January 30, 2015 - 10:52am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Payne Stewart
PGA of America
Payne Stewart at the 1999 Ryder Cup, one month before his death.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This piece orginially ran on Oct. 25, 2014, the 15th anniversary of Payne Stewart's tragic death.

It's hard to believe, but Saturday marks the 15th anniversary of the tragic passing of one of golf's most charismatic figures, Payne Stewart.

Stewart, an 11-time PGA Tour winner and three-time major champion, perished in a LearJet plane accident on Oct. 25, 1999, when the cabin lost pressure. All on board died of hypoxia -- a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply.

The plane, still on auto-pilot, crashed in a field in Mina, S.D., when it eventually ran out of fuel. Stewart's agents Robert Fraley and Van Ardan, and pilots Michael Kling and Stephanie Bellegarrigue, along with Bruce Borland, a highly regarded golf course architect with the Jack Nicklaus design company, also perished.

Stewart was 42 at the time of his death. He was just four months removed from what would prove to be his final major championship victory, the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, an incredible tournament where Stewart outlasted a then-majorless Phil Mickelson.

Watch highlights from that '99 U.S. Open here:

The plane incident happened just one month -- nearly to the day -- after Stewart was part of the U.S. Ryder Cup team that mounted a then record-setting, final day, come from behind victory in the 1999 matches at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

That was Stewart's last public appearance and, if ever there was an everlasting way to remember someone, that was it.

Stewart had always been known for two things -- his distinctive clothing (plus-fours and tam-o-shanter hat) and his intensity. Before those 1999 Ryder Cup matches, Stewart mixed things up a bit when he suggested that based on the strength of the European team -- or perceived lack thereof -- they should be caddying for the U.S. team not playing against them.

Harsh, no doubt, but that was Stewart's personality. He loved dishing it out, but also had a heart the size of the Wanamaker Trophy that he won in the 1989 PGA Championship.

In his Sunday singles match, Stewart displayed the type of sportsmanship he'll forever be remembered for. His opponent Colin Montgomerie was having a horrible week with the Boston galleries heckling his every move. With the Ryder Cup already secured late that afternoon for the Americans, Stewart picked up Montgomerie's golf ball on the 18th hole and conceded the match out of courtesy.

It was mature, it was classy, it was the right thing to do. It exemplified the person Payne Stewart had come to be.

During the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, Rickie Fowler paid homage to Stewart with his clothing for the first round:

The rememberance by Fowler proved to be good karma. He tied for second at the U.S. Open.

 

Justin Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champ, also paid tribute to Stewart to Pinehurst back in June. After holing his final putt, Rose gave the famous fist in the air reaction Stewart gave when his winning putt dropped in 1999. You can see video of it here:

To understand just how long Stewart has been gone, here are a few things that have happened since he left us far too early:

 

- Tiger Woods had just two major championships on his resume before Stewart's passing. Woods has had 12 since.

- Phil Mickelson, major-less before Stewart's passing, has won five of them since.

- Woods (2000, 2002 and 2008) and Retief Goosen (2001, 2004) joined Stewart, Willie Anderson, Alex Smith, John McDermott, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Ralph Guldahl, Ben Hogan, Cary Middlecoff, Julius Boros, Billy Casper, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Andy North, Hale Irwin, Curtis Strange, Ernie Els and Lee Janzen as the only winners of multiple U.S. Opens.

- Seven Ryder Cups have been played. The U.S. has gone 1-6 over that time, with the lone victory coming in 2008 at Valhalla, when Stewart's dear friend, Paul Azinger, was the U.S. captain.

- And, for the younger crowd, Twitter, Facebook, iPhones, iPods and blogs didn't even exist until well after 1999.

Stewart has been missed and will continue to be missed. Unfortunately, we'll never have the chance to see him captain a U.S. Ryder Cup team -- something that surely would have come to fruition.

Though he passed so young, Stewart left us with so many great on-course memories.

Even still, it's hard to believe it's been 15 years.

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

Payne Stewart would have been 58 today
January 30, 2015 - 10:10am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bryan Brothers
YouTube
Even their trick-shot blooper video is better than most golf trick shots.

Our favorite trick-shot tandem -- the Bryan Brothers -- dropped a new video Friday morning.

What have they done now, you ask?

RELATED: Meet the Bryan Brothers | Two-man trick shot | Bryan Bros. up the ante

Well, it's not what you think. Instead of another mind-boggling trick, this particular video is one of a trick gone wrong.

Much like their trick shots are typically unlike anything you've ever seen before, so is this trick gone wrong:

So, even when the Bryan Brothers mess up it's awesome -- Wesley knocked over a canoe!

Imagine the surprise of the golf-ball scuba diver at that course when he goes below the surface and finds himself a baseball mitt.

Bryan Brothers trick shot gone hilariously wrong
Bubba Watson
PGA Tour via YouTube
The flag was 342 yards away on the par-4 17th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and Bubba Watson hit his drive just a little too far.
The par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale grabs most of the attention at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and usually for good reason. But some amazing things can happen on the other holes as well.
 
Bubba Watson proved that on Thursday, when he darn near made a hole-in-one on the par-4 17th hole. With the flag wafting in the breeze a cool 342 yards away from the teebox, Watson pulled his big pink Ping G30 driver and fired.
 
His tee shot flew a long way, then hopped and rolled – right near the flag. In fact, it went a few feet past the flag. Unfortunately, Watson couldn't convert the eagle, and wound up with a two-putt birdie en route to a first-round 65.
 
 
Speaking of Watson, he has now played 31 competitive rounds at TPC Scottsdale and has been under par in each and every one of those rounds. In fact, he is a cumulative 86 under par over those rounds, far lower than any other player – second-lowest over that time period is Brandt Snedeker at 66 under par after he posted a 1-under 70 on Thursday. 
 
Watson is also the only player since 2007 to play all of his rounds at par or better (of players with at least 10 rounds). However, he has never won the tournament.
 
Here's his almost-ace:
 
 
Bubba Watson nearly aces par-4 17th hole at Phoenix Open
Maverick Steiner
WTSP-TV
Despite dealing with autism and Congenital Bone Marrow Transplant Syndrome, Maverick Steiner has become an enthusiastic golfer.
About six months ago, five-year-old Maverick Steiner asked his parents if he could give golf a try.
 
His parents, to put it mildly, were surprised. Their son, diagnosed with autism, tended to keep to himself. He also deals with Congenital Bone Marrow Transplant Syndrome, has issues with his hands and left forearm, and has spent much of his life in and out of hospitals.
 
The family had played miniature golf once or twice, but Maverick's request seemingly out of nowhere. Even so, they took him out to a range – and a golfer was born.
 
"It's quite amazing how much he has transformed," his mother, Monique Steiner, told WTSP-TV in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.
 
 
Maverick has become a regular at the First Tee of Tampa Bay, where, according to the TV piece, "he squeals with delight after hitting each shot. The kid who was quiet and reserved before golf," it adds, has turned into a chatty golf-lover." 
 
He's also making some fans, among them Ian Baxter, the executive director of the First Tee of Tampa Bay program. 
 
"His swing, it's not a lot of moving parts so when he hits it, it's like right down the middle," Baxter said, "and, frankly, I'm a little jealous."
 
For more on the First Tee program and what your kids can get out of it, click here.
 
Here's a look at Maverick's story on WTSP-TV:
 
Golf transforms life of autistic five-year-old boy
January 29, 2015 - 2:45pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Paula Creamer
GolfChannel.com
In just her second round of the new LPGA season, Paula Creamer recorded the Tour's first ace of 2015.

Life couldn't be much better for Paula Creamer these days.

The 28-year-old, 2010 U.S. Women's Open Champion got married in December then took a dream honeymoon to places like Bora Bora and New Zealand.

RELATED: Amateur golfer makes hole-in-one at WMPO Pro-Am

This week she's back to work in Ocala, Fla., for the LPGA's season-opening Coates Golf Championship.

In Thursday's second round, Creamer proved that while she enjoyed some time away from the golf course lately, her game didn't suffer.

Playing the 162-yard sixth hole at Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club, Creamer took a sweet swing with a 5-iron that found the bottom of the cup for a hole-in-one:

 

After the ace, Creamer had a pretty good little celebratory dance too:

 

The ace put Creamer at 3 under for the round (and the tournament). 

Creamer scores an ace in LPGA season-opener
January 29, 2015 - 12:30pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Dave Wood
YouTube
Dave Wood, an amateur playing in Wednesday's Waste Management Phoenix Open Pro-Am, made the first hole-in-one of his life on TPC Scottsdale's par-3 16th.

Every golfer dreams of making a hole-in-one.

But what about making your very first hole-in-one on the grandest, scariest, arguably most intimidating of par-3 stages in golf -- the par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale with a full house taking in the Waste Management Phoenix Open Pro-Am?

RELATED: Tiger skulls bunker shot on 16 | Phil, Keegan mind games | WMPO scores

Could never happen, right?

Well, it did on Wednesday when amateur Dave Wood turned the trick with a pitching wedge from 147 yards out, playing alongside Kevin Na. Even better? It was caught on tape:

What a shot!

There have only been seven aces on that hole in tournament play since 1990. Jarrod Lyle was the last to do it in 2011:

And, of course, Tiger Woods canned the most famous ace on that hole in 1997:

The only thing we don't envy about this story? Wood's bar tab.

Amateur aces TPC Scottsdale's par-3 16th in WMPO Pro-Am