Golf Buzz

Dean Smith
USA Today Sports Images
Dean Smith won two national championships in basketball - and two special matches in golf.
The world of sports was saddened over the weekend by the news of Dean Smith's passing at age 83. The great University of North Carolina basketball coach appeared in 11 Final Fours and his Tar Heels won the national championship in 1982 and 1993.
 
Smith was also an avid golfer – there's no reason not to be if you're living in North Carolina. And Roy Williams, who has coached the Tar Heels since 2003, shared some memories of his time on the golf course with Smith in a video clip shared by our friends at the Pinehurst Resort.
 
Smith, we're not surprised, wanted his fellow golfers to play the game correctly – even when he sometimes let his playing partners bend the rules a little bit. One example, William said in the video, which was shot on Sunday in the wake of Smith's death, was mulligans.
 
"He would always say, 'if you hit the mulligan, you've got to play the second one. You don't get to choose'," he said. "So we called that the Dean Smith Rule. We still do."
 
 
Smith was also no fan of conceded putts, and would often look askance at players who didn't drop the ball properly. "Everybody would just laugh and laugh," Williams said, "but they'd go ahead and do it" the way Smith wanted it done.
 
Despite an interpretation of the rules that might have been stricter than most, Smith was no curmudgeon on the course. Williams says he always enjoyed playing with Smith – and that Smith especially enjoyed beating their good friend and rival Bobby Knight.
 
Smith and Williams teamed up against Knight and another player twice. "We beat Coach Knight both times," Williams said, "and you'd've thought he was as happy then as he was in New Orleans," where Smith's Tar Heels won both of their NCAA titles.
 
You can see the whole video below. And click here to see another, longer, video interview with Roy Williams talking about golf, Pinehurst and more:
 
 
 
Lost and found
Tom Schipper/Facebook
These guys just happened to find unopened beers next to the batteries in their golf cart.

We asked a question on Facebook this weekend: "What are some of the oddest things you've lost (or found) on the golf course?" And the responses ran the gamut. Some were somewhat expected -- clubs, headcovers, gloves, and the like. Some were valuables -- keys, wallets, cash and rings. And some were downright strange.

Here are our favorite responses:

Tom Schipper: Funny you should ask: We found four ice-cold beers in the battery compartment of our cart yesterday. I'm sure some cart barn guy was surprised to see them gone.

LOST LUGGAGE: Airline loses, then finds Rory McIlroy's clubs

Michael Gorham: We found a bag with $3,000 in it. Spent two hours trying to figure out who it belonged to and eventually did. We called the guy to let him know we had it and he came back -- no smiles, no thank you, gave our cart staff $10.

Patrick Kanipe: A 3-wood about 20 feet up in the top of a pine tree.

Charles Yates: A pet cockatiel bird. Managed to catch it and kept it for around seven years. He was in a bunker. Called him Ben Crenshaw.

John Morton: Found a container of McCormick's Poultry Seasoning in a cart I was cleaning out at the course I am the Golf Professional at. Even more strange? It was empty.

Patrick Bowman: We frequently find World War II bombs doing maintenance here on Okinawa. We close off the areas and (unexploded ammunition) crews come and blow them up. Cool, but humbling.

LOST TOOTH: Tiger Woods accidentally hit in face by cameraman

Patrick Mcelroy: Half eaten golf shoe on the third hole by the water hazard and a bloody sock ten feet from the green.

Ted Tuso: A guy left a cart, his bag, the works in a pond at our course. Came back the next day to claim it.

Bob Bransdon: A putter in the desert at about the 250yd mark on a par 5.

Gary Smith: Pair of dentures in a cup holder.

Pete Welsh: Found one of those old cell phones that resmbled the Army walkie talkies. The guy drove back in his cart with a panicked look and gave me.a $20.

Branden Hall: Found an iPhone. Called the guy's wife and she was not happy that her husband was on the golf course. He didnt want it back. It was more of a hassle because he lived in Canada.

TRAVEL TIPS: Making sure your golf equipment gets there in one piece

Larry Joseph: I found a pack of smokes with a lottery ticket in it. I won $50 on that ticket.

Michael Maddalena: Lost my wedding ring. It was giving me a blister, so I put in my pocket. My golf cart died on the 12th hole, so I got a new cart. After the round, I realized I had lost my ring. Searched everywhere and decided to go back to old cart and found it had fallen on top of the batteries. Lucky!

Robert Porter Sr.: Lost my key ring to my truck. Walked 18 holes backwards in my exact path, no one saw them. Left notes in club house, weeks and weeks go by, nobody turned them in. Six months after buying a new key, I'm starting a round and digging through my bag for who knows what and there are my keys! 

Hans Sickles: Found a iPad last year. Turned it in to the clubhouse and got it back since no one ever claimed it.

And maybe the best response of all:

Cari Carnahan: Fiance! Or he lost me, then he had the gall to wait outside the ladies' locker room and demand the scorecard so he could post his score!

 

 

 

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 - 8:43am
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 - 5:36pm
mark.aumann's picture
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.