Golf Buzz

November 15, 2016 - 12:01pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Patrick Reed, Ian Poulter
USA Today Sports Images
Could you imagine a team consisting of Ryder Cup legends from each side of the pond in Patrick Reed and Ian Poulter at the Zurich Classic?

In case you haven't heard, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans has announced a format change for the 2017 tournament. It's a change that's sure to give the event a huge boost of adrenaline too.

Unlike the typical week-in, week-out, stroke-play format that crowns a champion after 72 holes, the Zurich Classic will now be a 72-hole stroke play format featuring Foursomes (alternate shot) during the first and third rounds and Four-Ball (best ball) during the second and fourth rounds.

From the Associated Press:

The starting field will consist of 80 teams (160 players). Each of the top available players from the PGA Tour Priority Rankings who commits to the tournament will choose his partner, who in turn must have PGA Tour status unless he is chosen as a tournament sponsor exemption.

Following the conclusion of the second round, there will be a cut to the low 35 teams and ties at the 35th position. In case of a tie after 72 holes, there will be a sudden-death playoff using the Four-Ball format.

Sounds pretty cool, doesn't it? Two pairings have already been announced: World No. 1 Jason Day will team up with Rickie Fowler, while major champions Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson will make up another pair.

With that, here are five other pairings we'd love to see with reasoning for each.

5. Bubba Watson and Tony Finau.
Remember when Chris Paul went to the L.A. Clippers and that video surfaced with the reaction from dunk specialist Blake Griffin when he said, "Lob City!" With this duo at the Zurich Classic, it would be, "Bomb City!" Two of the longest drivers in the game today just blasting it out there from both the right and left side of the golf ball off the tee. Wouldn't that be fun to watch? It would be especially fun to take in in the Four-Ball format since both players would have the chance to absolutely unload off the tee on the par 4s and 5s.

4. Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
It's well-documented that this is a friendship that goes back years and years. A pairing featuring Spieth and Thomas could also serve as a preview for Presidents Cups and Ryder Cups for years to come. Since they're so comfortable with one another and so familiar with each other's game, this could truly be a duo that just ham and eggs its opponents to death. But what about Spieth and Patrick Reed, you're wondering? Fair question... but we've got a partner for Reed later on this list.

3. Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson.
Two of the best -- and highest-ranked -- players in the game today, this would look on paper to be an unbeatable force. Are there any two players in the game over the last five years (not named "Spieth" or "Day"), who are more dominant when firing on all cylinders? When they're "on" there's not a weakness in either player's game. Plus, when facing a pair of rank-and-file Tour players in a match, we'd have to assume the intimidation factor would be pretty serious.

2. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Didn't we already see this fail miserably at the 2004 Ryder Cup? Yes, we did. But, at that time, Woods and Mickelson were at their absolute peak individually. After wanting to beat each other's brains in every other week of the year, they were suddenly asked to play nice and play together. It was a fascinating recipe for disaster. Even though many knew it could never work, they'd all be lying if they said they weren't at least intrigued at the time... Things are different now. They're older. They're not winning with the frequency they once did. Guys aren't as intimated of this pair as they once were. And, from all indications of what we can see at Ryder Cups, it might not even be so far-fetched to say they're actually enjoying one another's company at this stage in their careers. A pairing in the Zurich Classic would be more fun than pressure cooker (Ryder Cup). Give it to us!

1. Patrick Reed and Ian Poulter.
The two biggest Ryder Cup villains paired together as a team? Are you kidding me? Yes, please. Poulter has been a thorn in the side of Ryder Cup USA and their fans for years with his uncanny ability to play absolutely out of his mind and pull off whatever shot is required whenever it is required. Reed, meanwhile, has been that same thorn for European fans in the last two Ryder Cups played. The two guys that fans on both sides of the pond love to hate, together as one? Oh. My.  

November 13, 2016 - 3:06pm
Posted by:
Matt Craig
matthew.craig's picture
praying mantis, golf, thousand islands country club
Twitter / BMPayments
We got the story behind a wonderfully unique photo by a reader as part of the #PGA365 series.

You never know what you're going to find on the golf course. The key is to always have your camera ready.

Sam Charbonneau was playing a round at The Old Course at Thousand Islands Country Club in Wellesly Island, New York, with his parents and brother when he came across a photo opportunity he couldn't pass up.

The picture was a pretty spectacular addition to our #PGA365 collection of the best reader-submitted photographs. So we reached out to Sam, to see if we could hear the story behind this timely meeting between man and bug.

We were on the 15th hole, the best par 4 in the state, I hit the green in regulation which is an accomplishment on its own. I was with my parents and my brother. I noticed the praying mantis on the green and had my brother take the photo with my iPhone and me in the background. It was a gorgeous day and I have never seen an insect like that around there. We are surrounded by wildlife up there but this was pretty unique. I 2 putt and got out of there. Lol. I think I shot a 72 or 73. Its a par 71.

Sam can't be blamed for missing the putt, considering someone walked in his line. Someone has to teach the Praying Mantis community a lesson in golf etiquette. Thankfully it didn't stop him from carding an excellent round.

We would love more stories like Sam's. Submit your photos by taging them with #PGA365 on social media!


November 10, 2016 - 3:05pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jack Nicklaus
USA Today Sports Images
Not wanting to miss his grandson's NFL game on the Sunday of Ryder Cup week, Jack Nicklaus (right, with Tony Jacklin at the 2016 Ryder Cup) went to Gillette Stadium for the Patriots-Bills tilt and streamed the Ryder Cup on his phone throughout.

NEW YORK -- Jack Nicklaus is considered by many to be the greatest golfer who ever lived. Given his 73 PGA Tour titles, including 18 major championship victories, it'd be hard to argue otherwise.

He's also regarded as one of the all-time greats when it comes to putting family first.

During the 2016 Ryder Cup, Nicklaus was in town at Hazeltine National to be a part of the Opening Ceremony and then spent two of the competition days there at the request of Ryder Cup USA Captain Davis Love III to bestow some words of wisdom on the team.

Nicklaus was happy to oblige... but had to get out of town before the singles matches began on the final day to fly to Massachusetts with wife, Barbara, for that day's Buffalo Bills-New England Patriots game at Gillette Stadium.

RELATED: Levy ready to be PGA President | Q&A with Lynn Swann | Annual Meeting coverage

The reason?

Nicklaus didn't want to miss the chance to see his grandson -- Nick O'Leary, a tight end for the Bills -- play.

But just because he was taking in the 16-0 Bills win over the Patriots (the lone blemish on the Pats schedule this season) didn't mean the Golden Bear was in the dark on the happenings back at Hazeltine.

"We had our cell phones right there with us and we streamed the Ryder Cup on the app all the way through the whole football game," Nicklaus said in New York City on Thursday, where he dropped in for a visit at the PGA of America's 100th Annual Meeting. "So we got to see most of the golf, as well as the football game. Nick [O'Leary] played a good game and the Bills won. So it was a fun day to watch the U.S. team play well and come out victorious."

While many believed a U.S. win was incredibly important this year given its dismal 2-8 record in the previous 10 Ryder Cups, Nicklaus wasn't necessarily on board with that line of thinking.

"Was the win important for the U.S.? I don't know," he said. "There's always going to be an ebb and flow in an event like that. You're going to go through times when the Europeans are going be strong and times when the Americans are going to be strong. There are good golfers on both sides of the pond and that's what makes it a great event. You never know who's going to have the best team until you get there. They're going to have to go out and play the best golf. That's what it all boils down to."

As the PGA of America celebrates its centennial Annual Meeting this week, Nicklaus scratched his head at the reality that he's been a PGA member himself for half that time.

"The PGA has been the backbone of what has grown the game of golf," he said. "I've been a member for half of that time, which is a little hard to believe. Fifty years.

"The PGA of America was certainly the start of professionals promoting and growing the game of golf -- teaching the game of golf," he added. "It started out as guys who played the tour in the winter time and went to the clubs in the summer time or vice versa, depending on where their club was. It evolved into becoming tournament players and club players. The club players are still pretty good players."

Nicklaus celebrated another anniversary recently too -- 55 years since he made the decision to leave amateur golf for the professional ranks. It was a decision that came with a little regret at the time as it meant he wouldn't be able to defend his U.S. Amateur title in 1962, but based on his resume, it's safe to say everything turned out OK.

"I've had a great time in this game," he said. "I didn't turn professional for financial reasons. I turned professional because I wanted to be the best golfer I could be and the only way you're going to be the best golfer you can be is to play against the best. The only place to do that was on the PGA Tour. That's why I did that." 

November 10, 2016 - 9:41am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Paul Levy
USA Today Sports Images
Incoming PGA of America President Paul Levy feels prepared and ready for his new role as the head of the association that represents 28,000+ men and women golf professionals.

Paul Levy ‘prepared’ for new role as PGA of America President

NEW YORK -- Twenty-five years after attending his first PGA Annual Meeting, Paul Levy will leave this week’s 100th gathering in Midtown New York as the incoming PGA of America President.

“I was thinking today that I’ve been going to the Annual Meeting now for 25 years,” said Levy, current PGA Vice President and the President of Club Operations and Development for Sunrise Company, and also the CEO and General Manager at Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells, California. “This will be my 25th year. I was thinking back and remembering my first Meeting how charged I was just from the videos. You almost leave with goose bumps after watching those… In 1992, I left here inspired to be involved in an association that operated at this level and I remember the passion everyone had.”

Levy called the opportunity to serve the 28,000+ men and women PGA professionals across the country a “great honor and a great privilege.” He said this is upcoming two-year stint as PGA President is the top honor of his PGA governance life.

RELATED: Q&A with Lynn Swann | Coverage of 100th PGA Annual Meeting in NYC

The path to becoming PGA President started four years ago for Levy when he was elected to the position of PGA Secretary. PGA officers start off with an election to PGA Secretary, serving two years in that role, followed by two years as PGA Vice President before ascending to the association’s top position.

Levy said the last four years have been a great way to prepare for his soon-to-be new role, because he’s had the opportunity to see everything that happens behind the scenes.

He compared it to one of his first job’s as an assistant pro when he remembered something the head professional told him: “Son, here’s the deal. You’re no good to me until about the third year as an assistant pro.”

Levy wondered why that was.

The pro told him, “Well, the first year you’ve got to go through the member-guest, the member-member, understand how we do the buying in the spring and the fall, and I’m having to teach you everything. The second year, you’re kind of learning everything. By the third year, you’re returning on the investment, so to speak. You’re starting to get it down.”

After the four-year build up to becoming PGA President, Levy said he feels well prepared for what lies ahead.

“At that point, you’ve had many years working with the PGA staff,” he said. “When you get to this point, it’s not that you’re going to be ready for everything, but you’re in a pretty seasoned position to understand what your duties are and what your role is and some of the things you’re going to be dealing with.”

Among the highlights for Levy as a PGA Officer, has been the behind-the-scenes involvement in the Ryder Cup.

“It’s kind of like an in your body and an out of your body experience,” he said. “The part where you’re in your body, you’re realizing that you get to do something like this. I have a brother who passed away in 2010 who loved the game of golf. My God. If he knew the things I’ve gotten to do the last few years he would have done anything to do that. He was the consummate sports fan. As an executive of the PGA, as an Officer, you play a role. I got to be on the task force for the Ryder Cup, which was a great experience. Now we’ll be getting the Ryder Cup Committee together to determine the next captain and what changes and things we’ll solidify in the Ryder Cup going forward.

“If you had told me 20 years ago I was going to get to play that role? I would have said, ‘You’re kidding me. I’m really going to get to do that?’ But when you’re in that role, you’re in that role. You’ve prepared. The PGA has given you the tools and support. We have a great senior staff. Pete Bevacqua, our CEO. We strategize, we brainstorm. You play that role of what you do,” Levy added. “But at the same time, you have this out of body experience. I’m 56 years old, but I’m still just a kid. A kid who loves the game of golf, who has spent his whole life since I was 12 years old I’ll I’ve done is golf. The day I started playing golf, I pretty much quit every other sport except basketball. You’re at the Ryder Cup. You’re watching the greatest golfers in the world compete at the highest stage in the world in maybe the most remarkable, unique sporting event that exists in any sport. There’s still that fan in you. It’s like you’re having two experiences at once. When we won… forget about Ryder Cup Committees and task forces and the PGA, it was about one thing: Seeing that putt go in the hole, we win the Ryder Cup and the pure emotion of the fans, of us and the players – that’s priceless. And getting to be a part of that, very cool.”

For Levy, there will many more unique experiences to come over the next two years