Golf Buzz

YNN Austin
Klein Klotz of Lake Travis High School was mobbed by his teammates after making his walkoff ace.

Watch the sports highlights on TV for more than a few minutes, and you're likely to see a game-winning home run in baseball, and maybe even a buzzer-beater in basketball. 

But I can pretty much guarantee you've never seen this – a walkoff hole-in-one. Not only that, it was the final stroke of the Texas 5-A high school tournament.

The super shot was struck a few days ago by Klein Klotz, a senior at Lake Travis High School in the Austin suburb of Lakeway, Texas. Lake Travis wrapped up its third straight state championship at Moris Williams Golf Course in Austin, but Klotz was tied for second in the individual standings – one shot behind the state medalist – with two other players.

So the three teed off in sudden death to decide the silver medal. The playoff hole was the 191-yard, par-3 12th. Klein took his cut, the ball soared toward the green, bounced softly – and rolled right into the cup.

The ace made Klotz the state runner-up for the second straight year, and was also the final swing of his high school career. Next fall, he'll join the golf team at Sam Houston State University.

You can see the video replay of his ace right here.

And by the way, the Lake Travis girls also captured their state title.

 

 

 
17th hole at TPC Sawgrass
The Players Championship via Twitter
The famous island green at TPC Sawgrass really is an island, after the course was drenched with five inches of rain.

The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass is set for next week, but Monday's activities at the facility have been curtailed, the PGA Tour announced this afternoon.

The Ponte Vedra Beach area of northern Florida has received more than five inches of rain in the past 36 hours, flooding parts of the course, including the walkway out to the green on the famous par-3 17th hole. The Players Championship's official Twitter account tweeted out the photo shown above, with this caption: ''The 17 #islandhole is officially an island! Good thing the forecast is clear next week! #3days.''

The Monday washout will mark the first time since the Players Championship moved from March to May in 2007 that a full day of tournament week will be lost to the weather.

The decision was made ''to allow the course to drain properly, minimize any damage that would affect the competition and give the course maintenance team as much time as possible to prepare the golf course once the storm conditions subside,'' said the PGA Tour. Several activities planned for Monday have been rescheduled or cancelled, and officials said all fans with Monday tickets can use them on Tuesday. 

 
Annika Sorenstam
Getty Images
Annika Sorenstam's new tournament for college women, the ANNIKA Intercollegiate, will feature 12 top teams in a high-profile kickoff to the college golf season.

Few people in the world of golf have had a better – and busier – couple of weeks than Annika Sorenstam.

On April 19, she was elected to PGA membership. And now she is creating her own tournament for NCAA Division I women.

The ANNIKA Intercollegiate, as it will be called, will debut Sept. 27-30, 2014, and will feature 12 of the nation's top women's squads in a high-profile kickoff to the college golf season. The 54-hole, stroke-play tournament will be played on the Watson Course at the Reunion Resort in Orlando, Fla. Reunion, of course, is also the home base of Sorenstam's ANNIKA Academy.

The highlight of the tournament weekend will be a gala reception in which Sorenstam will present the inaugural ANNIKA Award to the nation's top female collegiate player. The ANNIKA Award is the female equivalent of the Haskins Award, which for 42 years has been given to the most outstanding Division I male golfer. Selection is governed by the Haskins Commission of Columbus, Ga., which will oversee the vote of players, coaches and media for both the Haskins and ANNIKA awards.

''This event offers a fantastic platform to expand my foundation's mission to establish greater playing opportunities for junior and college golfers alike,'' said Sorenstam, the 1991 NCAA Champion and co-player of the year. ''We hold our AJGA invitational on the Watson Course at Reunion every year, so I am excited that many of the girls who competed here as juniors will be able to come back and play with their college teams.''

Sorenstam created the ANNIKA Foundation as a way to teach children the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle through fitness and nutrition, and offer aspiring junior golfers opportunities to pursue their dreams. The foundation has partnered with such organizations as SPARK, Florida Hospital for Children in support of its Healthy 100 Kids initiative and The First Tee in development of the Nine Healthy Habits curriculum for children.

It annually conducts four major golf events for junior girls, including an award-winning AJGA tournament, ANNIKA Invitational at Reunion Resort in Orlando, Fla.; the ANNIKA Invitational at Mission Hills, the first all-girls junior tournament in China; the ANNIKA Invitational in Europe; and the ANNIKA Cup, a team event for the top juniors in Sweden. The Foundation awards SPARK grants to schools, is a financial supporter of Healthy 100 Kids and has endowed an ACE scholarship with the AJGA.  Other key initiatives include ANNIKA Junior Day, the ANNIKA Inspiration Award and scholarships for aspiring Swedish juniors.

 

Nike Verdana women's golf clubs
Courtesy of Nike Golf
The Nike Verdana set of women's golf clubs is a "total game solution" that includes 11 lightweight clubs that takes distance gapping, trajectory and spin profiles into account.

Designed from the grip down, the new Verdana line is the lightest women's set Nike Golf has ever produced. 

Nike describes the Verdana set as a "total game solution" that includes 11 clubs: a driver, 3-wood, three hybrids, 7-iron through pitching wedge, sand wedge and putter, along with a matching carry bag. This full-set design takes distance gapping, trajectory and spin profiles into account, producing a set engineered just for women.

"The set was designed specifically for female athletes looking to maximize distance and control," said Tom Stites, Nike's director of club product creation. "With this ultralight set, slower swing speeds can now gain more distance without sacrificing control the course demands."

The Verdana driver features a full-sized 460cc head with additional loft for higher trajectory. The 18-degree 3-wood features a low center of gravity in a large-breadth profile for more forgiveness and easier ball striking. 

The hybrids – a 4-hybrid with 24 degrees of loft, a 5-hybrid with 27 degrees of loft and a 6-hybrid with 30-degrees of loft – feature wide soles and deeper iron-like faces with a slight offset. These characteristics, Nike explains, allow more forgiveness from a variety of angles and lies.

The irons and wedges include a wider sole design and larger face profiles to help improve contact. The faces also are of variable thickness, which helps to improve shots even when mis-hit. And the Verdana putter is a classically shaped blade with a 33-inch shaft.

The Nike Verdana carry bag boasts a lightweight ergonomic design for ease of use, even weight distribution and improved comfort. The bag is designed to be used on a cart but includes a stand and dual straps for easy carrying.

The clubs are available in standard and petite (minus 1 inch) lengths, and are available now. They carry a street price of $899.99 per set.

For more information on Nike Golf clubs, visit www.nike.com or see the Nike Golf brand pages on pga.com.

 

 
Slice, slice, baby
YouTube
Slice, slice, baby by PGA Professional Marty McCurry is funny and helpful.

 

Some things just speak for themselves... Like this YouTube video entitled, "Slice, slice, baby!"
 
Marty McCurry, a PGA Professional from Tennessee, put the Vanilla Ice, "Ice, ice, baby!" parody together. If you suffer from slicing the ball, hopefully this video will help.
 
 
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
Padraig Harrington
Getty Images
Padraig Harrington used a regulation-length putter as recently as the Masters, but put a long model into play on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Few people tinker with their games more than Padraig Harrington – this is the guy, after all, who won three majors and then decided to rebuild his swing. And this year, of course, he has begun to wear eyeglasses on the course.

On Thursday, though, Harrington did something few would have expected – he used a long putter in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship.

Why is this a big deal? Here's the scoop from Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press:

Padraig Harrington will try anything that makes him play better golf, even a method of putting he believes should be outlawed. 
 
Despite his support of a proposed rule that would ban anchored strokes, Harrington switched to the belly putter Thursday in the Wells Fargo Championship. It didn't appear to help him much -- he made only one birdie in a round of 80 -- but he plans to stick with it. 
 
"I took it out last week, and mechanically, everything I do with my putting stroke is better with the belly putter than without it," he said. 
 
Harrington is a "Working for Golf" ambassador for the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, which along with the U.S. Golf Association proposed the new rule last November that would ban the anchored stroke. [The PGA of America and the PGA Tour have spoken out against the proposed rule.] A final ruling is expected by the end of the month. 
 
Switching to the belly putter hasn't changed Harrington's mind. He still thinks it should be banned. Then again, this is an Irishman who wears glasses even though he has 20/20 vision. 
 
Harrington, though, was quick to point out that it's within the rules at the moment, and will be until 2016 even if the governing bodies adopt the proposed rule on anchoring. 
 
"If something is going to help me for the next three years, I'm going to use it," he said. "It's the same as the box grooves. It's hurt me deeply having the box grooves banned, but I knew it wasn't for the good of my game. It was the good of their game." 
 
Harrington has only one official win since the last of his three majors in the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. He has struggled mightily with his putting, and in recent months has been using "SAM PuttLab," which analyzes 28 parameters of the putting stroke. 
 
"I've been working on that for a good while, and my putting stroke has been coming around," Harrington said. "I was bored last Monday and I was like, `Oh, I wonder what that looks like.' And I was surprised to see everything was better. In terms of mechanics, it was a far better stroke." 
 
He used the belly putter in his pro-am round Wednesday and said it went great. 
 
"It wasn't very good today, but I will use it again tomorrow, no doubt," he said. "I just wasn't quite as comfortable, which I kind of knew was coming. The grip of my normal putter is open and the grip of this is square, so I'm not quite used to it yet. There was a bit of resetting when I was over the ball, which, obviously I prefer not to have. But that's just familiarity. It will be interesting to give it another go tomorrow." 
 
Four of the last six major champions have used an anchored putting stroke, starting with Keegan Bradley at the 2011 PGA Championship and the most recent Adam Scott at the Masters, using his broom-handled putter. 
 
Harrington compared the anchored stroke to the change in box grooves, or square grooves, in the 5-iron through wedges. Changes to the dimensions of those grooves went into effect in 2012, and the Irishman said it affected his game. He believes it has cost him at least one shot per round because he hasn't adjusted to the change.
 
Harrington said last year after the British Open -- won by Ernie Els, who used a belly putter -- that he hoped the R&A didn't wait until he was 50 to outlaw anchoring. 
 
Now, he might be on borrowed time. The 41-year-old figures he'll be more competitive before 2016 than after the ban might take effect. 
 
"It's not such a big issue," he said. "But then again, I might use it for the next three years. As I said, I have no problem using something within the rules of the game. If somebody wants to give me a couple of shots handicap, I'll take that, too." 
 
No one was more surprised than Harrington that he went to the belly putter. He messed around with it in recent years and never liked how it felt. Only when he saw the results from his putting analysis did he decide it was worth a shot. 
 
"That encouraged me to get over the `I don't like the feel of this' because I accelerate better, and I do so many things better with it," he said. "Before it was a feel thing. Now I'm saying, `Well, I can get through the feel thing.' If it's going to be a better putting stroke, why not?"