Golf Buzz

David Howell
USA Today Sports Images
David Howell went to extremes to keep his shirt clean and dry at the South African Open on Thursday.
It's a pretty safe bet that David Howell of England will never forget the first competitive hole of golf he played in 2016.
Why, you ask? Well, because he played part of it without his shirt on.
Howell, a five-time European Tour winner who's currently ranked No. 97 in the world – and who you might recall as a member of the 2004 and 2006 European Ryder Cup teams – began his 2016 campaign today on the 10th hole at the South African Open. He wound up in a greenside hazard and, apparently, feared getting mud on his shirt as he blasted out.
So, off came the shirt.
Howell escaped the hazard and, as you can see in the left photo in the tweet below from African News Agency golf reporter Michael Sherman, his concern about mud was warranted. He went on to bogey the hole, but bounced back with four birdies in his next five holes on his way to a 1-under 71 – all while wearing his clean, dry shirt.
Sorry to say there is apparently no video of Howell's apparel adventure, nor did he mention it on social media after his round. But we can bet he was happy to play his remaining 17 holes fully clothed.

January 7, 2016 - 4:40pm
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This Arnold Palmer bobblehead was given away by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a 2009 promotion.

Jan. 7 is National Bobblehead Day, a day to celebrate those larger-than-life springy heads on tiny bodies that seem to be a must-have promotional giveaway at most sporting events.

The overwhelming majority of bobbleheads are created for a team to promote its own players, or by sponsors and advertisers. 

But there are a few bobbleheads of golf royalty out there. Here's our favorite foursome: Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Fred Couples.

Couples is perhaps the most interesting, in that the Boeing Classic handed out 5,000 of them during the 2011 event at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge to honor Seattle's favorite son.

Palmer's bobblehead was a promotional giveaway by the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 2009 season, in honor of his 80th birthday.

The San Francisco Giants did something similar for McIlroy, placing a Giants cap on his bobblehead for a 2012 giveaway.



And there are multiple versions of Tiger Woods bobbleheads available for sale, mainly created for Upper Deck, with each bobblehead matching a collector's card. Those range from Tiger's amateur career -- when he was wearing the straw hat during the 1994 U.S. Amateur -- to more recent Nike swooshes and Tiger Woods caps.

January 7, 2016 - 3:52pm
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January 7, 2016 - 10:30am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Rickie Fowler
rickiefowler on Instagram
Rickie Fowler -- arguably the most fashion forward player on the PGA Tour -- has always been comfortable in his own skin and the style of clothes that most other can't pull off. This week is no exception.

Forever fashion-forward, Rickie Fowler is owning his new look as he strolls the fairways in Maui this week for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

In what's got to be a first on the golf course, Fowler is sporting "jogger" style pants along with custom-made high-top PUMA golf spikes. It's a bold look to be sure, but one that Fowler can pull off.

But that's not the only noticeable change in Fowler's appearance early in 2016. He's also got a far more permanent one -- a tattoo just below his left bicep. It's a tribute to his grandfather, as Fowler explained in this Instagram post:


Ken Griffey Jr.
Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
Ken Griffey Jr. began playing golf during the Major League Baseball labor stoppage in 1994, and has grown to love the game.
Ken Griffey Jr. was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame today in an almost unanimous vote in his first year of eligibility. The honor is well-deserved – Griffey retired in 2010 with 630 home runs (the sixth-most in MLB history), 10 Gold Gloves and 13 All-Star Game appearances among many other accomplishments.
The Kid, now 46, is an avid golfer as well, and has been involved in growing the game since his retirement from the diamond. He's been actively helping the PGA of America and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America get youngsters into golf, and has represented Nike Golf at the annual PGA Merchandise Show the last couple of years.
Griffey began playing golf in 1994 – because of Major League Baseball's labor dispute. While the 232-day stoppage dragged on, he and fellow Seattle Mariners teammates like Jay Buhner and Randy Johnson used the game to work off their frustration – and occasionally build up a little more.
"You wouldn't believe all the balls we were losing on the course," he told a few years ago.
His game took a big step forward in 1997, when he met PGA Professional Rodney Green. The two went on to become great friends; Green has coached Griffey over the past two decades, and even caddied for him in several big celebrity events.
One of those events provided Griffey with a moment he remembers vividly even to this day. At the 2000 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he was paired with Jack Nicklaus, Mark O'Meara and Jack's son Steve Nicklaus.
All three of his partners hit their drives perfectly off the first tee. Griffey stepped up – and hit his dead left.
"You know," Nicklaus said to him, "we play our foul balls."
Ouch. But Griffey, ever the competitor, bounced back from that errant start, he proudly explained, to par the hole.
How's his swing look? Maybe not quite as sweet as his baseball stroke but, hey, how could it be? Take a look:
January 6, 2016 - 4:05pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Jason Day
USA Today Sports Images
How will Jason Day fare this week after a lengthy lay off?

The 2015-16 PGA Tour season resumes this week in paradise -- the Hawaiian island of Maui for the winners-only Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua's breathtaking Plantation Course.

Two-time major champion Jordan Spieth headlines a strong field of 32. He's making his first start on the PGA Tour since a T7 at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions back in early November.

The oldest player in the field, 51-year-old Davis Love III, is making his first start in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions since 2009 when he tied for second. The 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain punched his ticket into the exclusive event thanks to his unlikely victory in Greensboro last August.

RELATED: Tournament of Champions tee times | Spieth looking to improve in 2016

Here are five players you'll want to keep an eye on in Maui:

5. Bubba Watson
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
T35 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: Though his results haven't always showed it -- his best finish is a T4 in 2013 -- the Plantation Course would seem to be one that fits Watson with his massive length and shot-shaping abilities. He's never played terribly in Maui, but he just hasn't stepped up the way you might expect. It's a loose, fun week. Perfect for Bubba.

4. Jimmy Walker
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
T50 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: Just call him "Mr. Hawaii." Along with a playoff loss last year at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Walker has also won the last two Sony Opens played. He's got better vibes there than anyone on the PGA Tour for the last two seasons. Walker's length is as good as anyone out there. If his putter is hot, look out.

3. Patrick Reed
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
T7 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: The defending champion in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Reed's win in Maui turned out to be his lone victory in a solid season where he finished 12th in the final FedExCup standings. Carrying dual membership on the PGA and European Tours in 2016, it'll be important for Reed to get the most out of each start. No reason to think he can't make it two in a row in Maui.

2. Dustin Johnson
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
T5 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: With each new year, those closely monitoring professional golf wonder "is this finally the year DJ gets it done in a major?" He's been so close. And his losses have been devastating. Make no mistake, this week is as far away from a major as you can get, but all the players in Maui are hoping to get the new year off to an electric start. Johnson won at Kapalua in 2013. A "start to a new year" doesn't get any better than that.

1. Jason Day
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
Reason to watch: The 2015 PGA Champion admitted this week that he's gone nearly three months without touching a golf club. That'll happen when you have a new baby at home. But, perhaps the break from the course will serve the Aussie well. Since claiming his first major title and getting over that huge hurdle, it sure seems as though the sky is the limit for Day. He tied for third in Maui last year.