Golf Buzz

May 19, 2014 - 12:05pm
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Tiger Woods
USA Today Images
Tiger Woods said Monday his rehabilitation from back surgery is "tedious."

Tiger Woods is still unsure of his return to competitive golf.

In an interview with the Golf Channel Monday morning, Tiger Woods said any timetable for his return to competitive golf remains unclear.

OFFICIAL STATEMENT: Tiger Woods announces his back surgery

Woods had back surgery on March 31, and has been undergoing rehabilitation since, a process Woods said is "tedious."

"It's not a lot of fun, I'll tell you that." Woods said while being interviewed on the Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" program. "It's a lot of tedious little exercises I have to do. At least I still get to chip and putt, which is nice, and that's progressing. I've got my feel for that, which is nice. But I still haven't hit any full shots. It's still a little bit too soon."

INJURY INVENTORY: A list of Tiger Woods' injuries over the years

Woods said he'd like to come back "today," but the decision on when he can return to the course is not up to him.

"It's not really in my hands," Woods said. "It's in [the hands of] my doctors and my trainers. I've got to get permission from them before I can come back -- and I still have to progress."

Woods has had a history of back problems, dating from 1998, when he strained his back prior to the Kemper Open. Things became worse in 2013, when he blamed a bad mattress for back spasms he suffered during the Barclays. But Woods seemed well on his way to returning to his championship form -- regaining the No. 1 ranking -- until the Honda Classic in February, when he withdrew after 13 holes, citing back spasms.

PGA.COM ARCHIVES: Woods has back surgery, misses Masters

He then struggled through a final-round 78 at the WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral before withdrawing two weeks later from the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill with a pinched nerve.

That led to microdiscectomy surgery, which is a type of minimally invasive spine surgery to relieve pressure and pain caused by a herniated disc. Operating through a small incision in the lower back, surgeons remove small disc fragments that are pressing against spinal nerves. 

Recovery can take several weeks and doctors typically advise against bending and twisting the back until patients are completely healed.

HONDA CLASSIC: Woods withdraws with spasms

Woods missed the Masters in April for the first time in his career, ending a streak of 19 consecutive appearances.

Paula Creamer acupuncture and pedicure
Paula Creamer via Twitter
Paula Creamer got some acupuncture and pedicure after she ended a cuts-made streak that really had some legs.

We witnessed the end of an era Saturday at the Kingsmill Championship, where Paula Creamer missed the cut – for the first time since August of 2010.

Creamer, who recently ended a four-year winless streak at the HSBC Women's Champions, saw her almost-four-year cuts-made streak end when she carded rounds of 73-72 at Kingsmill. The cut was made Saturday morning because a long weather delay meant the second round didn't finish on Friday.

Coming into Kingsmill, Creamer led the LPGA Tour with 82 tournaments in a row without missing a cut. The last time she missed, according to the LPGA, was the 2010 Safeway Classic.

"Yes I missed the cut .. just couldn't get the job done .. 82 in a row not too shabby," she tweeted.

The LPGA didn't indicate who takes over as the current cuts-made leader. The longest current cuts-made streak on the PGA Tour is 33 by Adam Scott. 

The end of Creamer's streak also puts into perspective the LPGA Tour's all-time record of 299 straight cuts made by Jane Blalock. On the PGA Tour, the cuts-made record is 142 straight by Tiger Woods.

In the aftermath of her MC, the Pink Panther indulged in a little "me time." A few hours after she walked off the course, she tweeted out a couple of photos – one of her getting a little acupuncture on her legs, and another showing her getting a pedicure. And, she said, she's planning to be right back in action at next week's Airbus Classic in Alabama.

While we wait, check out this Bridgestone spot that features her as a pirate:

 

 

 

 

President Barack Obama
Getty Images
President Barack Obama drives a golf cart at the Andrews AFB course in March.

Even the President of the United States wants a different challenge every once in a while.

President Barack Obama normally plays a round of golf on the weekends at the course at nearby Andrews Air Force Base or at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. But according to the Associated Press, Obama set up a tee time on Saturday at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va. That's a club with membership that's invitation-only -- and has hosted the Presidents Cup four times since 1991.

It's also the first time President Obama has played there, although former President Bill Clinton frequented it several times during his administration.

In case you're wondering, the AP said the President's foursome included former trade representative Ron Kirk, CenterPoint Energy chairman Milton Caroll and a man identified as Joe O'Neill, who is a leading Democratic lobbyist in Washington.

In case you're also wondering, there's no mention in the story as to what score the President recorded. That's a secret only known by the Secret Service agents keeping watch over the proceedings.

Scottie Scheffler
Getty Images
Scottie Scheffler not only made the cut Friday as an amateur, the 17-year-old added a hole-in-one in Saturday's third round.

Jordan Spieth's position as "the next big thing" in golf may already be in jeopardy, thanks to a 17-year-old high school senior from Highland Park, Texas.

At a time when most teenagers are worried more about who to take to the prom, how to make enough money to fill the gas tank and where to go during their summer vacation, Scottie Scheffler's goals for this weekend were a touch loftier. The 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur champion received a sponsor's exemption to play in the HP Byron Nelson Championship in nearby Irving, so golf was going to take precedence over homework, video games and movies.

So faced with that kind of challenge, what did Scheffler do? Well, he shot 68 on Friday to make the cut. And then on Saturday, with his family watching from beyond the ropes -- and sister Callie on the bag -- Scheffler pulled out a 5-iron and aced the 221-yard par-3 No. 2 hole, only the sixth hole-in-one on the PGA Tour this season.

 

 

Scottie Scheffler. If you haven't heard the name before, now you have. And chances are, you'll hear it again in the not-too-distant future.

 

Kara Keough Bosworth and Alex Morgan
Kara Keough Bosworth via Instagram
Alex Morgan (right) posed with her pal Kara Keough Bosworth during their practice session earlier this week.

The last time we saw U.S. soccer star Alex Morgan with a golf club in her hand, she was hitting a wicked slice at a driving range in England back in the summer of 2012 – soon after she helped Team USA win the gold medal in the London Olympics. Her swing was, to be charitable, a little short, but her attitude – as it is on the soccer pitch – was upbeat and positive.

Now, almost two years later, we have an Instagram video of America's soccer sweetheart with her pal Kara Keough Bosworth hitting balls at what is reported to be Top Golf Houston earlier this week, though I certainly can't guarantee that. One thing I can guarantee, however, is that Morgan's swing has gotten a lot better.

As you can see in the video below, she's got an iron in her hand this time, and she still kind of jumps at the ball. But she makes solid contact and, judging by her post-shot celebration, she's clearly pleased with her performance.

And hey, who can argue with that kind of enthusiasm?

Morgan might not yet be a scratch golfer, but she's at least better than her teammate Sydney Leroux, who you might remember tried a "Happy Gilmore"-type swing that ended in an epic fail.

Here's Morgan's mighty swing: 

 

May 16, 2014 - 2:18pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Harbor Shores
PGA of America
The par-4 seventh hole at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich., provides a spectacular view of Lake Michigan.

Major championship golf courses are special. They’re even more special when the general public can get a tee time. You can do just that at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich., which will host the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid for the second time in three years, May 22-25.

GETTING THERE: If you’re visiting Harbor Shores from out of town, here’s your best bet to get there – either fly into South Bend, Ind., and rent a car for a 35-mile drive into Benton Harbor, or choose a Chicago airport and then plan on a 90-mile trek around Lake Michigan. With so few direct flights into South Bend, Chicago is a decent option to avoid a lengthy layover in another city.

ABOUT THE COURSE: Designed by 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus, Harbor Shores opened in the summer of 2010. From the black tees, the course plays to a par of 71 and measures 6,852 yards.

RELATED: A hole-by-hole tour of Harbor Shores | '14 Senior PGA Champ. coverage

Harbor Shores isn’t only special because of its terrain, but also its story and tie to the Benton Harbor community – and the fact that the course itself weaves through parts of the community.

The Harbor Shores project has been a leading force in the revitalization of the Benton Harbor and St. Joseph communities with the help of KitchenAid, part of Whirlpool Corporation, which calls Benton Harbor home.

"With Harbor Shores, we set out really to change a community," Nicklaus said before the course hosted the 2012 Senior PGA Championship. "This wasn't just about a golf course. This was a non-profit project. That's the important part of it. When we started, we had a factory where the first tee is. We had to remove toxic waste and buildings. But in the end, the whole course looks beautiful and we hope is enjoyable to play."

I recently had the chance to tee it up at Harbor Shores, playing from the grey tees – one set up from the back tees at a not-so-overwhelming 6,246 yards. It was my first round of the season and also early on in the season for golf in Michigan.

The day that I played was brisk and overcast with plenty of wind. I was thoroughly impressed by the condition of the course after what locals said was a long, brutal winter (what winters in Michigan aren’t?).

Overall, the course is known for its treacherous greens. There isn’t a green on the course more treacherous than the one on No. 10. There are four tiers on this massive 10,500 square-foot green and it’s the first time I can ever remember standing on one tier of a green and not being able to see the tier above it. It’s that dramatic. More on this later.

MEMORABLE HOLES: After a straightforward opening par-4, we moved on to the 144-yard, par-3 second. You can’t be short here, as large bunkers weave their way from the front of the tee box all the way up to the green. It’s one of the shorter and easier holes on the course – the No. 17 handicap – but that’s only if you can block the bunkers out of your mind and commit to your club.

Of particular note, was the 396-yard, par-4 seventh hole, known as, “Arum Arrow.” This gorgeous hole starts on an island tee box. You can bail out to the left side of the fairway – though that sets up a blind approach – or you can challenge the bunkers and water hazard right out in front of you. Once safely in the fairway, you’re faced with a second shot to an elevated green surrounded by dune grass. And when you get to the green, you’re looking at the pay off – breathtaking views of vast Lake Michigan.

Speaking of “Dune Grass” that happens to be the name of the eighth hole at Harbor Shores, a 364-yard par 4. While a great drive will leave a short approach, there’s still plenty to distract you, as five bunkers on its three front sides protect the green.

No. 8 was one of my favorites at Harbor Shores because it gives the feeling that even though you’re playing golf in the middle of a city, it at times has the feel of a links-style course you’d expect to find in a seaside town in Scotland.

The 10th hole at Harbor Shores – a 539-yard par 5 from the back tees – might be its most famous because of a shot that was hit there by the Nicklaus, the course designer, when it opened in 2010.

The beautiful par-3 11th hole, known as “Maple,” is a nice escape from that brutal 10th green. Unlike the features on No. 8, No. 11 -- the shortest hole on the course, playing just 144 yards from the back tees (it was 122 from where our group played it) -- has a parkland, tree-lined experience with a pond that fronts the middle and right portion of the green. Don’t get suckered into hitting a tee shot at the flag if it’s on the right side like everyone in our group did. It can quickly turn the shortest hole at Harbor Shores into a beast.

If you like risk-reward on a par 5, you’ll love the 549-yard 15th hole at Harbor Shores. There are plenty of options off the tee and, if you take an aggressive line, you certainly have the chance of reaching this green in two… it’s something you’re going to have to give hard thought to, however. The Paw Paw River runs up the entire right side of the hole and then crosses just in front of the green. If you’re not laying up, you’re better off long than short.

Lastly, there’s the demanding par-4 18th, a strong, closing 420-yarder where no lead is safe. It plays into the prevailing wind off Lake Michigan and the Paw Paw River runs along the right side and wetlands are off to the left. After a solid drive, you’ll have a medium-to-short iron in yours hands for an approach to a large green and one last experience with those ridiculously undulating greens.

CLAIM TO FAME: Aside from England's Roger Chapman winning the 2012 Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, there was this...

On the 10th, Nicklaus, playing alongside Arnold Palmer, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson at the course’s opening in August 2010, was catching grief from his playing partners about the severity of the green’s undulations. Miller, faced with a 102-foot putt, thought about using a wedge instead of a putter.

Nicklaus wasn’t having that.

“There’s no chance putting it,” Miller argued.

“Want me to show you how to putt it?” asked Nicklaus.

From there, Nicklaus dropped a golf ball on the green, took a quick look at the line and proceeded to hole the putt that had more twists, turns and elevation changes than a roller coaster ride.

Nicklaus threw his arms in the air and walked away when the putt dropped as if to say, “See, it wasn’t that hard.”

But, it was that hard.

 

 

WHERE TO STAY: If you’re planning a visit to Harbor Shores, Benton Harbor is the closest place to stay and the course itself has a hotel – the Harbor Shores Inn – expected to open this spring. Five more minutes away and you can find a great spot in St. Joseph Township right along Lake Michigan.

And if you really don’t mind driving – about 40 minutes or so – New Buffalo is also a great option and makes for a fantastic family getaway with beach activities on Lake Michigan when you’re not playing golf.

As for other things to do – if you’re a college football fan, take the 35-minute drive to South Bend for a tour of Notre Dame. It’ll be worth your time.

KEY COURSE DETAILS:

Address: Harbor Shores, 201 Graham Ave, Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Phone: (269) 927-4653

You can also find them at www.harborshoreslife.com, on Facebook and on Twitter, @HarborShores.

Daily rates for Harbor Shores -- May 30 to September 28 -- are $100 for non-residents, Monday-Friday; $125 for non-residents, Saturday and Sunday. The rate includes a cart, which you will certainly need at Harbor Shores, as there's a bit of distance between many of the holes. There's also a twilight rate. After 3 p.m. all week long, you can play the course for $75 with a cart. You can get a tee time by calling (269) 927-4653, or you can book online at http://www.harborshoresgolf.com/public-tee-times.html.

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