Golf Buzz

January 13, 2014 - 3:10pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Lydia Ko
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
Lydia Ko, 16, will play a full complement of Callaway and Odyssey products as she embarks on her first season as a full-time professional on the LPGA Tour.
As has been rumored since before Christmas, teen phenom Lydia Lo has signed an endorsement deal with Callaway Golf, the company announced on Monday.
Ko, 16, will play a full complement of Callaway and Odyssey products as she embarks on her first season as a full-time professional on the LPGA Tour. She won her first tournament as a professional – the Swinging Skirts in Taiwan – using a Callaway X2 Hot Pro driver, though the company hasn't yet specified which clubs will be in her bag.
''Lydia is an exceptional talent and a great addition to our staff,'' said Callaway Vice President of Sports Marketing Nick Raffaele. ''Last year we had several pros win after successfully transitioning into our products and we're excited to see what Lydia can accomplish on the LPGA with the world's best clubs, balls and putter in the bag.''
Ko's deal is just the latest in the busy start-of-the-year period of endorsement agreements. Some of the more notable include:
--Adams Golf: Ernie Els, Nicholas Thompson and Josh Teater
--Callaway Golf: Henrik Stenson, Pat Perez, Harris English, Matteo Manassero, John Rollins, Matt Every, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Chris Doak, Richard Lee, Jonathan Byrd, Jack Doherty, Yani Tseng, Thomas Pieters, James Erkenbeck and Chase Seiffert  
--Cleveland-Srixon: William McGirt, KJ Choi, Bronson La’Cassie, Dave Pelz and Inbee Park (re-signed)
--Cobra Golf Lexi Thompson (re-signed) and Jonas Blixt
--G/Fore: Jonas Blixt (gloves) 
--Hopkins Golf: Vijay Singh
--Mercedes-Benz: Martin Kaymer
--Ping: PGA instructor Todd Anderson
--Puma Golf: Will Mackenzie
--TaylorMade: Justin Rose (re-signed)
--Wilson Golf: Marcel Siem
January 13, 2014 - 12:54pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Harris English
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Harris English earned a spot in the top 5 of the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings thanks to his fourth-place finish in the Sony Open on Sunday.

Over the next several months, the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team will really start to take shape. Keep in mind -- for regular PGA Tour events, points are worth just as much now as they will be down the stretch before points close at the PGA Championship in August.

One player taking advantage of the early point-getting is Jimmy Walker. Prior to his win at the end of 2013 in the Open, Walker had gone 187 PGA Tour starts without a victory. He won that week -- which counts toward the 2014 season -- and won again on Sunday in the Sony Open in Hawaii.

2014 RYDER CUP: U.S. points standings | How U.S. Points are earned | Team USA | Team Europe

So, after 187 starts without a win, Walker now has two in his last six appearances. Thanks to the latest effort, Walker jumped from No. 8 to the No. 1 spot in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings.

Remember, the top 9 players in points automatically make the team, while U.S. Captain Tom Watson will make three captain's selections on Sept. 2 to fill out the squad he takes to Gleneagles.

Here's a look at the current top 12:

1. Jimmy Walker
2. Phil Mickleson
3. Jason Dufner
4. Dustin Johnson
5. Harris English
6. Zach Johnson
7. Chris Kirk
8. Ryan Moore
9. Webb Simpson

10. Matt Kuchar
11. Brian Stuard
12. Jim Furyk

On the strength of a fourth-place showing at Sony, his third top-10 in the new season, English moved from No. 7 to No. 5.

Interestingly, Walker and English played together for the first three rounds of the Sony Open. In case Captain Watson, didn't notice, Walker's wife, Erin, sent him this cool little stat via Twitter on Monday:

Chris Kirk finished alone in second place in Hawaii on Sunday to move from No. 9 to No. 7.

Kuchar was the only player not previously in the top 10 to sneak in, jumping three spots from No. 13 to No. 10 with his tie for eighth in Honolulu.

Brian Stuard (sixth in the Sony) and Charles Howell III (tied for eighth), moved up four spots apiece. Stuard went from No. 16 to No. 11, while Howell moved from No. 19 to No. 15.

This week, the PGA Tour is back on the U.S. mainland for the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif.

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


January 13, 2014 - 9:50am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Charl Schwartzel
Getty Images
A shot that Charl Schwartzel hit over the weekend in the Volvo Golf Champions event on the European Tour may have been the most impressive out of a batch of incredible shots to choose from last week.

Creativity, imagination and execution of a golf shot are a few of the things that separate the world's best players from the rest of us.

That was evident over the last four days with these four shots in particular.

First, we told you last week about Dutch golfer Joost Luiten's albatross (or double eagle) from the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban, South Africa. He hit a 4-iron from 248 yards and, according to the European Tour, the ball landed about 20 yards short of the green and ran up into the hole. You can watch it again here:

Later that day in Hawaii, PGA Tour player James Hahn scored an unlikely albatross of his own, holing his second shot on the 510-yard, par-5 ninth hole at Waialae Country Club in the Sony Open, hitting a 6-iron from 191 yards out. You can watch that shot here:

Also at the Sony Open, PGA Tour rookie Peter Malnati had a hole-out for eagle on the 18th hole -- his ninth of the day -- during the final round. This wasn't as spectacular as the two shots before it, but the reaction was great. Pitching from just off the green, Malnati instantly had a reaction we can all relate to: "Oh no! I hit it too hard!" Lucky for Malnati, the ball actually slam-dunked into the hole for the eagle. Check it out here:

Finally, check out arguably the most incredible of the four shots -- which is saying something since it's up against two double eagles and an eagle. Former Masters champ Charl Schwartzel, playing in the Volvo Golf Champions, found himself in a nearly impossible spot after a wayward tee shot. As you'll see in the video below, Schwartzel played his second shot off a cart path -- a blind shot to the green over trees -- and somehow, magically got the ball to stop within a few feet of the hole. Not so magical? Schwartzel missed the short putt and had to settle for a par.

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


January 11, 2014 - 1:54am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Joost Luiten and James Hahn
Getty Images
Joost Luiten (l) carded his first double eagle on Friday in South Africa, while James Hahn got his second about 12 hours later in Hawaii.
When it rains, it pours. Early on Friday, Joost Luiten of Denmark carded a rare double eagle during the second round of the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa. And then, half a day later and half a world away, James Hahn made his own double eagle at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Luiten made a 2 on the 560-yard, par-5 10th hole at Durban Country Club. He hit a 4-iron from 248 yards and, according to the European Tour, the ball landed about 20 yards short of the green and ran up into the hole.
Hahn made his 2 on the 510-yard, par-5 ninth hole at Waialae Country Club, hitting a 6-iron from 191 yards out. His hit on the front of the green, bounced high and heads straight for the cup.
Hahn, best known for his "Gangnam Style" moves after making birdie at the raucous 16th hole at the Phoenix Open last year, tried (and failed) for a chest-bump with his caddie.
"That was a little spontaneous, but I forgot that – I've got to be politically correct, right? – but white men can't jump," said Hahn, a South Korean-born, Cal grad and funnyman on tour. "So I got a little air, he didn't. But it was fun. I don't think he knew I was going to chest-bump him. But that's just what I felt like at the time." 
And, we learned from Titleist, both shots were made with Titleist balls. Luiten used a Pro V1, while Hahn used a Pro V1x. 
Here are both shots, each extremely impressive in its own way – even if they have to share the spotlight (both are better seen if you expand to full screen):
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
January 10, 2014 - 8:42pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Stewart Cink
Stewart Cink noted that his "glowing head" was a topic of interest on Friday at the Sony Open.
I am fortunate enough to remain fully follicled, but many of my brethren in the golf media are not so blessed. So I generally try to refrain from making bald jokes.
But I just couldn't resist passing along this screen-grab of Stewart Cink from the Sony Open in Hawaii today. I'm presuming it's from when Cink took off his cap to shake hands with his playing partners after hs posted his second straight 69.
I happened across it when Tony Kornhesier and Michael Wilbon – two proud members of the bald brotherhood – were marveling over it on ''Pardon the Interruption'' this afternoon. As I recall, Mr. Tony said it looked photoshopped and jokingly wondered what SPF level of sunscreen Cink used on the top of his head, while Wilbon figured Cink had just been outside a whole lot this winter.
Cink, being the good guy that he is, acknowledged the image on Twitter. Here's his tweet:
January 10, 2014 - 7:54pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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New Balance golf shoes
Courtesy of New Balance
New Balance is entering the golf shoe market with both spikeless (l) and cleated models.
Athletic shoe maker New Balance is jumping into the golf market in a big way. The company is launching New Balance Golf, a golf footwear collection from licensee Klonelab, LLC, which debuts nationwide this month.  
Comprised of six styles for men and women in both cleated and spikeless models, the NB Golf collection features high-quality waterproof leathers and lightweight, breathable air-mesh fabrics. 
The spikeless models are part of The Minimus Collection, which is built on the New Balance Minimus running last, allowing toes to splay apart for increased comfort and freedom of movement. They contain a lightweight REVlite midsole, along with a spikeless rubber outsole that provides traction while you swing and walk the course. 
The cleated models feature a lightweight, flexible and supportive TPU outsole for stability and balance during the load-bearing phases of the swing.  These shoes also boast the new Champ state-of-the-art One-Lok cleat system, which makes it easy to replace cleats while positioning the foot close to the ground for superior feel, traction and balance. 
New Balance Golf footwear will come in D, 2E and 4E widths for men and in B and D widths for women in select styles. The collection's MSRP ranges from $119.95 to $159.95, and the shoes will be available at New Balance stores, select golf shops and golf retailers and on starting this month.