Golf Buzz

January 19, 2014 - 6:25pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Darren Clarke
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If Daren Clarke had his way, we'd all still be playing with ''persimmon woods and blade irons."
To say Darren Clarke has struggled since he won the 2011 British Open would be a bit of an understatement. The jolly Northern Irishman – who's planning to play the PGA Tour full-time this season – hasn't had a top-10 finish since he claimed the Claret Jug, and his best result in 2013 was a tie for 12th at the Dunhill Links Championship.
Even so, Clarke just can't bring himself to change his putting style.
''I have thought about belly putters and the like. But I just can't do it,'' he told John Huggan in The Scotsman newspaper today. ''The only good thing I can say about those things is that I would need one three inches longer than I did three months ago'' because he's lost almost 40 pounds. 
''I'm a traditionalist and stuck in the past in a way. I look around the practice green every week and see all sorts of putting techniques and grips,'' he explained. ''Almost anything goes these days. But still I can't do it. 
''I’m a purist who would rather miss and look good doing it, rather than make everything while looking like a contortionist,'' he added. ''So, yes, I've tried them. But they just don't sit well with me. It took me long enough to put a hybrid in my bag, never mind a long putter.''
In fact, Clarke had his way, we'd all still be playing with ''persimmon woods and blade irons, but that battle has long been lost,'' he told Huggan, before admitting: ''In fact, I now know way too much about what I am doing for my own good. As I have aged, I have become far more technically aware of my own swing. That's not a good thing. 
''Like anyone going through a bad spell, I've been looking for answers in my technique. But that isn't my problem,'' he said. ''Hitting the ball has always been easy for me. I could do that almost from the first day I picked up a club. I'm a natural player if there is such a thing in golf.''
Clarke also said that he turned down a chance to be part of the NBC Sports broadcast team for this year's Ryder Cup, and likely will watch the big event from home.
''I think the Ryder Cup will be very tight, as it has tended to be recently,'' said Clarke, who many believe is the front-runner to captain the European team at Hazeltine in 2016. ''There's a long way to go, but it already looks like the European team might have a few new – and old – faces. Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson and Joost Luiten all have a good chance to make it. Plus, Thomas Bjorn and Henrik Stenson are almost there already.''
January 17, 2014 - 11:10pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Gary Player and Nick Faldo at the Humana Challenge
Coutesy the Golf Channel
Gary Player really didn't want Nick Faldo to eat a cupcake on the Golf Channel Friday.
Out where I live, cupcakes are a big deal. So much so that arguably the most popular food truck in my neighborhood is the silver ''Hey Cupcake'' Airstream trailer that almost always has a line of eager customers in front of it.
I admit to indulging a bit more than I should, but those things – especially the Carrot Cake ones – are so darn good. 
Nick Faldo is obviously a cupcake fan, too, and he was trying to enjoy one on the set during the Golf Channel's broadcast from the Humana Challenge on Friday. Unfortunately for him, his special guest at the time was Gary Player.
As Faldo prepared to take a big bite, ''Mr. Fitness'' playfully took a whack at the bright pink calorie bomb. Faldo immediately tried to get rid of the offending pastry, and tossed it back over his shoulder – where it hit the back wall of the booth, and stuck in a perfectly upright position.
That one-in-a-million occurrence cracked up both Faldo and Player, so at least they found some common cupcake ground. The video clip ends with the cupcake still clinging heroically to the wall, and I'm wondering what finally happened to it. Cupcake lover that I am, my hope is that, after Player left, Faldo scraped it off the wall and ate it.
Here's the video:
January 17, 2014 - 10:24am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Sergio Garcia
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Sergio Garcia was cleared of any rules violation regarding an incident in which he tapped down a spot on the green in front of his golf ball.

Sergio Garcia found himself in the middle of a rules conversation early Friday morning before the start of his second round in the Abu Dhabi Championship.

Garcia met with European Tour chief referee John Paramor before the second round when it came into question that Garcia may have breached rule 16-1a in Round 1, where television cameras caught Garcia tapping the line in front of his ball on the 18th green.

Watch the video here:

In the meeting with Paramor, Garcia was cleared of any wrongdoing. Garcia explained that he was repairing a ball mark, which is perfectly legal.

GolfWeek reporter Alistair Tait wrote Friday that the incident upset Garcia and had these quotes from the Spaniard, who made the cut on the number:

"It does feel quite bad to be related to the word cheating when you have no proof and I've never ever cheated in my whole life. I have given myself plenty of penalty strokes when nobody saw it and I did.

"It hurt a little bit. I think people calling (in alleged rules violations) without having any proof is wrong. If you can really tell that it's wrong that somebody's cheated then that's fine but when you have no proof at all it's not. Being related to that word is the most disgusting thing that can happen to someone to me that has never, ever cheated. It was disappointing but it was good to clear it up with John Paramor."

Just a few months ago, England's Simon Dyson was at the center of a rules controversy after he was caught tapping down spike marks in front of his golf ball.

Dyson received a two-month ban for the infraction, as well as a $49,000 fine. Dyson made his return this week in Abu Dhabi, where he missed the cut.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

January 16, 2014 - 6:58pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Lance Armstrong
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Lance Armstrong says he has all but quit recreational cycling in favor of golf to ''clear his mind,'' and plans to play more golf as he goes forward.
Lance Armstrong can't compete in bicycle races anymore, so he's spending a lot of time on the golf course. And apparently all the time he's putting in is paying off.
"I've been staying fit and even have my handicap down to a 9," Armstrong told USA Today, which has an extensive recap of his life one year after his big interview with Oprah Winfrey.
"Been wanting to break 80 and could never manage to do it," he added. "Then out of the blue one day I shoot 74. Since then I can't break an egg. Frustrating game."
Armstrong has long been an avid golfer, even during his cycling days, and is known to play both at home and on vacation.
In fact, in a story in Cycling News last month, he said he has all but quit recreational cycling in favor of golf to ''clear his mind,'' and plans to play more golf as he goes forward.
''I've got a feeling of rejection for cycling at the moment,'' he said. ''I run to keep fit and I'm playing a lot of golf. Then there's my work for the fight against cancer. Cancer victims are my community of reference.
''Golf is helping me a lot. I take my golf clubs everywhere I go,'' he added. ''I run to keep fit but to clear my head of bad thoughts, there's nothing better than golf.''
Paul Casey (seated), Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald and Matteo Manassero
Paul Casey (seated), Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald and Matteo Manassero prepared to put the pedal to the metal in their golf carts at Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi isn't just the home of the Abi Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. The tiny emirate also hosts a Formula 1 auto race every year. And while Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy were busy twirling their golf clubs earlier this week, four of Europe's finest players took to the race track – for a golf cart race.
First off, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and Matteo Manassero each took a qualifying lap to set the grid for the big race. After that came the main event – a one-lap sprint (and I'm using the word ''sprint'' very loosely) in their carts around the Yas Marina Circuit.
Who do you think wins? Manassero, a native of the land of Ferrari? Garcia, the countryman of multiple F1 champion Fernando Alonso? Casey or Donald, followers of the great British racing tradition of Stirling Moss, Nigel Mansell and Lewis Hamilton?
Here's the video. Find out for yourself!:
January 16, 2014 - 8:24am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Nike Golf
The new Nike Golf commercial is a journey through time, focusing on those who fear golf innovation.

Nike is no stranger to making fantastic golf commercials. The company's latest effort is no exception.

In an effort to describe and amplify the innovation behind the new Nike VRS Covert 2.0 driver, Nike takes viewer into a time machine. The spot playfully takes a jab at those who are afraid to try new technology and reject advancements.

READ: Nike introduces new VRS Covert 2.0 drivers

For instance, there's this exchange on the first tee at the beginning of the commercial, when a young man prepares to hit his opening drive with the new VRS Covert 2.0 driver:

He addresses the ball and an older man with dated clothes and an even more dated driver chirps, "Ohhh... You look just like Tiger with that new Covert. The last real innovation was titanium."

And it goes on, through time, with old-timers mocking the latest, most technologically advanced equipment.

You can watch the commercial here:

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.