Sep 18

Nicolas Colsaerts hit a 447-yard drive at the Wales Open

For most every human on the planet, reaching a 600-yard par 5 in two shots is impossible. For a select few touring pros, they can get there with a big drive and a huge fairway wood. Then there's Nicolas Colsaerts.

Playing the 613-yard par-5 18th at Celtic Manor on Thursday in the opening round of the Wales Open, the Belgian smashed a 447-yard drive. He needed just a full gap wedge to hit the green in two, leading to a closing eagle and a share of the Day 1 lead at 5 under par.

“The hole was playing downwind (10-15 mph) and I managed to get a good bounce,” Colsaerts said.

Colsaerts' tee shot surpassed the previous Euro Tour best of 442 yards, set by Shiv Kapur in 2012. By comparison, the longest drive on the PGA Tour this season was Bubba Watson's 424-yard smash at Firestone C.C.'s 16th hole during the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Back in July, Rory McIlroy drove a 436-yard hole during the Scottish Open.


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

Sep 17

Former PGA star Anthony Kim reportedly could make $10 million by not playing golf

Anthony Kim hasn't been seen on the PGA Tour since May 2012, withdrawing from the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina after a first-round 74. That Thursday, he cited injuries to his right wrist and elbow, as well continued pain in a surgically repaired left thumb. He said he would review his options and consider competing in The Players Championship the next week. 

Kim chose not to play. Then he tore an Achilles and hasn't been heard from since. Two-and-a-half years later, what happened to Kim remains an unsolved mystery. 

However, a Golf.com report suggests that according to a friend, Kim is safe and healthy enough to play. So why isn't he playing?

Kim reportedly took out a $10 million insurance policy against career-ending injury that could be worth at least $10 million tax free, if not more.

If Kim returns to the PGA Tour in any capacity, the policy is void and he would lose the money on what amounts to a lifetime disability plan.

According to the Golf.com story, Kim told a friend, "If I take one swing on Tour, the policy is voided."

Were Kim to make a comeback at 29, he'd have to earn an estimated $35 million simply to clear what he's being paid not to play. In seven seasons on Tour, Kim earned $12.2 million, with all but $3 million earned from 2008-10. The gamble's simply not worth it.Anthony Kim hits a tee shot during a 2012 tournament. (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Kim is free to enjoy life. He's become an urban legend in Dallas, where he's been seen at area bars and playing in high-stakes card games. However, he's rarely seen playing golf recreationally. He reportedly makes the occasional cameo on a driving range or for nine holes at a high-end private club.

Kim reportedly contacted the PGA Tour in April 2014 asking for the password to a player information portal. However, Kim has no love for the Tour, its corporate feel or its executives. It doesn't suit his blue-collar background, he feels. Media intrigue in his story and legendary off-course behavior may make him apprehensive to step under a microscope again.

However, Kim seems to have become even more of a recluse, choosing to sell his Dallas pad, removing some bling from his Rolls-Royce, avoiding frequented bars and strip clubs. 

So there Kim sits, reportedly well apprised of what's happening on the PGA Tour, but paralyzed by a potential massive financial windfall and the dread of constant scrutiny if he decided to return. 

Maybe the money is the best choice.


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

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Sep 17

The Olympic impact of an independent Scotland

On Thursday, Scots vote to decide if they will break off from the United Kingdom, launching an independent Scotland after hundreds of years under the Union Jack. The impact of such a decision is far-reaching, including impacting the world of golf.

When golf returns to the Olympics in 2016, it will select the 60-player fields for both the men's and women's tournaments based on respective world rankings. However, countries will be limited in the number of players that can represent them in the 72-hole events. A country can send no more than four players, and that's if all four players are ranked inside the top 15 of the world rankings. Outside of the top 15, the two highest-ranked players from a country qualify until the field is filled.

As you might imagine, Scotland is pretty good at golf. In both the men's and women's ranking, Scots rank highly enough to earn a pair of slots in the 60-player field, kicking out players from other countries.

Were Scotland to go independent and the Olympic tournament held today, Ryder Cup player Stephen Gallacher and Marc Warren would be in the men's draw, kicking out Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines and Adilson da Silva of Brazil. On the women's side, Catriona Matthew and Kylie Walker are in while Fabienne In-Albon and Margarita Ramos would be out.


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

Sep 17

Miguel Angel Jimenez saves the most interesting Ice Bucket Challenge for last

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has kind of come and gone in terms of viral popularity and public delight at each new celebrity taking a cold water over the head. However, Miguel Angel Jimenez had yet to take on the challenge. He finally got to it this week, and it's delightful.

Jimenez challenged several fellow Spaniard golfers as well as a professional bullfighter before kicking back with a stogie on a golf-course bench. A bunch of friends came in to dump a trash can full of cold aqua on the Mechanic's head, and the oldest winner in European Tour history took it like the champion he is.

This should officially end golf's involvement with the Ice Bucket Challenge, bringing full-circle the sport's integral part in rise of the challenge.


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

Sep 17

Tiger Woods says swing coaches don’t understand tournament pressure

To paraphrase Will Smith, Coaches just don't understand.

That's how Tiger Woods feels about golf coaches, including the three he's worked with over the course of his professional career. While not mentioning Butch Harmon, Hank Haney or Sean Foley by name, Woods believes their lack of tournament experience leaves them lacking in understanding high-pressure situations.

"I would have to say on the technical side, I probably don't know as much as some of them," Woods said Monday at a news conference for his World Challenge in December. "But from a feel standpoint, which is something I think is innate because of what we're able to do at such an elite level, yeah, I think I know a lot more than they do. Because they've never played down the stretch of a major championship. What do the hands feel? What does the body feel?"

Woods' coaches have suggested the 14-time major winner never incorporated all of their advice into his swing. He took what he wanted, eschewed what made little sense to him.

"Will they work on the back nine on a Sunday of a major? Either yes or no," Woods said. "And I think that's one thing I've always tried to tell all my coaches. Will it work or not work? And if it's not going to work, then we're not going down that road."

Woods said he has set no timetable and is in no rush to decide who, if anyone, will be his next swing coach. In fact, Woods could be his own coach for several months, like he was briefly after parting ways with Hank Haney in 2010.

Nevertheless, Woods expects to play what he terms a "full" schedule in 2014-15.


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

Sep 17

Adam Scott and Steve Williams end player-caddie relationship

Adam Scott believed he could convince caddie Steve Williams to work his bag full-time in 2014-15, despite Williams' protestations that this past season would be his last in that capacity. Scott was wrong, and on Wednesday the termination of their player-caddie relationship became official

“After discussing this in detail with Adam it became evident that my plan was not going to fit with Adam’s requirements so we decided to end our partnership,” Williams said in a statement.

“Steve has been an integral part of my team in a period where I have fulfilled some of my lifetime golfing goals,” Scott said. “His dedication and professionalism have been without question, and his friendship is highly valued. Our priorities and stages of life are different now, and so we decided that this is the best time to end our partnership.”

Scott and Williams began working together in 2011 when Tiger Woods was unable to play in the U.S. Open at Congressional in suburban Maryland. The Aussie-Kiwi duo hooked up for what both likely thought was a temporary partnership before Williams would return to Woods' bag. Instead, Woods and Williams  had a falling out soon after. Scott quickly picked up Williams on his bag and won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. 

A season later, Scott nearly won his first major at the Open Championship but surrendered a four-shot lead with four holes to play, letting Ernie Els snag a fourth major title. The following April, however, Scott got his major, beating Angel Cabrera in a playoff to become the first Aussie to win a green jacket.

The following November, Williams publicly said this season would be his last as a full-time looper.

”Next year will be 36 years,” Williams said. ”I like 36, it’s a nice number, it’s a golf number.”

He said he would be open to caddying for bigger events, particularly the majors, The Players, World Golf Championship events and the Presidents Cup. However, Scott made it clear recently he hoped Williams would reconsider.

"As far as part‑time and everything, I don't think we've really touched on that," Scott said at The Barlcays on Aug. 20. "I think you're either in or you're out. But you know, I think I can talk him into coming back next year, hopefully.”

With Williams off the bag, Scott will have a deep list of suitors willing to pick up where this duo ends.


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

Sep 16

Lexi Thompson’s newest photo shoot will catch your attention

Lexi Thompson first entered the public consciousness at 12 years old when she qualified for the U.S. Women's Open. Now at 19, Thompson has set LPGA records as their youngest champion (since eclipsed by Lydia Ko) and won a major championship. However, it's tough not to recall her as a pre-teen phenom.

A new photo shoot for GolfPunk Magazine should change that.

Thompson dons a bikini in what would probably be considered in golf circles a steamy shoot accompanying an interview. The magazine names the LPGA star "Sexi Thompson."

This is the second time in recent memory Thompson has made a splash in a bikini. She recently starred in a Puma ad, called "Calling All Troublemakers," in which she wore a bikini in a hot tub, flanked by a pair of men.


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

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Sep 16

Why hasn’t Hunter Mahan won the FedEx Cup yet?

Hunter Mahan is the only player to have played in every FedEx Cup playoff event. He's the only player to have advanced to the Tour Championship in all eight years of the playoff concept.

Despite those accomplishments, Mahan has only finished inside the top 10 of the final FedEx Cup standings twice. He's never even pierced the top five, much less top three.

For as consistent as he's been the last eight years, it's staggering Mahan has not fared better, padded his bank account more.

At first glance, the hypothesis as to why is simple: Mahan must not be able to figure out East Lake, home to the playoffs-ending Tour Championship. As it turns out, however, that's just one part of a frustrating equation.

Since the FedEx Cup adopted its current format in 2009, Mahan has substantially improved his FedEx Cup position over the course of the playoffs twice. In 2011, Mahan began the playoffs in 20th place, entered the Tour Championship at 21st and, on the back of a runner-up finish, ended in seventh place. (In 2013, Mahan began the playoffs in 21st, ended in 20th.) This year, a win at The Barclays thrust him into the conversation for the season-long title.

Clearly, the combination of the points reset before the Tour Championship and his Atlanta record play a key role in Mahan's playoff mediocrity. In 2011 and '12, Mahan improved his position over the course of the Tour Championship. Otherwise, he lost ground. However, Mahan's Tour Championship finishes are positively mediocre, averaging 13th over the last eight seasons. That's beating half the field, but certainly not good enough when the points system rewards contending at East Lake.

The playoffs, however, are a battery of four events, and Mahan's problems really stem from his inability to improve his position during the first three events.

In every year of the FedEx Cup concept, Mahan began the playoffs inside the top 30. Obviously, he never ended the BMW Championship outside that position. Mahan, however, rarely improves his initial playoff standing. Last season marked the first time Mahan bettered his position heading into the Tour Championship, going from 21st to 15th (before finishing 20th).

Mahan's average finish in the first three playoff events over the last eight years is 32nd without much deviation from his average finish in each individual event. As the playoffs carry on, that average finish looks worse and worse -- first against a field of 125, then 100, then 70. In particular, if Mahan found a way to be more competitive in the BMW Championship, he'd have a better chance of coming into the Tour Championship with an opportunity to win the FedEx Cup.

It was a win at The Barclays, however, that put Mahan in position to clinch the FedEx Cup with a Tour Championship win. That wasn't in the cards in the end. However, if you're looking for the bright side in all of this, Mahan did post his best-ever FedEx Cup finish on Sunday: sixth.