Rory McIlroy at the British Open
USA Today Sports Images
Rory McIlroy was obviously the big winner at the British Open, claiming his third major and a cool $1.67 million in prize money. Pretty soon, there might be another big winner – the guy who caught the ball that McIlroy flung into the stands at Royal Liverpool after he sank his final putt.
That guy, Lee Horner from Leeds, England, snagged the Nike RZN Black ball that McIlroy tossed, and has put it up for auction on
The bidding began at $1,000, and is already up over $6,000. And seeing as how the auction doesn't end  until Aug. 9, it's surely headed much higher.
After all …
"How many chances will a collector have in their entire life to obtain the actual ball used to win a Major Championship?," Green Jacket Auctions asks. "This is a ball that will only gain in significance for the next 20, 50, even 100 years. In the collecting world, this is what's called a "dream piece" – something that no one could ever expect would become available for sale; yet here it is."
On the auction page, Green Jacket Auctions explains that "we too watched in astonishment as Rory chucked that Hall of Fame-worthy ball into the crowd. But we went a step further. We immediately took to Twitter to tell our loyal followers, as well as several prominent sportswriters, that we had a mission for them: Find. That. Ball."
The ball has been confirmed by Nike as the real deal, and contains a few very specific markings. It is stamped with McIlroy's nickname "Rors," and has a black dot underneath the Swoosh and a black aiming line through the words "RZN Black." 
Rory McIlroy's British Open-winning golf ball up for auction
July 27, 2014 - 10:04am
Posted by: staff
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Drew Brees and Bubba Watson
Courtesy of New Orleans Saints
Bubba Watson hung with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees during last week's training camp at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, where Watson owns a home.

By staff

Bubba Watson’s chance to impress his favorite NFL team slipped through the two-time Masters champion’s fingers.

Watson, an avid New Orleans Saints fan, attended the team’s training camp last week at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, where he owns a home. Watson tweeted pictures of him with Saints’ coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees. But his big moment came on Friday.

In a designed trick play that reported had Watson randomly coming off the sideline onto the field after the ball was snapped, Brees targeted him a deep ball. The pass hit him in the hands. And he dropped it. Stories vary regarding who was to blame for the incompletion that drew boos from spectators.

“He’s blaming me, saying I under-threw him,” Brees told reporters after the practice. “I didn’t want to overthrow him. I thought it was something he could come back to. So he’s saying QB error. I’m saying receiver error. What I really wanted was an over-the-top throw. We’re going to have to practice that. I’m going to have to get him off the course this afternoon and back here for some extra reps.”

By the looks of things, Watson had plenty of fun, though. He spent time signing autographs and taking pictures with fans and the Saints players and coaches. And he even got his hands on the Saints playbook. We're guessing the trick play to Watson is no longer included.


Bubba Watson can't make the play at Saints camp
Graeme McDowell at the RBC Canadian Open
I picked Graeme McDowell as one of my 5 players to watch this week at the RBC Canadian Open because I thought his game was a perfect fit for the Blue Course at Royal Montreal. G-Mac isn't leading, but he did pull off the shot of the day.
After his tee shot on the par-4 11th hole – the hardest hole on the course, by the way – McDowell was 213 yards out and hitting into the wind. So he pulled out a hybrid – and drained the shot for an eagle.
He also birdied the 10th and then made a gorgeous 25-footer for another birdie on No. 12 to go 4 under on the first three holes of his back nine. That stretch was the highlight of his day, however, and he completed his first round at 2-under 68.
Here's his eagle:
Graeme McDowell cans 213-yard eagle at RBC Canadian Open
Rory McIlroy
USA Today Sports Images
"I would be very surprised" if Rory McIlroy doesn't become one of the game's all-time great players, says Jack Nicklaus.
When Rory McIlroy captured his third major at the Open Championship last week, he earned a lot of comparisons with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, both of whom also were piling up majors at the age of 25.
So perhaps it's not surprising that Nicklaus sees a little bit of himself when he looks at McIlroy these days. More important, the Golden Bear likes what he sees.
"I certainly don't have any criticism of Rory by any means," Nicklaus said during a wide-ranging news conference on Thursday. "I think his career is progressing very nicely and I think he's going to win a lot of major championships. I love his swagger. I love his demeanor. 
"I love the way he sort of has a confident cockiness yet not offensive with it. It's self-confidence, I guess you would call it," he added. "I like that in him, because I like the kid. I've spent a little bit of time with him and I like him very much."
When he was young, Nicklaus admitted, he "played golf courses more with power than I did with finesse," and noted that "Rory has a tendency to do that." And even with his length off the tee – McIlroy ranks among the game's longest drivers – that aggressiveness sometimes gets McIlroy in trouble, just as it did Nicklaus.
McIlroy's boldness has "served him well on several occasions, but probably doesn't serve him well on other occasions and didn't serve me well on some other occasions," Nicklaus noted. "But as you get older, you sort of say, you know, hey, I think I would rather play that from 160 yards than 120 yards out of a foot deep rough. That's maturity and age."  
McIlroy requested a meeting with Nicklaus after the Memorial Tournament to talk about both golf and business, and Nicklaus said he "saw a couple of things what I thought could help him" in his swing. 
The Bear won't divulge what they discussed, but he did say that when he saw McIlroy on TV at the U.S. Open, he was "doing a couple things that I thought that he was trying to do that I was talking about. And then I saw at the British Open, he looked very much at ease with what we were talking about."
McIlroy "may not even have remembered it or thought about it. So I don't want to take any credit whatsoever," Nicklaus said of the advice he provided. "I think Rory's swing looked great at the British Open, and some of the faults that I've seen in his swing previous that caused him problems, I did not see."
Nicklaus believes that McIlroy has the potential to become one of the greats – perhaps even reaching the heights that he achieved. In fact, Nicklaus said that "I would be very surprised if he doesn't" become one of the game's great players.
"I think a lot of it depends on what Rory's desire and focus [are] and what he wants to accomplish in his life," he explained. "He's a nice young man.  He's very talented, and I think that he's the one that has to decide how he wants to focus and how hard he wants to work for what he's going to do."
Jack Nicklaus likes Rory McIlroy's swagger as much as his swing
July 24, 2014 - 1:45pm
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Sandy and Keith Lemon
Keith Lemon
The ninth hole at the Fostoria Country Club is the one that Keith Lemon struggles with the most, yet that's where he married his wife.

While looking through reader submissions for our #PGA365 gallery, we came across the photo above. 

On July 14, Keith and Sandy (Hurt) Lemon were married on the ninth hole of the Fostoria Country Club in Fostoria, Ohio. It was a simple wedding, attended by immediate family and followed by a reception at the local Bob Evans.

So what made the happy couple choose the ninth hole as the spot where they wanted to get married? It's the hole where Keith has had all sorts of trouble.

The idea spawned from a round at the course before the wedding.

"We decided to play 18 holes and at the same time discuss plans for a simple wedding," Keith said. "We were almost set to have the wedding at a small church in town when I just finished the ninth hole par-3 with a double bogey and Sandy said we should get married at the ninth tee."

His reaction was about what you would expect.

"My reaction was, you have to be kidding, I play better on a par 5," Keith said.

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His bad experiences on the hole weren't enough to sway Keith against the idea.

"We agreed to marry on the ninth because both golf and marriage take work," Keith said.

Three hours after the reception, Keith and Sandy – who met at a meet and greet with high school friends – played 18 holes at Fostoria. So did the wedding help Keith get over the troubles that had plagued him?

"Again, a double bogey on the ninth hole," he said, noting that score was not kept in their post-nuptial round.

Fostoria Country Club has been a special place already for the couple. That's where their second date was four years ago. And they play together every weekend at one of four local courses, including Fostoria.

The course was open during the 10:30 a.m. ceremony, but most of the golfers were on the back nine. The couple had told the manager that they would allow golfers to play through if any showed up in the middle of their 15-minute ceremony.

And what about the honeymoon? Well, that hasn't happened yet, but for good reason. They're going to Akron, Ohio, on Aug. 1 and 2 for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Why couple got married on 9th hole
Greg Maddux golf
Getty Images
Greg Maddux has competed in every American Century Championship since 2009.

When former Atlanta Braves pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux are inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this Sunday, there more than likely won't be any mention of their exploits on the golf course on their plaques. But there very well could be.

Glavine and Maddux, who helped pitch the Braves to the World Series title in 1995, are both regulars out on the course and both maintain pretty impressive handicaps.

Maddux, who plays most often in the Las Vegas area, carries a 3.9 handicap out onto the course, according to the USGA's Golf Handicap and Information Network. Glavine has his former teammate beat with his 3.4 on a pair of Georgia courses, according to GHIN.

How does Maddux look out there? Take a look at his swing, compared to former Braves teammate John Smoltz's swing.

Not bad for guys who made their living on a baseball diamond. Then again, golf is not something these two picked up after retirement from baseball. Both played regularly on days they didn't pitch, and Maddux now runs a charity outing every year in Las Vegas.

Maddux even competed in the American Century Championship last weekend, finishing 45th. "Mad Dog" has become a staple at the celebrity event, having played in every one since his first year following his baseball career (2009), and finishing a career-best 33rd in 2011.

RELATED: Former Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster works on golf swing before 2013 ALCS

Glavine hasn't competed in any big events but he still carries the reputation as a golfer. When the announcement was made in January that he and Maddux had been elected into the Hall of Fame (along with former Chicago White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas), the duo appeared on MLB Network to participate in a chipping contest. 

(Skip ahead to 1:50 to see Maddux hit first)

The crazy part about this is Maddux and Glavine may not have even been the best golfers on the Braves in the mid 1990s. Smoltz was another avid golfer and has on multiple occasions tried to qualify for the U.S. Open.

Smoltz, who could be inducted into the Hall of Fame as soon as next year, has also competed in every American Century Championship since 2010, and has ended each championship in the top 10.

RELATED: David Ortiz victomized by exploding golf ball trick

While not as good as any of the three pitchers, former Braves third baseman Chipper Jones was another golfer on those Braves teams. He participated in the past two ACC events following his retirement after the 2012 season. At the PGA Championship last year, Jones talked with about his golf career.

If that wasn't enough of a Braves conection for you, there is more. The manager of those teams, Bobby Cox, will also enter the Hall of Fame as a manager this weekend and now sponsors a charity golf outing to benefit the Etowah Valley Humane Society in Cartersville, Georgia.

The Braves were a dominant team in the 1990s with five National League pennants, and probably could have fielded one of the best golf teams during that time if that had been a contest. Instead, those teams will have to settle for one World Series title and a couple Hall of Famers. Not a bad consolation prize.

Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux excel from baseball diamond to golf course