Clarkie Carroll has been through a lot in the last year. The now-12-year-old endured 10 long months of chemotherapy to treat a rare bone cancer that robbed him of half of his right femur.

Thankfully, he is now cancer free and back to playing golf. But Carroll is more than your standard-issue junior talent. The kid's got a growing trick-shot repertoire. So the folks at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina teamed up Carroll with viral trick-shot sensations, the Bryan Brothers, to film some action around Thanksgiving.

Carroll, whose grandparents live off of Pinehurst No. 7, and his family hope the video can raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 19, 2014, 1:44 am

They say golf is a game you can play for a lifetime. So long as you're upright and swinging, that means you have a chance to make an ace, just like 103-year-old Gus Andreone did in Florida on Wednesday.

Andreone, the oldest member of the PGA of America, made the hole-in-one at Palm Aire Country Club in Sarasota, Fla. He used a driver from the green tees on the 113-yard 14th hole at the Lakes Course.

"I hit it solid and the ball then hit the ground about 30 yards from the green and kept rolling, rolling and rolling," Andreone saidaccording to "It fell into the hole, which was cut on the right middle part of the green. Miracles do happen once in a while." 

Anderone, who now has eight lifetime aces, may well be the oldest man to have ever recorded a hole-in-one. The apparent prior record holder was Elsie McLean, who made a hole-in-one at 102 years old in 2007.  Anderone's first ace came 65 years ago in 1939. His last one before Wednesday was sometime in the 1990s, on the same course's 17th hole.

It certainly takes skill to make an ace, much less eight of them, but it's hard not to wonder if some people are just plain lucky. Anderone seems to be -- not only with the aces, but three lottery wins in his life. 

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 19, 2014, 1:25 am

Hello, world.

Tiger Woods was on hand Tuesday in Mexico as, for the first time, a course he designed opened for play.

El Cardonal opened at Diamante Cabo San Lucas, the second course at the residential resort, alongside a Davis Love III design, called the Dunes Course, that's already ranked among the best courses in the world. Woods' course is a contrast to Love's links-inspired design along the Mexican coast. The 14-time major winner borrowed from his California roots in designing this course.

RG: Looking back from the fifth green.

— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) December 16, 2014

RG: The tee shot on the par-4 seventh playing back toward the Pacific.

— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) December 16, 2014

Woods' aim with El Cardonal, named after the ranch that previously occupied the property and not some variation on his alma mater Stanford Cardinal, was to be challenging for superior players but enjoyable for anyone. That means angles play a big role in scoring well, but wide fairways and openings to the green from the fairway make the course playable for any skill level. It's a reflection of Woods' attention -- what could be called an obsession -- with what he calls "lines," knowing the angles to best attack holes.

While it plays 7,300 yards from the championship tees, El Cardonal has five tee box options to keep any player engaged throughout the round.

"I designed El Cardonal at Diamante to make you think," Woods said. "You must be willing to weigh risks and make smart choices. Proper strategy will provide the best opportunity to score. The biggest compliment I can receive after you play my course is that you want to play it again."

Dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean and Sierra de la Laguna mountains will certainly keep Diamante residents coming back for more, but, for most, they'll never touch El Cardonal. They won't have much luck, either, with Woods' first design in the U.S. to open. Bluejack National, near Houston, is a total Woods redesign of the course formerly on the property and will be a fully private residential community and golf club.

Nevertheless, El Cardonal represents a big win for Woods' firm, representing the first time one of his designs went all the way from conception to open.

In 2006, Woods was commissioned (and reportedly paid $50 million) for his first design, Al-Ruwaya in Dubai. However, the global financial crisis hit the United Arab Emirates, leading to the project's halt in 2009 and indefinite suspension in 2011. Woods was also hired to design a course for The Cliffs development in North Carolina, but the project stalled long ago. The same was true of another Woods course slated to open in Mexico. 

El Cardonal represented a second chance for Woods to share his vision in Mexico. Woods will get another crack on what amounts to the same plot of land in Dubai, as well. He'll be designing Trump World Golf Club, Dubai, as part of a rekindled effort to develop the same property where his first design was to debut.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 18, 2014, 12:18 am

One of the biggest knocks on how the PGA of America handles the Ryder Cup is the lack of continuity from one captain to the next.

Ben Hogan was the last man to lead the U.S. into consecutive matches, back in 1947 and '49. While there's some discussion from one administration to the next, the degree of knowledge sharing really depends on the relationship between the incoming and outgoing captain -- and how receptive the new captain is to suggestion.

Another problem is the PGA of America's election cycle. Its membership elects a new president in a two-year cycle that lines up with Ryder Cup years. While the organization plans the elevation of its officers all the way to the presidency, each president has their own biases in identifying a good Ryder Cup leader. 

Meanwhile, the Europeans all sing from the same hymnal. Future captains get to serve as understudy vice-captains. Past captains come back to help their buddies as assistants. There's a committee of players and prior captains that pick future leaders. It's easy to see the value of a shared philosophy: eight wins in 10 Ryder Cup matches.

Could the U.S. benefit, then, from a single person -- not a temporary, 11-person task force -- whose sole job it is to oversee the PGA of America's approach to the Ryder Cup?

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas thinks so, looking at the example of USA Basketball as proof.

“I think there’s a lot that can be learned from what USA basketball has accomplished in a 10-year period,” Bilas said this fall to Golfweek.

After embarrassing losses in the Olympics and other international competition, USA Basketball hired former Phoenix Suns owner and general manager Jerry Colangelo to the position of managing director. Since then, the U.S. has won Olympic gold in consecutive games and the last two World Cup titles.

Bilas knows the commitment made to Colangelo and his program made all the difference.

“Now people are saying, Oh, we’re just more talented," Bilas said, according to Golfweek. "Well, we weren’t saying that a few years ago. So it’s really changed, and I think the program that’s been put in place has been the primary reason why.”

Paul Azinger for general manager?

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 17, 2014, 10:12 pm

With a single poor choice of words at the 2014 Ryder Cup, Nick Faldo polarized the European golf community.

While serving as on-air analyst with Golf Channel, Faldo called Sergio Garcia "useless" during the '08 Ryder Cup, where Faldo was losing captain on American soil. Faldo explained Garcia was listless after his breakup with Greg Norman's daughter, Morgan Leigh, and wasn't of much use to the Englishman in the only European loss since the 1999 comeback at Brookline. 

Faldo was resoundingly panned for the comment, which he apologized for later. That apology still wasn't good enough for many, including Ian Poulter, whose retort of Faldo incidentally lead to the ouster of former PGA of America president Ted Bishop. 

Now, count 2002 Ryder Cup captain and '14 assistant captain Sam Torrance among those unhappy with Faldo. In an interview with Bunkered Online in the U.K., Torrance didn't hold back.

“To say that right in the middle of the Ryder Cup, what was the a***hole thinking about?” said Torrance. “The reaction in the team room was magnificent. The guys rallied round Garcia. [But] really, it was pathetic from Faldo. I’ve no idea where he was coming from with that stuff. ... He’s an a***hole. It was beyond belief that one of our greatest-ever players would come out with a comment like that. Garcia’s not a team player? Have a look in the mirror, pal."

Well, then. Not that the Europeans needed any help in walloping the Tom Watson-led U.S. team, but it sounds like Faldo sabotaged any chance of an American comeback.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 16, 2014, 7:06 pm

If this is Bubba Watson's attempt to go all Beyonce and break free of the Golf Boys, he may be more like Michelle Rowland than Queen B. 

Nevermind the Destiny's Child comparison.

Bubba Watson made a Christmas-themed rap video for a song he calls "Bubbaclaus," and it dropped on Tuesday. The song isn't all that great, really stretching the bounds of what would be considered rhyming. However, Watson did bring back his hovercraft golf cart -- or, Hovercart -- and employed an unknown guy to prance around in a Gumby costume, who also dunked while wearing a Kevin Durant jersey. (Watson and Durant met up this year at an Oklahoma City Thunder game.)

The video is a reflection of the contradiction that is Watson. Off the course, Watson's never been shy on social media, doing publicity stunts like this to curry the favor of fans. Inside the ropes, however, Watson couldn't seem less interested in appealing to fans. Watson who refused to participate in the revived long-drive contest in the 2014 PGA Championship, saying he didn't believe such folly had a place at a major championship.

"I'm here to win a championship," Watson said. "I'm not here to goof around."

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 16, 2014, 5:48 pm

Who better to see your first ace than your dad?

Shaun O'Meara, son of two-time 1998 major winner Mark O'Meara, enjoyed that special moment on Sunday during the final round of the PNC Father-Son Challenge in Orlando, Fla. Playing the fourth hole at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club's Grande Lake, the younger O'Meara hit a 7-iron from 174 yards to make his first-ever hole-in-one. 

Neither of the O'Mearas saw the ball go in the hole, but Shaun at least has video of it from NBC, which broadcasted the event, that he can watch for the rest of his life. 

The O'Mearas finished fifth in the 36-hole event.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 15, 2014, 3:56 pm

As it turns out, Fred Couples could be the guy asked to end the United States' three-match Ryder Cup losing streak.

Couples, according to, has been contacted by the 11-person PGA of America Ryder Cup task force about the possibility of assuming the captaincy from Tom Watson, whose leadership and a five-point American loss in September at Gleneagles brought about this committee.

After the U.S. loss in Scotland, several players, including task force members Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, texted Couples about the prospect of taking on the role. The full task force met for the first time on December 9, and it appears the broader group supports pursuing Couples as captain.

The 1992 Masters champion lead the U.S. to three consecutive wins as captain of the American Presidents Cup team in 2009, '11 and '13. 

Couples is apparently competing with the likes of 2001 PGA champion David Toms and two-time major champion Mark O'Meara for the job. 

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 15, 2014, 3:38 pm

If anything, Adam Scott has one weakness in his golf game: putting. He ranked a modest 55th on the PGA Tour last year in strokes gained putting, but an abysmal 137th in one-putt percentage from inside 5 feet. It was the latter liability that lead to losing the Australian PGA Championship to Greg Chalmers on the seventh hole of a grueling, sudden-death playoff.

Scott had several opportunities to win the championship outright, which would have allowed him to savage a home-country run that, a year ago, had him a few strokes away from winning the country's Triple Crown. He had won the Australian Masters and Australian PGA, but a final-hole birdie from world No. 1 Rory McIlroy denied him the Crown-clinching Australian Open.

In the extra frames, Scott's putter seemed off, no more so than on the final playoff hole. Scott missed a 20-footer for birdie and the victory by going some 4 feet past the hole and outside of the lefty Chalmers' mark for his par putt. Still his turn, Scott missed the par bid, opening the door for Chalmers to win. 

It took a minor miracle for Chalmers to even get into the playoff. Chalmers carded 8-under 64 on Sunday at Royal Pines Resort to overcome a seven-stroke deficit, tying Scott and Wade Ormsby, the 54-hole co-leaders who both shot a final-round 71, at 11-under total. 

Ormsby lasted three holes in the playoff, booted when Scott and Chalmers made birdie to his par. With Ormsby gone, Scott had ample chances to win but couldn't take advantage. Chalmers won when Scott made his mistake. 

It's the second Aussie PGA for Chalmers, who won in 2011, also as part of a three-way playoff.

For Scott, who shared this week that he will become a dad in February, he didn't lament the playoff putting but the final-round iron play that left him on the defensive.

"I didn't hit it close enough today to the hole," Scott said. "It wasn't like I missed 10 footers today all day long. When you hit it outside 25 feet, there is almost the same chance you are going to three-putt as two-putt on tour. You have to hit it closer."

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 14, 2014, 1:46 pm

Pebble Beach's iconic par-5 18th hole looks a different after a strong storm ripped through the Monterey Peninsula on Thursday. One of two cypress trees that play into the strategy of the tee shot at the sea-lining finishing hole was uprooted.

Longtime USGA official Ron Read was on site during the storm and recounted the nasty scene to Golf Digest.

“I was standing on the 18th tee and conservatively the wind was blowing at least 40 miles an hour,”  Read said.

The trees were planted in 2004, replacing another pair of diseased trees that had been there. One tree still sits out about 300 yards from the championship tees, still providing plenty to think about before pulling driver from the bag. 

The bad news for Pebble Beach is that officials may not have a replacement tree planted in time for the PGA Tour's annual stop on the property as part of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, to be played Feb. 12-15, 2015.

It's been a tough year to be a well-known tree on a top-tier golf course. First, the Eisenhower Tree on the 17th hole at Augusta National was irreparably damaged in a February ice storm. Then an overhanging tree at the par-4 sixth at TPC Sawgrass, home to The Players Championship, was chopped down in October. Now this one.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 12, 2014, 9:57 pm

Just before Thanksgiving 2009, Tiger Woods hit a historic number. According to a Forbes report at the time, Woods became the first athlete to be worth $1 billion. 

Five years later, Woods hit the lowest of lows, personally and professionally, and is now trying to get back on the upswing toward major championship No. 15. While his competitive future is uncertain, Woods' financial future appears bright, according to a sports business expert.

Former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson, who now runs his own sports consulting firm, believes the 14-time major winner is well on his way to earning a second billion, particularly driven by off-course business deals.

Last week, Woods announced a personal and tournament sponsorship deal with Hero Motors, a combined four-year, $32 million deal. The bigger news, however, was that the Hero World Challenge would be moving for the next three years to the Albany development in the Bahamas, in which Woods has a stake along with Joe Lewis, owner of the English Premier League's Tottenham Hotspur and chief of the Tavistock Group. Tavistock developed Isleworth Golf & Country Club, Woods' former home club and host to last week's tournament, and the surrounding community to which Woods moved in 1996.

The effective merger of the World Challenge and the now-defunct Tavistock Cup is not only a big opportunity for Woods' foundation, but also his business post-golf. While Woods' design business is now thriving after a slew of early setbacks out of his control, the golfer can look forward to even more deals in the future.

"If you look at Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, I think they all make substantially more money today than they were making playing golf," Pilson said. "The business opportunities open to Tiger would probably dwarf the other guys."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 12, 2014, 7:11 pm

Birdies are usually good in golf. However, for Sam Eaves on Day 2 of the Australian PGA Championship on Thursday, a particular birdie was a nuisance. 

One of Eaves' drives during Round 2 at Royal Pines Resort had found the fairway off the tee. But by the time Eaves had arrived at where he thought his drive landed, it had been snatched by a crow.The bird grabbed the ball, then carried it into a tree.

Under the Rules of Golf, Eaves was entitled to a free drop where he thought the ball landed. Eaves even got the ball back. A spectator retrieved the ball after the bird dropped it.

Maybe the crow was trying to tell Eaves something. The Aussie shot 1-over 73 in the second round to miss the cut.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 12, 2014, 6:52 pm

Some two-and-a-half months after the Ryder Cup was decided, high-profile critics are still scratching their heads about some of U.S. captain Tom Watson's tactical blunders.

In particular, Fred Couples still doesn't get why Watson sat Phil Mickelson for all of Day 2 at Gleneagles.

“I'm not bashing Tom Watson, but sitting Mickelson, your best team player? Are you kidding me?" Couples asked rhetorically on Thursday while attending the opening of a six-hole golf course in Maricopa, Ariz., according to

Watson benched Mickelson and his preferred partner Keegan Bradley in the Saturday morning fourballs session in Scotland, most thinking it was in an effort to give Mickelson some rest. Then when they weren't sent out in the afternoon session of alternate-shot, Mickelson's weakest Ryder Cup format, Watson was almost universally panned.

Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, is good friends with Watson, but has previously been effusive with praise of Mickelson, who was on all three of the victorious Presidents Cup teams Couples captained. 

Of the five-time major winner, Couples said in November, "Phil Mickelson has been the best [team] guy on every team I've ever been on, by far."

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 12, 2014, 2:23 am

The PGA Tour is making its regular season more meaningful in determining its season-long champion. 

On Thursday, tour officials announced it would award fewer points in the four events making up the FedEx Cup playoffs. Going forward, the winners of The Barclays, Deutsche Bank Championship, BMW Championship and Tour Championship will receive 2,000 FedEx Cup points, down from the 2,500 that has been awarded since 2009. That 20 percent reduction will be applied to all points awarded through the playoffs. At the conclusion of the Tour Championship, the surviving player with the most points wins the $10 million first-place prize.

The change, the first significant alteration to the concept in five years, places more emphasis on regular-season events. Common PGA Tour events offer 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner, with World Golf Championships events offering 550 points. The four majors and Players Championship offer 600 first-place points. Opposite-field events offer 300 points.

The idea is to make it more difficult for a player who barely gets into the 125-player starting playoff field to advance through each successive leg, which cuts down to 100, then 70, then 30 players, respectively, after each of the first three events. 

The 30 players who qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta are guaranteed entry into the next year's first three majors, as well other perks as a reward for season-long play. The current system has drawn complaints that a below-average player could get hot at the right time and earn these coveted benefits with three good weeks.

No matter how the Tour Championship 30 make it to East Lake, they'll continue to have a mathematical chance of winning the FedEx Cup and $10 million after a points reset is applied. The top five players in the standings coming into the final playoff event will also still be able to win the FedEx Cup if they win the Tour Championship. 

While these changes certainly do place more of an emphasis on regular season events, they may not do much to help participation among top players. With the golf schedule so back-loaded, particularly from mid-July through September, it's tough to convince the best players to tee it up much before the Florida Swing in March.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 12, 2014, 2:03 am

Considering its rich golf history, Australia should host a PGA Tour event of some kind -- especially since the tour has expanded it schedule across the Pacific, with events in Malaysia and China. 

World No. 3 Adam Scott agrees, suggesting there's hope for Oz to hold a sanctioned PGA Tour event in the not-too-distant future.

"I'd be hopeful, and there was talk of it a few weeks ago, maybe getting a World Golf Championship down here as a permanent spot in Australia," Scott said ahead of this week's Australian PGA Championship.

Currently, the PGA Tour hosts the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and co-sanctions the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. The latter, which also is considered part of the European Tour's Final Series, attracts a world-class field each year. Scott would love to see that kind of field for any of the events in Australia's Triple Crown: the Aussie Masters, Australian Open or Aussie PGA.

"Something like that or something affiliated with the PGA Tour potentially, would be great for the game down here and kind of solidify Australia's importance to the game of golf because we've been a significant part of golf for a long time," Scott said.

With so many astounding courses Down Under, including Royal Melbourne, The Metroplitan and The Australian Golf Club, Scott thinks a PGA Tour event would pretty much sell itself to the best in the world.

"[The course] plays a big part in the decision making of guys' schedules," he said. "It does for me and I know some of the other guys, too."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 10, 2014, 3:35 pm

The journey back to U.S. Ryder Cup success started Tuesday, with the PGA of America's 11-person Ryder Cup task force meeting for the first time. 

The group convened for a four-hour teleconference emanating from the organization's headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

“We discussed a wide array of issues including the selection process for captains and vice captains and more,” said PGA president Derek Sprague in a statement. “Today was the beginning of a process that is designed to create the conditions for long-term Ryder Cup success. We have more work to do and look forward to gathering again to complete the work of the task force.”

The committee, formed in October after the U.S. lost the biennial matches against Europe for the third-conseuctive time, aims to stem the tide of eight U.S. losses in the last 10 matches. Its members include Sprague, PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua and vice-president Paul Levy; former captains Raymond Floyd, Tom Lehman and Davis Love III; as well recent players Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods.

The committee is set to meet next ahead of the Farmers Insurance Open in February in San Diego, according to Meanwhile, the PGA of America will delay announcing a 2016 Ryder Cup captain. Sprague has suggested the task force will meet several times before Tom Watson's successor will be revealed.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 10, 2014, 3:15 pm

It's a rite of passage for a pro golfer when they get into the upper echelon of the Official World Golf Ranking: They earn invites to far away events for large appearance fees in the sport's faux off-season. And, with that appearance fee often larger than the tournament's first-place prize – a lot larger – they're not only contractually obligated to play in the tournament but also to appear in awkward promotional photos.

Here's a great example.

@ThaiGolfChamps Rd 1 Tee times are now up on Which is your favourite group?

— The Asian Tour (@asiantourgolf) December 9, 2014

Bubba Watson, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Victor Dubuisson and Martin Kaymer flew into Thailand this week to play in the Asian Tour's Thailand Golf Championship. On Tuesday, they donned traditional Thai clothes and posed for a picture with Thongchai Jaidee, active Thai golf legend. At least the fellas are having fun with it.

The purse for the event is $1 million. Segrio Garcia pocketed $180,000 for winning last year's event. However, total appearance fees in the past have reportedly topped $4 million, making showing up potentially a lot more lucrative than winning. (Tiger Woods has commanded more than $3 million just for showing up to play in certain overseas tournaments.)

For however uncomfortable the players look in the picture, they're going to feel more anxiety on the course, playing the true island-green, par-3 17th at host course Amata Spring Country Club. 

What a golf hole..! #17 @ThaiGolfChamps

— BRYCE EASTON (@Bryce_Easton) December 9, 2014

Golfers access the hole by boat – duh! – but here's the interesting part: The green is attached to a series of pulleys that can move the island, meaning the yardage can actually change. Groovy, especially if you're walking to the tee box with a check already in hand.

Via Eye on Golf

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 9, 2014, 11:50 pm

If the claims of lawyers representing Rory McIlroy's former agent are true, then the world No. 1 has gone through a lot of burner phones -- at least eight in the last four years.

The Irish Times reports lawyers for Horizon Sports Management claim McIlroy intentionally wiped eight mobile phones of data and documents relevant to their defense in a suit McIlroy has brought against the Dublin-based agency. 

Horizon lawyer Paul Sreenan said McIlroy did a "factory reset" on these devices the Ulsterman had from 2011-2014. In a previous deposition, McIlroy said he was unaware he needed to back up documents on his phone before moving from one model of iPhone to the next, claiming he wiped the phones to protect his privacy and avoid unsolicited calls from the media. He had also previously claimed his "transient lifestyle" was the reason for changing phones so often.

McIlroy filed his lawsuit against Horizon, led by former agent Conor Ridge, in October 2013, alleging the agency misled him into signing a representation agreement in 2011 with unfair terms and outrageous commissions. That lawsuit came on the heels of McIlroy signing a three-year extension with the agency earlier in the year, complete with revised commission terms. Horizon and two other parties have countersued.

The suit has dragged on in Irish Commercial Court, with lawyers dragging in the likes of McIlroy's father Gerry, friend and former Horizon de facto recruiter Graeme McDowell and others as potential witnesses and people of intrigue. In fact, the judge in the case ordered both sides to pursue out-of-court mediation in hope of coming to a settlement. With both sides unable to reach an agreement, the trial is set to unfold next year. 

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 9, 2014, 8:47 pm

From the beginning, golf sold the International Olympic Committee on its return to the Olympic program with the idea that the game's greatest players would compete on the quadrennial stage. It was central to golf landing a spot in the 2016 and '20 Games. 

However, as the Rio Games loom less than two years away, critics -- including me -- of the tournament format and qualifying criteria are still nervous Olympic golf will turn out to be the blockbuster it could otherwise be with a billion-plus-person audience.

Adam Scott, an Aussie likely to qualify for the 2016 Olympic tournament, seems to agree. Speaking ahead of this week's Australian PGA Championship, Scott said the tournament would be better were it reserved for amateur players.

“People watch us (as pros) play 45 weeks a year,” Scott said, according to the Courier-Mail in Australia. “If you really wanted to grow the game you’d have the Olympics for amateurs.”

Instead, 60 men and women will compete in separate events, with the field drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking and Rolex Rankings, respectively. While many, including Scott and Phil Mickelson, have said they'd like to participate in golf's return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence, most players have also said their broader focus remains on major championships. If golf survives to a third Games in 2024, that perception could change, but integrating an Olympic gold medal into the pantheon of most-desired trophies in the game will take time.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 9, 2014, 8:18 pm

In a 14-month stretch ending six years ago, Padraig Harrington won three major titles. However, in the last four years, the Irishman hadn't won anywhere on the planet -- that is, until Sunday.

Harrington held on for a two-stroke win at the Asian Tour's Indonesia Open, shooting even-par 71 in the final round to take home the $135,000 first-place check. The Irishman entered the final round with a four-shot lead but struggled with 37 on the front nine. On the final hole, Harrington was tied with Thanyakon Khrongpha of Thailand, who made a double bogey to close the tournament. Despite taking a penalty stroke himself, Harrington managed to make par to clinch the win at 16-under-par 268.

This marks Harrington's first win since the 2010 Johor Open, also on the Asian Tour. Harrington's last win on the European or PGA tours came at the '08 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.

With his 29th professional win, Harrington moved up 125 spots in the Official World Golf Ranking to 260th. 

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 9, 2014, 3:06 am

You know the feeling. There are few things more simultaneously humiliating, aggravating and mortifying than missing a really short putt out on the golf course. 

And since you know that feeling, you definitely know why this little boy lost it after missing a short putt while practicing with his family. 

Golf Channel aired this video on "Morning Drive" on Monday, and it's caught fire in golf social media circles. Maybe that's because that was the same feeling a lot of people watching it had realizing they were in the office instead of on the golf course.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 9, 2014, 2:42 am

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Cheyenne Woods will be on the LPGA Tour in 2015. With a fifth-and-final-round 70 in the final stage of LPGA Q-School, Woods secured her status on the circuit for next year. 

Woods, who is the niece of Tiger Woods, overcame a second-round 79 that could have doomed her chances by playing the final three rounds in 8 under par. Combined with the 68 to start the 90-hole event, the 24-year-old Wake Forest product finished at 5 under overall and in a tie for 11th place.

The top 20 players earn the best status possible from Q-School, meaning the opportunity to play close to a full schedule. All 20 slots have not yet been decided, with three players returning Monday morning to LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., to resume the fourth hole of a sudden-win playoff for the final spot.

While Woods is the celebrity name from this Q-School class, a number of high-profile, accomplished overseas players have also finished in the top 20. It starts with amateur co-medalist Alison Lee, ranked fourth in the latest World Amateur Golf Ranking, who will turn pro to play the LPGA Tour while continuing her studies at UCLA. She shared the top spot with Minjee Lee, who was the highest-ranked amateur in the world when she turned pro in September. World No. 23 Ha Na Jang earned her card as well, finishing tied for sixth. Fellow Korean Sei Young Kim, ranked 40th in the Rolex Rankings, now has her card, too.

Every player who made the 72-hole cut and finished the tournament earned some kind of 2015 LPGA status, including 18-year-old Charlie Hull. The Englishwoman fell short of earning full status with a T-28 finish. She will compete in Dubai this week in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters with a chance to become the youngest winner of the Order of Merit in Ladies European Tour history.

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Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 8, 2014, 3:18 am

Alright, Tiger Woods finished tied for last in his return to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge.

Despite that, there's plenty to like about what the 14-time major champion showed at his former home club, Isleworth, near Orlando. In particular, Woods' golf swing looked more reminiscent of the guy who won all of those majors from 1997-2008, not the swing from the last four years that let him down at times and physically hurt him at others.

Start with the stance. Woods looks like he has a wider base and more weight shifted toward his right side, a better position than where he was under Sean Foley, where he was setting up to load his left side to compress the ball at impact. His posture is also a little more upright, which is key to the entire motion.

The takeaway is longer, which does a couple of things for Woods. It allows him a chance to generate more power by feeling comfortable enough to take his swing to and past parallel at the top. It also buys him some time on the downswing, as well, giving the club a longer path back to the ball and more time to square the clubface. The path to the top is also more upright, leading to a higher ball flight, the ideal trajectory for the modern game. 

At the top of the swing, Woods seems to be fighting a closed ("shut") clubface, meaning that the face of the club is pointing toward the sky, as opposed to ideally at the back of his head. That leaves him open to a miss on the right -- the Hank Haney miss -- as an over-correction, but can lead to a snap hook, like Woods hit on the first hole of the tournament. This was arguably Woods' largest swing flaw on display this week.

On the downswing, there's a lot to like.

First, there is a clear shift of weight from Woods' right side toward his left. Every great golf swing has that. A lot of modern instructors are advising players to utilize the ground to create force instead of the lateral shift, and Woods still does this to some extent with this new-ish swing. However, since Woods no longer loads on the left side to build that power against the ground, he can clear his hips sooner, freeing his arms to get back to the ball with a square clubface and a full release of power at impact. He's not swinging harder, but more efficiently. 

Woods will still fight some head-bobbing, as he's done for several years now. But, Woods' posture seems more consistent through the swing, which should lead to more consistent results.

All told, Woods' changes have been met with almost universal approval, from Haney, to friend Steve Stricker, to Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, who was no fan of Foley and his methods. 

While this all isn't to say Woods is fixed technically -- there's still work to do -- it is to say he's on the right path, in a figurative and literal sense, heading into 2015.

Now, to work on that short game.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 8, 2014, 12:19 am

It's hard to sugar-coat this, but let's try.

Tiger Woods finished in last place -- alright, tied for last place with Hunter Mahan -- in the 18-person Hero World Challenge. His final-round 72 left him at even-par 288 in his return to competitive golf.  Woods finished 26 shots behind winner Jordan Spieth, who, in fairness, won by 10 shots, which still left Woods 16 shots out of second place.

However, looking back on the entire week, it's pretty easy to see where those 16 shots were lost: inside 125 yards. And there was no place Woods' short-game struggles were on display this week than host Isleworth's par-5 13th hole.

For the third time this week, on Sunday, Woods chunked not one, but two chip shots at the tricky green complex. Woods went on to make triple-bogey 8, marring what otherwise would have been consecutive 69s on the weekend.

From tee to just shy of the green, Woods looked solid on Sunday, hitting nine of 14 fairways and hit 11 greens in regulation. For Woods, those good numbers, especially off the tee. For the week, Woods hit 71 percent of fairways and 68 percent of greens. At Woods' best, that would have been a recipe for a dominating -- or at least contending -- performance. 

But it was the nine chunked chip shots and a skulled pitch shot that led to almost all 14 shots he lost to part this week. The resulting extra shots he had to hit -- sometimes, basically re-hit -- were what did him in.

Woods rightly attributed the problems to rust.

“All it is is practice,” Woods said. “I’ve just gotta work.”

In one sense, that left Woods clearly frustrated, at times embarrassed, through the week. In another, the chipping and pitching woes give Woods a clear focus for his off-season work.

“Obviously there are some things that I can do with my short game that I definitely can work on,” Woods said. “Overall, it’s so nice to be able to go out there and hit drives that hard again, take bunkers out of play, cut corners. Hadn’t felt healthy enough to do that in a very long time.” 

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 7, 2014, 11:49 pm

If the past few weeks have been any indication, Jordan Spieth is going to have one hell of a 2015.

Spieth shot a final round of 6-under 66 at Isleworth Golf & Country Club to close out a 10-shot win at the Hero World Challenge, his second win in as many weeks, on different continents.

The 21-year-old Texan backed up the Saturday 63 that gave him a seven-shot cushion for the final round, expanding his lead en route to shooting 26-under-par 262 at the Orlando-area golf club. The 66 was great -- tying Jason Day for the Sunday best -- but could have easily equaled his Aussie Open closer were it not for a double-bogey 6 at the par-4 14th hole.

On that final day Down Under, Spieth fired a 63 so unmatched world No. 1 Rory McIlroy later said he couldn't reproduce that score in those windy conditions in 100 tries. 

This week in Florida was a completely dominant performance from a player who, the week prior, became the first American in 21 years to win the Australian Open. 

Spieth now has three professional wins, and, in the past two, taking down essentially the entire world top 10, of which he'll now be a part, in dominating fashion. 

Perhaps the golf world should have seen this coming. In one of Spieth's two collegiate seasons at the University of Texas, Isleworth was site of one of his solo wins, taking that tournament by eight shots.

As American competitive golf goes into its brief hiberation, it's hard not to be excited for the prospect of a Masters showdown between McIlroy, who needs a green jacket to complete the career grand slam, and Spieth, who held the lead early on Sunday in the 2014 edition.

Is it April yet?

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 7, 2014, 11:25 pm

In one sense, Saturday was the best round of the week for Tiger Woods. In another, it was the worst.

Woods shot 3-under 69 at Isleworth Golf & Country Club in Round 3 of the Hero World Challenge, marking his best round in his return to competitive golf. However, a day after Woods spiked a 100-degree fever, his health visibly worsened, including vomiting off the first fairway. Perhaps emblematic of his day, Woods went on to make birdie at No. 1. 

The former world No. 1 made the turn in 1 under, making a bogey at the par-4 sixth before picking up a bounceback birdie at the par-5 seventh. 

On the second nine, Woods got to 2 under on the round with a birdie at the 12th. Then it was deja vu all over again as Woods found himself in almost the exact same position short of the green at the par-5 13th as he was on Thursday when he hit one of four chunked chip shots on the round. Different day, same result. Woods again chunked his chip shot, leading to another bogey. A bogey at the par-3 15th dropped him back to even on the round.

However, Woods found enough to have his best final flurry to a round this week, making three conseuctive birdies to turn in a 69 that was impressive given the circumstances.

Woods remains in last place in the 18-man field and, at even-par 216, is the only player not under par for the week. But, even as his health worsens, his scores continue to improve.

“Well, it wasn’t easy, and I fought hard,” Woods said after the round. “That’s about all I had.”

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 6, 2014, 10:08 pm

Tiger Woods was hot on Friday at the Hero World Challenge, but not quite in the way you'd expect.

Running a 100-degree temperature, Woods was better on Day 2 at Isleworth Golf & Country Club, shooting a rain-interrupted, 2-under 70 that marked his first competitive under-par round since July 31. That's the good news. 

The bad news? Woods was blitzed not only by red-donning playing partner Patrick Reed's second-round 63, but also by a number of players in the 18-man field on a day where the tough Orlando area course was vulnerable to scoring.

Then there was the matter of how the round ended. Following on four chunked chip shots on Thursday, Woods hit the Earth first with his greenside chip shot on Isleworth's finisher, leading to a double-bogey 6 that turned a solid 68 into a tainted 70. 

From tee to green, Woods looked sharp, swinging freely in a way more reminiscent of his younger years that the compact, short, stuck swing he's been making since 2010 with Sean Foley. Woods worked the ball with his driver, including the long-lost towering draw from the tee box.


Iron play was controlled for the most part, leading to an impressive eagle at the par-5 13th, again on the 14th and the 16th.

Again, however, it was Woods' short game that let him down. Woods is trying to remake his short-game motion after the baffling decision to shape his game inside 125 yards after the Foley full swing. Without the confidence and consistency that are paramount to a potent short game, it's hard to execute. That was on display at No. 18. 

Woods is still in last place in the 18-player field and only one of two players not under par through 36 holes. However, there's plenty of reason for Woods to be pleased with what he's showing outside of 50 yards. Unfortunately, it's that piece of the game that will turn bad rounds into decent ones and decent rounds into great, maybe major-winning rounds.

It's a process.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 5, 2014, 9:49 pm

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At a golf tournament, fans aren't supposed to go inside the ropes. Most humans know that. Baboons? Not so much.

Former world No. 1 Luke Donald had a run-in with a primate on Friday at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa. After his tee shot found the fairway, Donald was walking up to his ball when he heard the baboon coming toward him from behind. The Englishman scurried to make way for the baboon, who may well have been trying to get a yardage for Donald.

The encounter didn't throw off Donald at all, who shot 9-under 63 in Round 2 to take a two-shot lead heading into what he hopes is weekend with no monkey business.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 5, 2014, 3:18 pm

Jordan Spieth ended Day 1 of the Hero World Challenge on Thursday in the same place he ended his last tournament: atop the leaderboard.

Four days after becoming the first American in 21 years to win the Australian Open, Spieth shot a 6-under 66 at Isleworth Golf & Country Club to lead the 18-man event in Orlando by a shot over four players, including Henrik Stenson (who won in his last start at the DP World Tour Championship), semi-retired Steve Stricker, Rickie Fowler and defending World Challenge champion Zach Johnson.

The 21-year-old Texan had a solid start with birdie, but made his run at the end of the opening nine with four consecutive birdies to go out in 31 -- 10 shots better than host Tiger Woods. The second nine began with a flurry, too, with a pair of birdies in the first four holes of the side, as well Spieth's only bogey of the day.

However, Spieth probably best showed his ability and rapid maturity on the tough par-4 finishing hole. Spieth's approach shot was unlucky, striking a sprinkler head short of the green and bouncing over and right of the green. Left with a tough shot to a tight hole location, Spieth left it 12 feet short of the hole. The confident world No. 11 then rolled in the right-to-left putt to save par and take a lead into the second round.

The 66 in Florida follows up an astounding 8-under 63 to close out a six-stroke win at the Aussie Open. However great those last two rounds have been, only one counts this week, and Spieth has nine pursuers within three shots. For Spieth to end 2014 with back-to-back wins, he'll have to keep up the pace.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 4, 2014, 11:18 pm

Tiger Woods isn't back. He isn't done, either. He just isn't ready. 

In his return to competitive golf on Thursday at his Hero World Challenge, Woods looked like a guy who hadn't played a tournament round since August, had spent two months not touching a club at all and had been working for the last month on developing new swing habits -- even if they're inspired by the way Woods used to play.

At his former home course, Isleworth Golf & Country Club, Woods shot 5-over 77 that leaves him in last place by four shots in the world-class, 18-man field.

The era of Tiger Woods 5.0 (as a pro) began with an out-of-bounds tee shot, snapped left with a 3-wood. Woods found the fairway with his next tee shot and stuck his approach to 2 feet for an impressive bogey. He dropped a shot at the punishing, long par-3 second.

Five holes later, Woods did well to drop another shot when he threw his approach in a greenside bunker and kept it in there after his next shot.

His drive on the eighth found a tree-influenced lie, then he chunked a chip shot after going long with his third shot and made double bogey. Woods went out in 5-over 41, and it looked bad.

The good news for Woods is that he played the back nine at Isleworth in even-par 36. Woods dropped just one shot on the second side, but it came at the hands of another chunked chip shot at the par-5 13th. That bogey came on the heels of his lone birdie of the day after his approach to the water-guarded, par-4 12th spun to inches from the cup. 

After the front side, Woods appeared to have settle down from tee to green, though he was hardly rewarded for it. His second shot at the par-5 13th looked brilliant, but was off by a foot or two and spun down a hill and off a green -- setting him up for the chunky chip and ensuing bogey. Woods missed a straight-in, 4-footer for birdie a hole later.

Throughout the round, Woods' body language showed a man who knows he can do better, but conscious that this -- to borrow his parlance -- is a process that has to unfold in public view.

However, Woods looked happy after his tee shot at the 18th hole was long and straight, leaving him encouraged heading into the rest of the week.

All told, Woods looked rusty, and that should have been expected. However, this is a no-cut event, and he'll have three more rounds on a very difficult golf course to see where his game is before he takes another competitive break heading into 2015.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 4, 2014, 10:12 pm

Tiger Woods made a little boy's day earlier this week, and it's worthy of your time.

Tommy Morrissey is 3 years old and is a pretty good golfer. What makes the New Jersey-born boy different is that he was born without a right arm under the elbow, meaning he swings the golf club with a righty stance using just his left arm. And he hits it 70 yards off the tee with a driver. 

Since his story came to light back in August, Morrissey's been all over the place, sharing his story and feeling the warm embrace of a golf community that has marveled in his resolve and talent. This week, Morrissey was a guest at the Hero World Challenge in Orlando, and he was treated to a surprise: a little time with tournament host Tiger Woods.

Fox Sports filmed the interaction between the two, which included some time on the driving range and putting green. You get a sense of the kind of father Woods is to his two children, which is a different look than we know of him. But the important thing to focus on is Tommy and his enjoyment of not only the time with Woods, but also his zest for life. It's refreshing and uplifting.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 4, 2014, 5:31 pm

Tiger Woods and his December golf tournament have a new sponsor. India-based Hero Motors, maker of two-wheeled motorvehicles, has signed on to back Woods and the Hero World Challenge in a four-year deal announced Tuesday.

Reports from India peg the deal at $8 million per year, for both Woods personally and this event, which primarily benefits his foundation. Woods says he's never been in the saddle of a motorbike, and won't start now, but Hero CEO Pawan Munjal believes Woods is the perfect face to represent the company's expansion into Europe in 2015 and the U.S. in 2016.

Woods and Munjal first met back in February, when Woods received a large appearance fee to participate in an exhibition in India. Munjal quickly settled on Woods as the name he was seeking for global expansion. However, this relationship doesn't come with some expectation that Woods will return to India to play in its biggest event. Hero has put its money behind resurrecting the Indian Open, an event co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours. Asked Tuesday if he'd be playing in the 2015 edition, Woods said he wasn't aware of the dates, but would give strong consideration to playing there in '16 and beyond.

Meanwhile, Woods' event has found a new home for the next three years: Albany Country Club in the Bahamas, developed and owned by the Tavistock Group, which also runs this week's host and Woods' former home course, Isleworth Golf & Country Club.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 3, 2014, 7:56 pm

Jack Nicklaus has done it all in golf, and he's about to get recognized for it by Congress.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed a measure, first brought forth in 2012 by Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown from Nicklaus’ home state of Ohio, previously passed by the House back in May by a 371-10 vote to award Nicklaus the Congressional Gold Medal.

Once President Obama signs off on the legislation, a custom medal to commemorate Nicklaus' life and accomplishments will be made and awarded to the Golden Bear.

Nicklaus will join Arnold Palmer as the only golfers to receive the Gold Medal, honoring Americans “who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.” 

In 2005, Nicklaus received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the executive branch’s equivalent to the Gold Medal.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 3, 2014, 7:26 pm

The holiday season is here, and that means it's time to do some shopping for the loved ones in your life, as well as picking up a few things for yourself. We here at Devil Ball Golf are here to help with our holiday gift guide, with 20 suggestions for all kinds of golf gifts that could be perfect for the hacker in your life or in the mirror.

Titleist ProV1 golf balls (MSRP: $62): The ProV1 and ProV1 X balls are gold standard for the sport, dominating sales. By no means are they inexpensive, but, for the better player, they offer spin where you need it, feel with the scoring clubs and distance off the tee. You need golf balls every time you play, though, so why recommend a box as a holiday gift? Right now, you can get free personalization with an order. That customization can be a little fun or inspiring (or ego-stroking) through the coming season.

Bushnell Tour Z6 Jolt laser rangefinder (MSRP: $399): Who wants to pace off yardages like a putz when there are distance-measuring devices that will give you a tour-grade number? You can use a GPS unit, but it's hard to argue with the exact measurement from a laser rangefinder. The Bushnell Tour Z6 Jolt is one of the best, offering an easy-to-use unti with clearly marked yardages. The unit also buzzes, like your phone does when you get a text message, when you've hit your target. This bad boy is worth its weight in gold...because you'll be winning your weekend games.

Myrtle Beach Seaside Resorts “Bucket List Golf Package” ($501 per player, quadruple occupancy): Myrtle Beach has everything a golfer wants: a bazillion courses, oceanfront accommodations, great food and as much off-the-course fun as you can imagine. This package featues four nights of oceanfront accommodations in a two- or three-bedroom condo and four rounds on some of the best publicly accessible courses in the U.S.: Caledonia Golf and Fish Club, Dunes Golf and Beach Club, True Blue Plantation, and Barefoot Resort's Love Course. You'll also get a daily breakfast and a prime rib dinner. Available through January 14, 2015.

Kentwool Tour Profile performance golf socks (MSRP: $19): There is no better golf sock in the world than Kentwool, backed by a family with over a century making wool products. Their socks are comfortable, durable and come in a large variety of styles and colors. Take it from a guy whose toe bursts through socks too often, the Kentwool socks are my go-to on the course.

The Annika Academy Soren-Slam package ($9,250 per person): Odds are, your game could use a little work. So why not take a lesson or two? And who would be a better instructor than 10-time major champion Annika Sorenstam? Sorenstam opened the Annika Academy at Reunion Resort in Orlando, Fla., in 2007, employing her long-time team to teach students simple techniques to improve their game and fitness, Annika's passions. In the Soren-Slam package, students learn under Sorenstam's watchful eye for three days and includes a nine-hole round, instructional clinic, lunch and autograph session with the Swedish-born star.

Arccos Golf (MSRP: $399): If you want to get better at golf, you have to know what's keeping you from better scores. Arccos Golf is the product to help you learn just that -- and if what you're doing to fix your problem areas in actually helping. The product comes with nubs that are inserted in the butt end of the grip of each of your clubs that are then paired with your Apple device via Bluetooth. Arccos automatically recognizes when you swing the club and tracks your shots over the course of a round in conjunction with the mobile device's GPS unit. You get stats and feedback in real time, as well with more data and analysis afterward. You'll learn how well you do in five facets of the game, as well patterns in how you approach golf. It's a great investment in your game.

Seamus Golf hand-crafted headcovers (MSRP: $40-$65): Headcovers serve a dual purpose: They stop your clubs from getting dinged up while sloshing around in the golf bag and to make a fashionable statement. Seamus Golf headcovers excel at both with brilliant simplicity. Stitched by hand in Oregon, the headcovers look beautiful, often favoring tartan patterns. The headcovers come in driver, fairway wood and hybrid styles, as well two different types of pouches. 

59 Belts buckle/strap set: If you don't have a nice belt and buckle combo for when you play golf, you're either too old to care or lack personal flair. But that's not you, Devil Ball Golf reader. And that's why you should consider getting a 59 Belts buckle and strap set. Whether it's a pre-made design, a custom initials buckle or a completely unique-to-you job, 59 Belts will produce a beautiful, long-lasting look you can wear for years. 

Pebble Beach Golf Academy experience ($3,300 per person): If you haven't been to Pebble Beach, why on Earth are you waiting? There are few places on the planet as beautiful at the Monterey peninsula and few courses that can compete with Pebble Beach Golf Links. The California resort is offering an opportunity to improve your golf game and play three rounds of golf at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Spanish Bay. The four-day experience includes first-class instruction from director of instruction and 2003 PGA of America teacher of the year, Laird Small, at the new Pebble Beach Golf Academy & Practice Facility, which opened this year. Dates are available in January, February and March.

TPC Sawgrass golf package ($475): The par-3 17th hole at the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is a hole you know you want to play, even if you dunk 10 in a row in the water surrounding the green just 140 yards away from the tee. But you may think it's a little too pricey to play. Wrong! With a TPC Network package, you get a round at the Stadium Course, a night at the Sawgrass Marriott, just steps from the gates to the property, as well a golf shirt and commemorative photo frame. 

2nd Guy Golf apparel: Former Major League Baseball pitcher Russ Ortiz founded this small fashion label with a simple idea: selling golf apparel as a means of giving to others. The company donates proceeds from its sales to various charities. The threads look great, too, with simple designs that can appeal to every fashion taste. And for the ladies, there's 2nd Girl Golf, so the good looks and giving aren't limited to the fellas.

Adams Golf Tight Lies (MSRP: $250): The Tight Lies is back! Continuing the recent trend of resurrecting old brand names with new technology, the Tight Lies invokes the easy-to-hit club you saw on Golf Channel infomercials every day for a decade. A tri-level sole helps get the ball launched at impact from any lie. The Ghost Slot Technology hides a portion of the popular slot technology that delivers more forgiveness and distance. A low-profile design provides plenty of square inchage to make good contact.

Traditions Golf Club and Community ($249 per person, double occupancy):  Who doesn't want to relive the glory days of college for a weekend? And what if you could stay in luxury accommodations and play a top-rated Jack Nicklaus design instead of sleep in a dorm and eat Ramen noodles? Traditions Club and Community, the private golf club and residential development located in College Station, Texas. home of Texas A&M University, has a stay-and-play package for January and February. The package includes a round of golf on Traditions Club’s Jack Nicklaus/Jack Nicklaus II design -- home of the Aggie men’s and women’s golf teams -- and lodging in the Southern Living-inspired cottages and casitas located onsite, as well access to the club’s resort-style amenities.

Callaway Golf Big Bertha Alpha 815 driver (MSRP: $450)This driver is the end-of-year sequel to the successful Big Bertha Alpha driver. The central feature to the original Alpha is the “gravity core,” a removable weight placed in the center of the club’s sole. One end is weighted with 10.5 grams of tungsten, while the other end is 1.5 grams of nylon. When the tungsten weight is placed facing inside the club, the weight creates a higher center of gravity with more spin. Flip it over and the ball spins about 300 rpm less off the face.

A forged composite crown allows weight to be moved to other places on the club (including in your hands with the adjustable weights). The club also comes with two plug weights — 7 grams and 1 gram — that can be placed in the heel or toe to create shot-shape bias. The company's OptiFit system offers customization with settings for loft and lie.

Hilton Head Island golf vacations: Hilton Head in South Carolina is the place to be in the winter, boasting average temperatures in the 60s and 70s. There are over 20 courses in the area, including the seven Heritage Collection courses including Palmetto Hall, Palmetto Dunes, Old South Golf Links and iconic Sea Pines Resort. And don't forget about Harbour Town Golf Links, home to the RBC Heritage.

Bandon Dunes golf vacation: If you haven't been to Bandon Dunes yet (like me), you've probably heard at least one of your golf buddies talk about how incredible it is. So what are you waiting for? It's not cheap to make the trip to Oregon, but it's well worth it. With four incredible 18-hole courses, a magical 13-hole short course and the Punchbowl putting course, Bandon Dunes is golf heaven. Excuse me now while I dial them up to make my first reservation.

Mizuno JPX-850 irons: Mizuno quietly makes some of the best golf clubs on the planet. In particular, they're recognized by people in the know as manufacturers of outstanding iron sets. However, they've typically catered to the better player. That's not the case with the JPX-850 irons. Designed for players with handicaps ranging from 10-25, these irons are designed for maximum distance and forgiveness. Take 'em for a spin, and if they're for you, then get custom fit for a set you'll enjoy for a long time.

3 Up golf balls (MSRP: $23-$33/dozen): 3 Up Golf is a unique company in the golf ball space. They're an independent ball maker out of New Hampshire that just introduced its second ball, the 2S14. The ball is designed for the player with average swing speeds, offering the right amount of feel with the right amount of spin for the average player. The dimple design promotes a higher trajectory to help players land the ball softer. Consider it the ProV1 for that player who falls under the big portion of the bell curve of golf skill. And $3 from every dozen sold goes to charity, so you can give forward, too.

Ashworth Golf Encinitas golf shoes (MSRP: $200): Golf shoes used to be the absolute worst thing about golf apparel. They were clunky, offering good traction but only in one position. Today, they're light, comfortable, stylish and made for every taste. The Encinitas shoes area a mix of modern technology with a classic look, offering the wing-tip look you remember with lightweight materials that still provide maximum traction through the golf swing on all golf terrain.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 3, 2014, 6:31 pm

Sean Foley hadn't said much of anything publicly since he was canned by Tiger Woods as the 14-time major winner's swing coach back in August. That's changed in a recent interview with Canada's Score Golf. 

The Canadian-born Foley describes an amicable breakup with Woods that has preserved their relationship.

"I love TW. We still talk back and forth," Foley said to Rick Young. "That’s one thing I’m very proud of. We handled the situation in a very classy way. That’s the only way we would.”

Foley, 40, had every opportunity to bash Woods or anyone else in his camp for how their relationship unfolded, ended or anything else. However, Foley seems genuinely grateful for the opportunity to work with Woods and the friendship Foley says they maintain. 

In fact, Foley went so far in the interview to defend Woods' decision to publish an article on The Players Tribune blasting sportswriter Dan Jenkins for publishing a parody interview with Woods in the December issue of Golf Digest. In that piece, Jenkins brought up several Woods-related tropes, suggesting he enjoys firing people, is lousy to friends and is cheap. Foley wasn't having any of that.

“Seriously, saying he doesn’t tip? How come he [Jenkins] doesn’t mention Tiger raising $300 million for kids?" Foley asked. "Tiger is the epitome of the double-edged sword. Anything he does great doesn’t get mentioned. Anything he doesn’t it’s all over the place. Can you even imagine what the fallout would be if it was him and not Mickelson who called out Tom Watson at the Ryder Cup?”

Touche. Foley's methods are up for debate, but his logic typically isn't. And that extends to how he views the bigger picture, not only for himself as teacher to Justin Rose and Hunter Mahan, but for his now-ex-client. While he's not the camera-wielding man behind Woods' swing any longer, Foley hopes Woods passes Jack with 19 majors.

"Look, me probably more than anyone wants to see him win five more majors," Foley said. "He’s done so much for the game of golf and yet he continues to get torn down by all this bulls**t. "

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 1, 2014, 6:39 pm

Tiger Woods steps away from the keyboard this week to return to competitive golf at the 18-man Hero World Challenge, which moves from Sherwood Country Club in California to Woods' former Orlando home club, Isleworth. 

Woods hasn't played tournament golf since missing the cut at the PGA Championship back in August, just days after tweaking a back problem at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. 

Up until a few weeks ago, the current world No. 24 hadn't really made any kind of headlines, but has of late with a couple of headline-driving statements. First, Woods authored a piece for Derek Jeter's The Players Tribune lambasting 84-year-old sportswriting legend Dan Jenkins for a parody interview published in the December issue of Golf Digest. (Woods and Jeter share representation.) Then, Woods announced he has hired Dallas-based Chris Como as a swing "consultant," replacing Sean Foley, who Woods fired in August. 

Driven in part by those recent events, here are the three questions I hope Woods can answer this week:

1. What kind of changes will Tiger Woods make in partnership with Chris Como? Woods felt he needed to make a change in swing philosophies after a nearly four-year run with Foley. Foley developed a swing with Woods that used variants of Stack and Tilt and other methods. However, Woods never appeared to have total ownership of the swing for an extended period. By naming Como a "consultant," it'd seem Woods wants that ownership and just needs a trained pair of eyes to steer him where he wants to go.

2. Where is Woods mentally in his chase for Jack and, now, Rory? With Woods turning 39 this month after an injury-plagued season, Father Time looms large over the 14-time major champion, over both his long- and short-term goals. At No. 24 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Woods needs to do a lot to get back to No. 1 in 2015, likely 2016, if ever. Is that a goal? Is Nicklaus' 18-major mark?

3. Will Woods remain on the aggressive with the media? Obviously Woods saw something in the Jenkins piece that set him off, particularly after he didn't get the response he wanted in first privately reaching out to Golf Digest. However, will that attittude carry over into the larger media, the one that travels most weeks to where the best in the world play? If it does, perhaps it's proof Woods is distracted from his history-making mission.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: December 1, 2014, 6:20 pm

Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn have had tough years. Both have faced recoveries from injuries that have kept them out of their respective sport's biggest events.

For Vonn, a blown-out knee kept her from competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics. For Woods, back surgery cost him starts at The Masters and U.S. Open, while a reaggravation of the injury cost him any chance of being competitive at the PGA Championship. 

However, both start their comeback bids this week, with Woods returning to his 18-player Hero World Challenge in Orlando, while Vonn will ski in Canada at a World Cup event. 

In an interview with CNN, Vonn said she believes the couple inspired each other through times so dark, Woods said earlier in the year he wondered if he'd ever be able to compete again.

"Tiger and I both went through rehab with our injuries at a similar time, so we were both in the gym together and pushing each other and motivating each other, both frustrated," Vonn said. "I think we both helped each other a lot through that time, and I drew a lot of inspiration from him and I think he does the same with me."

The world will start to get a sense of how healthy Woods is this week, as well what he might be changing in his swing with new "consultant" Chris Como.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 30, 2014, 8:14 pm

An American hadn't won the Australian Open in 21 years. In windy conditions on Sunday at the Australian Open, naturally, it was a Texan who ended that skid.

While the rest of the field was blown away by windy conditions at The Australian Golf Club, Jordan Spieth dominated the course to shoot a final-round, 8-under 63 and win the Aussie Open by six shots over Rod Pampling. 

Spieth came into the tournament miffed he hadn't broken through in his second season as a pro. But that 63, a tournament best by two shots, capped off a very consistent year with the win he sought.

"It would be a lie if I didn't say that it was eating at me a little bit," he said.

The 21-year-old walks away from the trip Down Under not only with a win, but a victory over his weekend woes. On the PGA Tour in 2014, Spieth was ranked 112th in third-round scoring and 62nd in final rounds. 

"This week was big because I was able to close it out," Spieth said. "I felt the pressure and I felt the nerves and performed the best I've ever performed."

A year ago, Rory McIlroy used a win at this tournament to propel him to a four-win, two-major year. Spieth said he'd happily take that kind of leap from this win.

"I think if I had the follow-up year that Rory had this year, I think I'd be pleased this time next year – that would be nice," Spieth said.

Both Spieth and McIlroy will be favorites for the Masters come April, with the world No. 1 seeking a third-straight major and completion of the career grand slam. Spieth, who finished second to Bubba Watson this year after holding a Sunday lead on the front nine, believes he has a long way to go from what it took to pull off this win and wind up with a green jacket at Augusta National.

"In order to do this in majors," Spieth said, "it's going to take a lot more than it took this week."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 30, 2014, 4:20 pm

Leave good enough alone. That was the pre-Thanksgiving ruling of a Brazilian judge, rejecting a plea from national prosecutors to halt the construction of the 2016 Olympic golf course on the basis that its design violates the country's environmental laws.

Prosecutors have been trying for months to derail the project, ranging from demands several holes of the previously approved design be changed to this latest request seeking a total shutdown of construction. 

Judge Eduardo Antonio Klausner said in his Wednesday decision there is "no new fact justifying ... a halt in the implementation of the golf course for the Olympics."

Developers and the city of Rio de Janeiro, host to the 2016 Olympics, agreed to relocate the course's 12th hole to allow for a 109-foot-wide "wildlife corridor" to protect plant and wildlife habitats beyond what was required to earn initial approval to build the Gil Hanse-designed course.

The course is reportedly over 70 percent complete. With the finish line in sight, the course will start to grow in and be prepared for a potential test event or two before the games in less than two years.

Golf makes its return to the Olympics in 2016 after a 112-year absence. 

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 28, 2014, 2:28 pm

At The Australian Golf Club, an Australian leads the Emirates Australian Open. However, through two rounds, an Ulsterman, American and the world's top-ranked Aussie are in contention for the second leg of the nation's Triple Crown.

Two-time Aussie Open winner Greg Chalmers leads the way after shooting course-record-tying 5-under 66 on Day 2, taking a one-shot lead on the same mark over three players, including world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, Aussie amateur Todd Sinnott, Adam Crawford and American Conrad Shindler. 

First-round leader Jordan Spieth is another shot behind a 3 under through 36 holes, making birdies on his final two holes of the round to go from 3 over to 1 over.

Another shot behind Spieth is Adam Scott, who set the new Australian course record earlier in the day with 66 to overcome a sluggish first round and join countrymen Rod Pampling and Robet Allenby, among others, in a tie for ninth place.

Aussie Masters winner Nick Cullen is five back of the lead on even-par 142.

The challenge for the weekend will be trying to figure out the putting surfaces redesigned by Jack Nicklaus. With just 16 players under par at the halfway mark, they're clearly tricking the players, including Scott.

"I've hit a lot of wedge shots that have been a little mis-struck and then spinning off the greens," Scott said. "I guess that's got to do with the pin positions as well. So getting it very close to the hole is not that easy. I think the greens have to be the defense because there is no rough."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 28, 2014, 2:06 pm

Consider it a pleasant surprise. When plotting out his goals for 2014, Rory McIlroy didn't plan for a return -- much less a dominant one -- to the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.

However, three consecutive wins, including the final two majors of the year, quickly catapulted McIlroy above Adam Scott and into the top spot in the world. 

"I remember sitting down with my team and thinking about what I wanted to do and it was going to take a lot to get back to world No.1," McIlroy said Wednesday at the Emirates Australian Open.

"I didn't think it was possible this year. I was thinking maybe early '15. I was able to get back there at the start of August and it's been a great journey back. I'm not saying I was ever gone in any way, but it was nice to be back playing golf the way I knew I can."

This week marks the end of McIlroy's 2014 campaign, giving him a chance to cap off the year by defending the title he won a year ago from a poised Scott that began his ascent back to the top of the game. 

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 26, 2014, 5:54 pm

It's a right of passage for great players, the chance to host a prominent pro golf tournament. Jack, Arnie and Gary Player host invitational tournaments. So does Tiger Woods. Davis Love III hosts the McGladrey Classic. Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson did when they were still alive, and the tournaments still honor them today.

But it's been unheard of for a tournament to have multiple big-name hosts, much less in a cycle. That will almost certainly change in 2015. 

The British Masters will most likely be back on the European Tour schedule for 2015, and some of the game's most notable modern British players will rotate as host of the event. Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald have agreed to serve as host of the event each year through 2018, according to the Daily Mail.

While the tournament isn't officially on the schedule yet, organizers and the British quartet see no stumbling block to prevent a formal announcement soon. The event would slide into an open October date on the European Tour schedule.

"We’ve been going on about England having another event for long enough and it’s great that it looks like it is finally going to happen," said fellow host Luke Donald. 

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 26, 2014, 4:42 pm

Tiger Woods' new swing coach -- sorry, consultant -- Chris Como is an unconventional kind of teacher. He relies on biomechanics, in which he's pursuing a Masters degree, to inform the techniques he recommends for his students. Apparently, he's willing to go to great lengths to prove his swing philosophy. 

In fact, last year, the 37-year-old, Texas-based teacher jumped off a platform diving board with a golf club in hand to explain the important role ground force plays in the golf swing. This, uh, unconventional stunt demonstrated how important ground force is in generating power in the golf swing. You see, by swinging a golf club in free fall, without the support of the ground pushing back against you, Como demonstrates how it is impossible to use your legs to drive through the golf ball and generate power and distance.

While Woods probably won't find himself atop a platform anytime soon, it wouldn't be too shocking if this video is a muse for some of the Internet's best golf trick-shot artists.

Via Eye on Golf

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 25, 2014, 12:36 am

When golfers dominate the sport, they have a window. For Padraig Harrington, it was 14 months in which he won three majors. For Tiger Woods to date, it was a 12-year span in which he took down 14 majors.

It's clear Rory McIlroy, with four major titles, is in his window. How long that window will last is anyone's guess, but Graeme McDowell probably can make the most educated prediction of anyone short of the world No. 1 himself. In his season-wrap column for the BBC, the 2010 U.S. Open champion said he sees McIlroy's window lasting until the end of the decade.

“I think we are witnessing at least a five-year spell as world number one,” McDowell wrote. “I think he is going to dominate in the fashion of Tiger Woods."

Coming off a two-major season, McIlroy is looking for his fifth at the Masters in April, which would complete the career grand slam and leave him a second U.S. Open title at Chambers Bay away from holding all four major championships simultaneously.

No matter if McIlroy dons the green jacket at Augusta National next year or not, McDowell believes his countryman will become the fourth player in history to win double-digit majors.

“Of course, a lot can happen in the next five years, but, looking at Rory, he could win three, four or maybe five more majors in that time," McDowell said. "He could then be close to the 10 in total and whether he wants to go beyond that is entirely up to him.”

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 24, 2014, 10:11 pm

Derek Jeter playing baseball and Derek Jeter playing golf have two things in common: unnecessarily long games.

Jeter and President Barack Obama played golf on Saturday in Las Vegas at Shadow Creek, one of the most exclusive courses in Vegas. Obama arrived in town on Friday to discuss and sign Executive Orders designed to offer deferred deportation to some 5 million illegal immigrants.

The two were joined by Obama campaign supporter Stephen Cloobeck and Brian Greenspun, the owner of the Las Vegas Sun newspaper.

After the round, the Commander-in-Chief intended to play another nine holes but only got in a few more before leaving the property.

Shadow Creek, a Tom Fazio design, opened in 1989 and is now owned by MGM Resorts International. 

President Obama returned to the White House on Sunday. No word if Obama agreed to write an article for The Players Tribune.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 23, 2014, 10:54 pm

Stacy Lewis completed a season on Sunday that the LPGA hadn't seen in 21 years. With her finish at the CME Group Tour Championship, Lewis became the first American since 1993 to win the tour's money title, as well player of the year and scoring average awards in the same season.

With a final-round, 1-under 71 at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., Lewis finished T-9 to secure all three honors. Betsy King was the last American to pull of the feat. 

Lewis successfully defended the Vare Trophy, the LPGA's award for the player with the lowest scoring average. She did it facing the stiffest competition for the honor in tour history, with a record four players recording sub-70 averages for the season. 

The Arkansas product won player of the year honors in 2012, ending an American drought dating back to 1994 for the points-based award. That year, Beth Daniel took both the Vare Trophy and Rolex Player of the Year trophies. However, Daniel couldn't sweep the tour's major awards as Laura Davies took the money title. 

Lewis didn't win a major title this season, but she did win three LPGA titles, part of the 13 won by Americans during the 2014 campaign. That baker's dozen is the highest number of American wins in a single LPGA season since 1999.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 23, 2014, 10:26 pm

Tiger Woods has a new pair of eyes looking at his golf swing. On Saturday, Woods tweeted he had found a new golf coach.

Happy to have Chris Como consulting and working with me on my swing. I’m excited to be back competing.

— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) November 22, 2014

The 36-year-old Como is based in Plano, Texas, and was named to Golf Digest's list of "best young teachers" in 2013. This year, Como was named to Golf Magazine's "golf innovators" list.

Como says he prefers to think of the golf swing in biomechanical terms, a subject in which he's nearly finished a Masters degree. He has an interest in debunking long-held theories about the golf swing.

Woods discovered Como through friend and former Stanford roommate Notah Begay III, who was also thought to have been providing some guidance for Woods since firing former coach Sean Foley in August.

"I was introduced to Chris this summer by Notah [Begay], and subsequently we had several good conversations about the golf swing," Woods said in a release provided by agent Mark Steinberg. "I've worked with him about a month since I started practicing. Chris will consult and work with me during the year."

Como has worked with several tour players in the past, including Aaron Baddeley.

Como will be Woods' fourth coach since turning pro in 1996. Woods worked with Butch Harmon from '96 through 2003, at which point Hank Haney took over until May 2010. Foley and Woods parted ways after the PGA Championship, capping an injury-plagued season where Woods failed to post a single top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 22, 2014, 6:36 pm

How many times have you hit a tee shot on a par 3 and, halfway through the ball's flight, thought there was even an outside chance of it ending up in the hole for an ace? At least one of those times, you probably muttered something to yourself like, "Be right!" It probably was wrong. 

It was right for Shane Lowry on Friday at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. 

Lowry was 1 over on his round at Jumeirah Golf Estates' Earth course when he hit his tee shot on the 13th hole. As the ball was descending to the hole, the Irishman said, "Be right." A bounce or two later, it disappeared in the ground for a 1 that moved him from over par to under par on the round. 

From there, Lowry parred the last five holes to shoot 1-under 71 and wind up four back of 36-hole leader Henrik Stenson. 

Though Rory McIlroy has already won the Race to Dubai, which concludes with this week's event, and its $1.25 million prize, there's plenty on the line for Lowry and the rest of the field. Not only does the tournament winner pull $1.22 million, but were Lowry to win, he'd finish inside the top 50 in the year-end Official World Golf Ranking. That would mean a guaranteed spot in almost every upper-echelon tournament in 2015, including the Masters.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 21, 2014, 7:13 pm

Rory McIlroy hadn't played competitive golf in six weeks. He didn't look like it on Thursday in Dubai.

McIlroy shares the lead at the DP World Tour Championship after a first-round, 6-under 66 has him tied with Irishman Shane Lowry. The world No. 1 dissected the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates early, making four birdies in the first five holes, then another pair of birdies in the final 13 holes to take control.

There could not have been a better place for McIlroy to return to the European Tour than the Earth course. In 21 career rounds, McIlroy has never carded an over-par round and just one even-par round (2010, second round).

The Ulsterman won this tournament in 2012, the last time he won the tour's Race to Dubai, its season-long points race. McIlroy has already locked up this year's Race to Dubai, despite skipping the prior three events that, along with the DP World Tour Championship, comprise their Final Series, the European Tour equivlaent of the FedEx Cup. With that title comes a $1.25 million bonus.

However, McIlroy clearly isn't in Dubai to collect just one check and one trophy. He's looking for the double and an over $2 million pay day. 

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 20, 2014, 8:47 pm

Luke Donald didn't have a good day on Thursday in the first round of the DP World Tour Championship.

Donald shot 76 at Jumeirah Golf Estates' Earth course to end Day 1 of the 60-player field tied for next-to-last place. On top of that, he split his pants doing it.

Luke Donald split his pants on Day 1 of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai

The Englishman and former world No. 1 posted, then deleted, a shot of his split purple trousers with a clever hashtag: #playedlikeanass. Golf Digest caught the funny bit before it slipped away from the Internet forever.

The good news for Donald is that this is a no-cut event and he still has three rounds to right the ship. 

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 20, 2014, 8:34 pm

Dustin Johnson may not be making money on the course while on a leave of absence from the PGA Tour, but he raked in some big bucks in selling his Jupiter, Fla., house.

Johnson sold the home he purchased in 2011 for $3.7 million to Alexandre Ismail, president and CEO of Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions, for $5.2 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The 7,860-square-foot, Mediterranean-style home was built in 2007. The two-story structure has six bedrooms and eight bathrooms, as well a living room with a wet bar. The house sits on a waterfront lot, with the property boasting amenities including a putting green (naturally), private dock, pool and an outdoor fireplace and dining area.

Dustin Johnson sold his Jupiter, Fla., house for $5.2 millionThe house has a great driveway, among other amenities

With Johnson and fiancee Paulina Gretzky set to have their first child in the coming months, the couple will set up their nursery in new digs.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 20, 2014, 1:23 am

Do you even lift trophies, bro?

Rory McIlroy hoists plenty of them, including two majors in 2014, but those are practically feathers compared to the weight the world No. 1 is lifting in the gym on a daily basis. McIlroy, who is in Dubai this week for the European Tour's season-ending DP World Tour Championship, shared a photo of him lifting, well, a lot of pounds.

Great leg workout to start the day! #betterneverstops

— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) November 19, 2014

Justin Rose got in a fun joke at McIlroy's expense, challenging him on Instagram to lift even more weight in the gym.

Justin Rose joked Rory McIlroy needed to lift even more weight in the gym. (Instagram)

"@mcilroyrory I'll see your 400lbs and raise you 10! #Poker #GoBigOrGoHome," Rose said.

Seeing as McIlroy was third on the PGA Tour last season in driving distance, maybe Rose shouldn't prod McIlroy to get even stronger.

Check out what's buzzing on the Yahoo Sports Minute:

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 20, 2014, 12:52 am

In less than three months, Rory McIlroy will find himself on the stand in an Irish court, testifying on the record in the trial of a lawsuit he brought in 2013 against his former representation at Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management. 

McIlroy sued Horizon and its leader Conor Ridge, as well as a few other parties, suggesting the agency signed him to a representation agreement with unfair terms, including commissions McIlroy regards as too high, particularly compared to friend, fellow countryman and then-proxy Horizon recruiter Graeme McDowell. Though McIlroy signed an extension with Horizon early in 2013, months later he broke away from the firm to start his own company, Rory McIlroy Inc., to manage his business interests. Horizon has countersued.

What has leaked out smacks of an ugly case: document requests dragging McDowell and McIlroy's father into the proceedings, a failed attempt at out-of-court mediation, among other things. 

McIlroy clearly believes in his case and is willing to see it through. However, what will it cost him -- beyond what is revealed in court -- if he loses? A report in the Daily Mail suggests the worst-case scenario could cost McIlroy some £25 million, or about $39.2 million. The estimation doesn't include a breakdown of costs, but that's likely a lump of legal fees, commissions McIlroy would have to pay to Horizon and potential punitive damages paid to Horizon for the perhaps irreparable damage to its reputation.

The trial begins in February, but McIlroy, who is in Dubai for this week's season-ending DP World Tour Championship on the European Tour, is adamant the looming proceedings won't impact his focus heading into the 2015 Masters, his first chance to complete the career grand slam.

"So yeah, it’s not the best thing to be going through but it will be over and done with a good bit before I have to go down Magnolia Lane in April," he said. "As long as I’ve got a clear head going there, I’m happy with that."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 20, 2014, 12:19 am

Tiger Woods did not take kindly to a satirical interview Dan Jenkins published in the latest edition of Golf Digest, and he wants to let everyone know about it.

Woods took to Derek Jeter's The Players' Tribune on Tuesday, sharing his distaste for the piece.

"Jenkins faked an interview, which fails as parody, and is really more like a grudge-fueled piece of character assassination," Woods wrote. "Journalistically and ethically, can you sink any lower?"

The piece took aim at Woods in several ways, suggesting the former world No. 1 is cheap, likes to dismiss people who work for him and treats his friends poorly.

Here are a few examples:

Jenkins: I don't get it. For a guy who can certainly afford it, you've become famous for being a bad tipper. It's almost like you take pride in it.
Fake Tiger: I just don't understand why you're supposed to tip people for doing a job they're already getting paid to do.

Jenkins: In many cases tips are expected to be part of their salary.
Fake Tiger: So let 'em go find a better job.

And ....

Jenkins: Not sure you're aware of this, but back when you were at the top of your game I was also the guy who said only two things could stop you from winning more majors than Jack: injury or a bad marriage.
Fake Tiger: You wrote that?

Jenkins: In a moment of brilliance, yes.
Fake Tiger: You nailed it.

Most of it was pretty tame, though Tiger didn't seem to think so.

"I like to think I have a good sense of humor, and that I’m more than willing to laugh at myself. In this game, you have to," Tiger wrote.

But ...

"All athletes know that we will be under scrutiny from the media," he continued. "But this concocted article was below the belt."

Jenkins hasn't held Woods in high regard for years and is thought not to care for the 14-time major winner who has not given Jenkins much face time in his two-plus-decade career in the golf spotlight.

In 2010, Jenkins wrote publicly of his efforts to get to know Woods.

"I once made an effort to get to know the old silicone collector," Jenkins wrote. "Tried to arrange dinners with him for a little Q&A, on or off the record, his choice. But the closest I ever got was this word from his agent: 'We have nothing to gain.'"

Woods isn't buying this as an excuse.

"Frustration or resentment because I have not been more available to him should not give him a license for an underhanded attack on me as an athlete, as a professional and as a person," Woods said.

However, this isn't the first time Jenkins has parodied Woods, albeit it is typically not in the form of a fake interview (even if advertised on the magazine's December cover as such). The publication has been more vocal in its critiques of Woods, Tiger feels, since he parted ways with the magazine as a playing editor in 2011.

"Funny they didn’t think this poorly of me when I worked with the magazine," Woods said.

Woods, who will return from back ailments at his Hero World Challenge on Dec. 4, wrote that he's accustomed to what he feels are incorrect reports or vicious columns -- a certain 2013 column by Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee about a rules situation at that year's Masters comes to mind -- but feels this Jenkins piece went too far.

"The sheer nastiness of this attack, the photos and how it put false words in my mouth just had to be confronted," he said.

Perhaps all true, but Woods' retort merely gives more publicity to a story that, for the most part, had gone unnoticed. At the outset of Woods' condemnation, he asked his audience if they had caught Jenkins' most recent work. He then says he hopes not. Many will now that he's broached the subject of the line between satirical humor and a vicious hit-piece, however fake it was.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 18, 2014, 8:55 pm

Dustin Johnson's three-months-and-counting indefinite leave of absence from the PGA Tour appears to have a tentative end in sight. 

Johnson is eyeing a return to the PGA Tour next February at the Farmers Insurance Open, according to Golf World. The tournament will be played Feb. 5-8 at Torrey Pines near San Diego. 

The eight-time PGA Tour winner has been said to be waiting until the birth of his first child with fiancee Paulina Gretzky to return. That return date would also jibe with a Golf Magazine report in August that Johnson was suspended by the PGA Tour for six months after a third failed drug test under their anti-doping program.

Though Johnson played some casual golf in the early weeks of his time away from competitive golf, he apparently began training and practicing again in early October in preparation from a return.

An August FOX411 report suggested Johnson's future father-in-law, Wayne Gretzky, made clear a transition into a more accountable life as a father was a must. He appears to have heeded the message, as Golf World reports Johnson has whipped himself into shape from a flaky character to a dedicated father-to-be.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 18, 2014, 3:30 pm

When we write an article about European Tour Q-School, you know something fabulous has happened. 

Entering the fourth round of six at Q-School in Spain tied for 104th place, John Hahn needed a big round to save his European Tour status and make the cut. He delivered in the most dramatic way on Tuesday, shooting 12-under 58 to jump over 90 spots on the leaderboard. He made 12 birdies with just six pars on the Tour Course at the PGA Catalunya Resort.

58. FIFTY EIGHT! John Hahn - Take a bow son. @ETQSchool

— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 18, 2014

Hahn will now easily make the cut, needing to finish in the top 25 to earn a European Tour card again.

Unfortunately, the European Tour won't consider Hahn's round the first official sub-60 score in their history. Since players enjoyed preferred lies during the round, it doesn't count for their record book. 

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 18, 2014, 2:59 pm

When your dad is boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, you pretty much have access to most anything you can imagine. For Mayweather's son, Koraun, he imagined driving a Bentley golf cart. So that's what he got from Papa Money for his 15th birthday party.

Floyd Mayweather gave his son a Bentley golf cart as a gift for his 15th birthday.

"My son wanted a Bentley golf cart for his 15th birthday so I made it appear," Mayweather said in a post on Instagram. "Stay on the look out for his gift for his 16th birthday!"

A jet? Please say it's a jet.

Hopefully this lavish gift only set Mayweather back just one trip to the sportsbook window in Vegas.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 17, 2014, 9:40 pm

If Marcel Siem was going to have even a remote chance of catching Rory McIlroy for the European Tour's Race to Dubai crown, he had to win the Turkish Airlines Open on Sunday.

That bubble burst during Siem's warm-up in the gym, when he dislocated a rib. However, Siem, who trailed the lead by a shot heading into the final round, knew he had to give it a shot and played on anyhow. 

“It’s something I haven’t done for a year now because of my surgeries,” he said after his round, according to the Daily Mail. “I couldn’t really do it, and dislocated my rib. I thought I can’t even tee it up. Then my physio tried to crack it back in, didn’t work and we went to see the chiropractor and they pushed it back in."

The German was pretty well medicated when he teed it up, but still managed to shoot 1-under 71. Unfortuantely, that wasn't good enough to get the job done.

"I had like 1,600 milligrams of ibuprofen," he said. "I couldn’t have a proper back swing, but I played all right. I don’t want to blame it on anything, to be honest.” 

Even if Siem had managed a miracle win, he would have needed another win at this week's DP World Tour Championship and some help from McIlroy to claim the $1.25 million season-long prize.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 17, 2014, 4:33 pm

Phil Mickelson's looking a little thinner these days, and he still wants to lose more weight heading into 2015.

Mickelson, who recently accepted a position helping his brother Tim as an interim assistant coach for the Arizona State golf program, has picked up his workout regimen with a performance coach and lost some 10 pounds with his four-day-per-week plan.

"He looks more athletic. He's standing taller, carrying himself better," said Sean Cochran, Mickelson's performance coach, to Golf World.

The five-time major winner is angling to lose another 10 pounds with the hope of adding 10 mph to his golf swing. The 2014 campaign was not good for Mickelson, whose true finish of note was coming up just short of a sixth major at the PGA Championship in August. Ever optimistic, however, Mickelson sees nothing but good from dropping a few pounds.

He said, "Next year is going to be a great one."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 17, 2014, 4:16 pm

Golf has a new superstar, and his journey into the game's elite ranks has been an unprecedented one.

Brooks Koepka won the Turkish Airlines Open on Sunday in Turkey, closing with 7-under 65 to nip Ian Poulter by a shot for his first European Tour title. The win catapults Koepka, who entered the week ranked 61st in the world, into the top 35 and practically assures him a spot in all four major championships and World Golf Championships events for 2015. 

What makes Koepka so unique? The 24-year-old Florida State product didn't try to earn his way to the PGA Tour fresh out of school, instead taking the path blazed by friend Peter Uihlein, opting to head to Europe and try to earn European Tour status. Koepka earned playing privileges on the Challenge Tour, the European equivalent of the Tour, and quickly found success. He won in his rookie season, then three more times in 2013 to earn a European Tour card. 

However, 2014 has been Koepka's break-out season. He opened the 2013-14 PGA Tour season with a T-3 finish at the Open, leading to 16 total starts, including the final three majors of the year. You could be forgiven for not knowing Koepka finished T-4 at the U.S. Open in June. Martin Kaymer's dominance at Pinehurst No. 2 overshadowed anyone underneath him on the leaderboard. Koepka finished a solid T-15 at the PGA Championship.

Koepka is closing the season on an even more impressive tear. In his last seven worldwide starts, he's finished outside the top 11 just once. He racked up two top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour at the Open and in Las Vegas, earning almost $425,000 in the early portion of the wraparound season.

Traveling some 53,000 miles to play pro golf worldwide this year, Koepka's passport is practically worn out, but each stamp is proof his game can travel pretty much anywhere. With his win on Sunday, Koepka made it clear he intends to leave his own stamp on the sport.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: November 16, 2014, 5:27 pm

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