Golf Buzz

Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker/Twitter
Steve Stricker went up to the top of the Camp Randall Stadium scoreboard Saturday morning to practice.

Why is Steve Stricker swinging a golf club from on top of a scoreboard at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. this morning?

Check out this tweet:

Here's the explanation, from the University of Wisconsin athletic department. It has to do with an awesome promotion that could win a lucky fan to VIP Wanamaker Club tickets to the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

2015 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP: Order your tickets for Whistling Straits now

"At halftime, Stricker will hit three balls in his attempt to land a 135-yard shot onto the Motion W at midfield from the videoboard platform above Section K. If he is successful, Bob Beggs of Fitchburg will win two VIP Wanamaker Club tickets to the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Beggs was selected at random from thousands who registered to win the contest."

Stricker is a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour and a three-time member of the U.S. Ryder Cup Team. And he's a Wisconsin native, hence the Badger-PGA connection.

PLAY AT THE PLATE: Jason Dufner tees off at Miller Park

Should be fun to watch, and glad Strick's belted in with a safety harness before he tries to belt one.

October 9, 2014 - 12:37pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Nicolas Colsaerts
USA Today Sports Images
Nicolas Colsaerts was a mere inches from recording the first official score of 59 on the European Tour Thursday.

Golf is a game of inches.

Today, no one knows that better than Nicolas Colsaerts.

Colsaerts, known as "The Belgian Bomber" for his massive drives, fired the 17th score of 60 (11 under) in the European Tour's history on Thursday in the first round of the Portugal Masters.

He was "thisclose" to the European Tour's first ever score of 59.

Click here to see Colsaerts 18-foot birdie try on the final hole just miss the cup.

That was close, no doubt. But not nearly as cruel as what happened to Phil Mickelson with his putt for 59 at the 2013 Waste Management Open. Remember this putt?

Back to Colsaerts and his flawless scorecard. With four, front-nine birdies, Colsaerts went out in 31. The back nine was extra special, as Colsaerts shot a 7-under 29, which included three consecutive birdies beginning on No. 10 followed by eagles on the par-4 15th hole and par-5 17th hole.

Last December at the Nelson Mandela Championship in South Africa, Jorge Campillo and Colin Nel both recorded 59s, but they were deemed "unofficial" because they were playing lift, clean and place.

October 9, 2014 - 9:23am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
We're hoping to see these two battling it out down the stretch a lot in 2014-15.

After a short break, a new PGA Tour season is upon us with this week's Open at Silverado CC in Napa, Calif.

With a new season comes a lot of prognosticating. In that spirit, we're here to offer up 10 players to keep a close eye on throughout the 2014-15 PGA Tour campaign.

10. Phil Mickelson: Let's face it -- 2013-14 was a season Lefty would like to forget. Outside of a runner-up finish in the PGA Championship, there aren't a whole lot of positives Mickelson can take away from the last 12 months, his first winless season since 2003. That second-place finish at Valhalla also happened to be Mickelson's lone top 10 in 21 starts on the PGA Tour. In 2014-15, he's bound to be better. He typically feasts on the West Coast Swing. That didn't happen last winter, but I expect it to change. What we saw out of Mickelson in 2014 was an aberration. Yes he's 44. That doesn't matter. The drive and the power are still very much there.

9. Billy Horschel: In all honesty, pre-September, there's no way Horschel would have made this list. Things can change in a hurry, however. The FedExCup champion was marvelous in September. After a tie for second at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Horschel went on to win the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship in consecutive starts. Talk about remarkable play in the clutch. Horschel turned an otherwise disappointing season into the best of his career. And, to boot, a couple of days after winning the Tour Championship, Horschel and his wife welcomed their first child -- a baby girl -- into the world. Imagine being 27 years old and without a worry in the world. That's Billy Horschel right now, folks.

8. Jimmy Walker: OK. We saw what Walker is capable of last season when he won three times. Does that mean we should expect another three-win season out of him? Though not likely, it's certainly possible. Perhaps more impressive than the three wins in 2013-14 for Walker was his consistency throughout. In all, he accumulated 19 top-25 finishes in 27 starts, including 10 top 10s. We're not talking about a flash-in-the-pan kind of player who happened to be exceptional for three tournaments. Walker is more confident than ever. He's clearly comfortable with seeing his name on the first page of leaderboards. Expect to see more of the same in 2014-15. That might not equal another three-win season -- hey, winning ain't easy -- but it will be a solid one.

7. Jordan Spieth: With as often as he contends, it's still hard to believe that the 21-year-old still has that lone PGA Tour victory from the 2013 John Deere Classic. It's often been said you need to learn to lose before you can learn to win. Perhaps that's what has happened with Spieth. Ask anyone in the know and they'll tell you this is a kid who will be a star for years and years to come. This is a guy who tied for second in his first Masters in 2014 and actually had a share of the lead going into the final round. He's going to win in 2014-15... perhaps a few times.

6. Adam Scott: For a good chunk of the 2013-14 season, the 2013 Masters champion was the No. 1 ranked player in the world, until Rory McIlroy reassumed that position. On paper, it was a great year for Scott -- 16 top-25 finishes in 17 starts, including 10 top 10s, highlighted by a win at Colonial. But, as a No. 1-ranked player in the world, we've come to expect multiple-win seasons. And, frankly, that's what Scott expects for himself. Having recently parted ways with caddie Steve Williams, with whom Scott saw the bulk of his success, it'll be interesting to see how the Aussie fares in a new season (as well as who will be toting the bag). One thing you can take to the bank is this: Scott will be a factor in the majors. Since 2011, in 16 major starts, Scott has racked up nine top-10 finishes. After winning the Masters, he made it clear -- his focus now is adding to his major total.

5. Justin Rose: What's not to love about Rose's game? He has emerged as one of the best in the world for the last several years and he's coming off an incredible performance in the Ryder Cup, where he led Europe to its eighth win in the last 10 matches played. The thing about Rose is this -- when he wins, those wins come at special places. Places like Muirfield Village, Merion, Congressional, Cog Hill and Aronimink Golf Club. Rose has won at least once per season on the PGA Tour since 2010. There's no reason to believe that streak won't continue in 2014-15.

4. Sergio Garcia: It's hard to imagine a better PGA Tour season without a victory than the one Garcia put together in 2013-14. In 16 events played, he finished in the top 10 on 10 occasions, highlighted by three runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes. The three runner-up finishes came in consecutive starts at the Travelers Championship, Open Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He closed the season with a T4 at the BMW Championship and a T9 at the Tour Championship. Often times when people think of Garcia, they wonder: How hasn't he won a major yet? His on-course maturity level was at an all-time high this past year, so maybe that means a major victory isn't all that far away.

3. Tiger Woods: Ah. Tiger, Tiger, Tiger. What will he give us in 2014-15? Struggling through injuries in 2013-14, Woods was limited to just seven starts -- two of which resulted in withdrawals. After missing the cut at the PGA Championship, Woods decided to sit out the remainder of the season to get healthy (he wouldn't have been able to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs anyway, but could have played in Europe). Woods also made news when he announced he was leaving swing coach Sean Foley. Tiger is expected to return for his own Hero World Challenge at Isleworth in December and then -- provided he's healthy -- we should see a full slate for Tiger in 2014-15. Two seasons ago, Woods won five times on the PGA Tour. He's been sitting on 14 major wins since 2008. Will this be a comeback season? Again, health will be the biggest factor.

2. Rickie Fowler: Much like Garcia before him on this list, the only way 2013-14 could have been any better for Fowler would have been with a "W." Instead, he registered 10 top 10s, including a pair of second-place showings and a pair of third-place showings. Remarkably, he was the only player in the world to record a top-5 finish in each of the four majors (T5 at the Masters, T2 at the U.S. Open and Open Championship and T3 at the PGA Championship). He's the only player in history to finish top-5 in all four majors in a single season and not win at least one of them. So, yes, while it's incredible to top-5 in the four majors, it's also got to be a bit of a bummer for Fowler to not have closed the deal in any of them. But, if he continues to put himself in a position to win, it's got to happen eventually, right? Speaking of which, how is it that this guy has just one PGA Tour win on his resume? That changes in 2014-15.

1. Rory McIlroy: He's the best player in the world. He'll be chasing a career grand slam and his third consecutive major win at the Masters. It's his world right now. Two seasons ago, everyone wondered what the heck happened to McIlroy. It was brutal (some say it was the change in equipment and monster endorsements that led to his poor play -- more responsibility and more pressure). In 2013-14, however, McIlroy exploded out of his funk, picking up major wins three and four. It seems now that the sky is the limit for McIlroy. He's far and away the favorite whenever he decides to tee it up. He'll be adding more hardware to his trophy case in 2015 ... and probably a green jacket to his closet. 

October 8, 2014 - 10:26am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jason Dufner
@aduf99 on Instagram
While Jason Dufner has been nursing a neck injury, he's taken to the catwalk and serving up pizza.

The last time we saw 2013 PGA Champion Jason Dufner, he was unfortunately forced to withdraw from his title defense in the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla due to bulging discs in his neck.

"I'll play golf again when I'm healthy," Dufner said after that withdrawal. "That could be at The Barclays, that could be next year, that could be 2016. I refuse to be out here and not be healthy and not give myself a chance to be competitive."

Here's to hoping Dufner is on the mend...

... And thanks to his wife, Amanda, and more specifically her Instagram account, we've gotten a little peek at what Duf has been up to lately.

Last week, he, Amanda and their dog -- Prince Louie -- were walking the runway as models at a charity event. Check out a cleaned up Dufner strolling the catwalk:



Our runway debut last night for EAMC fundraiser Wine women and shoes. Great event for a great cause. #dufners

View on Instagram

Nice haircut!

And then, just last night, Duf was making pizza:



A big thank you for #unclemaddiospizza and everyone who came out tonight to support the @jasondufnerfoundation. #pizzapros #slingingdatdough

View on Instagram

Nice to see Duf having some fun. Hopefully we'll see him back on the golf course soon.

h/t Chris Chaney at 

October 8, 2014 - 7:02am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jimmy Walker
USA Today Sports Images
Jimmy Walker's win at the Open in 2013 was the first of three wins on the season. How will he fare in 2014-15?

We hope you didn't blink. If you did, you missed the PGA Tour's offseason.

After a three-week break at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season-ending Tour Championship, the new 2014-15 season is already upon us. The PGA Tour is in Napa, Calif., this week for the season-opening Open at Silverado.

Jimmy Walker returns to the event as the defending champion, but his defense will come at a new venue. Walker won the 2013 tournament at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif. This week's event at Silverado marks the first time the PGA Tour has stopped at the Napa resort since the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic way back in 1980.

RELATED: Tee times | Lyle Monday qualifies | Ryder Cup Captain selection under review

Here's a look at five players to watch this week:

5. Derek Fathauer
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: If you don't know this name already, it's one you might want to get familiar with. Fathauer recently won the Tour Championship to finish first in earnings in that Tour's finals. Previously, Fathauer played the 2009 season on the PGA Tour, missing the cut 16 times in 25 starts, cracking the top 25 just once. He should be much better prepared this time around, coming off a strong season on the Tour where he racked up eight top-10 finishes in 23 starts. Three of those came in his last four events played. Can he ride that momentum into this week?

4. Kevin Streelman
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: A well-rested Streelman will be making his first start on Tour since the beginning of September. It had to be a welcome break for the two-time Tour winner, who had the chance to spend some quality time at home with his wife and the couple's infant daughter. After going through a bit of a slump in which he missed the cut in four consecutive starts, Streelman snapped out of it in a big way by winning the Travelers Championship in June. That win was truly a season-saver for Streelman. He had just two top-10 finishes all season. He's long been one of the more accurate drivers of the ball on Tour. If he can improve in the greens in regulation category (he ranked No. 137 last season), expect a much more consistent season.

3. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: Annually one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour, I expect more of the same from Kuchar for 2014-15. Along with winning the RBC Heritage in 2014 -- his seventh win on the PGA Tour -- Kuchar also added 10 other top-10 finishes. Kuchar is a player who just doesn't make any huge mistakes, evidenced by his 69.416 scoring average last season, which was fifth-best on Tour.

2. Brooks Koepka
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: Koepka made 12 of 16 cuts on the PGA Tour in 2013-14, with two top-10s as a non-member. He earned enough non-member FedExCup points/money during the season to achieve Special Temporary Membership. With a top-125 finish on the non-member FedExCup points list, Koepka earned his Tour card for the 2014-15 season. His best finish on the PGA Tour was his third-place showing at last year's Open. Koepka is a four-time winner on Europe's Challenge Tour.

1. Jimmy Walker
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: It'll be hard to top the 2013-14 season for Walker, who won three times starting with the Open. He also finished among the top-10 in three of the four majors and earned his way onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team. "Walker" is a name that has gotten very familiar with the first page of leaderboards over the last 12 months. That won't change in 2014-15. 

Rory McIlroy at Daisy Lodge
Rory McIlroy via Twitter
Rory McIlroy would like to see every child in Northern Ireland afflicted with cancer visit the Daisy Lodge.

Rory McIlroy is having a year to remember on the golf course – and he's made it unforgettable for a number of young cancer patients in his native Northern Ireland as well. The world No. 1, through his Rory Foundation, donated £1 million (about $1.6 million) to the Daisy Lodge in Newcastle – and on Tuesday he dropped by for its official grand opening.

A collaboration between McIlroy and the Cancer Fund for Children, the Daisy Lodge is what McIlroy calls a "short-break center" – a place where children with cancer and their families can go and, as he said, "be treated like royalty." 

"Short breaks provide exhausted families with the chance to spend quality time together after many months spent in isolation or on the hospital ward," according to the Daisy Lodge website. "They will be able to recharge their batteries, increase their sense of well-being and gain support from the charity's Therapeutic Specialist. They will also get the chance to meet and gain support from other families in a similar situation."

Since its soft opening last spring, the Lodge has hosted approximately 150 families from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, with the expectation that as many as 500 families could visit over the course of a year. Lodge officials hope that every child in Northern Ireland afflicted with cancer will be able to take advantage of the facilities.

RORY'S NEXT STOP: McIlroy to play 2014 PGA Grand Slam of Golf

McIlroy has visited the Daisy Lodge several times already, and first met with some of the kids last Christmas Eve.

"I was just blown away, I really was," he said on Tuesday. "It really makes you appreciate what you have and I wanted to help in any way that I could."

McIlroy has been involved with the Cancer Fund for Children almost since the day he opened his foundation. At the beginning of 2013, he put the CFC logo on his golf bag and later auctioned off the bag to raise funds for the Daisy Lodge and help spread the word of the group's work with families coping with the impact of cancer. Last fall, he auctioned off a pair of pink golf shoes.

And now that the Daisy Lodge is officially up and running, McIlroy is looking to do more. Specifically, he wants to see whether more Daisy Lodges can be opened elsewhere. 

Here's a quick video report on McIlroy's visit: