Golf Buzz

December 16, 2012 - 8:19pm
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John Holmes
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Tom Watson
Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
Age is just a number to new Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson.

When Tom Watson was named captain of the U.S. team for the 2014 Ryder Cup on Thursday, a few people wondered whether the 63-year-old would be able to relate to the 20-somethings and 30-somethings that will make up his squad at Gleneagles.

That, however, is a ridiculous question. Why? Well, because only days before Watson accepted his new job, he was busy making friends with Asia's best 14-year-old golfer.

Yes, a week ago at the Australian Open – where Watson not only made the cut but shot the round of the day on Sunday – he was introduced to Guan Tianlang, the Chinese phenom whose recent victory in the Asia-Pacific Amateur earned him a spot in the Masters next spring.

After his second round in Sydney, Guan lined up with several other fans to get Watson's autograph on his cap. Watson obliged, and the two spent a few minutes chatting.

"He said I was doing pretty well and he said I am still a kid," Guan told Reuters afterward.

"I asked him if he was going to the Masters and he said 'yes,'" Guan said. "And then he said, 'let's play a practice round on Tuesday afternoon'."

If Watson teaches Guan too much, it might be a good thing the youngster isn't eligible to play in the Ryder Cup. But the Americans on the 2019 Presidents Cup team better watch out.

December 16, 2012 - 1:34am
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John Holmes
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Graeme McDowell's 59 scorecard
Graeme McDowell via Twitter
Graeme McDowell saved his best for last at Lake Nona, where he went low and stayed there.

Graeme McDowell has had a pretty good run lately.

He got engaged in November. He won Tiger Woods' World Challenge three weeks ago. He's opening his own pub next month.

And on Saturday, he shot a 59.

“For probably my last round of golf of 2012 I knocked it round in 59 here at Lake Nona!!,” he tweeted. “White tees but -13 all the same.”

For proof, he tweeted out a photo of his scorecard, which shows he had a 29 on the front nine and a 30 on the back.

If that does turn out to be his final round of the year, he’s definitely going out on a high note.

December 15, 2012 - 6:57pm
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John Holmes
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Bob Hope
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The traveling Bob Hope exhibit tells the entertainer's life story through a series of displays that celebrate his comedic contributions, achievements in entertainment, relationships with presidents and, of course, his life in golf.

Thanks in large part to his half-century association with the PGA Tour's Bob Hope Desert Classic (now known as the Humana Challenge), legendary entertainer Bob Hope is forever linked to both golf and Palm Springs. And now through April, the Coachella Valley is hosting a traveling version of the World Golf Hall of Fame's "Bob Hope: An American Treasure" exhibit.

"It was a major priority for us to display this exhibition in Palm Springs," said Jack Peter, chief operating officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. "Bob Hope is synonymous with the area, and golf fans around the world know Palm Springs because of his incredible support of the golf tournament. It is an ideal place for the exhibition and we are thankful to the Bob & Dolores Hope Charitable Foundation for its support in bringing it here."

The exhibit tells Hope's life story through a series of 15 themed displays that celebrate his comedic contributions, achievements in entertainment, relationships with a number of U.S. Presidents and, of course, his life in golf. It traces his family's arrival at Ellis Island, life as part of an immigrant family, his struggles to succeed in New York, the success and family life he found in Hollywood and how golf and his love for the military took him around the world.

"Both my dad and mother would have loved to know that this exhibit would be housed just down the street from their much-loved home on Southridge Drive," Hope's daughter Linda Hope told the Valley News. "To know that schoolchildren from the area will have the opportunity to visit and learn about them and their love of the Coachella Valley, of golf and their commitment to helping their fellow man, I'm sure would warm their hearts."

Covering 2,500 square feet, the exhibit includes a 30-stop audio tour and an educational program. It also includes reproductions of more than 200 vintage photos, seven videos and more than 170 items -- including one of Hope's original vaudeville contract from 1922, his Ellis Island medal, the final set of golf clubs he used, some Emmy and Honorary Oscar awards, gifts and awards from Presidents and other celebrities, his Congressional Gold Medal and more.

The exhibit is on display at the Palm Springs Air Museum. This stop is just one of many on its five-year world tour that already has included visits to such venues as the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and the Greenwich Heritage Centre in London.

 

December 15, 2012 - 1:02am
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John Holmes
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Rory McIlroy
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Oakley is suing Rory McIlroy over the right keep its "O" on his shirt in place of a Nike "swoosh."

Rory McIlroy and Nike Golf haven't yet officially announced that they have signed a big new endorsement deal, but already there's some serious consternation over it.

Oakley, which makes sunglasses and apparel, has sued McIlroy and Nike, according to a report on ESPN.com. Filed in federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., the suit claims that McIlroy violated his contract with Oakley by not honoring the clause that gives Oakley "right of first refusal." Essentially, Oakley says, it has the right to match the Nike offer, but that McIlroy and his management team ignored the counteroffer.

Oakley's suit contends that its new contract for McIlroy's endorsement of its eyewear and apparel would be 30 percent of the Nike deal. McIlroy's arrangement with Nike is reported to be around $200 million, so, ESPN.com says, Oakley likely offered about $60 million to keep its association with McIlroy. Interestingly, the court papers don't include a specific number, instead saying the deal is worth only "$_M."

The damage that McIlroy's refusal to renew would cause is "irreparable" and, the company says, entitles Oakley to an injunction that would stop Nike and McIlroy from implementing their deal. The ESPN.com report details a series of back-and-forth emails between McIlroy's team and Oakley that no doubt will play a key role in the suit's ultimate resolution.

McIlroy's management company released a statement to ESPN.com on Friday asserting that "McIlroy has fulfilled all of his obligations to Oakley, and the claims in the lawsuit are entirely baseless."

 

December 14, 2012 - 5:56pm
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John Holmes
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Jordan Spieth
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As a sophomore last season, Jordan Spieth helped the Texas Longhorns win the NCAA Championship and was named the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year.

University of Texas star Jordan Spieth is calling it quits on his glittering amateur career and going pro, he announced on Friday.

"The decision to turn pro was a difficult one, but I'm looking forward to the challenge of competing at the highest level and accomplishing the many goals I've set for myself on and off the course," Spieth said in a statement. "I owe everything I've achieved thus far to the support of my family, friends, teammates, and the University of Texas. While I'm proud of what my teammates and I have accomplished, I couldn't be more excited to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a professional golfer."

The big question for Speith is where he will play, seeing as Q-Schools are over and the 2013 rosters for all the major tours are pretty much set. He can receive up to seven sponsor exemptions into PGA Tour events, and will try to follow players like his fellow Longhorn Justin Leonard on the longshot path of playing his way onto the big tour without going to Q-School. And remember – starting next year, Q-School only awards slots on the Web.com Tour.

Still, if anyone has a chance to make an immediate impact, it is Spieth. Working in his favor is that he could receive exemptions into most or all of the four Texas events on the schedule, all of which are in the first half of the season. He also can try his luck in Monday qualifiers.

As a sophomore, Spieth helped the Longhorns win the NCAA Championship last summer and was named the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year. He also was a first-team All American and a finalist for the 2012 Ben Hogan Award, presented annually to the nation's top amateur golfer.

He also reached No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings earlier this year before ending the season at No. 8. And he won the U.S. Junior Amateur in both 2009 and 2011, amking him one of only two players to own multiple titles in that event. The other, of course, is Tiger Woods.

Spieth has made eight starts on the PGA Tour so far in his young career, and made the cut in five of those events. His best finish was a tie for 16th at the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship in his hometown of Dallas, where he became the sixth-youngest player to make the cut in a PGA Tour event. He also was the low amateur in last summer's U.S. Open, where he tied for 21st.

 

December 14, 2012 - 1:57am
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John Holmes
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Bode Miller and Morgan Beck Miller
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The sunglasses that Morgan Beck Miller was wearing when her husband hit her in the face with a golf ball might have saved her eye.

I have witnessed a fair amount of accidental golfer-on-golfer violence over the years. One time, I was paired with a newly retired couple, neither of whom was very good nor hit the ball very hard. On the ninth tee, however, the husband took his mightiest cut of the day and swung so far over the ball that he somehow sent it streaking between his legs, where it hit his wife square on the ankle. She went down like she'd been shot, and I had to get an ambulance out to the tee box to take her to the hospital.

That, however, pales in comparison to what skiing champion Bode Miller did to his wife on Wednesday. Here's what she tweeted:

"I'm not feeling so hot. Line drive to the face today with a golf ball from my darling husband. I still love him but #ouch."

Mrs. Miller is also known as beach volleyball star Morgan Beck Miller, and by all accounts she is pretty tough. But she almost lost an eye from her husband's wayward shot – she ended up with 50 stitches in and around her eye, and the injury could have been much worse except that she was wearing sunglasses.

Miller called the accident his "first major golf catastrophe." According to NBCSports.com, his wife was standing behind a tree and he was trying not to hit it. But of course we all know what happens when a hacker tries not to hit something.

The photo above is of Miller and his pre-clobbered wife on Nov. 30 at the FIS Alpine World Cup Men's Downhill on Nov. 30 in Beaver Creek, Colo. The images of her post-clobbered eye are pretty gruesome, so I've chosen not to post them here. If you want to see them, click here.

And on a final note, she later tweeted a thank you to Kaenon, the company who made her sunglasses, for the fact that the lens didn't break when the ball hit it. That, I would say, is a pretty good endorsement.