Golf Buzz

February 23, 2014 - 8:22pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Ian Poulter at the Daytona 500
Ian Poulter via Twitter
Ian Poulter hung out in the Hendrick Motorsports pit at the Daytona 500 on Sunday, at least until the rains came.
Ian Poulter didn't let his first-round loss to Rickie Fowler at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship ruin his week. He jetted on back to Florida and spent Sunday at the Daytona 500. Poults, a well-known exotic car collector, said he was invited to attend as an honorary race official, took a spin in one of the pace cars and spent much of the day down in pit lane.
And while the final match of the Accenture Match Play turned out to be one for the ages, Poulter — at least of this writing — hasn't seen a whole lot of racing, thanks to an afternoon-long rain delay. The prospects for getting in some more action tonight look better, though, so hopefully for everyone involved at Daytona, the weather will cooperate.
Anyway, here's a recap of Poulter's day at the races, culled from his Twitter account. You can see even more images on his Instagram page:
February 23, 2014 - 4:35pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Masters invitation Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano via Twitter
Receiving your Masters invitation in the mail is "priceless," says Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, voicing an opinion that is no doubt unanimous.
The final match of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship signals the end of the West Coast Swing. Next up is the cross-country trek to the Florida Swing – which marks the unofficial beginning of the run-up to the Masters.
And make no mistake, the season's first major is already on an awful lot of minds, even now, seven weeks away. Every player knows when he qualifies for Augusta National. But never does the Masters feel more real than when your official invitation arrives in the mail.
Just the other day, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain tweeted out a photo of his invitation, with this caption: "Opening your mail box and finding this #priceless" 
I'm posting this in case you've never seen an actual Masters invitation. My favorite part is down in the lower left-hand corner, where it says RSVP. What would it take to RSVP no? Yeah, I can't think of anything, either.
Here's Gonzo's tweet:
February 21, 2014 - 4:32pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler
USA Today
Rickie Fowler was the beneficiary of an odd concession by Sergio Garcia in the third round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Friday.

When the format is match play, you're more likely to hear the word "gamesmanship" than "sportsmanship."

But, in the case of Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler in their third round match Friday at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, the latter applied -- or something like that.

Garcia was 2-up when the pair played the par-4 seventh hole. Fowler had a 20-foot putt putt left for par, while Garcia was about 4 feet away for a 4 of his own.

RELATED: Follow all the scores from the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship

As Fowler was lining up his putt, a conversation began to take place between the two. Before you knew it, Garcia looked at Fowler and said, "Good, good?" suggesting the two pick up for par and move on to the next hole.

It was bizarre. Fowler, who was certainly behind the 8-ball, seemed to think Garcia was joking. A couple of seconds later though, Fowler and Garcia picked up the golf balls and moved along to the eighth tee.

Here's video of how it all played out:



UPDATE: Here's the Associated Press version of the incident:

Rickie Fowler was lining up an 18-foot par putt on the seventh hole Friday when Sergio Garcia interrupted him. 

"He goes, `You want a halve?'" Fowler said. "I'm like, `What? What is he saying?' He goes, `You want a halve? Excuse me?' `Do you want a halve? Halve the hole?'" 

Fowler took the halve, also conceding the Spaniard's 7-footer, and went on to rally for a 1-up victory at Dove Mountain. 

"I'm thinking in my head that, `I kind of want to just play it out there, but I'd be stupid not to take a halve. I'm twice the distance he is.'" Fowler said. "I really didn't feel like it changed the flow of the match. He goes and makes birdie on 8 and goes 3 up." 

Garcia made the gesture after feeling guilty about taking a long time to make two drops away from bees on the previous hole. 

"This is a gentleman's game, and lately it hasn't felt like it's been like that," Garcia said. "This is the way I was brought up by my dad. ... I felt like my drop on 6 took too much time. If I would have been in his position, I would not have enjoyed waiting so long. 

"I thought it was the only thing I could do on 7 to make myself feel better and not feel guilty." 

Fowler was OK with the time Garcia took on the drops on No. 6. 

"I wanted him to feel comfortable about the shot," Fowler said. "There were quite a few bees around the sprinkler head, and his ball was probably a pace from it. It wasn't exactly a safe situation." 

The players are friends. 

"I've gotten to know Sergio quite a bit over the last year," Fowler said. "We've had a lot of fun playing together. We did out there today, as well. ... Just with feeling guilty about something and being able to get it off your chest, it definitely makes you feel better. I know that's why he did it." 

Fowler won Nos. 9 and 10 with birdies to cut Garcia's lead to 1 up, and made another birdie on No. 11 for a halve. 

The American missed a chance to pull even on No. 14 when they halved with bogeys, and escaped No. 15 with a halve after Garcia missed a 5-foot birdie putt. On the short 15th, Fowler drove under a Buckhorn Cholla and played his second shot from his knees. He advanced the ball 25 yards and chipped to 5 feet for par. 

"I was just trying to make 4 and make him make 3," Fowler said. "He did miss some short putts on 14 and 15. If he makes those, it's probably a different story. I was able to hang around and made a few good putts coming in." 

Fowler took the lead on the par-3 16th, holing a 15-foot birdie putt. They halved the 17th with pars, and Fowler won with a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

Fowler's 95-yard wedge shot from the 18th fairway bounced onto the ridge above the hole and had just enough spin to catch the slope and trickle down. Garcia's 140-yard shot from the left rough lacked spin and ended up on the top of the ridge. He missed from 18 feet, the same distance Fowler had on the conceded putt. 

Garcia was asked if he regretted the long conceded putt. 

"No, not at all. I don't regret it at all," Garcia said. "He played much better than me on the last 10 holes and he deserves a win." 

Fowler will face Jim Furyk in the quarterfinals. Furyk beat Harris English 1 up.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.


February 21, 2014 - 11:30am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Padraig Harrington
USA Today
On a radio show in Ireland on Friday, three-time major champion Padraig Harrington revealed that he has been treated for skin cancer.

Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington revealed on a radio program in Ireland Friday that he has undergone treatment for skin cancer.

Harrington is still listed in the field for next week's Honda Classic at PGA National.

The 2008 PGA Champion told Today FM's 'The Last Word' program in Ireland, "I've had a number of skin cancers removed off my face.

READ: All eyes on Match Play for 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson

"When you get a symptom, don't ignore it. Do something about it."

Harrington lost his father to oesophageal cancer in 2005 and has since been a spokesperson for the Oesophageal Cancer Fund Ireland.

"Dealing with cancer is not what it was 10 years ago," Harrington said on the radio. "Instead of just one treatment they are now looking at combining different types of treatment of dealing with oesophageal cancer.

"Everybody responds differently to treatment and ways of treating cancer are moving on. I see that when I travel the world. It is easier to clear these things up at the start rather than waiting until there is a problem. You can get treated and go on to live a much longer life."

Click here to read the full report.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.


February 20, 2014 - 3:09pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Jordan Spieth
USA Today
Not all halves are created equally. Check out how Jordan Spieth halved a hole in a match with Thomas Bjorn on Thursday.

At the time of this post, it was still early in the Round 2 match between Jordan Spieth and Thomas Bjorn at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Not early enough, however, for what's sure to be one of the best shots we'll see this week.

RELATED: WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship scores | Improve your bunker play

Spieth, 1-up through three holes, looked sure to be giving a hole away to Bjorn at Dove Mountain's par-4 fourth hole. Bjorn was already in with a par, while Spieth was playing his fourth shot from a greenside bunker.

Needing to hole the shot for a halve and to maintain a 1-up lead, Spieth elected to have his caddie pull the flag out. Veteran announcer Peter Oosterhuis wondered aloud why Spieth would pull the flag for the shot with the green running away from him.

Well, here's why:



Oosterhuis could only chuckle at Spieth's remarkable shot, which dropped in for a par.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

February 20, 2014 - 10:49am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Jumping cholla
USA Today
Jumping cholla -- a form of cactus -- is an obstacle you need to worry about at Dove Mountain as this fan learned on Wednesday.

If you've spent any time at all watching the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz., since the first time the event was played there in 2009, you've no doubt heard stories about something called, "jumping cholla."

Basically, it's a jumping cactus. Get too close, and this thing literally jumps on you. It's painful.

RELATED: Day 1 results from the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship

In the first round of the Match Play Championship Wednesday, an unlucky spectator got what appeared to be a 1-2 punch of pain.

Rory McIlroy attempted to hit a shot with his ball touching a rock. Upon contacted, the ball ricocheted off the rock and -- though we never see video evidence -- the announcers say the ball hit a spectator. Based on McIlroy's reaction -- an immediate cringe -- we suspect that's what happened.

But, what happened next only added insult to injury... or injury to injury for the fan.

After the ball hit the fan, he fell into a jumping cholla bush. Luckily for him, there were plenty of folks prepared with tweezers to remove the cholla from the man's body.

Check it out here:



McIlroy defeated Boo Weekley in the match, 3 and 2.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.