Golf Buzz

January 28, 2015 - 12:47pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
USA Today Sports Images
In the final round of the 2008 Waste Management Phoenix Open, Phil Mickelson gave a fan the ultimate gift -- tickets to the Super Bowl that evening.

The last time the Super Bowl was played in the Phoenix area was in 2008 when the New England Patriots fell to the New York Giants.

As is always the case, the Waste Management Phoenix Open's final round is on Super Bowl Sunday.

Back in 2008, Phoenix favorite Phil Mickelson had tickets to the big game later that night, but decided early in the day there was no way he'd be able to get over to the stadium in time (that was before losing in a playoff to J.B. Holmes).

RELATED: WMPO tee times | Tiger Woods in season debuts | Tiger's restored smile

According to a story by Karen Crouse of the New York Times, Mickelson charged caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay with giving the tickets away to a fan at the tournament.

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is one of the most fan-friendly events on Tour and it's not uncommon for spectators to receive gifts from players. Usually hats, gloves, etc. -- not tickets to the most watched sporting event in the world.

From Crouse's story:

Mackay, whose second-favorite N.F.L. team after his hometown Arizona Cardinals is the Giants, looked for a youngster wearing a cap with the logo of Callaway, one of Mickelson's sponsors. On the third tee, he found one: He approached Drew Fockler, who was standing next to his father, John, and asked them if they liked football. When they replied enthusiastically, he reached into Mickelson's bag, pulled out the tickets and asked them if they would like to attend the Super Bowl. The Focklers happily accepted the tickets. They later sent Mickelson a thank-you note.

How cool is that?

Unfortunately for fans attending this week's WMPO, Lefty doesn't have tickets to Sunday's big game in Glendale this time around.

h/t CBS Eye on Golf 

January 28, 2015 - 12:21pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jason Day
The expression on Jason Day's face says it all.

In case you missed it, adidas introduced its new adipower Boost golf shoes last week at the PGA Merchandise Show, with the company adapting technology from its running and basketball shoes to golf for the first time.

As a promotion for the new shoe, adidas brought Jason Day to a driving range where they tried to get the Aussie to hit material from the shoe that was hanging off a flying drone.

Day just missed his intended target, which as you'll see below, was bad news for the drone.

January 28, 2015 - 11:21am
Posted by:
PGA of America
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Ron Sirak
PGA of America
Golf Digest Senior Writer Ron Sirak will be the 2015 recipient of the PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Jan. 28, 2015) -- Ron Sirak of Wellfleet, Massachusetts, who was instrumental in the transformation of national coverage of women's golf, has been named the recipient of the 2015 PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism.

Sirak, 64, a senior writer for Golf Digest and past executive editor for Golf World, will be honored April 8, at the ISPS HANDA 43rd Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA) Annual Awards Dinner at Savannah Rapids Pavilion in Augusta, Georgia.

Sirak is the 26th recipient of the PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism, which honors members of the media for their steadfast promotion of golf, both locally and nationally.

"Ron Sirak has brought readers to the heart of a story, connecting us with many of the amazing personalities in our game while also delivering balanced reporting on issues affecting our industry," said PGA of America President Derek Sprague. "Ron is one of the most trusted voices in golf and a friend to all who play the game. It is with great pleasure that we recognize him with the 2015 PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism."

At age 45, Sirak began covering golf full-time. Over the next two decades he reported on 140 combined men's and women's major championships, along with 10 Ryder Cups and seven Solheim Cups. In 2005, he became the first journalist to cover four men's and four women's majors in a season. When the LPGA added a fifth major, Sirak covered nine total major championships in 2013.

"Of all the great honors that I have had in my career, this is for me the Pulitzer Prize," said Sirak. "It is the highest honor to be linked to those who have received this award. I am absolutely humbled. I thank the PGA of America for recognizing the contributions of journalists to the game. We are all stakeholders in the future of golf."

After attending Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Sirak joined the Associated Press (AP) in 1980, where he would work for the next 18 years. He eventually became the AP's golf writer, and in 1996, Sirak and Sports Editor Terry Taylor expanded AP’s golf coverage to include the women's game, amateur golf and the business of the sport. In 1998, he joined Golf Digest and Golf World, where his award-winning stories included a visit with women professional golfers to crisis-torn Rwanda in 2007.

Sirak is the author of three books with acclaimed golf instructors Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott. He is a past President of the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association and is the President of the GWAA.

Sirak, who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, has a daughter, Rachel; and a grandson, Declan.

PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism Recipients:

1991 Dick Taylor
2004 Bob Verdi
1992 Herbert Warren Wind
2005 Al Barkow
1993 Jim Murray
2006 Ron Green Sr.
1994 Frank Chirkinian/Bob Green
2007 Jack Berry
1995 Dan Jenkins
2008 Marino Parascenzo
1996 Furman Bisher
2009 Art Spander
1997 Jack Whitaker
2010 Dave Kindred
1998 Dave Anderson
2011 Jerry Tarde
1999 Ken Venturi
2012 Jaime Diaz
2000 Jim McKay
2013 John Hopkins
2001 Kaye Kessler
2014 Tim Rosaforte
2002 Nick Seitz
2015 Ron Sirak

January 28, 2015 - 9:33am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Phil Mickelson
USA Today Sports Images
Phil Mickelson is a three-time winner of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, making him an easy pick for this week.

The wildest party in golf takes place this week at TPC Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where it's sure to be even rowdier than usual with Tiger Woods making his 2014-15 season debut and playing the event for the first time since 2001.

Oh, and as if that wasn't enough, just down the road in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks square off in Super Bowl 49.

RELATED: WMPO tee times | Tiger Woods in season debuts | Tiger's restored smile

Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar are among the other stars teeing it up at TPC Scottsdale this week too. It's going to be a lot of fun.

With that, here are five players to watch this week.

5. Gary Woodland
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T2, CIMB Classic
Reason to watch: In three starts this season, Woodland has two top-3 finishes. He is most certainly a player to keep an eye on throughout 2015. Woodland is one of the most athletic, raw talents on Tour. He's made some noise in his career, but has been mostly thwarted by injuries. If he remains healthy, look out. Woodland tied for fifth at TPC Scottsdale in 2011 -- his best finish in the event where he has never missed the cut. Woodland will be picking up PGA Tour win soon... why not this week?

4. Rickie Fowler
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T3, World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: There are a few players I can't wait to watch in 2015 and Fowler is right near the top of that list. It's well-documented that he finished in the top 5 of all four majors -- without a win -- in 2014. But, he also had six other top-10 finishes. People have viewed Fowler as a potential star for years now. It looks like that star is finally beginning to shine. Fowler is going to have a big 2015.

3. Jordan Spieth
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T35, World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: That stuff I just said about Fowler? Yeah, it applies to this guy too. After the way he ended 2015 with a win in Australia followed by a win seven days later at the Hero World Challenge in Orlando, Spieth showed what's been missing early in his career -- the ability to not only close but absolutely dominate. This will be Spieth's first start in the Phoenix Open. I have the feeling that a young guy like Spieth is going to enjoy -- and thrive -- on the atmosphere.

2. Bubba Watson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Winner, World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: Watson is hard to pick against these days, especially after a monster 2014 in which he won twice (including the Masters for a second time); finished second three times (including the Waste Management Phoenix Open); and third once. Every time he tees it up these days, he's a favorite.

1. Phil Mickelson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T24, Humana Challenge
Reason to watch: For starters, Mickelson is a three-time winner of this event. He's also coming off a season that save for the runner-up finish at the PGA Championship (his only top 10 last season) was one of the worst of his career. Lefty says he's feeling great and I think he'll get back on track this year. The game is just so much more fun to watch when he's the regular contender we've come to expect. He's loved everywhere, but especially in Phoenix, his former home and college town. 

Here's how my five to watch fared at the Humana Challenge:

5. Phil Mickelson -- T24
4. Pat Perez -- T30
3. Bill Haas -- Won
2. Matt Kuchar -- T2
1. Keegan Bradley -- T48 

Nike Golf TW'15 golf shoes
Courtesy of Nike Golf
The TW'15 is the first golf shoe to feature the Flyweave technology that Nike implemented in its basketball shoes last year.
The buzz in Phoenix on Tuesday was all about Tiger Woods' 2015 debut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Also making its debut is Woods' new golf shoe – the TW'15 from Nike Golf.
The shoe's headline: It's the first golf shoe to feature the Flyweave technology that Nike implemented in its basketball shoes last year.
Even though the movements of a basketball player's feet are different from a golfer's, Nike explained, both require stability and a natural range of motion. Flyweave, the company said, lets designers create a one-piece upper that is woven to provide great strength-to-weight support where it's needed most.
And due to the light weight of the Flyweave technology and the golf-specific Nike Free-inspired outsole, the company said, the TW '15 shoes are 10 percent lighter than last year's model.
"Nike keeps answering the bell every time I want to push the envelope," said Woods. "The new Flyweave technology provides even more stability and support for my foot, and when you pair that with the Free-inspired outsole, I noticed I can push off the ground better and finish my swing with power."
Woods provided detailed feedback that, Nike said, that led to the creation of an outsole three millimeters lower than the TW '14 shoes to maximize feel and longer contact with the ground. Meanwhile, Nike's Integrated Traction in the toe area offers more flexibility to help golfers swing fully without sacrificing traction.
Woods' love of diving and spearfishing also is reflected in the shoe's design. The first sketch from Tobie Hatfield, Nike's senior director of athlete innovation, had starfish-shaped traction elements, while the final product features traction elements in the toe shaped like octopus beaks and the rubber in the tip and heel are inspired by shark scales.
The Nike TW '15 shoes will come in three colorways: University Red/Black, Metallic Silver/Black and Black/White. They'll be available at retail on March 5 with a suggested retail price of $250 per pair, though a limited number will be available on beginning Feb. 2.
Here's a video introducing the shoes:
Martin Kaymer
Associated Press
Martin Kaymer could only hang his head after losing a 10-shot lead in Abu Dhabi, but since then he has managed to turn that shocking loss into a positive.
Nine days ago, two-time major champion Martin Kaymer shockingly lost a 10-stroke lead in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. On Tuesday, he said, "I'm very glad that it happened."
No, Kaymer isn't a masochist. In an interview at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, he explained how he's managing to turn that kind of unthinkable defeat into something of a positive.
"Those things, they are not nice when it happens, but afterwards you are even more motivated because you grow a lot on the golf course, as a golf player and also as a person," Kaymer said. "And therefore, you became more mature. It was almost like a life lesson, not only a golf lesson that I got there. So therefore, I'm very glad that happened."
To refresh your memory, Kaymer was 10 shots out front as he stood on the sixth tee of the final round in Abu Dhabi. He'd been breezing all week, and surely couldn't imagine any outcome other than his fourth victory in an event he has won more than any other player. But he dropped six shots in his next seven holes en route to a 75, while unheralded Gary Stal made six birdies in an eight-hole stretch to pull out an unforgettable victory.
Kaymer – one of the game's best front-runners over the last half decade – said he needed a full 24 hours with his dad and brother to process that shocking sequence of events. And he quickly shot down the notion that he's in Dubai this week to prove a point.
"Well, prove a point for who, that's the question," he said. "That was part of the reflection, as well. Who do you do it for? Do you do it for others, to meet their expectations? Do you do it for yourself? 
"I didn't come here to Dubai to prove to others that I could win a golf tournament. I don't care about this. I proved many, many times before that I can win," he added. "I've been in many situations that were more difficult, more important, so I know it has nothing to do with my game."
Kaymer stressed that he handled the pressure of leading "differently at the U.S. Open [which he won last June], handled it differently at Sawgrass [where he won the Players Championship last spring] at The Ryder Cup and many other occasions where I was leading, where I had wire-to-wire wins or in 2010 when I kept winning golf tournaments [including the PGA Championship, his first major title]. Abu Dhabi was different and I'm glad it was different because I think every athlete needs that. 
"I don't want to call it a bad experience, because it's not a bad experience. It would create a bad result on the scorecard, but it creates a lot of truth about yourself; that we are not machines; that maybe the German engineering doesn't always work," he added. "It does work usually, but once in a while it gets stuck too, and for me to learn, that made it, in some ways, a brilliant day for me."