Golf Buzz

March 30, 2017 - 1:04pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Masters
USA Today Sports Images
Few venues in sport provide more drama and more memorable moments than Augusta National during the week of the Masters.

A while back, we reached out to our friends in PGA.com Facebook Nation and asked the following question:

What's your favorite Masters moment?

With a course as special as Augusta National -- one that lends itself to guaranteed drama year in and year out -- there were tons of moments to choose from.

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Here's a look at some of the best moments you offered up, along with accompanying video (if we could find it) to help you relive them.

9. Bubba Watson's hook wedge in 2012. Forgetting the fact that this happened in a sudden-death playoff with the Masters on the line, the hook wedge has got to be one of the most difficult shots in golf to pull off. But, from the pine straw right of the 10th fairway, that's exactly what the lefty did to set up the victory.

 

 

8. Louis Oosthuizen's albatross on the second hole in the final round of the 2012 Masters. Oosthuizen would come up short in the playoff with Bubba Watson, but he'll never forget this albatross on the par-5 second hole that made him one of just four players in Masters history to record a rare 2 on a par 5.

 

 

7. Larry Mize's playoff-winning chip in 1987. It doesn't get much sweeter than this. Mize, an Augusta native, put a dagger through the heart of Greg Norman when -- on the par-4 11th hole, the second hole of a playoff that also included Seve Ballesteros (Ballesteros was eliminated on the first playoff hole) -- Mize holed a pitch shot for birdie. It wasn't a walk-off win as Norman still had a chance to match the birdie, but when the Aussie failed to do that, Mize slipped in to the green jacket.

 

 

6. Ben Crenshaw's win in 1995. This, the second of Crenshaw's two Masters wins, was extra special. Just days before, Crenshaw helped lay to rest his instructor, the legendary Harvey Penick. Crenshaw played with a heavy heart all week and said the thought of Penick served as his "15th club" throughout the tournament.

 

 

5. The birdie chip on the par-3 16th hole by Tiger Woods in 2005. The imagination Woods displayed on this shot was incredible. Sure, many before him and many after him, have faced this situation, relying on the backstop on the 16th green to help suck the ball back down to the front-left, Sunday hole position. But Woods perfected it. The ball just died into the hole and he went on to his fourth Masters triumph (and last, to date). The shot elicited this famous call by announcer Verne Lundquist: "Oh wow! In your life have you ever seen anything like that?"

 

 

4. Phil Mickelson's "threading of the needle from the pine needles" shot on the 13th hole in the final round of the 2010 Masters. There's no bigger risk taker in golf today than Mickelson and he proved that yet again with this doozy in 2010. What would have been a "chip it back into play" shot for most turned out to be a career highlight for Mickelson. He hit the ball between two trees and knocked it to within five feet of the hole. Mickelson didn't convert the eagle putt, but settled for birdie and went on to win the Masters for the third time.

 

 

3. Arnold Palmer wins the 1960 Masters. Before we had Mickelson, Arnie was the man who invented throwing in all the blue chips with every shot on the golf course. In 1960 at Augusta National, Palmer became the first player to birdie each of the final two holes to win. It was the second of Palmer's four Masters wins.

2. Tiger Woods wins the 1997 Masters. This is the win that really -- I mean really -- put Tiger on the map. The first of his 14 major victories, Tiger crushed the field by a record 12 strokes in becoming the youngest player ever to win the tournament at age 21.

1. Jack Nicklaus's putt on No. 17 in 1986. Many argue this was the greatest Masters of all time. This birdie putt on No. 17 pretty much sealed the deal for Nicklaus, who became the oldest player to win the Masters at age 46. It was his sixth Masters overall, which remains two better than anyone else.

 

 

March 30, 2017 - 10:46am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Phil Mickelson
@PGATOUR on Twitter
In Houston to prepare for next week's Masters, Phil Mickelson is showing us that his dazzling short game is ready for Augusta National.

Phil Mickelson is at the Shell Houston Open this week to tune up for next week's Masters Tournament.

At 1 over through his first three holes (he played the back nine first), Mickelson reached the par-5 13th hole at the Golf Club of Houston looking to at least get back to even par for the day.

However, picking up a stroke was looking like a tall task after a not-so-great third shot.

But, when has Mickelson ever been accused of not being entertaining?

No green in three? No problem.

Check out Mickelson's chip in for birdie to get back to even par:

 

 

Shots like that one will come in handy for the three-time Masters champion next week.

alligator
mayorjuan on Instagram
Kiawah Island is home to some of the best golf courses in the country. It's also the home to some massive alligators.

Kiawah Island's Ocean Course famously hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup and the 2012 PGA Championship -- the first of Rory McIlroy's two PGA Championship wins to date. The course is also on tap to host the PGA Championship in 2021.

The stunning island in South Carolina is home to several beautiful courses, including Osprey Point, which is where this story is going to take us.

If you've ever been to Kiawah Island, there's one particular reptile you need to be very, VERY aware of -- the alligator. They're all over the place.

And some look more like dinosaurs... like the one casually roaming Osprey Point on Tuesday that looked like it was out on a relaxing stroll:

 

On the range this morning at Osprey Point. Not sure what T time he had. #kiawah

A post shared by mayorjuan (@mayorjuan) on

 

#kiawah #kiawahisland #golf #golfchannel

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Kiawah Island is one of the most beautiful places in the world to visit. But we can't stress enough just how careful you need to be. Come on. Look at that thing.

h/t For The Win

 

March 28, 2017 - 7:43am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Adam Scott
YouTube
Here's a look at seven great moments at the Masters over the last decade -- like this birdie putt by Adam Scott on the 72nd hole in 2011.

We're a just a little excited for the season's first major -- The Masters -- to tee off next week in Augusta, Ga.

With that in mind, we dug up seven great moments from Masters week at Augusta National over the last decade.

7. Adam Scott's birdie putt on No. 18 in 2013. At the time, it looked like this putt might be the one that would win Scott his first major and -- more importantly -- the first green jacket for an Australian. As it turned out, Argentina's Angel Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion, would force a playoff that Scott would eventually win. But, this putt was special as you can see based on the reaction from the otherwise typically reserved Scott.

 

 

6. Charl Schwartzel's finish in 2011. When you do something that's never been done by a winner in Masters history, it's a big deal. That's precisely what Schwartzel did in 2011. The South African rallied at just the right time to essentially steal the tournament from Adam Scott and Jason Day by birdieing each of the final four holes. A collective 4 under on 15, 16, 17 and 18 at Augusta National with the pressure that comes during the final round of the Masters? That'll work.

 

 

5. Phil Mickelson tree shot on No. 13 in 2010. On his way to winning his third Masters, Mickelson pulled off one of the great shots in tournament history with his second shot into the par-5 13th hole. After his tee shot sailed right into the pine straw, Mickelson found his ball sitting directly behind a pine tree, obstructing his view -- and angle -- to the green. In his typical go-for-broke style, Mickelson proceeded to hit the shot of the tournament, carving the ball around the tree, onto the green and within 5 feet of the hole to set up an unlikely eagle putt. He would miss the eagle try, but tapped in for a birdie on a hole that truly could have been a disaster had that second shot gone wrong. He would go on to win by three shots over runner-up Lee Westwood.

 

 

4. Jordan Spieth's record-tying performance in 2015. In his first Masters a year earlier, Spieth was tied for the lead with 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson. When the dust settled on that final round, Spieth would be the runner-up -- quite the feat for a Masters rookie. That's not how Spieth looked at it, however. Instead, it was one that got away and a defeat he looked forward to avenging quickly. Twelve months later, he avenged it in a big way -- a record-tying way. No player got within three shots of Spieth in the final round. When he signed for a 2-under 70 that Sunday, Spieth equaled the tournament scoring record -- 18-under 270 (initially set by Tiger Woods in 1997) -- for a four-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose and his first major championship. It was the first of two consecutive major wins for Spieth, who also finished T4 at the Open Championship and runner up at the PGA Championship that year.

 

 

3. Bubba Watson's wedge shot on No. 10 in 2012 playoff. After missing the fairway wide right at the par-4 10th hole on the second hole of a playoff with Louis Oosthuizen, Watson found himself in a terrible spot for his approach. In a place where most probably would have punched out back into the fairway, Watson somehow managed to hook a wedge through a shoot and onto the green within 9 feet of the cup. Once Oosthuizen made bogey, Watson needed two putts for his first major championship victory all set up by the most incredible of shots at the most crucial time. He cleaned up the par and snagged the first of his two Masters wins in a three-year span.

 

 

2. Louis Oosthuizen's albatross on No. 2 in 2012. OK, so we just covered how Oosthuizen lost the playoff to Watson in 2012. Well, the fact is, he wouldn't have even been in position for a playoff if it weren't for a Masters-first that occurred very early in the final round. Beginning the final round two shots behind Peter Hanson, Oosthuizen soared into an early lead with this shot, which was just the fourth albatross in Masters history (the first caught on camera) and the first on the second hole.

 

 

1. Louis Oosthuizen's ace on No. 16 in 2016. For a guy who has never won the Masters, Oosthuizen's name sure is popping up quite a bit on this list. He tied for 15th at the 2016 Masters, but it included this hole-in-one in the final round on the par-3 16th, one of the coolest shots you'll ever see... and not just because it was an ace. But because it was a bank-shot ace. Remember this?

 

 

March 27, 2017 - 8:43am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Rob Labritz
USA Today Sports Images
PGA Professional Rob Labritz provided some great tips on how you can find success in the match-play format.

Dustin Johnson won his third consecutive start this season at the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship over the weekend, besting Spain's Jon Rahm in the final.

Match play is a completely different animal than medal/stroke play.

So how can the average player succeed in match play? We reached out to PGA Professional Rob Labritz for some helpful tips.

Labritz has had his fair share of success in match play. As a member of the American PGA Cup team in 2002, Labritz played to a perfect record of 5-0-0. Earlier this year, he also played his way to victory in the Westchester PGA Championship, another match play event.

With that resume, we asked Labritz for advice on how to set yourself up for success in match play. Sure, chances are you and me aren't ever going to be teeing it up in a World Golf Championships Match Play event, but these tips will help you at any level of ability when you find yourself in a match play situation.

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"When you play a stroke-play event, most people will tell you you're playing against the course instead of an opponent," Labritz said. "Match-play is twofold. Yes, you're still playing the course, but you're also keeping a close watch on what your opponent is doing."

Golf is a game for ladies and gentleman. But there are certain things that don't fly in stroke play that are fair game in match play, specifically gamesmanship -- the tasteful kind.

We're not talking about stepping in your opponent's line, standing in his or her line of vision, making noise when they're about to hit, etc. It's nothing like that. Instead, it's a mental game you can play with your opponent.

"What I like to do is concede a few early putts," Labritz said. "I'll give them a couple of 3 1/2 to 4 1/2-footers, no more than that, depending on how the match is going. As the match goes on, they're probably expecting me to give them putts from that length. But instead, I make them putt. It's a little gamesmanship. Suddenly you're making your opponent think about something he or she didn't think they'd have to think about. More experienced players know exactly what you're doing. But it's almost like talking to your opponent without talking to them. That's one of the tricks I like to use."

If you're playing a match on a course you know well, Labritz offered up another way you can inject some gamesmanship into the proceedings.

"Let's say there are certain spots out there where you know it's OK to miss," he said. "Hit it there. You know it's not an issue, but you're opponent thinks you're wounded when you're not. Match play is all about the games you play out there. If you're out there scrambling your butt off, it's going to drive the opponent crazy."

A common misconception about match play is that you can throw caution to the wind and have the pedal to the metal throughout. After all, making a 10 on one hole in match play doesn't matter -- it's just one hole.

Labritz, however, said you still need to pick your spots.

"I've been successful in match play and it's because I'm the type of player who isn't going to make a lot of mistakes," he said. "I'll make a bunch of pars and sprinkle in a few birdies, but I'm not going to make a crazy number. When you're steady like that, it can really wear down the opponent. It's frustrating when you're thinking, 'this guy's not going to make a mistake.'"

The aggressiveness, Labritz said, comes from gauging the temperature of the match.

"Look, if you find yourself down early, that's a tough one," he said. "It's an internal battle for yourself. If they're playing better than you, you need to step it up and probably get a little more aggressive. And if it's a situation where you're playing poorly and they're beating you by playing average golf, then you really need to step it up. It's hard to do that, but that's what makes match play such a great format. It's all about the inner fight in you. It's wanting to compete and wanting to beat somebody."

So what's the best thing you can do to put pressure on your opponent?

It's pretty elementary, Labritz told us: "If you're hitting first, the best thing you can do to put a little heat on your opponent is to get your tee shot in play."

At the end of the day, match play simply comes down to this, Labritz told us, "Make your opponent make mistakes. If you're not making mistakes, it's going to force them to try and make something happen -- that's what leads to mistakes."