Aug 20

Bubba Watson apologizes for his actions at the PGA Championship

There have been plenty of major championships that showed the great side of Bubba Watson. Both his Masters wins come to mind, but his impressive play at the 2010 PGA Championship made us realize that this guy might be more than just a long-hitter when he found himself in a playoff with Martin Kaymer.

This year's PGA was a different story. Bubba spent most of the week complaining about this or that, making some personal statement that nobody really understood during the long-drive competition when he hit 3-iron off the tee despite using driver all four days of the actual tournament, and then complaining on the course about the conditions that everyone else in the field was also dealing with.

Any golfer can tell you that this game can drive you to do stuff that doesn't fit your personality, and Watson came out and apologized for everything that went down at Valhalla.

"You've got to learn from your mistakes," Watson told the Associated Press this week at the Barclays. "You learn from being selfish instead of looking at the bigger picture in life."

"Not competing in the Long Drive was the first mistake. When you look at just me as an individual, that was the selfish part, because I didn't agree with it."

It's all childish stuff and trying to mature and become a better man. Obviously I take it, I take it on the chin. It was my fault."

This isn't the first time Watson has apologized for what happened at the PGA, taking to Twitter during the week to let people know he was sorry for the way he acted.

It's good to hear Bubba acknowledge all of this and let the world know it isn't him. Golf needs stars like Bubba to continue to reach out to a fan base that can grow this game, and the fun-loving Bubba that posts cool YouTube videos and has a lot of fun off the course needs to line up with the man on the golf course that is trying to win big golf tournaments.

It sounds like Watson sees that and wants to change, which is a very, very good thing for both Bubba and the PGA Tour.

You will get to see the new Bubba on Thursday at the Barclays, when he tees it up with Rory McIlroy and Jimmy Walker for the first of four FedEx Cup playoff events.

Aug 20

Matt Kuchar hurt his back while searching for a Slip ‘N Slide for a party

We've heard of some crazy injuries over the years in professional sports, but not many can match what kept Matt Kuchar out of the PGA Championship.

Kuchar, the No. 7 ranked player in the world and a man most think is very close to snagging that first major championship, withdrew from the final major of the year because of a back injury, but it just came to light what actually happened to the 36-year-old.

It was a failed Slip 'N Slide search for a party at his house on Tuesday of PGA week that was the reason we didn't see Kuchar in the field, as he explained to the Golf Channel this week at the Barclays.

“We were having a party at the house — a bunch of people over, a bunch of kids over,” Kuchar said. “I was in charge of hooking up the Slip 'N Slide for the kids. Walked around, all of Target, all of Wal-Mart, couldn’t find one. Sat in the car for about an hour fighting traffic and when I got back, I thought, 'Boy, my back doesn’t feel very good right now.'”

Matt Kuchar bumming around a Target the week of a major championship? Pro golfers, they're just like us!

Kuchar did say he's back to being 100 percent healthy, some rare good news for Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson, who has seen a lot of his potential stars struggling this season with injuries, and it's a good time to feel good considering he won the Barclays in 2010, but just know that even the best golfers in the world can tweak something from simply doing nothing at all.

Aug 19

Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy visit Jimmy Fallon to promote Nike and play games

On Monday night, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy visited Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show." Or, perhaps, that should read "Rory McIlroy visited Jimmy Fallon, and brought along Tiger Woods as a special guest." Whichever, all three had a fine time, but it was clear McIlroy is the man of the moment.

The appearance was part of a Nike product launch, touting the new "Vapor" iron series, and included a pre-show media event at the Statue of Liberty. There and at the show, Fallon and McIlroy traded golf swings. Woods, still recovering from back surgery, indicated he won't be swinging a club for at least another month.

Still, Woods was effusive in his praise of McIlroy, who in turn was gracious about Woods' approval.

“We’ve seen him have runs like this before," Woods said of McIlroy. "He made a wholesale equipment change and also at the same time made a few changes in his swing. It’s tough to make all those changes work at the same time, especially at the elite level. When he puts it together, he can get on hot streaks and runs like this. To win two major championships and a World Golf Championship, that’s tough stuff. That’s not easy to do and not many people have.”

“It’s a huge compliment for me to be compared with Tiger,” McIlroy said. “But I'll never be able to do what he's done for the game.”

He did one thing Woods didn't do: defeat Fallon at his own game. Fallon famously topped Woods in a video game showdown, but McIlroy came out the winner in the FACEBREAKERS showdown. Conveniently enough, the trophy was already engraved with his name.

 

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

Aug 18

Winners and losers from the Wyndham and LPGA Championship

This past weekend saw a lot of great storylines and we are here to give you the good and the bad of it. Here are our winners and losers from the past week in golf.

Winners

Camilo Villegas — Years ago, Villegas was the "next big thing" in golf, a young, fit star from Columbia with a ton of potential and the appeal to pull different fans to golf. Villegas' career took a serious hit in 2012 when he made just 15 of 25 cuts and failed to card a single top-10, and while it didn't improve much in 2013, there were signs that he could return to relevance. The 63 that Villegas put together on Sunday at the Wyndham was good enough for a one-shot victory and a fourth PGA Tour win. It also moved Villegas up to 37th on the FedEx Cup points list, important considering the next four weeks of golf and the money to be made if he can continue to play like he did at Sedgefield.

Inbee Park — As regulation was winding down at the LPGA Championship, it looked like Americans would sweep the majors in 2014, but when Brittany Lincicome three-putted the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Park, it seemed inevitable that the 26-year-old from South Korea would finish with the trophy. Another bogey by Lincicome in the playoff meant a a fourth major title in the last 10 LPGA majors, and a fifth overall for Park.

Sang-Moon Bae — Needing a good week to qualify for the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs, Bae shot matching 66s on the weekend to sneak into the top-125 and earn a spot at the Barclays next week. Bae finished his round off with a 10-footer on the 72nd hole for a birdie, celebrating like a man that had a goal in mind before the week began and was able to pull it off.

Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker — Knowing that Tom Watson is looking for anyone playing well to pick with his three captain's selections, Simpson and Snedeker both finished T-5 at the Wyndham, trending in the right direction to sport the red, white and blue next month at the Ryder Cup.

Losers

Nick Watney — For most of Sunday, it looked like Watney would be the PGA Tour player with the jump-start win, and needing a birdie on the last to tie Villegas at 17-under, Watney hit his tee shot out of bounds, making a disappointing double-bogey to drop into a T-5.

Heath Slocum — Not only was Slocum playing for a spot in the playoffs next week, but the 40-year-old had a chance to win his fifth PGA Tour title after an eagle on the 15th and a birdie on the 16th. That was when the wheels started to come off, with Slocum making a bogey on the 17th and with a 50-foot birdie putt on the last to get back to 17-under and tie Villegas, he ran it well by, missing the par putt that not only dropped him another spot on the leaderboard, but would have landed him a spot in the top-125. Now Slocum has to head back to the Web.com Tour Finals if he wants to earn his PGA Tour card for 2015, a really disappointing finish for the man that had plenty at stake down the stretch at the Wyndham.

Aug 17

Kevin Sutherland becomes the first Champions Tour player to ever shoot 59

The Champions Tour is named "champions" for a reason. So many legends turn 50 and take their talents to a completely different tour, going up against huge names in golf that can still really, really golf their ball.

But unlike the PGA Tour, nobody had ever broke 60 until Saturday on the Champions Tour. While we've seen six 59s on the PGA Tour, never has someone done that on the Champions Tour until Kevin Sutherland got going in the second round of the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

Sutherland, who turned 50 on July 4, had one of the hottest starts ever to a round, playing his first eight holes in 9-under, and after a par on the ninth, added two more birdies to get to 11-under after just 11 holes.

After three straight pars, Sutherland needed some magic and got it, adding three straight birdies to get to 14-under par (!), finishing with a bogey on the last and still shooting 13-under for the day.

It was an amazing round of golf, and one that will live on in the history of the Champions Tour as the lowest ever, and one of the craziest starts you will ever see from any golfer, 50 or otherwise.

Aug 14

Tiger Woods walks away from at least $8 million in potential appearance fees

On Wednesday, Tiger Woods announced that he was withdrawing his name from Ryder Cup consideration, and would be forgoing any professional events for the next few months while he rehabilitates after back surgery.

Considering Woods' recent performances in tournaments — two missed cuts, one withdrawal, and a 69th-place finish — it's not surprising that Woods would take the rest of the year to get his game back together. But considering how much money he's leaving on the table, you can understand why he'd have a hard time walking away.

Outside of the PGA season, Woods appears in several tournaments and corporate outings a year in which he's paid an appearance fee. These are hefty indeed, and according to one estimate, Woods is passing up a staggering $8 million in potential appearance fees by sitting out. Appearance fees, as the name implies, are payable just for showing up; there's no need for Woods to do anything but smile and swing in order to cash the check. (Not that Woods is in particularly dire financial straits, as far as we know, but for reference, he's made about $100,000 in winnings this season.)

Woods was scheduled to play in the America’s Golf Cup in Argentina, for which he would have received about $4 million, and at least two corporate events in Asia, for which he generally receives about $2 million per appearance.

Obviously, for Woods, money isn't the issue; getting healthy for majors is. If he's able to prep sufficiently to make a run at the newly dominant Rory McIlroy at Augusta next year, for him, the layoff would be worth the cost.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

Aug 13

Tiger Woods informs Tom Watson and the PGA of America that he is withdrawing his name from Ryder Cup consideration

Tiger Woods has pulled his name out of consideration for a Ryder Cup captain's pick, the PGA of America announced on Wednesday.

Woods informed the PGA of America and American captain Tom Watson that he didn't want to be picked for next month's matches against Europe because of ongoing back issues that Woods has struggled through for most of 2014.

“While I greatly appreciate Tom thinking about me for a possible Captain’s Pick, I must take myself out of consideration,” Woods said in the release. “I’ve been told by my doctors and trainer that my back muscles need to be rehabilitated and healed. They’ve advised me not to play or practice now. I’m extremely disappointed that I won’t be ready for the competition. The U.S. Team and the Ryder Cup mean too much to me not to be able to give it my best. I’ll be cheering for the U.S. Team. I think we have an outstanding squad going into the matches."

The automatic qualifiers for the American team are already set, with Watson still needing to pick three players on September 2, and some thought if Woods was healthy, he might be a choice.

But as we've seen for most of this season, Tiger's back issues continue to flare up, and after struggling to a missed cut at the PGA Championship at Valhalla, a lot hoped Woods would shut it down for the rest of the season and get healthy.

Watson spoke about Tiger's decision to pull himself out of the running, and what he now has to focus on moving forward.

“My primary wish is for Tiger to be healthy and competitive, and I hope that he’ll return to the game very soon,” said Watson, in the release. “Of course, I’m disappointed that Tiger Woods has asked not to be considered for the U.S. Ryder Cup Team, and that his health is not where he would like it to be. However, I think we can all agree that we need Tiger Woods in this great sport, and he has taken the high road by informing me early on in the selection process. My focus will remain on identifying three players to join the U.S. team and give us the best chance for success at Gleneagles.”

The "focus" Watson talks about is on what players he can pick, with Dustin Johnson pulling out, Jason Dufner suffering through back spasms and withdrawing from the PGA Championship and Matt Kuchar also pulling out before the PGA began because of health issues.

On paper, the Americans continue to be the underdogs at Gleneagles, but if there is any silver lining in this at all, it's that the only United States victory in the last six Ryder Cups came when Woods was also off the team because of injury back in 2008.

- - - - - - -

Shane Bacon is the editor of Devil Ball Golf and Busted Racquet on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shanebaconblogs@yahoo.com or