Golf Buzz

December 17, 2012 - 4:59pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Ariya Jutanugarn
Ariya Jutanugarn took home the LET Q-School trophy only weeks after her sister Moriya captured the LPGA Tour Q-School prize.

The 2012 tournament season officially ended on Monday with the conclusion of Q-School for the Ladies European Tour. We generally don't cover much of the LET over here in the United States, but Q-School had a couple of newsworthy notes.

First, the medalist was 17-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn, who triumphed less than a month after her older sister Moriya was co-medalist at the LPGA Tour Q-School. I don't know this for a fact, but I'd bet that sisters have never won the two big women's tour Q-Schools in the same year. And after playing together – and so well – for several years in junior events across the United States and around the world, the two sisters from Thailand now will go their own ways.

"I'm going to miss her a lot because we have to separate," Ariya said on Monday. "I have to go with my dad and Moriya will go with my mom. I'm really happy I won because it will make me feel confident for my professional career."

Among the other players earning their LET cards were Emily Taylor, who dominated the English amateur ranks last year, and Holly Clyburn, one of the players on Britain-Ireland's victorious Curtis Cup team. The star of that team, 16-year-old Charley Hull, struggled to a 76 on Monday and missed out on her card.

Also missing out was Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods who starred at Wake Forest. Hull and Woods, arguably the two biggest names in the event, earned partial status on the LET for 2013.

Three Americans did earn their cards, however -- Mallory Fraiche, who played for Arkansas-Little Rock and on the Symetra Tour tied for eighth; Katie Burnett, who played at South Carolina, finished ninth; and Dawn Shockley, who played at the University of Denver and on the Symetra Tour, tied for 15th.

At the bottom of this post is a complete list of players earning their LET cards.

Q-School wrapped up an amazing final weekend of competition:

--Charl Schwartzel won the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa by 12 shots a week after he won the Thailand Golf Championship by 11. No one can be sadder that there isn't an event this week than Schwartzel.

--Sergio Garcia won the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia as persistent storms forced the event to be shortened to 54 holes, shooting a 61 on Sunday to clinch the victory in the Asian Tour's season-ender. Just as impressive to me is that oft-delayed events like this one require a little extra concentration. And Garcia, who so often lets his frustrations get the best of him, showed that concentration.

--Daniel Popovic, ranked no. 1,251 in the world, led from wire-to-wire to win the Australian PGA Championship. The young man deserves an extra golf clap because he succeeded despite almost giving up the game to care for his dad, who is suffering from terminal bone cancer and spent the week in the hospital. 

--Angel Cabrera won the Argentina Open, which is now part of the PGA Tour Latinoamerica. Cabrera, who of course owns a Masters Green Jacket as well as a U.S. Open trophy, spent many years plying the circuits of South America, and had won the Argentina Open twice before. He has close to three dozen wins on the Argentine Tour and Cordoba Tour to go with his majors and handful of European Tour titles.

--Asia won the Royal Trophy in a playoff over Europe in Brunei, thanks to a thrilling comeback. The Europeans jumped out to a 3.5 to 0.5 lead after the Friday four-balls in the Ryder Cup-style event, but the Asians worked their way back to within half a point on Saturday and rallied again in the Sunday singles to tie the match at 8-8.

Under Ryder Cup rules, Europe would have retained the trophy as defending champions. But the Royal Trophy went to a sudden-death four-ball match between Nicolas Colsaerts and Francesco Molinari for Europe and Y.E. Yang and K.T. Kim for Asia. Kim drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to give Asia the trophy for the second time in the event's six-year history.

So that's it for 2012. We now have a whole 17 days off before the 2013 season begins on Friday, Jan. 4 at the PGA Tour's Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

Here are the players who earned their 2013 LET cards:
1. Ariya Jutanugarn -24
2. Nikki Campbell -19
2. Emily Taylor -19
4. Louise Larsson -17
5. Xi Yu Lin -16
6. Camilla Lennarth -15
7. Malene Jorgensen -13
8. Mallory Fraiche -12
9. Charlotte Ellis -11
9. Katie Burnett -11
9. Maria Salinas -11
9. Julia Davidsson -11
9. Alexandra Vilatte -11
9. Bonita Bredenhann -11
15. Paula Hurtado -10
15. Dawn Shockley -10
17. Daniela Holmqvist -9
17. Sharmila Nicollet -9
17. Whitney Hillier -9
20. Elina Nummenpaa -8
20. Laura Cabanillas -8
20. Maha Haddioui -8
20. Virginia Espejo -8
20. Sarah King -8
25. Cathryn Bristow -7
25. Laura Jansone -7
25. Holly Clyburn -7
25. Jia Yun Li -7
25. Melanie Maetzler -7
25. Margarita Ramos -7

December 17, 2012 - 11:03am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Joe Logan from MyPhillyGolf.com, reports that in preparation for the 2013 U.S. Open at historic Merion Golf Club, members have been asked to hit off of artificial mats from the fairway for what Merion's Green Chairman Bob Rex told Logan was, "for divot control."

Logan reports:

The mats, which have been in use since October, are rectangular, about 5 inches wide by 15 inches long, with a little bulbous knob on the end.
 
It's a simple concept.  Each caddie at Merion, which is a walking-only course, carries a mat in the pouch of his caddie bib. By the time his player reaches his tee shot, the caddie has lifted, cleaned and placed his ball on the mat.
 
"They're just like something you’d find at the driving range," one Merion member said of the mats. "I actually find them easier to hit off of than turf."
 
Are members fuming over the inconvenience?  "There has been zero push back," said Rex.
 
"It's not the least bit controversial," confirmed the other Merion member. "You have to understand that Merion has a culture that we are a club that hosts major championships and in doing so, you have to make some sacrifices."

To read more about the mats at Merion from Logan, click here.

December 17, 2012 - 10:58am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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CHAMP Sports
CHAMP Sports
Golf tees or divot tools from CHAMP Sports can make a great stocking stuffer.

Are you just about finished with your holiday shopping and now just looking for something to stuff in the stocking of your loved one?

If so, here are a couple of items from CHAMP Sports that the golfer in your life will love and -- trust us -- could always use more of.

First is the CHAMP Zarma My Hite FLYTee. Thirty tees come in each package at an MSRP of $7.99. So what makes this tee so special you ask?

It features a six-prong head and shallow cup to reduce friction, increase distance and improve accuracy. "My Hite" includes a unique colored band around the stem to routinely place the ball at a consistent height and promote optimum contact on every swing. Constructed from eco-friendly materials five times more durable than traditional wood, this tee allows players to use far fewer tees per round. It's available in a variety of heights and colors and CHAMP Sports says it's the most inexpensive way to boost your performance.

Next up is the CHAMP Flix Divot Repair Tool, with a MSRP of $14.99.

How many times have you played a round of golf only to have one of your playing partners jack up the greens trying to use a tee as a makeshift divot tool? The Flix Divot Repair Tool gets the job done easily. It features a fun-to-use and practical "switchblade" design that is collapsible with the push of a button, making it easy to store in clothing or a golf bag. It's incredibly durable, yet so light it is almost unnoticeable when being carried in a pants or skirt pocket. It also has a magnetic attached ball-marker that can be customized to include company, club or event logos and names.

For more information on both products, visit the CHAMP Sports website.

December 16, 2012 - 8:19pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tom Watson
Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
Age is just a number to new Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson.

When Tom Watson was named captain of the U.S. team for the 2014 Ryder Cup on Thursday, a few people wondered whether the 63-year-old would be able to relate to the 20-somethings and 30-somethings that will make up his squad at Gleneagles.

That, however, is a ridiculous question. Why? Well, because only days before Watson accepted his new job, he was busy making friends with Asia's best 14-year-old golfer.

Yes, a week ago at the Australian Open – where Watson not only made the cut but shot the round of the day on Sunday – he was introduced to Guan Tianlang, the Chinese phenom whose recent victory in the Asia-Pacific Amateur earned him a spot in the Masters next spring.

After his second round in Sydney, Guan lined up with several other fans to get Watson's autograph on his cap. Watson obliged, and the two spent a few minutes chatting.

"He said I was doing pretty well and he said I am still a kid," Guan told Reuters afterward.

"I asked him if he was going to the Masters and he said 'yes,'" Guan said. "And then he said, 'let's play a practice round on Tuesday afternoon'."

If Watson teaches Guan too much, it might be a good thing the youngster isn't eligible to play in the Ryder Cup. But the Americans on the 2019 Presidents Cup team better watch out.

December 16, 2012 - 1:34am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Graeme McDowell's 59 scorecard
Graeme McDowell via Twitter
Graeme McDowell saved his best for last at Lake Nona, where he went low and stayed there.

Graeme McDowell has had a pretty good run lately.

He got engaged in November. He won Tiger Woods' World Challenge three weeks ago. He's opening his own pub next month.

And on Saturday, he shot a 59.

“For probably my last round of golf of 2012 I knocked it round in 59 here at Lake Nona!!,” he tweeted. “White tees but -13 all the same.”

For proof, he tweeted out a photo of his scorecard, which shows he had a 29 on the front nine and a 30 on the back.

If that does turn out to be his final round of the year, he’s definitely going out on a high note.

December 15, 2012 - 6:57pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Bob Hope
Getty Images
The traveling Bob Hope exhibit tells the entertainer's life story through a series of displays that celebrate his comedic contributions, achievements in entertainment, relationships with presidents and, of course, his life in golf.

Thanks in large part to his half-century association with the PGA Tour's Bob Hope Desert Classic (now known as the Humana Challenge), legendary entertainer Bob Hope is forever linked to both golf and Palm Springs. And now through April, the Coachella Valley is hosting a traveling version of the World Golf Hall of Fame's "Bob Hope: An American Treasure" exhibit.

"It was a major priority for us to display this exhibition in Palm Springs," said Jack Peter, chief operating officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. "Bob Hope is synonymous with the area, and golf fans around the world know Palm Springs because of his incredible support of the golf tournament. It is an ideal place for the exhibition and we are thankful to the Bob & Dolores Hope Charitable Foundation for its support in bringing it here."

The exhibit tells Hope's life story through a series of 15 themed displays that celebrate his comedic contributions, achievements in entertainment, relationships with a number of U.S. Presidents and, of course, his life in golf. It traces his family's arrival at Ellis Island, life as part of an immigrant family, his struggles to succeed in New York, the success and family life he found in Hollywood and how golf and his love for the military took him around the world.

"Both my dad and mother would have loved to know that this exhibit would be housed just down the street from their much-loved home on Southridge Drive," Hope's daughter Linda Hope told the Valley News. "To know that schoolchildren from the area will have the opportunity to visit and learn about them and their love of the Coachella Valley, of golf and their commitment to helping their fellow man, I'm sure would warm their hearts."

Covering 2,500 square feet, the exhibit includes a 30-stop audio tour and an educational program. It also includes reproductions of more than 200 vintage photos, seven videos and more than 170 items -- including one of Hope's original vaudeville contract from 1922, his Ellis Island medal, the final set of golf clubs he used, some Emmy and Honorary Oscar awards, gifts and awards from Presidents and other celebrities, his Congressional Gold Medal and more.

The exhibit is on display at the Palm Springs Air Museum. This stop is just one of many on its five-year world tour that already has included visits to such venues as the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and the Greenwich Heritage Centre in London.