Golf Buzz

April 2, 2014 - 9:20am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rory McIlroy
USA Today Sports Images
Rory McIlroy will be getting in his final tune up this week in Houston before next week's Masters.

This is it, folks. The Shell Houston Open, which begins Thursday at Golf Club of Houston, is the final tune-up before next week's Masters. And, accordingly, the field is a strong one, featuring the likes of Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Angel Cabrera, Rickie Fowler, Ernie Els and more.

While the players will no doubt be focusing on the tournament at hand, the course set up at Golf Club of Houston is specifically tuned to emulate the conditions players will experience at Augusta National -- slick greens, fast running fairways and little rough.

RELATED: Shell Houston Open tee times | Photos: Shell Houston Open & more | Woods to miss Masters

So why are so many stars playing the week before the season's first major? Because, clearly, if you perform well in Houston, it's a confidence builder for Augusta.

Here are five players to watch this week.

5. Sergio Garcia
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Fourth at the WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: In five starts on the PGA Tour this season, Garcia has yet to finish outside of the top 16. Three of those starts have resulted in a top-10 finish, highlighted by the fourth-place showing at the WGC-HSBC Champions. Garcia will most likely be one of my five to watch next week at Augusta National, but I'm interested in seeing where his game is at this week as well. Garcia hasn't played in Houston since 2009. This will be his first start on the PGA Tour since Doral. I like the decision he's made to get into competitive mode the week before the Masters.

4. Dustin Johnson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: Outside of a first-round exit in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Johnson has been absolutely on fire. Six starts, five top 10s, one win and two runner-up finishes all before the season's first major. He contends every week, it seems, and this week should be no different. He tied for fourth in Houston a year ago and then his T13 the following week at Augusta National marked his best finish in the Masters -- the only major where he has yet to record a top-10 finish.

3. Keegan Bradley
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Runner up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Reason to watch: Bradley is trending in the right direction at just the right time. That second-place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational got Bradley fired up (then again, what doesn't get him fired up, right?). A tie for 10th and a tie for fourth in the last two years at Houston, respectively, tell me it's a very comfortable place for Bradley. Since he plays well so consistently, it may be hard to believe, but Bradley has not won on Tour since August of 2012 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He's due.

2. Hunter Mahan
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T4 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open
Reason to watch: This will be the first time Mahan tees it up since withdrawing from the Arnold Palmer Invitational in the final round, citing a hip injury. In his career, he's had four top-10s at the Shell Houston Open, highlighted by a victory in 2012. He's also had a few missed cuts in Houston, including last year when he was the defending champ. It's feast or famine for Mahan at Golf Club of Houston. Which of the two will this week bring?

1. Rory McIlroy
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T2 at the Honda Classic
Reason to watch: I think it's safe to say two things regarding McIlroy -- 1. He's back (I know, he hasn't won yet this year, but he's been close); 2. With Tiger missing the Masters, McIlroy immediately becomes the favorite (no offense, Adam Scott). After a dominating win in the 2012 PGA Championship, McIlroy looked like a player who lived for the majors. Last year, of course, wasn't his best. This year he's back on track. I want to see where his game is at this week in Houston. I think it will be on point.

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

April 1, 2014 - 2:19pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Bryan brothers
George Bryan IV
Brothers Wesley (left) and George Bryan IV are making a name for themselves with their amazing golf trick shots.

We've been fascinated with George Bryan IV and his brother, Wesley, the last few weeks here on PGA.com.

The Bryan Brothers are making a name for themselves, along with friend Shaw James, as incredible, golf trick-shot artists.

The initial splash came when this video surfaced:

Pretty amazing, right? At the time of this post, that video had close to 1 million views.

Since then, the Bryan Brothers have released more mind-boggling videos, including the latest, where they display their incredible accuracy by hitting shots and knocking items off a traffic cone.

RELATED: Two-man trick shot | Bryan Brothers up the ante | Trick-shot video compilation

We wanted to learn more about how this trick-shot stuff came to be, so we reached out to George for a little Q&A. 

PGA.com: Tell me a little about you guys.

George Bryan IV: I'm 26 years old and currently a professional golfer helping my dad with his golf academy and also play one-day Carolina Mountain Tour events. The last three years, I mainly played on the eGolf Professional Tour. Me and Wesley, who's 24, both played collegiately at the university of South Carolina. He'll be playing on NGA Tour and eGolf Professional Tour events this year. Shaw James, 23, is a recent graduate of Newberry College where he played on the golf team.

PGA.com: So you guys aren't just trick-shot artists? You can actually play?

George Bryan: [Laughs] Yeah. We can play. I was a three-time All-American at USC and competed in one Web.com Tour event so far. I've also played in six USGA events.

Wesley was a very highly-ranked amateur during his amateur career and has competed in 10 USGA events. He was All-SEC two times -- so we have a little bit of game!

PGA.com: Tell us about the latest video.

George Bryan IV: This video just shows basically us hitting some pretty small targets. Instead of hitting the ball in mid-air, we are going to show we are versatile and hit them from a stationary position.

PGA.com: Are all the videos shot in the same place?

George Bryan IV: Yes. Everything has been shot at my dad's golf academy, the George Bryan Golf Academy headquarters in Chapin, S.C. We have different opportunities and venues that we will be taking our trick shots to in the near future.

PGA.com: Some people claim these videos can't be real. What do you say to that?

George Bryan IV: Well we would tell those guys to come watch us do them in person! They are 100 percent real and we are lucky enough to have someone like Wesley with incredible hand-eye coordination!

PGA.com: Are you guys surprised at the reaction you've gotten to these videos?

George Bryan IV: We honestly didn't know what to expect. We knew we had some cool stuff and that people would enjoy watching them we just didn't know it would get this popular this fast. 

PGA.com: How did you start hitting trick shots and decide to post them in the first place?

George Bryan IV: We actually just started messing around with a buddy, Patrick Koone, and we saw that we could hit a lot of tough shots. So we posted to Facebook and Instagram and all of our friends loved them. So we decided to expand and make them better and now we're posting them to YouTube.

Click here to check out the Bryan Brothers on YouTube. You can also find them on Twitter, @bryanbrosgolf.

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

 

April 1, 2014 - 1:51pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
golf trick shots
YouTube
In their latest golf trick shots video, brothers George and Wesley Bryan show off their accuracy.

The latest "Bryan Brothers" golf trick shot video is unbelievable, as you'll see below.

Yes, your calendar says it's April 1 -- or, April Fools' Day -- but George Bryan, one of the trick-shot stars, assures us this video, along with this one, this one and this one, are no joke.

George Bryan IV, 26, shoots these crazy videos with his younger brother, 24-year-old Wesley, and they're friend Shaw James, 23.

RELATED: Incredible trick-shot compilation by the Bryan Brothers

The latest edition -- which they teased with the hashtag "#TrickShotTuesday" -- has a focus on accuracy.

Check it out:

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

 

April 1, 2014 - 12:53pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
For the first time since 1994, Tiger Woods will miss the Masters.

Tiger Woods announced on Tuesday that he will not play in next week's Masters as he heals from "successful microdiscectomy for a pinched nerve that has been hurting him for several months," according to TigerWoods.com.

Woods sent out this tweet breaking the news:

Woods had played in every Masters since 1995.

READ: How to handle back pain on the golf course  |  Your favorite Masters moments

That streak will come to an end next week for the world's No. 1 ranked player and four-time Masters champion, who is still seeking his 15th major win.

The ailing back forced Woods's withdrawal from the final round of the Honda Classic in early March. His back was also an issue the following week at Doral, but he managed to finish the tournament. Woods then withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill before the event began, citing the back issues. He was the defending champion.

INJURY INVENTORY: See the complete list of all of Tiger Woods' injuries

Woods has played in the Masters every year since 1995, when he was the reigning U.S. Amateur champion. In 19 starts at Augusta National, Woods missed the cut just once (1996, when again, he was the reigning U.S. Amateur champion) and has finished in the top 10 on 13 occasions, including seven finishes in the top 3.

Woods has only missed four major championships in which he was eligible -- the 2008 Open Championship and PGA Championship (due to reconstructive knee surgery); and the 2011 U.S. Open and Open Championship due to issues with his left leg. This will be his fifth.

Here is the full statement from TigerWoods.com:

Tiger Woods announced Tuesday that he has undergone a successful microdiscectomy for a pinched nerve that has been hurting him for several months.

The surgery was performed Monday in Park City, Utah, by neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Rich.
The procedure was successful, but Woods will be unable to play in the Masters Tournament, instead requiring rest and rehabilitation for the next several weeks.

"After attempting to get ready for the Masters, and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided, in consultation with my doctors, to have this procedure done," Woods said.

"I'd like to express my disappointment to the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I will not be at the Masters," Tiger added. "It's a week that's very special to me. It also looks like I'll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on my rehabilitation and getting healthy.

"I'd also like to thank the fans for their support and concern. It's very kind and greatly appreciated. This is frustrating, but it's something my doctors advised me to do for my immediate and long-term health."

Woods will begin intensive rehabilitation and soft-tissue treatment within a week. Healing and recovery times differ for each individual based on many physiological factors, but Woods could begin chipping and putting, after assessment by his doctors, in three weeks.

The goal is for Tiger to resume playing sometime this summer. The repetitive motion from golf can cause this injury, and Woods could have sustained further damage if he had continued to play. There should be no long-lasting effects from the surgery, and it should not impact the longevity of his career.

"It's tough right now, but I'm absolutely optimistic about the future," Woods said. "There are a couple [of] records by two outstanding individuals and players that I hope one day to break. As I've said many times, Sam and Jack reached their milestones over an entire career. I plan to have a lot of years left in mine."

 

 

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

 

April 1, 2014 - 9:10am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Greg Shepard
Andy Scrivner
Greg Shepard (left) made two holes in one in a single round two weeks ago during a Member-Guest tournament at Shadow Wood Country Club in Bonita Springs, Fla. Here he stands with Shadow Wood PGA Director of Golf Andy Scrivner.

Shadow Wood Country Club in Bonita Springs, Fla., was the site of a very special, rare occurrence on Friday, March 21.

During the second round of competition in the 2014 Men's Member Guest, The Men's Legacy at the Preserve Course (one of three courses at Shadow Wood), a gentleman named Greg Shepard pulled off the unthinkable -- he made two holes in one on consecutive par-3 holes.

Shepard's first ace came on the Preserve's 149-yard sixth hole, where he hit an 8 iron.

RELATED: LPGA's Diaz makes two aces in two days | Six aces recorded in one-day outing

Andy Scrivner, PGA Director of Golf at Shadow Wood, got word of the first hole-in-one shortly after it happened.

"After play had been underway for awhile, I was invited to join our General Manager, Mr. Brian Bartolec PGA, for a ride around the course," Scrivner explained in an email. "When we arrived on Hole No. 7, we were approached by a group and told that one of the players had made a hole-in-one on the previous hole, No. 6. It was Greg Shepard, a guest visiting from his home club, Oakmont Country Club. Mr. Shepard was the guest of SWCC member, Bill McMinn. Upon returning to the clubhouse, the decision was made to extend normal member hole-in-one privileges, despite the fact that Mr. Shepard was not a member. The prestige of this event, combined with the goodwill created through the hole-in-one program made this an easy decision."

Shadow Wood's hole-in-one program is optional for members, but Scrivner said most partake. It was put in place to celebrate when a member makes a hole-in-one. When a member makes a hole-in-one, Scrivner explained, a mass communication is sent to the membership and those in the program are able to visit the golf shop and pick up a free drink ticket. They're able to visit the club for the next 48-72 hours to redeem their drink ticket and celebrate with fellow members.

That's where this story gets real good.

"As we were nearing the time to send a club-wide email communication about the achievement, the golf shop phone rang," Scrivner said. "Mr. McMinn was calling and gave us the incredible news that his guest, Mr. Greg Shepard, had just made a second hole-in-one."

The second ace for Shepard came six holes later -- the next par 3 on the course -- at the 12th hole, which was playing 123 yards. Shepard jarred his tee shot on that hole with a pitching wedge. Scrivner said the second ace had Shepard in a state of, "exciting shock."

"Mr. McMinn told us that the first hole-in-one was 'exciting' for the group, and the second was almost 'scary' as Mr. Shepard wasn't sure how to react and the opponents were in a state of 'disbelief,'" Scrivner said.

According to the National Hole-In-One Registry, the odds of a hole-in-one are as follows:

- For a professional: 3,00 to 1
- For a low handicap: 5,000 to 1
- For the average: 12,000 to 1

And what about a guy like Shepard making two holes-in-one in the same round?

An astounding 67 million to 1.

No word on whether Shepard was happier about the two aces, or the member privileges extended to him after the first ace -- it could have been really expensive buying all those drinks.

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

 

March 31, 2014 - 11:33pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Nike golf TW '14, lunar control and lunar clayton golf shoes
Courtesy of Nike Golf
The new TW '14, Lunar Clayton and Lunar Control golf shoes from Nike Golf feature premium white uppers and colorful design details.

The Masters isn't until next week, but the Nike Golf staff players already know what they'll be wearing at Augusta National. They'll be modeling the 2014 editions of the TW' 14, Lunar Control and Lunar Clayton shoes.

All three models feature premium white uppers and a range of colorful design details, from the outsole to the lace eyelets to the Swoosh. All three designs blend Nike's performance technology with pops of iconic color.

"Last year we released a limited-edition version of the TW' 13, and it was a huge success," said Nike Golf Footwear Product Director Lee Walker. "For 2014, we wanted to expand that unique offering to include three of our most popular models – the TW' 14, Lunar Control and Lunar Clayton – featuring an infusion of color in a trio of powerful yet understated designs."

GAME CHANGERS: Check out our feature on Nike Golf VR_S Covert 2.0 irons 

For the TW' 14 footwear, Tiger Woods collaborated with Tobie Hatfield, Nike’s Athlete Projects Innovator in the company's Innovation Kitchen, and Nike Golf footwear designers. The natural-motion engineered outsole is designed to mimic the innate movement of the foot while delivering all the protection and traction of a lightweight performance golf shoe. These shoes also feature Nike's Dynamic Flywire technology, which moves with the foot to provide stability and mobility during the swing.

The Lunar Control Limited Edition footwear features Nike's proprietary full-length Lunarlon technology, a lightweight cushioning system that is highly responsive to provide enhanced comfort and support. Nike Flywire, another proprietary technology, wraps from the midfoot to the heel for targeted support in a lightweight structure within a premium full-grain leather upper.

To create the Lunar Clayton shoes, Nike Golf footwear designers combined a handcrafted, waterproof leather upper with lightweight Nike Lunarlon technology underfoot to maximize responsive cushioning. A leather welt joins the upper to the outsole while protecting the foot from the elements. The molded rubber outsole makes this model wearable both on and off the course.

The TW '14 shoes carry a street price of $180 per pair, while the Lunar Control models have a street price of $160 and the Lunar Clayton shoes have a street price of $250. They're available at retail now.