Golf Buzz

April 13, 2015 - 9:37am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
T.J. Auclair looks back at five things that stuck out during the final round of the 2015 Masters, including that strange post-round interview with Tiger Woods.

The first major championship of 2015, the Masters, is in the books. Jordan Spieth, 21, started strong last Thursday and never looked back on his way to a record-tying victory at Augusta National.

Here's a look at five surprises from the final day of the Masters.

RELATED: Final Masters leaderboard | What's in Jordan Spieth's bag? | Complete coverage

5. The lack of a Sunday charge
Maybe it was because Jordan Spieth picked the course apart with the precision of a surgeon and just refused to make a mistake. Did that take the wind out of the sails for everyone else who -- outside of maybe Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose really late -- had to know they were playing for second?

It couldn't have been the difficulty of the course set up. Based on scoring average, Sunday's 70.9091 was the easiest Augusta National played all week -- more than a full stroke under par.

I'm playing this one on Spieth's extraordinary play, but this Masters Sunday just lacked drama, particularly on the back nine. Surely that's not how Spieth felt as he chased down his first major.

But, whenever someone made even a mini rally, Spieth answered with a birdie of his own, or a clutch par putt.

Is that drama? In fairness, I suppose it is since Spieth had to answer the bell. But since he answered it every time, Sunday's back nine felt like a forgone conclusion instead of the "grab the popcorn and don't leave your seat" kind we've seen so many times before.

4. The incredible leaderboard
Seeing as the majors are the four most difficult tournaments to win, logic would suggest that the leaderboard should reflect that. However, it doesn't always work out that way.

Anyone who is on the first page of the final scoreboard has no doubt earned it, so I'm not taking anything away from those who have done so without possessing a household name.

But this final Masters scoreboard? It was crazy good.

Spieth is your winner and the names Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Casey, Ian Poulter, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson and Louis Oosthuizen are all among the top-19 finishers.

Now that, friends, is a loaded major leaderboard.

3. The Tiger Woods post-round interview
This should probably be filed more under the category of "weird" than "surprise" but even still, I'm including it.

In an otherwise glowingly positive week for Woods on a competitive (T17 after a two-month layoff, who saw that coming?) and human level (hugs all around, signing autographs for fans, taking the kids out for the Par 3 Contest), he left Augusta National Sunday evening after one of the strangest live interviews I've ever seen.

It's not uncommon for Tiger to lose us in interviews with cliches like, "it's a process," or head-scratching comments about "glutes activating," or confusion while talking about, "getting stuck between swing patterns."

But Sunday night took the peach cobbler as the strangest, most outlandish words we've ever heard from Tiger on live TV.

Woods appeared to hurt himself with an approach shot on the ninth hole when he hit a root a split-second after impact. He immediately reached for his right wrist. It looked painful.

MORE: Check out Jimmy Walker's brilliant bunker shot | Rory tops Tiger head-to-head

Twitter was abuzz and the overriding theme seemed to be, "Why? We finally get a healthy Tiger Woods. He's got his game together in a major. And now this?"

Woods would finish the round -- a 1-over 73 -- and didn't show any signs of pain the rest of the way.

So, as he should, CBS reporter Bill Macatee implored. He wanted to know what happened when Woods hit the root.

That's when Woods served up the most unbelievable answer I've ever heard.

"A bone kinda popped out, joint went out of place, but I put it back in," said Woods.

"Really?" said a stunned (like the rest of us watching) Macatee, opening the door for Woods to maybe dial back this preposterous claim.

"Yeah," said Woods, who wasn't budging.

"Wow, OK," Macatee said (click here to see that portion of the interview in case you missed it).

Wow, indeed.

Here's to hoping there are no ill effects for Woods. But, the self-diagnosis was odd.

That was just strange... and surprising since it looked, otherwise, like a week of reform for Woods.

2. Phil Mickelson ties for second... again
Phil Mickelson should leave Augusta National over the moon about his performance.

Sure, at this stage in his career, Mickelson only cares about winning -- especially when it comes to the majors. You don't become a five-time major champion with any other mindset.

But like the rest of the field, Mickelson ran into a buzzsaw at Augusta National. There's no reason to be discouraged and he knows that even if there is a little sting with collecting a 10th runner-up finish in a major.

All that aside, and the reason he was a surprise at Augusta National, where in the world did this come from?

Mickelson hadn't had a single top-10 finish on the PGA Tour prior to the Masters. In fact, his only top-10 finish over the last two seasons was a runner-up showing last August in the PGA Championship.

Surely he wants to contend every time he tees it up, but it's been clear for a long time now that the majors just bring out the best in Mickelson. Isn't it that way for all the greats?

In the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay this June, Mickelson has his second chance to complete the career grand slam. You're nuts if you don't think he has that week circled on the calendar.

1. Jordan Spieth's record-tying victory
It sounds insane to say it isn't all that surprising that the 21-year-old Spieth won the Masters, but it's the truth. He earned the right to be a tournament favorite and he delivered. In his only other Masters appearance a year ago, Spieth was a runner up. He improved on that and, in so doing, slipped into his first green jacket.

What's surprising about the win is the way Spieth did it. He set a 36-hole and 54-hole scoring record. He tied the 72-hole scoring record initially set by Tiger Woods in 1997 at 18-under 270. He became just the fifth player in Masters history to win in wire-to-wire fashion.

MORE SPIETH: Spieth wins Masters, ties record | Spieth in PGA Grand Slam | Photos

All in all, Spieth was just dominant throughout the week -- even when it would have been easy to shake in the shoes a little when names like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy were all making a run on Saturday. Spieth was composed and stuck to his plan. He didn't get ahead of himself.

Unlike many young prodigies (see Sergio Garcia), Spieth never has to live with the annoyance that comes with being labeled "best player never to have won a major." Now, for Spieth, it's all about adding to the legacy.

A fearless, yet composed, 21-year-old who already has a major in his back pocket?

All evidence suggests this is just the start for Spieth. 

April 12, 2015 - 11:51pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Jaxson de Ville
Jacksonville Jaguars via Twitter
Jaxson de Ville is one cool cat when it comes to golf.
As part of the build-up to the PGA Tour's forthcoming Players Championship, the tournament held a little golf competition on Wednesday. The challenge – hit the ball closest to the pin on TPC Sawgrass' famed island-green 17th hole.
The winner was Curtis Dvorak. Don't know the name? How about this name – Jacksonville Jaguars mascot Jaxson de Ville.
Now, what if I told you Dvorak won the contest in full Jaxson de Ville costume. He did!
Even more amazing, the list of people he beat includes past Champions Tour Winner Bob Duval (David Duval's dad, by the way) and two-time PGA Tour winner Len Mattiace, along with former NFL player Tony Boselli, Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee, Jags quarterback Blake Bortles and Jags coach Gus Bradley.
Each competitor got two tries to hit the green, with the flag set 117 yards from the tee. Dvorak only needed one swing to knock his shot to within five feet.
Dvorak is close to a scratch golfer, and told The Florida Times-Union that he's played so many charity functions dressed as De Ville that he's gotten pretty good at swinging in full costume. For his victory on Wednesday, he earned $10,000 to be donated to the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund.
Check out the video – the ball flies right over the pin, then backs up almost to within gimme range. Jaxson, you da man, er, Jag!
You can see more photos from the event here, and check out a few tweets below:
Jordan Spieth
USA Today Sports Images
At 21 years and 8 months old, Jordan Spieth became the second-youngest champion in Masters history on Sunday.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Jordan Spieth tapped in his final putt to cap off a record performance and bent over in relief. He just as easily could have been taking a bow. 
This was a Masters for the ages. 
Not since Tiger Woods in 1997 has a 21-year-old faced so little stress while making a mockery of par in a major. Not since Raymond Floyd in 1976 has anyone withstood the pressure of leading for all four rounds at Augusta National. 
Only one other Masters champion – Craig Wood in 1941 – has never let anyone closer to him than three shots the entire way. 
Spieth took his place among the best in the game Sunday when he closed with a 2-under 70 for a four-shot victory over Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose, becoming the second-youngest champion behind Woods to wear a green jacket. 
"This was arguably the greatest day of my life," Spieth said. "To join Masters history and put my name on that trophy and to have this jacket forever, it's something that I can't fathom right now." 
He left everyone else dazed, too. 
Spieth missed a 5-foot par putt on the final hole that only kept him from breaking another record this week at the Masters. He tied the 72-hole scoring mark that Woods set at 18-under 270. 
It was still enough to beat Mickelson (69) and Rose (70) by four shots. 
"Playing with Jordan, he's going to sort of fly the flag for golf for quite a while," Rose said. "People were getting excited about that out there. You could tell." 
There were standing ovations all the way around to celebrate the latest star in golf, the next addition to a new generation just as Woods and Mickelson are approaching the back nines of their careers. 
Rory McIlroy is still No. 1 in the world by a reasonable margin. Spieth is now No. 2. It's the first time players 25 or younger have been Nos. 1-2 in the world. 
"He's got four majors. That's something I can still only dream about," Spieth said. "I don't know, as far as a rivalry right now." 
For all the hype about the Grand Slam bid by McIlroy and the return of Woods, this week was about the arrival of another star. 
"It's awfully impressive," McIlroy said after closing with a 66 to finish fourth. "It's nice to get your major tally up and running at an early stage in your career. It's great to see, great for the game, and I'm sure there will be many more." 
Woods jarred his right wrist when he struck wood under the pine straw on the ninth hole. He didn't hit a fairway on the front nine and never was in the game, closing with a 73 to finish 13 shots behind. 
Mickelson tried to make a run. So did Rose. 
Lefty holed a bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 15th, but he couldn't make a birdie the rest of the way. Rose got to within three shots of Spieth on three occasions on the front nine, and Spieth kept his nerve. He picked up two shots on Rose on Nos. 8 and 9 – the same spot where the Masters got away from Spieth last year. 
"I thought today might be easier having played with the lead on Saturday. It wasn't," Spieth said. "It's the most incredible week of my life. This is as great as it gets in our sport. ... I'm still kind of shock a little bit." 
And he will keep the editors of the Masters record book busy. Among the marks he established this week: 
-- The 36-hole record at 14-under 130. 
-- The 54-hole record at 16-under 200.  
-- The most birdies for the tournament at 28.  
-- The lowest opening round by a champion at 64. 
"He has no weaknesses," Mickelson said. "He doesn't overpower the golf course, but he plays the course strategically well. He plays all the shots properly. And he has that ability to focus and see things clear when the pressure is on and perform at his best when the pressure is on. 
"That's something that you really can't teach," he said. "Some players are able to do it, some players aren't. And he is." 
Spieth was reminded of how far he has come, and how quickly, when he stood on the first tee with a four-shot lead and history in his hands. His caddie, Michael Greller, reminded him that the Texas golf team was playing a match in California. This would be Spieth's senior year. 
"He said, 'Face it: Aren't you glad you're here instead of there?'" Spieth said with a smile. 
It was a light moment in an arena of high pressure. Rose promptly knocked in a 10-foot birdie putt, and Spieth followed him with a birdie. It was like that all week.  
Spieth rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 10 for a six-shot lead. It was his 26th birdie of the Masters, breaking the tournament record that Mickelson set in 2001. The next target was the 72-hole scoring record that Woods set in 1997, and he almost got there except for that bogey at the end. 
He twice went for the green on par 5s on the back nine, barely clearing the creek at No. 13 and going just over the back on No. 15, both times making birdie. The birdie on the 15th made him the only player in Masters history to reach 19-under par at any point. 
None of that mattered. Spieth had the green jacket. 
"This was the ultimate goal in my golf life," he said.
And he might just be getting started. 

Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

April 12, 2015 - 3:10pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Hunter Mahan
@TheMasters on Twitter
From a tough spot from behind the par-3 fourth hole, Hunter Mahan showed masterful touch, holing a chip for an unlikely birdie.

The final round of the Masters always promises drama.

We haven't had to wait long for it on this Masters Sunday. We showed you the Jimmy Walker bunker hole-out earlier, a magnificent approach from Bubba Watson to set up a short eagle and now there's this from Hunter Mahan:


The video doesn't do much justice to just how slick that pitch actually is from behind the par-3 fourth hole.

RELATED: Masters leaderboard | Photos | Video | Course tour

Mahan, with perfect touch, got it to drop for an unlikely birdie.

The birdie put Mahan to 2 under for the day, but he went on to bogey the next two holes. 

April 12, 2015 - 2:01pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Bubba Watson
@TheMasters on Twitter
Eagles aren't easy to come by -- unless you hit approach shots into par 5s like this one by Bubba Watson on the second hole at Augusta National on Sunday.

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson won't be successfully defending his title this year, but he will pick up a pair of crystal goblets, thanks to this eagle on the par-5 second hole in the final round on Sunday.


Remarkable approach for Watson who bounced back from a bogey at the first hole.

RELATED: Masters leaderboard | Walker's bunker hole-out | Photos

That was the first eagle of the final round on the second hole and the seventh for the week.

Believe it or not, the seven eagles on No. 2 thus far isn't even close to the most this week. That belongs to the par-5 13th hole, which has seen 12 eagles and counting

April 12, 2015 - 12:23pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jimmy Walker
@TheMasters on Twitter
On the par-3 fourth hole at Augusta National on Sunday, Jimmy Walker hit what will surely be one of the most memorable shots of the 2015 Masters.

Jimmy Walker was a pre-tournament favorite coming into this Masters.

He's not going to win -- he started the final round 16 shots behind 54-hole leader Jordan Spieth -- but it looks early on like he's going to do everything he can to make the best out of his final round.

RELATED: Masters leaderboard | Spieth sets 54-hole scoring record | Photos

Yet to record a sub-par round this week, Walker was 3 under through four holes on Sunday, thanks to shots like this one that led to a birdie on the par-3 fourth hole.


Are you serious, Jimmy? Did you see where that ball landed before it ended up in the hole?

Remarkable shot.