Golf Buzz

December 21, 2013 - 11:42pm
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John Holmes
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Michael Kim
Courtesy of Cal Athletics
Michael Kim turns professional after becoming Cal's first national player of the year in men's golf last season.
Michael Kim, the 2012-2013 college player of the year, has turned pro and will surrender his last two years of eligibility at the University of California. Kim, who grew up in the San Diego area, is expected to make his pro debut at the PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in late January after accepting a sponsor's exemption.
Kim, currently fourth in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, was Cal's first national player of the year in men's golf last season, when he swept the Haskins Award, Golfstat Cup, Golfweek/Sagarin Player of the Year and Nicklaus Award as his Golden Bear squad won 12 of their 14 stroke-play tournaments to set a modern-era NCAA single-season record.
''I can't thank Cal enough for what it has done for me,'' Kim said. ''It was a really tough decision but I feel like I'm ready to take the next step in my career and turn professional.''
Kim also was the Pac-12 Men's Golfer of the Year as a sophomore, and earned first-team Ping Division I All-American and All-West Region honors in 2012-13. In addition, he was the individual medalist a single-season school-record four times last season, and tied for second on two other occasions among his seven top-5 and team-high 10 top-10 finishes.
Kim qualified for the 2013 U.S. Open, and finished as low amateur by tying for 17th place after rising as high as tied for third during the third round. He made the cut in the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic, reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship and was on the winning United States teams in both the 2013 Palmer Cup and Walker Cup.
''We knew this was a possibility as last year unfolded,'' Cal Head Coach Steve Desimone told The San Francisco Chronicle. ''At some point, Michael was going to make this move. We wish him all the best – he was a great Golden Bear and always will be.''
Kim, 20, tied for 56th at the Tour Q-School finals last week, giving him only partial status on that circuit. 
December 20, 2013 - 9:53pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn at Val d'Isere
Tiger Woods (r) and girlfriend Lindsey Vonn were bundled up against the chill in Val d'Isere, France, on Friday.
While many of us spent Friday rushing to make our final preparations for Christmas Week, Tiger Woods was far from the madding crowds. The world No. 1 turned up in Val d'Isere, France, where girlfriend Lindsey Vonn is competing in this weekend's World Cup event.
Vonn has been spotted at several of Woods' tournaments since they confirmed they were a couple last spring, but this is the first time that Woods has attended one of her ski races. 
The high-profile couple was spotted in a cafe on the main drag of Val d'Isere, according to a story by the Agence France-Press wire service. Woods, wearing what AFP called a ''a dark puffa jacket buttoned to his chin and hood up, hands dug deep into the pockets,'' quickly returned to his hotel after he realized he'd been spotted by photographers.
On Thursday, Woods had hinted at his trip in an item on his blog saying that ''I'm going to put my clubs away for a while to spend more time with my kids and support my girlfriend Lindsey Vonn as she tries to prepare for the Sochi Olympics. '' He also empathized with Vonn as she attempts to come back from knee surgery after a major knee injury last spring.
''Having experienced reconstructive surgery on my knee and the ensuing rehab, and the amount of pain associated with it, it's really hard to explain to anybody unless you've been through it. And then coming back on it athletically, to trust that it's going to be there, that's a whole different ballgame,'' he wrote. ''I've had my share of experiences in that regard – unfortunately – but I think it helps her in a sense because she can bounce ideas off me about what to expect. It is a frustrating process and really difficult to go through.''
As far as Vonn getting all the way back into form for the Sochi Olympics, Woods said that he and Vonn are very hopeful. ''It all depends,'' he wrote, ''on how that knee is.''
December 20, 2013 - 7:29pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Old Tom Morris
Old Tom Morris owned a golf shop right along the 18th fairway at the famous Old Course in St. Andrews, new research has revealed.
St. Andrews is so famous in the world of golf, and so much has been written about it, that you'd think we know all there is to know about the place and its history. Turns out, that's not true at all.
Roger McStravick, a golf history writer, has come up with a fantastic new bit of information – the previously unknown location of Old Tom Morris' original golf shop. Morris – who was a greenkeeper, a maker of clubs and balls and a prolific course designer in addition to being a four-time British Open champion – opened his own shop in 1848 after serving as an apprentice.
McStravick, who is researching a book on Morris called ''St. Andrews, In the Footsteps of Old Tom Morris,'' was digging around in some old manuscripts in the Golf Collection in the University of St. Andrews Special Collections Department when he discovered what is known as a ''precognition'' – a statement from Morris from around 1878 explaining how he had built his shop right beside the 18th fairway of the Old Course several decades earlier. 
The address today is known as 15 The Links. 
''In his statement talking about his life around 1848, Tom says that he built his own shop and through statements by others at the time, including the father of the R&A John Whyte-Melville and clubmaker Robert Forgan, I was able to identify the exact location for this little shop,'' McStravick told Scotland's STV News.
In that same precognition, McStravick also discovered that Daw Anderson – known in St. Andrews lore as the ''the ginger beer seller'' – had his own golf shop at 9 The Links, where his son and three-time Open champion Jamie Anderson living upstairs for almost 10 years during the prime of his playing career.
December 20, 2013 - 10:01am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Adam Scott
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Adam Scott and caddie Steve Williams react after Scott's birdie putt drops on the 72nd hole of the 2013 Masters.

The No. 1 golf shot of 2013 also happens to be the shortest in length -- about a 20-foot putt.

How can that be, you ask?

Easy. Because of its significance.

On his way to becoming the first Australian-born player to win the Masters, Adam Scott holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole at Augusta National to take the clubhouse lead and that transformed the typically reserved Aussie into a fist-pumping madman, screaming, "Come on, Aussie!"

RELATED: Best golf shots of 2013 -- No. 2 | No. 3 | No. 4 | No. 5

That putt also yielded one of the great moments of the year with Scott's playing partner and proud fellow countryman, Marc Leishman, smiling in the background and pumping his fist as Scott's putt dropped.

For a moment, it seemed as though that putt would win him the tournament for Scott, but shortly thereafter Argentina's Angel Cabrera hit his approach shot on the same hole to within 2 feet to set up a birdie to force a playoff.

The playoff would go two holes. On the second -- Augusta National's 10th hole -- Scott knocked in a 12-footer for birdie and the historic win.

Without that 20-foot birdie in regulation, Scott would still be trying to snap the Aussie drought at Augusta.

Watch Scott's putt in regulation and the entire Masters playoff here:



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



December 19, 2013 - 6:08pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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TaylorMade SLDR 430 driver
Courtesy of TaylorMade
The TaylorMade SLDR 430 driver incorporates the same innovative sliding weight mechanism as in the original SLDR 460, but in a smaller head preferred by better players.
TaylorMade is wasting no time growing its family of SLDR drivers. The original SLDRs made their debut in July, with fairway woods and hybrids following in October and then the 14-degree SLDR driver being announced just a few weeks ago.
Now comes the SLDR 430 – a more compact version of the original SLDR. The ''430,'' of course, indicates that the head has a 430cc volume as opposed to the larger 460cc heads on the original SLDRs. The smaller head, generally preferred by better players, is designed to help shape shots without sacrificing distance.
The SLDR 430 incorporates the same innovative sliding weight mechanism TaylorMade introduced in the SLDR 460. The blue, 20-gram movable weight allows the golfer to shift the clubhead's center of gravity horizontally toward either the heel to promote a draw, or toward the toe to promote a fade. 
The weight slides along a 21-point track on the front of the sole, and never comes loose from the clubhead. To position the weight at any of those points, the golfer simply loosens the screw, slides the weight to the desired point, then tightens the screw – a process that make as little as 10 seconds. The SLDR's adjustability, TaylorMade says, promotes a shot-dispersion range of up to 30 yards. 
The new driver also incorporates TaylorMade's Loft-sleeve Technology, which allows the golfer to easily adjust the loft by choosing from 12 positions within a range of plus or minus 1.5 degrees of loft change. The more loft added, the more the face closes, and vice-versa.
The SLDR 430 comes in lofts of 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees, and is equipped with a Fujikura Speeder 67 graphite shaft and TaylorMade high-traction grip. The Tour Preferred version, called the SLDR 430 TP, combines the same clubhead with the tour-caliber Fujikura Speeder Tour Spec 7.3 graphite shaft. A variety of custom shafts are also available. The club carries a suggested retail price of $399. 
December 19, 2013 - 9:39am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Stacy Lewis
Getty Images
Stacy Lewis celebrates with her caddie after an incredible shot into the 17th green at St. Andrews.

LPGA star Stacy Lewis -- the highest ranked American player in the ladies game at No. 3 in the world -- delivered one of the great shots in major championship golf during the final round of the Ricoh Women's British Open on her way to victory.

Playing the 17th hole at St. Andrews -- The Road Hole -- in the final round, Lewis hit her second shot on the par 4 with a 5-iron from 200 yards. The ball settled just 3 feet from the hole, setting up a birdie.

RELATED: Best golf shots of 2013 -- No. 3 | No. 4 | No. 5

Watch the amazing shot here, as well as Lewis' description:

Carrying that momentum to the final hole at the birthplace of golf, Lewis made one last birdie. She finished with an even-par 72 to win the tournament by two shots. It was her second major on the LPGA Tour, ending a record streak of 10 straight majors won by Asian players.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair