Golf Buzz

Francesco Molinari
Francesco Molinari nearly holed a 180-yard shot from the rough Saturday at Bay Hill.

Who says there's no March Madness in golf? Francesco Molinari nearly holed the equivalent of a full-court buzzer-beater Saturday in the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

THIRD ROUND RECAP: Adam Scott's lead slashed in half as challengers loom

Molinari was in the left hand rough on the par-4, 466-yard 15th at Bay Hill, more than 180 yards away from the flag, when he put this swing on the ball. The only thing that could have made it better was if somebody had pulled the flagstick.

The look on Molinari's face is priceless. He's actually disappointed that he has to putt for a tap-in birdie. Most amateurs would have been excited to have been anywhere on the green from there.

WEEKEND IN PHOTOS: Saturday's best shots from Bay Hill, LPGA Founders Cup


March 21, 2014 - 6:42pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Rickie Fowler
Was Rickie Fowler all wet when he gave his reason for Bubba Watson's 83 at Bay Hill? Well, yes.
Why did Bubba Watson shoot an 83 on Thursday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational? 
Rickie Fowler knows. In fact, he reveals that Bubba's high score was actually his fault.
Rickie's explanation, and the payoff – an acrobatic leap into the lake behind Bubba's house in Orlando – can be found in the video below. We're not sure we believe him, but his flip is pretty cool:
March 21, 2014 - 2:54pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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TaylorMade SLDR driver
Courtesy of TaylorMade
The SLDR driver is included in TaylorMade's moneyback guarantee program that is running over the next couple of months.
Since it debuted last summer the SLDR driver from TaylorMade has become one of golf's best sellers, not to mention the most widely used driver on the PGA Tour. 
On Friday, the company came out with this guarantee: Buy any SLDR driver, fairway or Rescue club between now and June 1, and test them out for 30 days. If you don't gain distance over your current clubs, TaylorMade will refund your money.
"We know there are golfers out there who don't trust our science or what tour players do," said Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade’s director of product creation for metalwoods. "So we're encouraging these golfers to trust their own distance. That's why we’re putting the SLDR guarantee in play."
Golfers wishing to return their SLDR clubs can either call a toll-free number or visit the TaylorMade website. Those who elect to do so will receive a check within 12 weeks, the company said. 
The SLDR line of clubs is built around the concept of "lofting up" – using more loft than the average golfer traditionally uses in his driver and fairway clubs. That, combined with the low-forward center of gravity in the clubs, creates the ideal conditions for distance – a higher launch with less spin – the company said.
For complete information on the guarantee, click here.
And here is a video of TaylorMade CEO Mark King talking about the SLDR guarantee:
March 20, 2014 - 9:42pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Zachary Christman and Eric Angeles
Remember a couple days ago when we showed you the two guys who teamed up to hit one golf ball? Well, they're at it again.
After their first video went viral – thanks in part to our including it here on the Golf Buzz – California high school golfers Zachary Christman and Eric Angeles got out their sticks, turned on their video gear and figured out a way to top it.
Looks like they did – they duplicated their first trick, but this time upped the difficulty factor with a friend and a bench.
After that first video, the good folks at the Pinehurst Resort said they wanted the dynamic duo to come on out to North Carolina and try some trick shots on the iconic No. 2 course. That hasn't happened yet, but the guys shared this second video with the Pinehurst staff, who posted it on YouTube.
"We'll find a way to get you guys to Pinehurst one day to try the shot at The Cradle of American Golf," Pinehurst wrote on its website. We can only hope it happens.
In the meantime, here is the new video, with the original right below it:
March 20, 2014 - 6:30pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Poppy Hills Golf Course
Photo by Joann Dost
Poppy Hills is open again after a signficant makeover by course architect Robert Trent Jones II, who created the layout back in 1986.
Poppy Hills Golf Course – well known as one of the popular and prestigious courses in northern California's Pebble Beach area – held its grand reopening ceremony Thursday after a top-to-bottom redesign that took just more than a year. The course will reopen for public play on April 4.
The renovation was overseen by course architect Robert Trent Jones II, who created the layout back in 1986. For the renovation, his quest was to restore each hole to its natural elevation along the floor of the Del Monte Forest, soften the doglegs and contours and remake all 18 greens with bent grass.
In addition, he built a new 11th hole, which is now the shortest par 3 at Poppy Hills; created a new version of the 12th hole, which now tees off toward a spectacular ocean view and rolls downhill; and revitalized a seasonal creek that cuts in front of the new ninth green. 
The catalyst for the renovation was to find a way to improve drainage while conserving water. Jones' introduction of native waste areas reduces the amount of irrigated turf by nearly 25 acres, and he installed an irrigation system that is 20 percent more efficient. The entire course was sand-capped to enhance drainage as well, and a significant amount of rough was eliminated to make the course firmer and play faster.
"It's a renaissance more than a renovation," Jones said. "It's really a brand-new golf course. The new conceptions have reinvigorated the golf course. They will bring the course back to all its glory."
Par at Poppy Hills has dropped from 72 to 71, but the yardage has increased from 6,863 to 7,002 from the new Jones Trail (the back set of tees). The Jones Trail plays to a rating of 73.5 and a slope of 135, but now there is more flexibility in course set-up, with five sets of tees instead of four.
As the redesign was being formally unveiled, course officials also announced that the Champions Tour's Nature Valley First Tee Open will be played at Poppy Hills and Pebble Beach in September. Poppy co-hosted the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am from 1991-2009, as well as the Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational for four years; it is owned by the Northern California Golf Association, which has its headquarters on site.
March 20, 2014 - 2:34pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
Getty Images
A source revealed to GolfWeek's Jeff Rude that Tiger Woods has been diagnosed with a bulging disk in his back.

According to a report from GolfWeek's Jeff Rude, world No. 1 Tiger Woods has been diagnosed with a bulging disk in his back and will not need surgery.

Rude obtained the information from "someone with knowledge" of Tiger's condition.

Wrote Rude:

It could have been much worse, the person said, because Woods doesn’t have the kind of herniated disk that likely would require an operation.

In his last two starts on the PGA Tour, Woods has suffered from back spasms. At the Honda Classic three weeks ago, the spasms were so bad, Woods withdrew 13 holes into the final round.

RELATED: Bubba Watson withdraws at Bay Hill citing allergies after first-round 83

Woods played through the pain in the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral two weeks ago, but was forced to withdraw from the Arnold Palmer Invitational this past Tuesday at Bay Hill, where he was the defending champion (and an eight-time champion overall).

Woods has stated that his goal is to continue treatment with the hope that he'll be ready in time for the Masters, which begins on April 10.

“It's too early to know about the Masters, and I will continue to be evaluated and work closely with my doctors,” Woods said on his website Tuesday.

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