Jul 03

Bubba Watson to paint over Confederate flag on General Lee

Bubba Watson drives off in the General Lee after playing in the pro-am at the Phoenix Open. (AP)
Bubba Watson has owned the General Lee from the 1970s and '80s TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard" since 2012. On Thursday evening, Watson, who bought the car at auction for $110,000 and restored its interior, announced he is making a drastic change to the car's appearance. Watson tweeted he'll paint over the Confederate battle flag on the car's roof.

The announcement was met with a mix of kudos and cynicism. 

Some lauded Watson for deciding to remove the Confederate flag in line with a movement to eliminate what's widely seen as a symbol of racism and antebellum slavery from the public consciousness in the wake of the murders of nine people in a historically black church during a June 17 prayer service.

Others believe Watson's decision is motivated by potential backlash he could face as owner of the car. Television network TV Land has pulled scheduled re-runs of the show in the wake of the South Carolina mass murder. The network's decision dovetails with an effort in the Palmetto State to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the state capital building, as well Walmart removing Confederate flag-adorned merchandise from its stores and NASCAR asking fans to no longer fly the flag at its races.

In February 2012, Watson had offered to drive the General Lee, which he has driven to past PGA Tour events, to a NASCAR race in Phoenix. The auto-racing body denied Watson's offer, consistent with their long-held views on the Confederate flag.

“The show was not racist. But I understand why people would get upset with the flag,” Watson said in February 2012 at the Northern Trust Open in the wake of NASCAR’s decision.

“Obviously, I don’t stand for the Confederate flag,” Watson added. “The Confederate flag was not used (in the show) for what people see it as today, so that’s sad. But NASCAR was built on moonshining, so the show was built on moonshining. I thought it was fun. I didn’t buy the car to get publicity; I bought it because I love it.”


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

Jul 02

Tiger Woods opens with 66 at Greenbrier, shows clear progress

Tiger Woods is back, and he's going to win all the majors forever. 

That seems to be the consensus reaction to Woods' opening 4-under 66 to kick off The Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia on Thursday. Woods' round at the Old White TPC concluded with three consecutive birdies, offsetting a disappointing, flashback-inducing double bogey on the par-4 sixth, his 15th hole of the day. 

Woods came out of the gate on the 10th hole looking like a player in control of his game and a guy that owns his swing. Aside from a drive -- albeit, a fairly straight, 300-yard one -- that ended up in a water hazard on the par-5 17th, Woods was a fairway-hitting machine, hitting 10 of 14 fairways. That 71.4 percent mark is substantially better than his season-long average of right around a coin flip. He gave himself a lot of birdie chances, too, hitting 14 greens in regulation. The putter, which hasn't been much of a low-light in 2015, was working as Woods gained almost three full shots on the field with the flatstick. 

All in all, it was a solid performance on a course that Woods -- well, the Woods we know and remember at his best -- should destroy. The Old White TPC is one of the easier par-70 courses on the PGA Tour, and Woods knew going into the tournament that he'd have to make a lot of birdies to be in the conversation. 

"We're just going to have make a bunch of birdies," Woods said Wednesday. "Just keep the kind of pedal down and be aggressive."

He focused on aggression and scoring on Thursday instead of process and positions. The result was a good one, tying his best score in relationship to par this year (4-under 68 in the third round of the Masters) and turning in his lowest first-round score since a 66 to open the BMW Championship in September 2013. In his prior 15 PGA Tour starts, Woods had only opened in the 60s twice. This is progress.

Now the next step is to back it up, not back up, on Friday. With soft conditions expected, Woods cannot afford an over-par effort in Round 2 -- and that's just to make the cut. 

However, with Woods' Thursday showing, it's hard to imagine he's concerned with simply making a paycheck this week. He's thinking about a golf-world-shattering win.


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

Jul 02

First veteran amputee to play in Web.com Tour’s Boise Open

For the first time in the history of the Web.com Tour, a military veteran amputee will compete in an event. Iraq veteran Chad Pfeifer has been given a sponsor's exemption into the Albertsons Boise Open, played July 9-12. 

The 33-year-old retired U.S. Army corporal and Idaho native lost his left leg above the knee in April 2007 when a roadside bomb exploded and blew up a vehicle in which he and other soldiers were traveling.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for me and my golf career, but at the same time, it’s nice to get my story out there for other wounded soldiers or people with disabilities,” Pfeifer said. “Hopefully I can inspire them and they can see that anything is possible as long as they keep going."

Pfeifer took up golf during his recovery process at the urging of fellow soldier Christian Bagge, who lost both of his legs in Iraq, while rehabilitating at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Less than a year after Pfeifer suffered his injury, he played in his first 18-hole round.

His progress has been astounding.  He won the 2011 National Amputee Golf Championship and finished fifth at last July's American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe. Pfeifer was also a contestant on the last season of Golf Channel's "The Big Break" series. Now living in Arizona, Pfeifer has also competed on the Gateway Tour and eGolf Tour -- mini-tours known to produce PGA Tour-grade talent. 

Pfeifer intends to earn a full-time spot on the Web.com Tour this fall by going through the tour's Q-school.


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

Jul 01

The 19th Hole Golf Show: Is Bubba Watson wasting his talent?

Bubba Watson won the Travelers Championship in a playoff for the second time and his eighth-career PGA Tour win. However, given his strength and talent, why isn't Watson winning more often? Is he squandering his talent with his mental approach?

Also, we touch on the Tiger Woods and Amanda Dufner-Boyd rumor.

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunesTuneIn or Stitcher.


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

Jul 01

Golf bodies jointly tell Trump he’s not ‘right’ on immigration comments

Univision. NBCUniversal. Macy's. They've all severed ties with 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump over remarks he made about immigration and Mexicans. The two broadcast powers have refused to air the Miss Universe pageant, which Trump partially owns, on July 12, and Mexican officials affiliated with the outdated pageant have said they won't send a representative to the event.

Trump has responded in-kind with harsh remarks, particularly through Twitter, setting ablaze any potential future relationship with these companies.

However, while Trump has been battling on multiple fronts, he believed he has the backing of the golf world. 

“I’ve had tremendous support from the golf world, because they all know I’m right,” Trump said to GolfWorld's Tim Rosaforte. “I’ve been great to golf. I’ve been investing while everybody else was fleeing.”

Trump believes his record of employing people of Latin and Hispanic descent is a demonstration of nuance in his remarks about illegal immigration.

“I have Mexicans and South Americans working for me all over the country and believe me, they love me and I love them,” Trump said. “I think they’re great. I’ve had great support and I haven’t heard one negative thing and frankly I don’t expect to.”

Golf collectively spoke to Trump on Wednesday afternoon, and, in fact, they have a problem with what Trump said.

The PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA of America and USGA issued a joint statement condemning Trump's comments on illegal immigration.

“In response to Mr. Trump’s comments about the golf industry ‘knowing he is right’ in regards to his recent statements about Mexican immigrants, we feel compelled to clarify that those remarks do not reflect the views of our organizations,” the statement read, according to GolfChannel.com.

“While the LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour and USGA do not usually comment on Presidential politics, Mr. Trump’s comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.” 

Trump owns two courses which are played annually (during the same week) on the PGA Tour: Trump Doral, home to the WGC-Cadillac Championship, and Trump International in Puerto Rico, home to the Puerto Rico Open. His Trump National Los Angeles will host the PGA of America's Grand Slam of Golf, while his Trump National property in suburban D.C. will host the 2017 Senior PGA Championship and Trump National in Bedminster, N.J., will host the 2022 PGA Championship. Trump's newest purchase, the Scottish Turnberry resort, will host this year's Women's British Open.


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

Jul 01

Tiger Woods remains committed to swing changes at Greenbrier

Good news, Tiger Woods fans! Your boy shot 32 in a nine-hole round on Wednesday. 

Unfortunately, it was a practice round ahead of this week's The Greenbrier Classic, and it doesn't count. However, Woods did hit every fairway en route to a solid outing ahead of his first start since the 80-76 disaster at the U.S. Open two weeks ago.

Woods, who went to the Bahamas after a short two-round run at Chambers Bay, didn't touch the clubs much after the Open, but hopes to show some signs of progress on the host Old White TPC course.

"I made a little bit of progress since last time I played. Obviously (that's) not really saying much, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow," Woods said Wednesday.

The 39-year-old is now ranked No. 220 in the world and, through six starts this season, has more rounds in the 80s than 60s (a 3-2 count). Before the Open debacle, he was T-69 at The Players and dead last among the weekend field at the Memorial, following a career-worst 85 in the third round.

By most accounts, Woods has looked good in Florida at his home club, Medalist, as well in pro-am outings and on the range. The problem is carrying over what he's putting into practice with swing consultant Chris Como when the strokes really count. Nonetheless, Woods is steadfast that the changes will eventually manifest themselves consistently in real-life scoring.

"I know what I am doing out here on the golf course," Woods said. "I know what it feels like. I know where my game is and what progress I have or haven't made. That's what I'm concerned about. ... We know what's going on and what the baseline has been shifted and where things are currently and where we need to get to in the future."

The natural, unanswered follow-up then is, How far into the future is Woods looking before he is able to not win, but simply compete, again?


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

Jul 01

Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen may be too public to join Mass. country club

New England Patriots quarterback and his supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen have applied to join The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., where they own a home not too far from the club's 27 holes of golf.

However, the membership at the home to the 1999 Ryder Cup -- and, potentially, the 2022 U.S. Open -- may find the oft-photographed couple too public for their private penchant. 

“The Country Club believes your name should appear in the newspaper just two times: When you’re born and when you die," said a source at the 133-year-old club to the Boston Globe.

That's a bit of a problem for the couple, who is in the news quite often and routinely followed by paparazzi.

As one of the five founding clubs behind the U.S. Golf Association, The Country Club is one of America's most important and prominent private clubs. One of its courses routinely ranks inside the top 20 in the United States.

The club has a membership around 1,300, according to the Globe, which includes a who's who of sports, culture and business in the Boston area. However, getting into the club apparently has as much to do with your character as it does your bank account and news clippings.

“It’s really about who you are. Do you have good values?” one member said to the Globe. “It’s that old New England mentality.”

So, where does deflating footballs fall on the Good Values scale?


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

Jun 30

Follow Devil Ball Golf on Tumblr: It should be fun

Golf is supposed to be fun, right? The folks at Devil Ball Golf on Yahoo Sports believe so, and that's why we're expanding our reach to Tumblr.

[Come and join the fun: Follow Devil Ball Golf on Tumblr]

We'll not only have some of the most fun GIFs, pictures and videos from the world of golf, but also provide content like only the folks at Devil Ball Golf can.

So what are you waiting for? Don't miss out on the fun.

 

Sorry, Dustin. We mean fun.

 

That's more like it, Jason. So put down your golf clubs ...

 

... and follow Devil Ball Golf on Tumblr today.

Jun 30

Get a look at Tiger Woods’ first U.S. golf course design

While Tiger Woods is struggling on the golf course, his golf-course design business is booming. His first course opened last year in Mexico, and he has jobs in China and the United Arab Emirates.

On top of that, Woods' first design in the U.S. is also set to open in November. Bluejack National, which will be part of a private luxury development near Houston, is in the final stages of construction. The front nine is seeded and sodded, with the back nine about to go through the process. Tweaks are being made to the final two holes on the course, but the design is pretty much set in stone.

Woods talked about the course and the philosophy behind the design in a new tour of the property. The Augusta National influence on this design is clear, with Woods aiming to create a playable course with a variety of options. Woods hopes the property owners will keep the course firm and fast from tee to green, but hopes to give players enough opportunities around the greens to save pars. 

It looks like a fun course, but, unfortunately, unless you have a boatload of money or know someone in Houston who does, it won't be on your must-play list.


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

Jun 30

Power rankings: The Greenbrier Classic

The PGA Tour rolls into West Virginia for the sixth edition of The Greenbrier Classic, played on the resort's Old White TPC course. The C.B. Macdonald-designed course lends itself to low scores, making distance and hot putting especially big factors this week. However, a solid ballstriker who takes dead aim has a great chance. 

There are a few horses for this course, while others in our top five this week are simply playing great golf. Here's our handpicked handful:

1. Webb Simpson – Simpson is an absolute must this week. He's got three top-10 finishes in five career Greenbrier appearances. This course suits his eye. Having a very solid season overall.

2. Bill Haas – Haas is another rare horse-for-course player at Greenbrier. He has a pair of top 10s in four starts, and he's never missed a payday in this event.

3. Bubba Watson – Last week's winner is making his third Greenbrier start, and he's finished top 30 in both starts. It's a sort-of home game for him, but don't think of that as an edge.

4. Kevin Kisner – At some point, Kisner is going to win on the PGA Tour. His profile fits the type of guy who has won here in the past: not a superstar (yet), but a guy with a very solid résumé. He has a bad Greenbrier record, but that was a different Kisner.

5. Paul Casey – Casey has never played at Greenbrier, so this pick is almost wholly based on his form. He's one of two guys – Kisner is the other – to have lost in multiple sudden-death playoffs this year.


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