Golf Buzz

March 30, 2014 - 10:46pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Magnolia Lane at Augusta National
Luke Donald via Twitter
Luke Donald got a look at Magnolia Lane, and passed along this photo.
Just a couple months ago, we all marveled over the images of Augusta National in the snow, then fretted over the damage caused by a freak winter storm.
 
Now, though we have proof that Magnolia Lane came through the winter in fine shape. Luke Donald traversed golf's most famous club entrance on Sunday, and shared this photo on Twitter and Instagram.
 
I'm sure we'll be seeing plenty more of Magnolia Lane and Augusta National over the next two weeks, but it's good to get this first look. Thanks to Luke for sharing – click the Instagram link in the tweet to see his orignal, slightly larger, photo.
 
 
 
 
Jason Day
USA Today Images
Jason Day is the only one of the top seven players in the Official World Golf Rankings to have won a tournament in 2014.

We’re less than 12 days away from the traditional “grand champions” start to the Masters, and at this point, it’s usually pretty easy to figure out who the favorites might be.

MASTERS: Projected 2014 tournament field

That’s not the case this year, as the top seven in the Official World Golf Rankings are struggling, either physically or mentally. Only Jason Day, at No. 4, has broken through with a victory in 2014 — and he’s currently battling a thumb injury.

Here’s a breakdown of each player’s current situation heading into Augusta National:

1. Tiger Woods

Last won: Bridgestone Invitational in August.

2014 events: zero top 10s in four starts

Currently battling back spasms which hampered him at the Cadillac Championship and forced him to withdraw from the Honda Classic.

MASTERS: Woods unsure if ailing back will allow him to play  

Missed fourth-round cut at Farmers Insurance Open.
Tied for 25th at Cadillac Championship.
Tied for 41st at Dubai Desert Classic.

2. Adam Scott

Last won: Tallsker Masters in November.

2014 events: Three top 10s in five starts

Built seven-shot lead at Arnold Palmer Invitational, only to shoot 76 in final round to finish third.
Tied for 25th at Cadillac Championship.
Tied for 12th at Honda Classic.
Tied for eighth at Sony Open.
Tied for sixth at Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

3. Henrik Stenson

Last won: DP World Tour Championship in November.

2014 events: One top 10 in seven starts

Suffered right wrist/forearm injury in second half of 2013.
Tied for fifth at Arnold Palmer Invitational with final round 68.
Tied for 16th at Cadillac Championship.
Lost in round of 32 at Accenture Match Play.
Missed cut at Honda Classic.
Missed cut at Abu Dhabi HSBC.
Tied for 28th and tied for 29 in two European Tour events.

4. Jason Day

Last won: Accenture Match Play in February.

2014 events: Two top 10s in three starts

Currently battling thumb injury, which forced him to withdraw from Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Tied for 64th at AT&T Pebble Beach
Tied for second at Farmers Insurance Open after first round 66.
Won Accenture Match Play.

5. Phil Mickelson

Last won: Open Championship in July.

2014 events: One top 10 in six starts

Withdrew Saturday from Valero Texas Open with pulled side muscle.
Withdrew from Farmers Insurance Open with back issue.
Missed cut at Honda Classic.
Tied for 16th at Cadillac Championship.
Tied for 19th at AT&T Pebble Beach.
Tied for 42nd at Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Tied for second at Abu Dhabi HSBC, took penalty drop in final round.

6. Justin Rose

Last won: U.S. Open in June.

2014 events: One top 10 in five starts

Missed all of January with shoulder tendinitis.
Missed cut at Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Tied for eighth at Valspar after shooting final round 74.
Tied for 34th at Cadillac Championship.
Lost in round of 32 at Accenture Match Play.
Tied for 45th at Northern Trust Open.

7. Rory McIlroy

Last won: Emirates Australian Open in December.

2014 events: Three top 10s in five starts

Tied for second in playoff at Honda Classic after final round 74.
Tied at 25th at Cadillac Championship.
Lost in round of 32 at Accenture Match Play.
Tied for ninth at Dubai Desert Classic.
Tied for second at Abu Dhabi HSBC after two-shot penalty. 

Steven Bowditch
Steven Bowditch is all smiles Saturday after chipping in for eagle on the second hole.

If you want a perfect illustration of why Steven Bowditch is currently leading the Valero Texas Open, you only need to watch this video.

Coming off rounds of 69 and 67, Bowditch started Saturday's third round by chipping in for birdie on No. 1. He found a fairway bunker with his drive on the second hole, but made a nice swing to leave himself about 84 feet shy of the flag.

VALERO TEXAS OPEN: Third round leaderboard

Putter? Who needs a putter when you have this kind of a short game?

That's Bowditch's fifth eagle of the year. Oh, by the way, Bowditch holed out from 83 yards for an eagle on the par-4 12th the day before. So don't even try to play the "lucky" card.

 

March 28, 2014 - 8:28pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Jimmy Fallon and Samuel L. Jackson
YouTube
Jimmy Fallon, with avid golfer Samuel L. Jackson, might wear silly golf clothes on TV, but he is becoming more dedicated to his game.

For decades, "Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson punctuated his nightly monologue with a pantomimed golf swing. Ironically, Carson came to prefer tennis as his go-to game.

Now, 22 years after Carson retired, the "Tonight Show" is again being hosted by a golfer – and this time one dedicated to the game.

Yes, it turns out, Jimmy Fallon has playing since childhood. He did a number of golf-related segments on "Late Night" over the years and, now that he's got his hands firmly on the wheel at the "Tonight Show," he wants to get into the game even more.

"Golf is gonna be my thing" now that he's graduated to the "Tonight Show," he said in a recent interview with Jada Yuan in New York Magazine – conducted while they hit balls in a simulator. 

"I have to be a rich old white guy, that's what I have to become," quipped Fallon, who counts Michael J. Fox and chef Mario Batali among his regular playing partners. "It's so sad, but I gotta play the part, man. I've already got my cardigan."

Fallon joined his high-school golf team, he explained, because he heard a school announcement saying, "'Uh, hey, if there's anyone interested in joining the golf team, we need one more player or else we can't have a team.' So I was like, Well, so I'll definitely make this team if I try out."

MORE: Craig Ferguson is golf's latest convert | Kristen Stewart can 'spank' a golf ball

And high-school golf provided Fallon – a self-described non-athlete – with his greatest sports triumph, when he sank a long-distance putt to clinch a team victory.

"Sun's setting, it's quiet, everyone's watching, pressure's on," he recalled. "Oh my God, it was crazy. I go" – he pretends to putt and clicks his tongue – "and I'm just watching it, it's so slow motion, and it fell into the hole, and we won, and everyone’s like Whaat!? 

"If there is a 'Rocky' of golf moments – it was so awesome I'll never forget that," he added. "You'd think a hole-in-one is people's dream. For me, it was just finishing and not being a loser."

Despite all his joking, Fallon is serious about his golf game. He's gone through a personal clubfitting, and is taking weekly lessons. Off the course, he's reading golf books, watching "Caddyshack" and doing calisthenics. 

"I twerk for about 25 minutes. There's a lot of hip motions.

"Shakira," he observes, "is probably very good at golf."

And on that note, here are videos of some of Fallon's golf antics over the years:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
March 28, 2014 - 12:00pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Dufnering
Twitter
It might be hard to believe, but "Dufnering" was born one year ago today.

Today, March 28, 2014, marks the 1-year anniversary of the act of "Dufnering."

Yes, hard to believe, but it was one year ago today that a picture of Jason Dufner slouched over during story time at an elementary school went viral. Everyone -- and we mean everyone -- from fellow golfers to fans to other professional athletes to pets, had a ball mimicking Dufner's iconic(?) picture.

RELATED: The birth of Dufnering The Year of Dufnering | Dufner wins 2013 PGA Championship

We were reminded of this in a tweet posted this morning by David Watkins from NBC 5 Sports in Dallas/Fort Worth -- the man responsible for the spectacular photo:

Months later, Dufner would make even bigger news when he picked up his first major, winning the PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

Last fall, he participated in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda and, during the Championship Night Celebration, Dufner himself explained the origin of Dufnering:

This past Monday was Dufner's 37th birthday, where we went back into our "Dufnering" archives to dig up everything we had on the reigning PGA Champ. You can check that out here if you missed it.

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

March 28, 2014 - 9:00am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Ben Hogan
Green Jacket Auctions
These irons used by Ben Hogan during his magical 1953 season are currently up for auction at www.GreenJacketAuctions.com.

Ben Hogan's 1953 season remains one of the most impressive in the game's history. That year, Hogan won five of the six tournaments he entered, including three majors -- the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. He didn't have the chance to win the PGA Championship because, at the time, the dates overlapped those of the British Open.

Now, golf memorabilia collectors have the opportunity to obtain a very significant part of that historic season -- Hogan's set of MacGregor irons.

WATCH: Incredible golf trick-shot video compilation by Bryan brothers

Green Jacket Auctions has the irons up for auction and will take bids until April 12. According to www.GreenJacketAuctions.com:

This isn't just any Ben Hogan iron set that he may have used once or twice. These are Hogan's actual "working" set from 1953, when he not only won 3 Majors, but was fine tuning his idea for the perfect golf club. Hogan fulfilled his lifelong goal by forming the Ben Hogan Golf Company in late 1953. Once the Ben Hogan Golf Company was formed, Hogan, of course, never used MacGregor clubs again. Therefore, since all of Hogan's used MacGregor clubs date to 1953 and before, they are coveted by collectors.

Green Jacket Auctions also states that these irons are one of only three Hogan-used MacGregor iron sets known to exist and the only set privately owned. The other two sets are owned by the USGA Museum and Merion Golf Club, where Hogan won the 1950 U.S. Open with that famous 1-iron approach to the final green.

So where did these irons come from? Green Jacket Auctions says the set is being offered by former PGA Tour player Jimmy Powell -- a four-time winner on the Champions Tour. The irons have been Powell's, "most cherished possession for well over 35 years, and originally belonged to Hogan's best friend Dennis Lavender," according to the site.

At the time of this post, the current bid was $7,320 and had not yet met the reserve price.

If you'd like to follow the auction, click here.

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