Golf Buzz

May 7, 2014 - 10:23am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Sergio Garcia
USA Today Sports Images
Sergio Garcia won the Players Championship in 2008. Could he win it again this week?

The PGA Tour is in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., this week for its flagship event -- the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

There's trouble everywhere on this Pete Dye-designed gem, none more obvious than the treacherous -- even though it's short -- par-3, island-green 17th hole.

The tournament will be without its defending champion, as Tiger Woods remains sidelined after surgery on his back, but there are plenty of contenders who will be looking to claim the Tour's crown jewel.

RELATED: Players Championship tee times | Wrong-handed golf shots at Sawgrass | Remembering Seve

Here are five of them.

5. Sergio Garcia
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Third at the Shell Houston Open
Reason to watch: Making his first PGA Tour start since a missed cut at the Masters, the 2008 Players Champion has had a steller 2013-14 season. That missed cut at Augusta National was a blip in an otherwise impressive year where he's finished in the top 10 four times in seven starts. Aside from his win, Garcia has three other top-10 finishes at TPC Sawgrass and a bunch of others in the top 25.

4. K.J. Choi
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T2 at the Farmers Insurance Open
Reason to watch: I'm taking a flyer on Choi this week. That tie for second at the Farmers Insurance Open in January was his lone top-10 finish in 12 starts this season. He's missed the cut three times -- most recently last week at the Wells Fargo Championship. I'm giving him a chance this week, though, because he won the event in 2011. It's got to feel good going back to the site of the biggest highlight of your career, no? Choi has been hit or miss at TPC Sawgrass through the years. I think this week could be a "hit."

3. Rory McIlroy
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Playoff loss at the Honda Classic
Reason to watch: Broken record alert! Like the rest of you, I'm waiting for McIlroy to claim his first PGA Tour victory since way back (by his standards) in September of 2012 at the BMW Championship. Is this the week? One of these weeks has to be, right? McIlroy enters this week on the strength of three consecutive top-10 finishes. In each of those, it's been one round that's put a damper on his chances of winning -- a 74 in the third round of the Shell Houston Open where he finished tied for seventh thanks to a final-round 65; a tie for eighth at the Masters where he shot 77 in the second round, but bounced back on Sunday with a 69; and a tie for eighth on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship, where he shot 76 in the second round, only to bounce back with an impressive 65 in the third round. It's a matter of time before McIlroy puts four rounds together.

2. Jim Furyk
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Second in the Wells Fargo Championship
Reason to watch: This is a home game for Furyk. And -- outside of winning -- he couldn't really be playing better at the moment. Furyk has made the cut in every one of his nine starts this season, including four top 10s, highlighted by the runner-up effort on Sunday. It's been a mixed bag for Furyk at TPC Sawgrass over the years, but he has three top-5 finishes overall: T5 in 2009; T3 in 2006; and T4 in 2003. Riding a nice little streak with three top-7 finishes in his last four starts, Furyk is definitely a player to watch this week.

1. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the RBC Heritage
Reason to watch: With a victory this week, Kuchar could supplant Tiger Woods as the No. 1 ranked player in the world. That's a little incentive. Kuchar has been outstanding this season -- eight top 10s in 11 starts. That's crazy. Oh, and he also won the last time he teed it up, which was the week after the Masters at the RBC Heritage. He's on a stretch right now with no worse than a tie for fifth in each of his last four starts. Oh, and for good measure, he won the Players in 2012. His chances this week are better than most.

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

May 7, 2014 - 8:44am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Seve Ballesteros
Getty Images
Has any golfer's display of passion ever matched that of Seve Ballesteros?

Three years ago today, the game lost a legend with the passing of Seve Ballesteros.

Arguably the most charismatic player with undoubtably the most uncanny knack to pull off the impossible shot that ever lived, Ballesteros died from complications of a cancerous brain tumor on May 7, 2011. He was 54.

In his prime, Ballesteros was among the best who ever walked the fairways. He won five majors over the course of his career -- the 1980 and 1983 Masters, as well as the 1979, 1984 and 1988 Open Championship.

A LOOK BACK: Tributes to Seve | Photos: Farewell to Seve | Your favorite Seve moments

Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1999, Ballesteros spent 61 weeks at No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. That's fourth-best out of the 16 players who have commanded the No. 1 slot since the Ranking's inception in 1986.

As good as he was individually on the course, the magician that was Ballesteros might be best known for his incredible Ryder Cup record. A member of eight European Ryder Cup teams as a player (and eight overall, when we was the winning captain in 1997 in his homeland), Ballesteros amassed an overall record of 20-12-5.

Partnering alongside countryman Jose Maria Olazabal, the duo was known as, "The Spanish Armada" when teamed up in the Ryder Cup. Paired together, the two compiled an amazing 11-2-2 record as teammates in the Ryder Cup. The pair -- with 12 points gained -- racked up more points as a tandem than any other European twosome in Ryder Cup history.

Overall, Ballesteros notched 91 wins worldwide and was a six-time European Tour Order of Merit winner -- second only to the eight held by Colin Montgomerie.

Ballesteros was also a passionate quote machine, with beauties like this:

On competing: "I look into their eyes, shake their hand, pat their back, and wish them luck, but I am thinking, 'I am going to bury you.'"

On the state of his game: "I'd like to see the fairways more narrow. Then everyone would have to play from the rough, not just me."

On the Ryder Cup: "As a player and captain, these are unforgettable moments where you are competing for your teammates, your country and for the people of your continent."

And, of course, Seve on his four-putt from 15 feet on the 16th green in the 1988 Masters: "I miss, I miss, I miss, I make."

Seve Ballesteros was the original trick-shot artist. Here are some examples:

Here is a well done tribute to Ballesteros that was posted the day of his death:

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

Larry Oosthuizen
Luke Donald/Twitter
I don't know where Louis Oosthuizen is going to park, when Larry shows up to claim this space.

Rodney Dangerfield complained for years that he got "no respect." Well, move over, Rodney, because Louis Oosthuizen knows the feeling.

Oosthuizen's last name can be quite difficult to spell, so he's used to seeing it scrambled up at times. But his first name? That may be a new one on him.

Luke Donald tweeted a photo of Oosthuizen's parking space at The Players Championship on Tuesday, and there seems to be a slight problem.

 

 

 

 

Louis Oosthuizen -- not to be confused with Peter Oosterhuis -- won the 2010 Open Championship, has 11 international titles, played in the 2011 World Cup and 2013 Presidents Cup, made the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Match Play Championships and is ranked 126th in the FedExCup standings.

There are several Larry Oosthuizens listed on Facebook, but none appear to have major professional golf experience.

Larry. Louis. Same difference. Or as the old saying goes, "Call me anything you want, but just don't call me late for dinner (or in this case, my tee time)."

May 6, 2014 - 1:47pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Rickie Fowler
USA Today Sports Images
Rickie Fowler -- a right-hander -- wowed the fans on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass on Tuesday with a shot he hit left handed.

The PGA Tour's longtime slogan, "These guys are good," took new meaning ahead of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass on Tuesday.

Rickie Fowler joined Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson for a practice round and when the trio reached the world-famous, par-3, island green 17th hole, Fowler took to Instagram to show us just exactly how good these guys are.

Fowler and Johnson each hit a tee shot left handed, while Mickelson turned around and hit one right handed. You can see the video Fowler posted here:

While the video doesn't show the end result, rumor out of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., has it that Fowler's left-handed effort settled a mere 12 feet from the hole.

And how about those swings from the opposite side of the ball from where they typically play?

To die for, for most.

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

 

 

May 6, 2014 - 1:12pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bubba Watson
USA Today Sports Images
Bubba Watson did not play in the 2012 Players Championship after winning the first of his two green jackets.

Bubba Watson is making his first start on the PGA Tour since winning the Masters this week when he tees it up in the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Previously, Watson's best finish at the Players was a tie for 37th -- something he's done twice (2013 and 2009).

RELATED: Bubba Watson's caddie tries to qualify for Zurich Classic

While Watson's track record may not be the greatest at TPC Sawgrass, it's always interesting to see how the reigning Masters champ fares in his first on the PGA Tour after slipping into the green jacket.

Here's a look at the last 10 Masters winners and how that finished in their next PGA Tour start:

2013: Adam Scott, T19 in the Players Championship
2012: Bubba Watson, T18 in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans
2011: Charl Schwartzel, T26 in the Players Championship
2010: Phil Mickelson, Second at the Wells Fargo Championship
2009: Angel Cabrera, Missed Cut at Wells Fargo Championship
2008: Trevor Immelman, Missed Cut in the EDS Byron Nelson Championship
2007: Zach Johnson, Sixth in the RBC Heritage
2006: Phil Mickelson, T15 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans
2005: Tiger Woods, T11 at the Wells Fargo Championship
2004: Phil Mickelson, T2 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Of that list, Watson (2012) and Immelman are the only two reigning Masters champions who did not play in the Players Championship the same year they won the Masters.

Immelman withdrew from the tournament in 2008 citing illness, while Watson provided this commentary on Twitter in 2012 to explain his pass on the Players:

  • "I've decided to pull out of the Players. I need to spend more time with Caleb and Angie, plan to take at least a month off."
  • "The Players is one of the best weeks of the year but bonding with my son and wife is what it is all about right now."
  • "Sorry to disappoint fans but the Players has one of the best fields all year, tourney is more than fine without me."


NOTE: In 2007, the Players Championship moved from March to May.

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

May 6, 2014 - 8:51am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bryan Brothers
YouTube
The Bryan Brothers latest trick-shot effort takes place at night -- so it's not only during the daylight hours that this duo can pull off trick shots.

You've seen all the incredible trick shots the Bryan Brothers can pull off in daylight (and we're told there are plenty more to come).

Now check them out under the lights.

In the latest Bryan Brothers effort -- filmed at night and with an emphasis on production quality -- Wesley and George wow us again.

RELATED: Meet the Bryan Brothers | Trick shot video compilation | Two man trick shot

This video is certainly more dangerous than those before it too. Example: George hitting a pitch shot over a bunker directly in front of Wesley, who then rips the ball while it's still in the air with his driver (like a major-league pitcher throwing underhand to a David Ortiz), while George immediately takes cover.

Also notably cool about the latest Bryan Bros. video is the use of slo-mo replay so you can truly appreciate the difficulty and skill involved in these trick shots.

And hang in there until the very end for a "spark shot" -- you won't be disappointed.

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