Golf Buzz

October 8, 2014 - 8:02am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Jimmy Walker
USA Today Sports Images
Jimmy Walker's win at the Open in 2013 was the first of three wins on the season. How will he fare in 2014-15?

We hope you didn't blink. If you did, you missed the PGA Tour's offseason.

After a three-week break at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season-ending Tour Championship, the new 2014-15 season is already upon us. The PGA Tour is in Napa, Calif., this week for the season-opening Open at Silverado.

Jimmy Walker returns to the event as the defending champion, but his defense will come at a new venue. Walker won the 2013 tournament at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif. This week's event at Silverado marks the first time the PGA Tour has stopped at the Napa resort since the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic way back in 1980.

RELATED: Tee times | Lyle Monday qualifies | Ryder Cup Captain selection under review

Here's a look at five players to watch this week:

5. Derek Fathauer
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: If you don't know this name already, it's one you might want to get familiar with. Fathauer recently won the Tour Championship to finish first in earnings in that Tour's finals. Previously, Fathauer played the 2009 season on the PGA Tour, missing the cut 16 times in 25 starts, cracking the top 25 just once. He should be much better prepared this time around, coming off a strong season on the Tour where he racked up eight top-10 finishes in 23 starts. Three of those came in his last four events played. Can he ride that momentum into this week?

4. Kevin Streelman
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: A well-rested Streelman will be making his first start on Tour since the beginning of September. It had to be a welcome break for the two-time Tour winner, who had the chance to spend some quality time at home with his wife and the couple's infant daughter. After going through a bit of a slump in which he missed the cut in four consecutive starts, Streelman snapped out of it in a big way by winning the Travelers Championship in June. That win was truly a season-saver for Streelman. He had just two top-10 finishes all season. He's long been one of the more accurate drivers of the ball on Tour. If he can improve in the greens in regulation category (he ranked No. 137 last season), expect a much more consistent season.

3. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: Annually one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour, I expect more of the same from Kuchar for 2014-15. Along with winning the RBC Heritage in 2014 -- his seventh win on the PGA Tour -- Kuchar also added 10 other top-10 finishes. Kuchar is a player who just doesn't make any huge mistakes, evidenced by his 69.416 scoring average last season, which was fifth-best on Tour.

2. Brooks Koepka
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: Koepka made 12 of 16 cuts on the PGA Tour in 2013-14, with two top-10s as a non-member. He earned enough non-member FedExCup points/money during the season to achieve Special Temporary Membership. With a top-125 finish on the non-member FedExCup points list, Koepka earned his Tour card for the 2014-15 season. His best finish on the PGA Tour was his third-place showing at last year's Open. Koepka is a four-time winner on Europe's Challenge Tour.

1. Jimmy Walker
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: It'll be hard to top the 2013-14 season for Walker, who won three times starting with the Open. He also finished among the top-10 in three of the four majors and earned his way onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team. "Walker" is a name that has gotten very familiar with the first page of leaderboards over the last 12 months. That won't change in 2014-15. 

Rory McIlroy at Daisy Lodge
Rory McIlroy via Twitter
Rory McIlroy would like to see every child in Northern Ireland afflicted with cancer visit the Daisy Lodge.

Rory McIlroy is having a year to remember on the golf course – and he's made it unforgettable for a number of young cancer patients in his native Northern Ireland as well. The world No. 1, through his Rory Foundation, donated £1 million (about $1.6 million) to the Daisy Lodge in Newcastle – and on Tuesday he dropped by for its official grand opening.

A collaboration between McIlroy and the Cancer Fund for Children, the Daisy Lodge is what McIlroy calls a "short-break center" – a place where children with cancer and their families can go and, as he said, "be treated like royalty." 

"Short breaks provide exhausted families with the chance to spend quality time together after many months spent in isolation or on the hospital ward," according to the Daisy Lodge website. "They will be able to recharge their batteries, increase their sense of well-being and gain support from the charity's Therapeutic Specialist. They will also get the chance to meet and gain support from other families in a similar situation."

Since its soft opening last spring, the Lodge has hosted approximately 150 families from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, with the expectation that as many as 500 families could visit over the course of a year. Lodge officials hope that every child in Northern Ireland afflicted with cancer will be able to take advantage of the facilities.

RORY'S NEXT STOP: McIlroy to play 2014 PGA Grand Slam of Golf

McIlroy has visited the Daisy Lodge several times already, and first met with some of the kids last Christmas Eve.

"I was just blown away, I really was," he said on Tuesday. "It really makes you appreciate what you have and I wanted to help in any way that I could."

McIlroy has been involved with the Cancer Fund for Children almost since the day he opened his foundation. At the beginning of 2013, he put the CFC logo on his golf bag and later auctioned off the bag to raise funds for the Daisy Lodge and help spread the word of the group's work with families coping with the impact of cancer. Last fall, he auctioned off a pair of pink golf shoes.

And now that the Daisy Lodge is officially up and running, McIlroy is looking to do more. Specifically, he wants to see whether more Daisy Lodges can be opened elsewhere. 

Here's a quick video report on McIlroy's visit:

Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 815 drivers
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
The Callaway Big Bertha 815 (l) blends distance and forgiveness, while the Double Black Diamond is for experts only.

The Big Bertha family of drivers from Callaway Golf is getting so big that it's going to be tough to fit them all around the table at Thanksgiving. The Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha, both unveiled late last year, were recently joined by the V Series, and now come two more models – the Big Bertha Alpha 815 and the 815 Double Black Diamond.

The V Series is a lightweight driver for golfers who need help generating their maximum swing speed. The Alpha 815 blends both distance and forgiveness for a wide range of golfers (it's significantly more forgiving than the original BB Alpha), while the Double Black Diamond – as any snow skier knows – is for experts only.

The Alpha 815, Callaway says, represents a brand-new driver category: low spin for extra distance with the forgiveness many golfers need to hit the ball straight. The Double Black Diamond is an extremely low spin model for advanced golfers who don't need a lot of help hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway.

Both these new models feature the Gravity Core that Callaway pioneered in the original Big Bertha Alpha. One end of the core has a heavier weight while the other has a lighter weight; golfers can move the center of gravity up or down depending on which way they insert the Gravity Core to optimize their ball speed locations to wherever they usually hit the ball off the face. 

GAME CHANGERS VIDEO: Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter

The heads, larger on the 815, slightly more compact on the Double Black Diamond, what Callaway calls "RMOTO:" technology that lets the company produce a larger, more forgiving clubhead while maintaining a lighter overall club weight. It also has an ultra-thin face. Like many recent models, these heads are also made of strong, lightweight Forged Composite material.

Both drivers also feature Callaway's OptiFit adjustability. The adjustable hosel lets golfers choose from a combination of eight different loft and lie angle (Draw or Neutral) configurations, while heel and toe weights (1- and 7-gram weights for the 815, and 1- and 5-gram weights for the Double Black Diamond help dial in your shot shape even more.

These new models come with a 53-gram Fujikura Speeder Motore 565 shaft as their primary stock offering, but Callaway offers no-upcharge upgrades to a variety of premium shafts including models from Aldila, Fubuki, Fujikura, Matrix and Mitsubishi.

The Big Bertha Alpha 815 carries a suggested retail price of $449.99, while the Double Black Diamond goes for $499.99. Both will be available on Nov. 14.

Here are a couple of videos from Callaway intoducing the new models:

October 7, 2014 - 1:33pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jarrod Lyle
Getty Images
Australian Jarrod Lyle will be making his first PGA Tour start since 2012 after Monday-qualifying for the Open this week. Lyle is a two-time cancer survivor.

If you're a fan of comeback stories -- who isn't? -- here's one that's tough to beat.

Australian Jarrod Lyle, a two-time cancer survivor, has Monday-qualified for this week's Open at Silverado.

Many figured Lyle and his story would be enough to garner a sponsor's exemption. When that didn't happen for the Open, Lyle decided to do what he's always done -- fight for a spot.

RELATED: Lyle's emotional comeback | Lyle makes cut in first start back

Lyle shot a 66 in qualifying, and then got through an eight-man playoff for four spots.

Lyle, 33, hasn't played on the PGA Tour since the 2012 Mayakoba Golf Classic. He has already received a sponsor's exemption into next week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.

Lyle is a two-time winner on the Tour. His best PGA Tour finish was a fourth-place showing at the 2012 Northern Trust Open.

His most memorable shot on the PGA Tour came on the famous par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale, where Lyle wowed the wild crowds with a hole-in-one:


October 7, 2014 - 11:00am
Michael.Benzie's picture
Ryder Cup captain
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY
Team USA captain Tom Watson (L) Jimmy Walker (C) and Patrick Reed (R) watch the final singles match of the 2014 Ryder Cup. The US lost to Europe on day three at Gleneagles Resort - PGA Centenary Course. Mandatory Credit:

The PGA of America is considering changes to its procedure selecting captains for the Ryder Cup. The 2016 U.S. Team Captain, who will lead the 12 U.S. players at Hazeltine, would typically be named in late 2014 or early 2015.

PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua told the New York Post Monday that the organization is “assembling a task force and it’s something we’re excited about.”

The task force would include "PGA of America representation, past captains and current players to really dive into an open analysis of all aspects of the Ryder Cup to see what we can do to improve and give Team USA its very best chances of success,’’ Bevacqua told The Post. He added: "It will give everyone a little bit of ownership. I think it’s going to be a healthy, inclusive process.’’

October 7, 2014 - 10:51am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
CarveOn, based in Dublin, Ireland, creates personalized golf accessories, including yardage book covers and scorecard holders.

Golf accessories sure have come a long way over the last few years.

Virtually everything you can think of -- clubs, bags, golf balls, clothing, footwear, etc. -- can be not only customized these days, but also personalized.

Having a golf accessory with a personal touch is special for any avid player. No matter your ability, it makes you feel like a Tour pro.

That's where a company based out of Dublin, Ireland -- "CarveOn" -- comes into play.

CarveOn, founded in 2011 by Alan and Gary McCormack, design and craft a contemporary range of accessories from their Kildare workshop -- everything from leather iPhone and iPad sleeves to tote bags, messenger bags and more.

But what really caught our eye is what CarveOn is doing in the golf space: customized -- and personalized -- leather yardage book covers and scorecard holders.

RELATED: Vessel customized golf bags | Custom golf towels from Players Towel

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy himself uses a yardage book cover customized for him from CarveOn.

"We don't have any official sponsorship arrangements with players on Tour but we did make a lot samples and were delighted to see so many of them in use," Alan McCormack, Creative Director of CarveOn, told us. "We made a custom yardage book for Francesco Molinari who posted a very nice picture of it in a tweet thanking us which was really great for us. We also made a red yardage book for fellow countryman, Rory McIlroy, which he used during his highly publicized run of major wins recently. We would like to think it brought him some luck. We have made them for probably a dozen or so pros which has really helped spread the word, particularly in the U.S."

The leather yardage book covers by CarveOn are designed for professional caddies and golfers and are completely customizable. They're designed to house official European and PGA Tour (9.5 cm x 17.4 cm) yardage books.

As for the materials used, the yardage book covers are crafted from 4 oz. vegetable tanned Tuscan leather, blending traditional style and functional design. They're available in tan, red, dark brown and black.

CarveOn leather goods are hand-waxed and polished then precision stitched using premium wax thread. Normal wear and tear ages each piece with a unique patina to create an individual, distinctive and timeless character.

Each leather cover comes presented in a signature engraved wooden box, perfect for a special gift.

The leather yardage book sells for around $100.

"Our golf accessories are only on the market since earlier this year but have become very popular in that short period of time," Alan McCormack said.

The leather yardage book might not be for everyone -- particularly the average golfer; it's more for the tournament player. However, anyone who plays on a regular basis, no matter the handicap, would appreciate the scorecard holder.

The scorecard holder incorporates the same materials as the yardage book cover, but also includes an elastic pen/pencil holder. It's available in tan, red, dark brown and black for roughly $75.

Customizable and personalized options on all CarveOn products include initials, name, text or logo.

"The majority of our goods are made to order so we had an amazing opportunity to offer our customers complete flexibility with regards to personalization," Alan McCormack said. "We invested heavily in advanced equipment which allows for precise one-off customization. We also have an excellent in-house design team that handle client's brands and artwork with great professionalism. The feedback has been fantastic. Many of our customers have been hitting social media with pictures of their personalized accessories and commending us on our work. A satisfied and vocal customer is the best form of advertising in this business."

CarveOn golf accessories are the perfect gift for the golf lover in your life, or even as a gift to yourself that's sure to make the rest of your regular foursome jealous.

"We are relatively new to the golf world but are fascinated with the sheer scale of the industry and the opportunities present," Alan McCormack said. "It is really an entire multitiered ecosystem within itself. We have received an influx of orders from individual players, but also from teams, clubs, tour operators and large corporates. There are plenty of companies importing accessories from places like India and China but I think the market is saturated. People have forgotten what real leather and craftsmanship feels like. We are here to remind them."

To learn more about CarveOn, visit You can also find CarveOn on Twitter, @carvedon, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.