Golf Buzz

October 25, 2014 - 10:05am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Payne Stewart
PGA of America
Payne Stewart at the 1999 Ryder Cup, one month before his death.

It's hard to believe, but Saturday marks the 15th anniversary of the tragic passing of one of golf's most charismatic figures, Payne Stewart.

Stewart, an 11-time PGA Tour winner and three-time major champion, perished in a LearJet plane accident on Oct. 25, 1999, when the cabin lost pressure. All on board died of hypoxia -- a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply.

The plane, still on auto-pilot, crashed in a field in Mina, S.D., when it eventually ran out of fuel. Stewart's agents Robert Fraley and Van Ardan, and pilots Michael Kling and Stephanie Bellegarrigue, along with Bruce Borland, a highly regarded golf course architect with the Jack Nicklaus design company, also perished.

Stewart was 42 at the time of his death. He was just four months removed from what would prove to be his final major championship victory, the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, an incredible tournament where Stewart outlasted a then-majorless Phil Mickelson.

Watch highlights from that '99 U.S. Open here:

The plane incident happened just one month -- nearly to the day -- after Stewart was part of the U.S. Ryder Cup team that mounted a then record-setting, final day, come from behind victory in the 1999 matches at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

That was Stewart's last public appearance and, if ever there was an everlasting way to remember someone, that was it.

Stewart had always been known for two things -- his distinctive clothing (plus-fours and tam-o-shanter hat) and his intensity. Before those 1999 Ryder Cup matches, Stewart mixed things up a bit when he suggested that based on the strength of the European team -- or perceived lack thereof -- they should be caddying for the U.S. team not playing against them.

Harsh, no doubt, but that was Stewart's personality. He loved dishing it out, but also had a heart the size of the Wanamaker Trophy that he won in the 1989 PGA Championship.

In his Sunday singles match, Stewart displayed the type of sportsmanship he'll forever be remembered for. His opponent Colin Montgomerie was having a horrible week with the Boston galleries heckling his every move. With the Ryder Cup already secured late that afternoon for the Americans, Stewart picked up Montgomerie's golf ball on the 18th hole and conceded the match out of courtesy.

It was mature, it was classy, it was the right thing to do. It exemplified the person Payne Stewart had come to be.

During the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, Rickie Fowler paid homage to Stewart with his clothing for the first round:

The rememberance by Fowler proved to be good karma. He tied for second at the U.S. Open.

 

Justin Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champ, also paid tribute to Stewart to Pinehurst back in June. After holing his final putt, Rose gave the famous fist in the air reaction Stewart gave when his winning putt dropped in 1999. You can see video of it here:

To understand just how long Stewart has been gone, here are a few things that have happened since he left us far too early:

 

- Tiger Woods had just two major championships on his resume before Stewart's passing. Woods has had 12 since.

- Phil Mickelson, major-less before Stewart's passing, has won five of them since.

- Woods (2000, 2002 and 2008) and Retief Goosen (2001, 2004) joined Stewart, Willie Anderson, Alex Smith, John McDermott, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Ralph Guldahl, Ben Hogan, Cary Middlecoff, Julius Boros, Billy Casper, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Andy North, Hale Irwin, Curtis Strange, Ernie Els and Lee Janzen as the only winners of multiple U.S. Opens.

- Seven Ryder Cups have been played. The U.S. has gone 1-6 over that time, with the lone victory coming in 2008 at Valhalla, when Stewart's dear friend, Paul Azinger, was the U.S. captain.

- And, for the younger crowd, Twitter, Facebook, iPhones, iPods and blogs didn't even exist until well after 1999.

Stewart has been missed and will continue to be missed. Unfortunately, we'll never have the chance to see him captain a U.S. Ryder Cup team -- something that surely would have come to fruition.

Though he passed so young, Stewart left us with so many great on-course memories.

Even still, it's hard to believe it's been 15 years.

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

Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson/YouTube
Bubba Watson shared a YouTube video of himself and 3-year-old golf prodigy Tommy.

In September, we shared with you the story of 3-year-old Tommy Morrissey, who is a burgeoning golf prodigy despite being born with only one arm.

FATHER AND SON OUTING: Bubba Watson takes Caleb to the course

Tommy's favorite golfer is Bubba Watson, who is now suitably impressed by Tommy's golfing abilities. On Friday, Watson posted this YouTube video of him watching Tommy hit one from the tee. 

 

 

Watson then tweeted this:

 

 

 

That's got to be pretty special -- not only meeting a two-time Masters winner, but earning his praise and respect in the process. Let's hope Tommy Morrissey goes a long way in this game.

 

Thorbjorn Olesen
USA Today Sports Images
Thorbjorn Olesen's light schedule this season can be traced to an unfortunate encounter with a camel.
Thorbjorn Olesen made a bit of a splash in 2013 when he signed with Nike Golf and was featured in some advertisements with swoosh wearers like Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. He's been a bit quiet lately – he's ranked No. 130 in the world – and now we know why.
 
He fell off a camel.
 
Yes, seriously. 
 
"I was in Dubai with a few friends; we were riding on motorbikes and did all sorts of other stuff," Olesen explained in a story published today in The Melbourne Age newspaper in Australia. "Then I actually fell off a camel in the desert and pulled my [groin] muscle, so it took a couple months before I was ready to play again.
 
"Sometimes it bounces back and I need to get some treatment, but it's all good now."
 
The 24-year-old from Denmark shared the lead after Thursday's first round of the Perth International in western Australia before slipping one shot off the pace today.
 
He tied for fifth in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and tied for third in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic early in the year, but played only sparingly through the spring and early summer. He began ramping it back up at the PGA Championship, and is making his 13th start of 2014 this week in Perth, where he is looking for his first win since 2012.
 
"Its been a dry period," he said. 
 
Not surprisingly, we note, camels like the dry.
 
Adams Golf Idea Tech Hybrid Iron set
Courtesy of Adams Golf
The Adams Idea Tech Hybrid Iron set is designed for players with swing speeds of 85 mph or less.
Golfers with slower swing speeds often struggle to get the most out of high-performance clubs that perform better when swung faster – especially long irons. The Idea Tech Hybrid Iron set from Adams Golf, however, is designed specifically for golfers with slower swing speeds (85 mph and lower) who want to launch the ball high and achieve greater distance than they can manage with traditional irons. 
 
There are different sets:
 
--Men's: 3-5 Hybrid, 6-7 Driving Hybrid and 8-pitching wedge Hybrid Irons  
--Senior: 4-6 Hybrids, 7-8 Driving Hybrids and 9-gap wedge Hybrid Irons
--Women's: 4-6 Hybrids, 7-8 Driving Hybrids and and 9-sand wedge Hybrid Irons
 
"From the highest lofted iron to the lowest lofted hybrid, each club in the new Idea Tech hybrid iron set is intended to enhance the golfer's enjoyment of the game," said Michael Fox, director of product category management at Adams Golf. "This set was specifically made for the golfer who doesn't generate a lot of speed, but wants to experience the thrill of hitting high and straight launching golf shots."
 
By adding an external 24-gram weight to the back of the 3-5 hybrids, engineers could position the center of gravity lower and further back in the head than in any previous Adams hybrid. This low-and-back design gives slower swing-speed players higher launch and increased spin, helping them keep the ball airborne longer.
 
 
As in the previous generation, the Hybrid Irons (6-pitching wedge) feature an enhanced wrap-around slot that stretches from the toe across the sole and into the crown. This expands the sweet spot across the entire face, delivering better performance on off-center strikes. 
 
In addition, a refined barbell-shaped slot on the crown reduces stress on the face while improving ball speed. This, Adams says, results in the fastest and longest Idea hybrid and iron combination in the company's history.
 
The set also features a new progressive shaft design in which the shaft tip diameters get thinner towards the lower end of the set. This makes it easier to generate speed and launch on the downswing, making it ideal for slow swing speed players. 
 
The men's set carries a suggest retail price of $799.99 with steel shafts and $899.99 with graphite shafts. Both the women's and senior sets retail for $899.99 with graphite shafts, and all will be available at retail on Oct. 24.
 
October 24, 2014 - 7:37am
Posted by:
PGA of America
tj.auclair's picture
St. Lucie Trail Golf Club
PGA of America
St. Lucie Trail Golf Club.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Unveiling a unique and special focus on the local community, PGA Country Club will transform into the open-to-the-public "St. Lucie Trail Golf Club" beginning Nov. 1. The facility and golf course, originally designed by Jim Fazio in 1988, will continue to be owned and operated by the PGA of America, upholding the same maintenance standards as nearby PGA Golf Club.

St. Lucie Trail Golf Club has undergone a tremendous revitalization program to its tee boxes, fairways, greens and landscaping over the past 18 months, under the direction of Superintendent Dick Gray, a protégé of Pete Dye. Accordingly, golfers now have the ability to play a picturesque, 18-hole course for the best value in the local marketplace.

"The PGA of America is extremely proud to unveil St. Lucie Trail Golf Club, as golfers from the local community and surrounding counties can now enjoy unparalleled public access to this beautiful course," said Jimmy Terry, PGA general manager for St. Lucie Trail Golf Club. "In addition, the course will serve as a national testing ground for player development programs originated by the PGA of America, in order to further grow the game, both here in St. Lucie County and across the country."

St. Lucie Trail Golf Club also features a new logo, which pays homage to the local community by incorporating a warm and welcoming green colored trail.

Rounds will range from $49 in the summer to $89 during the winter season. In addition, an annual, golf-only "Preferred Player Program" that offers unlimited access for $1,995 for a single player, and $2,995 for two players, is available at the clubhouse.

Memberships to PGA Golf Club will continue to offer access to four courses -- the Wanamaker, Ryder and Dye Courses at PGA Golf Club, in addition to the new St. Lucie Trail Golf Club, which is located at 951 SW Country Club Dr., in Port St. Lucie. PGA Golf Club will also remain open for both public and resort play.

For more information and reservations, call (800) 800-GOLF or visit PGAVillage.com.

Bill Murray and Ellen DeGeneres
The "Ellen" Show via YouTube
If Bill Murray forgets who gave him these golf pants, all he has to do is look at them.
Bill Murray has been making the TV talk show rounds in recent weeks to promote his new movie, "St. Vincent." And while the movie doesn't have a golf theme, golf is always on Murray's mind.
 
So it wasn't a surprise that, when Murray dropped by the "Ellen" show, host Ellen DeGeneres wanted to talk a little golf. Well, make that golf fashion.
 
"One of the things I love about the game is they have the greatest clothes," DeGeneres said. "And you have some really interesting pants."
 
So, Ellen continued, she got Murray some pants to wear the next time he teed it up. And when she pulled them out of a shopping bag, they were – standard-looking gray slacks, with pictures of Ellen's smiling face stuck all over them.
 
 
Murray got up and tried on the pants – pulling them over the typically tacky pair he wore on the show.
 
"Normally I wouldn't have a pair of pants on underneath these pants," he explained. "But I don't trust myself with this crowd."
 
So when might we see Murray sporting these slacks out on the links? The first round at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am next spring might be a good bet.
 
Here's a clip of Murray and DeGeneres. The golf portion begins about 1:30 in: