Golf Buzz

December 11, 2014 - 2:47pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach Live Cam
You can see the downed cypress tree in the top left corner of this photo, a screenshot taken during the storm from Pebble Beach's Live Cam looking down the 18th fairway found by's John Strege.

It hasn't been a good year for iconic golf trees.

Back in February, Augusta National lost the famous Eisenhower Tree just to the left of the 17th fairway in an ice storm.

In October, TPC Sawgrass lost its most famous tree -- a live oak by the sixth tee.

On Thursday, strong winds toppled one of the two cypress trees in the fairway landing area on Pebble Beach's 18th hole. writer John Strege got details from Ron Read, a long-time USGA official who lives in the area:

"I was standing on the 18th tee and conservatively the wind was blowing at least 40 miles an hour," Read told Strege.

Strege wrote that, "Read said he returned to the tee later in the morning and took a picture looking down the fairway and did not notice the downed tree until examining the photo later."

"I was just talking to Robert Trent Jones [Jr.] and said this reminds of 1967," Read said. "I was a marshal on the sixth green at Pebble Beach [for the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am]. This was very similar to that. I remember Jack Nicklaus said he hit a 3-iron on the seventh hole. That’s what it reminded me of."

The two cypress trees -- now down to one -- were planted there in 2004 to replace two diseased pine trees, according to Strege's report. 

December 11, 2014 - 12:10pm
andrew.prezioso's picture
Rickie Fowler-Phil Mickelson
This fist bump between Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson was one of the top photos on's Instagram this year.

It's been a fun year on the Instagram account. We've been able to bring you the best haircuts, the biggest transformations and a behind-the-scenes look at the most interesting selfie in the world, all while seeing our audience more than double. 

But what was your favorite moment on Instagram this past year? Here's a top-10 list ranked by total number of likes and comments. 

Follow on Instagram

Related: Best of Facebook | Best of Twitter

10. The most interesting selfie in the world

If there was ever a photo that defines what makes Miguel Angel Jimenez one of the most interesting golfers in the game today, this might be it. 



9. Tiger takes on Valhalla 

Much of the speculation during the early days of the PGA Championship was surrounding whether Tiger Woods would play. He showed up on Wednesday for a practice round to much fanfare. 



Welcome to the 96th PGA Championship. @pgachampionship #pgachamp #tigerwoods

A photo posted by (@pgacom) on


8. Rory wins PGA Championship, Part II

Rory McIlroy emerged from a wild and intense final round at Valhalla to capture his second major in a row, and fourth overall.  



Congratulations Rory! 2014 #PGAChamp #Vahalla

A photo posted by (@pgacom) on


7. Spieth's transformation

Coming off a strong performance in his first Ryder Cup, our audience loved to see the changes in Jordan Spieth from his Junior Ryder Cup days. 



6. Day 1 at the PGA Championship

Not to be forgotten amidst all the excitement of the final round of the PGA Championship was how great of a first round was played at Valhalla. 



5. Rory wins PGA Championship, Part I

Yeah, it's pretty safe to say that Rory winning the PGA Championship was a pretty big deal. 



Ladies and gents, here's your 96th @pgachampionship winner, @rorymcilroyofficial #pgachamp

A photo posted by (@pgacom) on


4. Ryder Cup bags

Our fans loved this look at Team USA's bags before they were loaded onto the plane for Scotland. 



Yep, the bags are ready for Scotland. #RyderCup #TeamUSA #RedeemTeam

A photo posted by (@pgacom) on


3. Team USA photo day

There was a lot of excitement to see if Team USA could win the Ryder Cup back.  



Looks like the #RedeemTeam is ready to get down to business. @rydercupusa #TeamUSA

A photo posted by (@pgacom) on


2. The fist bump

In one of the our favorite moments in a tense final round of the PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler bumped fists before heading to the 10th hole. Sure seems like you guys enjoyed it, too. 



Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson are excited for what should be a thrilling back nine. Are you? #pgachamp

A photo posted by (@pgacom) on


1. Team USA's best haircut

Rickie Fowler created a lot of buzz (pun slightly intended) with his interesting haircut at the Ryder Cup. 



That's some patriotic spirit that @therealrickiefowler is sporting. #RyderCup #TeamUSA #RedeemTeam

A photo posted by (@pgacom) on


December 11, 2014 - 12:07pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Patrick Reed, Justine Reed
USA Today Sports Images
Patrick Reed's wife and part-time caddie, Justine, was hospitalized in Naples, Fla., on Tuesday after suffering from a grand mal seizure.

Justine Reed, wife and part-time caddie to husband Patrick, was hospitalized on Tuesday after suffering a grand mal seizure (a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions).

The incident happened while Justine Reed was taking a bath at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Fla., where Patrick Reed is competing in this week's Shark Shootout, which begins today.

Patrick Reed released this statement through his management company, IMG:

"I withdrew from today's pro-am to be with my wife, Justine, who suffered a grand mal seizure (Tuesday) afternoon while in the bathtub. We are really fortunate that she is OK and lucky that I was in the room with her to save her from drowning. I am so grateful to the paramedic team, IMG and the doctors at Naples Community Hospital for their support and care during an extremely difficult time."

Patrick Reed did tee off in the first round of the Shark Shootout this morning with partner Brandt Snedeker.

Based on a tweet from Golf Channel's Lisa Cornwell on Thursday morning, it seems Justine Reed is doing OK:


December 11, 2014 - 11:20am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Christina Kim
USA Today Sports Images
Christina Kim's win in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational was arguably the biggest surprise of 2014 and certainly one of the best feel-good stories of the year.

Whether it was an unlikely winner, a dominating performance, or an incredible shot under the gun, there were plenty of surprises in the world of golf in 2014.

Here's a look back at 10 of the biggest surprises over the last 12 months.

10. Billy Horschel gets hot, wins FedExCup

Talk about getting on a roll at just the right time. In the course of three tournaments, the Florida Gator turned a rather forgettable year on the course into the best season of his career. Before the start of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup, Horschel had two top-10 finishes to his name in 2014.

RELATED: Top shots of 2014 | Memorable bad shots | Most popular stories

After a missed cut in the playoffs-opener at the Barclays, it looked like there was a real chance his postseason would end the following week at TPC Boston. But as coach Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast, my friends!"

Horschel tied for second at the Deutsche Bank Championship (even after a terrible mishit on the final hole cost him a chance at a win). He then won a week later at Cherry Hills in the BMW Championship and capped it off with a victory the following week in the Tour Championship to snag the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus that comes with it. And, for good measure, just a few days later Horschel and his wife welcomed their first child -- a beautiful little girl -- into the world.

9. Martin Kaymer blows away the field at Pinehurst No. 2

All the talk leading into the newly renovated Pinehurst No. 2 for the 2014 U.S. Open was about how difficult the conditions would be... even without the true U.S. Open rough. Some wondered if the winning score would even come in under par.

Well, it certainly was difficult and in the end, only three players finished 72 holes under par. That said, it was no contest. The man who won -- Kaymer -- looked to be playing a different course from all the others. Kaymer, now a two-time major champ, smoked the field with an eight-shot victory, finishing a remarkable 9-under par. That wasn't supposed to happen on that course under those conditions.

Erik Compton and Rickie Fowler tied for second at 1 under.

It wasn't a surprise that a player like Kaymer won... but the fashion in which he did sure was.

8. Rickie Fowler records top-5 finishes in all four majors

The biggest surprise here? That he didn't win any of them! For the first time in the game's long history, a player recorded a top-5 in all four majors without winning one of them.

Disappointing? Maybe a little for Fowler. But, man, what an impressive run.

It all started in April when Fowler tied for fifth at the Masters -- his worst finish in 2014 at the majors. Worst!

Fowler then tied for second in the U.S. Open and British Open before tying for third at the PGA Championship. Again, an amazing run.

7. Jimmy Walker wins three times before the middle of February

It's fair to say that Walker, 35, is a late bloomer. He was a journeyman who many times put himself in a position to win, but could never quite close out a tournament on the PGA Tour.

Well, in 2013-14, the floodgates opened for the feisty Walker. After convincing renowned coach Butch Harmon to give him some tutelage, Walker's game became "next-level" good.

Walker snagged his first Tour win at the Open in October of 2013. He followed it up with a victory in Hawaii at the Sony Open and then another two starts later at Pebble Beach.

Were we surprised that he finally won? Not at all. But, for a three-month span, Walker was the hottest player on the planet.

6. Matt Jones holes out to win in Houston, punches ticket to Masters

One of the many perks of winning on the PGA Tour is an invitation to play in the Masters.

For several years now, the Shell Houston Open has been the final opportunity for players not otherwise exempt to earn a spot in the Masters field -- it's played the week before the season's first major.

Jones, an Aussie who had never won on the PGA Tour, holed a 42-yard pitch shot on the first hole of a playoff with Matt Kuchar to not only win the tournament, but to earn a spot in the Masters.

5. Miguel Angel Jimenez wins first Champions Tour start

What can you say about the world's most interesting golfer that hasn't been said?

"He once contended against the young guns finishing fourth in the Masters at age 50 and then won the following week in his Champions Tour debut. He is, the most interesting man in golf."

Yes, that's exactly what Jimenez did. After the fourth-place showing at Augusta, he won the next week in the Greater Gwinnett Championship on the Champions Tour.

He also won twice on the European Tour in the 2013-14 season -- once at age 49 and once at age 50.

Asked about his longevity after his Open de Espana win in May, Jimenez said: "There is no secret. Good food, good wine, good cigars and some exercise!"


And here's that exercise Jimenez spoke of:

4. 11-year-old qualifies for U.S. Women's Open

A sixth-grader competing in a major championship? Come on!

That's precisely what 11-year-old Lucy Li (now 12) did this year, making it through qualifiers to earn her spot in the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2. Simply put -- remarkable.

Li could be one of those players on the ladies side who we'll be hearing about for years to come. Our favorite thing about Li's appearance at the Women's Open -- aside from incredibly respectable scores of 78-78 -- is that she remained a kid throughout the week.

While many would think she'd be understandably shy, or nervous, she couldn't have been anymore loose. We particularly loved this photo below during one of her post-round interviews:

3. Michelle Wie wins the U.S. Women's Open

While we're at it, let's keep the focus on the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2. It was the crowning achievement for Michelle Wie.

She has been under the microscope since she was 10 years old and became the youngest player ever to qualify for a USGA event. After that, she was known for making appearances in PGA Tour events and everyone thought she'd be the next most dominant player in the women's game (she still may be one day).

However, not everything pans out when it comes to realizing the expectations others have for you.

Wie never truly had a chance to be a kid, which is why it was refreshing that she decided to attend Stanford and enjoy the college life, while also mixing in LPGA starts.

With her U.S. Open win, though, the monkey was finally off Wie's back. She's now forever a major champion.

2. Mo Martin wins the RICOH Women's British Open

Mo Martin is the complete opposite of Wie. With all due respect to Martin, she was little known before her magical week at Royal Birkdale in the RICOH Women's British Open.

If you like the story of the underdog -- and who doesn't? -- Martin is about as good as it gets.

Winless in her career on the LPGA, Martin hit the most magical of shots on the final hole at Birkdale to set up a short eagle putt that would eventually win her not only her first LPGA event, but also her first major.

Our favorite part of this story? Martin used her winnings to save her family's ranch in Porterville, Calif. How cool is that?

Oh, and here's that remarkable approach to the 72nd hole in case you wanted another look:

1. Christina Kim wins the Lorena Ochoa Invitational

Our final entry is also the most recent of the listed events. Christina Kim, 30, has one of the biggest personalities on the LPGA.

She's funny, charismatic and easily one of the best Twitter follows (@TheChristinaKim).

And, as we learned in July of 2012 in a blog Kim penned entitled, "I guess it's time to address the elephant in the room," it turns out she was a sad clown.

In the blog, Kim detailed her battle with depression and thoughts of suicide.

Writing can be therapeutic. It was also brave and dare we say "courageous" of her to put it all out there.

There are no statistics to measure how many people Kim influenced with that blog. But, surely it's refreshing for those struggling to know they're not alone.

So, when Kim won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in November in a playoff over Shanshan Feng, it was extra special.

It was Kim's first LPGA title in nine years and arguably the biggest of her career.

Did the win put an end to the world's depression? Of course not.

But it was an example of how a person -- when confronting their issues head on -- can accomplish anything.

Kim's victory was the biggest surprise and greatest comeback story of 2014.

Jason Palmer
European Tour via YouTube
Jason Palmer cured his chipping yips by taking his left hand completely out of the equation.
If you get a chance to check out the Alfred Dunhill Championship on TV this week, I recommend you do so. Hopefully, you'll get a chance to catch Jason Palmer of England.
You'll know him if you see him – he's the guy who chips one-handed from 50 yards and in. 
To be clear, the 30-year-old Englishman has the regulation two hands, but decided to try chipping with only his right hand after years of struggling with his short game. This radical approach works so well for him that he's played his way onto the European Tour – and swears that he wouldn't be there had he not gone one-handed.
"I dreaded missing the greens and it was affecting me badly," Palmer told Reuters on Wednesday. "I made the switch while on the Alps Tour in 2010, just really to try something different. As soon as I did, I went on a great run of form and I've stuck with it. 
"I used to get a sinking feeling when I missed the greens, but now I quite enjoy it," he added. "I get to show what I can do."
Palmer said his chipping struggles prompted him to try to become as accurate as possible off the tee and into the greens – his goal, he said, was to avoid chipping at all. Now he believes his success can provide some inspiration to other golfers, and everyone who can benefit from thinking outside the box.
"There are countless examples of players who have struggled with a particular aspect of golf," he said. "If you look at putting, there are a variety of different grips and so many ways to get around that."
Here's a video of Palmer demonstrating his one-handed style:
Worst shots of 2014
Hey, hockey star T.J. Oshie... we feel your pain.
Let's face it – we wouldn't appreciate the great shots we hit if we didn't make a mess of things now and then. No one is immune from a mis-hit from time to time – even the game's biggest stars. In fact, in 2014 alone, we saw players like Rory McIlroy, Stacy Lewis and Ernie Els hit shots that they certainly would like to have back.
When I think of mis-hits, I tend to think of the shot I mis-hit the most – my driver. But as we compiled our list of memorable mess-ups from 2014, only one of them was a wayward tee shot. This just reinforces what we're so often told – that the secret to success is a solid short game.
Here we go.
That's a lesson PGA Tour player Richard H. Lee confirmed in May at The Players Championship. During the final round, Lee landed his tee shot safely on the island that holds the green on the famous 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.
So far, so good. Right? Right. Lee's ball was sitting in the fringe just off the putting surface, so he pulled out a putter, and … advanced his ball a couple of inches. Then, he did it again! Two putts, two fluffs, and he's a grand total of about a foot closer to the hole. Oof. 
At least he was finally on the green, though, and was able to two-putt for a double bogey.
And, give the guy some credit for dealing with his disaster with good cheer. The next day, he noted on Twitter that his 7-year-old daughter told him that she could have done better, and added the hashtag #sheisright. 
The proof that we can all relate to Lee's flopped shots was evident almost immediately, as dozens of our Facebook friends shared their own on-course blunders. Among them was this memorable moment from Chuck Posten: "Taking practice swing on tee box on rainy day and hybrid slips out of my hands and into pond."
Talk about your water hazard! You can read all the entries by clicking on the headline above. Most of them are pretty funny, though one of them is kind of sad.
Lee got some infamous company in July, when none other than Els – a four-time major champion – kicked off his British Open in cringe-worthy fashion. His opening tee shot at Royal Liverpool cracked a spectator in the head, drawing blood. 
The Big Easy was understandably shaken, but he'd be quivering before the hole was over. After reaching the green, he needed only to sink a one-foot putt to salvage a bogey. He stepped up – and knocked it 18 inches past the hole. Frustrated, he scraped the ball back toward the cup, but it again refused to fall. Finally, he tapped in for a triple bogey.
Els's three-putt was painful, but St. Louis Blues star T.J. Oshie went him one better – or, maybe we should say, worse – only a few days later at the American Century Championship celebrity tournament. 
Oshie scored four times in six tries during a shootout to defeat Russia during the Winter Olympics. Out at Lake Tahoe, however, he four-putted from a mere seven feet. His first miss wasn't too bad, but he followed it up with an agonizing lipout, and then another, even more agonizing lipout. After finally tapping in, Oshie couldn't be faulted for wanting to trade his traitorous putter for his good old hockey stick.
Not all of the year's big misses came on such small shots. Stacy Lewis – the world's top-ranked female player at the time – flubbed a fairway wood during the third round of the LPGA Tour's Evian Championship in September. 
With a decent lie in the middle of the fairway, she took dead aim at the flag and … clunked it a few yards off to the left. After indulging in a moment of disgust, though, she rallied to finish 16th and went on to claim the tour's Player of the Year honors. 
Speaking of Players of the Year, Rory McIlroy joined our list in October. Coming off his thrilling PGA Championship win and a victorious Ryder Cup, Rors was in the hunt at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship when he strolled up to the famous Road Hole at St. Andrews.
His second shot wound up a bit short of the green, but on the mown apron leading up to the putting surface. So, in typical links fashion, he pulled out his putter – and knocked his ball into the Road Bunker. That's right, the best player in the world putted his ball into a bunker. Feel better about your own failings now?
Undaunted, McIlroy got up and down for a bogey, but his mistake was costly. He wound up losing the tournament by a shot. Click the headline to see Rory's bunker blunder.
A few days later, McIlroy traded chilly St. Andrews for balmy Bermuda and the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. In the final round, though, he hooked his tee shot on the par-5 17th hole well left and into a hazard. The shot itself wasn't so bad – at least the ball stayed out of the water – and we include it here because it set up one of the year's most memorable shots.
McIlroy's options were to take off his shoes and stand in a couple feet of water, or stay on dry land and take a whack at it left-handed. Choosing Option No. 2, he turned a long iron toe-down, took a mighty cut and splashed his ball well away from the water. 
He got his white pants all muddy – which is why I never wear white pants on the course – but his recovery gave him a chance to save par, which he did. And the lesson we can learn from these two McIlroy mistakes is this: Making the best of your inevitable screw-ups is a huge key to salvaging a good score.
And while we have McIlroy on the mind, his third and final entry on our list came in November, during the second round of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. He powered his drive well down the fairway on the par-5 seventh hole, then pulled out a 3-wood to go for the green.
He took his stance, pulled the trigger – and stubbed the ground well behind the ball. With dirt and grass flying everywhere, his ball fluttered meekly forward and wound up in a bunker. Ouch. Again, however, he recovered nicely, making a par.
On the same day as McIlroy's misadventure in Dubai, an amateur named Patrik Vesterlund posted a video on his Facebook page that showed one of his golf buddies hitting an errant shot. Where players like McIlroy and Lewis handled their misfortune with restraint, however, Versterlund's unnamed pal did not.
The guy was facing a short chip shot up a slope. He took a mighty cut – and somehow the ball hopped backward into the pond. The guy freaked out – and jumped into the pond, not once but twice. Really, twice. After all that, I'm pretty sure it's safe to say he didn't get up and down for a miraculous save. Click the headline to see the guy freak out.
One thing we can say about the golfers on our list to far – at least they were trying to hit the shots they screwed up. In early December, we ran across a video of a guy who messed up a shot he wasn't even trying to hit.
How, you ask? Well, he was taking a practice swing when he dug up a huge divot, which went flying – right into his ball. The ball moved a few inches, and yes, kiddies, that counts as a stroke.
Chipping, as we have demonstrated several times in this post, is hard. Sometimes it's so hard that even the guy many consider to be the best ever to play our beloved game can master it.
Tiger Woods was playing his Hero World Challenge in early December. His full swing looked pretty good at Isleworth, but his short game, well, not so much.
In fact, one of the tournament's big headlines was Woods' repeated short-game shortcomings. Specifically, no less than nine times did he chunk, duff or otherwise flub chip shots during his four rounds. Nine times! You can see them all by clicking on the headline.
Frustrated as he must've been, at least Woods maintained his composure. The same can't be said about the star of my final, and favorite, item – a precious little guy whose reaction to missing a tap-in is completely over the top.  I can't help but chuckle every time I see it –  and hey, how better to cap off a collection of bad shots than with a good laugh.