Golf Buzz

Alex Cejka
PGA Tour via YouTube
Alex Cejka's hole-in-one at PGA National on Thursday is his second of the 2015-16 PGA Tour season.
Everyone knows the famous par-3 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, but the par-3 17th at PGA National is pretty terrific – and terrifying – as well. And this afternoon, it sounded a bit like the par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale when Alex Cejka made a hole-in-one and set off a huge roar from the oversized gallery.
The wind has been up most of the day at PGA National, and the highlight shots had been few and far between when the 44-year-old Cejka teed his ball up 177 yards away from the flag. He hit a nice, easy draw that landed a few feet short and right of the cup and hopped up into the hole.
The crowd went wild, and Cejka responded with a big uppercut and several high fives. 
Today's ace really salvaged Cejka's day – he was 4 over as he walked onto the 17th tee, then followed his ace up with a birdie on the 18th to finish his day at a much-more-respectable 1 over.
Interestingly, this is Cejka's second ace of the 2015-16 season. He also made a hole-in-one in the third round of the Shriners Open out in Las Vegas last fall. And the hole on which he made that ace – why, it was the 17th, of course.
PGA Tour/YouTube
Sergio Garcia keeps a wary eye open for alligators Thursday as he prepares to hit a recovery shot at No. 6.

Thursday's first round of the Honda Classic was like a trip to the zoo for Sergio Garcia. It seemed like everywhere he turned, he was running into animals of some shape or size.

The first one Garcia encountered was an eagle with this impressive approach shot on the par-4 second hole. He pretty much commands the wind to help his ball, and it obeys nicely.



The next encounter was a little more unsettling for the Spaniard. His drive at No. 6 found a shallow water hazard to the left of the fairway. Garcia took off his shoes and socks, rolled up his pants, and prepared to join the alligators in their natural habitat.

Watch as Garcia casts a wary eye behind him as he tries to settle down and hit the shot.



Fortunately, Garcia escaped without being bitten by an unfriendly gator. Unfortunately, he didn't escape the hole without carding a bogey.

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy
USA Today Sports Images
Rory McIlroy had a little friendly fitness advice for Tiger Woods on Wednesday.
Tiger Woods posted a video on social media today, showing himself making a nice swing while hitting a ball in a simulator. We haven't seen or heard much from Tiger lately, so this video – which he captioned "Progressing nicely" – was very welcome.
Predictably, the appearance of the video drew a significant, positive response from Tiger's peers on the PGA Tour. 
One player, however, did not seem impressed.
Tiger's buddy and fellow Nike ambassador Rory McIlroy had a sharp, but funny, suggestion for his buddy. Of course, this is from the guy who recently responded to a critique from Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee with a video of himself lifting an enormous amount of weight.
Here is the Rory/Tiger exchange and, ICYMI, Rory's weight-lifting video:
February 24, 2016 - 11:38am
mark.aumann's picture
USA Today Sports Images
Rickie Fowler has three top-five finishes this season, including second at the Phoenix Open.

Goodbye, California. Hello, Florida.

The PGA Tour begins its Florida Swing this week with the Honda Classic at PGA National, and it's a star-studded field, headlined by Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler.

They're not the only big names heading for the Palm Beaches this week. Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson are also entered. In addition, defending champion Padraig Harrington and sudden-death playoff loser Daniel Berger have returned.

PGA National is your classic Florida layout: long, flat and chock-full of water hazards. The player who can keep his ball dry and in the fairway has the best chance of being around at the finish Sunday.

HONDA CLASSIC: Tee times | How's Tiger? See for yourself

But even that may not be enough. PGA National features a three-hole stretch called the "Bear Trap" that could decide who takes home the trophy. You'd think two par-3s wouldn't be so knee-buckling, but you're talking tiny targets surrounded by water, so there's no bailout area. And if the wind's blowing, those holes pose even more of a challenge.

Here are the five players to keep a close eye on this week:

5. Phil Mickelson
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
Second at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Reason to watch: When Phil Mickelson says he's having fun playing golf again, and it's showing up in his results, there's nothing better. We know how well Lefty can scramble, but his entire game is showing vast improvement over the past couple of seasons. He's never been the most accurate driver of the ball, but he continues to amaze with his chipping and his putting hasn't been this good in a long time.

4. Jason Dufner
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
Won Career Builder Challenge
Reason to watch: After his victory in the 2013 PGA Championship, Dufner seemed to fall off the radar for the next two seasons. But the king of Dufnering has more top-10 finishes (three in nine events) so far than he had all of last season, including the playoff win at La Quinta. He may not allow his emotions to rise to the surface often, but there's been a hint of a smile that's been missing until recently. What's hurt him recently is driving accuracy and putting. If he gets those going again, he could be tough.

3. Adam Scott
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
Second at CIMB Classic
Reason to watch: For all the concerns over having to switch putting styles, Scott had the flatstick going at the Northern Trust Open. And he's still amazingly consistent on par-5s, having gained 33 strokes to par so far this season. That birdie-eagle finish Sunday at Riviera can't do anything but help Scott's confidence heading into the Florida Swing.

2. Rory McIlroy
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
T11 at the HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: After three strong rounds that put him in contention at the Northern Trust Open, McIlroy had a Sunday setback. If that sounds familiar, that's almost exactly what happened to Rory at PGA National in 2014, when he let a wire-to-wire victory slip away in the Bear Trap and missed the playoff. He's more than capable of putting together four strong rounds -- and perhaps has learned his lesson from that near-miss.

1. Rickie Fowler
Best finish in 2015-16 season:
Second at Waste Management Phoenix Open
Reason to watch: If Jordan Spieth, McIlroy and Jason Day are considered golf's current Big Three, there's room for Fowler as a fourth. He's certainly played that way already this season, with three top-five finishes, including losing the sudden-death playoff at TPC Scottsdale to Hideki Matsuyama. That one stung a lot, especially since Fowler seemed to have things in hand before overshooting the 17th green in regulation. He's battle-tested on tough Florida layouts -- winning last year's Players -- so anything's possible at PGA National.

Tiger Woods/Twitter
Tiger Woods posted a video Wednesday morning on Twitter showing himself hitting a ball in a simulator.

How's Tiger Woods? He finally answered the lingering questions about his health Wednesday morning with his own video post on Twitter, showing him swinging a club in a simulator.

See for yourself.



After reports surfaced on social media claiming Woods' recovery from the most recent back surgery was going poorly, his agent disputed those rumors earlier this week. And now there's video proof from Tiger himself that he's "progressing nicely," in his own words.

MORE: Full coverage of 2016 Masters | 2016 Masters field list: Who's in?

Could we see Woods at Augusta National in six weeks? If that video is any kind of conclusive evidence, it seems more than likely.


Tony Romo
USA Today Sports Images
Tony Romo never did go back to Wisconsin and work at a golf course, but he has always made golf a big part of his life.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is well known as a golf fanatic – he loves the game, and was among the best golfers in all of pro sports at one point a few years ago. Recently, however, he explained that he very nearly pursued a career in the golf business.
Before he became the Tony Romo that most football fans know today, he was an undrafted free agent hanging to his NFL dream by his fingernails. Heading into his second season with the Cowboys, Romo came to training camp as the No. 4 quarterback on the depth chart behind then-starter Quincy Carter, Vinny Testaverde and Drew Henson.
"I'm not a rocket scientist, but one, two, three and I'm four," Romo said in a Feb. 18 podcast with The Village Church in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Romo struggled in his first few days of that training camp, he said, and got so anxious about his situation that he sat in bed one day and prayed for some clarity.
"I was like, 'If I'm not meant to be the quarterback here or play quarterback in the NFL, that's fine," he said. "Then I'm going to go back and be a really good assistant golf club professional back in Burlington, Wisconsin.'"
After he realized that he'd be fine with whatever happened with the Cowboys, Romo said, he performed much better in camp. Not long afterward, Carter got cut, Romo made the squad – and Burlington, Wisconsin, had to find another assistant golf professional.
Romo, of course, has remained very active in golf through the years, though he hasn't played much lately because of the injuries that have slowed his football career as well. 
And as we discovered last summer, his wife Candice is giving him a pretty good for the title of best golfer in the family. You can check out her swing, and hear what Peter Kostis thinks of it, here.