Mar 27

My Shot: Lucy Li

At 11, Lucy Li had won at Augusta, played the Open at Pinehurst, and learned the art of balancing ice cream and veggies. Now 12, she's just getting started.
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Mar 27

Aaron Baddeley had the craziest ace* of all time

Aaron Baddeley's tee shot the drivable par-4 17th at TPC San Antonio on Thursday had flown into an unplayable lie. The Aussie decided he would re-tee, hitting 3 from the tee box.

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Well, Baddeley put a 3 on his scorecard. 

That's because Baddeley holed his second tee ball, dropping in the cup from 336 yards away for the most incredible birdie ever.

"I hit the second one, man, why didn't I do that the first time? And it rolls up and goes in," said Baddeley after the round.

The birdie got Baddeley to 4 under on a difficult scoring day in Round 1 of the Valero Texas Open. He capped off the round with a closing par to shoot 68 on the par-72 track to trail Charley Hoffman by a shot. The incredible escape could prove huge in Baddeley's quest for a fourth PGA Tour win and first since the 2011 Northern Trust Open.


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

Mar 27

Stacy Lewis hosted a special junior player ahead of the Kia Classic

World No. 3 Stacy Lewis went several extra miles this week for one of her biggest fans she met last fall.

Last October, producers from the syndicated TV show "The Doctors" contacted Lewis to see if she would help them for a segment they were doing on 10-year-old Marley Franklin, a young girl who fell in love with golf after receiving bone-marrow transparents to treat sickle-cell anemia. Franklin said Lewis was her favorite player. Lewis was more than happy to connect with Franklin, doing so over Skype.

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But it didn't stop there. Through her sponsor Bridgestone, Lewis sent some equipment and apparel to Franklin. Lewis also invited Franklin and her family to this week's Kia Classic.

However, Lewis went even further, hosting Franklin and her family, as well as teeing it up with Franklin during the pro-am. Franklin got to shadow the two-time major winner, including attending the pro-am party and having a seat on stage for Lewis' pre-tournament news conference.

"Golf is very important to me," Franklin said on stage. "I love how it just makes me feel. I play almost like every day."

Franklin has been playing for two years now and is ranked 55th in the world in the Girls 10-11 age group -- quite an achievement for any player.

Even better, Marley's sister Maya, who donated the bone marrow used in the transplant, is starting to take up the game.

"Sometimes she'll mimic me putt," Franklin said, "and she'll be like, 'I made it. I'm going to beat sissy some day.'"


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

Mar 26

Phil Mickelson lost a club head at the Valero Texas Open

Phil Mickelson hit his tee shot to the par-4 12th at TPC San Antontio in Round 1 of of the Valero Texas Open into a fairway bunker. After a short conversation with caddie Jim Mackay, Mickelson settled on an 8-iron for the 154-yard approach. 

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Mickelson took the club back and through the ball. After impact, the club suddenly felt a whole lot lighter. That's because the club head had come off the iron and flown just outside the bunker. 

Naturally, Mickelson was befuddled as his ball didn't land even close to his target.

Unfortunately, Mickelson went on to make bogey on the hole. However, he did shoot 2-under 70 in tough conditions.


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

Mar 26

It’s tough sledding on Thursday at the Valero Texas Open

It's ugly out there on Day 1 of the Valero Texas Open.

Combine a tough TPC San Antonio course with up to 35 mph winds, and scores ballooned for the entire field. Among the morning wave of 72 players, three withdrew and 22 shot 80 or higher on the par-72 layout. By comparison, entering Thursday, there had been just 57 total rounds of 80 or higher to date on the 2014-15 PGA Tour season.

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Johnson Wagner shot 15-over 87. Major champions Geoff Ogilvy and Martin Kaymer each shot 82 -- a career-worst round for the reigning U.S. Open champion. Past Valero Texas Open winner Ben Curtis shot 80.

A year ago, the scoring average for Round 1 was 73. Through the morning wave, it was trending toward 79. By comparison, the scoring average during the nearly impossible final round of the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills was 78.73.

The winner among the morning players was Matt Kuchar, whose 72 was astounding considering the conditions and what he did relative to the field.

When asked what he thought of the day and the round, Kuchar said he was just happy it was over.


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

Mar 25

Begay: Woods is ’50/50′ to play in the Masters

First, the bad news: Tiger Woods' friend and Golf Channel analyst Notah Begay III believes the 14-time major winner is a "50/50 chance" to play in the Masters in two weeks.

Now, the good news: Begay's analysis has improved the odds from a "1-in-10" shot just three weeks ago.

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“I think his golf game as a whole is in a great place,” Begay said in a 120 Sports interview. “I think it was good for him to take a step back and assess a variety of things and do things on his timeline. It’s easy to get bullied into trying to acquiesce to the media’s concerns, or the PGA Tour’s concerns, or other people’s agendas."

Woods said Feb. 11 that he would not play tournament golf again until his game was "tournament ready." He's skipped The Honda Classic, played in his adopted hometown, and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which he was won a record eight times. Ranked 96th in this week's Official World Golf Ranking, Woods didn't even qualify for the WGC-Cadillac Championship earlier in the month.

Begay insisted he's seen Woods get better, particularly in his mental approach.

“I don’t know there was any one thing in specific that a player looks at," Begay said, "but it’s simply something a player feels when they step on a golf course and they feel like they can go out there and defend themselves."

However, what Begay said is somewhat contradictory. If Woods' game is in a "great place," then he shouldn't be a coin flip to play the first major of the year, right?


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

Mar 25

Rory McIlroy’s gym routine may convince you to pick up a dumbbell

You've probably noticed a change in Rory McIlroy's physique over the last couple of years. The world No. 1 has made the commitment to improving his conditioning with the expectation that it will make him a better golfer.

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In this video produced by Nike, McIlroy explains what he's trying to accomplish in the gym and what it does for him in a tournament. He's not trying to build glamour muscles, as some have accused Tiger Woods of doing, but is instead trying to build strength to control his golf swing and endurance to give him the energy to finish out a big event.

While McIlroy hasn't played his best in three Florida Swing starts, there's no doubting the impact fitness has on his game and confidence. Now, if he can just figure out wedge play outside of the gym, he'll have a great opportunity to build on his astounding second half of 2014.


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

Mar 25

DL3: Tiger Woods confident he’ll make 2016 Ryder Cup team

No one seems to have any clue whether or not Tiger Woods is going to play in the Masters in two weeks, but 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III knows Woods anticipates making his Hazeltine-bound team.

"He's expecting to make the team," Love said in an interview on BBC Radio. "He and I keep in touch a lot more than we have. He still has a good attitude and is working hard."

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Love, however, is in the dark like the rest of us about Woods' status for the Masters.

"I spoke to a few people who tell me he's working very hard and is eager to get back," Love said. "I suppose he has a plan for the Masters. We're hoping to see him back soon."

Woods announced Feb. 11 that he would not play again on the PGA Tour until his game is "tournament ready." He has since skipped The Honda Classic, just minutes from his home in Jupiter Island, Fla., and last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, a tournament he has won eight times.

Notah Begay III, Woods' friend and former Stanford teammates, said on 120 Sports that the 14-time major winner is essentially a coin flip on if he'll play in the year's first major.


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