Golf Buzz

October 17, 2014 - 8:53am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rafa Nadal
In this video, tennis star Rafa Nadal works on his poker face by trying to convince two golfers he has amnesia after being struck in the head with a golf ball.

What's better than a well-executed prank?

That's exactly what tennis star Rafa Nadal pulled off recently on a course in Majorca, Spain, on a couple of unsuspecting golfers.

It was all part of a hidden-video prank by PokerStars, in which Nadal would work on his, "poker face," to convince the golfers he had been hit in the head with a ball and had amnesia.

Check it out here:

Now that was good stuff. The two golfers looked genuinely concerned when they saw a man down on the green and then you could see on their faces it quickly escalated to panic when they realized the man down was one of the world's most famous athletes.

Mikko Ilonen's scorecard
European Tour
Mikko Ilonen's magic number on Thursday at the Volvo World Match Play Championship was 3.
It's mid-October, but this is a big week in golf around the globe. The PGA Tour is in Las Vegas, the LPGA Tour is in South Korea, the Champions Tour is in North Carolina, and the European Tour has a pair of events going on: the Hong Kong Open in Asia and the Volvo World Match Play Championship outside of London.
As we most recently saw at the Ryder Cup, match-play golf is a unique animal that often produces memorable scorecards. It happened again on Thursday on the second day of the Volvo Match Play.
Defending champion and Ryder Cup star Graeme McDowell faced off against Mikko Ilonen of Finland in a match that McDowell was almost universally expected to win. But he lost, 2 and 1, because Ilonen carded 12 3s over the 17 holes of their match.
5 TO WATCH: See who T.J. Auclair has his eye on at the Shriners Hopitals for Children Open
Check out the card posted above. After a par on the par-5 opening hole, Ilonen ran off three 3s in a row to build a 2-up lead. He then parred the par-5 sixth hole to see his lead drop to one hole, then carded four more 3s in succession to grab a 4-up lead through 10 holes. From there, he went 4-3-5-3-5-3-3.
Amazing, 12 3s. Perhaps even more amazing considering how well he was playing, Ilonen didn't make birdie or eagle on any of the four par-5 holes. 
McDowell, for his part, didn't play poorly – he had seven 3s on his own card, and he halved six of the holes on which he made a 3. Between the two of them, they had 13 birdies and no bogeys.
TaylorMade RSi 1 and RSi 2 irons
Courtesy of TaylorMade Golf
The new RSi line of irons from TaylorMade feature vertical slots cut into the heel and toe of the face to help the performance of off-center hits.
As most of us golfers will testify, we tend to hit a lot of shots somewhere other than the center of the clubface. In recent years, some equipment companies have tweaked their designs to expand the sweetspot to help us out.
TaylorMade – which studied thousands of clubfittings and found that 76 percent of all iron shots are mis-hit – has come up with its own solution. Its new RSi line of irons feature slots in the face to help improve consistency and distance on off-center hits.
"No golfer is perfect, not even the best players in the world hit the center of the club every time," said Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade's director of product creation for irons, putters and wedges. "So with RSi, we're giving all golfers a technology that can help their mis-hits perform more like pure strikes."
The introduction of Face Slot Technology, as TaylorMade calls it, comes two years after the company debuted its "Speed Pockets" – small slots in the soles of woods and irons that improve the performance of shots struck low on the face. 
For the RSi irons, TaylorMade cut vertical slots in face on either side of impact zone to help provide more uniform flex across the face and protect ball speed on off-center hits. The slots – cut into the 3- through 8-irons – are 35 to 38 millimeters deep, depending on the club, and are cut all the way through the face and filled with a durable epoxy compound. 
Speaking of Speed Pockets, the 3- through 7-irons include them as well. Their ThruSlot technology helps to activate the lower portion of the face by creating higher launch on shots hit below center, and helps to negate the loss of ball speed and spin rate from an off-center hit. The combination of these two features, the company says, give the RSi irons a larger sweetspot with forgiveness near the toe, heel and bottom of the club.
The new RSi line includes three models: The RSi 1, RSi 2 and RSi TP.
The RSi 1 features TaylorMade's Advanced Face Design – which gives the irons the company's thinnest face ever, a deep undercut and Inverted Cone Technology to promote greater ball speed. In addition, a stabilized head structure and multiple dampening systems improve their sound and feel, and a new True Temper Reax 90 steel shaft helps optimize ball flight. 
The standout feature of the RSi 2 model is what the company calls Progressive Multi-Material Construction. The 3- through 5-irons are cast from 450 stainless steel with tungsten weighting to promote a lower Center of Gravity and slightly higher flight. The mid irons (6-7) are cast of 450 stainless steel but don't have the tungsten weighting.
The short irons (8-, 9- and pitching wedge) incorporate forged faces to promote feel and accuracy, and the wedges are completely forged. All the RSi 2 irons come stock with the all-new KBS Tour 105 shaft. 
Finally, the RSi TP irons – which TaylorMade expects will become the most-played model on the PGA Tour – combine Face Slot Technology with advanced two-piece construction that merges a premium 1025 forged carbon steel hosel and face with a 431 stainless steel back in the 3- through 7-irons. This, the company says, provides the precision and feel of a forged iron with the advanced geometry of cast irons.
The short irons (8- through pitching wedge) are classic forged heads with a slight muscle cavity. And all the RSi TP irons come stock with the popular KBS Tour Steel Shaft.
"The RSi TP irons were developed to deliver launch, consistency and feel to take performance to the next level for our tour professionals," Bystedt explained. "It really is the best combination of performance, look and feel that we've created for the world's best players."
Both the RSi 1 ($799 per set with steel shafts, $899 with graphite) and RSi 2 ($999 with steel, $1,199 with graphite) will be available to demo at select TaylorMade retailers now, and sets (3-iron through pitching wedge) can be purchased beginning Nov. 14. Individual gap, sand and lob wedges will be available in the RSi 1, while only gap and sand wedges will be available in the RSi 2. The RSi TP ($1,199 per set) will be at retail on Jan. 15, 2015.
Here's a video from TaylorMade introducing the new irons:
Els Club Desaru Coast
Troon Golf via Twitter
The dewsweepers at the Els Club Desaru Coast in Malaysia are quite unusual.
If you've played any amount of golf, you've likely seen all sorts of wildlife out on the course. So, using your deductive skills, can you tell what kind of critter left these tracks on a green at the Els Club Desaru Coast in Malaysia?
I'll give you the answer at the bottom of this post, but first let me tell you that this course is still under construction and is set to open in 2016. Ernie Els has designed a 27-hole complex made of up of three distinctive nine-hole loops named the Lake, Ocean and Ridge, each encompassing a unique environment on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula just east of Singapore.
The Desaru Coast on the South China Sea is known as an up-and-coming surfing destination and, along with the golf facility, developers are also building an array of resorts, shopping complexes and even theme parks. The golf facility also will contain residences and the Els Performance Academy.
Okay, enough stalling. Those footprints belong to elephants who apparently wander over from the nearby tropical rainforest. I've heard of elephant polo, but maybe the Els resort can pioneer elephant golf.
You can see the original photo right here on the Ernie Els Design Twitter account.
October 15, 2014 - 2:32pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Camilo Villegas
USA Today Sports Images
Camilo Villegas saved his 2013-14 PGA Tour season with a late victory. Will that get him off to a fast start in 2014-15?

The PGA Tour is in Las Vegas this week for the second event on the 2014-15 calendar -- the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Webb Simpson returns to the tournament as the defending champion in a field that will include the likes of FedExCup Champion Billy Horschel, Brandt Snedeker and Jimmy Walker.

Birdies are a must at TPC Summerlin -- that's always the case and there always seems to be a 59-watch.

RELATED: Tee times | U.S. Ryder Cup Task Force | Kaymer wins Grand Slam of Golf

Because of that, here are some birdie monsters you might want to keep an eye on this week.

5. Charley Hoffman
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: Hoffman is making his first start since the BMW Championship. A year ago, his fourth-place finish in Las Vegas was one of five top-10s on the year. In 93 rounds played on Tour in 2013-14, Hoffman was 11th overall in birdies made with 93. That should bode well for Hoffman this week -- of course, he's going to need to shake off some rust.

4. Camilo Villegas
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: The lone top-10 finish in 2013-14 for Villegas happened to be a rather unexpected win at the Wyndham Championship. The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open was one of eight missed cuts for Villegas in 29 starts a season ago, but that doesn't matter to me too much. He was 14th on Tour in birdies last year. In order to have a better season, he's going to need to limit the big mistakes. You can't make that many birdies and not finish among the top 10 more often.

3. Harris English
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Missed cut at
Reason to watch: Though he's coming off a missed cut a week ago, I'm not going to read too deeply into that for English. He was 15th on the PGA Tour in birdies last season, collecting seven top-10 finishes, including a win at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba --the second of his career. English makes birdies and bunches and seems to play his best toward the end of the calendar year, which for him, would make for a great start to a new season.

2. Charles Howell III
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T71 at
Reason to watch: It still boggles my mind that Charles Howell III has just two wins on the PGA Tour. How is that even possible? There's so much talent there. He was fourth on the PGA Tour in birdies made last season with six, top-10 finishes. He tied for fifth in Vegas last year. I like his chances this week.

1. Jimmy Walker
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
63rd at
Reason to watch: If he's not "the" favorite this week, Walker is certainly "a" favorite. He led the PGA Tour in birdies a season ago and also racked up three wins -- the first three of his career on Tour. A tie for 12th in Vegas was one of an incredible 19 top-25 finishes in 27 starts for Walker. He's become one of those names you expect to see on the first page of the leaderboard week in and week out.

October 15, 2014 - 11:02am
mark.aumann's picture
Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson
Even the world's best have to battle the wind sometimes, like Wednesday at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.

Making a golf ball do what you want it to do on a calm day is tough enough, but when the wind begins to blow, it can be a real challenge, even for the world's best golfers.

PGA GRAND SLAM OF GOLF: Live scoring, photos, video, updates

That was the case Wednesday in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf at Port Royal Golf Course in Bermuda. Even world No. 1 Rory McIlroy had to acclimate himself to the changing conditions.

"The wind's up a little bit and from a slightly different direction," McIlroy said. "It's a little tricky out there today."

For Bubba Watson, trying to putt while being buffeted by the wind might be more difficult than trying to shape a shot.

LESSON LEARNED: Tips for putting on a windy day

So what can you do to combat windy conditions? PGA professional Nicole Weller of The Landings Club in Savannah, Ga., offers five tips for amateurs to keep the ball low and in control:

1. When it’s breezy, swing it easy. Don’t fight the wind, work with it. Allow the ball to ride the wind when downwind and plan for it in club choice into the wind.

2. Sometimes when hitting an approach shot into the wind, it’s pretty cool to take 1-2 clubs extra, depending on the wind’s force and plan for the ball to be hit so that it would end up past the hole but then watch as the wind "knocks it down" right near the flagstick.

BROADCAST SCHEDULE: Follow Wednesday's action on TNT, 4 p.m. ET

3. Into the wind, I find success teeing the ball higher so I can level out the approach to the shot and send it more driving into the air instead of teeing it lower and having to then go down after the ball, creating more cut and spin that lifts it too high into the air.

4. If the flag is blowing pretty hard, I’d club up or down one club or play at least 5-10 yards left or right to allow for drift. If the flagstick is actually bending a lot in the wind, I’d club up or down 2-3 clubs or play at least 10-15 yards left or right to allow for drift.

5. Stinger or three-quarter punch shots into the wind can hold the lines fairly well. Instead of a high sweeping finish with low irons, take one or two extra clubs and use all the energy in a three-quarters swing with a finish pointing right at the target, not up into the sky.