Golf Buzz

Peter Lawrie
USA Today Sports Images
"I went from such a high on sugar to such a dramatic low" as he tried to quit drinking "liters a day" of soft drinks, says Peter Lawrie.
Peter Lawrie tied for 16th at the Maybank Malaysia Open a week ago, and couldn't have been happier. The 40-year-old Irishman wasn't celebrating a mere top-20 finish – he was celebrating the fact that his golf game is rounding back into shape after he kicked an addiction that had taken over his life. 
Lawrie, it turns out, had become addicted to soft drinks – so much so, he told the Irish radio station Newstalk, that he was drinking several liters per day of fizzy sodas. And when he tried to stop, it almost ruined him.
"I wouldn't say I went for a breakdown, but I definitely got exceptionally emotional" as he tried to quit cold turkey, he said in an interview that aired over the weekend. "Even in the hottest country, like Malaysia," he added, he would drink soda on the "golf course because I was addicted to it."
Lawrie – no relation to 1999 British Open winner Paul Lawrie of Scotland – was in the top 200 in the world after he tied for 10th place in the 2013 Irish Open. Soon after, he began trying to wean himself off the carbonated drinks, and his struggle sent him plummeting down the ranking – he fell as low as No. 909 after missing the cut in the South African Open in January.
"I went from such a high on sugar to such a dramatic low" in the weeks and months after the Irish Open, "and I never recovered from it," he said. "I lost all confidence in myself."
His results over the past 18 months or so dramatically illustrate how much trouble he was having. From that tie for 10th in the 2013 Irish Open through the end of 2014, he missed 33 cuts and had only eight finishes in the money. In 2014 alone, he made only six cuts in 27 European Tour starts and earned only $63,870.
"It was very difficult to deal with all of the situations coming at me," he told the radio station. 
This year, though, he's turned the corner. He's feeling better and his results on the course are rebounding. He's made each of his last three cuts, and he's already won almost as much money this year as he did in all of 2014.
Now, he says, he's only drinking two or three cans of soft drinks per day. And his tie for 16th place in Malaysia a week ago was his best finish since his ordeal began.
February 16, 2015 - 12:46pm
mark.aumann's picture
Gloria Resorts
Gloria Hotels and Resorts
Gloria Hotels and Resorts has two championship 18-hole courses on site.

During last month's PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, there were several booths sponsored by national tourism boards, each touting their country as a top golf destination.

Not surprisingly, Scotland, Ireland and Wales were represented, along with Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Spain and Turkey. 

MORE TRAVEL: Seven great American golf resort destinations

Turkey? If you didn't realize it, Turkey's one of the hottest new golf destinations, especially for Europeans trying to find a warm winter vacation spot. And the country has responded to that demand by offering all-inclusive golf packages that have been welcomed in a big way.

David Clare, a former national coach of the Turkish golf team and current golf director at the Gloria Hotels and Resorts, said it's hard to imagine how quickly Turkey has caught on as a golf mecca -- given that the first course in the Belek region didn't open until 1995.

"The hotels there had no winter business, so there was a market for it," Clare said. "The golfers started coming from Europe because the temperatures in Turkey between November and March are 60 to 70 degrees. There's no snow at all.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Five courses you must play

"Couple that with the all-inclusive packages with the hotels -- at about $1,000 a week for lodging and five rounds of golf -- that's the reason it grew so fast in places like Germany, Scandinavia, Great Britain, where the winter weather is bad."

For most parts of Europe, the flight to Antalya is between two and three hours. Because North America has its own winter destinations -- think Arizona, Florida and the Caribbean -- Turkey's not nearly as affordable, or accessible. Still, Clare said he sees a growing number of Americans visiting his resort.

If there's an untapped market for Turkey, it could be Asia, Clare said.

How popular has golf in Turkey become? Clare has some eye-popping stats.

"At the end of 2014, there were 600,000 rounds played on 17 courses from September through to May," Clare said. "We're No. 1, with 85,000 rounds during the season over three courses. No. 2 is Anatayla Golf Club."

GOLF TRIPS: Explore golf trips in U.S.  |  Explore international golf trips

That's the home of the Montgomerie Maxx Royal Golf Course, which hosts the European Tour's Turkish Airlines Open. And where Tiger Woods played in the fall of 2013, a development that caught the world's attention.

Suddenly, everyone in the industry wanted to know more about Turkey.

"What's interesting is what happened after we did the Tiger Woods event and the publicity that received," Clare said. "I had been coming to this show for six years and after that, suddenly people were coming up to the booth and asking us more about it. We've noticed a difference since then."

What makes the golf course industry in Turkey so unusual is that the country owns the land, and the hotel resorts lease the property over a 50-year period.

Clare said the sandy soil is perfect for golf. It drains well, Bermuda takes to it, and it can be overseeded. 

The fact that Turkey's golf industry has grown expotentially in two decades is good thing, but it's also created one problem.  

"We're actually full," Clare said. "The government isn't giving permission to build additional courses now. And the hotels know building one course in one area just won't do it.

"In order for it to be a destination, you need four or five courses. There's land available elsewhere on the coast. It would just need two or three hotel owners to say, 'Let's throw the money in and create a new destination.'"

February 15, 2015 - 4:57pm
mark.aumann's picture
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk stands precariously on the side of a cliff while trying to assess his situation.

Third-round leader Jim Furyk found himself in a rocky situation Sunday at Pebble Beach, literally.

His tee shot on the par-5 sixth hole went right and over the cliffs overhanging the beach. His ball stopped on top of an outcropping about midway down, and Furyk was able to scramble down and assess the situation.

Here's how it looked from the broadcast, and how Furyk was able to extricate himself from it: 



Amazingly, Furyk was able to not only escape what looked like a harrowing situation, but save par in the process.

Earlier in the tournament, Ryuji Imada had a similar situation on the seventh hole -- and found a way to get up and down.

February 15, 2015 - 2:30pm
mark.aumann's picture
Ada golfers
Michael Huff/Facebook
Michael Huff and Alex Lane are all smiles after their amazing round of golf Feb. 7.

On a weekend when most of the country is just dreaming about getting outside to golf, a pair of golfers in Oklahoma recently had consecutive shots you couldn't conjure up in any of your wildest dreams.

Michael Huff and Alex Lane, playing in the same foursome at Oak Hills Golf and Country Club on Feb. 7, made eagle putts on the eighth hole and promptly turned around and made back-to-back holes-in-one on the ninth.

ACE, ACE BABY: Man makes two holes-in-one in same round

The amazing event was chronicled first by Huff's cellphone, and then by a piece written by sports editor Jeff Cali in the Ada (Okla.) News. Here's the photo of the two balls in the hole taken by Huff as proof:




So how did this all happen?

According to Cali's story, there's a group of 12 golfers at Oak Hills who play scratch from the gold tees. This particular foursome included local architect Huff, a member of the country club; Lane, a former Ada High golfer and freshman in college; Russell Lowry, who graduated from Ada High in the 1970s; and Justin Powell, son of the current Ada High golf coach.

All four golfers reached the green at the par-5 eighth in two, but only Huff and Lane made their eagle putts, Huff sinking a 30-footer and Lane finding the bottom of the cup from five feet out.

PAIR OF ACES: Laura Diaz makes two holes-in-one in consecutive days

That brought the foursome to the next hole, a 150-yard par-3.

"The green has a high front, a valley in the middle and a high back, and the pin was hidden in the middle," Huff told Cali. "The right side of the green is also higher than the left, feeding everything from right to left."

Lane hit a pitching wedge that landed, turned left and disappeared behind the ridgeline. Huff's shot followed the same trajectory.

"I've seen that kind of shot a hundred times and somebody always says, 'You might have made that one.' It never happens," Huff was quoted as saying. "We never see one on that hole. They are always maybe a foot short or three feet long. There is a reason that holes in one are rare."

But when they reached the green, only two balls were visible. That's because the other two -- Lane's and Huff's -- were in the hole.

"When the rest of my playing partners saw what had happened, chaos erupted," Huff said in the article. "There was lots of yelling and high-fives and bear hugs.

RYDER CUP ACES: Watch all holes-in-one in Ryder Cup history

"I had a post on Facebook before we even were done with the hole. This was Alex's first ace and my second, but first on my home course."

And just to top off a crazy day, two other golfers made an ace on No. 9, bringing the total to four.

According to the National Hole-in-One Golf Registry, the odds of two members of the same foursome making a hole-in-one on the same hole is 17 million-to-1. So just imagine how astronomical the odds must be for consecutive eagle-aces.

That's one dream every golfer would love to experience in real life.

February 14, 2015 - 10:08am
mark.aumann's picture
Ryuji Imada
PGA Tour/YouTube
Ryudi Imada found himself with an extreme uphill lie Friday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

One of the things about playing a course like Pebble Beach is the amazing coastline views. Unfortunately, that also means the coastline is sometimes in play.

Consider the predicament Ryuji Imada found himself in Friday during the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. His tee shot on the par-3 seventh hole went way left, and somehow stuck in the iceplant on the side of the cliff.

Not only did Imada find the ball, but look what he did next:



Yep, just your routine three. Put down "par" on the scorecard and move along.

Several things come to mind after seeing this. One, Imada must be part mountain goat. Two, that's one heck of a drop (vertical, not golf-related) and one misstep would have been very, very bad. Three, the fact that Imada could calm his heart rate down to make that third shot is perhaps the most impressive thing about the whole episode.

Would you have even gone down there in the first place? I know my answer.

February 13, 2015 - 5:30pm
john.holmes's picture
Panuphol Pittayarat
Asian Tour
Panuphol Pittayarat (center) wona brand-new townhouse at Black Mountain in Thailand for this hole-in-one there on Friday during the European Tour's True Thailand Classic.
Panuphol Pittayarat of Thailand missed the cut in the European Tour's True Thailand Classic on Friday, but he's going home a happy man. The reason – he's going home to a brand-new home.
The 22-year-old Pittayarat – whose nickname on his home Asian Tour is "Coconut" – made a hole-in-one on the par-3 14th hole at Black Mountain Golf Club. His prize? Not a bottle of champagne, or even a car, but the deed to a $368,000 townhouse currently under construction along the ninth fairway.
It just might be golf's first "home-in-one."
"I saw the ball just gone and I wasn't sure if it had gone in. But one of the guys ran up and he said there's no golf ball on the greens," Pittayarat said after his round. "So I started yelling. It was out of my mind. "Six-iron is now my friend."
The ace was the highlight of his day, as he posted a 1-under 71 that included the ace, four birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey.
Amazingly, Pittayarat's ace was the 13th on the European Tour in the 30 rounds played so far, following the four last week at the Maybank Malaysia Open (by Paul Waring, Gregory Bourdy, Jake Higginbottom and Thongchai Jaidee, and the four carded in January at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship (by Tom Lewis, Byeong-hun An, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Rory McIlroy).
The spate of aces is unusual, according to the European Tour, which explored the phenomenon on its website. Last year, its players recorded 35 aces in 49 events – a ratio of one hole-in-one for every 2,143 par 3s played, or 0.05 per cent. Heading into this week, the 12 aces in seven events put the tour on a pace to one for every 893 par 3s played. 
Statisticians say the probability of an amateur making a hole-in-one ranges anywhere from one in 12,500 to one in 40,000, the European Tour said, while a professional golfer has around a one-in-2,500 chance of making an ace. Therefore, it concluded, "the one-in-893 trend we have seen thus far this season is most certainly noteworthy."
If you're counting, the European Tour record for most holes-in-one in a season is 39 in 2006. The 2015 season, for now, is on pace for 81 aces.
Speaking of aces, I haven't found a clip of Pattayarat's hole-in-one, but here is an interview with him after his round: