Golf Buzz

April 28, 2015 - 11:04am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Dustin Johnson
USA Today Sports Images
Is this the week Dustin Johnson bucks a poor trend at the Match Play Championship? T.J. Auclair thinks so.

One of my favorite events on the PGA Tour takes place this week with the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

The event has a new name, a new venue (a spectacular one at that) and a new format.

Unlike past years where the tournament featured a lose-you-go-home format from the start, this year will be different, with each of the 64 players in the field assured three matches apiece in the 16-group round robin.

RELATED: Round 1 matchups & tee times | New format explained | Mickelson withdraws

The player with the best record after group play will advance to Saturday's Round of 16.

TPC Harding Park, which hosted the Presidents Cup in 2009 and will host the 2020 PGA Championship and 2025 Presidents Cup, takes over as the home of the Match Play Championship, which had been played at Dove Mountain in Tucson since 2009.

Here are the five players you'll want to keep an eye on at TPC Harding Park this week.

5. Paul Casey
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T2 at Northern Trust Open (playoff)
Reason to watch: Casey has steadily been rising in the Official World Golf Ranking this season, entering this week at No. 37. A runner-up in 2009 and 2010 at the Match Play, Casey is riding the confidence of consecutive top-10 finishes, including a T6 at the Masters, this week. In group play, Casey will square off against Chris Kirk, Adam Scott and Francesco Molinari. I like Casey to come out on top of that group and perform well on the weekend.

4. Henrik Stenson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Reason to watch: Stenson won the Match Play in 2007 and finished third in 2008. Since then, however, the towering Swede has struggled mightily in this particular event, making it to the second round just once since 2008 (in 2014). Stenson should embrace the new format. This will be Stenson's first start since his T19 at the Masters, where he fought off the lingering effects of the flu the first couple of days. Presumably healthy now, Stenson heads into this week having finished in the top 4 in three of his last four starts. The only thing he's missing this year is a win. This could be the week. Stenson gets John Senden, Brendon Todd and Bill Haas in group play. (UPDATE: Reports out of San Francisco from say Stenson has dropped 20 pounds and still recovering from a second bout of the flu after returning home from the Masters. He hadn't picked up a club since the Masters until this past weekend.)

3. Patrick Reed
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: Ever since his outstanding individual performance in an otherwise forgettable 2014 Ryder Cup for the U.S. -- Reed, a rookie, went 3-0-1 -- I've been fired up to see Reed in the match play format again. Well, this is the week. Andy Sullivan, Ryan Moore and Danny Willett will square off with Reed in group play. Moore -- a former U.S. Amateur champ and two-time U.S. Amateur Public Links champ -- could be a problem. Assuming Reed advances through his group, who wouldn't love to see this on the weekend?


2. Jason Day
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won the Farmers Insurance Open
Reason to watch: The defending champ after outlasting Frenchman Victor Dubuisson in an epic final a year ago, Day has been outstanding thus far in the new season, racking up four top-10 finishes in eight starts, highlighted by his win at Torrey Pines. Before his win a year ago in the Match Play, Day finished third in 2013. Charley Hoffman, Zach Johnson and Branden Grace are all standing in Day's way for group play. It certainly won't be a walk in the park to get through, but if he does -- look out.

1. Dustin Johnson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won WGC-Cadillac Championship
Reason to watch: In the prior Match Play format -- and it's almost impossible for me to believe -- Johnson played on six occasions, making it out of the first round just once when he was eliminated in the Round of 16 in 2012. Like Stenson, I have a feeling Johnson will embrace this new format. With his mind-blowing power, you'd think Johnson would do better in this format, which demands one take chances. With top-10 finishes in five of his eight starts this season, I love the way Johnson is playing these days. The biggest issue I see in group play for Johnson is Dubuisson (he'll also face Matt Jones and Charl Schwartzel). As we saw in 2014, Dubuisson can be Seve Ballesteros-like when his back's against the wall.

Here's how my five to watch fared last week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans:

5. Billy Horschel -- T48
4. Justin Thomas -- T12
3. Seung-Yul Noh -- W/D
2. Dustin Johnson -- T43
1. Justin Rose -- Winner 

April 26, 2015 - 4:06pm
mark.aumann's picture
D.H. Lee
USA Today Images
D.H. Lee turned 28 earlier this month.

There's something about Louisiana that seems to bring out the best in D.H. Lee.

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The 28-year-old South Korean finished in a tie for second in the Tour's Chitimacha Louisiana Open back in March, and on Sunday in the final round of the Zurich Classic, used a hybrid to record this ace on the Par-3, 210-yard 17th hole.

Just watch:



This is Lee's first PGA Tour start of the season. And that's one good way to debut.

April 26, 2015 - 12:25pm
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Old Course Hotel
Jamie Kennedy/Instagram
Jamie Kennedy provided a 360-degree panorama of the view from the balcony of the Old Course Hotel at St. Andrews.

Most of us recognize the Old Course Hotel at St. Andrews from either television coverage or video games. It's located just to the right of the iconic No. 17 "Road Hole." And the tee shot requires players to aim over the corner of the hotel's parking lot -- or "car park," in local parlance.

Golf trips: Explore the best international golf packages | Explore U.S. golf trips

We've always wondered what the view must look like from one of the hotel rooms that faces the course. And Jamie Kennedy, social media manager for the European Tour, provided us with a panoramic glimpse Sunday.

Check this out:



Spectacular view on a spectacular day in Scotland. Almost makes us want to go ahead and reserve a room, just to take in the view.

MORE TRAVEL: Five great courses near St. Andrews you must play

April 25, 2015 - 10:56am
mark.aumann's picture
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy points at Brad Dalke's muscles before their arm wrestling match begins.

Rory McIlroy's workout routine is legendary. But the No. 1 golfer in the world met his match Friday at the hands of a 17-year-old Oklahoma high schooler -- in arm wrestling.

Brad Dalke posted this short video on his Twitter page Friday after defeating McIlroy at a Nike-sponsored event for juniors at Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville, S.C.



McIlroy got the last laugh, however, on the range. According to story in the Augusta Chronicle, none of the juniors in attendance came close to match his 300-yard plus drives during a 45-minute clinic.

Bubba Watson
USA Today Sports Images
Bubba Watson broke his wife's driver during a trick shot, but his trademark pink driver is apparently still alive and well.
Bubba Watson has become quite the trick-shot artist lately. And as everyone who's ever tried to hit more than a few trick shots, he's learned that they don't always go as planned.
In a little video he posted on Twitter this afternoon, he showed us one trick shot that went perfectly, followed immediately by one that went fatally – at least for the club – wrong.
As you might expect from the part-owner of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos minor league baseball team,  Watson takes a baseball cut and successfully smacks a golf ball tossed at him. He then turns around to take his next cut right-handed.
Once again, he makes solid contact. But this time, much to his surprise, the driver head goes flying, too.
After a quick freakout – and who could blame him – he took to Twitter to ask "#PingCanYouSendMyWifeANewDriver." 
No doubt the good folks at Ping will get Angie fixed up. They might also think about doing what my dad did many years ago and find Bubba a few extra clubs that he can take out and maybe never bring back.
Here is the video, and below it is the first trick shot video Bubba shared from his recent trip to China:
Joe Durant
USA Today Sports Images
Joe Durant's on-course superstition includes using different sized coins as ball markers depending on the length of the putt he's facing.
The Champions Tour is in the Ozarks this weekend for the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf, and the Springfield, Mo., News-Leader surveyed some of the senior stars about their golf rituals and superstitions. Several players revealed some interesting pre-round and during-round – if that's a word – "musts."
Here's a sample:
--Lanny Wadkins said he always keeps coins in his left front pocket and tees in his right front pocket. 
--Joe Durant goes one step further – he has to have five tees in his pocket and must carry a quarter, a dime and a nickel to use as ballmarkers. He uses the quarter for long putts, the nickel for medium-length putts and the dime for shorter putts.
--And Fred Funk goes yet another step further. Funk marks his ball with a heads-up coin. And he always points the face on the coin toward the hole so the coin can read the putt with him.
The article goes on to list several more fun and fluky ones from players like Olin Browne and Corey Pavin, and it makes us want to ask – do you have any on-course rituals or superstitions? Tell us about 'em – we'd love to hear.