Golf Buzz

February 2, 2015 - 4:43pm
mark.aumann's picture
Brandt Snedeker
USA Today Images
Brandt Snedeker won at Torrey Pines in 2012 and finished runner-up in 2010 and 2013.

Torrey Pines may fall under the jurisdiction of the San Diego Parks and Rec Department, but this isn't your typical muni.

At 7,628 yards, the South course is the longest course on the regular PGA Tour schedule. Credit Rees Jones, who in 2001 redesigned Torrey Pines to prepare the course to host the 2008 U.S. Open. The Farmers Insurance Open may just be part of the western winter swing, but nobody in this weekend's field will consider it a breather. 

FARMERS INSURANCE OPEN: Thursday's tee times

A check of the previous winners bears out that contention: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Billy Casper and Tom Watson were all victorious at Torrey Pines. Phil Mickelson has three wins. Tiger Woods has seven.

There are amazing coastline views from some of the holes, but the golfer who loses any concentration while checking out the view will find that reflected on his scorecard. Scott Stallings birdied four holes on the back nine -- including the 18th -- in the final round last year to win by a stroke.

With that, here are five players to watch this week.

5. Dustin Johnson
2014 Farmers Insurance Open: Did not play
Reason to watch: Since taking a six-month leave of absence from the PGA Tour after the RBC Canadian Open in July, Johnson has a new son, a new life coach and a new attitude. Living closer to father-in-law Wayne Gretzky couldn't have hurt, either. The NHL's all-time leading scorer knows a little bit about putting the biscuit in the basket, and according to a story on, Johnson recently shot a course-record 61 at Sherwood Country Club.

AROUND THE WORLD: Brooks Koepka's long road leads to success

Is he ready for the return to tournament golf? If Tiger Woods at TPC Scottdale last weekend is any indication, Johnson could be rusty. But the fact that the eight-time winner wants to get his comeback under way, that's a good first step in the right direction.

4. Pat Perez
2014 Farmers Insurance Open: Tied for second
Reason to watch: Perez's only PGA Tour victory came at the 2009 Bob Hope Classic, but that's not really indicative of his potential. And, as you'll hear constantly throughout this weekend, he went to Torrey Pines High School, worked at the golf course range -- and beat Tiger Woods in the Junior Worlds at Torrey Pines his senior year. It's possible Perez has more rounds of golf there than anyone else in the field. It's time for him to use that local knowledge to his advantage.

Plus, how can you not like a guy who can pull off a prank like this?

3. Phil Mickelson
2014 Farmers Insurance Open: Withdrew with injury
Reason to watch: Just like last week at Phoenix, Lefty is a multiple winner of this event (1993, 2000, 2001). Mickelson's return to his ASU roots didn't go so well, as he missed the cut after rounds of 69-76 at TPC Scottsdale. So instead of hanging around for the Super Bowl, Phil headed back to his hometown.

"I will maybe get even a little extra practice round in or two over at Torrey and get ready," Mickelson said. "See if I can get my short game sharp."

If Mickelson finds that elusive short game -- ask Tiger Woods about that -- he could be a factor come Sunday.

2. Brandt Snedeker
2014 Farmers Insurance Open: Missed cut
Reason to watch: Sneds had an uncharacteristically lousy 2014, going winless for the first time in three seasons and finishing 86th in the FedExCup standings, just two years after winning it all. Perhaps injuries -- cracked ribs, muscle tightness, a left knee injured in a Segway accident -- caught up with him.

But he's off to a good, if not great, start to 2015. He posted three consecutive top-10 finishes in the final three events of the fall schedule. And he knows how to contend at Torrey Pines. In addition to his 2012 victory, he finished tied for second in 2010 and 2013.

1. Hideki Matsuyama
2014 Farmers Insurance Open: Tied for 16th
Reason to watch: Matsuyama's putter failed him at the worst possible time Sunday at TPC Scottsdale, dooming him to a runner-up finish behind Brooks Koepka, despite shooting 63-67 on the weekend. That included this amazing hole out for eagle on the first hole Sunday -- from a sand-filled divot, no less.

He has five top-25 finishes in seven starts already this season, and the win at The Memorial last year proved he can compete on the PGA Tour -- not that top-10 finishes in the U.S. Open and Open Championship hadn't already cemented his status as Japan's best young rising talent. In fact, the San Diego Union-Tribune pretty much had it pegged back in 2013

And he won't turn 23 until the end of the month.

Here's how T.J. Auclair's five to watch fared at the Waste Management Phoenix Open:

5. Gary Woodland -- Missed cut
4. Rickie Fowler -- T46
3. Jordan Spieth-- T7
2. Bubba Watson -- T2
1. Phil Mickelson -- Missed cut


February 2, 2015 - 2:44pm
Michael.Benzie's picture
par 3
Jeremy Friedman,
A north Georgia course features this tough par 3 downhill.

A week ago, we asked our Facebook fans to share their experiences playing on the most dramatic elevation changes and asked how they handled the shot. We got some great answers (see below) and more than 200 responses. You can post yours here.

Meanwhile, we asked for advice on these shots from Billy Ore, teaching professional and technology specialist at The Learning Center at PGA Village. He gave three simple tips.

1. One rule of thumb is for every yard of elevation change, up or down, add to or subtract from the distance. 

2. Remember on uphills, you'll get more skip because the angle of the ball coming down will not be as steep. On downhills, it will of course be very steep.

3. Ore suggests trying lower trajectory shots on steep downhills.

Here are some of the most popular comments from readers on steep elevation holes:

  • Alan Toll -- No. 15. Lake Ridge Golf Course in Reno. Close my eyes and hope! 140-foot drop.
  • Shayne Barnes -- Sugarloaf Golf Club Maine. 11th hole. I hit it in the river to the left of the hole.
  • Danny Pates -- No. 14 at Stonehenge, Fairfield Glade, Tennessee. Was about 100 feet ... dropped 3 clubs and swung easy. So nerve rattling waiting and waiting and waiting for it to land.
  • Jamesy Law -- I would approach this the same way I approach most shots ... check yardage, choose appropriate club, allow for wind, then hook it 30 yards into the nearest tree.
  • Erik Watson -- The par-3 12th hole at Gatlinburg Community Golf Club is 194 yards long with a 200-foot drop from tee to green. Called “Sky Hi" I have no idea what club to use on this very deceiving hole.
  • Colin Davis -- Gold Canyon Country Club Dinosaur Mountain course. Hole 5 par 3. 210 yds about a 110-foot drop. Solid 7 Iron and aim for middle of green.
  • Bruce Lambert -- Mountain View in Boring, Ore. Signature hole No. 12 will challenge your ability to accurately place your tee shot to this downhill par 3 with an elevation change of 180 feet – “This is a hole that you will never forget”.
  • Chris Wolford -- Apple Mountain in Camino CA. #2 hole from green looking up to tee box. Full swing 60° and hope it doesn't plug in the green! Lol

See all the responses below.


Jason Dufner at the Super Bowl
Jason Dufner via Twitter
Jason Dufner had a bird's eye view of Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday.
After the Waste Management Phoenix Open ended on Sunday, the men and women who play tournament golf for a living had nothing else to do – so they watched a football game.
Well, sort of. The pro tour players were as interested in the Super Bowl as everyone else – several of them even made it to the big game. Here's how they reacted to the action between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, starting with that longtime football fan Luke Donald and followed closely by Patriots fanatic Keegan Bradley:
You won't be surprised that Jason Dufner was taking in the game. He and Donald even got into a little discussion:
Boys, boys. Let's all behave and enjoy the game.
A late entry into the Donald-Dufner discussion from former Senior PGA Champion Roger Chapman:
The game came down to the final few minutes:
And let's end this little exercise where we started it, with Luke Donald, who obviously agrees with pretty much everyone else who watched the final minute or two unfold in disbelief:
Hideki Matsuyama
Hideki Matsuyama celebrates Sunday after his eagle on the first hole at TPC Scottsdale.

Talk about making the best of a bad situation.

Hideki Matsuyama's tee shot on the first hole Sunday at TPC Scottsdale landed in a sand-filled divot. That's one of the worst breaks possible, because you need to make a perfect strike on the ball or it could go anywhere.

So what did Matsuyama do? Exactly that, as this video proves:

Matsuyama turned a terrible situation into an incredible eagle hole out -- and kicked off his round in the best way possible.



February 1, 2015 - 12:42pm
mark.aumann's picture
Mountain Lake ice golf
John Best/Lehigh Valley Live
A group of hardy golfers take to the ice at Mountain Lake, New Jersey, for their annual tournament on Super Bowl weekend.

Forget sitting on comfy sofas around the living room, loading up on snacks and watching the action from Glendale, Ariz. These intrepid golfers have their own Super Bowl to play -- on their own "frozen tundra."

According to a story written by John Best on, a group of Hackettstown, N.J., High School alums get together every year to create a golf course on frozen Mountain Lake, and then host a golf tournament on Super Bowl Sunday. They've been doing it since 2003.

Depending on the conditions, Best writes "... holes can be several hundred yards from the tees and they place small flags in the holes so they can easily locate them. After the initial drive, they use clubs to hit off the ice and finish with putters just as they would in regular golf."

Surprisingly, it's not as easy as you might think, mainly because of temperature, friction and because "long shots land with a thud -- making small impact craters in the ice -- which lessens the distance it rolls."

This year's tournament was moved up one day because of a forecast of snow on Sunday, and was played on a six-hole course that ranges from 50 to 100 yards in length. Just in case putters were ineffective, the event's organizers provided hockey sticks.

Check out the entire story and additional photos here.

We've seen other stories written by ice golf tournaments, but this is the first one we've seen connected to Super Bowl weekend.

January 31, 2015 - 4:05pm
Posted by:
Doug Ferguson
mark.aumann's picture
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods failed to make the cut at this weekend's Waste Management Open in Phoenix.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tiger Woods, coming off an 82 for his worst round as a pro, will be out of the top 50 in the world ranking for the first time in more than three years.

And if he doesn't turn his game around quickly, he will be ineligible for a World Golf Championship for only the second time in his career.

Woods was No. 1 in the world eight months ago. But after missing most of last year recovering from back surgery, and playing poorly in the few times he did play, Woods made his 2015 debut in the Phoenix Open at No. 47 in the world. He missed the cut by 12 shots.

FRUSTRATING FRIDAY: How Tiger Woods wound up shooting 82 at Phoenix

Woods will be no better than No. 53 next week, and could fall even farther depending on what happens at the Phoenix Open and Dubai Desert Classic. Woods has not been lower than 58th in the world since winning the first of his 79 title on the PGA Tour at the Las Vegas Invitational in October 1996.

He last was out of the top 50 on Nov. 27, 2011. Woods won the Chevron World Challenge the next week and moved up to No. 21.

Woods is playing next week at Torrey Pines, where he is an eight-time winner but last year missed the 54-hole cut. After a two-week break, he then plays the Honda Classic. He will have to be in the top 50 after the Honda Classic to be eligible for the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.

The only other WGC event for which Woods didn't qualify was the HSBC Champions in 2011, another year marked by injuries and no wins.

The question as he left Phoenix was how quickly he could turn it around. Woods is in the early stages of a fifth swing change. He left Sean Foley during his four-month break from golf at the end of last year and has hired Chris Como as a consultant.

GENE FRENETTE: Don't give up on Tiger Woods just yet

More startling was his chipping. Woods says he doesn't have a feel for where the bottom of the club should be when he makes contact on his short-game shots. It was embarrassing at times at TPC Scottsdale. He chose to play safer shots along the ground than to get the ball more in the air. When he no option to pitch the ball in the air, he either flubbed it or bladed it.

Woods tied for last with club pro Michael Hopper. Including the 18-man field at the Hero World Challenge in December, he now has tied for last in two straight events.

He was going to attend the Super Bowl in nearby Glendale but instead flew home to Florida on Friday. His plans until he tees it up next week at the Farmers Insurance Open?

"Practice each and every day," Woods said. "Just work on it."

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.