Golf Buzz

January 8, 2013 - 4:35pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Nike Golf silhouettes
Courtesy of Nike Golf
Since Nike Golf tweeted this teaser on Dec. 31, Nike Golf has announced the signings of Kyle Stanley (far left), Nick Watney (second left), Seung-yul Noh (second from right) and Thorbjorn Olesen (far right). The middle spot likely belongs to Rory McIlroy.

The Jumeirah Group isn't renewing its five-year sponsorship with top-ranked Rory McIlroy, the luxury hotel chain has announced, which seemingly paves the way for the world's top-ranked golfer to finalize his much-rumored endorsement deal with Nike Golf.

Jumeirah was McIlroy's first corporate sponsor upon turning pro, and has had its logo on his cap for the past five seasons. McIlroy previously cut ties with Oakley, which has had its logo on his shirt, and with Titleist, whose clubs he has played.

These moves appear to clear the path for a “clean” Nike deal in which the Swoosh would be the only logo visible on McIlroy's clothing. Rumors abound that a Nike arrangement in which he wears Nike apparel and plays Nike gear, would be worth as much as $20 million a year. Such an agreement would give Nike both of golf's two biggest stars in McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who has been with the company since he turned pro in 1996.

McIlroy's deal, which likely will be announced next week as he begins his 2013 season at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, would be the climax of an active signing season for Nike Golf. In recent days, the company has announced new endorsement deals with 2011 FedExCup champion Nick Watney as well as rising stars Kyle Stanley of the United States, Seung-yul Noh of South Korea and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark.

On Dec. 31, Nike tweeted out a mock-up of an ad showing five silhouettes. With Watney, Stanley, Noh and Olesen in place, that fifth and final spot – right there in the middle – likely will belong to McIlroy.

January 8, 2013 - 3:34pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Annika Sorenstam
PGA of America
Annika Sorenstam is on the mend after her finger got in the way of a kitchen knife.

Usually professional golfers only slice it when they want to slice it. This time, however, Annika Sorenstam sure wishes she had control over a slice.

The former No. 1 player in the world on the ladies side, a winner of 72 events on the LPGA Tour including 10 majors, cut off the tip of her left, index finger while cutting up some chicken, cooking for friends on Jan. 3.

Sorenstam tweeted a gruesome picture of the finger, which required five stitches, today.

We can't stomach looking at the picture again, but if you feel the need to see it for yourself, click here (you've been warned. It ain't pretty).

Sorenstam is doing just fine though. The next day she was skiing.

You can follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter @tj_auclair.

January 8, 2013 - 10:24am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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David Duval
David Duval, the former No. 1 golfer in the world, sent out this tweet moments after official word came down that he would not be given an exemption into next week's Humana Challenge. In 1999, he won the tournament formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic thanks to a final-round 59.

Former world No. 1 golfer David Duval has taken a liking to Twitter lately. Since joining the twittersphere several weeks ago, Duval has already fired off over 1,000 tweets and has picked up over 8,000 followers at last check.

Before being "verified" by Twitter with that little, blue, check mark, a follower asked Duval how we all knew it was the real Duval and not some imposter. Duval responded by tweeting out a photo of his trophy case, which included a Claret Jug from his victory at the 2001 Open Championship -- his lone major title. Well played.

During his heyday in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Duval was a dominating figure on the course, but very reserved when it came to all other aspects. That's why it's refreshing to see the man behind the wraparound Oakley shades loosening up a bit on Twitter.

However, Duval may have sent out a tweet on Monday night that he'd like to take a mulligan on. It's been a struggle for Duval since winning the '01 Open, which was also his last victory. Over the years since his five-year exemption for winning that Open ran out, Duval has had to rely on a lot of sponsor's exemptions.

He was hoping to get one for next week's Humana Challenge (formerly the Bob Hope Classic, where he had a 10-year exemption for his 1999 win). Duval won the event in stunning fashion in 1999, firing an amazing 59 in the final round.

A disappointed Duval tweeted Monday night: "So it's official. I will not get a spot at the Humana."

It's the follow up tweet, though, that is getting some attention.

Here's what Duval wrote: "I guess having the defining moment in the history of the event doesn't matter."

It was a shot at Humana, but also a point well taken. Not only is Duval a former No. 1 player, but -- aside from the Open in 2001 -- the defining moment of his career happened in that event.

John Cook, also a former Hope winner (1997), wondered on Twitter if he could, "give Duval my lifetime exemption."

All winners of the Hope prior to 1999 -- the year Duval won -- received a lifetime exemption into the event. Since 1999, winners receive a 10-year exemption into the event.

Duval probably deserves a spot based on his place in the tournament's history. But, his angry tweet probably didn't help his cause for the years ahead.

You can follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter @tj_auclair.

January 7, 2013 - 10:49pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Odyssey Versa putters
Courtesy of Odyssey Golf
Thick black and white stripes run laterally down the heads of the new Odyssey Versa putters to make alignment easier.

Plenty of putters come with alignment aids. The new Versa putters from Odyssey Golf are alignment aids.

Specifically, the heads on these new flat sticks are covered in bold black and white stripes that run perpendicular to the putting line to accentuate the face angle at address, through the stroke and at impact. This contrast, says Odyssey, prompts golfers to better align their putts, which is critical since a mis-aim of just one degree can cause a golfer to miss a 12-foot putt.

"We set out to design a distinctive and highly effective alignment system for a blade putter," said Odyssey Golf Principal Designer Austie Rollinson. "The human visual system is both sensitive to contrast and very good at complex tasks such as edge detection. We utilized both of these skills to create a very effective alignment aid that helps golfers putt more consistently, and sink more putts, too."

The new Versa models contain an improved White Hot insert, which has been meticulously engineered for more dependable feel and performance across the striking surface. A new laser milling cutting process allows Odyssey to better match its insert shapes to the various head shapes, resulting in more consistency, as each insert is designed and cut specifically for a specific putter model.

The Versa line comes in a variety of Tour-proven head shapes, from Odyssey’s progressive style and mallet putters to conventional blade styles. The #1, #2, #7 and #9 models are available in black/white/black and white/black/white combinations, while the #7 90 models are also available in both color options with a front-to-back alignment visual. The 2-Ball model, Odyssey’s best-selling putter, is available only in white/black/white, and all models come with a 33-, 34- or 35-inch shaft as well as a host of custom options.

The Versa putters will be available at retail on Jan. 18 at an introduction price starting at $169.99.

For more information on Odyssey putters, visit

January 7, 2013 - 6:32pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Natalie Gulbis and her cousin at Disneyland
Natalie Gulbis via Twitter
Natalie Gulbis took to Twitter on Monday to show us a shot of her 30th birthday visit to Disneyland with her cousin.

Natalie Gulbis, one of golf's most popular players, is celebrating the big 3-0 today – at Disneyland, of all places.

Despite what I'd call an unorthodox swing, she was a sensation as a junior – she won the California Women's Amateur Championship at age 14 and, at 17, she became the youngest player ever to Monday-qualify for an LPGA Tour event (a record that Michelle Wie eventually broke). She was the medalist at the 1998 U.S. Women's Amateur, and won four times during her college career at the University of Arizona.

Gulbis made it through Q-School on her first try and has become a solid LPGA Tour performer over the years. She's won more than $4.6 million in her decade on the circuit, and finished 42nd on the money list last year with three top-10s. She only has one career win, but it was a pretty big one – the 2007 Evian Masters.

And while she is known far and wide for her calendar-girl looks, I'd add that she is under-appreciated for her attitude and her diligence. She is as consistently positive and pleasant as any player I've ever been around, and she does as much for her sponsors, her tour and other charities as anyone. Plus, I swear, she leads the world by a mile in the number of photos taken with fans.

So for all you do for golf, Natalie, here's hoping this milestone birthday is the beginning of a career year.

January 7, 2013 - 1:26pm
Posted by:
Steve Eubanks
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Ted Bishop
Getty Images
PGA President Ted Bishop is thrilled by the economic impact the game has had and continues to have with 1.98 million jobs being attributed to golf in 2011.

Just how big is golf?

The leading organizations within the industry that comprise Golf 20/20 set out to answer that question and the results may surprise you.

In 2011, the last year for which complete data was available, golf generated $68.8 billion of goods and services in the U.S. When you look at the total indirect and induced impact the game had on the economy it came to $176.8 billion supporting 1.98 million jobs with total wage income of $55.6 billion.

There were 25.7 million participants in the game and golf’s charitable impact was 3.29 billion.

Where does that put the game on the list of economic chart of other sports? 

Golf’s impact on the economy, at least in 2011, exceeded skiing, fitness, bowling, recreational sports centers and marinas in addition to adding aesthetic value to the communities where the game is played.  

“The economy has endured two significant recessions the past decade and golf has fared well,” says Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation, administrator of GOLF 20/20.  “The health and growth of the game has a direct bearing on jobs, commerce, economic development and tax revenues for U.S. communities and industries.”