Golf Buzz

August 20, 2014 - 9:59am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bubba Watson
USA Today Sports Images
Bubba Watson realizes he made a lot of mistakes during the PGA Championship two weeks ago and is taking accountability for his actions.

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson drew plenty of criticism for something he didn't do at the PGA Championship two weeks ago and a few of things he did do.

First, the thing he didn't do. He chose not to take part in the PGA Championship's revitalized long-drive competition that was held during the Tuesday practice round on the par-5 10th hole at Valhalla.

Watson -- the longest hitter in the game -- protested the competition by electing to hit an iron off the tee instead of the driver he would use in competition.

RELATED: Five players to watch at Barclays | Tee times | Photos | Kuchar's back

As for the things he did do, well, that boiled down to Watson's attitude on the course.

A couple of tantrums that included audible curses, complaints about rain water collecting on his clubface, which he says influenced shots and also having caddie Ted Scott place a tee in the ground for him so Watson could stay under his umbrella.

Watson was taken to task by many, but none more so than veteran journalist Dave Kindred in this piece for Golf Digest.

The day after Kindred's sharply critical column, he met face-to-face with Watson to explain what he'd written. Rather than get upset, Watson took the criticism to heart and thanked Kindred, saying, "I need to be held accountable."

Watson reiterated that point with writers at The Barclays on Tuesday.

In a piece filed by GolfChannel.com's Jason Sobel, Watson talked about the fallout from his actions at the PGA Championship:

"Not competing in the Long Drive was the first mistake," Watson said. "That was the selfish part, because I didn’t agree with it, but there's a lot of things that I don't agree with that I do."

Watson continued.

"Then you look at it from my attitude on the golf course. Because I want something so bad, that's not the reason to do that. You still just bite your tongue and compete at a high level, don't show emotion. I take it overboard because I want something so bad. I want to be considered a great player. I want to win golf tournaments and I've got to learn on that.

"And then my language was not good. That's a different topic and childish again. It's all childish stuff and trying to mature and become a better man. Obviously, I take it on the chin. It was my fault. Everything's my fault and I should be bigger and stronger and better than that."

In Sobel's piece, Watson explained that he did do something right at the PGA Championship, aside from making the cut. After finishing his final round, the rain picked up significantly at Valhalla. A fan asked Watson if he could have his umbrella.

"I was like, 'you know what, that's a good question.' So I just gave it to him. I was like, 'I'm done. You need it more than I do.'"

And that wasn't it for the post-PGA Championship good deeds. Watson's on-course treatment of his caddie has also drawn criticism over the years. To his credit, Scott seems to understand Watson better than most. Watson clearly recognizes that and surprised Scott and his wife with a nice bonus for a successful year.

Scott tweeted out the gifts this week:

August 20, 2014 - 9:08am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Rory McIlroy
USA Today Sports Images
Rory McIlroy is looking to make it four wins in as many starts this week at The Barclays.

Playoffs? Did you say "playoffs?"

Yes. Yes, we did. The PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup begin this week with the Barclays at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.

Adam Scott returns to the tournament as the defending champion, but the venue is different. Scott's victory a year ago came at Liberty National.

The Barclays field consist of the top 125 players in the season-long FedExCup points race. At the conclusion of the Barclays, only the top 100 will advance to next week's Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.

RELATED: Barclays tee times | Photos | McIlroy, Woods complete Ice Bucket Challenge

Along with trying to advance to play another week, many U.S. players will be doing everything they can with only two weeks left to impress U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson and be considered as a Captain's Pick.

Here are five players you'll want to keep an eye on this week.

5. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the RBC Heritage
Reason to watch: One of the best and most consistent players on Tour for the last several years, it's strange to label Kuchar a "bold pick" this week, but in a sense that's what he is. This is Kuchar's first start since withdrawing from the PGA Championship due to a back injury. He claims the back is 100 percent and the ailment was the result of looking everywhere for a slip and slide for his children and sitting in traffic for over an hour. Anyway, the reason for the consideration is this: Kuchar won the Barclays in 2010, the last tie it was contested at Ridgewood. On top of that, he's had top-10 finishes in half of his 20 starts this season, including the win at the RBC Heritage and a playoff loss at the Shell Houston Open. Kuchar is as steady as they come.

4. Ryan Moore
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the CIMB Classic
Reason to watch: It's down to the nitty gritty for Moore, who finished No. 11 in the U.S. Ryder Cup points standings. Heck, you may even want to pencil that in as No. 10, seeing as the man who was ahead of him -- Jason Dufner -- seemed skeptical about a return to golf anytime soon as he deals with bulging discs in his neck. Moore has turned it on of late with four top-12 finishes in his last five starts. He's going to need one really nice start in these last two events before Watson makes his picks to be seriously considered. He missed the cut at Ridgewood in 2010, but did record a T10 at the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2011 and 2012. So, perhaps picking Moore next week would be the wiser decision, but I think he'll shine this week. The former U.S. Amateur champ and two-time U.S. Publinks champ wants to be on this Ryder Cup team.

3. Adam Scott
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the Crowne Plaza Invitational
Reason to watch: OK, so Scott's season isn't going to blow anyone away given the one win, but trust me -- he's had a super 2014 campaign with eight top-10 finishes in just 13 starts. He also finished in the top 15 at each of the four majors. Sure, a player like Scott expects to win more often than he has this season, but you can say he hasn't put himself in position plenty of times. Scott won the Barclays last year at Liberty National and finished T9 when the tournament was held at Ridgewood in 2010. He's playing for a win.

2. Rickie Fowler
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T2 at the U.S. Open and Open Championship
Reason to watch: You know that old saying, "If you put yourself in a position to win enough times, eventually it's going to happen"? Well, don't tell Fowler that because he's probably sick of hearing it. Fowler is the only player in the world to finish inside the top 5 at each of the four majors this season. He's the only player in history to accomplish that feat and not to have won at least one of those four. He's playing tremendous golf right now and something's got to give. Maybe it's this week. The only problem? This next guy is teeing it up too...

1. Rory McIlroy
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship
Reason to watch: Do you really need me to list reasons to watch McIlroy at this point? The man is on fire. A victory this week would make it four wins in four starts for McIlroy. That's amazing (but still a long way from the record 11-straight Byron Nelson won in 1945). The four-time major champion has said that he's never been as confident in his game as he is now. That's scary for the rest of the competition. Rory isn't quite blowing the doors off the competition like Tiger Woods did during that magical stretch from 1999-2000, but he's definitely getting the job done. McIlroy has earned the right to be considered the favorite whenever and wherever he tees it up now. 

August 19, 2014 - 2:14pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Joakim Boden
golf.se
Sweden's Joakim Boden's forehead was on the receiving end of an errant golf shot recently.

Sometimes the photo says it all.

This poor guy in Sweden was the victim of an errant shot. The golf ball hit him in the forehead and certainly left a mark.

Here's the tweet by Golf Digest Global Golf Director/columnist Stina Sternberg who had the find:

We clicked over to the story on golf.se and had to use Google Translator to read this quote from Joakim Boden, the man who was plunked:

I had struck my second blow out of the bunker and had just gone out and stood and looked at my colleague. I turned back towards the tee, and would then go up to my ball lying further away on the fairway and hit my third kind. Before I could start walking so slapped it until I got a ball in the head.

OK, there's a little lost in translation there, but -- again -- the photo says it all.

Remember, folks, stand behind your playing partners when it's their turn to hit. You don't want to learn that lesson the hard way. 

August 19, 2014 - 11:27am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy
Vimeo
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money and awareness for ALS, taking turns dumping a bucket of ice water over each other's head.

Now this is cool... or cold.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is all the rage lately and for a great cause -- raising money and awareness for ALS. If you remember, U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson took the challenge recently, as well.

A video posted Tuesday morning had golf superstars Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods stepping to the plate to bring awareness to the cause.

Before dumping ice water buckets on each other's head, the pair nominated others to take part.

Woods nominated Nike founder Phil Knight and tennis star Rafa Nadal, while McIlroy nominated former President George W. Bush, Meghan Markle (actress from "Suits") and Wayne Rooney (player for Manchester United.

Here's the video:

And, in case you missed it, Woods and McIlroy also appeared on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Monday. You can catch it here

August 19, 2014 - 10:00am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Steve Stricker
USA Today Sports Images
Due to back and hip issues, Steve Stricker will not be playing competitive golf until at least December.

During PGA Championship week, Steve Stricker was named as the third Vice Captain for the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team by Captain Tom Watson.

Just last week, after tying for seventh in the PGA Championship and finishing 29th in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings, Stricker put in a call to Watson to ask a simple question and make a point: Are you considering me for one of your Captain's Picks? If you are, I'm going to try and play the next couple of tournaments.

RELATED: Stricker named Vice Captain | Woods out | Watson's latest blog | Ryder Cup coverage

Well, it turns out the doctors had other plans for Stricker.

Stricker sent a text to Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel golf writer Gary Gary D'Amato Monday night, confirming that multiple injuries will keep him out of competition most likely until the end of the year.

"Sounds like I've got a back and hip issue," Stricker said in the text. "Going to shut it down till December. Rest and rehab and then try to play and see how it goes."

Stricker, 47, was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his left hip two weeks ago. According to a report on GolfChannel.com, he's also been dealing with herniated discs in both his back and neck.

Stricker is still scheduled to make the trip to Gleneagles for the Ryder Cup as a Vice Captain, but it doesn't look as though he'll need to "bring his clubs" as Watson half-joked at Valhalla.  

August 19, 2014 - 8:45am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Jimmy Fallon
Photo by Theo Wargo/NBC/Getty Images for 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods were guests Monday on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon." The appearance included a fun segment called "Facebreakers" between McIlroy and Fallon with Woods serving as Fallon's coach.

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods were guests of Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show" Monday.

The appearance included a fun segment with a game called, "Facebreakers."

In the game, McIlroy and Fallon pitched golf balls to a wall of glass pictures alternately emblazoned with each other's face (Tiger -- injured and unable to partake -- served as Fallon's coach).

Check out the Facebreakers segment here:

During the segment, Woods also spoke about the injuries that will keep him sidelined until December.

"I need to get stronger because this little guy over here is hitting it miles and kicking everyone's butt," Woods said, smiling while looking over at McIlroy.

Fallon then asked McIlroy about his win at the PGA Championship and how dark it was on the finishing hole. McIlroy was trying to explain just how dark it was when Woods chimed in, "It looked really bright on TV though... from my couch."

Fallon laughed and responded with, "Tiger, don't be so hard on yourself."

McIlroy is on an incredible run of late, having won in his last three starts -- the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship. He told Fallon that this run he's on has put the dominance of Woods over the years in perspective.

"I've gotten to know Tiger over the last few years and, I guess this little run I'm on -- it makes me appreciate what he's done in the past," McIlroy said. "It's phenomenal to keep a run like this going. And he's done way more than me. It makes me appreciate how hard he worked and how dominate a figure he was in our game."

McIlroy will try to make it four wins in a row this week in the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup opener, the Barclays.