Golf Buzz

Joe Durant
USA Today Sports Images
Joe Durant's on-course superstition includes using different sized coins as ball markers depending on the length of the putt he's facing.
The Champions Tour is in the Ozarks this weekend for the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf, and the Springfield, Mo., News-Leader surveyed some of the senior stars about their golf rituals and superstitions. Several players revealed some interesting pre-round and during-round – if that's a word – "musts."
Here's a sample:
--Lanny Wadkins said he always keeps coins in his left front pocket and tees in his right front pocket. 
--Joe Durant goes one step further – he has to have five tees in his pocket and must carry a quarter, a dime and a nickel to use as ballmarkers. He uses the quarter for long putts, the nickel for medium-length putts and the dime for shorter putts.
--And Fred Funk goes yet another step further. Funk marks his ball with a heads-up coin. And he always points the face on the coin toward the hole so the coin can read the putt with him.
The article goes on to list several more fun and fluky ones from players like Olin Browne and Corey Pavin, and it makes us want to ask – do you have any on-course rituals or superstitions? Tell us about 'em – we'd love to hear.
Tiger Woods and Yao Ming
Tiger Woods via Twitter
Tiger Woods is a big deal in the world of golf, but Yao Ming is a really big deal.
Tiger Woods is making his second visit to Asia with Nike this weekend, and is meeting with golfers large and small. The small golfers are the 40 youngsters he met at a special clinic at the Nike China facility in Shangai, while the large golfer is really large – 7-foot-6 Yao Ming, the former Houston Rockets star who now owns the Shanghai Knights basketball team.
For the clinic, Nike converted its campus soccer field into a small golf course. Woods hit some shots, talked to the kids about different aspects of the game and judged the Vapor City Challenge Final, a regional skills challenge, where he presented one individual and three team awards for driving distance, chipping and putting accuracy.
"The enthusiasm I've seen here is infectious and it was great to speak to so many Chinese golf fans," Woods said. "There are a lot of young and talented athletes here with huge potential to bring golf in China to the next level."
Woods also spent time with Yao – an eight-time NBA all-star who is also a passionate golfer – and the two athletes met with Nike's Shanghai employees.
"It is a great honor to meet Tiger in person and to share our experiences in sport to encourage young athletes to pursue their dreams," said Yao. "Hopefully we inspired and motivated kids to challenge themselves and push the limits to accomplish their ultimate goals."
Our favorite part of the trip so far, however, is the photo of Woods and Yao at the top of this post. Woods is just over 6 feet tall, and Yao towers over him at a cool 7-foot-6. It also reminds us of the time last fall when 5-foot-11 John Daly met Yao at a tournament in China, and you can see their photo at the bottom of this post.
From Shanghai, Woods is off to Tokyo. And as we've learned, he's planning to play The Players Championship starting May 7 and The Memorial starting June 4.
April 24, 2015 - 8:39am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
Tiger Woods confirmed via Twitter on Friday morning that he will play in the Players Championship May 7-10 -- his first start since the Masters.

Tiger Woods announced on Twitter Friday morning that he will be teeing it up in the Players Championship, May 7-10 at TPC Sawgrass:

This will be the second start for Woods since returning from a leave of absence because of poor play in February. He tied for 17th at the Masters in his first start back.

RELATED: Day says 'Walk the line' on putts | Amazing video of Turnberry changes

Woods is a two-time winner in the Players Championship, having won most recently in 2013. He also won the 1994 U.S. Amateur at TPC Sawgrass.

One of the most memorable shots of Woods's illustrious career came via a putt on the par-3 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass on his way to winning the 2001 Players -- the "better than most" putt:

Due to recovery from back surgery, Woods was unable to defend his Players Championship title in 2014.


The Ailsa Course at Turnberry
Trump Organization via YouTube
The Trump Organization's new video clearly shows how the "lighthouse" ninth hole at Turnberry will converted from a par 4 to a par 3 and edged closer to the Firth of Clyde.
On Tuesday, the Trump Organization confirmed what it had hinted at for some time – The Donald is planning a major renovation of the famed Ailsa Course at the Trump Turnberry Resort in Scotland, which he bought about a year ago. 
The most impressive part of the presentation, however, was a 7-minute animated video that shows the before-and-after. I've never seen anything quite as cool, at least involving golf courses, and it really shows what course architect Martin Ebert and his team were thinking as they came up with their changes. You can see it at the bottom of this page, and I encourage you to take a look if you love these classic Scottish courses as much as I do.
Here's the short version of the renovation plan: The Ailsa Course will close in September – after it hosts the Women's British Open this summer – and then undergo a $300 million makeover that will include building or rebuilding five holes and nine greens, and resurfacing the other nine greens.
Without doubt, the most controversial change will be to the oceanfront par-4 ninth hole, which will be converted to a long par 3 that eliminates its hog's-back fairway and relocates the entire hole closer to the beloved lighthouse that stars in so many photos and videos. The new par 3 will measure 235 yards – and call for a 200-yard carry from the championship tees, while the lighthouse will be renovated and turned into a halfway house. 
Several other seaside holes will be pushed more into the dunes and closer to the water, and the course's maximum length will be stretched to 7,450 yards. Par will remain 70, with the renovated layout including three par 3s and three par 5s.
All the changes are being made in consultation with the R&A, Eric Trump said at the unveiling, with the hopes of landing the British Open again. The Ailsa Course – most famous for the "Duel in the Sun" between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson in 1977 – last hosted the Open in 2009, when Stewart Cink famously edged Tom Watson in a playoff.
The soonest slot likely to be available for Turnberry, which also hosted the Open in 1986 (Greg Norman won) and 1994 (Nick Price triumphed) is 2021.
Take a look at the video and tell us what you think:
April 22, 2015 - 9:38am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Justin Rose
USA Today Sports Images
Was a tie for second at the Masters just what Justin Rose needed to jumpstart his season?

The PGA Tour is in the Big Easy this week for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, where Korea's Seung-Yul Noh returns as the defending champion.

The field features seven former champions, eight major champions and 70 PGA Tour champions who account for a total of 213 wins.

RELATED: Zurich Classic tee times | WGT, PGA launch golf game | Big event deadlines loom

Here's a look at five players you'll want to keep an eye on this week.

5. Billy Horschel
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Third at Valero Texas Open
Reason to watch: The first of Horschel's three career PGA Tour wins came right here at the Zurich Classic. That was back in 2013. In late 2014, he snagged wins two and three in consecutive starts at the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship on his way to winning the FedExCup. Since his unlikely FedExCup win -- he wasn't at his best for most of last season before turning it on late -- Horschel has been so-so. He's made the cut in 10 of 14 starts, but can't seem to get any consistency going from start to start. I think he's been looking forward to this week for a couple of reasons -- first, as noted, it's the site of his maiden win. But secondly, he missed the cut in his title defense a year ago. That had to sting a little. I think he'll make up for it this week.

4. Justin Thomas
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T4 at Sanderson Farms Championship
Reason to watch: I think Thomas is on the verge of breaking through in a big way on the PGA Tour. A good buddy of Jordan Spieth, the 21-year-old Thomas earned his way on to the PGA Tour after finishing third in the 2014 Tour Finals. He also picked up a win on the Tour back in September at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship. So far this season, Thomas has four top-10 finishes. He's knocked on the door a few times, but hasn't gotten the job done just yet. The New Orleans stop has been kind to first-time PGA Tour winners, so maybe that will pan out for Thomas this week.

3. Seung-Yul Noh
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T11 at Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: Following a solid 2013-14 season, which included a victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Noh has been quiet for most of this season. He's made the cut in just seven of his 12 starts and has yet to record a top-10 finish. Noh, the PGA Tour's youngest winner in 2014, also boasts victories on the, European, and Asian Tours. He's an incredibly talented young player that just needs to find consistency in his game. In need of a good, solid finish to jumpstart this slow season, New Orleans will be a refreshing place to play for Noh.

2. Dustin Johnson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won the WGC-Cadillac Championship
Reason to watch: For just the second time in his career, Johnson is teeing it up this week in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. This season, Johnson has been an absolute beast with a remarkable five, top-10 finishes in just seven starts, including a victory at Doral and his most recent top-10 -- a T6 -- at the Masters. Johnson is a threat to win every time he tees it up. This week should be no different.

1. Justin Rose
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T2 at the Masters
Reason to watch: As we've seen year after year, the cream rises to the top in the biggest tournaments. That's the only way to explain a scenario like Rose's. It had been a pretty disappointing season -- three missed cuts in seven starts -- until his runner-up showing at Augusta National. Rose's three missed cuts so far this year are his most in a season on the PGA Tour since missing the cut five times in 2011. The performance at the Masters was just what Rose needed to get things going in the right direction. Riding the confidence from a well-played Masters, Rose heads to New Orleans to play an event in which he hasn't finished outside the top 15 in each of the last three seasons. In other words... It's a great place to keep the momentum rolling.

Here's how my five to watch fared last week at the RBC Heritage:

5. Boo Weekley -- T75
4. Jim Furyk -- Winner
3. Zach Johnson -- Missed cut
2. Matt Kuchar -- Fifth
1. Jordan Spieth -- T11 

April 22, 2015 - 7:34am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Mathias Schjoelberg
Mathias Schjoelberg's Instagram
Norway's Mathias Schjoelberg, who plays golf for Arizona State University, has the ability to pull off trick shots the likes of which you've never seen before.

On Tuesday, I was blown away by a couple of Instagram videos posted by Arizona State University golfer Mathias Schjoelberg pulling off a couple of shots that, in all my years around the game, I had never seen before.

Late Tuesday night, I went back to the Instagram page to see what else -- if anything else -- Schjoelberg had up his sleeve. Let me tell you -- I was not disappointed.

RELATED: Arizona State golfer wows with over-the-shoulder trick shot

It's one thing to pull off the shot, but Schjoelberg is even getting it close to the hole.

Check this one out:


Need to play around a bit as well! #golf #trick #golfer #pgatour #GolfGods

A video posted by Mathias Schjoelberg (@mathiasschjoelberg) on

How did he do that?

Then there was this, similiar to the one we saw yesterday, but he nearly jarred it:


Close enough #golf #golfer #asu #asugolf #golfgods

A video posted by Mathias Schjoelberg (@mathiasschjoelberg) on

Finally, Schjoelberg has some juggling tricks too:


Just kidding, guess I still got it :):) #golf #golfer #asu

A video posted by Mathias Schjoelberg (@mathiasschjoelberg) on

Schjoelberg isn't all tricks. He's a darn good player too. The Arizona State senior from Norway is averaging a score of 71.33 through six tournaments in the 2014-15 season. He fired a season-low 66 in the Cowboy Southern Dunes back in October, where he finished second at 9 under.

You can check out his Instagram account here