Golf Buzz

January 14, 2013 - 9:36am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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John Daly
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John Daly's booming drives used to make him a novelty on the PGA Tour. Now, however, smashing drives are the norm.

Ben Alberstadt, a featured columnist on BleacherReport.com, has an interesting piece that focuses in on why it is that the distance the golf ball travels is ruining golf.

Alberstadt writes:

Although many believe that the 2004 USGA decision regarding driver head size and maximum COR quashed the issue of increasing driving distance on the PGA Tour, this is not the case. Further, the "distance plateau" -- that is, the fact that the driving distance of the top players on tour has only increased marginally from that point until the present—is a red herring.

As Karen Crouse of the New York Times explains, although the top players on tour have been constant with an average of about 315 yards off the tee, the averages of the moderately-long hitters on tour have increased substantially: "In 1997, the 50th-ranked player averaged 272.3 yards. By 2002, the distance had risen to 285.0. In 2012, it was 294.7."

This points to a fundamental shift in the way the game is played at the professional level: the bomb-and-gouge player (typified by John Daly) is becoming the rule, rather than the exception.

Shotmaking, on life support for the past 20 years, is now surely dead and the tour has become a pitch-and-putt exhibition of booming drives and high-lofted approach shots.
 
To read all of Alberstadt's interesting piece, click here.

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

January 14, 2013 - 12:46am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Colin Montgomerie, Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley
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Colin Montgomerie (l), Paul McGinley (r) and Darren Clarke (second r) all likely will be discussed as potential 2014 Ryder Cup captains by the European Tour Tournament Committee, which is chaired by Thomas Bjorn (second l).

The European Tour’s powerful Tournament Committee meets Tuesday evening at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, and could select the 2014 European Ryder Cup captain at that get-together. With that possibility looming, the world of European golf was overflowing with Ryder Cup chatter.

It’s not clear how much input that Rory McIlroy has, but he capped off the weekend by voicing his opinion in favor of Paul McGinley.

"Ryder Cup captaincy should be a 1-time thing," the Northern Irishman said on Twitter. "Everybody deserving gets their chance and moves on. Would love to play under Paul McGinley in '14."

That makes it clear that McIlroy doesn’t support two of the names floating about – victorious 2010 Captain Colin Montgomerie and victorious 2012 Captain Jose Maria Olazabal.

Olazabal, for his part, shot down his own trial balloon as soon as it was floated.

"I would never do it again," Olazabal said in Durban, South Africa, where he was competing in the Volvo Golf Champions. "First of all it's a lot of energy and time, a huge demand and the pressure is quite big. It's a different pressure, not one we are used to out there playing on the course. The media scrutinize everything you say and every possibility.

"On top of that, I've done it and it couldn't have been any better," he added, as he noted that there are enough good candidates in the pipeline so that no captain should serve more than once. "Even if it was held in Spain again somewhere down the line I, wouldn't do it."

Montogmerie, however, said he would serve again if asked, and his name seemed to rise to the top of the possibilities list, just ahead of McGinley and Darren Clarke.

"I am excited and honored and very flattered really that my name's been put in the frame," said Montgomerie, who also played in the Volvo Golf Champions.

"I've always said that we need the best man for the job, whoever that is," he added. "And if we're going for the best man for the job, then that doesn't say you shouldn't do it again."

For what it's worth, Montgomerie didn't campaign for the 2010 job, and was somewhat of a surprise choice because his name was brought up so late in the selection process. At the time the prevailing opinion was that he would get the 2014 job we're talking about now because the Ryder Cup will be played at Gleneagles in his native Scotland.

Clarke himself recently raised the possibility of a second go-round for Montgomerie while also essentially taking himself out of contention for 2014.

"As much as I would dearly love to be captain, this may not be my time," he said. "I won one of the biggest prizes in golf by winning The Open and I am exempt for another three years (in the States).

"If I was given the opportunity to do the captaincy, I'd effectively be throwing two of those years away," he added. "I'm still wrestling with it. It's a tough one for me, but to be honest with you I want to play golf."

For the last year or so, Clarke has been favored to serve as captain for the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, and that seems more of a possibility now. There is also the possibility that Europe could go ahead and name its 2014 and 2016 captains at the same time – Ian Woosnam (2006) Nick Faldo (2008) were named at the same time back in 2005.

About the only voice not heard this weekend was McGinley's, and it seems like he and Monty now stand as the top two options. Making things even more interesting is that both Monty and McGinley are on the Tournament Committee, so they'll have front-row seats for whatever goes down.

January 13, 2013 - 10:40pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tower of four golf balls
Kelly Kraft via Twitter
We're not sure how far Kelly Kraft can hit his Nike golf balls, but we know how high he can stack them.

So what did you do on Sunday? 2011 U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft stacked this tower of golf balls.

Seems pretty cool to me, but someone wasn’t too impressed.

After Kraft tweeted out the photo of his dimpled skyscraper, he got a reply from Kevin Tway, the son of former PGA Champion Bob Tway and quite a golfer in his own right.

"u must be real bored haha," tweeted Tway.

"No big deal," responded Kraft, who clearly doesn't know a big deal when he sees one.

You can follow Kraft on Twitter at https://twitter.com/kkraft11 and, of course, you can follow PGA.com at https://twitter.com/PGA_com .

January 12, 2013 - 10:17pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Site of the Siglufjordur Golf Club
The Siglufjordur Golf Club will be built just below the Arctic Circle on Iceland's north coast.

The temperature is dropping like a rock across much of the country this weekend, so I thought it was the perfect time to tell you about a new golf course being built on the north coast of Iceland.

Under construction now, the Siglufjordur Golf Club is just below the Arctic Circle and is so far north that the sun never sets in the summer – instead, it barely touches the horizon before beginning to rise again. According to a report in Golf Course Architecture, the golf facility is part of a series of additions and improvements to the town of Siglufjordur that also includes a ski resort and fishing destination.

Fishing is a big deal in Siglufjordur. How big, you ask? Well, Siglufjordur is the home of Iceland's renowned Herring Era Museum, which commemorates the town's golden years when it was Iceland's commercial capital. The Herring Era ended in 1968 when the herring were completely fished out, and the city shrunk to its current populaton of about 1,200.

Now, however, golf is helping Siglufjordur rebound. The new layout, designed by Iceland-born course architect Edwin Roald, is scheduled to open in the summer of 2015, and is expected to be the centerpiece of an all-round outdoor recreational haven in an abandoned gravel quarry. When the new course opens, in fact, an existing 40-year-old nine-hole course will be abandoned.

The new Roald layout will occupy a part of the gravel quarry, which lies at the intersection of the Holsa and Leyningsa rivers, and its construction will include restoration of aquatic ecosystems – especially habitats for sea-run Arctic char – that were damaged during the years of gravel extraction from the river bed. Other parts of the course will meander in and out of a mature pine and spruce plantation.

The course also will include a network of public walkways and bridle paths that will complement the town's existing path system and link to a number of attractions and landmarks, the oldest of which are historic ruins that date back to the year 1400. Their preservation will be included in the golf course management program.

A final note: Avid golfers might recognize Roald's name -- for a decade or so, he has been redesigning parts of the course at Iceland's Akureyri Golf Club. That club has long been the home of the famed Arctic Open, an annual golf and social affair in which players from around the globe gather at the height of the summer to compete in the overnight hours when the sun never sets.

 

 

January 11, 2013 - 1:51pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Darren Clarke
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Long thought to be a favorite to captain Europe in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, Darren Clarke may not be ready for the commitment just yet.

What looked to be a two-man race between Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley for the 2014 European Ryder Cup team captaincy position, may now still be a two-man race -- but with a different challenger for McGinley.

Colin Montgomerie, the winning European captain in 2010 at Celtic Manor in Wales, is something of a wildcard. The 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland will be the first contested in the country where golf was born since 1973. Monty, of course, is from Scotland. He mentioned earlier this week that he wouldn't turn down the opportunity to be a repeat captain for the Europeans -- especially in 2014.

Clarke, who is beloved on both sides of the Atlantic, meanwhile, may have hinted that he doesn't like his chances of getting the nod for 2014.

Here's Clarke in a report by SportingLife.com, following the second round of the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa on Friday:

"As much as I would dearly love to be captain this may not be my time.

"I won one of the biggest prizes in golf by winning The Open and I am exempt for another three years (in the States).

"If I was given the opportunity to do the captaincy I'd effectively be throwing two of those years away.

"I'm still wrestling with it. It's a tough one for me, but to be honest with you I want to play golf."

To read the rest of this report, click here.

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

January 11, 2013 - 1:30pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Louis Oosthuizen at the Volvo Golf Champions
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Louis Oosthuizen escaped from a greenside bunker to win a pro-am prize that he can use to dig his own bunkers.

Ben Hogan famously said that the secret to golf "is in the dirt." If any golfer can figure out whether or not that's actually true, it's Louis Oosthuizen.

Why, you ask? Well, the affable South African won himself an excavator on Friday at the Volvo Golf Champions.

Yes, Volvo awarded a full-size, real-deal excavator to the 2010 British Open champion after he led his team to victory in the pro-am portion of the European Tour event at Durban Country Club – he even got to try it out for a little bit in a sandbox built near the course. Ironically, Oosthuizen clinched his muscular prize by escaping from a bunker beside the 18th green and then draining a 30-foot birdie putt, which also gave him the 36-hole lead in the tournament proper.

Oosthuizen's team, which also included pro Thongchai Jaidee and amateur Colin Ledwith, was tied with Darren Clarke, Thorbjorn Olesen and their amateur partner with one hole to play. And once Oosthuizen’s group reached the final green with a chance to win, he rallied his troops.

"I walked around to the guys and said, 'Listen, we need one of these to go in,'" explained Oosthuizen, who asked for the excavator instead of the original prize, a car. "I was fortunate enough to make the long one – and then Colin made one as well."

If any player can actually use an excavator, it's Oosthuizen. After winning the Claret Jug, he famously took off a few weeks to return to South Africa and work on his farm – and his first big purchase with his major money was a custom John Deere tractor. Now that tractor will have some company out in the barn.

Before today, I would've wagered that the best tournament prize Oosthuizen ever won – not counting his Claret Jug, of course – was the large crystal bowl he received for his now-famous double eagle at the Masters last year. It probably still is. But I bet that excavator will be more fun.