Golf Buzz

November 21, 2016 - 8:22am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Billy Horschel
@PGATOUR on Twitter
After playing 72 holes of brilliant golf at the RSM Classic, Billy Horschel earned a spot in a five-man playoff... but he was quickly eliminated after missing a 2-foot putt on the first playoff hole.

Golf is a cruel game. What happened to Billy Horschel on Sunday is all the proof you need.

Horschel, who last won on the PGA Tour in the 2014 Tour Championship (the same year he tore through the FedExCup Playoffs on his way to winning the season-long prize), played great golf last week in Sea Island, Georgia. So much so, that after 72 holes, he found himself in a five-man playoff.

For Horschel, however, disaster struck on the very first hole of said playoff and he was quickly eliminated after missing this kick-in putt:

That's just not fair. But, it happens. And kudos to Horschel for taking it in stride.

Darkness put an end to the playoff on Sunday and it was forced to resume Monday morning. Aside from the obvious -- a chance at a fourth career PGA Tour title -- there's another reason Horschel likely wished he was still around for Monday's resumption of overtime in Sea Island:

 

Can't the guy catch a break? 

November 19, 2016 - 4:55pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Phil Mickelson
USA Today Sports Images
This is the season of giving thanks. Here, we reflect on seven golf moments we're thankful for this year.

During the week ahead, many us will spend time surrounded by loved ones, breaking bread together and being grateful for the opportunity to enjoy each other's company.

Over the course of the next several days, we're all going to have moments of reflection. Maybe it's on the couch after stuffing our faces during Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe it's when we lay down to go to bed at night. But, inevitably, we will have those moments where we look back, reflect and appreciate all those things in life that we're most thankful for.

In the spirit of this season of giving thanks, we decided to list seven golf moments in professional golf that we're most thankful for this year.

7. We're thankful that the delayed penalty Dustin Johnson incurred at Oakmont back in June during the final round of the U.S. Open didn't cost him his first major victory. Man, wouldn't that have been a bummer? Johnson had to spend time in that grueling final round on one of the toughest courses in the world having to wonder whether he was leading, tied for the lead, or trailing all pending on the outcome of a ruling that wasn't finalized until he went in to sign his card. With his superb play to close out the tournament -- along with the help of those who faltered on the closing stretch -- the penalty ended up being a moot, yet much discussed, point.

 

 

6. We're thankful for Louis Oosthuizen's ridiculous hole-in-one on the par-3 16th hole at Augusta National during the final round of the Masters. There's nothing cooler than seeing an ace, but -- let's be honest -- while they all result "1" not all aces are created equally. That's what made Oosthuizen's so special. His ball flew long and right of the flag. He utilized the backstop on the green to suck the ball back to it's traditional front left Sunday hole location. The ball trickled and trickled and -- OH NO! -- hit the ball of playing partner J.B. Holmes... and then rolled into the bottom of the cup for one of the coolest aces you'll ever see.

 

 

5. We're thankful for the interview conducted by 9-year-old Billy with four-time major winner Rory McIlroy. A late entry to be sure since this video didn't drop until this past Friday, but have you seen it? This little kid was just an absolute savage lighting up McIlroy with uncomfortable question after uncomfortable question. To his credit, McIlroy was a champ about the whole thing and took it all in stride with a smile on his face the entire time. If we learned anything from this interview it's that we all need more Billy interviews in our lives.

 

 

4. We're thankful for the singles match between Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia at the Ryder Cup. The match may have ended in a "halve" but when two players are playing at the level that this pair did, it's just incredible to watch. Between them, the two tallied an amazing 19 birdies over 18 holes. If they were teammates in a four-ball match, their opponents would not have stood a chance. There were so many great moments in this match-up, but how good was the birdie putt on 18 by Mickelson to secure the 1/2-point?

 

 

3. We're thankful for Patrick Reed as a member of Ryder Cup USA. Does anyone -- at least on the U.S. side -- get as fired up for the Ryder Cup as Reed? He's a man possessed when he puts on the red, white and blue. Reed, along with partner Jordan Spieth, was nearly unstoppable at Hazeltine. And the first eight holes of Reed's singles match on the final day with McIlroy was off the charts with the back and forth and the antics. Reed would win the match 1 up to finish the Ryder Cup with a 3-1-1 record. His 3.5 points were the most of any player in the matches.

 

 

2. We're thankful for the final day duel at Royal Troon between Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson in the Open Championship. Much like Mickelson's Ryder Cup match with Garcia, he and Stenson raised their respective games so high at the season's final major it was as if they were playing a different course than the rest of the field. Stenson entered the final round with a one-stroke advantage over Mickelson. On the last day, Mickelson fired a 6-under 65 -- a remarkable score on the final day of a major that should have been more than enough to get the job done. But, somehow, Stenson was better. He posted a head-scratching, 8-under 63 to snag his first major title. What a tournament.

 

 

1. We're thankful for a U.S. victory in the Ryder Cup. For whatever reason, the Ryder Cup has been a tough nut to crack for the Americans over the last two decades. How bad was it? Up until this year, the U.S. had won just twice since 1995... and one of those was in miracle fashion at Brookline in 1999 when the team overcame a final-day, four-point deficit. Well, 2016 was different. It was a new approach, a new commitment and a blueprint for years to come. Whether you're a fan of the U.S. or Europe, an American victory at Hazeltine was good for the Ryder Cup. And they didn't need a miracle this time, winning by a score of 17-11. It was the first U.S. win since 2008 in the matches. You're not going to win all the time, but when you're losing all the time, it takes a lot of fun out of it. With all the younger players involved on both sides in this most recent Ryder Cup, it's going to be so much fun to watch for years and years to come.

 

 

November 19, 2016 - 1:54pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture

Shopping for loved ones can be a real drag. They're the people you know better than anyone else, yet they can also be the toughest to shop for.

If the person you're shopping for is a golfer, we can assure you that any of the items you see on this list would make for a perfect gift.

RELATED: 250+ items in the annual PGA.com Holiday Gift Guide

Covering a wide-range of products at a variety of price points, here is the ultimate golfer gift list for this holiday season.


1. Ryder Cup USA gear

For the first time since 2008, Ryder Cup USA defeated Europe in the biennial matches at Hazeltine in October. If you have a loved one who just loves the Ryder Cup, there's loads of great gear to choose from in the PGA Shop, including but certainly not limited to, hats, jackets, polos, sweaters and more. You can find the gear that Ryder Cup USA team members actually wore at Hazeltine, or you can go with the special "Champions" gear.


2. Smathers & Branson 

Along with its beautiful needlepoint belts, which we highly recommend, Smathers & Branson also makes plenty of other great accessories at a variety of prices. The ones we love the most? Golf-themed flasks ($65), leather can coolers ($29.95), bi-fold wallets ($115) and hats ($35). All items feature the gorgeous needlepoint Smathers & Branson is known for.

Do you have a family member or friend who loves Caddyshack? The movie is portrayed on many of the Smathers & Branson accessories, including a "Bushwood Country Club" hat -- the fictional course used in the classic motion picture.


3. Strokes Gained putters 

Over the last several years, boutique putters have really made their presence felt. One of those boutique putter makers is Strokes Gained out of Valdosta, Ga. These high-end, custom putters will separate you or your loved one from everyone else in the foursome. They're not just putters -- they're keepsakes.

With a variety of head styles and finishes to choose from -- along with personalized stamping -- your Strokes Gained putter will truly be one of a kind.

As if the putter itself weren't special enough, the staff at Strokes Gained includes a special, custom-made ball marker with each putter purchase. Visit their site for pricing details.


4. Ogio

When it comes to bags -- both for travel and golf -- Ogio produces among the best. Here are three options sure to please those on your holiday shopping list...

For the traveler: Ogio offers the Renegade RSS Laptop Backpack for $149.99. That might seem steep for a laptop bag, but don't let the name fool you -- it's so much more than that. Along with its laptop compartment that features the innovative RSS (reactive suspension system), which cradles your laptop against damage if you happen to drop your bag, this bag also boasts the following: a crush-resistant Tech Vault pocket, padded mouse/camera pocket, zippered side utility pockets, expandable phone pocket, deluxe panel pocket with zippered stash, and dual side water bottle/accessory pockets. You can even stuff clothes in there for a weekend getaway.

For the weekend warrior: Going somewhere (perhaps the golf course?) that will require you to bring along beverages? For $35.99, Ogio offers a Chill 18-24 Can Cooler -- perfect for snacks and drinks. The leak-proof lining makes this bag easy to clean, and it compacts for simple storage when empty.

For the course: Golf clubs are a big investment. You need to take care of them. People routinely spend over $1,000 on a set of clubs only to toss them in a cheap bag where they clank around and get banged up. Ogio has the solution for that with its Silencer bag ($249.99 with stand).

Available in both stand and cart bag options the Silencer technology features 14 individual compartments that allow for a variety of club configurations. Each compartment has a protective membrane at the top that centers and gently holds the club shaft. The compression fit bottom securely holds the club grip and keeps it from moving and spinning. Bottom line -- your clubs won't clank when you walk or ride a cart. There are also plenty of pockets to store whatever it is you want to bring to the course.


5. Sunfish Sales

Custom. We love custom. That's what you get from the gentlemen at Sunfish Sales in the form of beautiful leather or knitted headcovers, cash covers, yardage book/scorecard holders and wallets.

Sunfish specializes in customizing its products to suit, and gives you the opportunity to build your custom piece on the Sunfish site, and see a realistic rendering of what it will look like, right as you build it, before you buy it. It's also a great tool for green grass and tournament customers, to create immediate mock-ups as they plan their next order.

In terms of quality and customization, Sunfish Sales is about the most affordable we've found in this category, with prices starting as low as $29.99. That's almost impossible to beat for a one-of-a-kind golf gift that's sure to turn heads.


6. Bose headphones 

If you or someone you know is a frequent traveler, there has been a time or two that they've been envious of another passenger sporting the Bose noise-cancelling headphones. Trust us. We know.

Give a gift that will make them envious no more in the brand new QuietComfort 35 Wireless Noise-cancelling headphones ($349.95). What's better on a long plane ride than being able to block out all the noise except for your favorite music? Doing it without wires, thanks to the Bluetooth technology used in these over-the-ear headphones designed for optimum comfort.

For the golfer who likes to listen to his or her music on the practice green or driving range, the Bose SoundSport wireless headphones ($149.95) fit the bill. No more having to figure out the perfect way to place the wire from your old headphones so that it doesn't interfere with your swing.

These in-ear headphones stay secure and comfortable no matter the activity.


7. Links Candles

Do you wish you could bottle up the smells of the golf course -- like morning dew, the ocean, leather grips, fescue, pine and more? You can do just that with these golf-inspired candles created by 12-year-old Lily Green. Individual candles are priced at $20 and gift packages that include multiple candles are available as well.


8. MitholoG Golf Towels

Want to add some instant flare to your golf bag? Get rid of that boring, old, dirty golf towel and replace it with one of these beauties from MitholoG. Starting at $34.99, these next generation golf towels are equal parts fashionable and functional.

The awesome patterns on the top sides of these towels distinguish them from anything else you've seen on the course, while the underside does everything you want your towel to do: clean your golf ball, rid your grooves of buildup, wipe away the grime that ends up on your grips, clean off your shoes, soak up sweat and more.

The only problem we see with the MitholoG towels? It's a towel that's so pretty you're not going to want to get it dirty.


9. adidas TOUR360 BOOST shoes

With all the advances in technology through the years -- both in equipment and apparel -- it's almost hard to believe that there was once a time where most golfers wore stiff, uncomfortable, wing-tipped dress shoes with spikes on the bottom to the course, isn't it? Don't get us wrong -- they looked sharp, but they sure didn't look comfortable.

Thankfully, things have changed. The latest offering from adidas -- the newest TOUR360 BOOST ($200) -- might just be as comfortable a golf shoe as you'll ever slip your pups into.

Featuring a premium leather upper with climaproof technology for a rich look, soft, comfortable feel and long-lasting protection and durability, the TOUR360 boost helps you perform at your best while maintaining a sharp look on the course.

There's virtually no "break-in" period with these golf shoes. They're like walking on pillows.


10. Maui Jim Tail Slide sunglasses

There are golf-specific sunglasses and then there are glasses you can where to the course, to the beach, to lunch with friends and everything in between. The new Tail Slide sunglasses from Maui Jim ($249) fall into the latter category. The timeless design makes these sunglasses perfect for any occasion.

The lens on these glasses are arguably their greatest selling point. SuperThin glass
provides the absolute crispest optics available. They're 20 percent thinner and lighter than standard glass, and offer the best scratch and solvent resistance.

With PolarizedPlus2 technology, every pair of Maui Jims includes a patented, color-infused lens technology that wipes out 99.9percent of glare, 100 percent harmful UV and boosts color via specially designed lens treatments so your view is clearer, with crisper contrast and amazing brilliance.

Comfort. Style. Performance. The Maui Jim Tail Slide checks off all three.


11. Galvin Green Windstopper Bart Jacket

Warmth. It's what all of us in the northeast are looking for on the golf course this time of year. While we want warmth, we don't want the bulk that typically comes along with it.

The Galvin Green Windstopper Bart Jacket ($155) keeps you warm with its soft-shell fabric, keeps out windchill and sustains a core body temperature, which allows you to focus on what's most important -- the next shot.

It might just be the perfect golf jacket too, one to keep in your bag at all times for use in any season when the wind, or the weather, kicks up.


12. Mizuno JPX-900 Driver

Are you or someone you know looking for/hoping for a new driver this holiday season?

There's no shortage of options out there at the moment, but here's one you may not have considered that you probably should: the JPX-900 from Mizuno.

You should expect a lot from a driver with a price tag of $500. With the JPX-900, you won't be disappointed. This adjustable driver with a beautiful blue crown and a stock Fujikura Speeder EVO II and custom grip (no upcharge for either, by the way) delivers in performance.

By manipulating the two, 8-gram tungsten-steel weights on the sole of the driver, you can fine-tune launch angle and spin rate and create fade or draw bias. The 450cc head has an adjustable hosel for additional launch and spin control.

Forgiveness -- both in length and accuracy -- is what makes the JPX-900 driver a hot item for the holidays.


13. Mizuno JPX-900 Forged Irons

If you're a serious golfer and you've never experienced what it feels like to hit a Mizuno iron, do yourself a favor and run to your nearest Mizuno fitter. It's amazing.

One of the company's latest offerings is the JPX-900 Forged irons ($1,199.99). With the integration of Boron, these Mizuno irons have a thinner, hotter face. The reshaped pocket cavity allows for more ball speed across the clubface -- in other words, you won't be losing much distance at all on your misses.

The JPX-900 forged irons offer the look of a player's iron (smaller head, thinner top line) with the foregiveness of a game-improvement iron.

If you're the type of golfer who is looking for an iron upgrade to a set of the "player" variety, but don't think you're ready for blades, this is the set for you. You'll get all the benefits of a blade -- primarily feel and workability -- without sacrificing on your mishits. 

November 19, 2016 - 10:59am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Henrik Stenson
@TheOpen on Twitter
Stories about the Claret Jug typically revolve around adult beverages. This one with 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson, however, involves a jet-ski.

Lots of stuff has been done with the Claret Jug -- the trophy given to the winner of the Open Championship -- through the years.

Most of it involves being filled with a favorite libation and then swigged.

Henrik Stenson, the 2016 champion, may have recently given the Claret Jug an exciting "first," however.

With the trophy secured to his chest like an infant in a Babybjorn, Stenson took it for a spin on his jet-ski.

Here's the video footage:

We'd like to see PGA Champion Jimmy Walker try that with the Wanamaker Trophy. 

November 18, 2016 - 2:42pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
shanks
@EuropeanTour
Here are 13 (seeing as that number is considered the unluckiest of all, it seemed like a good cap) of the worst shanks, chunks and yips from 2016.

When it comes to golf, nobody likes to hear, let alone see or hit, the dreaded "s" word -- "SHANK."

No matter the level of golf ability, those dirty, no good shots that you wish to avoid like the plague can pop up on occasion and they can be contagious.

Not so distant cousins of the "shanks" include the "chunks" and the "yips" -- equally as demoralizing.

RELATED: Where the "shank" came from | Shanks even happen to the world's best

All three happen, even to the best players in the world. Which, for us golf lovers who don't have a 10th of the ability of the men and women playing on TV for a living, brings about sort of a sadistic comfort.

With that, here are 13 (seeing as that number is considered the unluckiest of all, it seemed like a good cap) of the worst shanks, chunks and yips from 2016.

We're not making fun... we're sympathizing.

13. Michael Greller on No. 7 at Pebble Beach. It's not uncommon during a practice round or pro-am for a PGA Tour player to allow his caddie to hit a shot on a world famous hole. That's what happened when Jordan Spieth allowed Greller an opportunity to take a crack at the world-renowned short par 3 on what is arguably the world's most famous course. What ensued was a barrel of laughs for everyone but Greller:

 

 

12. Thorbjorn Olesen at the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship. Olesen was all square with McIlroy when the match went to the 18th hole. Faced with not a terribly difficult looking chip, Olesen did this and ended up losing the match:

11. Brooks Koepka at Hazeltine. The 2016 Ryder Cup was basically a highlight reel for Koepka, who was making his debut in the biennial matches, which his side won for the first time since 2008... which means he can probably laugh at this approach shot during Saturday morning's foursomes session from the rough on the 12th hole:

 

 

10. Jordan Spieth at Riviera. In the first round of this year's Northern Trust Open, the two-time major champion and undoubtedly one of the best players in the world over the last four three years, shot an uncharacteristic 79. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don't. Spieth was looking to work things out prior to the second round on the range the next morning... when this happened:

 

Oops. To be fair to Spieth, it should be noted that he did shoot a 68 that day. Also to be fair, he watched his caddie shank it at Pebble the week before (No. 13 on our list).

9. Jason Day in the Open Championship. Shanks are also known as "hosel rockets." Check out this close-up video of the world's No. 1 player from Royal Troon and you'll know exactly why:

 

 

8. Joost van den Broek in the KLM Open. Who, you ask? Joost was a lucky fan who won the opportunity to play in a "Beat the pro" competition DURING this European Tour event. Imagine how nerve-wracking that had to be. van den Broek plays to a 4-handicap, but it sure didn't look that way in front of all those fans... extra points for the awesome Protracer utilization on this one too:

7. An Angel Cabrera two-for-the-price-of-one. The Argentine, an owner of both a green jacket and a U.S. Open trophy, isn't exempt from an occasional case of the chunks. Here, we have two examples. First, an unintentional lay up during the Arnold Palmer Invitational moments after an intentional lay up:

 

 

The second is this ugly chunk into the water on the par-5 15th hole during the Masters:

 

 

6. Spain's Jon Rahm made his first start as a professional on the PGA Tour the week after the U.S. Open in June at the Quicken Loans National, where he finished an impressive T3. But, he'll always remember this shot from his first professional start, which happened during the tournament's third round:

 

 

5. Russell Knox on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. A case could be made that when you factor in the elements and the atmosphere at the Players Championship, there may be no more stressful hole in golf than the par-3 17th on the Stadium Course. The last thing you want to do is miss the island green. That's what Knox did though -- three times. He missed wide right with the first. He came up well short with the second. And then, after you see the second, check out the third attempt -- the reason he's on this list (he would make a 9 on the hole):

 

4. Lucas Glover's putt at the Wyndham Championship. Just 19 inches separated Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, from a 10-under 60 in the second round of the Wyndham Championship. Instead, it turned into a 61 when he nearly whiffed the putt for 60.

 

 

3. Richard Bland at the European Tour's Spanish Open. In a tournament that he led at one point, Bland (who finished T11) did this:

 

 

Now that is what you call "sideways."

2. Steve Wheatcroft from a bunker at the RBC Canadian Open. This was an absolute heartbreaker. Needing an up and down on the final hole for a spot in a playoff and, potentially, his first PGA Tour win, Wheatcroft caught his sand shot, well, thin:

1. Ernie Els on the first hole of the 2016 Masters. You hate to see this happen to anyone, let alone one of the all-time great guy's in the game. But, the Golf Gods do not care at times. All players get jacked up for the first major of the year. Imagine the 20-minute span for Els from the time he teed off in his first round to the time he walked off the first green. Promise. Hope. Nerves... a freaking "six-putt" from six feet to open with a quintuple-bogey 9, the highest score on that hole in tournament history:

 

November 18, 2016 - 10:31am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rory McIlroy
@EuropeanTour
There were no questions off limits for 9-year-old Billy when he sat down for a one-on-one interview with Rory McIlroy this week. Prepare to see McIlroy squirm like you've never seen him squirm before.

The European Tour's social media machine is one that just never stops giving.

Just when you thought it couldn't possibly top the #MannequinChallenge video posted earlier this week, surprise, they absolutely buried it today and built a skyscraper on top of it.

Periodically, a 9-year-old reporter named "Little Billy" (bound for superstardom with all his charisma), sits down with star players for a no-holds-barred, one-on-one interview where no topic is off limits. He did one last month with Andrew "Beef" Johnston.

Well, this week, Little Billy got a sit-down with World No. 2 and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

 

 

What starts out as a cute kid being adorable with one of the most recognizable athletes in the world quickly turns into an absolute grilling for McIlroy... thankfully for all involved, McIlroy could not have been a better sport. If an adult man had been asking McIlroy some of these questions, an immediate knockout punch wouldn't be an unreasonable response.

Here are some of the many, many highlights:

Little Billy, who clearly knows about McIlroy's relationship with ex-fiancee and tennis star Caroline Wozniaki: "Who's your favorite girl tennis player?"

Rory laughs, squirms, thinks and says, "Honestly Billy, I've stopped following women's tennis the last couple of years."

"Good call," Billy said.

Billy then inquires about the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah and how McIlroy nearly missed his singles tee time on the final day. What really happened there, Billy implored?

Rory said he wished it was a better story, but it was simply a case of watching the golf on TV that morning and seeing the tee times listed in Eastern Time. Being in the Central Time Zone, Rory thought that he was seeing the correct tee time... not one hour ahead of the actual time.

Billy wasn't buying it: "You sure you wasn't boogieing?"

Then came the topic of Tiger Woods. Billy asked Rory to put in a good word with Tiger as his next quest is to track down the 14-time major winner for an interview.

Billy asked Rory: "If I meet Tiger, should I ask him for career advice, or chat-up lines?"

Ouch.

There's been a lot of questions lately about what clubs Rory will be playing next year since Nike has pulled away from the club-making business. Though he didn't get a straight answer, Billy found a crafty way to at least ask what we could expect to see in Rory's bag come 2017.

"For Christmas, I want the same golf clubs you'll be playing next year," he said. "What should I be asking for?"

Perhaps the best part of the interview was when the subject turned to Rory's upcoming wedding. It led to this exchange:

"I got you a wedding present, but I should probably give it to you now," Billy said.

It's a box filled with socks.

Rory asks, "A box of socks? What's this all about?"

"Just in case you get cold feet again," said Billy, referring to the engagement Rory broke off with Wozniaki a few years back right after the wedding invitations had been mailed out.

Brutal.

The video ends with Rory playfully telling Billy, "You are a cheeky little (expletive)."

Somebody get this kid a late-night television show!