Golf Buzz

Matt Jones
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Matt Jones exults Sunday after chipping in to win the Shell Houston Open playoff.

How do you finish off a playoff that gets you an invitation to the Masters? By chipping in over a bunker from 42 yards out for birdie, if you're Matt Jones.

SHELL HOUSTON OPEN: Jones wins playoff, earns trip to Augusta

Of course, that's after making a 46-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to even give himself a chance at the playoff against Matt Kuchar in the first place.

In the playoff, Jones put his tee shot on the No. 18 hole in the right hand fairway bunker, which resulted in missing the green short and to the right. So Jones decided not to mess around.

SUNDAY'S TOP PHOTOS: Shots from the PGA, LPGA and European Tour stops

"I walked up there and told my caddy I was going to chip it in," Jones said afterward.

 

Bubba Watson
USA Today Images
Bubba Watson made an unscheduled guest appearance Sunday at the 2014 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.

Bubba Watson was watching Sunday morning's telecast of the 2014 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship from his hotel room in Augusta, Ga., when he realized he'd rather be there in person to cheer on the 88 boys and girls competing.

2014 DRIVE, CHIP AND PUTT: Photos of the competition

So the 2012 Masters champion made the short trip to Augusta National Golf Club and stood on the sideline, watching some of the country's best youth golfers hitting drives at the Tournament Practice Facility and impressed by their talent.

2015 DRIVE, CHIP AND PUTT: Registration is under way

While they waited for their turn at the tee, Watson came by and shook each golfer's hand -- in some cases, tapping them on the shoulder to make them turn around. You can imagine the shock and surprise on each girl's face as they suddenly realized who it was wishing them luck.

FACT SHEET: Rules and regulations for 2015 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship

Watson wasn't the only one enthralled by the inaugural event. Fuzzy Zoeller and Fred Couples were also in attendance Sunday, along with Augusta National member and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Here's the video from the Golf Channel broadcast, and notice how emotional Bubba gets when talking about youth golf.

 

 

April 5, 2014 - 1:18am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Henrik Stenson
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Henrik Stenson has plenty to celebrate on his birthday, seeing as he won both the FedExCup and the Race to Dubai championships last fall.
Saturday is the 38th birthday of Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who made history last fall when he became the first player ever to win the FedExCup on the PGA Tour and the Race to Dubai on the European Tour in the same season.
 
Unfortunately for Henrik, it wasn't the kind of birthday surprise that he'd want to remember. He shot a 4-over 76 in Saturday's third round of the Shell Houston Open and dropped into a tie for 65th.
 
Stenson romped to an impressive six-shot victory in the DP World Tour Championship Dubai last November, finishing in style with a tap-in eagle on the final hole.
 
"To achieve the double-double if you liken winning the DP World Tour Championship and the Race to Dubai on top of winning the PGA Tour Championship to capture the FedExCup takes some beating, I guess," Stenson said. "I am just very, very pleased with the way I played." 
 
That victory came less than two months after his command performance in the Tour Championship, which he won by three shots to capture the FedExCup. Between the two victories and the seasonlong bonuses, Stenson earned more than $16 million, and his dynamic double capped off an amazing return to the pinnacle of pro golf for the second time in his mercurial career.
 
 
Stenson's amazing season began with a tie for third in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open the week before the British Open. He followed with runner-up finishes at the British Open and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, a third place at the PGA Championship and a win at the Deutsche Bank Championship. 
 
"Since the Scottish Open, it's been just an incredible run," he said after winning the Tour Championship. "I'm speechless. It was a tough day out there. To hang in there the way I did, I'm really satisfied. ... It hasn't quite sunk in yet. I had to fight hard mentally to keep all this aside, and I managed to do that. It's going to feel better as the week goes on. I'm pretty sure about that." 
 
Stenson's off to a decent start this season – over the last month he tied for 16th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Championship, and he's tied for 55th after two rounds at the Shell Houston Open after rounds of 71-72. And, oh yeah, he also hit a dead-cold shank at Doral.
 
But as we saw last year, he's just getting warmed up. So happy birthday, Henrik. We can't wait to see what's next.
 
April 5, 2014 - 12:44am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Jimmy Fallon chips in from a bunker
Tonight Show via YouTube
Jimmy Fallon looked small in that huge bunker, but he came up big and knocked it in.
Just last week, your faithful Golf Buzz entertainment correspondent brought you the scoop on Jimmy Fallon's burgeoning interest in golf. On Friday night, Fallon showed his brand new – and career best – golf highlight on "The Tonight Show."
 
Fallon, as we explained, is a longtime golfer but is trying to get even more into the game. He apparently plays fairly regularly with TV star Michael J. Fox and celebrity chef Mario Batali, and they were on the links with him early on Friday – even though, Fallon said on the show, it was cold, rainy and generally miserable.
 
 
To make matters worse, Fallon found himself in a deep, daunting bunker on the fourth hole at Bayonne Golf Club in Bayonne, N.J. So while the rest of his group gathered up on the green, Fallon clomped into the bunker, lined up his shot – and knocked it in the cup, much to the delight and amazement of his playing partners.
 
Making the moment even more special is that Batali caught the bunker blast on his iPhone camera. Fallon didn't say what he shot, or who won, but – as any golfer knows – all that really matters is that the shot of the day was captured on video. So congrats to Fallon – and great job, Mario.
 
Here's the shot:
 
 
Categories: Bayonne Golf Club
April 4, 2014 - 11:04pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan
USA Today Sports Images
"Obviously, we're disappointed and frustrated" over the revelation that Paulina Gretzky is on Golf Digest's newest cover instead of an LPGA Tour player, said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan.
LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan backed up his players on Friday, issuing a statement that echoed the sentiments of those who criticized Golf Digest for putting Paulina Gretzky on the cover of its May issue.
 
"Obviously, we're disappointed and frustrated by the editorial direction (and timing) Golf Digest has chosen with the announcement of its most recent magazine cover," Whan said in a statement at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the tour's first major tournament of the year. 
 
 
"If a magazine called Golf Digest is interested in showcasing females in the game, yet consistently steers away from the true superstars who've made history over the last few years, something is clearly wrong," his statement continued. "'Growing the game' means a need for more role models and in these exciting times for women's golf, the LPGA is overflowing with them." 
 
With the magazine having become a big talking point throughout the world of golf over the last couple of days, Golf Digest Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde issued a statement of his own on Friday.
 
"Sports figures, celebrities and models have appeared on Golf Digest covers since the magazine's beginning," Tarde said. "Paulina ranks at the high end of the golf celebrity scene today, and she has a compelling story to tell. She also might get some new people interested in the game." 
 
 
The cover photo shows Gretzky – the golf-playing daughter of hockey star Wayne Gretzky and fiancée of PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson – in a sports bra and tight-fitting capri-length pants.
 
Lorena Ochoa in 2008 was the last LPGA Tour player to appear on the magazine's cover, while Golf Digest featured Golf Channel personality Holly Sonders in May 2013 and model Kate Upton with Arnold Palmer on the December 2013 cover.
 
"It's frustrating for female golfers," third-ranked Stacy Lewis said. "It's kind of the state of where we've always been. We don't get respect for being the golfers that we are. Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines. But at the same time you'd like to see a little respect for the women's game." 
 
April 4, 2014 - 12:45pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Golf Digest
Golf Channel
The May cover of Golf Digest featuring Paulina Gretzky, has many players on the LPGA Tour frustrated.

The May cover of Golf Digest featuring Paulina Gretzky -- daughter of hockey great Wayne Gretzky and the fiancée of golfer Dustin Johnson -- has sparked discussion and concern from a number of players on the LPGA.

Karen Crouse, golf writer for the New York Times, is in Rancho Mirage, Calif., this week for the Kraft Nabisco Championship -- the LPGA's first major.

Crouse got reaction from a number of LPGA players after the May cover Golf Digest, which shows Gretzky leaning on a golf club wearing white yoga pants and a white sports bra.

RELATED: Paulina Gretzky's golf swing | Gretzky/Johnson get engaged | Wayne Gretzky talks golf

"It's frustrating for female golfers," Stacy Lewis, the No. 3-ranked female golfer in the world and a two-time major winner, said Thursday. "It's kind of the state of where we've always been. We don't get respect for being the golfers that we are. Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines. But at the same time you'd like to see a little respect for the women's game."

Crouse noted in her piece that Gretzky is now one of 11 women since 1969 to appear alone on the cover of Golf Digest. Golf Channel's Holly Sonders -- who has also never won a LPGA event -- graced the Golf Digest cover in May 2013.

"It's frustrating because it's Golf Digest; it's not Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue," said seven-time major winner and World Golf Hall of Famer Juli Inkster. "I think they should maybe recognize some of the great women golfers that we have. It's like, What do you have to do to get a little respect? I'm guaranteeing you right now, it was not a woman editor who chose that cover."

Crouse had this quote from Jerry Tarde, the editor in chief of Golf Digest, who approved the cover: "Sports figures, celebrities and models have appeared on Golf Digest covers since the magazine's beginning. Paulina ranks at the high end of the golf celebrity scene today, and she has a compelling story to tell. She also might get some new people interested in the game."

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