Golf Buzz

December 3, 2016 - 2:35pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Hideki Matsuyama
@PGATOUR on Twitter
Hideki Matsuyama has been the hottest player in the world lately. He isn't showing any signs of cooling off in the Bahamas with shots like this one for eagle.

Japan's Hideki Matsuyama has been on fire globally, lately.

Since the Tour Championship, Matsuyama has won three times -- the Japan Open, WGC-HSBC Champions and the Taiheiyo Masters. The only tournament he didn't win since the Tour Championship was the CIMB Classic... where he finished second.

In the Bahamas this week at the Hero World Challenge, Matsuyama is continuing his roll. This hole-out for eagle on the par-4 seventh hole helped Matsuyama moved to 17 under and four shots clear of Dustin Johnson.

How about a little more emotion, Hideki! 

December 3, 2016 - 1:29pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
@PGATOUR on Twitter
Tiger Woods is off to a red-hot start in the third round of the Hero World Challenge. He birdied each of his first three holes before holing out from a bunker at No. 5 for his fourth birdie of the day.

Buckle up, folks.

We've been waiting a long, long time for Tiger Woods to make his return to the game. So far, he isn't disappointing. In fact, he's straight up looking like early-2000s Tiger Woods at Albany in the third round of the Hero World Challenge today.

RELATED: Hero World Challenge leaderboard | How Tiger fared on Friday

After birdies at each of the first three holes, Woods made a tremendous up-and-down par save at No. 4 and then... BOOM! Holed out this bunker shot at No. 5 to make it four birdies in five holes and move to within two shots of the lead:



Is there anything more fun to watch than Tiger Woods when he's on?

December 3, 2016 - 10:31am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Rory McIlroy
It was a beautiful reaction from a 9-year-old boy when he came face-to-face with his hero, Rory McIlroy, on a television show in Ireland on Friday night.

He's genuine and honest in interviews. He's a fabulous golfer, already sporting four major victories at age 27. And, perhaps his greatest attribute, he's GREAT to kids.

That last part was on display back in Ireland on Friday night.

During a program called the "Late Late Toy Show on RTE," a 9-year-old boy named Charlie Smyth was playing McIlroy's videogame while rattling off all kinds of statistics and accomplishments of his hero -- McIlroy -- to show host Ryan Tubridy.

Smyth, while talking about all the money McIlroy has made recently -- including the $10 million prize for winning the PGA Tour's FedExCup -- joked to Tubridy that maybe McIlroy could give the boy a loan.

Tubridy said, "Well why don't you ask him?"

That's when McIlroy strolled out from behind a curtain to the absolute delight of Smyth who hardly knew what to do as he looked at his idol walking toward him.

McIlroy didn't come empty handed. He brought Smyth signed copies of his game for both Xbox and PlayStation -- he wasn't sure which console the young lad had -- brought tickets for Smyth and his family to attend next year's Irish Open, where McIlroy will be the defending champion, and offered up some fantastic words of encouragement.

Here's how it all played out.

Does it get any better than that?

That went a lot better for McIlroy than the last time he encountered a 9-year-old...

December 2, 2016 - 2:30pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
Tiger Woods fired an impressive, bogey-free, 7-under 65.

On Thursday, in his first competitive round in 466 days, Tiger Woods showed flashes of brilliance and was actually 4 under through eight holes and tied for the lead at the Hero World Challenge.

The back nine was a different story. Two double bogeys in his final three holes led to a 1-over 73.

Woods himself admitted, he let a good round slip away.

RELATED: Hero World Challenge leaderboard | 280+ gift ideas in Holiday Guide

That sure wasn't the case on Friday in Round 2.

Playing by himself after playing partner Justin Rose withdrew before Day 2 began due to injury, Woods birdied the first hole right out of the gate after sticking a wedge shot to within 5 feet and rode that momentum for all 18 holes.

The final tally? An impressive, bogey-free, 7-under 65 that had Woods tied for ninth through 36 holes and six behind co-leaders Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama, who were 12 under.

Here's what he had to say after the round:



Through 36 holes, Woods was at 6-under 138 -- quite a ways back from the leaders, but a reason to leave the course with plenty of positive thoughts.

Here's a look at some of the highlights from Tiger's round.

Tiger nearly aces the 12th hole:



Tiger's birdie on No. 14 to get to 6 under for the day:



Tiger's massive par save at No. 16, a hole he double-bogeyed in Round 1:



And, just like Thursday, there was plenty of outstanding commentary about Tiger's round on Twitter.




























December 2, 2016 - 2:05pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Arnold Palmer
USA Today Sports Images
We didn't know it at the time, but back in April at the 2016 Masters would be the last time we'd see Arnold Palmer on the first tee as an honorary starter (he did not hit a shot that day).
It's no surprise that the best moments in golf each year come from the four major championships.
This year was no exception.
Here is an extensive list of all our favorite moments from the Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship.
The Masters
Arnold Palmer as an honorary starter on the first tee at Augusta National. We didn't know it at the time, but this would be the last time we'd see Arnie at the Masters. Sure, he didn't hit a tee shot like his fellow honorary starters -- Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player -- but the King's presence was special and his declining health was evident.

Jordan Spieth opens his title defense with a 6-under 66 and an early two-stroke lead. Given the amazing 2015 season Spieth enjoyed -- a win at the Masters, a victory at the U.S. Open, a T4 at the Open Championship and a runner-up finish at the PGA Championship -- his start to the 2016 Masters was nothing short of remarkable. The bogey-free round was Spieth's ninth consecutive Masters round of par or better.
Rory McIlroy's 39-foot putt at the par-3 16th in Round 2 to pull within one of the lead at the time. The Masters is the only tournament missing in McIroy's quest for a career grand slam. He didn't win in 2016, but with putts like this, you've got to believe a green jacket will one day be his.
Then-amateur Bryson DeChambeau's Day 2 charge had him within one of the lead at one point before a triple-bogey on the final hole of the day did him in. Even still, it was fun to watch an amateur hit shots like this one at the par-3 12th during the Masters.
Two-time Masters champ Tom Watson pars the 18th on Day 2 in his farewell to the tournament. That par capped off what was 134 rounds played in the Masters for Watson in 43 appearances.
Though he shot a 74 in Round 2, Spieth led the Masters for a sixth consecutive round at day's end, tying the record set by Palmer in 1960-61.
Bernhard Langer, at age 58, moved into contention on Day 3 with a 2-under 70. The two-time Masters champion moved the clocks back in that third round, putting himself within two shots of the lead with 18 holes to play.
Jordan Spieth held the lead at the Masters for the seventh consecutive round, a new tournament record, and the third straight year after 54 holes. Strong stuff from a 22-year-old.
Sunday's aces. Shane Lowry, Davis Love III and Louis Oosthuizen all made holes in one at the par-3 16th hole in the final round.
Englishman Danny Willett fires a final-round, 5-under 67 to win the Masters. He began the final nine holes trailing by five strokes. With the victory, Willett became the first Englishman to win the Masters since Nick Faldo in 1996.
The U.S. Open
Lee Westwood's eagle hole-out from 124 yards on the 14th hole in Round 1.
Matthew Fitzpatrick's slam-dunk bunker shot for birdie on the second hole in Round 1.
Lee Slattery's 72-foot putt for birdie on No. 15 when his first round resumed on Friday after weather cut the round short on Thursday.
Jim Furyk's long putt from off the green at No. 12 on Day 2 for a highly unlikely birdie.
Romain Wattel's incredible eagle from a tough lie at the 17th hole on Day 3.


Shane Lowry shot a stellar 5-under 65 in Round 3 to take a four-shot lead into the final round.
Brooks Koepka's eagle hole-out from 108 yards on No. 10 in the final round.
Dustin Johnson's par save on No. 16 to maintain a one-shot lead in the final round.
Dustin Johnson hits the "Shot of his life" with his approach to the final hole on his way to securing his first major title.
The Open Championship
Colin Montgomerie's monster putt on No. 13 in Round 1 at his home course -- Royal Troon -- in what will likely be his final Open.
Louis Oosthuizen's hole-in-one on the 14th hole on Day 1 -- his second ace in a major in 2016.
Henrik Stenson's eagle on the sixth hole in Round 1... A sign of things to come.
Phil Mickelson very nearly aces the Postage Stamp on Day 2. What a shot.
... And Martin Kaymer too.
Andrew "Beef" Johnston introduces himself to the world.
Those tremendous snaps and video of planes landing at the airport right by Troon.
Bubba Watson's fortuitous bounce of a sprinklerhead in Round 3.
The Bill Haas hole-out from the Postage Stamp bunker on Day 3.
On Sunday, it was all about the epic duel between Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson. What a tremendous day of golf. Mickelson shoots a final-round 65. Stenson came out on top for his first-ever major victory with a final-round 63.
PGA Championship
Phil Mickelson's second-round, even-par 70. How the heck is that on a list of memorable moments, you ask? An even-par round on the second day of the season's last major in ideal conditions for scoring? Well, it deserves a spot on the list for two reasons: 1. Mickelson's awful start; 2. Mickelson's remarkable perseverance.
Mickelson won the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in 2005, the last time it was contested there. He had high hopes in 2016, coming off a runner-up finish in the Open Championship... and then a first hole, triple-bogey 7 happened to immediately put Lefty behind the 8-ball on Day 2.
He could have packed it in right there. But, he didn't. Mickelson buckled down, got locked in and bounced back with four birdies against one bogey the rest of the way for his even-par total. An awesome display.
Andrew "Beef" Johnston... all week long. The man affectionately known as "Beef" endeared himself with fans in arguably the toughest sports market in the country and became a cult hero. He may have tied for 60th by tournament's end, but Beef was the people's champion at Baltusrol.
Rich Beem turning back the clock and a very special chip-in for the fans on Sunday. The 2002 PGA Champion at Hazeltine, Beem doesn't play a whole lot of tournament golf these days, spending more of his time as an on-course reporter. At Baltusrol, he showed a flash of brilliance with a 1-under 69 in Round 1. He eventually tied for 73rd, but gave fans this memorable moment on Sunday.
The work of the Baltusrol grounds crew. It isn't the most glamorous job in the world and it's probably one of the more thankless, but if it weren't for the effort of these tireless men and women at Baltusrol, the tournament never would have finished on Sunday. Hats off to them.

The little kid who got up in Jason Day's face... for a high-five on Friday. Probably my favorite moment of the tournament, personally. Day played his shot from outside the ropes and this little dude didn't miss his opportunity to get a high-five from the world's No. 1 player and defending PGA Champion.

Rickie Fowler waits behind the 18th green to congratulate his buddy Jimmy Walker after the win. Just a cool gesture.
Jimmy Walker's hole-out birdie for his first birdie of the final day at the 10th hole. Walker needed something to jumpstart his final round and this sure was it.
Day's eagle on the 72nd hole to put pressure on Walker. Getting an eagle when you absolutely need it to have any chance at all is no easy feat. Doing it in a major makes the task that much more difficult. Day did it and made Walker sweat. What a finish.
Walker's winning moment. It was a short putt and maybe not the flashiest of moments, but it was a putt that Walker had to have after Day eagled up ahead of him. I don't care what the length of the putt is -- when it's to win your first major, the pressure must be like nothing you've ever experienced before.
December 1, 2016 - 4:33pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
In case you missed the first competitive round of Tiger Woods in 15 months, here's how he fared in Round 1 of the Hero World Challenge on Thursday.

The return of Tiger Woods to competitive golf for the first time in 15 months -- 467 days to be exact -- got off to an amazing start on Thursday... then ended with ripples in the water to the left of the 18th fairway after another pulled drive.

Woods, playing in his event -- the Hero World Challenge -- at Albany in the Bahamas, was 4-under par through eight holes. With a bogey on No. 9, he made the turn in a promising 3-under 33.

The back nine was a different story.

Woods limped in with a 4-over 40 -- including double bogeys at Nos. 16 and 18 -- to finish the first round with a 1-over-par 73.

RELATED: Holmes takes early Hero Challenge lead | Tiger's first birdie | Leaderboard

When his round ended, Woods trailed leader J.B. Holmes by nine shots (8-under 64) and was ahead of only Justin Rose, who shot 2-over 74, in the 18-man field.

"If you think about it, I hit the ball in three bushes and had a water ball today," Woods told Golf Channel's Damon Hack. "It could have been something really good today. I got off to a nice solid start and made a few mistakes there. I didn't play the par 5s very well in the middle part of the round, and consequently I got it going the wrong way."

Woods snagged his first birdie of the day at the par-5 third hole -- which also presented the first big test of the day. When we last saw Woods in 2015, he had been struggling mightily with chip shots and pitch shots around the greens.

Not on Thursday, however. Check out this pitch from behind the third green that set up a tap-in birdie:



Woods did struggle with a delicate chip at the ninth hole -- ultimately costing him a bogey -- but that had more to do with strategy than mechanics.



One hole earlier on the par-3 eighth, Woods had a momentary share of the lead at 4 under after his third consecutive birdie thanks to this stellar tee shot:



On the back nine, it was what Woods always talks about in these returns that did him in -- a lack of reps. Loose swings and fighting a case of the pulls off the tee really hurt Woods over the final nine holes -- particularly at the end as he double-bogeyed two of his last three.

"I let a good round slip away at the end," said the 79-time PGA Tour winner and 14-time major champion.

Even though Woods couldn't maintain the scorching-hot start, his return to golf made Thursday's round arguably the most anticipated day of golf in the history of the month of December.

Golf Channel and Golfweek each utilized a live Tiger Tracker blog, while fans, celebrities and fellow players chimed in throughout the day on Twitter.

Here's a sampling:





































All in all, it was a great day for golf (and golf Twitter).