Golf Buzz

July 15, 2013 - 1:35am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Will Wilcox
Getty Images
Will Wilcox became the fourth player in Tour history to card a 59 on Sunday, going 12 under on the par-71 Willow Creek Country club course in the final round of the Utah Championship.

Will Wilcox became the fourth player in Tour history to card a 59 on Sunday, going 12 under on the par-71 Willow Creek Country Club course in the final round of the Utah Championship. Unfortunately, he came up one shot short of making the playoff that Steven Alker won over Ashley Hall.

Wilcox began his final round tied for 38th place, 10 shots behind 54-hole leader Chad Collins. 

''It's huge, obviously,'' Wilcox said afterward. ''It's something every golfer dreams of, and on a par 71, it seems a little more attainable.'' 

Because the weather-delayed third round didn't end until Sunday morning, Wilcox began his final round on the 10th hole and birdied his first four holes.

''I teed off in front of a few people who had gathered on No. 10, and I noticed as my round progressed that the spectator size was growing a little,'' he told Tour Media Official Laury Livsey. ''I haven't really gotten much TV time out here, but even the cameras didn't bother me. I was hitting it fine, so the added attention wasn't a big deal.'' 

As he worked his way down the home stretch, Wilcox said, he missed what he called ''a really easy birdie putt'' on No. 7, his 16th hole. 

''It was probably no more than two-and-a-half, maybe three feet. I hit just a terrible putt. So if I was nervous during the round, it came at my 16th and 17th holes,'' he said. ''When I missed that short one on 16, I was nervous because I had three feet coming back for par. I also knew I needed to bury the putt on 17 to give myself a chance at 59 on my closing hole. But I made it, and that set me up for the finish.''

It what might have been an ominous preview, Wilcox had double bogeyed No. 9 (his final hole on Sunday), in the third round. But it proved to be no problem for him as he closed out his 59.

''For me, No. 9 at Willow Creek is a 7-iron off the tee and a pitching-wedge par 4. That's a pretty nice combination,'' he said. ''If you can't hit the fairway with a 7-iron, I don't know what to tell you. I hit the fairway, and then it was a front-left pin. So it was the perfect number for me with a wedge in my hand. I had perfect numbers all day. It was awesome.'' 

Wilcox described his final birdie putt as right-edge, six or seven feet, and said he wasn't really nervous.

''A few players came out to watch me on my last hole, including Jason Gore, who shot a 59 on this tour himself. I appreciated that,'' he said. ''There were a lot of hugs, and everything got really busy, even a little crazy. I had to do a Golf Channel interview, and I almost gave away the ball I made the putt with. The media official told me to put it in my pocket. He also gave my caddie, Tyler Olson, permission to keep his caddie bib as a memento.''

Speaking of the ball, Wilcox used a Srixon TourYellow ZStar XV, making it the first yellow ball to join the 59 club.

Here is the list of the sub-60 scores in official events on the world's top-level tours that Wilcox has joined:

Ryo Ishikawa (-12), 2010 Japan Golf Tour, The Crowns in Aichi, Japan 

Al Geiberger (-13), 1977 PGA Tour, Danny Thomas Memphis Classic in Memphis Tenn.
Chip Beck (-13), 1991 PGA Tour, Las Vegas Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev.
David Duval (-13), 1999 PGA Tour, Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.
Paul Goydos (-12), 2010 PGA Tour, John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.
Stuart Appleby (-11), 2010 PGA Tour, Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphus Springs, W.Va.

Annika Sorenstam (-13), 2001 LPGA Tour, Standard Register Ping in Phoenix, Ariz.

Notah Begay III (-13), 1998 Nike Tour, Dominion Open in Richmond, Va.
Doug Dunakey (-11), 1998 Nike Tour, Miami Valley Open in Springboro, Ohio
Jason Gore (-12), 2005 Nike Tour, Cox Classic in Omaha, Neb.
Will Wilcox (-12), 2013 Tour, Utah Championship in Sandy, Utah

Masahiro Kuramoto (-12), 2003 Japan Golf Tour, Acom International in Ibaraki, Japan  

Adrien Mork (-12), 2006 European Challenge Tour, Tikita Hotels Agadir Moroccan Classic in Agadir, Morocco


July 14, 2013 - 10:13pm
Posted by:
John Kim's picture
Happy Gilmore swing
courtesy YouTube
Hitting the famous "Happy Gilmore" drive is not as easy as it looks - even for some of the world's best.
Who amongst us golf nuts have never been inspired by the golf classic "Happy Gilmore"? No, not to wrestle an alligator (or Bob Barker) but to try one of those run up and wail away drives that helped the hockey-loving accidental golf pro win the coveted Tour championship from Shooter McGavin.  
Well, our friends at the European Tour (yes, the same folks who brought us 'Rory vs. the Robot' were certainly inspired - as were some of the top golfers in the world - as shown in the latest offerings from overseas. Check out how some of the best players in the world do at recreating the Happy Gilmore drive.  
*** Spoiler: Paul Casey was awesome, Padraig Harrington hit it the best and Phil Mickelson did better in the actual tournament (won!) than he did on his shot.
Connect with John on Twitter at @johnkim_10
July 13, 2013 - 8:26pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon
Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon spent their Saturday on the links with President Obama.

'Pardon the Interruption' co-host and longtime Washington sportswriter and radio personality Tony Kornheiser turned 65 on Saturday. For his momentous birthday, he got a pretty unusual gift – a round of golf with his PTI co-host Michael Wilbon and President Obama.

Obama spent more than four hours at the golf course at the U.S. Army's Fort Belvoir in Virginia, south of Washington, D.C., according to the Associated Press. There apparently was a fourth in the golfing group, but the White House didn't identify him (or her).

Even though Kornheiser customarily ends each show with a shoutout to Canada, Obama is a something of a PTI fan. Back in October of 2011, he taped a special message commemorating the show's 10th anniversary.


July 12, 2013 - 8:07pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Calabar golf course in Nigeria
Thomson Perrett & Lobb
The second hole on the Calabar course will wend through an old rubber plantation.

South Africa has several world-class golf courses, but the rest of Africa? Outside of Morocco, not so many.

The western Africa nation of Nigeria, however, soon will add the continent's newest high-end golf destination.

Construction has begun on a new championship course just outside the city of Calabar, the capital of Nigeria's Cross River State, that was designed by Thomson Perrett & Lobb, the golf course architecture firm founded by five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson. The layout begins in a dense plantation of rubber trees before moving into several valleys and up onto a ridge before it finishes alongside the Calabar River.

''We have worked very hard to ensure the course will fit seamlessly into the landscape,'' said TPL principal Tim Lobb, who is leading the design team. ''For example, we have marked the clearing lines by hand to give a natural looking edge, rather than the hole corridors being straight, and we have retained clumps of trees in strategic spots.''

Lobb said that he developed a routing that that makes the best possible use of the land's natural contours, and minimizes earthmoving. 

''Calabar is less than five degrees north of the Equator, with a challenging tropical climate, especially during the rainy season, so enhancing the site's natural drainage channels will be key to making a course that's playable year round,'' he said. 

Construction of the course should be finished by the end of 2014, Lobb said, with the opening planned for 2015.

The new course is part of a $200 million improvement project by the state government that incorporates an international-standard convention center, five-star hotel and a residential community.

''The Calabar International Convention Center, the golf course and the rest of the development will be a world-class amenity for the State, and one of the leading facilities in West Africa,'' said Liyel Imoke, the governor of Cross River State. ''We are delighted that the course construction is under way, and we look forward eagerly to seeing it completed.''

Nigeria has a population of around 170 million, but only about 50 golf courses and 200,000 golfers – so far. The new course will be just the second 18-hole layout in Cross River State, and its greens are made of dirt, not grass.

"An up-to-date standard golf course becomes relevant in an economy like ours in Nigeria, that is growing rapidly," Imoke told CNN. "We now see a new emerging middle class, what they used to call the yuppie class. The yuppie generation is here, and they play golf. If Calabar has something to offer, and they come to Calabar, then the people in Calabar benefit from that expenditure."


July 12, 2013 - 1:42am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Ok-Hee Ku
Ok-Hee Ku became the first Korean player to win on the LPGA Tour when she triumphed at the 1988 Standard Register Turquoise Classic in Phoenix.

Ok-Hee Ku, a Korean pioneer both on the LPGA Tour and on circuits across Asia, died Thursday at age 56, according to the LPGA Tour. The cause of death was a heart attack at her home in Japan, according to published reports. 

Ku became the first Korean player to win on the LPGA Tour when she triumphed at the 1988 Standard Register Turquoise Classic in Phoenix, and she played consistently on the LPGA Tour for several years from the late 1980s through the early 1990s. Before and after her stint in the United States, she was a consistent winner on the women’s tours in Japan and her native Korea.

She compiled 43 wins in Asia over a quarter of a century of competition and held the record for most wins in a Korean LPGA season with five until Jiyai Shin won seven times in 2007. She was the first player inducted into the KLPGA Hall of Fame, and served as the president of the KLPGA in 2011-2012.

''Ok-Hee Ku was a pioneer for women’s golf and a role model to players across many countries,'' said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan in a statement. ''We are deeply saddened to learn of her death and offer our sincerest condolences to her family and friends. She made the world of women's golf a better place.''


July 11, 2013 - 1:46pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Sam Snead auction items
Courtesy of Heritage Auctions
The Ryder Cup that Sam Snead received in 1959 and the Claret Jug he won in 1946 are among many precious items from Sam Snead's personal collection that are now up for auction.

The great Sam Snead passed away in 2002, leaving behind an incredible legacy in golf that included seven majors, the all-time record for most PGA Tour victories, success in the Ryder Cup and so much more. Now, more than a decade after his death, his family is putting a large collection of his trophies and memorabilia up for auction.

The first offering will be Aug. 1-2 in what Heritage Auctions calls a ''Platinum Night Sports Auction'' at the Muvico Theater in Rosemont, Ill. The online bidding began last night. Two other auctions involving the Snead Collection are planned for the fall and next spring.

''We consider it the most significant golf collection that's ever been offered,'' Chris Ivy, the director of sports at Heritage Auctions, told Doug Ferguson at the Associated Press. Snead’s son, Jack, said the pieces have been displayed for years at the Greenbrier Resort, the restaurant chain called Sam Snead's Taverns, the occasional museum and at home in Hot Springs, Va.

This is the first time the items have been offered at auction.

''We've been thinking about this, trying to decide what to do because our company has so much stuff,'' Snead said. ''We just thought maybe it was time to share it with golf fans and historians. We've had most all of dad's trophies on display at the Greenbrier over the last 16 or 20 years. I don't know. I'm not too keen with museums. We've had some weird experiences with museums when we've loaned things out.

''We're going to have tons of stuff we'll maintain ourselves,'' he said. ''The rest we'll let it go out and see what happens.''

Here’s the rest of Ferguson’s report:

Snead’s Masters' trophy and silver claret jug are each expected to bring in $100,000 or more. Ivy estimated the entire collection will get several million dollars. ''A collection of this magnitude hasn't been offered before,'' he said.

Ivy said previous golf items through Heritage included the original Augusta National green jacket of co-founder Bobby Jones that fetched $310,000.

Other high-end golf items were Walter Hagen's gold medal from his 1922 British Open win at Royal St. George's and Ralph Guldahl's gold medal from the 1939 Masters. Each went for $65,000.

Snead said the proceeds would likely to go charity.

''The trophies didn't mean that much to Pop in a way,'' Snead said. ''In those days, he was more concerned with the paycheck. The thing he was most proud of was his record. He cared more about than any of his tournament wins.''

Snead said there were some items that would never be sold at auction, though they weren't all related to Snead's golfing career. He mentioned the tractor that Snead rode on his farm in Virginia to relax when he was away from golf, some of the guns Snead had since he was a boy growing up in West Virginia, and the five-string banjo he played.

For Heritage Sports, there wasn't as much work involved in authenticating the items. Snead did that himself.

His son said when they used to display the items in Sam Snead's Taverns, his father thought it would be a good idea to write a note explaining the significance of each.

''The provenance is much better coming from the family of an athlete,'' Ivy said. ''That's something Snead did that I've never seen done before. He went through and numbered all the clubs he owned – the significant ones – and wrote letters of authentication of each club. We've got handwritten letters from Sam Snead saying, 'This is the club used in 1954 in the playoff with Ben Hogan to win the Masters.' He's got literally hundreds of those.''

Other items being offered in the initial auction include the putter Snead used in the 1954 Masters; the red captain's jacket he wore in the 1969 Ryder Cup; the Wanamaker Trophy from his 1951 PGA Championship victory at Oakmont; a Ryder Cup trophy from 1959; the gold medal from his first Masters win in 1949; and a silver medal from the 1947 U.S. Open. The U.S. Open was the one major Snead never won. He lost in a playoff to Lew Worsham in 1947 at St. Louis Country Club.

''It's a pretty exciting collection,'' Ivy said.

To see photos and descriptions of all the items, click here. But hands off Snead’s personal 1959 Ryder Cup – that one’s for me!