Golf Buzz

March 26, 2014 - 7:06pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tom Watson and Nick Faldo
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Tom Watson and Nick Faldo, both former winners at the RBC Heritage, will tee it up again next month after several years away.
U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson is focused on keeping a close eye on the PGA Tour players who are candidates to make his squad for Gleneagles in September. He'll get to take an extra-close look at some of them next month when he plays the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island, S.C.
 
The RBC Heritage announced Wednesday that Watson and his fellow World Golf Hall of Famer Nick Faldo will be in the field at the popular event the week after the Masters.
 
 
Watson, 63, won at Harbour Town in 1979 and again in 1982, but hasn't played there since 2001. Faldo, 56, won there in 1984 for the first of his nine career PGA Tour wins.
 
March 26, 2014 - 3:04pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Masters
USA Today Sports Images
Few venues in sport provide more drama and more memorable moments than Augusta National during the week of the Masters.

In an effort to get you excited about the Masters in two weeks (we're kidding -- like we really need to get you excited about the Masters!), we reached out to our 220,000+ friends in PGA.com Facebook Nation and asked the following question:

What's your favorite Masters moment?

With a course as special as Augusta National -- one that lends itself to guaranteed drama year in and year out -- there were tons of moments to choose from.

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Here's a look at some of the best moments you offered up, along with accompanying video (if we could find it) to help you relive them.

9. Bubba Watson's hook wedge in 2012. Forgetting the fact that this happened in a sudden-death playoff with the Masters on the line, the hook wedge has got to be one of the most difficult shots in golf to pull off. But, from the pine straw right of the 10th fairway, that's exactly what the lefty did to set up the victory.

8. Louis Oosthuizen's albatross on the second hole in the final round of the 2012 Masters. Oosthuizen would come up short in the playoff with Bubba Watson, but he'll never forget this albatross on the par-5 second hole that made him one of just four players in Masters history to record a rare 2 on a par 5.

7. Larry Mize's playoff-winning chip in 1987. It doesn't get much sweeter than this. Mize, an Augusta native, put a dagger through the heart of Greg Norman when -- on the par-4 11th hole, the second hole of a playoff that also included Seve Ballesteros (Ballesteros was eliminated on the first playoff hole) -- Mize holed a pitch shot for birdie. It wasn't a walk-off win as Norman still had a chance to match the birdie, but when the Aussie failed to do that, Mize slipped in to the green jacket.

6. Ben Crenshaw's win in 1995. This, the second of Crenshaw's two Masters wins, was extra special. Just days before, Crenshaw helped lay to rest his instructor, the legendary Harvey Penick. Crenshaw played with a heavy heart all week and said the thought of Penick served as his "15th club" throughout the tournament.

5. The birdie chip on the par-3 16th hole by Tiger Woods in 2005. The imagination Woods displayed on this shot was incredible. Sure, many before him and many after him, have faced this situation, relying on the backstop on the 16th green to help suck the ball back down to the front-left, Sunday hole position. But Woods perfected it. The ball just died into the hole and he went on to his fourth Masters triumph (and last, to date). The shot elicited this famous call by announcer Verne Lundquist: "Oh wow! In your life have you ever seen anything like that?"

4. Phil Mickelson's "threading of the needle from the pine needles" shot on the 13th hole in the final round of the 2010 Masters. There's no bigger risk taker in golf today than Mickelson and he proved that yet again with this doozy in 2010. What would have been a "chip it back into play" shot for most turned out to be a career highlight for Mickelson. He hit the ball between two trees and knocked it to within five feet of the hole. Mickelson didn't convert the eagle putt, but settled for birdie and went on to win the Masters for the third time.

3. Arnold Palmer wins the 1960 Masters. Before we had Mickelson, Arnie was the man who invented throwing in all the blue chips with every shot on the golf course. In 1960 at Augusta National, Palmer became the first player to birdie each of the final two holes to win. It was the second of Palmer's four Masters wins.

2. Tiger Woods wins the 1997 Masters. This is the win that really -- I mean really -- put Tiger on the map. The first of his 14 major victories, Tiger crushed the field by a record 12 strokes in becoming the youngest player ever to win the tournament at age 21.

1. Jack Nicklaus's putt on No. 17 in 1986. Many argue this was the greatest Masters of all time. This birdie putt on No. 17 pretty much sealed the deal for Nicklaus, who became the oldest player to win the Masters at age 46. It was his sixth Masters overall, which remains two better than anyone else.

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

 

March 26, 2014 - 11:24am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bryan brothers
YouTube
George and Wesley Bryan might just be the best golf, trick-shot artists in the world.

Trick-shot videos by the Bryan brothers -- George and Wesley -- have been popping up on golf sites these last few weeks almost as often as stories about the ailing back of Tiger Woods.

Well, folks, the Bryan Bros. are at it again. Today we bring you a compilation video of several unbelievable trick shots that you absolutely, positively, 100 percent must see to believe.

Here you go:

How's your mind? Blown?

As our own John Holmes explained last week, the Bryan brothers have been immersed in golf since childhood.

Wrote Holmes:

They were essentially raised at the Chapin, S.C., golf academy run by their father, PGA Professional George Bryan III. They started taking lessons from prominent PGA instructor Mike Bender at about the time they began elementary school, and both went on to star at the University of South Carolina.

Listen -- I don't care how long you've been involved in the game. These trick shots by the Bryan brothers are downright crazy. They need their own traveling show.

Like the rest of you I'm sure, I can't wait for the next one.

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

 

March 26, 2014 - 9:21am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Zach Johnson
USA Today Sports Images
The Valero Texas Open field is loaded with former major champions, including Zach Johnson.

This week's Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio is the first of two events left before the Masters. There had been a long-running trend of players taking weeks off before major championship play, but that seems to be fading.

Phil Mickelson, in fact, is in the field this week. It's the first time he's played in the Texas Open in over two decades.

RELATED: Photos from the Valero Texas Open & more | Valero Texas Open tee times

With a solid fan on hand in the Lone Star State, here are five players to watch out for.

5. Freddie Jacobson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T9 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: In his last three starts, Jacobson has finished T12, T20 and T10. Something is clicking in his game at the moment and that bodes well for the Swede as he heads to TPC San Antonio, where he finished second in 2010 to go along with two other top 5s.

4. Phil Mickelson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T14 in the WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: In seven starts this season, Mickelson has yet to record a top-10 finish. The last time Mickelson went that long a stretch to start a season without a top-10 was in 1992, when he finished runner-up in his ninth start at the New England Classic. It should be noted that was also his first season on the PGA Tour. For Mickelson -- we imagine -- all eyes are on Augusta National and the Masters. This is a tune up to shake off some rust and get things going. We expect him to get things going here.

3. Ben Curtis
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T32 at The McGladrey Classic
Reason to watch: I wanted to pick a dark horse this week and Curtis fits the bill -- especially since he won the tournament in 2012. He hasn't done anything special so far this season and is need of some good vibes. What better place to find those good vibes than at a place where you've had past success?

2. Zach Johnson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: He's cooled off a touch since winning at Kapalua, but that was bound to happen as he rode that momentum to a T8 and a T3 in his next two starts. Johnson is a former two-time winner of the Valero Texas Open (2008-09), but those wins came when the tournament was played at La Cantera Golf Club. Even still, Johnson's record in the state of Texas is remarkable. Along with those two Texas Open wins, he's also won the Colonial twice. For some reason, Texas brings out the best in Johnson.

1. Jimmy Walker
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the Frys.com Open, Sony Open in Hawaii and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Reason to watch: Walker has been -- hands down -- the best player on the PGA Tour this season. Along with his Tour-leading three victories, he's also racked up six other top-25 finishes. I like Walker this week for a couple of reasons. First, and most obvious, there's been no one better lately. But secondly, he's had some success at TPC San Antonio. He tied for third there in 2010. It would be incredible for Walker to have four wins before the Masters, but with the way he's been playing it's not out of the realm of possibility.

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

 

March 25, 2014 - 3:38pm
Posted by:
Bob Denney
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Taking a mulligan
Mike Benzie/PGA.com
MULLIGAN HERE? A golfer with an unfortunate first-tee shot at an Atlanta area charity tournament.

By Bob Denney, PGA of America

It is arguably one of the few sports terms believed to be named after a person, and with ramifications beyond the border of a course and into politics and daily life.

You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy the benefits of a Mulligan – the term is now widely used to describe any “do-over,” or second chance after initial failure.

Of course, the rules of golf forbid the Mulligan, though it’s become part of the game. Some golfers apply their own “rules” that the Mulligan will be in “play” once per round, or just on the No. 1 tee.

READ: Your unwritten rules of golf

So, where and when did the Mulligan begin in golf? Well, that depends.

The USGA, and supported by research by GriffGolf.com, found the Mulligan became rooted in the game’s lexicon sometime between the late 1920s and mid-1930s. During that period, Canadian-born amateur David Bernard Mulligan had established himself as a prominent member of clubs that included Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

In the late 1920s, Mulligan had a regular club foursome, which he often drove to the course in a 1920s vintage Briscoe, a touring car.

Once on the first tee, the story goes, his partners allowed him to hit a second ball after mishitting his drive. Mulligan complained that his hands were still numb after driving rough roads and a bumpy Queen Victoria Jubilee Bridge (now Victoria Bridge).

Mulligan joined Winged Foot Golf Club sometime between 1932 and 1933. A generation later, in July 1985, journalist Don Mackintosh interviewed Mulligan for a column, “Around the Sport Circuit.”

PAR FOR THE COURSE: Some of our favorite golf jokes

Said Mulligan: “I was so provoked with myself that, on impulse, I stooped over and put down another ball. The other three looked at me with considerable puzzlement, and one of them asked, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I’m taking a correction shot,’ I replied.”

His playing partner asked what he called that.

“Thinking fast, I told him that I called it a ‘Mulligan.’ They laughed and let me play a second ball. After the match, which Mulligan and Spindler won by one point, there was considerable discussion in the clubhouse about that free shot.

“It all worked out amicably enough, but after that it became an unwritten rule in our foursome that you could take an extra shot on the first tee if you weren’t satisfied with your original. Naturally, this was always referred to as ‘taking a Mulligan.’ From that beginning, I guess the practice spread, and the name with it.”

QUICK NINE: What are your rules on 'gimme putts?'

Such a tale appears to be on solid footing, though USGA research hints there’s wiggle room for another “Mulligan.”

John A. “Buddy” Mulligan, a locker room attendant in the 1930s at Essex Fells CC, N.J., would finish cleaning the locker room and, if no other members appeared, play a round with assistant professional, Dave O'Connell and a club member, Des Sullivan (later golf editor of The Newark Evening News).

One day, Mulligan’s opening tee shot was bad and he beseeched O'Connell and Sullivan to allow another shot since they “had been practicing all morning,” and he had not. After the round, Mulligan proudly exclaimed to the members in his locker room for months how he received an extra shot.

The members loved it and soon began giving themselves “Mulligans” in honor of Buddy Mulligan. Sullivan began using the term in his golf pieces in The Newark Evening News. NBC’s “Today Show” ran the story in 2005.

Thus, a “Mulligan” found its niche along in our culture. Its popularity thrives because of who we are – lovers of a good story and a term that somehow fits. It thrives as we are reminded in a classic line from the 1962 John Ford Western film, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

March 25, 2014 - 2:00pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Ryder Cup
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In September, for the first time in history, a European-based Ryder Cup will be televised in its entirety in the United States.

Great news today for fans of the Ryder Cup who live in the United States: The PGA of America and the NBC Sports Group announced that both NBC and Golf Channel will provide live coverage of the 2014 Ryder Cup in its entirety.

The biennial matches will be played Friday, Sept. 26 through Sunday, Sept. 28, at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland.

"It is exciting to expand our partnership with the PGA of America through NBC Sports Group's exclusive coverage of the 2014 Ryder Cup, one of the most prestigious events in all of sports," said NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus. "Today's announcement of providing complete coverage with the great addition of Golf Channel's exclusive Friday coverage, bolsters our ability to bring this spectacular event to an ever-growing audience. We value and look to continue to grow our PGA of America partnership."

FULL PRESS RELEASE: NBC Sports, PGA of America announce historic Ryder Cup TV deal

"For the first time when played on European soil, fans in the United States will be treated to watching the Ryder Cup live in its entirety, and we're thrilled that NBC Sports Group will deliver the drama and passion of this unparalleled event, as it unfolds," said PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua. "Beginning with Golf Channel, the daily television voice of the golf community, and continuing through the weekend on NBC, audiences will be able to experience all of the breathtaking moments that define the Ryder Cup. By showcasing one of sport’s most exciting events live, on a global stage, the PGA of America is furthering our commitment to growing the game through our partnership with NBC Sports."

RELATED: 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup coverage | Current U.S. points lists | Europe points lists

This announcement marks the first time that a European-based Ryder Cup will be televised live in its entirety in the U.S.

Sure, you're going to have to roll out of bed extra early -- or stay up extra late -- but what's better than late-night/early-morning golf for the avid fan?

Day One of the matches will be televised on Golf Channel from 2:30 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT. Day Two will be on NBC from 3 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT, while the final day will also be on NBC from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT.

The Ryder Cup is one of the most exciting events in the world and highlights don't do it justice. This announcement is a huge win for fans in the U.S. who will be able to see the action in real time.

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