May 14, 2014 - 9:06am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Jordan Spieth
USA Today Sports Images
Coming off a T4 in the Players Championship, Dallas native Jordan Spieth returns home for the HP Byron Nelson Championship this week.

The PGA Tour is at TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas, this week for the HP Byron Nelson Championship, where Sang-Moon Bae is the defending champion.

Ever since a 2008 overhaul by Tour player and designer D.A. Weibring in 2008, the golf course has a lot more grit -- meaning it's not the birdie-fest we once knew it to be.

RELATED: Byron Nelson Championship tee times | Drama often lacking with World Ranking

And, as with any course in the Lone Star State, the Texas wind can be a great equalizer. With that, here are five players you'll want to keep an eye on this week.

5. Gary Woodland
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Playoff loss at the CIMB Classic
Reason to watch: Woodland has quietly been one of the more consistent players on the PGA Tour this season. He lost in a playoff to Ryan Moore at the CIMB Classic in October and has since accumulated a total of eight top-25 finishes in 13 events, including two other top 10s. Furthermore, in his last six starts, Woodland's worst finish was a tie for 26th at the Masters. That's some solid golf. While Woodland doesn't have a sensational track record at the Byron Nelson Championship, he does seem on the verge of a breakout week.

4. Ryan Palmer
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Playoff loss at the Honda Classic; Second at Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation
Reason to watch: Palmer has been hit or miss on the PGA Tour this season. His two runner-up finishes, along with a T8 at the Sony Open and a T7 at the Shell Houston Open are no doubt impressive, but he's left something to be desired most other weeks. Early in his career, Palmer -- a Texas native -- had a brutal record in the Byron Nelson Championship, missing a lot of cuts. Something has changed in the last few years, where he's got two top-10 finishes, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2011. For most players, a "home game" is their "fifth major." And perhaps Palmer, recently, has learned to embrace that.

3. Keegan Bradley
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard
Reason to watch: Bradley enters this week in unusual circumstances for him -- he's missed the cut in two of his last three events, but did have a T8 in New Orleans between those missed cuts, so you certainly can't call it a slump. Plus, for the most part, Bradley has either been inside or just outside the top 10 in most of his starts this season. Shockingly -- seemingly because his name is in the mix so often -- Bradley has not won on Tour since the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. This week, though, he returns to the site of his first PGA Tour victory in 2011, which set the stage for his PGA Championship win later that summer... oh, and he was the runner up here a year ago. He's a horse for this course.

2. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the RBC Heritage
Reason to watch: Kuchar is slumping right now. He tied for 17th last week at the Players. We're kidding. The man is far from slumping. It's just that the tie for 17th a week ago was the first time in his last five starts that he didn't finish in a tie for fifth or better. World Ranking (he's fifth) and FedExCup points (he's third) aside, Kuchar has been the best player week-in and week-out on the PGA Tour not only this season, but much of last season too. He's what you call a "Human ATM Machine." He might not win this week in Texas, but you'd be a fool to think he won't at least be in the mix.

1. Jordan Spieth
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Second at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions; T2 at the Masters
Reason to watch: Speaking of home games... that's precisely what this week is for Spieth, a Dallas native. Some might argue that Spieth has a hard time closing out a tournament. To that I'd argue back: he's 20 years old and putting himself in a position to win a majority of the time he tees it up! If you're anything less than impressed by Spieth, you're a tough critic. Of his six top-10 finishes this season, three have come at Pebble Beach, Augusta National and TPC Sawgrass. As an amateur in 2010 at age 16 at the Byron Nelson, Spieth tied for 16th. He's got a ton of game and he's going to win a lot of tournaments.

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


2014 HP Byron Nelson Championship | Five players to watch
Bicycle golf at Kierland Golf Club
Courtesy of Kierland Golf Club
The bicycles at Kierland Golf Club are designed especially to carry a full set of clubs yet have a minimal impact on the turf.
Some people like to ride carts when they play a round of golf. Others prefer to walk.
But what if you're in the middle – you'd like a bit more exercise than you get from riding, but maybe you're not up to hiking your way around? 
The folks at the Kierland Golf Club at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., can relate – after all, they're famous for being the first golf resort in America to offer a fleet of Segways to traverse the links. And now they have introduced bicycle golf. That's right – you play golf like you always have, but you get around the course on a bicycle.
Kierland GC has acquired a couple of bikes specially designed to minimize their effect on the course yet make for a fun, fast and fitness-improving round of golf. The two-wheelers feature small-diameter wheels and wide rubber tires to take it easy on the turf, and have custom-designed golf bags able to carry a full set of clubs mounted on the back.
"It's fabulous, a great way to get a workout," Westin Kierland Resort & Spa Director of Golf Nancy Dickens told Fox 10 Phoenix. "Why sit on a stationary bike at the gym?"
Many golfers are looking for innovative ways to enjoy the game, Dickens said, adding that she believes the bikes will catch on – especially when golfers realize they can play nine holes in only about an hour.
Golfers wanting to try them out can do so for free – all they have to do is call ahead and make a reservation, she said. 
Here's more on Kierland's bicycle golf program from Fox 10:
Bicycle golf debuts at Kierland Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
May 13, 2014 - 1:05pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
golf blunder
Mike Benzie
A golfer takes a swing at a tee shot during a charity tournament. You probably don't want the ball to get that high that fast with a fairway wood.

OK, so we're getting a lot of mileage out of the now-famous double-gaffe by Richard H. Lee on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday in the final round of the Players Championship.

In case you somehow missed it, here is is one last time:



Was it funny? Sure it was... but only because the rest of us can relate to what he was going through.

We've all been in that situation -- like Lee -- where things didn't work out quite as planned with a golf shot. Unlike Lee, chances are your blunder didn't happen in a PGA Tour event.

RELATED: Shortest consecutive shots ever on Tour? | Lee's daughter chimes in

To show Lee he's not alone, we asked our friends -- the 233,000+ strong in Facebook Nation (click here to join the masses) -- to share the biggest golf-shot blunder they've personally experienced.

Most of the entires below are hilarious and at least one is a little sad. Want to add to the discussion? Click here.

"Whiffed a putt sitting on the lip in college trying not to step on players line." -- John Farrell

"Taking a practice swing in a sand trap and the club slips down my hands and my club hits the sand." -- Joe Catalfano

"Last week at Bobby Jones Golf Course with Richard Danielson. Hit two straight 'just short' uphill wedge shots that rolled down the hill in front of me back to my feet. But made a tough putt to save 'Double Par!'" -- Mike Benzie

"Par three, back and forth between traps on opposite sides of the green before settling for a nine." -- John Dresko

"Swing and miss the ball completely on the first tee box during league play. Not one of my finer moments." -- Paul Peterson

"Blading a green-side bunker shot and ending up on the tee box of the next hole." -- Eddie Weaver

"Second level PAT in Canada... 36 holes in one day, target score 152. Two shots to play with going to the 35th hole. Striped drive leaves perfect wedge distance to middle of green. Laid sod over the ball so badly that it barely got to the large pond fronting the green. Wind up making triple, missed birdie putt on last hole to miss target by one." -- Ty Woodruff

"Taking practice swing on tee box on rainy day and hybrid slips out of my hands and into pond." -- Chuck Posten

"Knocked away a gimme putt in a tourney where you had to putt out. Then to top it off it went into a water hazard... lost ball." -- Steve DuHamel.





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


Your worst on-course blunders
May 13, 2014 - 11:20am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
William Rainey, golf, golf trick shot
This is just one of a few incredibly impressive trick shots by college golfer William Rainey.

In case you're new around these parts, here's something you should know: we love trick shots.

This morning, I stumbled upon one that's been up since February, but was new to me (h/t to @GolfClubWankers, one of my favorite Twitter follows).

See the Vine below of William Rainey, a freshman from the College of Charleston men's golf team, incorporating a ping-pong table as a prop to hit an incredible between-the-legs trick shot.

I thought that was pretty cool, so I went over to Rainey's Vine page to see if there was anything else.

Well, well. Looks like our friends, the Bryan Brothers, might have a little competition in the trick-shot game.

Here's one incorporating an Olive Garden breadstick -- essential to any college golfer's diet:

Here's another hitting only the top ball off a pyramid of range balls (very impressive):

And the craziest of all? This "stair-pong" shot:

There are a couple more on the Vine page.

Overall, very impressive stuff.

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


These golf trick shots are amazing
Richard H. Lee at The Players Championship
Even Richard H. Lee's daughter couldn't believe he almost missed the ball on two straight strokes.

One of the most unforgettable moments from Sunday at The Players Championship came from Richard H. Lee. Unfortunately, that unforgettable moment is one that he would rather forget.

Lee, of course, is the guy who all but whiffed on not one but two little shots in a row on the 17th hole – and if you haven't seen the video, you can catch it right here

At least he accepted his ignominy with a sense of humor. 

"Well I had an interesting 17th hole... Two shots = ball moved 2 inches. Whiff + whiff," he tweeted Sunday night, adding the hashtag: #sportscenternottop10

On Monday, Lee tweeted again. This time, he provided his daughter's reaction:

Lee's wedge malfunction cost him a double bogey on No. 17 en route to a final-round 73. He tied for 65th at TPC Sawgrass, and will be right back at it this week at the HP Byron Nelson Championship – where, hopefully, he'll do better than his daughter


Richard H. Lee's daughter has the last word on his two-whiff performance
Adam Scott
Getty Images
Adam Scott didn't knock Tiger Woods out of the world No. 1 spot on the curse, but will do so off the course this coming week.

Adam Scott had four chances to knock Tiger Woods out of the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking over the last few weeks, but wasn't able to do so. Ironically, the Australian newlywed will replace Woods as No. 1 next Monday even though both players are taking this week off.

In fact, Scott would have passed Woods on Monday if he had skipped The Players Championship, but clearly he wasn't going to skip one of the biggest events on the PGA Tour. And while he isn't exactly thrilled to be claiming the top spot because of mathematics, he'll take it.

"I think it's a nice feather in the cap, probably," Scott said after tying for 38th at The Players Championship. "I mean, if I was never world No. 1 when I'm this close, I'd be disappointed, but I'd also much rather win the U.S. Open and not be No. 1 at all this year. That's what it comes down to."

GOLF BUZZ: PGA Tour player R.H. Lee hits two of the shortest shots ever at Players

Each player's world ranking is determined by dividing the total number of ranking points he has achieved by the number of events he's played over a two-year period. More recent events count more than older events within that two-year period, and the numbers are recalculated every week.

Scott will become the first Australian player to become No. 1 since Greg Norman ruled for 331 weeks in the 1980s and 1990s.

Heading to TPC Sawgrass, four players – Scott, Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar – could have knocked Woods off his ranking pedestal. None was able to do it – and of those contenders, only Kuchar is scheduled to play the HP Byron Nelson Championship this week. Kuchar would need to gain 53 world ranking points at the Byron Nelson to jump all the way to No. 1, according to Golf Channel rankings expert Alan Robison and, based on its strength of field, the event tentatively will have only about 40 points to give its winner.

Meanwhile, Martin Kaymer – who took over as world No. 1 a few months after he won the 2010 PGA Championship – climbed back into the top 30 in the wake of his victory at The Players Championship. Kaymer, who was No. 1 for eight weeks in 2011, began this year at 39, and was down to No. 61 before he arrived at TPC Sawgrass.


Adam Scott will supplant Tiger Woods as world No. 1 next week