Golf Buzz

November 6, 2015 - 9:01am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rory McIlroy
@PGATOUR on Twitter
Taking a penalty drop from a water hazard on Friday in the WGC-HSBC Champions, Rory McIlroy proceeded to lose a second golf ball while taking said penalty drop. What?

During the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions on Friday, Rory McIlroy dropped a ball in the water on the par-5 18th hole.

Check it out:


Fortunately for McIlroy, there’s no penalty for when your “drop” rolls into a hazard.

Good thing he doesn’t have to pay for golf balls.

Rory McIlroy
PGA Tour via YouTube
Rory McIlroy's tee shot on the par-3 12th hole on Friday peeked in the cup before deciding not to fall in.
What is going on at the HSBC Champions over in Shanghai?
On Thursday, we saw Dustin Johnson miss a hole-in-one by a mere few inches. Then tonight, Rory McIlroy missed an ace of his own by a whisker.
McIlroy's extremely close call came on the 224-yard, par-3 12th hole at Sheshan International. His 5-iron hit below and left of the flagstick on the putting surface, then tracked directly toward the flag. It had just the right speed to fall into the hole, but skimmed just past the left edge.
McIlroy made the shortie for birdie, and that hole stood out as the highlight of his second round as he carded four birdies and four bogeys for an even-par 72 that had to be a letdown after the 68 he gutted out in the first round while recovering from food poisoning.
Here's his shot:
Brian Davis
PGA Tour via YouTube
Brian Davis shared a fist bump with his caddie after his one-bounce eagle found the bottom of the cup on Friday.
Remember last week, when we showed you Scott Brown's hole-in-one at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia? We called it an ace with authority because that ball would not be denied on its one-way journey to the bottom of the cup.
Well, today, we saw that shot's little brother.
At the PGA Tour's Sanderson Farms Championship, Brian Davis was 48 yards away from the flag on the 317-yard, par-4 15th hole in Mississippi. His wedge bounced once in the middle of the green – then jumped forward directly into the cup on the fly. 
That ball headed so single-mindedly into the cup that it looked like a dog chasing a cat.
Davis paired that eagle with five birdies, and got into the clubhouse with a 7-under 65. He's tied for fourth as of the end of Thursday's play.
Here's his shot:
Dustin Johnson's almost-ace
PGA Tour via YouTube
Dustin Johnson came within inches of a hole-in-on on Thursday at the HSBC Champions.
We all know Dustin Johnson can smack a golf ball about as far as anyone. He can also knock it close – real close – as he proved in the first round of the WGC-HSBC Champions on Thursday in Shanghai.
DJ was already having a good day when he reached the tee box on the 197-yard, par-3 fourth hole at Sheshan International at 4 under par (he started on the back nine). He walked off the green at 5 under, thanks to a tee shot that landed mere inches from the cup.
The ball hopped agonizingly close to the flagstick, then stopped a just few inches past it.
That wasn't Johnson's only memorable moment of the day, either. A little earlier, he reached the green on the 550-yard, par-5 second hole in two and rolled in a 17-footer for an eagle, and finished with a 7-under 65. Here are those two shots:
Race to the CME Globe via Twitter
If So Yeon Ryu, Beatriz Recari, Azahara Munoz and Jessica Korda miss the Toto Japan Classic, at least they've got a unique excuse.
The final stop of the LPGA Tour's annual autumn swing through Asia gets underway Friday, but as of right now the Toto Japan Classic is missing some of its expected starpower.
Four of the LPGA's most prominent players – Jessica Korda, Beatriz Recari, Azahara Munoz and So Yeon Ryu – made a quick stopover on the tropical isle of Bali in Indonesia for the Lexus Cup exhibition a few days ago. While they were enjoying the golf and sand and surf, however, Mount Rinjani on the neighboring island of Lombok began erupting.
The volcano blasted ash and smoke miles into the air on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, according to The New York Times, forcing hundreds of flights in and out of Bali to be cancelled. That left Recari and Munoz with no way to Japan; Korda and Ryu weren't entered inthe tournament and were planning to head home.
Ngurah Rai International Airport on Bali, from which the players were scheduled to depart, is expected to remain closed until Thursday morning at the earliest, said the Indoniesian Ministry of Transportation. Airports in Lombok and in Banyuwangi also have been shut down.
Amazingly, this is the second time in a matter of months that a volcanic eruption has disrupted travel in and out of Bali. Back in July, a volcano in the nearby East Java Province also closed the Bali airport and stranded thousands of travelers.
The players are continuing to explore all possible means of getting out, and the tournament restructured its tee times to send Munoz and Azahara out last in Friday's first round just in case. But if they do miss out, at least they've got a unique excuse.
Michelle Wie was among the players who arrived in Japan on time, but she might be wishing she was stuck on Bali as well. Apparently she had the same bad luck in dining choices that laid Rory McIlroy low in Shanghai earlier this week.
November 4, 2015 - 10:13am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rickie Fowler
USA Today Sports Images
Can Rickie Fowler possibly improve on the monster season he had in 2014-15?

Just four weeks into the 2015-16 PGA Tour season and the first World Golf Championships event is already upon us with this week's HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

The field is absolutely loaded with big names and there's extra incentive for the U.S.-born players to have a solid showing, as it's the final event of the calendar year that offers all-important Ryder Cup points.

Bubba Watson returns as the tournament's defending champion, but -- surprise -- he's not one of our favorites this week.

Here's a look at the five players you'll want to keep an eye on in China with a bonus "dark-horse" pick.

RELATED: WGC-HSBC Champions tee times | This week's pro golf schedule

5. Rory McIlroy
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
T26 Open
Reason to watch: This is McIlroy's second start of the season and he'll be playing hurt after an early-week bout with food poisoning. Because of that, you might be reluctant to call him a favorite this week. That's your prerogative. As far as I'm concerned, I say fear the sick golfer. We've seen it before -- guys playing under the weather shooting lights out, likely because they're preoccupied with getting their ailing body through the round instead of worrying about the shots. And, of course, the less shots you take, the quicker you play. You don't need a doctor to tell you that.

4. Adam Scott
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
Second at CIMB Classic
Reason to watch: The Aussie enters this week after a fine showing in Malaysia where he finished second in the CIMB Classic. Beautiful start to the season for the former Masters champ. You can always rely on Scott to be in the mix, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I expect to see him win more. In his last three starts at the HSBC Champions, Scott has finished no worse than T12. That, combined with the confidence gained from last week's high finish, lead me to believe he'll be a serious factor this week.

3. Jordan Spieth
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
Reason to watch: This will be Spieth's first PGA Tour start since winning the Tour Championship to cap off an incredible dream of a 2014-15 season. Expectations for Spieth are through the roof after a season in which he counted the first two majors of the year among his five victories. That's going to be hard (dear we say "impossible") to top. One thing is for sure, Spieth can't wait to get going after some well-earned rest.

2. Dustin Johnson
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
Reason to watch: Always one of the best, most consistent players throughout the course of a season, Johnson won this tournament in 2013, which was also the last time he played it. Every year it seems he's knocking on the door of a massive season, threatening to knock off that first major win. Though this week isn't a major, it is a big event and a huge opportunity for Johnson to get the mojo going in the right direction.

1. Rickie Fowler
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
T25 at Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: Fowler finished T3 here at the HSBC a year ago and, while it may not have been as otherworldly as Spieth and Jason Day, he's also coming off an incredible PGA Tour season. That, coupled with last year's high finish at this venue, lead me to believe Fowler will be a big factor this time around as well.

DARK HORSE: Matthew Fitzpatrick
Reason to watch: This European Tour rookie notched his first victory at the British Masters in early October. That allowed him to reach this grand stage in a World Golf Championships event. Let's see if Fitzpatrick -- who left Northwestern early to pursue his professional career -- makes the most of the opportunity.

Here's how my five to watch fared last week at the CIMB Classic:

5. Sergio Garcia -- T24
4. Gary Woodland -- T56
3. Ryan Moore -- T10
2. Patrick Reed -- T10
1. Henrik Stenson -- T47
DARK HORSE: Anirban Lahiri -- T21