Golf Buzz

February 24, 2014 - 12:47pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Rickie Fowler
USA Today
Rickie Fowler's third-place finish in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Sunday went a long way toward improving his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list.

Bubba Watson, winner of the Northern Trust Open two weeks ago, was the only player to make a move in the top 10 of this week's U.S. Ryder Cup points standings.

Watson moved from No. 7 to No. 6 (and Zach Johnson dropped from No. 6 to No. 7) by finishing in a tie for ninth at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

2014 RYDER CUP: U.S. points standings | How U.S. Points are earned | Team USA | Team Europe

Rickie Fowler, who made it to the semifinals at the Match Play and defeated Ernie Els in the consolation match, catapulted from No. 53 to No. 20 with his third-place finish.

Here's a look at the current top 12 (remember, the top 9 after the PGA Championship in August automatically qualify, while U.S. Captain Tom Watson fills out the team with three captain's picks):

1. Jimmy Walker
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Phil Mickelson
4. Harris English
5. Jason Dufner
6. Bubba Watson
7. Zach Johnson
8. Webb Simpson
9. Ryan Moore

10. Chris Kirk
11. Kevin Stadler
12. Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth -- the 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year -- was the only player not previously in the top 12 to make a move at the Match Play. With his tie for fifth, Spieth took over the No. 12 spot, bumping previous No. 12 Patrick Reed to No. 13.

Jim Furyk, a veteran of eight U.S. Ryder Cup teams, moved from No. 19 to No. 14 with his tie for fifth at the Match Play.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

February 24, 2014 - 10:16am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tiger Woods
USA Today
Tiger Woods has been known to hit some amazing shots over the course of his career.

French golfer Victor Dubuisson became a household name last night with his mind-blowing performance in a playoff loss to Jason Day in the final of the WGC-Match Play Championship.

Yes -- a playoff loss.

In case you missed it, Dubuisson pulled off two of the most amazing (OK, luck was certainly a factor too) shots you'll ever see in order to stay alive on the first and second playoff holes respectively.

Dubuisson's ability to pull off these two highly unlikely shots got us thinking of some other clutch shots in recent history.

As you look through the list, keep in mind these shots are in no particular order. Also keep in mind that there are surely others that could make the list. The items below just stuck out in our memory most from recent memory. We also tried to spread the wealth, seeing as Tiger Woods could have a top-10 list of clutch shots all to himself.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION: What other shots would you add to this list?

10. Phil Mickelson's approach shot at Colonial on the 72nd hole in 2008. In the hunt for another PGA Tour win, Mickelson lost his tee shot way right of the fairway and looked to be in jail, surrounded by trees in heavy rough. While many thought he might simply punch out, Mickelson instead took a wedge from 140 yards, hoisted it high over the trees and within 9 feet of the hole to set up a winning birdie putt.

9. Miguel Angel Jimenez on the Road Hole at St. Andrews in 2010 British Open. Ah, the dreaded Road Hole at St. Andrews -- one of the most famous and most difficult holes in golf. At the 2010 British Open, Jimenez launched an approach that sailed wide right of the green, across the road and against the stone wall. An unplayable lie for sure, right? Not for Jimenez. Instead -- with his back to the hole -- Jimenez hit the ball into the wall. The ball popped up over Jimenez's head and landed on the green about 15 feet from the cup.

8. Bill Haas from the water on the par-4 17th hole at East Lake in a playoff at the 2011 Tour Championship. Surely you remember this one. Haas was vying not only to win the tournament, but also the FedExCup title. His playoff opponent was Hunter Mahan, who was in full control. Haas's golf ball was half submerged in water left of the green and he not only put it on the green, but knocked it to within 2 feet to set up a par and eventually won the tournament on the very next hole.

7. Tiger Woods chip in for birdie on No. 16 at Augusta National during the 2005 Masters. Pretty simple (yeah, right). The announcers explained it would be impossible for Woods to get close to the hole from his position after a poor tee shot on this famous par three. So what did he do? Woods chipped the ball about 30 feet past the hole into a backstop and watched with the rest of the world as it rolled back before dying into the cup for the most unlikely of birdies.

6. Fred Couples gets a "hole-in-three" at the 1999 Players Championship. No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass is one of, if not the most popular par-3 in golf. Like many before and after him, Fred Couples came up short and watched his ball splash into the water. He quickly re-teed and proceeded to knock the shot in on the fly -- a hole-in-one... or, in this case, "a hole-in-three" and the best par save you'll ever see. (Skip ahead to the 1:46 mark of the video below.)

5. Australian Craig Parry's walk-off eagle in a playoff at the 2004 Ford Championship at Doral. On the 18th hole at the Blue Monster, Parry was on the first hole of a playoff with Scott Verplank. It didn't last long. From the middle of the fairway, Parry hit a perfect 6-iron that tracked to the hole and dropped in for an eagle that ended the tournament before the pair even reached the green.

4. Speaking of walk-off wins, there may be none better than Jonathan Byrd's in the 2010 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. On the fourth hole of a three-man playoff and with light -- or a lack thereof -- becoming a serious factor, Byrd aced the 17th hole from 196 yards to end it.

3. Steve Stricker on the 72nd hole at the 2011 John Deere Classic. This is a "two for the price of one" offering. First, Stricker's remarkable approach from 182 yards out and an awkward lie in a fairway bunker that settled in the fringe, 25 feet from the hole. Then, he knocked in the putt for a birdie and the win.

2. Jordan Spieth's bunker shot to force a playoff in the 2013 John Deere Classic. Spieth, who would eventually be the Tour's Rookie of the Year Award winner last season, faced a difficult bunker shot at TPC Deere Run with, well, the tournament riding on it. The electric young player knocked it in to force a playoff with Zach Johnson and David Hearb. The playoff went three holes with Spieth eventually taking the win.

1. Paul Casey's walk-off ace in the 2006 Ryder Cup. In a foursomes match on the Saturday of the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club in Ireland, Casey closed out the match on the 14th hole with an ace from 213 yards. It remains the only time in Ryder Cup history that a match has ended with a hole in one. (Skip ahead to the 3:12 mark of the video below.)

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.


February 23, 2014 - 9:15pm
mark.aumann's picture
Victor Dubuisson
USA Today Images
Victor Dubuisson made "miracle" shots on back-to-back holes in Sunday's championship match.

For three holes -- or approximately 30 minutes -- on Sunday, Victor Dubuisson played a stretch of golf that defied both explanation and description.

Facing elimination, Dubuisson escaped with three consecutive up-and-down saves from the most impossible lies imaginable. The first, at No. 18 on the final hole of regulation, was the most "normal," if digging out from a deep bunker for a critical sand save with the tournament championship on the line could be considered routine.

ACCENTURE MATCH PLAY: Jason Day wins on 23rd hole

But then it got weird, in an amazingly good way. On the 19th hole, Dubuisson's approach flew the No. 1 green on one bounce, landing under a cactus. Instead of describing what happened next, here's the video from the CBS telecast:



By the way, Dubuisson calmly stepped up and made the four-footer.

Once in a lifetime shot, right? Well, not if you're Victor Dubuisson. Because on the very next hole, Dubuisson missed the No. 9 green to the left, landing in almost the same spot where he had to concede the hole in regulation earlier in the afternoon. This time, the ball wound up under some dead branches right next to the grandstands. Problem? Well, this is another situation where you've got to see it to believe it:



Again, Dubuisson -- showing no change of expression on his face -- found nothing but the bottom of the cup from seven feet to keep the match going. Even Jason Day had to shake his head and smile. What else could he do?

WEEKEND IN PHOTOS: Sunday's best shots from the Accenture Match Play

"Buisson" means "bush" in English. So Victor's Twitter feed is @Vdubush. Seriously. Now where can I buy a cactus wedge?


February 23, 2014 - 8:22pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Ian Poulter at the Daytona 500
Ian Poulter via Twitter
Ian Poulter hung out in the Hendrick Motorsports pit at the Daytona 500 on Sunday, at least until the rains came.
Ian Poulter didn't let his first-round loss to Rickie Fowler at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship ruin his week. He jetted on back to Florida and spent Sunday at the Daytona 500. Poults, a well-known exotic car collector, said he was invited to attend as an honorary race official, took a spin in one of the pace cars and spent much of the day down in pit lane.
And while the final match of the Accenture Match Play turned out to be one for the ages, Poulter — at least of this writing — hasn't seen a whole lot of racing, thanks to an afternoon-long rain delay. The prospects for getting in some more action tonight look better, though, so hopefully for everyone involved at Daytona, the weather will cooperate.
Anyway, here's a recap of Poulter's day at the races, culled from his Twitter account. You can see even more images on his Instagram page:
February 23, 2014 - 4:35pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Masters invitation Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano via Twitter
Receiving your Masters invitation in the mail is "priceless," says Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, voicing an opinion that is no doubt unanimous.
The final match of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship signals the end of the West Coast Swing. Next up is the cross-country trek to the Florida Swing – which marks the unofficial beginning of the run-up to the Masters.
And make no mistake, the season's first major is already on an awful lot of minds, even now, seven weeks away. Every player knows when he qualifies for Augusta National. But never does the Masters feel more real than when your official invitation arrives in the mail.
Just the other day, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain tweeted out a photo of his invitation, with this caption: "Opening your mail box and finding this #priceless" 
I'm posting this in case you've never seen an actual Masters invitation. My favorite part is down in the lower left-hand corner, where it says RSVP. What would it take to RSVP no? Yeah, I can't think of anything, either.
Here's Gonzo's tweet:
February 21, 2014 - 4:32pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler
USA Today
Rickie Fowler was the beneficiary of an odd concession by Sergio Garcia in the third round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Friday.

When the format is match play, you're more likely to hear the word "gamesmanship" than "sportsmanship."

But, in the case of Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler in their third round match Friday at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, the latter applied -- or something like that.

Garcia was 2-up when the pair played the par-4 seventh hole. Fowler had a 20-foot putt putt left for par, while Garcia was about 4 feet away for a 4 of his own.

RELATED: Follow all the scores from the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship

As Fowler was lining up his putt, a conversation began to take place between the two. Before you knew it, Garcia looked at Fowler and said, "Good, good?" suggesting the two pick up for par and move on to the next hole.

It was bizarre. Fowler, who was certainly behind the 8-ball, seemed to think Garcia was joking. A couple of seconds later though, Fowler and Garcia picked up the golf balls and moved along to the eighth tee.

Here's video of how it all played out:



UPDATE: Here's the Associated Press version of the incident:

Rickie Fowler was lining up an 18-foot par putt on the seventh hole Friday when Sergio Garcia interrupted him. 

"He goes, `You want a halve?'" Fowler said. "I'm like, `What? What is he saying?' He goes, `You want a halve? Excuse me?' `Do you want a halve? Halve the hole?'" 

Fowler took the halve, also conceding the Spaniard's 7-footer, and went on to rally for a 1-up victory at Dove Mountain. 

"I'm thinking in my head that, `I kind of want to just play it out there, but I'd be stupid not to take a halve. I'm twice the distance he is.'" Fowler said. "I really didn't feel like it changed the flow of the match. He goes and makes birdie on 8 and goes 3 up." 

Garcia made the gesture after feeling guilty about taking a long time to make two drops away from bees on the previous hole. 

"This is a gentleman's game, and lately it hasn't felt like it's been like that," Garcia said. "This is the way I was brought up by my dad. ... I felt like my drop on 6 took too much time. If I would have been in his position, I would not have enjoyed waiting so long. 

"I thought it was the only thing I could do on 7 to make myself feel better and not feel guilty." 

Fowler was OK with the time Garcia took on the drops on No. 6. 

"I wanted him to feel comfortable about the shot," Fowler said. "There were quite a few bees around the sprinkler head, and his ball was probably a pace from it. It wasn't exactly a safe situation." 

The players are friends. 

"I've gotten to know Sergio quite a bit over the last year," Fowler said. "We've had a lot of fun playing together. We did out there today, as well. ... Just with feeling guilty about something and being able to get it off your chest, it definitely makes you feel better. I know that's why he did it." 

Fowler won Nos. 9 and 10 with birdies to cut Garcia's lead to 1 up, and made another birdie on No. 11 for a halve. 

The American missed a chance to pull even on No. 14 when they halved with bogeys, and escaped No. 15 with a halve after Garcia missed a 5-foot birdie putt. On the short 15th, Fowler drove under a Buckhorn Cholla and played his second shot from his knees. He advanced the ball 25 yards and chipped to 5 feet for par. 

"I was just trying to make 4 and make him make 3," Fowler said. "He did miss some short putts on 14 and 15. If he makes those, it's probably a different story. I was able to hang around and made a few good putts coming in." 

Fowler took the lead on the par-3 16th, holing a 15-foot birdie putt. They halved the 17th with pars, and Fowler won with a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

Fowler's 95-yard wedge shot from the 18th fairway bounced onto the ridge above the hole and had just enough spin to catch the slope and trickle down. Garcia's 140-yard shot from the left rough lacked spin and ended up on the top of the ridge. He missed from 18 feet, the same distance Fowler had on the conceded putt. 

Garcia was asked if he regretted the long conceded putt. 

"No, not at all. I don't regret it at all," Garcia said. "He played much better than me on the last 10 holes and he deserves a win." 

Fowler will face Jim Furyk in the quarterfinals. Furyk beat Harris English 1 up.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.