Golf Buzz

March 26, 2014 - 9:21am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Zach Johnson
USA Today Sports Images
The Valero Texas Open field is loaded with former major champions, including Zach Johnson.

This week's Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio is the first of two events left before the Masters. There had been a long-running trend of players taking weeks off before major championship play, but that seems to be fading.

Phil Mickelson, in fact, is in the field this week. It's the first time he's played in the Texas Open in over two decades.

RELATED: Photos from the Valero Texas Open & more | Valero Texas Open tee times

With a solid fan on hand in the Lone Star State, here are five players to watch out for.

5. Freddie Jacobson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T9 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: In his last three starts, Jacobson has finished T12, T20 and T10. Something is clicking in his game at the moment and that bodes well for the Swede as he heads to TPC San Antonio, where he finished second in 2010 to go along with two other top 5s.

4. Phil Mickelson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T14 in the WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: In seven starts this season, Mickelson has yet to record a top-10 finish. The last time Mickelson went that long a stretch to start a season without a top-10 was in 1992, when he finished runner-up in his ninth start at the New England Classic. It should be noted that was also his first season on the PGA Tour. For Mickelson -- we imagine -- all eyes are on Augusta National and the Masters. This is a tune up to shake off some rust and get things going. We expect him to get things going here.

3. Ben Curtis
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T32 at The McGladrey Classic
Reason to watch: I wanted to pick a dark horse this week and Curtis fits the bill -- especially since he won the tournament in 2012. He hasn't done anything special so far this season and is need of some good vibes. What better place to find those good vibes than at a place where you've had past success?

2. Zach Johnson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: He's cooled off a touch since winning at Kapalua, but that was bound to happen as he rode that momentum to a T8 and a T3 in his next two starts. Johnson is a former two-time winner of the Valero Texas Open (2008-09), but those wins came when the tournament was played at La Cantera Golf Club. Even still, Johnson's record in the state of Texas is remarkable. Along with those two Texas Open wins, he's also won the Colonial twice. For some reason, Texas brings out the best in Johnson.

1. Jimmy Walker
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the Open, Sony Open in Hawaii and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Reason to watch: Walker has been -- hands down -- the best player on the PGA Tour this season. Along with his Tour-leading three victories, he's also racked up six other top-25 finishes. I like Walker this week for a couple of reasons. First, and most obvious, there's been no one better lately. But secondly, he's had some success at TPC San Antonio. He tied for third there in 2010. It would be incredible for Walker to have four wins before the Masters, but with the way he's been playing it's not out of the realm of possibility.

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


March 25, 2014 - 3:38pm
Posted by:
Bob Denney
mark.aumann's picture
Taking a mulligan
Mike Benzie/
MULLIGAN HERE? A golfer with an unfortunate first-tee shot at an Atlanta area charity tournament.

By Bob Denney, PGA of America

It is arguably one of the few sports terms believed to be named after a person, and with ramifications beyond the border of a course and into politics and daily life.

You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy the benefits of a Mulligan – the term is now widely used to describe any “do-over,” or second chance after initial failure.

Of course, the rules of golf forbid the Mulligan, though it’s become part of the game. Some golfers apply their own “rules” that the Mulligan will be in “play” once per round, or just on the No. 1 tee.

READ: Your unwritten rules of golf

So, where and when did the Mulligan begin in golf? Well, that depends.

The USGA, and supported by research by, found the Mulligan became rooted in the game’s lexicon sometime between the late 1920s and mid-1930s. During that period, Canadian-born amateur David Bernard Mulligan had established himself as a prominent member of clubs that included Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

In the late 1920s, Mulligan had a regular club foursome, which he often drove to the course in a 1920s vintage Briscoe, a touring car.

Once on the first tee, the story goes, his partners allowed him to hit a second ball after mishitting his drive. Mulligan complained that his hands were still numb after driving rough roads and a bumpy Queen Victoria Jubilee Bridge (now Victoria Bridge).

Mulligan joined Winged Foot Golf Club sometime between 1932 and 1933. A generation later, in July 1985, journalist Don Mackintosh interviewed Mulligan for a column, “Around the Sport Circuit.”

PAR FOR THE COURSE: Some of our favorite golf jokes

Said Mulligan: “I was so provoked with myself that, on impulse, I stooped over and put down another ball. The other three looked at me with considerable puzzlement, and one of them asked, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I’m taking a correction shot,’ I replied.”

His playing partner asked what he called that.

“Thinking fast, I told him that I called it a ‘Mulligan.’ They laughed and let me play a second ball. After the match, which Mulligan and Spindler won by one point, there was considerable discussion in the clubhouse about that free shot.

“It all worked out amicably enough, but after that it became an unwritten rule in our foursome that you could take an extra shot on the first tee if you weren’t satisfied with your original. Naturally, this was always referred to as ‘taking a Mulligan.’ From that beginning, I guess the practice spread, and the name with it.”

QUICK NINE: What are your rules on 'gimme putts?'

Such a tale appears to be on solid footing, though USGA research hints there’s wiggle room for another “Mulligan.”

John A. “Buddy” Mulligan, a locker room attendant in the 1930s at Essex Fells CC, N.J., would finish cleaning the locker room and, if no other members appeared, play a round with assistant professional, Dave O'Connell and a club member, Des Sullivan (later golf editor of The Newark Evening News).

One day, Mulligan’s opening tee shot was bad and he beseeched O'Connell and Sullivan to allow another shot since they “had been practicing all morning,” and he had not. After the round, Mulligan proudly exclaimed to the members in his locker room for months how he received an extra shot.

The members loved it and soon began giving themselves “Mulligans” in honor of Buddy Mulligan. Sullivan began using the term in his golf pieces in The Newark Evening News. NBC’s “Today Show” ran the story in 2005.

Thus, a “Mulligan” found its niche along in our culture. Its popularity thrives because of who we are – lovers of a good story and a term that somehow fits. It thrives as we are reminded in a classic line from the 1962 John Ford Western film, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

March 25, 2014 - 2:00pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Ryder Cup
Getty Images
In September, for the first time in history, a European-based Ryder Cup will be televised in its entirety in the United States.

Great news today for fans of the Ryder Cup who live in the United States: The PGA of America and the NBC Sports Group announced that both NBC and Golf Channel will provide live coverage of the 2014 Ryder Cup in its entirety.

The biennial matches will be played Friday, Sept. 26 through Sunday, Sept. 28, at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland.

"It is exciting to expand our partnership with the PGA of America through NBC Sports Group's exclusive coverage of the 2014 Ryder Cup, one of the most prestigious events in all of sports," said NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus. "Today's announcement of providing complete coverage with the great addition of Golf Channel's exclusive Friday coverage, bolsters our ability to bring this spectacular event to an ever-growing audience. We value and look to continue to grow our PGA of America partnership."

FULL PRESS RELEASE: NBC Sports, PGA of America announce historic Ryder Cup TV deal

"For the first time when played on European soil, fans in the United States will be treated to watching the Ryder Cup live in its entirety, and we're thrilled that NBC Sports Group will deliver the drama and passion of this unparalleled event, as it unfolds," said PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua. "Beginning with Golf Channel, the daily television voice of the golf community, and continuing through the weekend on NBC, audiences will be able to experience all of the breathtaking moments that define the Ryder Cup. By showcasing one of sport’s most exciting events live, on a global stage, the PGA of America is furthering our commitment to growing the game through our partnership with NBC Sports."

RELATED: 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup coverage | Current U.S. points lists | Europe points lists

This announcement marks the first time that a European-based Ryder Cup will be televised live in its entirety in the U.S.

Sure, you're going to have to roll out of bed extra early -- or stay up extra late -- but what's better than late-night/early-morning golf for the avid fan?

Day One of the matches will be televised on Golf Channel from 2:30 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT. Day Two will be on NBC from 3 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT, while the final day will also be on NBC from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT.

The Ryder Cup is one of the most exciting events in the world and highlights don't do it justice. This announcement is a huge win for fans in the U.S. who will be able to see the action in real time.

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


March 24, 2014 - 11:40pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
TPC Harding Park
Courtesy of TPC Harding Park
TPC Harding Park has renovated all its greens and bunkers, and now hopes to land some high-profile golf events.
What a week it's been for golf in California. In the past few days alone, the famed Poppy Hills Golf Course reopened after a top-to-bottom makeover and the city of Oceanside turned down a big-money proposal to convert the popular but perpetually underfunded City Center Golf Course at Goat Hills into a soccer facility.
Then, last weekend, TPC Harding Park – the most popular and prestigious municipal course in the San Francisco area – reopened its normal configuration after a major remake of its own. Golfers had been using temporary greens since December 1 while all the permanent greens were renovated.
The makeover involved converting all 18 putting surfaces from poa annua to tyee bentgrass, according to the Northern California Golf Association. The bentgrass not only will improve playability, the NGCA said, but is also more resistant to pests.
In addition, all the bunkers were refurbished and the approaches to all the greens were reconfigured. About 375 tons of pebble beach white sand replaced all the existing bunker sand, according to The San Francisco Appeal, while 6.2 acres of sod were used on the greens and their approaches.
The renovation was done with the idea that the course could regain the Champions Tour's season-ending Schwab Cup Championship as early as 2015 – or perhaps land the PGA Tour's Match Play Championship, which is looking for a new title sponsor and host venue, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. The PGA Tour, which took over Harding Park's day-to-day operations in 2010 when it became a TPC facility, is funding $400,000 of the $1.2 million cost of the green renovation, the paper said.
"We painted a rusted car for the [2013 Schwab Cup Championship]," Harding Park General Manager Tom Smith told The Chronicle last fall. "This is basically ensuring a long-term, premium product. It definitely needs to be done. This is the championship course in the city’s portfolio, so we have to put some money back into it."
TPC Harding Park opened in 1925, and was named after President Warren Harding. The course hosted the 2009 Presidents Cup, the 2005 WGC-American Express Championship and several PGA Tour events in the 1960s, along with the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in 2011-13. Johnny Miller, Michael Allen and Ken Venturi are some of the players who frequented the course as junior players.
March 24, 2014 - 9:00am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jason Dufner
Getty Images
Even though 2013 PGA Champion Jason Dufner doesn't show much, if any, emotion on the course, he's proven to be one of the most photogenic players on the PGA Tour.

Today, March 24, 2014, reigning PGA Champion Jason Dufner turns 37 years old.

Happy birthday, Duf!

If age 37 is anything like age 36 for Dufner, it's going to be a fantastic year for him ... and all of us.

For serious golf fans, Dufner was already on the radar screen (he won the 2012 Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the 2012 HP Byron Nelson Championship) before hitting pop culture radar shortly after his 36th birthday, March 28, 2013.

RELATED: The birth of Dufnering | The Year of Dufnering | Dufner wins 2013 PGA Championship

That's the day Dufner went viral with a hilarious photo, slumped over against a wall in a children's classroom, an act that soon became known as "Dufnering." If you have time and want to check out Twitter, "#Dufnering."

There were also an amazing number of "Dufnering" references tagged on tumblr with fellow pros, fans and even pets recreating the pose.

The ribbing from fellow pros was the best, and it was Dufner's good buddy -- the man who beat him in a playoff at the 2011 PGA Championship -- Keegan Bradley who led the charge with these tweets:



These Dufnering tweets from Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler were spectacular too:



As crazy as the Dufnering phenomenon was it didn't define Dufner's year. Instead, it was his Ben Hogan-esque performance at Oak Hill last August en route to claiming his first major, the PGA Championship, which may have been -- in part -- the result of good karma from a special gesture he made to a PGA Professional earlier in the week.

Dufner was clinical in his picking apart of Oak Hill. It was the most boring way to play (and we write that with only envy and affection) -- hitting fairways, hitting greens and not making mistakes -- something prior to that week no one could have imagined at the hallowed Rochester, N.Y., Donald Ross design.

It's often been said that Dufner is a "flatliner" on the course -- which is to say he shows little to no emotion. His demeanor never changes. That's what makes him so intriguing. He admits he gets nervous, but it never shows.

The other lovable thing about Dufner is that he's a guy's guy (remember what he did to wife Amanda on the 18th green after winning the PGA?). He's a must-follow on Twitter (@JasonDufner). On the social media site, he provides hilarious commentary on major sporting events, Auburn University sports, pokes fun at friends (like Bradley) and more.

The guy has become so famous that there's also an unofficial Twitter account named, "Dufner's Ego" (@Dufego1). There's a lot of salty language on the account, but it's a fun follow if you're not easily offended. The person who runs the account tweets out what we all imagine Dufner must be thinking on and off the course.

But let's get back to the events that unfolded after the PGA Championship win.

Along with the beautiful Wanamaker Trophy, Dufner also took home a sapling from the Oak Hill nursery to plant an oak tree from the course on his own property in Alabama. Now that's special.

He also took a whirlwind tour of New York City, making the media rounds following his victory. You can relive that trip with this photo gallery.

And, upon his return home from New York, Dufner and his wife picked up the new addition to the family, Prince Louie Dufner (a French bulldog, who also has his own official Twitter account, @PrinceDufner). Prince Louie posed for this off-the-charts-cute photo:

Lastly, post-PGA, Amanda posted this photo of her hubby to her Instagram, snuggled up to the Wanamker Trophy:

In the last few months, we've seen more antics from Dufner that make us say, "Man, I'd love to have a beer with that guy!"

Like the time he put a huge rock in Bradley's golf bag at the World Challenge in December, or the time he looked "thrilled" to be on a breathtaking Hawaiian hike with Amanda.

As we said, life at age 36 is going to be hard to top for Dufner. But if we've learned anything, life at 37 and beyond should at least be a whole lot of fun for Duf.

Happy birthday, champ.

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


March 23, 2014 - 12:47am
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
John Daly at the Loudmouth Grill
Loudmouth Golf via Twitter
Loudmouth Golf ambassador John Daly joined the fun at the grand opening of the Loudmouth Grill.
Talk about your brand extension. The good folks at Loudmouth Golf opened a restaurant on Saturday.
Yes, the Loudmouth Grill opened for business in The Shoppes of Windermere in Orlando. The eatery encompasses 7,000 square feet and has 276 seats, according to the Orlando Business Journal.
"The Loudmouth Grill is part of our growing portfolio of licensing deals," Loudmouth Golf CEO Larry Jackson told the Journal. "We look forward to opening this restaurant and the possibility of more locations in the future."
As you might expect, the Loudmouth Grill's interior is festooned with the bold colors and patterns on which the company has built its business. It also includes a variety of memorabilia from celebrities and athletes who have sported Loudmouth apparel. And you won't be surprised to learn that John Daly was on hand for the grand opening. 
Here is a shot of the interior. You can see other photos from the big debut in the Loudmouth Golf Twitter feed.