Horschel uses wood after accidentally breaking putter

Billy Horschel had to get a little creative during the opening round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic after a flip of the club left his putter in pieces.

Horschel barely missed a 20-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole at TPC Southwind, and he reacted as many pros do: by casually tossing his club in the air in disbelief. Unfortunately for Horschel, the head of his putter snapped off when the club hit the ground.

Because the break did not occur “during the normal course of play,” Horschel was not allowed to replace his putter.

The silver lining was that the hole in question was his 17th of the day. He had only an 18-inch par putt left on No. 8, and he used a fairway wood to tap it in and again on the par-4 ninth, where he successfully two-“putted” from over 50 feet:

The scene was reminiscent of one during the 2015 Greenbrier Classic, when Robert Streb made it into a playoff despite using his wedge to putt for much of the final round.

Horschel, who returned to the winner’s circle last month when he defeated Jason Day in a playoff at the AT&T Byron Nelson, signed for a 2-over 72 that left him eight shots behind his friend and fellow Florida Gator, Matt Every, as the early wave came to a close in Memphis.

Source: golfchannel.com

Where to Play During The 2017 U.S. Open – Your Golf Guide Around Erin Hills

Whether you are making the pilgrimage to Wisconsin to watch the 2017 U.S. Open, or are you planning to play Erin Hills in the future, the following is a golf course guide to help you find the right course(s) to fill out your journey.


Notable Courses

Erin Hills
Well, unless you qualify to play in the U.S. Open, the course is currently closed and will not reopen until after the 2017 event (late June). The tee sheet is filling up fast for the 2017 season, so make your plans ASAP. Not able to get a tee time? Do not rule out early/mid fall. Autumn golf in Wisconsin offers amazing fall colors and best of all…no mosquitos.

Why should Erin Hills be on your bucket list? Well, in the 117 years of the U.S. Open, only six host courses are open to the public.

1) Bethpage Black, 2002, 2009
2) Pebble Beach, 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019
3) Chambers Bay, 2014
4) Torrey Pines, 2008, 2021
5) Pinehurst #2, 1999, 2005, 2014, 2024
6) Erin Hills, 2017


Washington County Golf Course
Located less than 15 minutes away from Erin Hills, Washington County GC is a must play! Arthur Hills built a gem that is consistently ranked as one of the Top 25 Municipal Courses in the nation. Washington County is offering exclusive packages for golfers during the U.S. Open including meals and transportation.


The Bog
Until Erin Hills was built, this Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course was the #1 ranked public golf course in the Metro Milwaukee area. The Bog is located roughly half way between Erin Hills and Whistling Straits and is a great course to play if making that loop. The Bog is located approximately, 25 minutes north of downtown Milwaukee and 40 minutes from Erin Hills.


The Bull
Wisconsin’s only Jack Nicklaus Signature Course is rated #70 in nation by Golf Digest. Located 60 miles north of downtown Milwaukee in Sheboygan Falls, WI, The Bull is easily accessible on I-43 north.


Brown Deer Golf Club
Brown Deer Golf Course is the former site of The Greater Milwaukee Open and US Bank Championship, a PGA TOUR stop from 1995-2008.


Whistling Straits/Blackwolf Run – Destination Kohler
Whistling Straits hosted the 2004, 2010, and 2015 PGA Champion and is the future home for 2020 Ryder Cup. Blackwolf Run Whistling Strait’s sister property has also hosted a number of professional championships including the Andersen Consulting World Golf Championships in 1995, 1996, and 1997 as well as the U.S. Women’s Open in 1998 and 2012.


Sand Valley Golf Resort
New golf course/resort alert! Sand Valley, a Coore and Crenshaw design, will be in the conversation for best new course in 2017. If you want to cross it off your bucket list you will need to drive approximately 2 hours north of Erin Hills. A second course, Mammoth Dunes, is scheduled to open in 2018.


Play Where The Locals Play

Kettle Hills
Located just 10 miles east of Erin Hills on Holy Hill Road (HWY 167/HWY O). With 45 holes you should have no issue getting a tee time. During the U.S. Open week, tee times start with cart at $50 four 18 holes and $30 for 9 holes. They are now accepting tee times and they must be paid for in advance.


Fairways of Woodside
Located within 20 miles southeast of Erin Hills, Fairways of Woodside is a tale of two nines. The opening nine has birdie opportunities galore with shorter holes and wide open terrain. The back nine lengthens and plays through the Kettle Moraine forest.


Hartford Golf Club
A semi private club located less than 7 miles from Erin Hills, Hartford Golf Club is a throwback course that opened for play in 1929. The layout is highlighted by the par-3 17th that features a huge tree 30 yards directly in front of the putting surface. The course also has a three hole practice facility.


Broadlands Golf Club
40 minutes south of Erin Hills resides The Broadlands, one of the state’s most popular public courses. The layout features a mix of wide open spaces, stunning elevation changes that lead to spectacular shot vistas throughout.


Morningstar Golfers Club
Simply put, Morningstar Golfer’s Club rests on one of the finest pieces of land in the state. Every style of hole from links to north woods is apparent on this stunning layout built on an abandoned quarry. Thirteen of their 18 holes are visible from their impressive clubhouse.



Source: GolfWisconsin.com

Akshay Bhatia, 15, advances from U.S. Open local golf qualifier

Davis Womble played four years of college golf at Wake Forest, then made an interesting decision after graduation: He took a regular Monday-to-Friday job rather than try to play pro golf.

Akshay Bhatia, 15, is from Wake Forest – the town, not the college – and hopes to have a long professional career ahead of him. He also has some lofty golf dreams, saying he’d like to be the first to shoot a 59 in the Masters at Augusta National.

The two amateurs had a common goal Wednesday of advancing through the U.S. Open local qualifier at N.C. State’s Lonnie Poole Golf Course. Both did, Womble carding a 4-under 68 that was the low score of the day and Bhatia finishing third with a 2-under 70.

J.T. Griffin of Wilson, a pro golfer who played at Georgia Tech, had a 69, and Kevin O’Connell of Cary and Tim Bunten of Concord survived a four-man playoff for the final two qualifying spots after shooting 71s on a sunny, muggy day. Bo Andrews of Raleigh was the first alternate.

The qualifiers advance to U.S. Open sectionals, which will set the final field for the 2017 Open at Erin Hills Golf Course in Erin, Wis.

“I’m one step closer to playing in our U.S. Open,” Bhatia said, smiling. “I just want to have fun in the next event. I’ll have a lot of people rooting for me, so it will be exciting.”

And should he play well enough to make it to Erin Hills?

“It would be a dream come true,” he said. “The odds of playing in it are very slim, but I believe in myself to make it. It would be awesome. But we’ll see.”

Bhatia has another U.S. Golf Association event before the U.S. Open sectional. Bhatia and Grayson Wotnosky of Wake Forest often play and practice together at TPC Wakefield Plantation, and the two qualified as a team to play this month in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in Pinehurst.

“Again, it should be fun,” Bhatia said. “We’re best friends. It will be interesting.”

Wotnosky, 15, had a 74 Wednesday at Lonnie Poole.

Womble, 23, is a High Point native and once was a junior star in the Carolinas. He was a steady four-year starter for Wake Forest coach Jerry Haas and was named an academic All-America.

Many college golfers have tunnel vision, their eyes locked in on a pro golf career. Womble took a job as a corporate strategy analyst with Hanesbrands in Winston-Salem rather than, say, enter a Web.com Tour qualifying event or try to grind his way through minor-league golf.

“It was a good choice for me,” Womble said. “I’m enjoying playing golf and falling in love with the game again.”

Womble, tall and lanky at 6-6, said he has attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open in the past but hadn’t reached the sectionals. Lonnie Poole was a good course for him – he said he once shot 62 in an N.C. Amateur qualifier.

Like Bhatia, Womble realizes it’s a long shot to go through local and sectional qualifying and grab a spot in the Open field. Then again, he said, “Somebody has to do it every year. If I play like I did today, I’ll be absolutely fine. I played really solidly.”

It wasn’t the first U.S. Open qualifier for Bhatia, either. The first, he said, was when he was 10. And a scratch golfer.

Source: newsobserver.com

Hole-in-one electrifies Masters and shakes up leaderboard

Kuchar sent the crowd into a frenzy when he aced a 7-iron at the 170-yard hole Sunday, the ball landing on the green and curling back toward the pond before dropping in the cup.

Watch Matt Kuchar’s hole-in-one on No. 16 to move into a tie for third.

The patrons chanted “Kooch!” as the popular golfer walked toward the green. He retrieved the ball, signed it and gave it to a young boy along the ropes.

Kuchar is now at 5 under, three strokes behind Justin Rose.

Sergio Garcia dropped one stroke behind the leader with a bogey at the 10th.


Opening Day


Pancakes and Spring Golf connected?

 The trees are sprouting buckets signaling maple syrup season is upon us, normally followed by spring golf.  With unseasonably warm weather thawing out the Traverse City area could we be in for an early season at the course?  Time will tell… while you’re waiting for us to open here’s a great read on how the weather affects more than we realize


MASON, Mich. — Bryan Droscha spent a recent afternoon in the woods, running sap lines in a newly leased parcel that will add to his family’s maple syrup operation.

With another sugaring season beginning, there was no time to waste.

Like other maple syrup producers, Droscha had to decide on the best time to tap his trees. Do it too early and you could miss the best flows if conditions are better later. Wait too long and you could miss the best sap. Once trees start budding, the quality of the sap quickly declines.

There’s even more uncertainty this year, given the unusually warm winter that threatens to shorten the season. Some producers are collecting less sap than in previous years, or having to use more to make the same amount of maple syrup.

“I’m very concerned,” Droscha said. “We’ve had a few warm days in the past, but a week-long warm-up like we had (in February) is pretty unheard of.”


February was the second-warmest recorded in the Detroit and Flint areas, said Joseph Clark, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

In Detroit, the average temperature for the month was 37.9 degrees, 9.8 degrees above normal. One stretch, from Feb. 18 through Feb. 24, saw some record-breaking high temperatures in the upper 60s and even 70 degrees.

Ideal weather for sap flow is when temperatures are below freezing at nighttime and above freezing in the 30s and 40s during the day. When the weather is well above freezing both day and night, the sap can run to tops of the trees.

Taps are drilled into a maple tree with buckets to collect sap, which is later used to make maple syrup on Saturday, March 4, 2017 at U-M Dearborn’s Environmental Interpretive Center in Dearborn.  (Photo: Elaine Cromie, Detroit Free Press)

“The sap continues to make its way to the branches of the trees where it’s going to nourish the buds,” said Rick Simek, program supervisor at the Environmental Interpretive Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

“If it stays warm day and night over the course of several days to a week or so, the sap mixes with enzymes in the buds and turns bitter, and that marks the end of the maple syrup season.”

Maple syrup is a multimillion-dollar industry in Michigan. Over the past four years, the state has produced anywhere from 90,000 to 148,000 gallons a year.

The season typically lasts four to six weeks. March is usually the sweet spot. This year, some producers in southern Michigan tapped as early as late January.

Steve Henson, vice chair of the Commercial Maple Syrup Producers of Michigan, tapped his trees at Doodles Sugarbush in Blanchard about a week and a half ago. He said he decided to wait out February’s warm-up because bacteria can thrive in warmer weather.

Kirk Hedding, president of the Michigan Maple Syrup Association, said prolonged warm weather, for a variety of reasons, can lead to a drop in sap’s sugar content. He owns H&H Sugarbush in Chelsea, where current conditions are mimicking what typically doesn’t happen until the end of the season.

“When the sugar content is low, you’re using almost twice as much energy to make the syrup,” he said. “Now it’s taking more gallons to make syrup. We pull in 2,000 gallons of sap a day, and we should get 40 to 50 gallons of syrup out of that. We’re only making 20 to 30.”

Droscha and other Lansing-area producers are hoping for a bounce-back season after a difficult 2016. Midwest producers struggled in 2016, even though the industry as a whole had a banner year.

“Last year, the trees never really went to sleep,” said Droscha, whose operation typically produces over 1,000 gallons a year.

Experience Program Director for the Environmental Interpretive Center, Mary Fastiggi, shows how she’s turning maple sap into maple syrup on Saturday, March 4, 2017 at U-M Dearborn’s Environmental Interpretive Center in Dearborn.  (Photo: Elaine Cromie, Detroit Free Press)

Michigan’s fruit growers also are watching the weather with some trepidation.

Apples, peaches and other fruit crops were devastated in 2012, when a streak of summer-like temperatures with highs in the 80s in March caused the trees to bloom early. Subsequent freezing temperatures caused widespread losses.

It’s a little too early to say how fruit crops might fare this year, experts say. But there’s been no sign of weather-related crop damage.

“We’re concerned, but not really worried right now,” said Mark Longstroth, a Michigan State University Extension fruit educator.

Crops need a sufficient number of “chilling hours,” or a period in which they remain dormant, over the winter before they can begin growing in the spring.

Trees in the southern part of the state are showing signs of growth. But further north, the trees probably haven’t completed their chilling requirement and wouldn’t be harmed by a cold snap, Longstroth said.

Many farmers in southern Michigan welcomed the cooler weather late last week, when high temperatures in the Detroit area were in the upper 20s and low 30s. Longstroth said it wasn’t cold enough to hurt fruit crops, but cold enough to stop them from continuing to grow. Plants and trees are the most susceptible to cold weather damage after they begin flowering.

Meanwhile, maple syrup producers and hobbyists are wondering how much more time they’ll have in their season.

Maple syrup season typically ends in mid-April at the Keller Family Farm in Almont. But this year, Richard Keller, who handles media relations for the farm, said they’re wondering whether it will last another week.

In the first four weeks of this season, the farm collected about 1,500 gallons of sap — about 3,000 gallons less than what they get in the first four weeks of a typical season.

The Environmental Interpretive Center in Dearborn has about 50 sugar maple and black maple trees with taps.

Simek said he noticed about two weeks that the silver maple trees around the center had experienced “bud break,” which is when tree buds burst in spring. Silver maples typically have bud break a week or two before sugar maples, he said.

“Since we had this spike of warm weather so early in the season, it’s leaving us wondering” how long the season will last, he said. “I think if I could use one word, it would be uncertainty.”

golf rules are changing

Golf rules getting simpler? After centuries, it’s about time

Golf has been in decline for at least a decade. Almost every graph is down. There are not enough new young players, and too many current players quit. The game is often too slow, expensive, white, male, elitist, stuffy and full of antiquated rules. Among pros, nobody right now is Tiger, Jack or Arnie yet.

The game may even be too hard in practice, discipline and honesty to suit the age. Too much deferred, not enough gratified. Walk miles, carry a bag, hold your temper, and you don’t even get to zap aliens while gulping junk food. Lousy game.

Even the environment itself sometimes dislikes the water-greedy game. If you count in generations, golf may expire before it adapts. But that’s all old news. This is good-news day: For the first time since 1744, they’ve changed the darn rules!

The transformation is radical, wonderful and what millions of us, playing for two bucks and picking up after we reached “quad,” have been doing all our lives.

Golf is hard enough without some 15th-century shepherd deciding that it’s a two-stroke mortal-sin penalty if your putt hits the flagstick while it’s in the cup. Or if your ball moves a hundredth of an inch as you address it, visible on slow-motion replay, as happened in both the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens last year. Dustin Johnson survived his kerfuffle; Anna Nordqvist lost a title.

On Wednesday, the USGA and Royal & Ancient released the result of their five years of study, bless ’em. They came up with suggestions, to be discussed throughout golf for the next two years, that almost every man or woman, public course or private, that I’ve played with regularly has already discussed or employed all their lives.

Once, I went 36 holes with Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte of the Yankees. Darn, I said, so you guys play by common sense, too — not strict Rules of Golf.

It’s as if the rest of us had three open holes behind us but the folks who run golf had to get scared of falling profits, popularity and ratings before they decided to catch up. So, once every 283 years, they’re “in place.”

You’re not going to believe what the ruling bodies now endorse! Actually, you will. Half of it you already do. The other half you wish you could. Soon, we all can — and without telling each other, “Shhhh, don’t tell anyone we play that way.”

Hit when you’re ready, not just when you’re “away.”

Don’t search for that stupid ball for five minutes. Three is enough. Move on.

If someone in your group doesn’t hit after 40 seconds with clear fairway in front of them, say, “While we’re young.”

Want to remove a loose impediment in a bunker? Sure. They’re “loose” for a reason. Is something messing up the green on the line of your putt — spike marks, ball marks, whatever? Well, fix it. You stoned it to six feet. You deserve a smooth putt.

Who cares if you hit the flagstick with a putt or accidentally ground your club in a bunker if you aren’t hitting a shot? Two-shot penalties, my foot.

If your drive embeds in the soggy rough, pull it out; for the price you’re paying to play, that ball should bounce. And if you accidentally move your ball while searching for it, that’s not a penalty — are we supposed to be psychic?

Apparently, I’ve been ahead of the times for decades. I thought I was just begging my friends to understand and forgive me. When I took a drop on a hill, I didn’t hold my arm out at shoulder height like a dope and drop the ball twice to prove that gravity still works (while my ball rolled down a gulch). I held it an inch above the ground and kind of “drop-placed” it. Now, that’s the new rule.

Most important, I haven’t counted all my strokes. I’ve played in very few groups that do; we seldom take more than a quadruple bogey. Right up until that putt for triple, grind it out. After that, pick up — not out of pity for yourself but out of mercy for everyone else behind you on the course. The new rules say: Define a max score — twice par, triple par, whatever — and don’t keep beating the poor ball after you reach it.

(Exception: The only time I ever played Pine Valley, the hardest course in the world, we all decided we would count every stroke. So, I asked the caddie to read my putt for a 10. He said, politely, “Sir, I don’t line ’em up for double digits.”)

All golfers wail at the game’s gods. But now we’re actually getting divine answers. When you hit the ball into jungle or lava, why are you expected to go in after it? Why not just let us play it like a water hazard? Now, or soon, we can.

Why should we ever have to hit a ball across the same water twice? Why shouldn’t all courses, when possible, be allowed to treat all water as “lateral.” Just let us drop beside the water, not behind it again. That change is suggested, too.


Why can’t we ground our clubs in hazards if we aren’t trying to cheat by “testing the conditions” and we aren’t attempting a shot? That’s as insane as getting a two-shot penalty because you point at your target line on the green and accidentally touch the grass. Both have been penalties since 1744, but not now.

I may have misstated some wrinkles in these new rules. I wasn’t much good on the old ones. I’ve loved the game all my life, but the 97 pages of basic Rules, plus 457 more pages of “Decisions on the Rules of Golf” — no, not so much, personally.

To me, these belated rules are fabulous. Tour pros who think it’s all about them, not the health of golf, may complain. So might Oldest Members, who also know the codicils in their home owners association bylaws. Let’s steamroll ’em.

Golf has tough issues, some outside its control. But this one’s right in its grip. The game is hard enough. And its honor code adds a second layer of discipline and difficulty. That’s good. But incomprehensible and unnecessary rules are not.

I don’t know what to do first: ground my club in a bunker or hit the flagstick with a putt. And not get a penalty. New rules — let’s flaunt ’em. Why, it’s almost enough, on a winter day, to make you want to go out and . . . play golf.

Source: Washington Post

Spring Golf Awaits

Mother nature seems to be rather confused this year but spring is near.  Gary was given rare mid winters peek at the turf, “the course looks great!” he mentioned with a big smile knowing spring is less than 20 days away

Same Cherry Red, Whole New Cart

Here at Bahle Farms we are constantly striving to bring you the best golf experience in Leelanau County.  To say we are excited about our new fleet of carts is a bit of an understatement. The new carts are quieter, safer and more environmentally friendly.  PLUS they now come with USB charging ports for your phone or GPS device.  When out golfing Leelanau County’s top course don’t be afraid to try out some of the really cool new golf apps for yardage and scorekeeping.  Here is a list of some favorite golf apps for your phone.


WGT Golf Lite (free)

Inside every office drone is a daydreamer longing to be out in the fresh air, locked in mortal battle on the links. This escapist app lets you play a match against your buddies on a virtual layout that looks strikingly real. The format is a nine-hole closest-to-the-pin challenge — you not only pit your skills against your pals, but you see how you stack up on a global leaderboard. The current version has two courses: the Ocean Course at Kiawah and Wolf Creek in Mesquite, Nev. Additional courses (including Pinehurst and Harbour Town) and new features (such as tournaments and peer-to-peer challenges) are coming soon.

Visulax Golf ($4.99)

Golf, as they say, is 90 percent mental, and Visulax is 100 percent devoted to that side of your game, providing everything from visualization and relaxation techniques to course-management tips and help with blocking out distractions. A feature lets you set a daily goal, rate your progress and send notes to your calendar. At $5, it costs a lot less than a sports psychologist.

SwingSmart ($249)

You have a choice: Field swing tips from your know-it-all golf buddies — or from renowned teacher Peter Kostis. Decisions, decisions. The CBS analyst and Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher offers video tips on simple ways to correct common mistakes, which you can view after you’ve used the app and SwingSmart club sensor to upload your detailed, 3-D swing data onto your iPhone or iPad.

Golf Rules Quick Reference 2012-2015 ($9.99)

Maybe the only thing harder than keeping track of all those swing thoughts is keeping track of all those rules. This digital reference helps you get a handle on them, including recent changes (18-2b: if your ball moves at address, and you didn’t cause the movement, it’s no longer a penalty). Answers and resolutions to your on-course disputes come in a matter of seconds, and an interactive tool called a Relief Finder tells you if you really deserve that free drop.

My Pro To Go (free)

Time was when only Tour pros had their swing gurus on speed-dial. Not today. Film your swing from two angles (side and back), and upload the video. Within 24 hours, you’ll get frame-by-frame feedback from a certified instructor, customized drills, and an interactive follow-up session, along with access to a video library of your past lessons, and drawing tools that you can use on yourself and your friends. (Note: The app is free; lesson plans start at $39.) myprotogo.com

Pocket Caddies

Fun fact: Your smartphone has more computing power than the Apollo 11 spacecraft that traveled 221,000 miles to the moon. These three GPS golf apps let your handheld miracle gauge slightly shorter distances.

Swing by Swing Golf GPS Rangefinder

The free App gives you access to more than 34,000 courses worldwide, with dead-on distances to the centers of greens and to hazards, all with a simple swipe of the screen. A $14-per-year upgrade offers distances to the fronts and backs of greens and lets you track vital playing stats, such as greens in regulation and putts attempted. It’s available on iPhone, Android and most BlackBerry phones.

Golfshot: Golf GPS (golfshot.com)

Golfshot ($29.99) maps any course that has a clear aerial image from Google or Bing maps (some 38,000 worldwide), so you can zoom in on the hole for greater detail. TouchPoint positioning gives the distance to any point from tee to green, with up to 40 targets per hole. You can track the distance of every drive and approach shot, and keep track of fairways hit, greens in regulation, and putts and sand shots.

Skydroid Golf GPS (skydroid.net)

How’s this for a bargain? Two bucks gets you a virtually unlimited number of courses. More than 20,000 tracks are preloaded, and if the course you’d like to play doesn’t appear, no problem — the Course Mapper tool maps it for you and downloads it into your phone. The app can also search for all the Skydroid-mapped courses in your area, so it’s great for the traveling golfer.

Tour Confidential: Are you concerned about Tiger Woods?

Every Sunday night, the Sports Illustrated Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable with writers from Sports Illustrated, GOLF and GOLF.com (with the occasional special guest). Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation by tweeting us @golf_com.

1. Tiger Woods fired a birdieless 77 in the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic, said his back wasn’t an issue, then withdrew less than 24 hours later, citing back spasms. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being he’s done), how concerned are you about Woods?

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@AlanShipnuck): 10. How long can he keep doing this to himself?

Josh Sens, contributing writer, GOLF (@JoshSens): 10, though I wonder if the mental issues aren’t just as big of an obstacle as the back. Only Woods knows the depths of his confidence issues, but I can’t help wondering whether this isn’t the Seve warning coming true: once a golfer loses his nerve …

Joe Passov, senior editor, GOLF (@joepassov): 5. I’m not convinced that there’s enough evidence to rule at this point, though Josh’s Seve reference could prove very prophetic. I don’t want to state that Tiger’s done, because I don’t want to admit to myself that he’s done. Twenty-four birdies in 72 holes at the Hero tells me he’s not yet done. But I do remember how swift and tragic Seve’s plunge was. To see Seve’s genius reduced to having to scramble on every hole merely to remain competitive was dispiriting. I’ll wait until after the Honda to alter this number.

Jeff Ritter, digital development editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Group(@Jeff_Ritter): 9 — Any chance he has at coming all the way back to competitive golf hinges on staying healthy long enough to put in the work. Also, why take a commercial flight halfway around the world with a balky back?

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: 1. I have so many other worries right now, Tiger’s golf struggles do not register.

2. The big names surfaced on both the PGA and European tours. In Dubai, Sergio Garcia beat Henrik Stenson by three, while Hideki Matsuyama won the Phoenix Open in a playoff for the second straight year (with Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler all having their moments). The Masters is two months away. In you had to make a wager today, who on this list would you put your money on?

Shipnuck: Spieth. He’s been solid every time he’s teed it up the last few months but has yet to hit a hot streak. I think he’ll peak at just the right time for a course that suits him like no other.

Sens: Matsuyama. He’s been as hot as any golfer in the world, and he’s had the crucial experience of being in position before. This time he gets over the hump (assuming the putter holds up).

Passov: I’ve been on the Matsuyama bandwagon since 2014, and the ride is really smooth right now. He was only a solid darkhorse pick these past few years. Now, he’s soaked in confidence. Until he can break through with a top five (or several) in majors, there will be question marks, certainly, but he’s where my money is going right now.

Bamberger: I’m on the HBW, too. (Hideki bandwagon.) When it’s all said and done, Augusta is about power, about playing 8, 13 and 15 in five or six under over the four rounds. Plus, winning begets winning. Hideki for me, but it could be the Pizza 51 talking.

Ritter: Hideki quietly has back-to-back top 10s at Augusta, and he’d be my first wager. Two other guys I’m watching: Rose and Kuchar.

Hideki Matsuyama, now with four PGA Tour victories, could be a favorite at Augusta National.
Hideki Matsuyama, now with four PGA Tour victories, could be a favorite at Augusta National.

3. TPC Scottsdale attracted record crowds, and the 16th hole was quite the circus. But it begs the question: Is the novelty of the rollicking par-3 wearing off? Or would you like to see more of the same on Tour?

Shpnuck: Way more! Why is the Tour allowed to have fun only one week a year? Lighten up, guys.

Bamberger: If anyplace else did it, it would look forced, like putting up a Green Monster at another ballpark. Leave it as is.

Sens: I love the 16th at Scottsdale, but scarcity is a big part of its success. A little goes a long way. Try to replicate it in too many places, and you wind up watering down the experience, or with an experience that is simply trying too hard. Like watching grandma dance.

Passov: Being a Scottsdale resident, who was around for the birth of this phenomenon, I’m partial to its existence and to its popularity. Now that the world has discovered it (well, Golf Channel), the 16th at the WMPO has to be careful to avoid being a victim of its own hype and expectations. Hey, it’s not for everybody. We couldn’t get Tiger or Jason Day or Dustin Johnson among others to come to our tournament this year. Yet, it’s what distinguishes this particular non-major–and the resulting charity bucks justifies it all. Keep it in Phoenix–and that’s it.

4. David Duval got a turn as the lead analyst in the Golf Channel booth. Give him a grade.

Shipnuck: I was in Dubai all week so I missed it. But he couldn’t have been as good as Sam Torrance on Sky. The prickly Scot was in rare form and the zingers were flying fast and furious all week — I haven’t laughed that much at a telecast in a good long while.

Sens: B+. I’m biased. I’ve always liked Duval. I don’t look to him for laughs. But he’s smart, succinct and not afraid to be frank. Or maybe I just think he’s smart because he wears those cafe intellectual glasses.

Passov: So Josh, are you saying that Duval is the Rick Perry of golf broadcasting, due to his choice in eyewear? Anyway, count me as a fan as well. Yes, there are times I wish he were a little more animated, but I do appreciate his candor and his introspectiveness. A solid B.

Bamberger: Didn’t catch enough to grade and even if I did I wouldn’t want the highly literate David Duval grading my typing. I pass, while noting his deep knowledge of the game.

5. For The Knockdown, Alan Shipnuck did a deep dive with his profile on Paige Spiranac, whose young career hasn’t been without controversy. What did you take away from the feature?

Shipnuck: It was a spectacular piece of work! Oh wait, I should probably recuse myself from this question.

Sens: It reminded me of how sharp an edge you have to have to compete in any sport at the highest level. Given her success in multiple sports, Spiranac obviously has the athletic tools. She now seems caught in a bit of a vicious cycle–dependent on her place in the public sphere that she’s not entirely comfortable with.

Passov: Alan, you did a marvelous job with the Phil Mickelson interview.

Bamberger: That women’s golf needs to be covered much more closely.

6. The Tour heads to the Monterey Peninsula for the game’s most-celebrated pro-am. Who’s the best celebrity you’ve crossed paths with during your journey in golf, and if the folks from the Clambake called and offered you a spot in the field, which pro would you like to be paired with?

Shipnuck: I’ve watched John Smoltz play a little in person and he’s a stud. When Tiger was still Tiger he used to give him only two a side, which tells you all you need to know. As for pros, it’d have to be Phil. He’s won the tournament a bunch of times, he’s a preeminent storyteller and all week long he gets invited to the best dinners and cocktail parties, so it’d be great fun to be his wingman.

Sens: I followed Rick Rhoden a few times in the era when it seemed like he was either winning or threatening to win the celebrity event at Edgewood every year. It wasn’t an eye-popping game. He has a hand-made looking swing, across the line at the top, not especially powerful. But the guy could score. Anyone can put up a low number when they bomb 350 down the middle. I like watching players I can relate to. For pros, I’d take one of the older guys with a sense of humor. Stadler would be good. He’s funny. Self-deprecating. And refreshingly honest. You don’t always get that from the media-groomed, sponsor-pleasing younger guys.

Passov: I’ve enjoyed a few good pairings in my time, from U.S. presidents to Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famers. If you’re asking for best celebrity, as in most highly skilled golfer, it’s a close call–mostly due to my fading memory. I played in front of actor/singer Jack Wagner at Bel-Air once and played behind saxophone star Kenny G at Spyglass Hill a few years after that. Both were pretty superb sticks. For my pro, given our common interest in fast-food roast beef sandwiches, I’d take a spot alongside Andrew “Beef” Johnston.

Bamberger: Best, as in most interesting to watch? Bill Murray. I’ve watched him, as most of us have, up-close-and-personal. I’ve been awed by the quickness of the wit and (now and again) have also been struck by the meanness of his spirit. The deep reserves of cool are a good and convincing act, until the shot means something to him, and then the great Murray is just like the rest of use. I’d like to be paired with Vijay. I caddied in groups with him in Europe in ‘91 and have always liked him.

source: golf.com