Golf Buzz

January 11, 2015 - 5:44pm
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Marcus Mariota
USA TODAY Sports Images
Marcus Mariota received a set of golf clubs from his parents as a graduation gift.

On the football field, one of the most important relationships is between a quarterback and his center. On the Oregon Ducks, who play in Monday night's title game against Ohio State, that relationship extends beyond the gridiron to another grass field.

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota, back-up quarterback Jeff Lockie and starting center Hroniss Grasu can often be found playing golf together, as we found out from this video interview posted earlier this fall by The Oregonian newspaper.

Related: Jim Furyk wins golf game at halftime of Jaguars game

Watch the video to hear what his teammates say about his golf game, and who among the trio is the best on the course:


As Grasu said in the video, "Golf is an amazing sport. It teaches you to stay focused and not to get too mad.”

Funny then that Mariota struggled at first and reportedly threatened to quit the game. Clearly that experience wasn’t enough to dissuade Mariota from swinging a golf club again, or from getting a set of golf clubs as a graduation present.

January 10, 2015 - 2:26pm
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The Walters
Photo courtesy of Nancy Walters
Nancy Walters recorded her ace first by a margin of five holes.

We’ve seen golf courses be special places for couples. Everything from a couple getting married at their favorite course to having Justine Reed caddie for her husband, Patrick, at a number of events, golf seems to find its way into couples' lives.

The latest example comes to us from Nancy Walter in Sidney, Ohio. And like the previous stories, this is a happy occasion for both husband and wife.

While playing in a couples league last spring at the Shelby Oaks Golf Club, Nancy and her husband, Phil, both made a hole-in-one in the same competition.

Related: New Hampshire man makes back-to-back aces on par 4s

Here’s how the events played out:

On June 6, 2014, the Walters were in the final foursome to tee off in a nine-hole event at Shelby Oaks, where the duo with the lowest number of putts wins.

The Walters got to the third hole, which was a par-3, 114-yard shot from the ladies’ tee for Nancy. She used her Ping hybrid and hit what she described as a shot that had a “nice and straight high arc” and landed 2 feet in front of the cup before rolling in.

“We all saw it,” she said. “Needless to say, it was a very exciting moment -- a bit of yelling and a few group texts sent to friends on the course and off.”

Of course, that led to some bragging from Nancy to Phil. See, he had picked up the game in 2002 – nearly 11 years before Nancy started to take lessons at Shelby Oaks.

“I said to Phil, ‘I told you that I would get a hole-in-one first,’ bragging for a while,” she said. “After a while, I felt bad and told him, ‘We have six more holes to go, you still have a chance."

Related: Gus Andreone, 103, becomes oldest to ever make a hole-in-one

Little did she know that Phil wouldn’t even need six holes to match the feat.

On the eighth hole, Phil was faced with a par-3, 181-yard hole with “the sun was setting behind the green and the white fuzzy cottonwood seeds were covering the green, making visibility difficult.” Phil used his Cobra hybrid and hit a shot that looked on line, but with limited visibility, he thought he hit it off the green.

But as Phil was walking across the green, he looked into the cup and noticed that his ball was right here.

“By this time our foursome could hardly finish our last hole for all the excitement,” Nancy said. “We were the last group to come in and, as we got closer to the ninth green, you could see a line of golfers all cheering us on. It was so awesome, we felt like we were in a PGA tournament.”

Though the Walters did not win the tournament that day, they were awarded the prize money which they split with their foursome. Just to add to the specialness of the moment, neither one of the Walters have made one since. Phil has come close – getting the ball within 2 to 4 inches.

“A friend of ours looked at me and said, ‘I see more hole-in-ones for you in the future,’’ Nancy said. “I told him I was happy with just that one. But if it does happen, it will not be as memorable as that day.”

Tim Clark at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Courtesy of PGA Tour
Tim Clark can't be blamed for hanging onto his long putter when he's making putts like this.
Tim Clark is best known as one of the shortest players on the PGA Tour as well as one of the staunchest users of the long putter. Clark – who's been using a long putter for 17 years – showed Friday why he's so enamored with his flat stick.
Clark, who's in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions thanks to his victory at the RBC Canadian Open last year, had the shot of the day with a 62-foot birdie putt on the undulating green on the par-3 second hole at Kapalua.
Clark, like the handful of other PGA Tour players still using long sticks, is staring down the January 1, 2016, deadline for switching to a regulation-length putter. That date, of course, is when the USGA-R&A regulation banning the anchored putting stroke goes into effect.
He's planning to wait until the last minute to make his change, but has been thinking hard about how he'll switch.
''I've got some pretty good ideas, but I'm not going to tell you just in case they try to ban those,'' he said with a laugh at Kapalua earlier this week. ''But I think I've got a pretty good handle on it. I'm not as concerned as I was maybe at the start of last year because I think I've figured something out now and I'll be fine. But I'm not going to spend my time practicing it now while I'm trying to play tournaments this year with what I've used.
''Once they tell me it's done, then it's done," he added. "Then it will be easier to change.''
Clark went on to shoot a 3-under 70 and finished the first day inside the top 20. Here's the video of his big putt:
January 9, 2015 - 3:22pm
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Jason Dufner golf bag
Jason Dufner | Twitter
Jason Dufner put the patch on his bag before last year's Open Championship.

With another season on the horizon for Jason Dufner, chances are you'll notice the No. 43 patch on his golf bag. It's not there because of any superstition -- it's there as a tribute to a lost friend. 

Philip Lutzenkirchen was a tight end for the 2010 Auburn football team that won the BCS title. With Dufner being a big Auburn supporter, the two became friends, especially after an injury to Lutzenkirchen's hip caused him to miss time on the gridiron. 

On June 29 of last year, Lutzenkirchen died in a car crash outside of La Grange, Ga.

Shortly thereafter, Dufner debuted the patch on his golf bag. 

"I wanted to let (Lutzenkirchen's) real-close friends and family members know that people in the Auburn family were thinking about him, and that we weren't going to forget him," Dufner said in a recent interview with the Golf Channel. 

Take a look at the full video from the Golf Channel: 


January 9, 2015 - 12:10pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
In a tweet and on his website, Tiger Woods has confirmed he will make his 2014-15 PGA Tour season debut in three weeks at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Tiger Woods has confirmed -- via his website and a tweet -- a report from this week that he will be making his 2014-15 PGA Tour debut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open (Jan. 29-Feb. 1).

It will be Tiger's first start in the tournament since a tie for fifth there in 2001.

"It will be great to return to Phoenix," Woods said on his website. "The crowds are amazing and always enthusiastic, and the 16th hole is pretty unique in golf."

Woods also revealed that he will be playing the following week as well in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines (Feb. 5-8) -- a venue where he has won an astounding eight times, including the 2008 U.S. Open.

"Torrey is a very important place to me," said Woods, who won the Farmers Insurance Open for a seventh time in 2013. 'My pop took me there when I was younger, and I have a lot of special memories of watching the Tour play there when I was growing up." 

Jack Nicklaus' first pro check
Jack Nicklaus via Instagram
Jack Nicklaus began his historic career with a tiny check for tying for last place in his first pro start.
One of the people I really enjoy following on social media is Jack Nicklaus. The Golden Bear – and his staff, of course – do a fine job of noting many of the prominent days throughout his storied career.
Today is one of those days, but not for the reason you might think. No, Jack didn't win a major on January 8, 1962 – instead, he received his first check as a professional golfer on that day. And it was a whopper – $33.33 – beause the Bear tied for last place.
That's the real check pictured above. Nicklaus shared the photo on Instagram, and it's awesome that he still has it.
Back in the early 1960s, the Los Angeles Open was the PGA Tour's season opener, and the 21-year-old Nicklaus made his first pro start at Rancho Park Golf Course, a prominent public course in west Los Angeles that hosted the tournament 18 times over the years.
He made the cut in his first start, but shot 289 and finished up in a tie for 50th and last place with Billy Maxwell and Don Massengale. His check was for $33.33 – and, as he noted on Instagram, he always wondered what happened to the extra penny.
Phil Rodgers, 23 years old at the time, won the tournament – according to the Golf Historical Society, Rodgers finished nine shots ahead of the field and 21 shots ahead of Nicklaus.
Nicklaus played again at Rancho Park in the 1963 Los Angeles Open. He improved seven shots, posting a final score of 282, and finished 24th, eight shots behind winner Arnold Palmer. And, of course, he went on to win a few tournaments hmself.