Golf Buzz

Phil Mickelson at the FedEx St. Jude Classic
PGA Tour via Youtube
Phil Mickelson got up and down with his trademark flair at the FedEx St. Jude Classic on Thursday.

Phil was being the Thrill again on Thursday at the FedEx St. Jude Classic – and that meant he executed one of his trademark flop shots. No matter how many times I see him do this, it never ceases to amaze me.

Mickelson hit his tee shot pure on the 198-yard, par-3 fourth hole at TPC Southwind – only to see his ball land hard and bounce way into the thick stuff over the green. That left him with an almost impossible recovery – a downhill lie, 62 feet from the flag with not a lot of green to work with.

GOLF BUZZ: Mickelson gives thumbs-up to renovations at Pinehurst No. 2

For you and me? Forget it. For Phil? A full wind-up, a mighty swing, an audible swoosh as his club swept through the grass and a gorgeous shot popped almost straight up and finished a few feet from the hole. One putt later, Mickelson walked off with a well-deserved par en route to his opening 3-under 67.



Pinehurst No. 9, National Golf Club
Courtesy of Pinehurst Resort
Pinehurst No. 9, formerly known as National Golf Club, is the only Jack Nicklaus-designed course in the Sandhills region of North Carolina.

At the Pinehurst Resort, everybody is focused on the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open doubleheader coming up in the next two weeks. But clearly somebody is multi-tasking.

Pinehurst has purchased the National Golf Club, which is also in the Village of Pinehurst, for a price tag that wasn't disclosed, and is christening it Pinehurst No. 9. 

The most noteworthy aspect of the purchase is that it adds the only Jack Nicklaus-designed course in the Sandhills region to the Pinehurst portfolio, which also includes courses designed by, or restored by, some of the game's most recognized names, including Donald Ross, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, Tom Fazio, Rees Jones and Ellis Maples.

"We're very excited to add this ninth course to our offering and look forward to welcoming National's members to the Pinehurst Resort & Country Club family," said Pinehurst Senior Vice President of Golf and Club Operations Jay Biggs. "The golf course presents a challenging test in a beautiful setting that complements our eight other courses."
National Golf Club – with a 30,000-square-foot clubhouse along with pool, tennis courts, restaurant and banquet facilities – opened in 1989, and has been a popular destination in the Sandhills ever since. The club recently underwent a renovation that re-grassed the greens with bent grass and softened the greens' contours.
Pinehurst struck the deal with Neil Robinette, the National GC's 26-year-old CEO, who took over in January after his grandfather, Claude Smith, died in January, according to the Triangle Business Journal. Robinette said he had discussed the deal with his grandfather before he died, and that the timing of the sale wasn't related to the U.S. Open. 
National is open to its current members and Pinehurst Country Club members. Pinehurst Resort guests will able to play there starting in early July.
The acquisition "reflects Pinehurst's continued emphasis on enhancing amenities for members and resort guests," the resort said in a news release. "Pinehurst recently completed a $4 million renovation of its clubhouse and has plans for an expansive, multi-million dollar aquatics facility targeted for completion in summer 2015."
June 4, 2014 - 7:23pm
john.holmes's picture
Ted Bishop, Pete Bevacqua, Derek Jeter
PGA of America
PGA of America President (l-r) Ted Bishop and CEO Pete Bevacqua were at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday to present Derek Jeter with a set of golf clubs.

New York City is a special place for The PGA of America, which was founded there in 1916 and has grown into the world's largest sports organization.  Several top PGA officials are back in the Big Apple this week, and spent Wednesday night at the New York Yankees' game with Oakland. 

PGA President Ted Bishop and his fellow leaders also took the opportunity to honor Yankees Captain Derek Jeter, who of course is retiring at the end of the current season, by presenting him with a set of clubs in a custom PGA golf bag in a special pre-game ceremony.

"I think you could say that Derek Jeter is one of the great Yankees of all time, and me being a lifelong Yankee fan, this is almost like a dream come true to present him with these clubs," said Bishop. "But more importantly, I hope that when his career is over, the Captain becomes an avid golfer. We need guys like that on the golf course."

The PGA's set of golf clubs is the latest "going away" gift that Jeter has received so far this season as he makes his way around the major leagues one last time. Already, he has gotten such tokens of appreciation as a #2 from the Wrigley Field scoreboard from the Chicago Cubs, a bronze bat from the Milwaukee Brewers, a Yankees-themed paddleboard from the Los Angeles Angels, and a pair of pin-striped cowboy boots from the Houston Astros.



June 4, 2014 - 11:31am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Payne Stewart
Getty Images
Payne Stewart celebrates his incredible win in the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 over a then major-less Phil Mickelson.

If you've got a little over 12 minutes to spare today, you need to do yourself a favor and watch this "Nine for IX" short directed by ESPN's Hannah Storm, entitled, "Love & Payne."

The story is about the late Payne Stewart, who died in a plane accident just four months after winning the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst 15 years ago. The 2014 U.S. Open returns to Pinehurst next week.

RELATED: Remembering Payne Stewart 14 years after his death

Often times, people are sensationalized in death. This short film doesn't do that. It's well-documented that Stewart wasn't always the nicest guy early in his career and came off many times as cocky.

However, has Stewart's widow Tracey notes, along with Stewart's good friends Peter Jacobsen, Roger Maltbie and caddie Mike Hicks, Payne reached the point in his life where he found peace. He was working toward becoming a better person and that was apparent in his on and off-course demeanor.

This story -- even in less than 15 minutes -- encapsules who Payne Stewart was... all of him.



Very well done. He'll be on the minds of many next week.

June 4, 2014 - 10:08am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Dustin Johnson
USA Today Sports Images
Dustin Johnson won the St. Jude Classic in 2012 and tied for 10th in 2013.

The PGA Tour is in Memphis this week for the St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind -- the final tune up before the second major championship of the year, next week's U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

While many stars elect to sit out the week prior to a major, that isn't the case for players like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Lee Westwood who are all teeing it up in Memphis.

RELATED: St. Jude Classic tee times | Mickelson gets first look at revamped Pinehurst

Since a massive renovation after the 2004 St. Jude Classic, TPC Southwind has routinely played as one of the more difficult courses on the PGA Tour, so it's not a bad place to get ready for the U.S. Open.

With that, here are five players to keep an eye on this week.

5. Harris English
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the OHL Classic at Mayakoba
Reason to watch: English returns this week to the site of his first PGA Tour win. He'll be feeling some good vibes playing for the first time on Tour as a "defending champion." He's enjoyed a solid season so far with six top-10 finishes in 18 starts, including that victory early on in Mexico. Also among those 18 starts are three missed cuts -- all of which have come in three of his last five starts. Familiarity with a place where he's had past (recent) success will pay dividends for English this week.

4. David Toms
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T4 at the Puerto Rico Open presented by
Reason to watch: Toms and TPC Southwind go together like peanut butter and jelly. He's finished in the top four there on six occasions over the course of his career, including back-to-back victories in 2003-04. The course changed dramatically after the '04 tournament, a renovation that made it much more difficult. Even so, Toms was runner up in 2005, third in 2007 and tie for second in 2009. Lately Toms hasn't had quite that kind of success in Memphis, but coming off a tie for fifth at Colonial in his last start -- his next-best finish this season -- look for him to recapture some of that old magic at TPC Southwind this week.

3. Paul Casey
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T11 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Reason to watch: At one point in time not all that long ago (2009), Paul Casey was the No. 3-ranked player in the world. Currently, he's No. 84, but on the rise (He missed a lot of time over the last few years nursing various injuries). Though he hasn't yet cracked the top-10 in 10 starts this season, Casey has finished in the top 25 six times, including a T13 last week at Memorial, where he opened with a pair of 66s. A quick look at his stats for the season shows that Casey's difficulty has been putting together four rounds. Perhaps that changes this week in Memphis.

2. Phil Mickelson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T11 at the Wells Fargo Championship
Reason to watch: Mickelson is off to his slowest start in 22 years on the PGA Tour. Through 13 events, he still has yet to finish among the top 10. It's crazy. This week might be just what the doctor ordered for Mickelson. He tied for second in Memphis a year ago and went on to finished in a tie for second in the U.S. Open the following week. Well, next week is the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 -- the site of the first of six runner-up finishes at the national championship over the course of Mickelson's career. It's the only major he's missing to complete the career grand slam. He's got to find something in his game and he'd better find it fast.

1. Dustin Johnson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: After a red-hot start to the season in which he began with six, top-10 finishes in his first eight appearances -- highlighted by a win in China -- Johnson has, understandably, cooled off a touch. But, expect him to get hot this week in Memphis, where he won in 2012 and tied for 10th a year ago. TPC Southwind suits his game. And with eight Tour wins at 29 years old, majors should be on Johnson's mind. If he plays well this week, it could go a long way toward carrying him into next week.

PGA Tour Grill
Courtesy of HMSHost
Officials from the PGA Tour, HMSHost and the San Diego Airport Authority cut the ribbon to open the PGA Tour Grill.

Most of us golf travelers are familiar with the PGA Tour Shops that populate various airports across the country. Now, though, they're getting some company – the PGA Tour Grill.

Yes, the PGA Tour Grill opened Tuesday in Terminal 2 West of the San Diego International Airport, and there are indications that others will follow in the future.

The eatery is a partnership between the PGA Tour and HMSHost, which operates, among other things, a variety of airport restaurants – another new project of theirs is Sammy's Beach Bar & Grill in conjunction with rock star Sammy Hagar in the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

GOLF BUZZ: Jordan Spieth re-creates his John Deere Classic-winning bunker shot

The PGA Tour Grill's clubhouse-style seating area is decked out with flat-screen TVs that carry feature live tournament action from around the globe, highlights and other programming from the Golf Channel. It also features iPads loaded with golf tips as well as health information on the menu items.

And speaking of the menu, the restaurant "focuses on providing a healthy menu fit for active lifestyles," according to the announcement from HMSHost. The menu includes dishes like Shrimp & Mahi Ceviche and Vegetarian Crispy Kale, Avocado & Hummus, as well as salads like the Power Salad, with quinoa, garbanzos, edamame, fresh herbs, champagne vinaigrette, sunflower seeds, grilled red pepper, butter lettuce and red grapes.

These, the announcement said, "are creations not typically found in an airport and make travelers feel like they are sitting on the patio overlooking the 18th green, not in one of the nation's busiest airports."