Golf Buzz

Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper via Instagram
Bryce Harper put his home run swing on this "Happy Gilmore" tee shot.
Major League Baseball's Spring Training is just around the corner – pitchers and catchers report in just about two weeks – so a lot of baseball's best golfers are getting in some final rounds before their offseason ends.
 
One of those golf nuts is Washington Nationals' outfielder Bryce Harper, who spent part of his weekend out on the course with some buddies near his home in Las Vegas. We don't know who shot what – but we do know that Harper likes to have some fun out on the fairways.
 
 
At one point during his round, Harper teed it up and took a running cut "Happy Gilmore" style – and, he reports, he crushed that particular drive 340 yards.
 
Now, 340 is a pretty serious swat, but we're not surprised. After all, one of Harper's strengths as a baseball player is hitting for power.
 
Here's his drive, which he shared on Instagram:
 
 
 
Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
Tiger Woods' back troubles at Torrey Pines contributed to his latest drop in the Official World Golf Ranking.
The latest edition of the Official World Golf Ranking came out Monday morning, and it confirmed the bad news for Tiger Woods that many expected. Woods is now down to 62nd in the ranking – his lowest ranking since his first year as a professional.
 
He's one spot behind No. 61 Tim Clark, and one spot ahead of No. 63 Brandt Snedeker. Jason Day, who won the Farmers Insurance Open, from which Woods withdrew with an apparent back injury on Friday, is up to No. 4. Anirban Lahiri of India, who won the Maybank Malaysia Open on Sunday is up to 37th – or 25 spots ahead of Woods.
 
Here is a quick run through Woods' history with the world ranking:
 
 
He was ranked No. 732 in the world on Feb. 19, 1994, even though just a junior player, and fell as low as No. 875 by the next spring – remember, he was still an amateur and only receiving points for his few starts in professional events. He turned pro in the fall of 1996, won in Las Vegas almost immediately, and had jumped up to No. 23 by the first ranking of 1997.
 
He achieved his 12-stroke breakthrough victory at the 1997 Masters, was up No. 2 by the end of May and took over as No. 1 on June 14, 1997. From that point, he dominated the top spot in the rankings – holding down No. 1 for a record 683 weeks, including all of 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. 
 
In late 2010, however, the effects of his layoff in the wake of his personal troubles began to erode his ranking. He fell as low as No. 58 by mid-October of 2011 because of his extended absence from action, but fought his way back up into the top three by the summer of 2012. He reclaimed the world No. 1 spot in April of 2013, and held it for more than a year – he won five times in 2013 and was named the PGA Tour Player of the Year – before dropping to No. 2 in May of 2014.
 
 
Unfortunately for Woods, it's been all downhill from there as his injuries and on-course struggles have prevented him from mounting another run up the rankings as he did two years ago. Since the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open roughly a year ago, Woods' best finishes have been a tie for 41st in the 2014 Dubai Desert Classic, a tie for 25th in the 2014 WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, 69th in the 2014 British Open and a tie for 17th in his limited-field Hero World Challenge.
 
He's now gone 12 straight PGA Tour events without a top-10 finish – his last was his second place at The Barclays in the fall of 2013. And in his last six tournaments since back surgery last March, he has missed the cut three times, withdrawn twice and finished 69th in the British Open, his lowest 72-hole finish in a major.
 
His next scheduled start is the Honda Classic in three weeks. He's not expected to qualify for the WGC-Cadillac Championship (March 5-8), and the only other event he usually plays between then and the Masters is the Arnold Palmer Invitational (March 19-22).
 
February 8, 2015 - 9:43am
mark.aumann's picture

Billy Casper, a three-time major winner and captain of the 1979 United States Ryder Cup Team, died of a heart attack Saturday in Utah. He was 83.

Casper, who won 51 PGA Tour events, was never considered equal to the game's "Big Three" of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. However, based on the outpouring of emotion Sunday after learning of his death, Casper was a much-beloved and underrated player, mentor and person.

PGA of America President Derek Sprague issued this statement Sunday:

"The PGA of America is saddened to learn of the passing of PGA Member Billy Casper. He was a true champion, an incredible ambassador for the game and a wonderful gentleman. So much so, that we recognized Billy with our highest honor—the PGA Distinguished Service Award in 2010. We always looked forward to our reunions with Billy at the Ryder Cup. He loved the event which he Captained in 1979 and in which he earned more points than any other American player. We were fortunate to have him in our lives, and we will never forget his contributions to the game."

Other prominent figures took to social media to express their thoughts and gratitude:

 

JIM HUBER: Billy Casper's legacy more than golf

 

 

 

MORE: Casper's heartfelt speech after receiving 2010 PGA Distinguished Service Award

 

 

 

The ultimate tribute may have come from Jack Nicklaus, who shared these words on his Facebook account:

“Billy Casper was one of the greatest family men—be it inside the game of golf or out—I have had the fortunate blessing to meet. He had such a wonderful balance to his life. Golf was never the most important thing in Billy’s life—family was. There was always much more to Billy Casper than golf. But as a golfer, Billy was a fantastic player, and I don’t think he gets enough credit for being one. I have said many times that during my career, when I looked up at a leaderboard, I wasn’t just looking to see where a Palmer or a Player or a Trevino was. I was also checking to see where Billy Casper was.

"Billy had tremendous confidence. He just believed in himself. You knew when you played against Billy Casper, Billy would not beat himself. You want to talk about someone who could perform under pressure, if you wanted someone to get up and-down for you, Billy Casper was your man. I think it is fair to say that Billy was probably under-rated by those who didn’t play against him. Those who did compete against him, knew how special he was.

“More important than what Billy Casper gave us inside the ropes, he has been so selfless outside them. He has always been so steadfast and committed to his family, his religion, his community, and his unwavering beliefs. And he never asked for anything in return. It was not even a year ago, someone asked Billy how he wanted to remembered, and he said, ‘I want to be remembered for how I loved my fellow man.’

“Over the last 15 to 20 years, my friendship with Billy blossomed. We had a number of common threads, but the one that truly connected us was our love of family and those shared values. It was a genuine treat every time I saw Billy and that smile on his face. Because I knew I was about to talk to a dear friend. I—we—lost a true friend tonight. Barbara and I send out our most heartfelt prayers and love to Shirley, their kids, and all those loving grandkids and great grandkids who tonight are wrapping their arms around the loving memories of a wonderful man.”

February 7, 2015 - 6:36pm
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Jason Day
Jason Day can't believe his shot went in the hole for an eagle.

Eagles were landing everywhere at Torrey Pines during a 10-minute stretch Saturday: from bunkers, fairways and greens.

No fewer than three PGA Tour pros found the bottom of the cup on two holes.

ONE ACE: Chad Campbell makes hole-in-one on No. 3

Lucas Glover was in the bunker at the 18th, and did this from 46 feet away:

 

 

Daniel Berger had a pretty tough time of it Saturday, but finished with two shots he'll remember longer than his score:

 

 

Then Jason Day stepped up from 143 yards out on No. 17 and did this:

 

 

Day couldn't believe the shot actually went in the cup, as you can see from his reaction.

February 7, 2015 - 2:41pm
mark.aumann's picture

Chad Campbell had no trouble getting himself off to a tremendous start in Saturday's third round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

ONE WEEK AGO: Francesco Molinari's ace at TPC Scottsdale

Facing a 143-yard downhill shot from an elevated tee on the par-3 third hole, Campbell took aim and proceeded to do this:

 

 

It was Campbell's third ace on the PGA Tour.

February 7, 2015 - 11:23am
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Bobby Jones
Bobby Jones at the top of his backswing in a 1930 slow-motion film.

Thanks to today's technology -- and a tip of the hat to the folks at CinePost via YouTube -- we have the opportunity to view Bobby Jones' incredible golf swing in slow motion, a feat that had to have been state-of-the-art back in 1930.

According to the original introduction cards on the 16 millimeter print, the swings were filmed at East Lake Country Club in Atlanta, Jones' home course. The action is approximately 200 times slower than normal speed -- the camera was able to capture 3,200 images per second. The PGA of America commissioned cameraman C. Francis Jenkins to film Jones in action, apparently for later use as a teaching tool.

Watch as Jones hits a driver and long iron:

Today's golfers could learn a thing or two from Jones' balance and rhythmic swing, captured 85 years ago.