Aug 01

Vijay Singh is off to a hot start at the 3M Championship

“Maybe a change of scenery will do him good."

No, that’s not in reference to the recently expired MLB trading deadline; in this case it refers to Vijay Singh, who obviously wasn’t traded this past week, but he did trade one tour for another and to put it mildly, a change of scenery did him good.

Proper English aside, that cliché holds a lot of truth, whether by accident or not, sometimes, a simple change in scenery can do wonders for a professional athlete. Most professional golfers have only one viable option to cash a check each week, but for a select few over the age of 50, their options are limitless ... relatively.

Vijay Singh is one of a handful of professional golfers with the option most weeks to pick either the PGA Tour or the Champions Tour and this week he decided that Blaine, a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, looked a lot more appealing, and to use his own words, “easier” than Reno, Nevada. So far, his decision looks wise as after one round at the 3M Championship, Singh is only one off the lead after an opening 8-under 64.

It’s been a disappointing year on the PGA Tour for Vijay Singh; since the calendar flipped in January, Singh has only one top-25 and he’s spent almost as much time outside the cut-line as inside, which is why a switch to the Champions Tour this week made perfect sense.

Singh is only a few years removed from a $2 million season on the PGA Tour however yet he remains one of the most physically imposing golfers out there, so the advantages of playing the older set of tees seems obvious. When asked if the advantage in distance off the tee versus his fellow competitors on the Champions Tour gave him a boost of confidence, Vijay responded, “not really, if you don’t hit it straight, it doesn’t matter."

Luckily for Singh, he did it straight for the most part on Friday hitting nearly 75 percent of the fairways, which led to an absurd 94.4 percent greens hit in regulation. 

If he keeps this up, he’s liable to add another victory to an already impressive resume and perhaps get back on track on the PGA Tour, but there’s just one problem.

There’s another guy just one-off the lead and he’s pretty good too. In fact, he won a major by 13-strokes last week and he’s won this event two of the past five years. The grass may be greener on the Champions Tour for Vijay Singh, but there’s nothing easy about besting Bernhard Langer.

Aug 01

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson paired together for the first two rounds of the PGA Championship

If the PGA of America wanted to make a splash with their opening round pairings for next week, they found the two names to do it.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who have combined to win 19 major championships, will be paired together for the opening two rounds of the PGA Championship next week at Valhalla. Woods and Mickelson will be joined by Padraig Harrington, the 2008 PGA Champion, and will go off at 8:35 AM ET on Thursday and 1:45 PM ET on Friday.

How have Tiger and Phil done when in the same group over the years? The Golf Channel's Ryan Lavner broke down the numbers.

The rest of the pairings are below, with some other juicy groups. Rory McIlroy will play with Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer, the traditional PGA Championship pairings of the three major winners together, and Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott and Lee Westwood will go out together in a marquee group of big names.

Check out the times below, all ET, and let us know which group you will follow if you're out at Valhalla for the final major of the season.

Round 1, Round 2 (All Times ET)

1st tee, 10th tee

7:30 AM, 12:40 PM — Brian Norman, Russel Knox, Roberto Castro

7:40 AM, 12:50 PM — Charles Howell III, Aaron Krueger, Joost Luiten

7:50 AM, 1:00 PM — Billy Horschel, Jamie Broce, George Coetzee

8:00 AM, 1:10 PM — Brian Stuard, Brendon Todd, Pablo Larrazabal

8:10 AM, 1:20 PM — Nick Watney, Freddie Jacobson, Brendon de Jonge

8:20 AM, 1:30 PM — Matt Every, Ross Fisher, Kevin Chappell

8:30 AM, 1:40 PM — John Daly, Mark Brooks, Rich Beem

8:40 AM, 1:50 PM — K.J. Choi, Thongchai Jaidee, Brian Harman

8:50 AM, 2:00 PM — Thomas Bjorn, Kevin Stadler, Harris English

9:00 AM, 2:10 PM — Jamie Donaldson, Stewart Cink, Hyung-Sung Kim

9:10 AM, 2:20 PM — Stephen Gallacher, Jason Kokrak, Rafael Cabrera-Bello

9:20 AM, 2:30 PM — Kevin Streelman, Ryan Helminen, Edoardo Molinari

9:30 AM, 2:40 PM — Brendan Steele, Rob Corcoran, WGC-Bridgestone champion

10th tee, 1st Tee

7:35 AM, 12:45 PM — Robert Karlsson, Frank Esposito, Koumei Oda

7:45 AM, 12:55 PM — Hideki Matsuyama, Angel Cabrera, Patrick Reed

7:55 AM, 1:05 PM — Shaun Micheel, Colin Montgomerie, Michael Block

8:05 AM, 1:15 PM — Rickie Fowler, Victor Dubuisson, Ernie Els

8:15 AM, 1:25 PM — Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Lee Westwood

8:25 AM, 1:35 PM — Jimmy Walker, Ian Poulter, Jason Day

8:35 AM, 1:45 PM — Padraig Harrington, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods

8:45 AM, 1:55 PM — Graeme McDowell, Brandt Snedeker, Brooks Koepka

8:55 AM, 2:05 PM — Miguel Angel Himenez, Charl Schwartzel, Jim Furyk

9:05 AM, 2:15 PM — Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Rose

9:15 AM, 2:25 PM — Marc Leishman, Boo Weekley, Bernd Wiesberger

9:25 AM, 2:35 PM — Russ Henley, David McNabb, Marc Warren

9:35 AM, 2:45 PM — Mikko Ilonen, Jerry Smith, George McNeill

1st Tee, 10th Tee

12:45 PM, 7:35 AM — Ryo Ishikawa, Matt Pesta, Rory Sabbatini

12:55 PM, 7:45 AM — Scott Stallings, Eric Williamson, Matteo Manassero

1:05 PM, 7:55 AM — Jonas Blixt, Webb Simpson, Erik Compton

1:15 PM, 8:05 AM — Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Graham DeLaet, Gary Woodland

1:25 PM, 8:15 AM — Sergio Garcia, Steve Stricker, Tom Watson

1:35 PM, 8:25 AM — Kenny Perry, Ryan Moore, Henrik Stenson

1:45 PM, 8:35 AM — Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy

1:55 PM, 8:45 AM — Jason Dufner, Y.E. Yang, Keegan Bradley

2:05 PM, 8:55 AM — Luke Donald, J.B. Holmes, Francesco Molinari

2:15 PM, 9:05 AM — Zach Johnson, Darren Clarke, Richard Sterne

2:25 PM, 9:15 AM — Tim Clark, Paul Casey, Kevin Na

2:35 PM, 9:25 AM — Steven Bowditch, Rod Perry, Ben Crane

2:45 PM, 9:35 AM — David Hronek, Chris Stroud, Jason Bohn

10th Tee, 1st Tee

12:40 PM, 7:30 AM — Shane Lowry, Bob Sowards, Ryan Palmer

12:50 PM, 7:40 AM — Charley Hoffman, Dustin Volk, Scott Brown

1:00 PM, 7:50 AM — Alexander Levy, Stuart Deane, David Hearn

1:10 PM, 8:00 AM — David Tentis, Farbizio Zanotti, Danny Willett

1:20 PM, 8:10 AM — Anirban Lahiri, Bill Haas, John Senden

1:30 PM, 8:20 AM — Vijay Singh, Davis Love III, David Toms

1:40 PM, 8:30 AM — Cameron Tringale, Scott Piercy, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

1:50 PM, 8:40 AM — Branden Grace, Hunter Mahan, Thorbjorn Olesen

2:00 PM, 8:50 AM — Chris Kirk, Matt Jones, Seung-Yul Noh

2:10 PM, 9:00 AM — Jerry Kelly, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideto Tanihara

2:20 PM, 9:10 AM — Will Mackenzie, Steve Schneiter, Chesson Hadley

2:30 PM, 9:20 AM — Johan Kok, Ben Martin, Chris Wood

2:40 PM, 9:30 AM — Daniel Summerhays, Jim McGovern, Reno-Tahoe Champion

Aug 01

Kevin Streelman’s ball gets stuck in a tree at Firestone, but not how you think

Golf balls getting stuck in trees is nothing new. We've seen it happen plenty of times on the PGA Tour, with players either climbing up and hitting the ball like Sergio Garcia did at Bay Hill a year ago or using a fan's binoculars to identify it before taking an unplayable.

Kevin Streelman had a situation on Thursday at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational that we've never seen. His ball got stuck in a tree, but right in the trunk of it.

The video you see above shows the ball in the tree, but we don't get to see how it got there. It looks like it might have taken a bounce and plugged into the bark, and even with the drop Streelman took, it was still a bogey on the card for the two-time PGA champion.

Streelman's day didn't improve much after this, as he posted an opening round 7-over 79 to sit just two shots back of dead last after one round at Firestone.

Jul 31

Dustin Johnson is taking an indefinite leave from professional golf for ‘personal challenges’

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One of the most talented golfers on the planet is taking some time away from the game to deal with personal issues.

Dustin Johnson, an eight-time PGA Tour champion, released a statement on Thursday stating he will be, "taking a leave of absence from professional golf, effective immediately.”

The statement continued, “I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced."

“By committing the time and resources necessary to improve my mental health, physical well-being and emotional foundation, I am confident that I will be better equipped to fulfill my potential and become a consistent champion.”

Johnson was not in the field this week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and will miss the final major of 2014 next week at the PGA Championship. It also looks like Johnson won't be around for the FedEx Cup playoffs, where he currently sits fourth in standings, and has already informed the PGA of America that he will not be playing the Ryder Cup in September.

But more than that, this looks like a decision that Johnson made on his own and hopefully everything works out for him and he comes back to the game happy, healthy and as dominant as ever.

The PGA Tour released a statement as well, simply saying, "We have nothing to add to Dustin’s statement. But wish him well and look forward to his return to the PGA Tour in the future.”

Update: U.S.captain Tom Watson spoke on Johnson missing the Ryder Cup.

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

Jul 31

Rory McIlroy slams the door on the idea of Champions Tour players on the European Ryder Cup team

The big talk last weekend was about Bernhard Langer and his epic win at the Senior British Open. Langer set a Champions Tour record on Sunday with his 13-shot win at Royal Porthcawl and got people talking about Langer possibly landing one of the captain's picks for the European Ryder Cup team for the matches that kick off in late September.

If Langer was picked by captain Paul McGinley it would give the 56-year-old a chance to tie and break a lot of important European Ryder Cup records. Just being on the team would tie him with Nick Faldo for most appearances ever with 11 and would give Langer a great shot at passing Faldo for most points ever for a European team member as he sits just a full point behind Faldo in that regard.

But Rory McIlroy doesn't see that happening. The British Open champion was asked about Langer (and Colin Montgomerie, for that matter) making a stacked European team in his Bridgestone press conference this week and shot down the idea of a Champions Tour member landing one of those coveted captain's picks.

"I think the team dynamic is pretty good at the minute with the mix that we've got, and to bring someone in that hasn't spent much time around us or those guys might not be the best, but he's obviously playing great golf," McIlroy said.

"It's sort of hard to — because he's not playing against the regular guys week in and week out, but he's playing great golf obviously, and what he's done this year and this month as well has been fantastic. I'd say probably, if they were to be involved in the Ryder Cup, if they were vice captains or something, then I'd be all for that, but I don't think they should be on the team."

While the words might come off harsh, the point is very, very valid. The European Ryder Cup team is going to be an all-star group, with names like Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, and Lee Westwood all outside the automatic qualification list at this point.

To put someone like Langer ahead of names like that, even as good as he's played in recent weeks, seems like a fun idea in theory, but this European team is an elite group that has played some pretty incredible golf at this event over the last few years and changing that might end up hurting more than helping.

If Langer made the team, I don't think anyone would be upset about it. He still has plenty of game, finishing T-25 at the 2013 Masters and T-8 this year at Augusta National, but with so many PGA Tour stars needing that phone call from McGinley, it might just be too much of a stretch for Langer, and McIlroy is just pointing that out.

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

Jul 30

Rory McIlroy almost quit golf at the age of 16

The eight-shot win at Congressional for his first U.S. Open title, the eight-shot win at Kiawah Island to claim the PGA and the Claret Jug win earlier this month at Hoylake; they all almost didn't happen for Rory McIlroy.

Speaking at his WGC-Bridgestone Invitational press conference on Tuesday, the three-time major winner said he almost gave up the game of golf at the age of 16 after winning one of the most prestigious amateur events in Ireland. Yes, you read that correctly, he almost gave up the game after a win.

Here is what Rory explained to the media on Tuesday at Firestone.

"Yeah, I was ready to give it up when I was 16. I remember the drive. I just won the Mullingar Scratch Cup, and I remember the drive home with my dad. It was like a three‑hour drive. And I said to him, 'I don't like this anymore.' I don't enjoy it. I just won, and I don't know, I'm not happy, I'm not excited. I went back home and didn't play golf for about three days.

McIlroy then said he quickly realized, "Actually, I really like this game. (I was) just an impulsive teenager going through hormonal issues."

Every athlete goes through something like that at some point in his or her career, especially if you are one of the elite of the elite like Rory is. No matter if you win or lose by 40 shots, traveling from tournament to tournament, week after week, can be a grind, and any 16-year-old will want that to end at some point, even if you leave with the trophy.

I think we can all say it was a good thing that McIlroy quickly realized that wasn't the best of decisions since he has gone on to great things in professional golf and is one major away from achieving the career Grand Slam at an extremely young age.

And while Augusta National and his quest for that Grand Slam will have to wait until April, McIlroy sits as the favorite this week at Firestone at 7-to-1 and the favorite next week at the final major championship of the year as Rory looks to add a fourth major title to his resume at just 25.

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

Jul 29

Teeing Off: The new Big Three: Tiger, Phil and … ?

Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball Golf editor Shane Bacon and writer Jay Busbee take a topic from the world of golf and shank it off the tee. Today: The new Big Three. You know Arnie, Jack and Gary. You know Tiger and Phil. Is there a third member of the latest Big Three, or are the contenders merely pretenders?

Bacon: Last weekend saw Jim Furyk, now 44, miss out on another shot at a PGA Tour title at the Canadian Open. Furyk, one of the stalwarts on the PGA Tour over the last two decades, hasn't won on tour since 2010, and while his slump continues, I simply ask, of this fading generation, where does Furyk rank in terms of the best players of that group? Tiger Woods is one, Phil Mickelson is two, and while Ernie Els has a great case as the third, is Furyk right behind those huge names?

Busbee: "Right behind" in a list, "five holes behind" on a golf course. This is not meant as a dismissal of Furyk in any way; he's a major winner and has an outside shot at a Hall of Fame berth. But he's a lot closer to the median golfer than outliers like Woods and Mickelson. Had he played in another era, Furyk probably would have beaten the world. He'd have been one of the two or three guys always challenging Nicklaus or Palmer, or absolutely dominant in the pre-Tiger '90s. But now? He's a distant shadow. That's not his fault, obviously, but that's the way it is when you're playing behind a pair of legends. How about your perspective?

Bacon: I think when we look back at Furyk's career, we will be wondering how in the world he didn't win more. The guy has finished in second place 28 times in his career include three this season! That's incredible! Do you think this is a situation where he actually does fall apart down the stretch, or just bad luck when he's in contention (like Tim Clark firing a back-nine 30 to get him by a shot on Sunday at the Canadian Open)?

Busbee: I would like to see a statistical study determining whether players do or don't really fall apart on the back nine on Sunday. It's been proven statistically that there's no such thing as a clutch hitter, and that home-field advantage is mainly a result of ref intimidation. I wonder, are we biased against Furyk because of his high-profile miscues? Or is it much easier to get to second place than to win? Would be fascinating to find out.

I was at the Tour Championship when he needed to get up and down from the sand on the 18th at East Lake to win $10 million, and he did so with ease. But then he's had so many opportunities exactly like you mention where he DIDN'T get the job done. Obviously he's right up there with the next tier of greats of this era. But who else besides Els belongs there? You gotta go Vijay, yes?

Bacon: It's easy to forget how much of a monster Vijay was in his prime. The guy won NINE times in 2004!

I think Vijay has to be No. 4, with Furyk a distant No. 5. Is that close? Would you put anyone else in the conversation?

Busbee: I think you're right. Anybody else we start bringing up based on record alone (Padraig Harrington, Angel Cabrera) has had such a spotty record outside of their highlights that it's tough to justify putting them on the list.

Unless, of course, we look forward. At what point do you think Rory McIlroy cracks this list? Or do we start a new one for him?

Bacon: I think he's in a new generation of golfers that includes (Rickie) Fowler, Dustin (Johnson), Zach Johnson and Bubba (Watson). While the ages might not match up, I feel like all those guys came around at the same time and have won together at a consistent rate.

That said, if Rory ever faces Tiger in a major and beats him (think Tom Watson at Turnberry taking down Jack Nicklaus) we might start seeing those two as generational competitors and we could watch their careers overlap in a sense.

All right, your turn! Who's the best of the best, after the two you know, in the current generation? Have your say below!