Peter Lawrie
USA Today Sports Images
"I went from such a high on sugar to such a dramatic low" as he tried to quit drinking "liters a day" of soft drinks, says Peter Lawrie.
 
Peter Lawrie tied for 16th at the Maybank Malaysia Open a week ago, and couldn't have been happier. The 40-year-old Irishman wasn't celebrating a mere top-20 finish – he was celebrating the fact that his golf game is rounding back into shape after he kicked an addiction that had taken over his life. 
 
Lawrie, it turns out, had become addicted to soft drinks – so much so, he told the Irish radio station Newstalk, that he was drinking several liters per day of fizzy sodas. And when he tried to stop, it almost ruined him.
 
"I wouldn't say I went for a breakdown, but I definitely got exceptionally emotional" as he tried to quit cold turkey, he said in an interview that aired over the weekend. "Even in the hottest country, like Malaysia," he added, he would drink soda on the "golf course because I was addicted to it."
 
Lawrie – no relation to 1999 British Open winner Paul Lawrie of Scotland – was in the top 200 in the world after he tied for 10th place in the 2013 Irish Open. Soon after, he began trying to wean himself off the carbonated drinks, and his struggle sent him plummeting down the ranking – he fell as low as No. 909 after missing the cut in the South African Open in January.
 
 
"I went from such a high on sugar to such a dramatic low" in the weeks and months after the Irish Open, "and I never recovered from it," he said. "I lost all confidence in myself."
 
His results over the past 18 months or so dramatically illustrate how much trouble he was having. From that tie for 10th in the 2013 Irish Open through the end of 2014, he missed 33 cuts and had only eight finishes in the money. In 2014 alone, he made only six cuts in 27 European Tour starts and earned only $63,870.
 
"It was very difficult to deal with all of the situations coming at me," he told the radio station. 
 
This year, though, he's turned the corner. He's feeling better and his results on the course are rebounding. He's made each of his last three cuts, and he's already won almost as much money this year as he did in all of 2014.
 
Now, he says, he's only drinking two or three cans of soft drinks per day. And his tie for 16th place in Malaysia a week ago was his best finish since his ordeal began.
 
Peter Lawrie kicks addiction that was ruining his life and golf game
February 16, 2015 - 11:46am
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Gloria Resorts
Gloria Hotels and Resorts
Gloria Hotels and Resorts has two championship 18-hole courses on site.

During last month's PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, there were several booths sponsored by national tourism boards, each touting their country as a top golf destination.

Not surprisingly, Scotland, Ireland and Wales were represented, along with Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Spain and Turkey. 

MORE TRAVEL: Seven great American golf resort destinations

Turkey? If you didn't realize it, Turkey's one of the hottest new golf destinations, especially for Europeans trying to find a warm winter vacation spot. And the country has responded to that demand by offering all-inclusive golf packages that have been welcomed in a big way.

David Clare, a former national coach of the Turkish golf team and current golf director at the Gloria Hotels and Resorts, said it's hard to imagine how quickly Turkey has caught on as a golf mecca -- given that the first course in the Belek region didn't open until 1995.

"The hotels there had no winter business, so there was a market for it," Clare said. "The golfers started coming from Europe because the temperatures in Turkey between November and March are 60 to 70 degrees. There's no snow at all.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Five courses you must play

"Couple that with the all-inclusive packages with the hotels -- at about $1,000 a week for lodging and five rounds of golf -- that's the reason it grew so fast in places like Germany, Scandinavia, Great Britain, where the winter weather is bad."

For most parts of Europe, the flight to Antalya is between two and three hours. Because North America has its own winter destinations -- think Arizona, Florida and the Caribbean -- Turkey's not nearly as affordable, or accessible. Still, Clare said he sees a growing number of Americans visiting his resort.

If there's an untapped market for Turkey, it could be Asia, Clare said.

How popular has golf in Turkey become? Clare has some eye-popping stats.

"At the end of 2014, there were 600,000 rounds played on 17 courses from September through to May," Clare said. "We're No. 1, with 85,000 rounds during the season over three courses. No. 2 is Anatayla Golf Club."

GOLF TRIPS: Explore golf trips in U.S.  |  Explore international golf trips

That's the home of the Montgomerie Maxx Royal Golf Course, which hosts the European Tour's Turkish Airlines Open. And where Tiger Woods played in the fall of 2013, a development that caught the world's attention.

Suddenly, everyone in the industry wanted to know more about Turkey.

"What's interesting is what happened after we did the Tiger Woods event and the publicity that received," Clare said. "I had been coming to this show for six years and after that, suddenly people were coming up to the booth and asking us more about it. We've noticed a difference since then."

What makes the golf course industry in Turkey so unusual is that the country owns the land, and the hotel resorts lease the property over a 50-year period.

Clare said the sandy soil is perfect for golf. It drains well, Bermuda takes to it, and it can be overseeded. 

The fact that Turkey's golf industry has grown expotentially in two decades is good thing, but it's also created one problem.  

"We're actually full," Clare said. "The government isn't giving permission to build additional courses now. And the hotels know building one course in one area just won't do it.

"In order for it to be a destination, you need four or five courses. There's land available elsewhere on the coast. It would just need two or three hotel owners to say, 'Let's throw the money in and create a new destination.'"

Turkey: The hot new golf destination
February 15, 2015 - 6:42pm
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Bubba Watson
2014 Masters champion Bubba Watson will return to defend his green jacket in April.

2015 Masters Field List (as of March 2, 2015)

Bae, Sang-Moon (16), Korea
Bjørn, Thomas (12,18), Denmark
Blixt, Jonas (12), Sweden
Bradley, Keegan (4,13,18), United States of America
Cabrera, Angel (1,16), Argentina
Clark, Tim (16), South Africa
Clarke, Darren (3), Northern Ireland
# Compton, Erik (13), United States of America
#* Conners, Corey (6-B), Canada
Couples, Fred (1), United States of America
Crane, Ben (16), United States of America
Crenshaw, Ben (1), United States of America
Day, Jason (13,17,18), Australia
Dominguez, Matias  (9), Chile
Donald, Luke (18), England
Donaldson, Jamie (18), Wales
Dubuisson, Victor (18), France
Dufner, Jason (4,18), United States of America
Els, Ernie (3), South Africa
Fowler, Rickie (12,13,14,15,17,18), United States of America
Furyk, Jim (14,17,18), United States of America
Gallacher, Stephen (18), Scotland
Garcia, Sergio (14,17,18), Spain
Haas, Bill (17,18), United States of America
# Hahn, James (16), United States of America
# Harman, Brian (16), United States of America
Harrington, Padraig (16), Ireland
#* Harvey, Scott (11), United States of America
Henley, Russell (17), United States of America
Hoffman, Charley (16), United States of America
# Hoffmann, Morgan (17), United States of America
Holmes, J.B. (16), United States of America
Horschel, Billy (16,17,18), United States of America
Ilonen, Mikko (18), Finland
Immelman, Trevor (1), South Africa
Jaidee, Thongchai (18), Thailand
Jimenez, Miguel Angel (12,18), Spain
Johnson, Dustin (13,17,18), United States of America
Johnson, Zach (1,17,18), United States of America
Kaymer, Martin (2,4,5,17,18), Germany
Kirk, Chris (16,17,18), United States of America
# Koepka, Brooks (13,18), United States of America
Kuchar, Matt (5,12,16,17,18), United States of America
Langer, Bernhard (1,12), Germany
Leishman, Marc (18), Australia
# Lowry, Shane (18), Ireland
Luiten, Joost (18), Netherlands
Lyle, Sandy (1) ,Scotland
Mahan, Hunter (16,17,18), United States of America
Martin, Ben (16), United States of America
Matsuyama, Hideki (16,17,18), Japan
McDowell, Graeme (2,18), Northern Ireland
McIlroy, Rory (2,3,4,12,16,17,18), Northern Ireland
#* Meth, Byron (10), United States of America
Mickelson, Phil (1,3,15,18), United States of America
Mize, Larry (1), United States of America
Moore, Ryan (16,18), United States of America
#* Murdaca, Antonio (8), Australia
Na, Kevin (17,18), United States of America
#* Neil, Bradley (7), Scotland
# Noh, Seung-Yul (16), Korea
O'Meara, Mark (1), United States of America
Ogilvy, Geoff (17), Australia
Olazabal, Jose Maria (1), Spain
Oosthuizen, Louis (3,18), South Africa
Palmer, Ryan (17,18), United States of America
Poulter, Ian (18), England
Reed, Patrick (17,18), United States of America
Rose, Justin (2,16,17,18), England
Schwartzel, Charl (1,18), South Africa
Scott, Adam (1,16,17,18), Australia
Senden, John (12,17,18), Australia
Simpson, Webb (2,17,18), United States of America
Singh, Vijay (1), Fiji
Snedeker, Brandt (16), United States of America
Spieth, Jordan (12,17,18), United States of America
Stadler, Kevin (12), United States of America
Stenson, Henrik (13,15,18), Sweden
# Streb, Robert (16), United States of America
Streelman, Kevin (16), United States of America
Stricker, Steve (18), United States of America
# Todd, Brendan (16,17), United States of America
# Tringale, Cameron (17), United States of America
Villegas, Camilo (16), Colombia
Walker, Jimmy (12,17,18), United States of America
Watson, Bubba (1,16,17,18), United States of America
Watson, Tom (1), United States of America
Weir, Mike (1), Canada
Westwood, Lee (12,18), England
# Willet, Danny (18), England
Woodland, Gary (17,18), United States of America
Woods, Tiger (1,5,18), United States of America
Woosnam, Ian (1), Wales
#* Yang, Gunn (6-A), Korea
 
# Denotes first Masters * Denotes Amateur ^ The Masters Committee, at its discretion, also invites international players not otherwise qualified.
Number after each name indicates the basis of qualification.Qualification For Invitation
  1. Masters Tournament Champions (Lifetime)
  2. US Open Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
  3. British Open Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
  4. PGA Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
  5. Winners of The Players Championship (Three years)
  6. Current US Amateur Champion (6-A) (Honorary, non-competing after 1 year) and the runner-up (6-B) to the current US Amateur Champion
  7. Current British Amateur Champion (Honorary, non-competing after 1 year)
  8. Current Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion
  9. Current Latin America Amateur Champion
  10. Current US Amateur Public Links Champion
  11. Current US Mid-Amateur Champion
  12. The first 12 players, including ties, in the previous year's Masters Tournament
  13. The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year's US Open Championship
  14. The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year's British Open Championship
  15. The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year's PGA Championship
  16. Winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship, from previous Masters to current Masters
  17. Those qualifying for the previous year's season-ending Tour Championship
  18. The 50 leaders on the Final Official World Golf Ranking for the previous calendar year
  19. The 50 leaders on the Official World Golf Ranking published during the week prior to the current Masters Tournament

Past Champions Not Expected To Play in 2015

  • Tommy Aaron
  • Jack Burke Jr.
  • Charles Coody
  • Nick Faldo
  • Raymond Floyd
  • Doug Ford
  • Bob Goalby
  • Jack Nicklaus
  • Arnold Palmer
  • Gary Player
  • Craig Stadler
  • Fuzzy Zoeller
UPDATED: 2015 Masters Field List
February 15, 2015 - 3:57pm
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Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk stands precariously on the side of a cliff while trying to assess his situation.

Third-round leader Jim Furyk found himself in a rocky situation Sunday at Pebble Beach, literally.

His tee shot on the par-5 sixth hole went right and over the cliffs overhanging the beach. His ball stopped on top of an outcropping about midway down, and Furyk was able to scramble down and assess the situation.

Here's how it looked from the broadcast, and how Furyk was able to extricate himself from it: 

 

 

Amazingly, Furyk was able to not only escape what looked like a harrowing situation, but save par in the process.

Earlier in the tournament, Ryuji Imada had a similar situation on the seventh hole -- and found a way to get up and down.

Watch: Furyk between rock, hard place
February 15, 2015 - 1:30pm
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Ada golfers
Michael Huff/Facebook
Michael Huff and Alex Lane are all smiles after their amazing round of golf Feb. 7.

On a weekend when most of the country is just dreaming about getting outside to golf, a pair of golfers in Oklahoma recently had consecutive shots you couldn't conjure up in any of your wildest dreams.

Michael Huff and Alex Lane, playing in the same foursome at Oak Hills Golf and Country Club on Feb. 7, made eagle putts on the eighth hole and promptly turned around and made back-to-back holes-in-one on the ninth.

ACE, ACE BABY: Man makes two holes-in-one in same round

The amazing event was chronicled first by Huff's cellphone, and then by a piece written by sports editor Jeff Cali in the Ada (Okla.) News. Here's the photo of the two balls in the hole taken by Huff as proof:

 

 

 

So how did this all happen?

According to Cali's story, there's a group of 12 golfers at Oak Hills who play scratch from the gold tees. This particular foursome included local architect Huff, a member of the country club; Lane, a former Ada High golfer and freshman in college; Russell Lowry, who graduated from Ada High in the 1970s; and Justin Powell, son of the current Ada High golf coach.

All four golfers reached the green at the par-5 eighth in two, but only Huff and Lane made their eagle putts, Huff sinking a 30-footer and Lane finding the bottom of the cup from five feet out.

PAIR OF ACES: Laura Diaz makes two holes-in-one in consecutive days

That brought the foursome to the next hole, a 150-yard par-3.

"The green has a high front, a valley in the middle and a high back, and the pin was hidden in the middle," Huff told Cali. "The right side of the green is also higher than the left, feeding everything from right to left."

Lane hit a pitching wedge that landed, turned left and disappeared behind the ridgeline. Huff's shot followed the same trajectory.

"I've seen that kind of shot a hundred times and somebody always says, 'You might have made that one.' It never happens," Huff was quoted as saying. "We never see one on that hole. They are always maybe a foot short or three feet long. There is a reason that holes in one are rare."

But when they reached the green, only two balls were visible. That's because the other two -- Lane's and Huff's -- were in the hole.

"When the rest of my playing partners saw what had happened, chaos erupted," Huff said in the article. "There was lots of yelling and high-fives and bear hugs.

RYDER CUP ACES: Watch all holes-in-one in Ryder Cup history

"I had a post on Facebook before we even were done with the hole. This was Alex's first ace and my second, but first on my home course."

And just to top off a crazy day, two other golfers made an ace on No. 9, bringing the total to four.

According to the National Hole-in-One Golf Registry, the odds of two members of the same foursome making a hole-in-one on the same hole is 17 million-to-1. So just imagine how astronomical the odds must be for consecutive eagle-aces.

That's one dream every golfer would love to experience in real life.

Oklahoma pals amazing two-hole feat
February 14, 2015 - 9:08am
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Ryuji Imada
PGA Tour/YouTube
Ryudi Imada found himself with an extreme uphill lie Friday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

One of the things about playing a course like Pebble Beach is the amazing coastline views. Unfortunately, that also means the coastline is sometimes in play.

Consider the predicament Ryuji Imada found himself in Friday during the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. His tee shot on the par-3 seventh hole went way left, and somehow stuck in the iceplant on the side of the cliff.

Not only did Imada find the ball, but look what he did next:

 

 

Yep, just your routine three. Put down "par" on the scorecard and move along.

Several things come to mind after seeing this. One, Imada must be part mountain goat. Two, that's one heck of a drop (vertical, not golf-related) and one misstep would have been very, very bad. Three, the fact that Imada could calm his heart rate down to make that third shot is perhaps the most impressive thing about the whole episode.

Would you have even gone down there in the first place? I know my answer.

Watch: Imada's cliff-hanging "routine" par