Golf Buzz

January 17, 2013 - 11:44pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Dustin Johnson and Paulina Gretzky
Dustin Johnson via Twitter
Dustin Johnson called Paulina Gretzky "my baby" in a tweet he sent out accompanying this photo of the two of them together.

Well, some of us might have imaginary girlfriends, but Dustin Johnson has the real thing.

Some eagle-eyed golf observers noticed Paulina Gretzky patrolling the grounds during the Hyundai Tournament of Champions two weeks ago, while others said they had seen the Great One's daughter out with Johnson in the evenings at Kapalua. There was no official proof, however, until Johnson himself tweeted out the photo posted above late yesterday.

Johnson's tweet said, ''At The Madison Club [an upscale golf club in LaQuinta, Calif., that is a popular base for several PGA Tour players] with my baby @PaulinaGretzky.''

Meanwhile, however, reports are surfacing that Tiger Woods and ex-wife Elin Nordegren might be getting back together. And Woods, when asked directly about the possibility, didn't deny it.

''I am not going to comment on my private life,'' Woods told reporters on Thursday after his first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Apparently, these reports originated in The National Enquirer, though I never found any links directly to a story. I tried to find it on the Enquirer's web site, but never came across it. I did, however, see where Britney Spears has a ''secret sorrow,'' ex-Baywatch star Donna D'Errico has a ''secret life,'' Kelly Ripa has ''secret shame'' and Dwayne ''the Rock'' Johnson has a ''secret he doesn't want you to know.''
  
Anyway, media outlets that are running with the story, such as Fox Sports and The Daily Mail newspaper in England, say that Woods and Nordegren have discussed remarrying. Citing the Enquirer story, they also say that Woods proposed to her over the holidays, and has offered some mega-buck financial guarantees to her if she will tie the knot for a second time.

January 17, 2013 - 3:58pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Spotless Swing golf towels
The Spotless Swing golf towel is as imaginative as the press release being used to tout it.

The PGA Merchandise Show – where thousands of golf companies big and small gather in Orlando for the world's largest golf trade show – is next week, and we are routinely inundated with press releases in these days just beforehand. But one we got Thursday stands out above all the others.

It's from a guy named Scott Salzman, who is the inventor of a pretty cool golf towel called the Spotless Swing. The towel is actually built like a headcover – you can dry your hands on the outside, but you stick your clubs up into it so the dirt stays on the inside.

His press release is titled: ''Oh Great, Another Boring Press Release!''

It leads off with: ''Have you heard about Spotless Swing? Probably not.''

And here is Salzman's sales pitch:

''How will Spotless Swing help your golf game? Will it:

--Get you on the PGA Tour? Doubtful. It's a towel, not a magic wand.
--Keep your clubs, gloves, and grips clean and dry? Absolutely. That's what it does.
--Get you out of bunkers and tall grass? Yeah, right…
--Take strokes off your game? Sure, if you use it. Clean clubs allow for better accuracy and further drives; and from what we hear, those are good things.
--Make you look cool? No, but it may distract from those ugly pants and that sweater vest you're wearing.''

A little later on, he encourages us to stop by his booth, where he'd love to engage us ''in some riveting towel talk, and have you take home a free sample, so you can see firsthand how great Spotless Swing really is, and how it can improve your dismal golf game.''

Can't make the Show? Fear not, he says, he can send you one in the mail.

''Only the media gets them free because you all write great stories about Spotless Swing which helps us sell towels,'' he admits. ''So go ahead and write about us; put us on the cover of your magazine or make us a feature story; share with the world your story of how one simple golf towel saved your golf game ... and possibly your marriage.''

I'm not sure this one blog post will help save anyone's marriage – or golf game. And I should be a little offended by that sweater vest crack. But after a pitch like this one, how could I resist?

I officially encourage you to hop on over to SpotlessSwing.com and check it out.

January 17, 2013 - 1:16pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
YouTube
Tiger Woods moments before topping a tee shot in Abu Dhabi.

Chances are you were sleeping last night when Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods teed it up in the first round of the 2013 HSBC Golf Championship in Abu Dhabi -- nine hours ahead for those of you in the eastern time zone.

The golf from the top-2 players in the world wasn't magnificent by any means. McIlroy, in his first competitive round with his new Nike equipment, turned in a disappointing 3-over 73, while the world No. 2 Woods shot an even-par 72.

However, if you thought there's no way you could possibly relate to arguably the best golfer of all time in Woods, think again.

Playing the first hole -- his 10th of the day -- Woods flat-out topped his tee shot. We've all been there, right?

Alistair Tait of Golfweek actually witnessed the shot in person. Here's what he wrote about the un-Tiger-like tee shot:

Woods hit a drive that would have embarrassed many high-handicappers. He hit an inch behind the ball and watched as it fell short of the fairway. The ball traveled only about 150 yards. Woods' fairway metal approach still came up 20 yards short, and he failed to get up-and-down for par.

"My whole game plan was to hit 3-iron or 5-wood on that hole," Woods said. "I changed my game plan and wasn't committed to the shot. I didn't want to hit it. I was really fighting over that tee shot and should have backed off it."

Kudos to Geoff Shackelford who has video of the Tiger blunder. Click here to see it.

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

January 17, 2013 - 12:13pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Mark Wilson
Getty Images
Mark Wilson is the defending champion of the Humana Challenge.

Jessica Isner, a featured columnsist for BleacherReport.com, put together a nice primer to get you prepared for the start of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, which starts today in La Quinta, Calif.

Isner offers up some players to watch, highlights some notable tee times and predicts the winner.

Check out Isner's round up here.

January 17, 2013 - 3:00am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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PGA West
Getty Images
The buyers and sellers of PGA West face a mountainous obstacle in the form of the Internal Revenue Service.

The PGA Tour stop this week is the Humana Challenge, which is being hosted by PGA West and La Quinta Resort & Club, a pair of exclusive golf complexes that dominate the eastern half of the Coachella Valley.

Keeping an eye on the tournament are the prospective new owners of those two properties – the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation's real estate investment arm. Earlier this month, Paulson & Co., a New-York-based hedge fund, sold PGA West and La Quinta Resort & Club, along with several other top-of-the-line golf facilities, to the real estate investment arm of the Singapore government's sovereign wealth fund, according to a story in the Desert Sun newspaper. The purchase price is about $1.5 billion, the paper said.

The proposed deal, however, has caught the attention of the U.S. government. Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in court papers that the sale would create $331 million in tax liabilities that ''should be owed'' to the Internal Revenue Service but cannot be collected. The issue, as explained in a story on the Live Trading News web site, is that the purchase documents contain wording that stops the IRS from collecting on the taxes.

''Seeking such an injunction purporting to limit the IRS s ability to pursue any liabilities stemming from the Purchase Agreement is particularly disingenuous given that, at the same time, Debtors concede that 'the law is unclear''' when multiple taxpayers are involved, Bharara told Live Trading News. The sale document concedes that the IRS could win if it goes after the money, the site said, though Bharara argues that a bankruptcy judge doesn't have the authority to decide on tax liabilities for anyone other than the party in bankruptcy.

The sale marks the latest chapter in a tumultuous few years for PGA West and La Quinta R&C. About a year ago, Paulson and the Winthrop Realty Trust seized them, along with several other properties, in a foreclosure proceeding. However, Paulson and Winthrop filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection soon thereafter, according to bankruptcy court documents.

Paulson and Winthrop then missed a debt interest payment, the newspaper said, and that prompted an auction last fall. The Singapore Investment Corp. was the only bidder, and a later auction set for last December was canceled after no one submitted bids by the deadline.

The new Singapore owners also are trying to buy the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa in Hawaii, the Claremont Hotel Club & Spa in Berkeley, Calif., and even the Great White Course at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami. Donald Trump bought Doral from Paulson last year, and is working on a major renovation.

Spokespeople for Paulson and the golf properties have declined to comment on the sale, but one thing is clear: Following the financial scoreboard for this deal could be just as compelling as tracking the scores of your favorite players at the Humana Challenge.

January 15, 2013 - 12:38pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Bomb patches on Callaway golf bags
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
The "X" patch (upper right) is for a drive that measures 325 yards or more, while the "4 bills" patch is reserved for drives of 400 yards or more. Tommy Gainey's bag (right) already is sporting the proof of some tremendous tee shots.

College football season might be over, but its spirit lives on at Callaway Golf.

The folks at Callaway were inspired by the helmet stickers that some teams award players who make big plays – the most famous have to be those buckeyes that seem to overwhelm the headgear of every Ohio State player from the star quarterback down to the third-string left guard. So they've adapted the idea for golf – and have created special "bomb" patches that they’re adding to the bags of their staff players.

To promote their new X Hot and RAZR Fit Xtreme drivers, Callaway will award the patches to players who hit drives 325 yards or more with those drivers, explained Callaway Senior Vice President of Marketing Harry Arnett. There's also a special "mega-bomb" patch for players who launch drives 400 yards or more.

The idea for the patches came about as a way to recognize the driving distance achievements of their staff players, a collection of some of the game’s biggest bombers. Among the Callaway crew are crushers ranging from Nicolas Colsaerts (who registered a 403-yard drive with his very first official swing with an X Hot driver last week at the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa) to Luke List, Gary Woodland, Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey and Phil Mickelson.

In fact, Callaway said, Gainey already has earned a plethora of patches, including eight at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and several more last week at the Sony Open. That’s his bag on the right side of the image above.

Gainey is playing the Humana Challenge this week, as are List, Mickelson and Woodland. Something tells me the "patchers" are gonna be busy.