December 24, 2012 - 7:24pm
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John Holmes
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Greg Norman
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Greg Norman designed the Medalist Golf Club layout with uber-architect Pete Dye in 1995, but the club hired another architect for its redesign work.

In the Palm Beach area of Florida, where so many many professional golfers live these days, no players have larger profiles than Jack Nicklaus at the Bear's Club and Greg Norman at the Medalist Golf Club. But no longer.

Norman designed the Medalist layout with uber-architect Pete Dye in 1995, and the club's many high-profile members include Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. But the Medalist hired architect Bobby Weed – a Dye disciple best known for his work with many of the PGA Tour's properties – for a facelift, according to Tim Rosaforte of Golf Digest and the Golf Channel, who said the move angered Norman.

"It's really a slap in the face at the end of the day," Norman told Rosaforte via email. "It's the end of a legacy by the board doing what the board is doing now. It hurts a lot to tell the truth. It's a shame."

As a result, Norman wants the Medalist to take his and Dye's names off the course, and to give back all the memorabilia he has let the club display over the years – including, presumably, the huge shark that hangs over the bar in the men's locker room.

Categories: Medalist Golf Club
December 23, 2012 - 9:38pm
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John Holmes
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Lee Westwood
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Jake Mann at Bleacher Report says Lee Westwood wants more PGA Tour victories in the coming year.

I know what I want for Christmas. I'd bet you know what you want, too.

But what do the world's greatest golfers want Santa Claus to bring them? Over at Bleacher Report, Jake Mann puts on his thinking cap – is it red, with a little white ball on top? – and ponders what the game's top players are hoping to find under their trees come Christmas morning.

I think I can improve on some of the items on Mann's gift list. For example, he says Lee Westwood wants more wins in the United States, but I know Westy couldn't care less about winning any more regular PGA Tour events. The one and only thing he's asking Santa for is a long-awaited – and, I would add, much-deserved – breakthrough in a major.

So what is Mann divining for players like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson? Click here to take a look at his list and see what you think.

December 21, 2012 - 2:56pm
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John Holmes
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Garrett Sapp
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OneAsia Tour veteran Garrett Sapp could have some company next year if some of his fellow Americans succeed in the circuit's California Q-School.

The OneAsia Tour will hold not one but two final-stage Q-School tournaments early next year – with one in the United States and the other in Malaysia.

The U.S. Q-School will take place at the Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms, in Industry Hills, Calif., on Jan. 29-Feb. 1. The Malaysian event will return to Sutera Harbour Golf Club in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, on Feb. 5-8.

The winner of each Q-School is s guaranteed starts in all 2013 OneAsia's tournaments, while those who finish second and third will likely get starts in most events. Positions then will be awarded alternately between the Malaysian and U.S. Q-Schools.

"As we enter our fifth season, there has been phenomenal interest in OneAsia from around the world and we feel that holding one of our Q-School tournaments in the United States will satisfy that demand and also help promote the tour there," said OneAsia Chairman and Commissioner Sang Y. Chun.

An increasing number of Asia-Pacific players are basing themselves on the West Coast of the United States to go to college or take advantage of playing and coaching facilities not available in Korea or northern China during winter.

The OneAsia circuit was founded four years ago by the China Golf Association, the Korea Golf Tour, the Korea Golf Association and the PGA of Australasia as an alternative to the Asian Tour. It now includes the national Opens of Australia, China, Korea and Thailand among other events.

And speaking of Asians and Americans and golf, Jack Newton has two words of advice for international golfers eager to seek their fortune on the PGA Tour: Slow down!

Young golfers would be best served cutting their teeth in Asia and Europe before heading for the riches of the PGA Tour, Newton, one of Australia’s most prominent golfers in the 1970s and early ‘80s and more recently a big advocate for junior golf. He also urged his fellow Australians not to expect too much too soon from their junior stars.

"A lot of people want to put tags on people ... this player's going to be the best that ever lived and so on. And they stub their toe somewhere and disappear," said Newton in The Australian, Australia's national newspaper, citing the struggles of junior star Won Joon Lee, who now has returned to Australia after flaming out on the Tour. "A lot of these kids are rushing to America too early and then get their arse kicked.

Lee "lost his card in America. He's got a place in Las Vegas and he's flying back to shut all that down to come back to Sydney and start again," Newton said. "That's the way it can go."

Newton spoke out after comments from Jake Higginbottom, the 19-year-old who recently won the New Zealand Open as an amateur, then immediately turned pro and later said he hopes to come to the United States for Q-School next year.

"I just wish a lot of these kids wouldn't rush to America because you'll get killed with the numbers," Newton told the newspaper. "It's not that they're better, but there's someone shooting the lights out every week and it gets to you mentally in the end."

December 20, 2012 - 7:06pm
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John Holmes
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Bubba Watson
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Bubba Watson's pink driver doesn't just stand out because of its color; it stands out for the good it's doing for Phoenix-area charities.

We all watched Bubba Watson swing his bubble-gum pink Ping driver for much of the year – including at the Masters, where he earned his first major victory and became not just a golf superstar but a pop culture favorite.

Watson wielded that unmistakable driver as part of his ''Bubba & Friends Drive to a Million'' effort in partnership with Ping's ''Bubba Long in Pink. Driven by Ping'' campaign. To help raise funds for Phoenix-area charities, Ping has donated $50 for each of the 5,000 pink drivers sold.

And on Thursday came the payoff. Watson and Ping presented $250,000 to the Phoenix Children's Hospital. The money will be used to create the Bubba Watson and Ping Golf Gait Lab, which will serve pediatric patients with neuromuscular diseases and disabilities.

Here's a cute photo from the check presentation ceremony that Ping Golf tweeted out. That's Ping Golf CEO John Solheim in the middle, and I suspect you can pick Bubba out of the crowd.

December 20, 2012 - 11:08am
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T.J. Auclair
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Gleneagles is the site of the 2014 Ryder Cup.

Early this morning, while most of us were still sleeping, the European Tour sent out a press release announcing that the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles will not be a part of the European Tour's 2014 international schedule, "due to the venue's staging of The Ryder Cup that year, but will return in the summer of 2015."

"With regret we have accepted that we have no option but to postpone the Johnnie Walker Championship for a year," Graeme Marchbank, Johnnie Walker Championship Director, said. "The Johnnie Walker Championship is a major highlight in the calendar for Diageo and a key commercial platform for the promotion of the world’s number one Scotch whisky, so we are naturally disappointed to miss a year.

"However, as the owner of Gleneagles and as an Official Partner of The 2014 Ryder Cup, Diageo is also working closely with our partners at The European Tour to help deliver a fantastic event. We are also working closely with the Scottish Government on maximising the wider benefit of The Ryder Cup to Scotland. Over the next two years we will be focusing all of our efforts on the goal of delivering the best possible Ryder Cup in 2014.

"We are delighted that in 2015 the Johnnie Walker Championship will return to Gleneagles in partnership with The European Tour."

The move makes sense, seeing as most venues that host big events close down in the year leading up to that event. However, it's a punch in the gut to any potential U.S. team members who were hoping to go on a scouting trip and see Gleneagles in tournament condition.

In case you were thinking, "that's OK. A potential U.S. team member can go play the Gleneagles event in 2013," well, they probably won't do that either.

The 2013 Johnnie Walker Championship is scheduled for Aug. 22-25 -- the same week as the opening event of the PGA Tour FedExCup Playoffs, The Barclays at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J.

Richard Hills, European Ryder Cup Director, said: "We are very grateful to the management of both Diageo, the owners of Johnnie Walker, and The Gleneagles Hotel for agreeing to postpone the Johnnie Walker Championship so that preparations for The Ryder Cup can begin as planned in July 2014. The magnitude of The Ryder Cup is such that trying to host the Johnnie Walker Championship in the same season would have compromised both events."

December 19, 2012 - 5:10pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Rory McIlroy
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If it weren't for a ride to the course by a state trooper, Rory McIlroy may have cost Europe the Ryder Cup.

It's easy for Rory McIlroy to laugh about it now, but when he nearly missed his tee time for the Sunday singles matches in the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah, the two-time major champion and No. 1 player in the world admits that he thought he may have cost Europe a shot at winning.

Europe entered the final day of the Ryder Cup trailing the U.S., 10-6. But, miraculously, Europe stormed back on the final day for an incredible come-from-behind victory -- including a win for McIlroy in his match against Keegan Bradley, where he showed up to the tee just in time.

In an exclusive interview with RTÉ’s Greg Allen, McIlroy said he would not have made it to the course on time if it were not for state trooper Pat Rollins, who got him to the course with just minutes to spare.

Here's what McIlroy told Allen:

"On the Saturday night, before I went to bed, I was watching the Golf Channel and they posted the tee-times (for Sunday). But they posted them in Eastern time and we were in Central time in Chicago, so 12:35 Eastern is 11:35 in Chicago.

"Next morning I get up and get out of the shower at 11am. I get a phone call from Conor, my manager, and he says 'Are you at the golf course?', and I tell him that I'm not.

"He says 'You should be, you've got half an hour to your tee-time'. "And I say 'No, I've got an hour and a half, I'm off at 12:35. He says 'You're not. You are off at 11:35'.

"I have never been so scared going to a golf course. It was such a mad rush. Luckily there was a state trooper waiting for me and if it was not for him, if I was not in that car, I would not have made my tee-time.

"I actually played my best golf of the whole week on that Sunday!"