Golf Buzz

December 19, 2012 - 5:10pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Rory McIlroy
Getty Images
If it weren't for a ride to the course by a state trooper, Rory McIlroy may have cost Europe the Ryder Cup.

It's easy for Rory McIlroy to laugh about it now, but when he nearly missed his tee time for the Sunday singles matches in the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah, the two-time major champion and No. 1 player in the world admits that he thought he may have cost Europe a shot at winning.

Europe entered the final day of the Ryder Cup trailing the U.S., 10-6. But, miraculously, Europe stormed back on the final day for an incredible come-from-behind victory -- including a win for McIlroy in his match against Keegan Bradley, where he showed up to the tee just in time.

In an exclusive interview with RTÉ’s Greg Allen, McIlroy said he would not have made it to the course on time if it were not for state trooper Pat Rollins, who got him to the course with just minutes to spare.

Here's what McIlroy told Allen:

"On the Saturday night, before I went to bed, I was watching the Golf Channel and they posted the tee-times (for Sunday). But they posted them in Eastern time and we were in Central time in Chicago, so 12:35 Eastern is 11:35 in Chicago.

"Next morning I get up and get out of the shower at 11am. I get a phone call from Conor, my manager, and he says 'Are you at the golf course?', and I tell him that I'm not.

"He says 'You should be, you've got half an hour to your tee-time'. "And I say 'No, I've got an hour and a half, I'm off at 12:35. He says 'You're not. You are off at 11:35'.

"I have never been so scared going to a golf course. It was such a mad rush. Luckily there was a state trooper waiting for me and if it was not for him, if I was not in that car, I would not have made my tee-time.

"I actually played my best golf of the whole week on that Sunday!"

December 19, 2012 - 5:00pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bill Haas
Getty Images
Count Bill Haas as one of the many players who have benefited from an anchored putter.

Bleacher Report featured columnist Mike Dudurich explains that there are many misconceptions that come along with the proposed ruling by the USGA and R&A to ban the anchoring of putters beginning in 2016.

So, what exactly are those misconceptions?

Click here to see Dudurich's report.

December 19, 2012 - 4:46pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Phil Mickelson
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Phil Mickelson gave no reason for his decision to walk away from an ownership stake in the San Diego Padres.

Phil Mickelson has pulled out of the new owership group of his hometown San Diego Padres.

"I think to be involved with the Padres you have to be fully committed to the long term," Mickelson said on Tuesday, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I've been born and raised here, but at this moment I'm not able to make that kind of long-term commitment to the city and to the team."

Mickelson teamed up with an ownership group led by Peter O'Malley last May in a quest to buy the Padres, and the group finalized its purchase in August. Mickelson had said he was “really excited” about working with the ownership group as recently as mid-October, according to the newspaper. But, the story said, Mickelson notified the Padres group “within the last six weeks” that he wouldn’t be coming aboard after all.

Mickelson gave no explanation for what happened, said the paper, and didn’t elaborate on the reasons for his change of heart.

December 19, 2012 - 3:26pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Harmon's Heroes Golf Classic
Courtesy of Harmon's Heroes Golf Classic
The money raised at the recent Harmon's Heroes Golf Classic helped two wounded soldiers secure their own homes.

A pair of wounded warriors have been able to secure homes of their own, thanks in large part to golf instructor Buch Harmon and his Harmon’s Heroes charity effort.

Harmon, who is a Vietnam veteran, created Harmon’s Heroes in 2009 as a way to reach out directly to soldiers wounded in combat and provide financial assistance to those with a qualifying need. On Veterans' Day, Harmon hosted a group of wounded soldiers and other golfers in his annual Harmon's Heroes Golf Classic at the Bali Hai Golf Course on the Las Vegas Strip.

The golfers playing with the veterans donated between $10,000 and $25,000 per foursome, with 100 percent of the funds raised going to the Harmon's Heroes Foundation. As a result, two veterans have been able to secure homes, one in Boston and the other in Texas. And plans are under way to help a veteran from Las Vegas get his or her own home next.

"Many of us have no idea what these veterans face once they get home," said Harmon, whose father, Claude Harmon, was a longtime PGA Head Professional at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York and also the winner of the 1948 Masters.

"Dealing with physical wounds is bad enough, but the financial hardships they face are absolutely mind-boggling and we want to help," he added. "And assisting them in owning their own home is one of our priorities."

In addition, a portion of the sales of Harmon's two-DVD set, "Butch Harmon About Golf presented by Titleist," is donated to the Harmon's Heroes Foundation.

For more information, visit www.harmonsheroesfoundation.org.

The golf industry, of course, is blessed with a number of charitable efforts dedicated to help veterans and their families. Some of the other ones worth checking out are:

--Patriot Golf Day stages golf fundraisers nationwide over the Labor Day holiday weekend, and you can participate either by playing or volunteering to help out. It is jointly supported by The PGA of America and the U.S. Golf Association.

--The Folds of Honor Foundation is funded primarily through the proceeds from Patriot Golf Day, but you can make a donation anytime. Folds of Honor is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides college scholarships for the children and spouses of military men and women disabled or killed while serving our great nation.

--The Salute Military Golf Association is another 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and it provides golf equipment, lessons and access to courses nationwide for wounded servicemen and women. Since ts creation in 2007, its volunteer golf professionals have given, free of charge, hundreds of lessons and clinics to our wounded warriors.

--Birdies for the Brave was created by Phil and Amy Mickelson to support troops injured in combat, and it is now a part of PGA Tour Charities. Golf courses nationwide stage a variety of fundraising events that have raised millions of dollars for military homefront groups that serve the specialized needs of wounded warriors and military families. Birdies for the Brave fundraising events provide golfers the chance to participate in golf tournaments on top courses nationwide.

--Tee It Up For the Troops helps wounded warriors get out on the course and uses golf events to raise money for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, an independent non-profit thar provides financial support for the families of military personnel lost in service to our nation, and for severely wounded military personnel and veterans.

Many other groups and events nationwide also support this effort. And while they’re not charitable organizations, many of golf’s most prominent equipment companies – Bridgestone, Callaway, Cleveland, Ping and TaylorMade, among them – donate a lot of golf clubs, balls and other gear, and work diligently to promote many of these great causes with no regard for credit or publicity.

 

December 18, 2012 - 6:26pm
Posted by:
Steve Eubanks
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Eric Lastowka
Long Drivers of America
After bombing a tee shot 355 yards in the finals, Eric Lastowka, a longtime engineer for Titleist, won the Senior Division of the Re/Max World Long Drive Championship in Mesquite, Nev.

For the last 16 years, Eric Lastowka has worked as an environmental engineer in Titleist’s ball manufacturing plant in Brockton, Mass. Now he is a world champion.

Participating in the Senior Division of the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship for the first time, Lastowka beat 63 division qualifiers to become this year’s Longest Senior Driver with a 355-yard poke.  

“This is the ultimate,” said Lastowka. “I’ve had a lot of close calls in the Open Division in the past (runner-up in 2006, eighth place in 2001), but this is why I continue in this sport. There are so many good hitters that it always takes your best to win. Now that I have won, it gives me even more motivation to repeat next year.”

At 6-5 and 240 pounds, Lastowka hits a 5 ½-degree driver with a House of Forged shaft. 

“My success this year is based on being in good physical shape,” said Lastowka. “I have spent a considerable amount of time over the years participating in the Acushnet Wellness program, and it does pay off. I have focused on the cross-fit style workouts with the fitness coaches that the company provides its associates. It is very challenging, but rewarding.”

Lastowka also attended the first level of the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) certification program this year, where he learned about the relationship between the golf swing and fitness.

The weeklong World Long Drive Championship started with 64 Senior Division participants in Masquite, Nev. The field was reduced to 16 on the first day. Lastowka advanced after winning his first three rounds with drives of 379, 360 and 391 yards. He won his next two matches with downwind blasts of 426 and 403 yards.

The wind turned on the final day, but Lastowka won his first match with a 333-yard drive, setting up his winning 355-yarder. 

“It’s a thrill,” he said. “It’s wonderful to be known as a world champion.”  

 
 
December 18, 2012 - 5:28pm
Posted by:
Steve Eubanks
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Trump's anti-wind farm ad
Aberdeen Press and Journal
Donald Trump has been the talk of the UK since running this ad in a couple of Aberdeen newspapers. The proposed wind farms, which Trump vehemently opposes, would be within sight of Trump International Golf Links.

 News flash: Donald Trump is bombastic.

That proclamation will earn a chuckle from anyone in the United States who owns a television, radio or computer. The Donald has been selling his over-the-top personality for three decades.

But Trump’s shtick is new and a bit much for the genteel sensitivities of Scotland, at least according to various environmental activists who have complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (they seem to have an agency for everything over there) about Trump’s new advertisement against a proposed Aberdeen wind farm.

Trump’s ad, which ran last week in various Scottish outlets including the Aberdeen Press and Journal, compared the support Alex Salmond, the First Minister of the area (whatever that means) has shown for a wind farm along the coastline of Scotland and adjacent to Trump International Golf Links, to his earlier support for releasing Abdel al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, for “humanitarian reasons.”  

This, of course, earned cries of outrage from Green Party activists and more ministers of this or that, but it played into Trump’s hands perfectly. Nobody outside a few pub crawlers saw the original advertisement. Now, the entire UK is talking about the boorish American. No one, however, disputes that Minister Salmond supports windmills and was one of the advocates for releasing al-Megrahi.

Oh, those outrageous Americans and their brilliant PR schemes.