Golf Buzz

Bubba Watson
Getty Images
Bubba Watson says criticism from the media and people close to him makes him want to improve.
While the first round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai was being played Wednesday night here in the United States, I was reading through some of the pre-tournament player interviews. One that caught my attention was a Q-and-A with Bubba Watson and media official Royce Thompson that took a personal turn.
Thompson began by asking some typical questions about the tournament and Shanghai. Then – noting that Wednesday [the day of the interview] was Watson's 36th birthday – he asked the two-time Masters champion how close he thinks he's come to reaching his potential.
"I don't think I've come that close," Watson admitted. "I expect better from myself, but it comes down to the mental focus and getting over the bad shots or too high of expectations. 
"I believe I can perform at a better level," he continued. "I think I scratched the surface a little it last year, still had my hiccups, still had my bad moments, still had my bad press. … if I keep grinding away, I can improve a lot."
A couple questions later, the questioning returned to the topic, asking: "Is there any legitimate criticism that you're referring to [Watson's 'bad press' reference] and that you want to improve on or not?"
"Well, yeah, all of it," Watson said. "Any time that somebody writes bad press, the only way I'm going to improve as a human being, improve as a husband, improve as a dad, is when you get people that call you out. 
"When I make mistakes, when your friends call you out, when the media calls you out, when my wife calls me out, when my mom calls me out, when these people call you out and tell you you're doing something wrong, it's not to punish you or get on to you. It's about to help you improve later in life.
"So any time there's bad press where I show anger on a golf course, the media that calls me out and says something about it, that's the only way I'm going to improve. If everybody said I was great all the time, then I would never improve as a human being," he explained. "So I love it, I love that the media calls me out. I love when my friends call me out. My mom calls me out a lot, and I do love it. So that's the only way I'm going to get better as a person."
"You can't love it at the time," said the questioner.
"Well, I'm a human being, so I know when I do wrong," Watson said. "The Bible teaches us right from wrong, so I know. I'm a sinner. I mess up a lot."
What, then, does his mother get on him about?
"She tells me that I'm not being good (laughing). I need to smile more," Watson said. "I try to explain to her on the golf course I'm focused and not trying to smile and make everybody laugh. I'm trying to play good golf. She tells me I should smile more and not be so angry. Pretty much what the media says. I guess she could write for the media, too."
As one of golf's most high-profile players, Watson is in the spotlight – and thus subject to extra scrutiny – far more than most of his competitors. It's encouraging to learn that he's listening – to those closest to him as well as to his critics. 
Watson – like all the rest of us – shouldn't be expected to be perfect both on and off the course. He sounds sincere about wanting to keep improving both as a man and a golfer, and I give him credit for talking so openly about such a personal topic. It's not the kind of thing you usually hear in your routine pre-tournament interview.
November 5, 2014 - 5:40pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
John Daly
Jon Trunk
Is this the best John Daly Halloween costume ever?

OK, OK, OK. So, Halloween was nearly a week ago, but we didn't find the best golf-related costume until today.

Late is better than never, right? And trust us, the wait was totally worth it.

Meet Charlie Trunk. He's 2 years old. For Halloween, Charlie was dressed as John Daly, complete with Loudmouth pants (we didn't even know they came that small!), a fake cigarette and a blonde mullet. Charlie even brought his father, Jon, along to caddie.

Absolutely nailed it. Check it out:


We caught up with Charlie's dad to learn a little more about the costume -- and it turns out it was much more elaborate than what you see in the pictures.

RELATED: Haunted golf course stories | Golf and Halloween | Scariest shots

"It's important to note that some of the props were not pictured -- golf cart/stroller, diet coke, flagstick," Jon Trunk told us. "A good costume is all in the details. We got a big kick out of it though, and think it's hilarious other people noticed. Great story for Charlie's scrapbook."

Hard to believe, but this John Daly costume for 2-year-old Charlie might actually be the second best Halloween costume of his young life.

How's that possible, you ask? Well, he was Mike Ditka last year. Jon sent us the picture below for proof:


Back to last Friday. So why John Daly?

"I played competitive golf through high school and still play as much as I can," Jon Trunk told us. "Although as life happens, I don't get out as much as I would like. Priorities change, in a good way. Anyway, Charlie is a very happy-go-lucky kid and is already big into sports. The first floor of our house is littered with bats, balls, clubs, you name it. For selfish reasons, I'm hoping he settles on golf. He's always been a big kid, off the charts height and weight, and has straight blonde hair -- although it was supplemented with a wig for the costume. Sticking with the sports theme from last year, we thought he could really pull off Big John, as much as a 2-year-old could without Family Services getting a call."

Jon concedes that he himself is a big Daly fan and has followed the two-time major champ's career "pretty closely."

We wondered, what was the reaction of people handing out candy when they saw the pint-sized Daly?

"There were some people that really got it, and others that I started to explain it to, eventually arriving at, 'Never mind, he's a professional golfer,'" Jon Trunk said. "Those that got it said we were the coolest parents ever. Lots of pictures and laughs."

In case you were wondering, Daly saw the photo. He loved it:


"I was cracking up," Jon Trunk said of the Daly tweet. "I ran upstairs and woke up my sleeping -- and pregnant -- wife to tell her. We thought of this outfit a while ago, but never intended to have anybody beyond friends and family see it, let alone the costume's inspiration. The beauty of social media!" 

November 5, 2014 - 9:56am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
A baseball player from the Melbourne Aces (seriously) makes an ace with a baseball bat.

So there's a baseball team in Australia called the "Melbourne Aces."

With a name like that, any golf fan would be a supporter of the team, right?

RELATED: World's fastest golf cart goes nearly 120 mph | World's longest usable driver

It turns out the Aces resurfaced a video on Nov. 4 shot last July from a golf course, where former pitcher Cameron Forbes makes a hole-in-one on a par 3 using a baseball bat:


An ace for an Ace? Seems a little fishy to us. There have been a lot of impressive videos out there lately and a whole lot more conspiracy theorists.

We're calling fake on this video for a couple of reasons.

For starters -- the first shot hit the pin. You mean to tell us he hit the pin the first time and aced it the second time?

Second, we have a hard time believing that a golf ball coming off a baseball bat would land on the green as softly as this one did.

Finally... commonsense -- no way this is real, right?

h/t Golf News Net 

November 5, 2014 - 9:15am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Justin Rose
USA Today Sports Images
Justin Rose is making his first start of the 2014-15 PGA Tour season this week at the WGC-HSBC Champions.

Many of the game's biggest stars are getting their 2014-15 season underway this week in China at the WGC-HSBC Champions.

Defending champ Dustin Johnson will not be there to defend, but Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott and more will all be on hand.

RELATED: WGC-HSBC Champions tee times | Star power rising at HSBC Champions

Here's a look at five players to watch out for at Sheshan International in Shanghai.

5. Hunter Mahan
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T3 Open
Reason to watch: The 2013-14 season was a mixed bag for Mahan, but at the end of it all, he still made it to the Tour Championship and managed to finish No. 6 in the FedExCup standings, was a Ryder Cup captain's pick and picked off his sixth PGA Tour win at the Barclays. In one start already this season, Mahan tied for third at the Open.

4. Rickie Fowler
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: This could be a huge season for Fowler. Coming off a year where he was the only player in the world to finish among the top 5 in all four majors, Fowler is looking to find his way back to the winner's circle -- something he hasn't done since claiming his lone PGA Tour win at Quail Hollow in 2012. He's not just the snazzy dresser all the kids love anymore. Fowler is one of the most complete players on Tour. With 10 top-10 finishes in 2014, he's a name you expect to see on the first page of the leaderboard week in and week out.

3. Sergio Garcia
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T2 CIMB Classic
Reason to watch: Coming off a spectacular season on the PGA Tour in 2013-14, where he did everything but win, Garcia tied for second last week in his first start of the new season at the CIMB Classic. He's playing the best golf of his career right now. The consistency is better than it's ever been. He's had a lot of close calls in the last 12 months and I figure some of those will have to go the other way for him soon. Maybe even a major.

2. Adam Scott
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: Scott is the No. 2-ranked player in the world and the man to beat at the WGC-HSBC Champions for that reason. The last time he finished outside of the top 20 in a PGA Tour event was way back at the Players Championship where he tied for 38th. That covers a 10-tournament stretch, which included a win at the Colonial -- his first start as the No. 1-ranked player in the world (Rory McIlroy would take over that spot later in the summer). The bottom line here is that Scott contends a lot. I'd like to see him win more.

1. Justin Rose
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: The man possesses one of the sweetest swings in golf and he's just as solid as they come in the consistency department. When he's playing his best, there are few players in the world who can keep up with Rose. He finished fifth at the WGC-HSBC Champions a year ago. He's won all over the world. In this new season, there's no doubt Rose is looking to add to his already impressive list of career victories in prestigious events. Will this week be one of those? 

Jeffrey Horton
Kimberly Horton
Jeffrey Horton got to play Pebble Beach as part of an anniversary trip from his wife, Kimberly.

This might be the best idea you’ll hear all day.

Jeffrey and Kimberly Horton, from Boiling Springs, S.C., decided that they would create a "baby bucket list" before trying to have their first child. Some of the things on their list are what you would expect to find – buying a bigger home, traveling, buying a sports car – but for Jeffrey, a former golfer at the University of South Carolina-Upstate, that included playing as much golf as possible.

The catch? He wanted to do it at some of the best courses possible.

“We just decided we wanted to do some things before we settle down and have a family. So I wanted to get in as much golf as I could,” Horton said. “Once the baby comes, I won’t be playing as much. My best friend who I’ve been playing golf with for four, five year -- he just had a baby and I know how that goes.”

MORE: Take a look at the most creative golf photos from our readers

Now roughly two years after the creation of the list, Horton got to cross a major milestone off of it.

Recently, Horton, a 27-year-old financial advisor, got to play at Pebble Beach as part of a surprise anniversary trip given to him by Kimberly that also included stops to Las Vegas and San Francisco.

It only got better for Horton as not only did he get to play what he described as the No. 2 course on his list, Kimberly was along for the round. She’s not a golfer, but is a part-time photographer and captured Jeffrey’s round.

“For her to follow me in the golf cart and take photos of the course, of my swing was awesome,” Horton said.

From a pure course perspective, Horton called Pebble Beach the No. 2 on his list. So which course was better?

“Obviously, Augusta is No. 1 on everybody’s list,” Horton said.

Then again, maybe calling it a list is a bit misleading. Horton said there's no set number of courses he wants to play, but the ones he has played is enough to make most golfers jealous.

Pinehurst No. 2? Check. The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island? Check. Bay Hill? Check. TPC Sawgrass? Check. And those are just a few of the names.

Courses: Find the course that's right for you

Normally he keeps the scorecard and the golf ball from each round. However, he reached No. 18 at Pebble Beach right as it got dark, and he lost his tee shot. But he was able to take solace knowing that he had plenty of high-quality photos to remember the round.

While the list of courses already played is impressive, there are still a few more that Horton wants to hit. He’s yet to play at Linville Country Club and Sequoyah National, both of which aren’t too far from where he lives.

Even if he doesn’t get to those courses before the couple has their first child, chances are Horton won’t be away from the course for too long. The game spans a few generations in Horton’s family with both his father and grandfather playing.

Plus, the other golfers he plays with have started to get a lot younger.

“All of my buddies who are having kids, once the kid gets past 2, 3, 4 years old, they even come out to the range with us,” Horton said.

Related: How to make golf fun for juniors

According to Kimberly, the couple has been able to check off most of the items on their bucket list. But based on people’s reactions when he tells them about the list, Horton hopes that other people create their own.

“Most people never even thought of doing that,” Jeffrey said. “They say, ‘Oh man, I wish we would have thought about that. Oh, what a good idea.’

“I think it should catch on. I’m glad we’re doing it.” 

Jeff Flagg
Callaway Golf via Twitter
Jeff Flagg got the big check for hitting the biggest drive in the final round of the Re/Max World Long Drive Championship.
Out in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, some of the  biggest hitters in all of golf gathered at the Paiute Golf Resort for the 2014 edition of the Re/Max World Long Drive Championship.
This event is essentially golf's version of the Home Run Derby that is an annual highlight of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game. But there's one big difference – at the Long Drive Championship, it is winner take all.
On Tuesday night, "all" was $250,000. And Jeff Flagg of Pelham, Alabama, captured it by a mere 13 inches.
The final field of eight came down to Flagg and Jeff Crittenden of Grensboro, North Carolina. And, with a brisk wind blowing across the grid, both hit their final drives 365 yards. Flagg's settled 20 inches past the 365-yard marker, while Crittenden's stopped seven inches past the marker – the shortest margin of victory in the event's 20-year history.
"I thought I had him," Flagg said after his victory," but if there's anything I learned from baseball is that you can't get to high or too low until it's a done deal." 
The baseball reference comes naturally to Flagg – he took up long driving after playing baseball at Mississippi State (where one of his teammates was fellow finalist Connor Powers) and in the New York Mets minor league system.
The two finalists advanced from a field of eight that began the night in fair weather conditions, but ended with a brisk wind blowing across the grid. 
Flagg, 29, and Crittenden, 43, advanced to the finals after eliminating Joe Miller and Adam Smith in the semifinals. Powers, Daniel Beckman, Jamie Sadlowski and Matt Hanger rounded out the eightsome.
The event was televised on the Golf Channel, but no highlights are posted yet. We'll update this post when we can – and, coincidentally, just as we were posting this story, we can across this: