

4. Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson
Tee times:
2:09 p.m., Hole 10 on Thursday; 8:24 a.m., Hole 1 on Friday
Reason to watch: This pairing includes the man who has more U.S. heartbreak than anyone in Mickelson; the 2013 champ at Merion (also in Pennsylvania) in Rose; and arguably the best player never to win a major in Stenson. The U.S. Open -- where he's been runner up on six occasions -- is the lone major that eludes Mickelson in his quest for a career grand slam. He hasn't won on Tour since claiming the 2013 Open Championship, but comes into this week following a runner-up finish in Memphis. Rose, meanwhile, seems to be trending toward another big hit in the majors, evidenced by the fact that he has finished outside the top 10 just once in his last five major starts. As for Stenson, his is a name that always seems to be on page one of major championship leaderboards. He just hasn't been able to get it done... yet.

3. Rory McIlroy, Danny Willett, Rickie Fowler
Tee times:
8:24 a.m., Hole 1 on Thursday; 2:09 p.m., Hole 10 on Friday
Reason to watch: A comfortable pairing here... which could be bad news for the rest of the field. McIlroy is looking for major win No. 5; Willett is the reigning Masters champ; and Fowler is just a year and a half removed from a season in which he finished inside the top 5 at all four majors. McIlroy and Willett will be Ryder Cup teammates in September. Fowler and McIlroy are buds. Anything that can ease the tension just a touch in a tournament like the U.S. Open is a huge positive. And with all three players playing well this season, there's a good chance we'll see them feeding off one another. While most eyes will be on McIlroy and Fowler in this pairing, Willett might be the most compelling of the three. How will he perform in his first major start since becoming a major champion?

2. Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott
Tee times:
2:20 p.m., Hole 1 on Thursday; 8:35 a.m., Hole 10 on Friday
Reason to watch: I absolutely love this pairing. Remember not all that long ago when world No. 1. Jason Day couldn't close? Does anyone question his ability to close now? Six of his 10 PGA Tour wins have come since winning the PGA Championship last August -- less than a year ago -- including three this season. That'll work. It's hard to imagine a player overpowering Oakmont. If anyone can though, it's Day. Oosthuizen and Scott -- also major winners and frequent major contenders -- would love to add a U.S. Open victory to their already impressive resumes. 

1. Zach Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth
Tee times:
8:35 a.m., Hole 10 on Thursday; 2:20 p.m., Hole 1 on Friday
Reason to watch: Pretty outstanding that we don't have to wait long on Thursday to see this trio. Johnson, the reigning Open Champion, paired with golf's man of mystery in DeChambeau and the defending U.S. Open champ in Spieth. Will Oakmont's length prove too much for Johnson, who finished T45 there in 2007 just a couple months after winning the Masters? Not if he keeps it in play. He's as deadly with the wedges as they come. DeChambeau had a spot in the U.S. Open as the reigning U.S. Amateur champ, gave it up when he turned pro and then went out and qualified the hard way to earn his spot back. Impressive stuff. There haven't been many young players over the years who come out on to the tour and ooze the confidence and carry the swagger we're seeing with DeChambeau. And then, of course, there's Spieth. He has told anyone who will listen that he's over that meltdown that happened in the final round of the Masters on the par-3 12th hole, where he let slip away a major that was his to win. Outside of the majors the tournament at Colonial is closest to Spieth's heart since it's a home game in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He won that a few weeks ago. Riding high on confidence, the 22-year-old Spieth (just 22? Can you believe that?) is looking for another major triumph. Did you know: in just 12 major starts Spieth has finished in the top 2 on five occasions? That's a "wow" stat. 



June 12, 2016 - 12:48pm
Posted by:
Matt Craig
matthew.craig's picture
jason day
USA Today Sports Images

Standing over a putt to win a major championship has to be a nerve-racking experience. But apparently it isn't the only thing that makes world No. 1 Jason Day nervous.

Day told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he was feeling "a little nervous" before throwing out the honorary first pitch at Saturday's matchup between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals.

“I just want to hit this area,” he said, circling his torso. “If I can hit this area, then they won’t have to move too much.”

Thankfully, he faired a little bit better with his first pitch than 50 Cent or Snoop Dogg. He could also relax knowing his wife wouldn't be in danger on the sidelines of a baseball game.

Evidently Day, who is in Pittsburgh for next week's U.S. Open, isn't stressing over Oakmont's tough conditions too much.

He did however share a little insight on the course: "You really do have to stay patient and not try and force anything too much. Oakmont’s going to be a tough test for us and I’m looking forward to it.”




June 11, 2016 - 2:16pm
matthew.craig's picture
June 11, 2016 - 12:49pm
Posted by:
Matt Craig
matthew.craig's picture
Tom Brady

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to call on the No. 2 golfer in the world whenever you have questions about your game?

Well you can, if your name is Tom Brady. The four-time Super Bowl winning quarterback was having a little trouble putting spin on his golf ball, or in his words, "making this son of a gun turn."

So he called on Jordan Spieth via Facebook, including a video of him hitting out of the trees.



It's hard to feel bad for Tom Brady, who already has both two NFL MVP awards and an eagle at Pebble BeachNot to mention he gets to play golf with one of golf's biggest stars.

Here's to Under Armour brand synergy and yelling at your golf ball to turn!





June 10, 2016 - 6:02pm
Posted by:
Matt Craig
matthew.craig's picture
rickie fowler, rule change
USA Today Sports Images
This week we returned to our Facebook Nation of over 350,000 to answer the question: "If you could change one rule of golf, what would it be?" Over 200 responses rolled in with a wide variety of answers.

It's a common scene: a PGA Tour player crouched next to a tree or a bush with a rules official huddled next to him.

The rules of golf are an essential part of the game. But at times they can be complicated, and players want to both avoid penalty and give themselves any advantage they can.

Who can forget Tiger Woods calling upon dozens of gallery members to move the boulder at TPC Scottsdale in 1999?

But as the game evolves, so can the rules. Throughout history, a few small tweaks and changes have been made to make the game as fair as possible.

So we thought it natural to ask, what rule of golf would you change if you could? And you all did not disappoint, turning in over 250 comments and responses.

RELATED: Join the "rule change" discussion | Your biggest golf highlights

Here's a collection of our favorites:

Phil Verzosa + 21 others: Any ball that comes to rest in a sand filled divot in any fairway situation. One club face length you get to lift, clean, and place the ball in the fairway out of the divot. This rule has always been my pet peeve. Why should every golfer be penalized for doing what they need to on the hole?

Scott Flager + 7 others: Ability to repair any spike mark or anything on your line of putt on the green hands down. I posed this same question to 2 LPGA pros in a dinner conversation and their answer was immediate and in line with this answer.

John Boutet + 3 others: Stroke and distance needs to be changed. Slows game up way too much. Everything should be like lateral hazard rule.

Jim Deschur + 2 others: That we cannot use our foot wedge to kick the ball from the rough to the middle of the fairway.

Gitesh Maharaj + 1 other: I would change the rule of dropping a ball in a bunker. I had a 140 metre shot and hit it out of bounds, I dropped another and the ball gets half plug making it Impossible to even reach the green after incurring penalty shot for the drop as well.

Don Marsters: Allow PGA players to wear shorts in the summer.

Kenny Midgett: Let the pros use range will speed up the game.

Tony Shaker: Banning high tops and joggers.

James O'Donoghue: Allow relief for footprints and rake marks in bunkers. Far too many people play golf and either don't rake the bunkers or rake them incorrectly leaving the next person in the bunker with an almost impossible shot.

Will Berg: I'd like to have Bubba Watson be my designated hitter on all par 5s.

Jackson Khoo Teik Kwan: Free drop when the ball stuck in the tree!!! I hate this rule cuz a few weeks ago I had a junior tournament and my ball was stuck in a hole of a tree's root! And the next hole was the same as well! And both times the referee said its a integral part of the course so no free drop and I must play as it lies or drop under ball unplayable rule. Those holes cost me at least 4 strokes.

Damien Dziepak: No more caddies and let it be a true single person competition!

Thanks for all the responses and stay tuned to our Facebook page here