Golf Buzz

Poinsettia Fire as seen from La Costa
Dave Cordero of TaylorMade via Twitter
The Poinsettia Fire as seen from the Omni La Costa Resort on Wednesday afternoon.
Carlsbad, Calif., is well known as an American golf mecca – the home of big-time golf equipment companies like Callaway and TaylorMade, and top-notch resorts like La Costa and Aviara.
 
On Wednesday, though, the city and its environs began dealing with a major wildfire that began shortly before noon PT. One of about a half dozen separate fires burning in the greater San Diego area, this fire – which is being called the Poinsettia Fire – was exacerbated by a perfect storm of record drought, extreme heat, low humidity and heavy winds, and had burned about 400 acres by nightfall. 
 
Approximately 15,000 homes and business have been evacuated – among them the TaylorMade complex, which also includes Ashworth and adidas Golf, along with the headquarters for such companies as Callaway, Odyssey, Cobra Puma Golf and the West Coast offices of Titleist, along with several smaller golf companies that together total several thousand employees.
 
Employees from several of those companies took to social media to pass along some unsettling photos of the fires but, thankfully, there had been no news reports of damage to any of the companies' buildings as of late Wednesday. 
 
The Omni La Costa Resort – which for years hosted the PGA Tour's Match Play Championship, as well as several other big events – reported via social media that the flames got close to its property before changing direction. The resort remained open, offering discounted rates to people displaced by the fires. 
 
Nearby, however, the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort – which hosted the LPGA Tour's Kia Classic in March and is one of the more scenic golf resorts in America – was closed and its staff and guests evacuated. There were reports of considerable destruction in the Aviara neighborhood, but no reports of damage to the resort itself as of late Wednesday.
 
Here are some Twitter posts showing the fires. Nicole Roberts works for SKLZ, while Chad Coleman works for Callaway:
 
 
 
May 14, 2014 - 3:44pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Bobby Jones
Bobby Jones

Bobby Jones, celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2014, has always been a brand known for it's comfort and quality.

That remains the case with offerings this spring that include two new polos -- the Austin Argyle and the Solid Supreme -- as well as the brand's very popular Ombre Plaid short and more traditional Signature Garment Dyed shorts.

RELATED: PGA.com's extensive equipment page

The Austin Argyle ($98.50) is crafted from 100 percent Egyptian Cotton for an unmistakable comfort. The material is light and doesn't get in the way of your swinging motion. As with virtually all the apparel Bobby Jones has to offer, the Austin Argyle is great in a boardroom or on the golf course and goes perfectly with the Signature Garment Dyed Shorts, featuring a nice blend of cotton and spandex for tremendous fit and comfort.

You can't go wrong with the Bobby Jones Solid Supreme Cotton polo ($85), which comes in a variety of colors. Featuring the softest 100 percent pima fabric available, the polo has a three-button placket with the classic Bobby Jones Player embroidery.

The solid polos pair up perfectly with the Ombre Plaid Shorts ($98.50), constructed of 99 percent cotton and 1 percent spandex.

For more information on the Bobby Jones brand, visit www.bobbyjones.com.
 

May 14, 2014 - 1:22pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Louis Oosthuizen
Twitter
It started with a wrong first name on a reserved parking space at the Players Championship last week. This week, Louis Oosthuizen is sporting a golf bag with the incorrect first name thanks to a gag by buddy Charl Schwartzel.

Before we get started, it should be noted that "Louis Oosthuizen" isn't the easiest name in golf to spell and it sure isn't the easiest to pronounce.

But, it's typically the last name that causes all the issues -- not the first.

Last week, my colleague Mark Aumann brought you the story of Oosthuizen's reserved parking space at TPC Sawgrass for the Players, which read "Larry Oosthuizen."

A good sport, it was Oosthuizen himself who tweeted about the error:

 

 

This week, Oosthuizen and good friend and fellow South African Charl Schwartzel are both playing in the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Schwartzel, it appears, decided to have a little fun at his buddy's expense in light of what happened last week.

Oosthuizen tweeted this moments ago:

 

 

Nice prank by Schwartzel (yeah, he doesn't have the easiest name to spell either).

Louis? Larry? Call him whatever you'd like, as long as you remember him as the 2010 Open Champion.

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

May 14, 2014 - 9:52am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Case Cochran
@casecochran on Twitter
Case Cochran, son of Champions Tour player Russ Cochran, made a walk-off hole-in-one on Tuesday to earn the final spot in this week's HP Byron Nelson Championship. It will be his first PGA Tour start.

You've heard of the walk-off homer in baseball, but how about a walk-off ace in golf?

Rare, yes. But it has happened. Paul Casey did it during a Saturday foursome match in the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club in Ireland. Jonathan Byrd won the 2010 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open with a walk-off ace on the fourth playoff hole (see video below).

Now you can add Case Cochran to that elite company.

Cochran aced the fifth hole of a playoff at a Monday qualifier -- which spilled into Tuesday -- to earn the final spot in this week's HP Byron Nelson Championship.

RELATED: Byron Nelson Championship tee times | Auclair's five players to watch

Cochran, son of former PGA Tour winner and five-time Champions Tour winner Russ Cochran, was part of a four-way playoff for the final three spots in the Irving, Texas, PGA Tour event after shooting a 69 in the qualifier.

With two of the three spots snagged by Jason Allred and Chris Thompson, Cochran was left to battle Chris Parra for the final spot.

On the fifth playoff hole -- a 152-yard par 3 -- Cochran earned his ticket for a first-ever PGA Tour start thanks to a 7-iron that found the bottom of the cup.

"He told me he didn't see it go in," said Russ Cochran, according to a report by GolfChannel.com's Jason Sobel. "Once he got on the green, he saw his ball mark six feet from the hole and had a good feeling. Sure enough, it was in the hole.

"He's super excited. He's been playing well on the Adams Tour and I knew he was feeling good about his game. It will be his first PGA Tour event and he's pumped up."

Late Tuesday night, Case Cochran sent out this tweet:

 

 

And he also sent out this tweet, which is pretty self-explanatory:

 

 

Case Cochran will play the first two rounds of the HP Byron Nelson Championship alongside Miguel Angel Carballo and Bronson La'Cassie. They tee off at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Oh, and in case you don't remember it, here's Byrd's walk-off in Vegas:

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

 

May 14, 2014 - 9:06am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jordan Spieth
USA Today Sports Images
Coming off a T4 in the Players Championship, Dallas native Jordan Spieth returns home for the HP Byron Nelson Championship this week.

The PGA Tour is at TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas, this week for the HP Byron Nelson Championship, where Sang-Moon Bae is the defending champion.

Ever since a 2008 overhaul by Tour player and designer D.A. Weibring in 2008, the golf course has a lot more grit -- meaning it's not the birdie-fest we once knew it to be.

RELATED: Byron Nelson Championship tee times | Drama often lacking with World Ranking

And, as with any course in the Lone Star State, the Texas wind can be a great equalizer. With that, here are five players you'll want to keep an eye on this week.

5. Gary Woodland
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Playoff loss at the CIMB Classic
Reason to watch: Woodland has quietly been one of the more consistent players on the PGA Tour this season. He lost in a playoff to Ryan Moore at the CIMB Classic in October and has since accumulated a total of eight top-25 finishes in 13 events, including two other top 10s. Furthermore, in his last six starts, Woodland's worst finish was a tie for 26th at the Masters. That's some solid golf. While Woodland doesn't have a sensational track record at the Byron Nelson Championship, he does seem on the verge of a breakout week.

4. Ryan Palmer
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Playoff loss at the Honda Classic; Second at Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation
Reason to watch: Palmer has been hit or miss on the PGA Tour this season. His two runner-up finishes, along with a T8 at the Sony Open and a T7 at the Shell Houston Open are no doubt impressive, but he's left something to be desired most other weeks. Early in his career, Palmer -- a Texas native -- had a brutal record in the Byron Nelson Championship, missing a lot of cuts. Something has changed in the last few years, where he's got two top-10 finishes, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2011. For most players, a "home game" is their "fifth major." And perhaps Palmer, recently, has learned to embrace that.

3. Keegan Bradley
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard
Reason to watch: Bradley enters this week in unusual circumstances for him -- he's missed the cut in two of his last three events, but did have a T8 in New Orleans between those missed cuts, so you certainly can't call it a slump. Plus, for the most part, Bradley has either been inside or just outside the top 10 in most of his starts this season. Shockingly -- seemingly because his name is in the mix so often -- Bradley has not won on Tour since the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. This week, though, he returns to the site of his first PGA Tour victory in 2011, which set the stage for his PGA Championship win later that summer... oh, and he was the runner up here a year ago. He's a horse for this course.

2. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the RBC Heritage
Reason to watch: Kuchar is slumping right now. He tied for 17th last week at the Players. We're kidding. The man is far from slumping. It's just that the tie for 17th a week ago was the first time in his last five starts that he didn't finish in a tie for fifth or better. World Ranking (he's fifth) and FedExCup points (he's third) aside, Kuchar has been the best player week-in and week-out on the PGA Tour not only this season, but much of last season too. He's what you call a "Human ATM Machine." He might not win this week in Texas, but you'd be a fool to think he won't at least be in the mix.

1. Jordan Spieth
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Second at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions; T2 at the Masters
Reason to watch: Speaking of home games... that's precisely what this week is for Spieth, a Dallas native. Some might argue that Spieth has a hard time closing out a tournament. To that I'd argue back: he's 20 years old and putting himself in a position to win a majority of the time he tees it up! If you're anything less than impressed by Spieth, you're a tough critic. Of his six top-10 finishes this season, three have come at Pebble Beach, Augusta National and TPC Sawgrass. As an amateur in 2010 at age 16 at the Byron Nelson, Spieth tied for 16th. He's got a ton of game and he's going to win a lot of tournaments.

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

 

Bicycle golf at Kierland Golf Club
Courtesy of Kierland Golf Club
The bicycles at Kierland Golf Club are designed especially to carry a full set of clubs yet have a minimal impact on the turf.
Some people like to ride carts when they play a round of golf. Others prefer to walk.
 
But what if you're in the middle – you'd like a bit more exercise than you get from riding, but maybe you're not up to hiking your way around? 
 
The folks at the Kierland Golf Club at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., can relate – after all, they're famous for being the first golf resort in America to offer a fleet of Segways to traverse the links. And now they have introduced bicycle golf. That's right – you play golf like you always have, but you get around the course on a bicycle.
 
Kierland GC has acquired a couple of bikes specially designed to minimize their effect on the course yet make for a fun, fast and fitness-improving round of golf. The two-wheelers feature small-diameter wheels and wide rubber tires to take it easy on the turf, and have custom-designed golf bags able to carry a full set of clubs mounted on the back.
 
 
"It's fabulous, a great way to get a workout," Westin Kierland Resort & Spa Director of Golf Nancy Dickens told Fox 10 Phoenix. "Why sit on a stationary bike at the gym?"
 
Many golfers are looking for innovative ways to enjoy the game, Dickens said, adding that she believes the bikes will catch on – especially when golfers realize they can play nine holes in only about an hour.
 
Golfers wanting to try them out can do so for free – all they have to do is call ahead and make a reservation, she said. 
 
Here's more on Kierland's bicycle golf program from Fox 10: