Golf Buzz

April 18, 2017 - 9:14am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Dustin Johnson
USA Today Sports Images
After withdrawing from the Masters due to an injury -- literally at the last minute -- world No. 1 Dustin Johnson is on track for a return at the Wells Fargo Championship.

On the eve of the 2017 Masters, world No. 1 and tournament favorite Dustin Johnson suffered a lower back injury when he fell down some stairs at his rental home in Augusta.

There's probably never a "good time" to get hurt, but this was especially disappointing for Johnson who had just won in three consecutive starts and was in in peak form for the season's first major.

Johnson went to Augusta National the next day hoping to tee it up in Round 1, but after a brief practice session where he was experiencing significant pain, he decided to withdraw one minute before his scheduled tee time.

RELATED: World No. 1 Dustin Johnson withdraws from Masters after freak fall on stairs

"To get injured on Wednesday afternoon, the day before the tournament starts, is a major disappointment," 2018 Ryder Cup USA Captain Jim Furyk told PGA.com in a Q&A. "That late in the game, all your preparation is done. You're not only thinking about the next day, but you're raring to go.

"I'm sure Dustin was disappointed to have to miss it because of how well he's been playing. Maybe he thinks it's a missed opportunity. But he'll have plenty more chances. I really feel bad for him, but more importantly, I hope he gets back to 100 percent soon."

As of Tuesday, it appears things are looking up for Johnson.

Golf.com's Jessica Marksbury reached Johnson by phone to find out how he's progressing.

"It's still a little bit bruised," Johnson told Marksbury. "But today I hit balls, and everything was pretty good. It's a little tight, but I can swing just fine. I was very happy with my practice session today. I was hitting it very well. Hardly any issues. I would say it’s about 85, 90 percent."

Johnson told Marksbury he laid on the couch and watched the Masters, but, "I didn't like watching though. That's one thing I don't want to do anymore."

Johnson announced last week that he intends to make his return at the Wells Fargo Championship, May 4-7. Johnson stressed that he isn't rushing back, but called a practice session where he hit balls all the way through driver, "very reassuring."

Good news, indeed. 

April 17, 2017 - 10:08am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Wesley Bryan
USA Today Sports Images
Long-known as a golf trick-shot artist, Wesley Bryan saved his best trick to date for Sunday at the RBC Heritage.

Ask any PGA Tour player and he'll tell you that outside of winning a major, the most difficult tournament to win is one played in your home state.

In the 48-year history of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town on South Carolina's Hilton Head Island, no South Carolinian had ever slipped in to the Tartan jacket given to the tournament's winner.

Until Sunday, when PGA Tour rookie Wesley Bryan turned the trick -- just his latest trick.

RELATED: Meet the Bryan Brothers -- golf's trick-shot artists | Bryan Brothers up the ante

The 27-year-old Bryan from Columbia and a University of South Carolina alum, fired a 4-under 67 in the final round for a 13-under 271 total, to hold off Luke Donald by a single shot.

Over the last few years, Bryan has been on a meteoric rise.

After qualifying to play on the Web.com Tour in 2016, Bryan won three times on that tour, earning the rare "performance promotion" that grants a Web.com player an immediate promotion to the PGA Tour.

And now, just in the middle of April during his rookie season, Bryan has already locked up a win, a two-year-exemption and a spot in the 2018 Masters.

It was only a few years ago when people were asking this question about Bryan: "Yeah, but can he actually play?"

The answer has turned out to be a resounding "YES" but the question was legitimate.

Wesley, you see, along with brother, George, got themselves on the golf map as arguably the best golf, trick-shot duo the world has ever seen, churning out viral video after viral video.

Many of the early videos were shot at the golf academy of their father, George, a PGA professional, in Chapin, S.C.

Here's a small sampling of their work:

So, yeah, that question of whether or not Bryan could play at a high level was a fair one. Clearly spending all that time mastering trick shots couldn't leave a whole lot of time for working on one's complete game.

But somehow, Wesley Bryan pulled it all off.

Oh, and Bryan's win on Sunday was no abberation. It was the completion of a steady progression, his fourth top-10 this season.

Clearly, Wesley Bryan is no one-trick pony. 

April 14, 2017 - 8:47am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Prestwick
Prestwick
Young Tom Morris, a four-time Open Champion, recorded the first known hole-in-one in golf history in the 1800s. There had been conflicting reports about the actual year it occurred, but now we have the actual date nailed down.

Editor's note: We're featuring this story today to mark the release of "Tommy's Honour" in theaters.

It was our intention to put together a story recognizing the first known hole-in-one in golf history by Young Tom Morris.

While compiling information for the post, we ran into a snag. Through research, we found conflicting dates as to when the hole-in-one actually occurred. Some publications referenced the 1868 Open Championship at Prestwick (including the World Golf Hall of Fame website), while others had it as the 1869 Open, also at Prestwick.

Looking to get to the bottom of this achievement, we put in an inquiry to the fine folks at Prestwick in Scotland, hoping we could clear it up.

It took a few days before our inquiry made it to the proper person, but we're happy to report we nailed down the date. The Young Tom Morris ace happened on the 166-yard, par-3, eighth hole -- the "Station Hole" -- on Prestwick's original 12-hole course in the first round of the Open Championship, played on Sept. 16, 1869.

Ken Goodwin, Secretary of Prestwick, was kind enough to provide a photo of the scorecard from that day:

Interestingly, if you look in the top-right corner, you'll see that the original year -- 1869 -- is crossed out and "1868" was written in. There's an explanation for that, Goodwin told us.

"For a long time there was a lot of confusion about which year Young Tom had a hole-in-one in the Open with various publications giving conflicting dates," Goodwin wrote in an email. "There was even some confusion at the Club in the 1930s when the scorecards were collated with the 1869 date being changed to 1868, but the newspaper report from the local press in 1869 definitely confirms that 1869 was the correct year."

If there's one thing we know -- and love -- about Scottish links courses, it's that typically not a whole lot has changed on them in the last 100+ years, with the exception of extending from the original 12 holes to 18 holes.

So, we wondered, could any one of us take a crack at that same par-3 hole today where Morris made his ace? As it turns out, the answer is "no."

"The Prestwick course was extended to 18 holes in 1882," Goodwin said, "only three of the original holes were retained and the old eighth hole was removed, so no longer exists."

Young Tom Morris, 18 years old at the time, would go on to win that Open Championship at Prestwick -- the 10th played -- by nine shots over runner-up Bob Kirk. Young Tom's father, Old Tom Morris, finished in sixth-place, 23 shots behind his son. The field consisted of just 14 players.

It was the second of four consecutive Open Championship wins for Young Tom Morris (he won in 1868, '69, '70 and '72 -- the tournament was not played in 1871). A year earlier, he became the youngest champion in tournament history at age 17 -- a record that stands to this day.

So, there you have it. To set the record straight, the Young Tom Morris hole-in-one -- the first known ace in the game's history -- happened on Sept. 16, 1869.