Golf Buzz

Bernhard Langer
Bernhard Langer's 2015 season got off to a rocky start at the Mitsubishi Electric Challenge.
On Friday afternoon, we saw Zach Johnson hit one of the most memorably worst shots of his career when he got tangled up with some rocks en route to a double bogey at the Humana Challenge. A few hours later in Hawaii, Bernhard Langer saw Johnson's double and raised him three more shots – thanks to his own detour into some rocks.
Langer – the defending champion at the Champions Tour's Mitsubishi Electric Championship – hit his second shot into the lava rocks just off the right side of the fairway on the par-5 seventh hole at Hualalai. Several painful minutes later, he walked off the nearby green with a quintuple-bogey 10. 
When Langer found his ball in the hardened lava, it was well below his feet but was sitting up on the rocks. He took a cut and apparently missed the ball. He made contact on his next swing, but the ball hit the rocks and bounced backward into even deeper trouble in the thigh-high wispy grass.
His next swing left him in roughly the same position, and he finally knocked his ball onto the green with his next shot. Just one thing – he double-hit the ball, and immediately called the one-stroke penalty on himself.
That left him facing a 50-foot putt, and he rolled his ball past the hole on the right side. He banged that putt home from six feet, but the damage was done – Langer had been 3 under through six holes, but found himself 2 over after the disastrous seventh. He went on to shoot an even-par 72 and finish the first round of the 2015 season six shots behind leader Rocco Mediate.  
UPDATE: Langer's score on the hole led to considerable confusion both during and after the round. Both the Golf Channel announcers and the graphic that the channel displayed indicated that Langer made a 9, and the text accompanying the video clip on both YouTube and the PGA Tour website still say he made a 9. His scorecard on the PGA Tour website also said 9, but at some point later was changed to 10. As of the end of Saturday's second round, there is no explanation on the site as to where the 10th stroke came from. 
In any case, the most shocking hole of Langer's senior career came less than a day after a ceremonial dinner in which he received the four big trophies he earned last season. Those trophies were for winning the 2014 Schwab Cup and the money title, and posting the lowest scoring average and being named the Player of the Year. 
Here's the video of a hole Langer will never forget:
Dustin Johnson
USA Today Sports Images
Dustin Johnson is an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, but hasn't played since before the PGA Championship last summer.
By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press 
Dustin Johnson is returning to the PGA Tour from a six-month break in which he said Friday "it was time to grow up," though he refused to discuss a published report that a positive test for cocaine is what led to his leave of absence. 
"I'm not worried about what people think or what they say," Johnson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "I've just got to be me. I've got a son, a future wife, and I'm really happy. I'm going to enjoy my life." 
Johnson has not competed since he missed the cut at the RBC Canadian Open on July 25. Five days later, he said in a statement he was taking a leave of absence to seek professional help for what he described only as "personal challenges." 
The fact that Johnson will return exactly six months from announcing his leave of absence is sure to raise questions. His first tournament back will be the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines on Feb. 5-8. 
Asked if the report was true that he failed a cocaine test, Johnson replied, No." And then he declined to say more. 
"With that, I've said all I'm going to say," Johnson said. "I think I've answered them, and I don't think I need to answer them again." 
He gave an interview earlier this week to Sports Illustrated and to ESPN, part of a strategy to ease back into golf. Still to be determined is how Johnson is received by the public and by his peers. He said he hasn't talked to many players except for the occasional round of golf and workout session with Keegan Bradley because they have the same trainer. 
Johnson is engaged to Paulina Gretzky, the daughter of hockey great Wayne Gretzky. She gave birth to a son, Tatum, on Monday in Los Angeles. Johnson said they are renting a home in Thousand Oaks, California, but he plans to live in West Palm Beach, Florida. 
"The baby is healthy and we're really happy," he said. 
Johnson declined to say whether the tour threatened to suspend him or recommended he get help. He said he has never been to rehab in his life. He said his issue was how he handled stress — drinking and partying — though he said he did not drink to the point that he felt he needed outside help. 
"It was more of a compounded thing," he said. "I was not enjoying myself. I was not playing the way I wanted to play. I did my fair share of partying. It's not like I was drinking every day. It was more like alcohol abuse -- that's not the right word, but more along those lines. When I drank, I drank too much." 
As for seeking professional help that he mentioned in his statement in August, Johnson said he was working with "a few different people," including one man whom he described as a life coach. 
"He's someone who helps me, give me advice," Johnson said, adding that what he was taught was "nothing I didn't already know." 
"What I've learned a lot is ... with what I do, there's a lot of stress that comes with it," he said. "I never really learned to deal with it. To party was more my way of dealing with stress instead of going to the gym or going for a run. Things that were unhealthy, that was my way to get away." 
Humana Johnson, 30, is among the most talented Americans and certainly among the most athletic figures in golf. He already has eight victories — last year was the first year he failed to win since he joined the PGA Tour in 2008 — and has contended in three majors. One of those was at Whistling Straits, where he grounded his club without realizing he was in a bunker on the final hole and was given a two-shot penalty. That kept him from a playoff in the 2010 PGA Championship. 
In his most recent major, Johnson played in the final group on Saturday at the British Open with eventual champion Rory McIlroy. He wound up tying for 12th. 
His leave of absence kept him from playing the PGA Championship, the FedExCup playoffs and the Ryder Cup, where he was assured a spot on the team. Johnson said he watched a little bit of the matches from Gleneagles and felt bad that he wasn't there. 
But he doesn't feel he owes an apology — or an explanation — to anyone. 
"I don't care what people think," he said. "I mean, do. I want my fans to know I do care about them, and I'm glad for all the ones who have stuck by me. I've had an unbelievable amount of support from my family, friends and fans. And those who aren't fans anymore, that's their choice." 
Johnson said he more excited than nervous about his return, and mostly he is happy about becoming a father. 
"Obviously, I needed to better myself," he said. "I used this time to work on me, and to work on becoming a better fiancee, soon-to-be husband, father. The son has been born now, and it's given me a whole new perspective. Nothing else in the world matters." 
Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
January 23, 2015 - 6:02pm
andrew.prezioso's picture
Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson ended up with a double bogey on the 10th hole.

This is like a trick shot gone wrong

During the second round of the Humana Challenge, Zach Johnson was trying to hit a shot off of the rocks. The results were, well, not good. 


Related: Humana Challenge leaderboard

To make matters worse for Johnson, not only did his ball go backwards but it went into the water. He ended up with a double bogey on the hole.

He did make up for it a bit later on by holing out from bunker on the 12th hole.

January 23, 2015 - 11:27am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Charles Barkley
Just when you thought Charles Barkley's golf game was bad, he went ahead and showed off his new golf belt.

And you thought Charles Barkley's golf swing was bad (you're right, it is).

But is it possible that his golf-belt game is worse?

Barkley caught some heat from good pal Kenny Smith last night during NBA on TNT coverage when he revealed his new golf belt:

You've got to love Barkley. He always "owns" it.

h/t NBA on TNT

January 23, 2015 - 11:13am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
trick shots
Golf trick shots aren't as easy to pull off as the Bryan Brothers make them look. Just ask these two guys.

As we all know by now, the Bryan Brothers have made incredibly difficult golf trick shots look so easy.

The truth, however, is they're not easy. In fact, more often than not, the attempt can go terribly wrong.

Like it did for these two guys:

There's nothing funnier than a guy getting hit with something below the belt (unless your said guy). 

You cringe, then you laugh, like we did with this video.

Here are the Bryan Bros. to show us how it's done:


Bhrett McCabe
Dr. Bhrett McCabe says failure on the golf course can be productive, if you learn from it.

Golfers need to "break the fishbowl" to end the fear of failure and persevere, said a prominent sports psychologist Thursday at the PGA Merchandise Show.

Birmingham-based Dr. Bhrett McCabe, a performance and sports psychologist speaking on the topic of "How your practice may actually be causing you to get worse, not better," said challenging golfers -- particularly younger ones who aren't used to failure -- how to deal with adversity is the best way to build How to Win Awareness.

McCabe used the analogy of the fishbowl to show how golfers limit themselves because of their fear of failure.

"If you buy a goldfish, it's never going to grow bigger than the size of the fishbowl," McCabe said. "Your human mind is the same way. If all you think is inside a limited space, that's all you'll ever do. We have to break the the fishbowl.

"When players come to work with us, we have a challenge. We have to assess them, find out where they are. Do they truly believe that they can overcome their success and failure? Do we believe they can persevere?"

More: Russ Ortiz's passions include golf, giving back to the community

It's what separates players with similar skill sets but different mental toughness.

"We've all seen it," McCabe said. "The kid hits it like a rock star on the range and should never struggle, and yet they shoot 5-over par. It makes no sense. Why? They don't always know how to deal with the adversity."

As a sports psychologist, it's McCabe's job to remove the mental limitations that are keeping good players from performing to their potential.

"How do we break them out of their fishbowls? We get them out of their comfort zones," McCabe said. "I want them to learn to trust their tools under various conditions, and learn how to deal with adversity and persevere."

McCabe played baseball at Louisiana State for legendary coach Skip Bertman. Recently, McCabe had a chance to sit down with his former coach and pick his brain about this very issue.

"What's the biggest factor you see in the success of your players?" McCabe asked Bertman. "He said, 'I've been coaching for 25 years and the No. 1 factor is what I call 'HWA.' It's How to Win Awareness.

"Think about that. Every player out there is a talented player. They can move a golf ball around the course. There's not much separation between Tour players. But it's the players that know how to win when it matters."

So how do you measure HWA in golf?

"It's when a golfer looks at a shot and they adapt their skill set to the shot that's at hand, rather than trying to prove they can hit the shot," McCabe said. "When a player plays for validation -- that they should hit that shot -- you're telling yourself that if you don't, it's because of an inherent flaw in you. And a player that plays for validation is always weak."

Many times, single-sport athletes don't learn how to fail. And when they find themselves in a stressful situation, they don't know how to handle the pressure effectively.

"What I find is, the players start telling me, 'I thought I was going to play well this week," McCabe said. "With all the work I've done, I should have played well.' And I hear that unbelievably bad word -- should. 

"Why did you think you had a great week of practice, that you should have played well? What happens is, players are playing for their optimum experience. They've created in their minds that every round of golf that they play has to be ideal to be successful."

And McCabe said that creates unattainable expectations.

"Expectations are through the roof," McCabe said. "What they don't understand is that great performances arise from average performances. They don't arise from other great performances. The hardest round (after a great round) is the next one, because their expectations are up."

So many books on the subject deal with athletes "being in the zone," something that McCabe doesn't ascribe to.

"Why? Because it happens five percent of the time," McCabe said. "So I'm going to invest my time and energy in training my athletes how to get into the top five percent. I believe they're going to get there naturally -- by doing the other 95 percent efficiently."