Golf Buzz

Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods began taking full swings last week after spending two months working on regaining his strength.
Tiger Woods has taken perhaps the most important step in his long journey to get back into top tournament form.
 
Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, told Steve diMeglio of USA Today that the former world No. 1 started taking full swings on the range last week.
 
"The doctors said he could hit golf balls again, and he's listening to his doctors and to his body," Steinberg told the newspaper on Monday. "He will keep listening to his doctors and body. … He's feeling pretty good."
 
If he can return to action – and be healthy – it'll be a huge achievement in an otherwise forgettable year. Woods began 2014 atop the world rankings, but a back injury nagged at him through the early part of the season. He underwent back surgery in late March, which forced him to miss both the Masters and U.S. Open.
 
 
Woods returned in midsummer, but missed the cut at the Quicken Loans National, tied for 69th at the British Open, withdrew during the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and missed the cut in the PGA Championship. He also failed to qualify for the FedExCup playoffs, and then took himself out of consideration for the Ryder Cup.
 
He's kept himself quite busy since last playing at the PGA Championship, primarily by devoting himself to getting back into shape and slowly working toward a return to making full swings on the range.
 
He's also fired swing coach Sean Foley, and not yet named a replacement; gotten into the restaurant business in south Florida; traveled to Houston to inspect the course he's designing at Bluejack National; hung out at an Oakland Raiders game; and visited Stanford, where one Cardinal golf team member was so inspired by meeting Woods that he went out and shot a 59.
 
Woods is still hoping to return to action at the Hero World Challenge – the limited-field event he hosts at the end of each season to benefit his Tiger Woods Foundation – which is set for Dec. 4-7 at Isleworth Golf & Country Club in Orlando. 
 
Jack Nicklaus at the Bear Trap at PGA National
Jack Nicklaus via Instagram
Jack Nicklaus has made the "Bear Trap" at PGA National even more daunting with his renovation of the hole leading into it.
The Honda Classic took a big step up in stature when it moved to PGA National a few years ago, primarily because of the quality of the Champions Course. And a big reason for the Champ's reputation is "the Bear Trap" – the three-hole stretch encompassing Nos. 15-17.
 
The Bear Trap gets its name from its creator – Jack Nicklaus, who ratcheted up raised the course's competitiveness during a makeover back in 1990, especially its closing stretch. And now the Golden Bear has turned up the difficulty factor yet again on the course that is statistically the toughest non-major layout on the PGA Tour.
 
This time, he focused on the 465-yard par-4 14th hole, which leads into the Bear Trap – and now might be scary enough to become the fourth member inducted into the vaunted collection of back-nine terrors.
 
 
Specifically, Nicklaus moved the green 17 yards to the right, which brings the greenside lake much more into play. Bunkers also were added in front of and behind the green, the tee was moved back 10 yards, and an additional 20,000 square feet of spectator mounding was added to improve the sightlines during the Honda Classic.
 
"It seemed a shame not to have the water nearer to the green," said Nicklaus, who attended a "grand reopening" ceremony at the big bear stature between the 14th green and 15th tee on Friday. "It produces a little more freedom and it produces a very strong par 4 going into the Bear Trap. I honestly believe it will be more exciting."
 
In addition, Nicklaus expanded four greens – on Nos. 1, 9, 15 and 17 – back to their original size, and the tees, fairways and areas surrounding the greens were converted to Celebration Bermuda grass. The regrassing means the course won't have to be overseeded anymore, and should play firmer and faster.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Courtesy of Titleist Scotty Cameron
All three new Scotty Cameron Futura putters from Titleist are designed to be extremely stable through the putting stroke.
If you say "trick or treat" to puttermaker Scotty Cameron on Halloween this year, he'll most assuredly reply, "treat."
 
Why? Because Oct. 31 is the launch date for the three latest additions to his Futura family of putters – the X5, X5R and X5 Dual Balance.
 
The new putters join 2013's original Futura X and Futura X Dual Balance to form the most stable line of putters that Cameron offers – Adam Scott won the 2013 Masters with a prototype of the original Futura putter.
 
The X5 model is angled in the back, while the X5R features a more rounded shape. The counterbalanced X5 Dual Balance combines the X5 head style with Cameron's Dual Balance technology to provide maximum stability for golfers who struggle to make a consistent stroke with a conventional length putter. 
 
 
The X5 Dual Balance contains a head weighing in at 400 grams (whereas the X5 and X5R both have standard 350-gram heads) as well as a 50-gram counterweight in the butt of the shaft. Dual Balance putters have a standard length of 38 inches with a 15-inch grip that allows the player to grip down below the counterweight for a more stable stroke.
 
All three models feature a multi-material design with a precision-milled 303 Stainless Steel body and high-grade 6061 aluminum soleplate. A lighter aluminum center section also extends down the wings, and the body features a soft Silver Mist finish contrasted by the anodized black aluminum sole plate and center.
 
By using aluminum, Cameron could hollow out the area under the soleplate and redistribute the weight to the wings to help provide extra stability. It also allowed for a thicker face and topline for better feel and sound. Heel-toe weights directly under the face also contribute to solid feel while increasing forgiveness.
 
 
All three putters come with a new single bend shaft with a higher bend point that Cameron says produces a true face-balanced configuration, and one shaft of offset. The X5 and X5R putters include 10-inch Matador Red Midsize grip that weighs in at 77 grams, while the Dual Balance model features a 15-inch Cameron Dual Balance grip.
 
"The Futura X5 mallet is for someone who likes the stability of a bigger head, the feel of a bigger grip, and likes to look down and see more lines for alignment purposes," said Cameron. "X5 is more of a mechanical shape where the X5R is a softer, rounder shape. 
 
"There’s no right or wrong. Same performance, same weight, same feel," he added. "It all depends on what you like to look at."
 
The X5 and X5R models carry a suggested retail price of $375, while the X5 Dual Balance has a $425 suggested retail price.
 
Here is a video from Titleist introducing the new putters:
 
 
October 20, 2014 - 9:40am
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T.J. Auclair
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Rory McIlroy
YouTube/USA Today Sports Images
What do you think about this pumpkin carving? Is there any resemblance to Rory McIlroy?

Fall is here, which means it's pumpkin-carving season.

Who doesn't love a good jack-o'-lantern of a zombie, a monster, or a four-time major champion?

Wait, what?

That's right, someone decided to carve four-time major winner Rory McIlroy's face into a pumpkin. You can see the whole process in the video below:

 

If we're being honest, that pumpkin looks like McIlroy about as much as this tattoo looks like Ernie Els:

 

This pumpkin carver and that tattoo artist need to step up their game... like the corn-maze artist who rendered this awesome work of Bubba Watson:

 

Now that's how you do it.

h/t Golf News Net

Ben Martin
Ben Martin lines up a 46-foot left-to-right bender for the eagle that gives him his first PGA Tour victory.

You're trailing for the first time all day. You've reached the par-5 16th hole in two, but are still 46 feet away. And a win would give you your first PGA Tour victory.

No pressure, right? Well, if Ben Martin felt any lack of confidence Sunday with the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on the line, he didn't show it when he lined up to make the shot of the weekend:

 

 

Perfect speed, perfect line, perfect execution -- and an eagle to cap a perfectly great weekend of golf for the Clemson alumnus.

SHRINERS HOSPITALS OPEN: Martin tops Streelman for first career victory

Sure, he still had two holes to play, but with a one-stroke lead and Kevin Streelman already in the clubhouse, all Martin had to do from that point on was keep it in the fairway. And he did that and more, making birdie on the final hole for a two-stroke win.

October 19, 2014 - 1:40pm
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Growling Frog Golf Course
appix29/Instagram
North of Melbourne, Australia, Growling Frog Golf Course has the typical hazards -- bunkers, water and the occasional marsupial.

Sorry, we're just suckers for animals on golf courses. Eagles stealing golf balls? Check. A bear cub dancing with the flagstick? Got it. Snakes at the China Open? Yep.

We've even seen elephant tracks on the greens in Malaysia. (Good luck fixing those spike marks.)

WILD GOLF STORIES: Readers share some unusual tales

So we've pretty much seen it all when it comes to "animals on golf course" photos. Or we thought we had, until appix29 posted this shot on Instagram for the #PGA365 reader-submitted photo gallery.

It's from Growling Frog Golf Course in Yan Yean, Australia, on the north side of Melbourne. And yes, those are kangaroos. And no, they didn't show good etiquette by raking the bunkers afterward. (And yes, Growling Frog is an awesome name for anything, and probably worthy of a story in its own right.)

 

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Only in Australia... Growling Frog GC. #teamtitleist #mytitileist

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Birdies, eagles, albatrosses and now marsupials. "Reckon you can put me down for a Joey on that hole, mate."

'ROOS ON THE LOOSE: Kangaroos interrupt LPGA tournament

After that, finding photos of golf balls landing on alligators is almost routine.