Golf Buzz

April 3, 2015 - 3:21am
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T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
After a nearly two-month absence from the game for play that he termed, "not acceptable," Tiger Woods has announced he will play in the 2015 Masters.

The Tiger Woods leave of absence from the PGA Tour will end just in time for the season's first major.

The 14-time major champion -- a four-time Masters winner -- has announced that he will return from his self-imposed break from golf and avoid missing the Masters for the second straight year.

I'm playing in the Masters. Thanks for all the support.

— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 3, 2015


Here is the brief statement Woods had on

"I'm playing in the Masters," Tiger said Friday afternoon. "It's obviously very important to me, and I want to be there.

"I've worked a lot on my game and I'm looking forward to competing. I'm excited to get to Augusta and I appreciate everyone's support."

Speculation that Woods would return to golf for the Masters grew on March 31 when his agent, Mark Steinberg, confirmed that Woods played 18 holes at Augusta National that day.

RELATED: Woods to take leave of absence | Current Masters field list | Masters coverage

Woods released a statement on Feb. 11 to say he was stepping away from the game, stating his play was "not acceptable" to compete in tournaments just days after withdrawing from the Farmer Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

At the time, Woods said he would only return when he felt ready to compete.

Woods has not finished in the top 10 of a PGA Tour event since a tie for second at the Barclays in August of 2013.

He missed most of the 2013-14 season -- just seven starts total -- while recovering from back surgery.

In two starts this season, Woods missed the cut by 12 shots in the Waste Management Phoenix Open before the withdrawal at Torrey Pines.

That said, Augusta National has always seemed to be a comfortable place for Woods. In 17 starts there as a professional, Woods has finished in the top 10 an astounding 13 times, including the four victories. He has never missed the cut at the Masters as a professional.

Woods -- chasing the Jack Nicklaus record of 18 major championship wins -- has been stuck on 14 victories since his win at the 2008 U.S. Open. Woods last won the Masters in 2005. 

Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia
PGA Tour via YouTube
Patrick Reed (l) and Sergio Garcia found themselves in similar trouble on the par-3 ninth hole Thursday, and made identical great escapes.
The par-3 ninth hole at the Golf Club of Houston generally isn't regarded as the club's signature hole – but it sure is today, thanks to a pair of amazing chip-ins for birdie in the first round of the Shell Houston Open.
Hometown boy Patrick Reed crafted the first highlight after his drive wound up in the thick, slopy rough to the left of the green. Not only was his lie downhill, he also had to negotiate a bunker and land his ball on the short side of the green. 
Getting up and down from there would have been quite a feat. Chipping it in would have been almost unthinkable – except that's exactly what he did. 
Even better, that unlikely chip-in birdie was his last shot of the day, as he capped off his 4-under 68 in style.
Not long after, Sergio Garcia found himself in just about the same position. And he wound up with just the same result, with his birdie moving him to 1-under heading to his back nine.
Garcia's shot was extra-challenging because he had to stand in the sand with the ball a couple of inches above his feet. But Reed's lie was more downhill, and the grass seemed thicker around his ball. 
Here are the two shots. Check 'em out and decide for yourself which was the most memorable:
April 2, 2015 - 3:22pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Patrick Reed
PGA TOUR Twitter Account
Faced with an extremely difficult pitch shot on his final hole at the Golf Club of Houston on Thursday, Patrick Reed's execution was perfect.

It's a home game for Patrick Reed this week at the Shell Houston Open.

RELATED: Shell Houston Open scores | Mickelson chips in on first hole

The 24-year-old, four-time PGA Tour winner was clearly feeling at home too when faced with this difficult shot just outside of a bunker on the par-3 ninth hole at the Golf Club of Houston:


How good was that?

Even better, that was Reed's last hole of the day. The birdie capped off a 4-under 68.

Ryan Moore
USA Today Sports Images
The sole of Ryan Moore's new PXG driver features a circle of weight ports that enables extreme adjustability.
Most of us in the world of golf are spending this week looking forward to the Masters. But one newcomer to the golf industry is having a pretty good week right now.
Parsons Xtreme Golf signed PGA Tour player Ryan Moore to an equipment contract, and he is using the clubs at the Shell Houston Open. In fact, Moore has been using a selection of PXG clubs since January, and the endorsement deal confirms his belief in this fledgling company and its products.
Parsons is best known as the founder of web domain registrar GoDaddy, which coincidentally went public on Wednesday. Parsons sold his interest in the company back in 2011, is said to be worth $2 billion, and has been spending much of his time pursuing his two passions – high-performance motorcycles and golf. 
"Parsons Xtreme Golf was founded with the sole intent to design and develop the finest golf clubs ever made – I believe that is exactly what we have accomplished," he said. "Ryan's endorsement of our products gives testament to the quality of our equipment and I look forward to seeing the clubs in play in the hands of other professionals in the near future."
Parsons – who also owns Scottsdale National Golf Club in Arizona – enlisted a couple of well-respected industry veterans in Mike Nicollette and Brad Schweigert, both of whom spent many years designing clubs for Ping. Nicollette, formerly Ping's senior product designer, also played on the PGA Tour for almost a decade, while Schweigert, formerly Ping's director of engineering, holds more than 150 golf-related patents.
Charged to create the best clubs they could without any cost constraints or shortcuts, these two came up with a set that is distinctive in both appearance and technology. The heads feature a series of weight ports filled with high-density tungsten screws – 16 on the driver down to 11 on the irons – to create an adjustable weighting system that enables the golfer to determine the trajectory on each individual club.
Nicollette and Schweigert also created a sophisticated manufacturing process for their irons that includes forging, high-precision CNC milling, robotic plasma face welding and injection molding. To date, Parsons Xtreme Golf has received seven patents on its designs and has more than 40 additional patents pending. 
"The proprietary technology is one of the most innovative concepts to ever hit the market in the iron category," said Schweigert, the managing director at PXG. "The extremely thin-faced construction coupled with a proprietary thermoplastic elastomer core supports performance gains greater than a similar-sized cavity-back in both distance and forgiveness."
PXG had invited Moore – famous on the PGA Tour for eschewing club contracts so he could pick and choose the clubs he preferred – to test out their clubs and provide a little feedback. He put the prototype PXG 03x irons in play at events including the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and the Waste Management Phoenix Open before signing his deal.
"I knew some of the guys involved in it, and they kind of asked me to look at some prototypes and sets to try," Moore told "They sent me some, and I tried them and I really liked them. I've been searching for a set of irons, and these are the best set of irons I've hit in a really, really long time. I was excited and from the second I hit them I couldn't put them down."
Moore – who also owns a part of True Linkswear – has tied for 17th in Phoenix, tied for 22nd at Riviera, tied for ninth at Doral and finished fifth in Tampa.
His endorsement contract is the first big step for getting PXG into the public eye. The company hasn't said anything about its plans for bringing the clubs to retail or signing other brand ambassadors, though they'll obviously be very high-end when they do go on sale. Here are some other photos that PXG-related people have shared on social media:
April 2, 2015 - 1:17pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Keegan Bradley
USA Today Sports Images
Keegan Bradley got a little creative when asking his girlfriend to caddie for him in the Masters Par 3 Contest.

One of the great traditions during Masters week is the playing of the Par-3 Contest the day before the actual tournament starts.

The pictures each year from the Par-3 are the best -- the children of players decked out from head to toe in a Masters green hat and white, caddie jumpsuit; loved ones caddying, friends caddying, etc.

A LOOK BACK: Photos from the 2014 Masters Par-3 Contest | Masters field

Well, Jillian Stacey -- the longtime girlfriend of 2011 PGA Champion Keegan Bradley -- tweeted out a special invitation she received on Thursday from Bradley:


Nice touch with the green roses, Keegs.