Golf Buzz

July 2, 2014 - 9:35am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Errie Ball
PGA of America Archive
Errie Ball, a participant in the 1934 Masters and a PGA Hall of Famer, passed away early Wednesday morning at the age of 103.

Sad news came through this morning with the passing of Errie Ball at 5:20 a.m.

Ball, 103 years old, had been the oldest living PGA member and the only living participant from the first Masters in 1934.

RELATED: Photos of Errie Ball through the years | Ball recalls 1934 Masters

"The PGA of America is saddened by the passing of Errie Ball, a professional in all aspects of life," said PGA of America President Ted Bishop. "Errie's amazing career spans the legends of the game -- from Harry Vardon through Tiger Woods. His longevity, according to those who knew him best, was founded upon a love of people. Each day, like each step he took on the course, was spent with purpose. We will miss him dearly, but his legacy continues to shine through the many PGA Professionals he inspired to grow our game."

Ball, originally from Wales, worked as an assistant professional under Bobby Jones at East Lake Country Club in Atlanta. Ball has been a PGA Professional since 1932.

In 2011, Ball was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame. He served the PGA of America for an incredible 83 years. 

July 2, 2014 - 9:04am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bubba Watson
USA Today Sports Images
Bubba Watson seems to contend every week that he plays this year on the PGA Tour.

This week the PGA Tour is in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., to take on the Old White TPC in the Greenbrier Classic.

It's a course where low scores can be had. In fact, Stuart Appleby fired a 59 in the final round on his way to winning the tournament in 2010.

While scores can go low, we're not likely to see another 59. The Old White course opened in 1914, but joined the TPC network of courses in March 2011 and was lengthened to 7,287.

RELATED: Greenbrier Classic tee times | What does Tiger need next? | June reader photos

Here are five players to keep an eye on at Greenbrier, two weeks before the Open Championship tees off at Royal Liverpool.

5. Jonas Blixt
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T2 at the Masters
Reason to watch: Blixt has been in a bit of a rut lately, missing the cut in five of his last seven starts. However, there was one serious flash of brilliance in that stretch with his tie for second at the Masters. Blixt returns to Greenbrier this year as the defending champion. Based on his play lately, I wouldn't necessarily expect him to win. But, if he's going to snap out of this funk, Greenbrier could be the perfect place.

4. Scott Stallings
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the Farmers Insurance Open
Reason to watch: There was a stretch recently where Stallings missed the cut in seven of eight starts. Believe it or not, that's no reason for alarm with Stallings, a three-time PGA Tour winner. For this 29-year-old, it truly is feast or famine. His lone top-25 finish this season was his win at Torrey Pines. When he plays well, he plays great and when it goes south, it's typically a missed cut. In fact, since joining the PGA Tour in 2011, Stallings hasn't had a single season with less than 14 missed cuts. In 2014, he's missed the cut 11 times through 20 events played. That said, he's never missed the cut at Greenbrier and actually won the tournament in his rookie season.

3. Webb Simpson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: What's not to like about the 2012 U.S. Open champ? He's got six top-10 finishes in 16 starts this season, including a win and two third-place showings. He tied for seventh at Greenbrier in 2012 and tied for ninth in 2011. It's a place where he's comfortable. In his last eight competitive rounds, Simpson has yet to shoot 70 or better. We're going to cut him some slack though -- those eight rounds were made up of four at the U.S. Open and four at the Quicken Loans National last week, which was played at Congressional -- the course that hosted the 2011 U.S. Open.

2. Jimmy Walker
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the Open, Sony Open in Hawaii and AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Reason to watch: There has been no better player on the PGA Tour this season than Walker. Here we are in July and he's already got three wins to go along with five other top-10 finishes. That's just outstanding stuff. For that reason alone he's a factor whenever he tees it up now. But, in this case, I also like the fact that he was a runner-up at Greenbrier a year ago.

1. Bubba Watson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the Northern Trust Open and the Masters
Reason to watch: Like Walker, this has been an amazing season for Watson. Along with picking up his second major victory and that win at Riviera, Watson has also been a runner up twice and finished third once. And, if you follow him on Twitter, you know that he's been spending quite a bit of downtime with his family at the Greenbrier. It's practically a second home. On courses that he likes -- and Watson is very open about what he likes and doesn't like (see Pinehurst No. 2 where he missed the cut in the U.S. Open) -- Watson is a tough customer. 

July 1, 2014 - 12:40pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Bryan Brothers
Need a reason to get pumped for today's World Cup Round of 16 match between the U.S. and Belgium? Here are the golf-trick shot Bryan Brothers to help you out with their "World Cup Edition Part 2."

You probably don't need any help getting fired up for this afternoon's Round of 16 World Cup match between the U.S. and Belgium.

But just in case, our favorite golf-trick shot friends -- the Bryan Brothers -- have released their "World Cup Edition Part 2."

RELATED: Meet the Bryan Brothers | Trick shot with live alligator | Compilation

Check it out:

As you can see, unlike Part 1 which featured many dazzling shots with a soccer ball, Part 2 focuses on the golf ball.

Once again, we're impressed. 

July 1, 2014 - 11:26am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tom Watson
USA Today Sports Images
In an announcement at the Greenbrier on Tuesday, five-time Open Champion Tom Watson was granted an exemption into the 2015 Open at St. Andrews -- the 40th anniversary of Watson's first Open win at Carnoustie.

The R&A held a press conference this morning at the Greenbrier -- site of this week's Greenbrier Classic on the PGA Tour -- to make a couple of major announcements.

First, Royal Birkdale will host the Open Championship in 2017 and Carnoustie will host it in 2018.

RELATED: U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson's blog archive

Second, 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson was extended an exemption to play in the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews. It will be the 40th anniversary of Watson's 1975 Open win at Carnoustie -- the first of his five Open victories.

"I certainly appreciate, more than you will know, the R&A for this exemption," said Watson, who never won the Open at St. Andrews. "This is something very special to me to be able to finish out my career. This is the place I want to finish my career and playing the Open Championship."

Barring a top-10 finish -- either this year, or next -- it will also be Watson's last Open Championship. The R&A grants exemptions to the top-10 finishers from the previous year's Open, and to any past Open champions who have finished in the top 10 in the previous five years.

Watson was the runner up at Turnberry in 2009, losing in a playoff to Stewart Cink.

July 1, 2014 - 10:36am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bubba Watson, PING G30
Masters champ Bubba Watson is expected to put PING's new G30 driver in play this week at Greenbrier. No surprise, it's really pink.

This week, Masters champ Bubba Watson will debut his new PING G30 driver at the Greenbrier Classic.

According to a report from Golfweek's James Achenbach, PING is expected to begin selling the G30 driver, fairway woods, hybrids and irons in early August.

At this point, wrote Achenbach, just the driver and fairway woods are available on the PGA Tour and PGA European Tour. equipment writer Jonathan Wall took this splitscreen image of the PING's standard G30, alongside the "Bubba Watson" inspired model:

July 1, 2014 - 9:28am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia -- along with a crew from TaylorMade -- recently surprised unsuspecting golfers at Bethpage Black with a gift of new SLDR S drivers.

You've seen commercials over the years with star golfers surprising unsuspecting weekend warriors at the local muni over the years -- whether it was the old Tiger Woods/Buick commercials, Phil Mickelson/Ford, or the newer Tom Watson/MasterCard commercials.

Well, the folks at TaylorMade stepped it up a bit. They visited the mother of all munis -- Bethpage Black in New York, site of two past U.S. Opens, as well as a future Ryder Cup and PGA Championship.

RELATED: Star golfers accept the "Ice Bucket Challenge"

TaylorMade also brought along one of its star endorsers -- Sergio Garcia.

During the stunt, Garcia shows up on a crowded Bethpage driving range and then announces he and TaylorMade have a gift for all the golfers there -- a fitting for a free SLDR S driver.

It didn't stop there. As golfers made their way to the first tee just below the famous Bethpage Black sign that reads: "WARNING -- The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers" -- they were met by a gallery, standard bearers, Golf Channel's Tripp Isenhour on the mic to announce each player for the full on PGA Tour Experience.

As you'll see below, the fans were blown away.

It also looks like Garcia built up some good will with the fans at Bethpage. In 2002, he was heckled relentlessly for excessive waggles before he hit each shot. Fans were literally counting the number of waggles before Garcia pulled the trigger.