Golf Buzz

February 11, 2013 - 1:36am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Lydia Ko, Richard Sterne, Rocco Mediate, Brandt Snedeker
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Lydia Ko, Richard Sterne, Rocco Mediate and Brandt Snedeker all registered memorable victories on Sunday.

What an interesting 24 hours of golf Sunday was. Here's a quick spin through it:

--In the wee hours of Sunday morning here in the United States, golf's latest teen phenom, Lydia Ko won the ISPS Handa Women's New Zealand Open by a shot. The precocious 15-year-old kicked off 2013 by becoming the youngest player ever to win on the Ladies European Tour, and by winning her third pro event – even though she's still an amateur (and a middle-school student, for that matter).

Ko, who was born in South Korea but lives in New Zealand, burst onto the scene in a big way last year when she won the New South Wales Open in Australia at age 14 to become the youngest player, male or female, ever to win a pro tour event. And in the span of a few weeks last summer, she won the U.S. Amateur and the CN Canadian Women's Open to become the youngest player ever to win on the LPGA Tour. Her future seems unlimited.

--About the time we were having breakfast, South Africa's Richard Sterne wrapped up a seven-shot victory in Joburg Open a week after he finished second in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Admittedly the field in Johannesburg wasn't the strongest as the event followed the European Tour's popular Middle East Swing, but his victory was noteworthy nonetheless.

Sterne rose to No. 29 in the world when he won the 2008 Alfred Dunhill Championship and South African Open in back-to-back weeks, but he fell out of the top 1,000 after arthritis in his back forced him to miss most of 2010 and 2011. At one point, he wondered whether he'd even play golf again, but he's now climbed so high in the rankings again that he's qualified for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

--At snack time, Rocco Mediate birdied the final hole of the Allianz Championship to win his Champions Tour debut. The personable Mediate, perhaps best known for losing that Monday playoff to Tiger Woods in the 2008 U.S. Open, became the 16th player in Champions Tour history to win his first start. En route to his victory, Mediate shot a course-record 61 at the Broken Sound Club on Saturday.

--Then, the main event – a spectacularly gorgeous final round on the Monterey Peninsula, where Brandt Snedeker one-upped Sterne. After finishing second to Tiger Woods two weeks ago at Torrey Pines and second to Phil Mickelson last week in Phoenix, Snedeker wasn't to be denied at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. With Woods sitting this one out and Mickelson struggling, Snedeker took charge over the weekend and won by two over youngster Chris Kirk.

For all the recent talk of Woods and Mickelson and Rory McIlroy, no one has been hotter than Snedeker in events that matter over the past six months. Snedeker won the Tour Championship and the FedExCup last fall after coming in second, sixth and tied for 37th in the first three playoff events. His FedExCup windfall obviously hasn't diminished his drive to excel, as he opened 2013 by finishing third at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and tied for 23rd at the Humana Challenge. He's now up to a career-high fourth in the world rankings.

To me, the most interesting thing about Snedeker's success is his equipment – specifically, that he's still playing the same gear he used last year. With all the high-profile equipment changes that always happen at the beginning of a season, he decided that if it wasn't broke, he wasn't going to fix it – even though he plays one of the most unique collections of clubs in all of golf.

How's this for a mixed bag? Snedeker plays a TaylorMade Burner Superfast 2.0 driver, a Tour Edge Exotics CB4 3-wood and a Ping Anser hybrid. His irons and wedges are Bridgestone J40 Cavity Backs, except for his 60-degree wedge, which is a wide-soled Titleist Vokey Design. And his putter is an Odyssey White Hot XG Rossie. If you're counting, that's six different brands among his 14 clubs.

 

February 9, 2013 - 9:54pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Davis Love III
Davis Love III via Twitter
The photo on the left shows the device implanted into Davis Love III's neck on Friday, while the image on the right shows Love and Tucker Anderson on the putting green.

In this post, we will formally conclude our tee-to-green coverage of Davis Love III's neck surgery by passing along the news that the 20-time PGA Tour winner is up and around, and even putting already. In fact, on Saturday – one day after his neck surgery – Love tweeted out photos of his new addition and his first putting contest with Tucker Anderson, the son of 2010 PGA of America Instructor of the Year Todd Anderson.

No doubt Love will need a little while to get used to the device in his neck – I say this from experience, as my wife had a three-pronged metal plate that looks like a demented gardening tool embedded in her wrist a few years ago – but soon enough he'll forget it's there and his neck should be better than ever.

Love can also look to reigning LPGA Tour Player of the Year Stacy Lewis for inspiration. Lewis, of course, suffered from scoliosis in her youth and wore a back brace for seven years. When that didn't correct the curve in her back, she underwent surgery in which a titanium rod and five screws were implanted in her spine.

In fact, she was one of the first of Love's peers to reach out to him after his surgery. On Saturday, she tweeted him: ''Welcome to the club!''

February 9, 2013 - 5:10pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Blizzard
T.J. Auclair
On Thursday, it was practically golf weather in New England (left). From the same spot on Saturday (right), not so much.

 

For folks in the Northeast -- this writer among them -- a rather mild
winter took a major turn with the arrival of Winter Storm Nemo on Friday
and into Saturday.
 
Honestly, just last week we had a near-60-degree day that had us golf junkies dusting off the clubs for what looked to be an early start to the new season. Heck, I even found the time to chip some golf balls in my back yard!
 
Now though, that's nothing more than a distant memory.
 
With Blizzard conditions throughout my home state of Rhode Island on
Friday night and into the wee hours on Saturday, as much as 3-4 inches
of snow was falling per hour. 
 
When all was finally said and done, about 28-30 inches of snow had fallen. Much of the state lost power (my wife and I were among the lucky ones, who never lost power) and a massive clean up is ongoing. 
 
My in-laws, unfortunately, lost their power at around 8 p.m. on Friday. Without electricity, their toasty, pellet stove was useless. With temperatures in the upper teens and low 20s outside overnight, it dipped as low as 54 degrees in their house. It wasn't exactly the way my mother-in-law envisioned celebrating her birthday today... then again, it was 35 years ago today that she missed out on another birthday due to the Blizzard of 1978. 
 
Thankfully, we received a call about 30 minutes ago. My mother-in-law reports that power has been restored. Now they can use those candles for the birthday cake!
 
The roads were so treacherous from the snow in nearby Massachusetts on Friday that there was a driving ban that when into effect at 4 p.m. People caught violating the ban risked facing up to one year in prison! Imagine that.
 
In Rhode Island this morning, we had a driving ban of our own. There's such a mess out there that the roads needed to be left empty in order for plow crews to clean.
 
Personally, I'm sore from head to toe after spending nearly three hours in the cold this morning. My snow-blower, shovel and I -- despite a valiant effort -- lost a battle we could never truly win to the snow and wind. Now, I sit cozy in the house, by the wood-burning stove, watching the golf from Pebble Beach while I wait for my friend to stop by with his plow.
 
So, what you ask, does this blog entry have to do with golf?
 
Well, not much, other than to say based on the conditions outside at the moment Spring can't get here soon enough!
 
And, for all my fellow Northeasterners -- particularly the golfers -- who weren't as lucky as us, here's to hoping you'll have power restored very soon. 
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair. There are more storm pictures there too.
February 9, 2013 - 2:44pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Lindsey Vonn boarding Tiger Woods' plane
TMZ.com
In this photo, the TMZ.com website says, Lindsey Vonn is boarding Tiger Woods' private plane in Salzburg, Austria on Friday.

After being seriously injured in a crash during the Alpine World Championships, skier Lindsey Vonn flew home to the United States on Friday in a private jet provided by Tiger Woods, according to TMZ.com.

The gossip website ran a photo it said was of Vonn on crutches boarding the plane. There was no indication of where the plane was headed, though speculation was its destination was Colorado, where Vonn lives.

Vonn, by far America's most prominent and successful ski racer these days, was airlifted to a hospital last Tuesday after she crashed during a Super G event, tearing two ligaments in her right knee and fracturing her shin.

Woods and Vonn have been rumored to be dating for several months, though neither has said anything about a possible romantic relationship between the two recently divorced superstars. Last December, Vonn told The Denver Post that she met Woods after her brother taught Woods' children how to ski in Vail, Colo., and they are ''just friends.''

In January, the Salzburg Times newspaper reported that Woods and Vonn are dating, and said that Woods stopped in Salzburg on his way to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in mid-January at the same time Vonn was in Salzburg. The paper also showed photos of Woods, wearing a Nike sweatshirt and New York Yankees baseball cap, on what it called a ''short visit'' to Salzburg.

Meanwhile, Vonn soon will have surgery on her right knee, and says she hopes to return to competition in time for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. Woods is next scheduled to play at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championships in Marana, Ariz., the week after next.

February 8, 2013 - 5:55pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Davis Love III
Davis Love III via Twitter
"Coolest Shower Cap Ever?!," Davis Love III asked on Twitter, as he underwent surgery for neck problems.

As we reported here in the ol' Golf Buzz on Wednesday, Davis Love III underwent surgery on his neck earlier today. Everything went well, and he's doing fine, according to his Twitter account.

He's even cheerfully modeling the latest in hospital haberdashery, as you can see in the photo above that he tweeted out about 3:30 p.m. ET.

"Coolest Shower Cap Ever?!," Love asked on Twitter, then added: "I may regret this when the pain meds wear off."

Maybe so, but there's little doubt he'll regret having the surgery. You can read all about the problems that led up to his operation here, and it sounds like he absolutely made the right decision to get his neck issues taken care of.

Next up is a few days of rest, followed by some putting in four or five days, then some chipping in 10 days or so. He hopes to return to the PGA Tour in six to eight weeks.

February 8, 2013 - 1:34pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
Getty Images
Which rounds do you think are the best of Tiger Woods' amazing career?

 

Ranking the best rounds of golf that Tiger Woods has ever played is no easy task -- there are just so many of them to choose from.
 
However, that didn't deter BleacherReport.com featured columnist Mike Dudurich from taking a crack at it. 
 
Here's how Dudurich opened the piece:
 
Tiger Woods has put together a lengthy list of spectacular performances in his PGA Tour, which is what might be expected considering how he dominated the game for a dozen years.
 
Some have been in majors, some in regular Tour events.
 
The common thread in his best performances has always been his ability to muster his best on the biggest stages in the game.
 
Here’s a list of, what I believe to be, his best rounds ever.
 
You may agree or disagree, but it’s a list of unbelievable rounds.
 
 
The fact is, there are a bunch of others that could have made this list too. Woods has had that incredible a career.
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.