Golf Buzz

January 31, 2013 - 10:30am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tim Finchem
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Will PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem take action against Vijay Singh for his use of a banned substance?

In light of what's happened this week with World Golf Hall of Famer Vijay Singh admitting to the use of a banned substance in a Sports Illustrated article, GolfChannel.com has put together a helpful, informative timeline of the PGA Tour's drug-testing policy.

Late adopters of an anti-doping/drug-testing policy, the PGA Tour on July 1, 2008, officially began its testing at the AT&T National. The European Tour followed suit that same week at the European Open (Click here for a look at the PGA Tour's anti-doping policy).

When the testing began -- two weeks after the epic U.S. Open playoff between Rocco Mediate and Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines -- Mediate did an interview with ESPN.com and called the new process, "the biggest joke in the history of the world."

Well, it's clearly a joke no longer.

It's not known what action -- if any -- the PGA Tour will take against Singh. At the time of this blog post, Singh was still scheduled to tee off in the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. If he does in fact play, it will be interesting to see the reception he gets on the par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale -- the rowdiest in golf.

(UPDATE: SINGH HAS WITHDRAWN FROM THE WASTE MANAGEMENT PHOENIX OPEN CITING A BACK INJURY)

Doug Barron, a journeyman in the professional golf ranks, was the first player suspended under the PGA Tour's anti-doping policy. He was suspended for one year after a random test at the St. Jude Classic in 2009, where he tested positive for high levels of testosterone.

Shortly after, Golf.com's Cameron Morfit wrote:

Barron was diagnosed in 1987 with mitral-valve prolapse, a heart murmur that led to tightness in his chest and made him feel like he was having a heart attack. Only 18, he was put on the beta-blocker Propranolol to treat the murmur and alleviate anxiety attacks brought on by the condition. He was diagnosed with low testosterone in 2005 and began taking testosterone injections.

While players can take banned substances if they are medically necessary, the Tour never granted Barron a therapeutic-use exemption (TUE) for either drug.

Barron has since been granted the therapeutic-use exemption.

Time will tell what the fate of three-time major champion and former world No. 1 Singh will be.

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

January 31, 2013 - 9:59am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Kyle Stanley
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Kyle Stanley is the defending champion of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Rob Goldberg, a featured columnsist for BleacherReport.com, put together a nice primer to get you prepared for the start of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which starts today at TPC Scottsdale.

Goldberg offers up some players to watch, highlights some notable tee times and predicts the winner.

Have a look for yourself at Goldberg's piece here.

January 30, 2013 - 2:29pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Earlier this afternoon, former Masters and PGA Champion Vijay Singh released the following statement regarding a Sports Illustrated article where he admitted taking a banned substance:

In light of the recent article on sportsillustrated.com, I want to issue the following statement:

"While I have used deer antler spray, at no time was I aware that it may contain a substance that is banned under the PGA TOUR Anti-Doping Policy.  In fact, when I first received the product, I reviewed the list of ingredients and did not see any prohibited substances.  I am absolutely shocked that deer antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position.  I have been in contact with the PGA TOUR and am cooperating fully with their review of this matter.  I will not be commenting further at this time."

It was reported on Tuesday that Singh admitted taking a banned substance. Early Wednesday, David Epstein -- one of the writers of that Sports Illustrated article -- appeared on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" and said Singh may not have been aware that the product he was using was banned.

To read Tuesday's blog post on Singh, click here.

For Wednesday's post with Epstein's explanation, click here.

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

January 30, 2013 - 12:43pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Vijay Singh
Getty Images
In an interview on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive," Sports Illustrated writer David Epstein said that Vijay Singh may not have realized the substance he was taking was banned.

Following up on yesterday's blog post where we brought you the news about Vijay Singh admitting to the use of a banned substance in the latest edition of Sports Illustrated, one of the authors of the story was on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" this morning and explained that Singh may not have been aware that the product was banned.

GolfChannel.com's Ryan Lavner posted a blog this morning explaining what was revealed in the Morning Drive interview with SI's David Epstein:

One of the authors of the explosive Sports Illustrated article that links several athletes to banned substances, including Vijay Singh, said Wednesday on "Morning Drive" that Singh was "pretty open" about his use of deer-antler spray and that the 49-year-old Hall of Famer may not have known that the product is on the PGA Tour’s banned-substances list.

David Epstein, a senior writer and investigative reporter for Sports Illustrated, said that he talked to Singh last week during an "extensive and specific" phone interview.

In the SI story, Singh reportedly paid one of S.W.A.T.S.' owners $9,000 last November for the spray, chips, beam ray and powder additive. He uses the spray "every couple of hours... every day," and "sleeps with the beam ray on and has put chips on his ankles, waist and shoulders."

To read Lavner's complete post, click here.

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

January 30, 2013 - 11:59am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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birth.golf.death.
birth.golf.death.
birth.golf.death. has plenty of fun, unique golf gear (including polos, hats and jackets), but they also have a special Valentine's Day golf-inspired line of products including these pillows and eye/sleep masks.

OK, lovers, Valentine's Day is sneaking up on you. What are you going to get that loved one? The old, reliable, cliche flowers and a box of chocolates?

Why not think outside of the (tee) box this year?

A company called, "birth.golf.death." has some truly unique gifts -- some for on the course, some for off the course and some for pure relaxation.

Joseph Coonick, the owner and creator of birth.golf.death., has put a serious spin on the "country club" look -- he's actually turned it upside down.

"I started birth.golf.death. after a futile attempt to find a golf inspired t-shirt that I would wear," Coonick told PGA.com. "Everything I found was over-the-top cartoonish designs that I wouldn't be caught dead in and they made me wonder if they were even created by a golfer. So I took it upon myself to come up with a few designs. After high praise from golfers of all skill levels for these original designs, I started birth.golf.death. Originally, starting out with t-shirt designs only, demand for my 'victor' skull logo became so high that I was forced to expand my line to polos, outerwear, towels and hats. I will always strive to provide golfers with designs that come from 'outside the tee-box.'  I've been an avid golfer since age 5 and have had my handicap in the single digits. Combine that love of golf with my unique and subversive punk rock/industrial/goth inspiration, and you've got something in the golf apparel world that's never been scene before."

That's the truth. Coonick's designs might not be for everyone, but that's the thing -- they're not meant to be.

As for his Valentine's Day-inspired items, well, anyone would like those.

"I came up with my golf-inspired Valentine's Day designs because I wanted to create items that screamed golf, but not because they were of use on the golf course," he explained. "I also wanted an item that would pamper the customer as well as provide a therapeutic benefit. My Valentine's Day designs are hand made from the finest fabrics and filled with all natural organic fills including flax seeds, buckwheat hulls and lavender blossoms (also available unscented). The calming attributes of these designs make for a healthy mind and body yet are fully functional pieces of soft sculpture. Flowers eventually die, chocolates find their way to the hips and fancy dinners are soon forgotten; yet birth.golf.death. Valentine's Day gifts keep on giving for years and years."

birth.golf.death. offers polos, t-shirts and jackets for men and women, as well as hilarious designs just for kids.

Hats, towels, pillows, eye/sleep masks and keyboard wrist relax cushions are also available.

If you like one-of-a-kind gear, birth.golf.death. is for you. The t-shirts, in particular, are both edgy and clever. Here's an example of the wording you can find on some of the t-shirts: "Make birdies, not war"; "Birth.Golf.Death. -- Get busy golfing or get busy dying"; "WARNING: My golf swing is graphic in nature and may be considered disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised."

The bottom line: Along with comfort, birth.golf.death. is downright fun.

"I try to provide the ultimate selection of modern golf apparel for the course and street," Coonick said. "My t-shirt designs allow golfers to show their love of the great game of a golf off the course in an intellectual, hip and unique way. My on-course apparel provides golfers with an unconventional look while maintaining the most technologically advanced fabrics and designs to benefit their game. For example, my 'wicked rain jacket,' will not hinder your swing yet will keep you dry under the most formidable wet conditions on the course or your next whaling expedition, while my new 'maxx jacket' will have you looking slick and unconventional on the first tee or in a mosh pit."

To see all that birth.golf.death. has to offer, visit their website here.

You can also check out birth.golf.death. on Twitter and on Facebook.

As Coonick so eloquently says, "Golf now -- die later."

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

January 30, 2013 - 11:24am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Michael Phelps
Ping Golf via Twitter
In a photo tweeted out by Ping Golf, Michael Phelps poses with his new golf clubs.

File this under: Well, that didn't take long.

U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, a 22-time medalist (including the all-time record for Olympic gold medals with 18 -- double the second highest record holders), is a certifiable golf nut.

Phelps, who said the 2012 Olympics in London would be his last, has been spending a lot of his time on the golf course these days. He's renowned coach Hank Haney's latest "Haney Project," on the Golf Channel and it was just announced today that Phelps is the newest endorser of PING clubs.

Steve DiMeglio from USA TODAY reports:

The most decorated Olympian in history has plans for the next stage of his career — on dry land this time.

Michael Phelps, the winner of more gold medals than any athlete in Olympic history, has traded in the pool for the golf course and has wasted little time making an impact.

He's been on the cover of Golf Digest. He's jokingly said the only way he'll get back to the Olympics is by playing golf. He holed a 153-foot putt at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last year, which reportedly is the record for the longest televised putt in golf history. He's noted golf instructor Hank Haney's project this year.

And today, Ping will announce an agreement with Phelps to play a full set of the company's custom-fit clubs, which he'll debut in the pro-am of the Waste Management Phoenix Open when he plays with reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson. Phelps was fitted Tuesday at Ping for his new G25 driver, fairway woods, hybrids and irons. He'll also play the Tour Gorge Groove wedges and Scottsdale TR (True Roll) putter.

To read the complete story, click here.

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