Golf Buzz

January 9, 2017 - 11:50am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Justin Thomas
USA Today Sports Images
Justin Thomas was in total control of the SBS Tournament of Champions on Sunday until he suddenly wasn't because of a double bogey. Thomas bounced back and proved it was nothing more than one bad shot.

"Stay in the moment."

"One shot at a time."

Those two phrases might be two of the most repeated by professional golfers. Average golfers might see them as simple, even cliché. But there's a whole lot to be learned from them. Justin Thomas proved that on his way to victory on Sunday at Kapalua, HI in the SBS Tournament of Champions.

The 23-year-old Thomas had a healthy lead on the back nine Sunday in his quest for PGA Tour victory No. 3. When he reached the short, par-5 15th hole at Kapalua's Plantation Course, Thomas was five shots clear of Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, who had four victories in his last five starts.

That hole is where things quickly got dicey for Thomas.

Thomas made double bogey after losing his tee ball. Matsuyama took advantage, holing out for an unlikely eagle. It was a rapid 4-shot swing. Suddenly Thomas's lead was cut to a stroke with two holes to play.

Here's a look at that improbable Matsuyama eagle:




"At that point, it would be easy to get a little nervous," said PGA Professional Rob Labritz, a veteran of four PGA Championships and the reigning PGA Met Section Player of the Year. "It's just one of those things. Justin was playing so well to that point and then just happened to hit a bad shot -- exactly what you're trying not to do in that situation."

What happened next, Labritz explained, was a defining moment in Thomas's young PGA Tour career.

"Big lead and suddenly it's pretty much gone," Labritz said. "What do you do next? You can relate it to a lot of players who are trying to break 80 for the first time. They make a double bogey and think, 'That's it. Not going to happen today.' But that's not it. You could make two birdies."

That brings us back to Thomas on Sunday.

"He just hit one bad shot," Labritz said. "This was not a situation where a guy was leaking oil late."

Following matching pars at the 16th hole, Thomas smashed his drive on the par-4 17th hole right down Main Street. He followed that with one of his best shots of the tournament, stepping on a long-iron from 226 yards out and stuffing it to about 5 feet. He'd brush in the putt for birdie.

Matsuyama, meanwhile, missed a short par putt, tapped in for bogey, and Thomas had a three-shot lead going into the last hole.

Here's that approach at 17 from Thomas:



"That was an exclamation point," Labritz said.

Another came on the next hole when Thomas finished off the tournament in style with a birdie on the par-5 closer for a 4-under 69 and a three-shot victory over Matsuyama (who also birdied 18).

Thomas's tee shot went 369 yards:



"That's one of the great things about golf," Labritz said. "You work on all facets so that even when you're not playing your best, you still get it in in the least amount of strokes possible. It's an acquired skill. You manage your game and you grind it out. The more times you're in that situation, the better you get at it. After the hiccup on 15, Justin proved he was still in command with that fantastic approach on 17. He looked at 15 as one bad shot -- which it was -- and he was still in control of the tournament. He didn't get rattled. He lived in the present."

So what can the average golfer glean from Thomas in those final four holes -- whether it's breaking 100, 90 or 80 for the first time?

"Don't ever think about outcomes," Labritz said. "Focus on the task at hand. Whatever has happened is now in the past. Zone in on the present. When we think ahead, we freak out and the adrenaline starts going. If you're going to think ahead, think about positives ...

"... Better yet, just don't think ahead!"

Know when to take your medicine:



January 9, 2017 - 10:08am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture Tour
@WebDotComTour on Twitter
If you thought the Bahamas was all beaches, palm trees and pineapple drinks, you need to see what unfolded in Sunday's opening round of the Tour's The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic.

Pro golf, man. All those men and women do is chase the sun, right?

Tell that to the guys on the Tour, in the Bahamas this week for the season-opening The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, running Sunday-Wednesday.

With winds up to 40 mph and rain coming down sideways along the Atlantic Ocean at Sandals Emerald Bay during the opening round, scores were... ummm... how shall we say, "high."

At one point in the round, the average score was 81 on the par 72 course (Tom Lovelady was the clubhouse leader at even-par 72). Bryan Bigley, Greg Eason and Byron Smith shot rounds of 90, 91 and 95, respectively.

Brendon de Jonge, a longtime PGA Tour player and member of the 2013 International Presidents Cup Team, shot a 17-over 89 -- one of 16 players who finished their first rounds with a score at 85 or worse.

That is not to poke fun, but rather to highlight the insane difficulty of the conditions players faced. This was practically golf in a hurricane.

Check out some of the videos from Twitter:

That sure doesn't look like paradise, does it?

There was ugly weather in May of 2013 as well when the LPGA visited the Bahamas for its Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic. Twelve inches of rain smashed the course over two days right before the tournament was scheduled to begin. The tournament went on -- starting a day late -- despite having six unplayable holes on the course at the Ocean Club in Paradise Island, Nassau.

The tournament was reduced to 36 holes with four 12-hole rounds played.


January 8, 2017 - 7:01pm
Posted by:
Matt Craig
matthew.craig's picture
jordan spieth, sbs tournament of champions, kapalua
USA Today Sports Images
After a rollercoaster week, SBS Tournament of Champions defending champ Jordan Spieth was able to clean up his scorecard on Sunday.

It was quite a week for Jordan Spieth. On one hand, he was a walking birdie machine pouring in 26 plus one eagle. But on the other he recorded several loose holes including five bogeys, two doubles and a triple. Friday's round was itself a rollercoaster.

But in Sunday's final round, Spieth showed why he was the defending champion of the event, carding a seven-under 65. And most importantly, he did so without a single bogey.

He was dialed in with his wedges, to the point where he wasn't even satisfied with this short approach on the 14th to about four feet.


Spieth even had a chance for the low round of the week after reaching the par 5 finishing hole in two, but settled for birdie.


The strong finish left Spieth at 16 under for the week, good for a top three finish.

After his round Spieth chose to focus on all of the positives in his interview with Golf Channel. "I certainly take a lot of confidence off this round going into next week." Spieth will tee it up at next week's Sony Open, also in Hawaii on Oahu.

January 8, 2017 - 3:30pm
Posted by:
Matt Craig
matthew.craig's picture
pga hawaii
USA Today Sports Images
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is considering at the possibility of a combined event with the LPGA Tour at Hawaii's Tournament of Champions.

The possibility of a joint PGA/LPGA event has been passed around and talked about quite a bit in recent months. But a quote from new PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan indicates the idea could become a reality.

In an interview with the Golf Channel that will air Monday, Monahan spoke about his efforts with LPGA commissioner Mike Whan to bring a combined event to Hawaii. "You could see men and women here at the Tournament of Champions...that is something we are thinking about and talking to Mike and the LPGA about. We would like to see that happen. We have some interest from sponsors."

While no specifics were given as to how the tournament would be presented, the mention of sponsor support has to be a good sign for those that are working to make this event happen.

This is the latest development in a push for combined events that began in March with a "strategic alliance agreement" between the PGA and LPGA.

Here's another quote from Monahan on the value of the venture:

“We are spending more time talking about how do we drive more people to the game, both men and women, girls and boys. Can we potentially get men and women into the same field of play? Again, another thing that no other sport can do, and then looking at media. Are there some shared efficiencies with how we present our tours to the world at large?”