Apr 25

Ben Crane made a creative par at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Tee box, fairway, then green. That's usually the ideal way to play a golf hole. Not for Ben Crane, though, at least on one hole on Friday at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

In Round 1, Crane played the 476-yard, par-4 sixth at TPC Louisiana as designer Pete Dye intended, and it left him some 250 yards to the hole for his second shot. He made par, yes, but, in Round 2, he wanted an easier way to make 4.

So Crane decided he would aim not down the fairway, but over some trees to the left of the tee box. His ball landed on the 12th hole, leaving Crane a better angle and just 163 yards into the hole. From there, Crane hit the green and two-putted for an easy par.

Just remember: Where there's a will -- and a line -- there's a way.


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

Apr 25

17-year-old Brooke Henderson takes Swinging Skirts LPGA lead

World No. 1 Lydia Ko, who turned 18 on Friday, made last year's Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic site of her first LPGA win as a pro. 

Now Canadian prodigy Brooke Henderson is hoping to enjoy her own pro breakthrough at 17 in just her 10th LPGA start.

Henderson, who has no status on the LPGA Tour and was denied the right to play in Q-school last year because of her age, shot 7-under 65 on Friday in Round 2 at Lake Merced Golf Club. It was good enough to give her a two-shot lead over Na Yeon Choi at 9 under par halfway through the tournament.

An eagle at the short par-4 14th coupled with six birdies led to a tournament-record score. The question, however, is if Henderson is ready to parlay that into a win.

"I think I'm ready. Yeah, 17 is young," Henderson said. "As you've seen with Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson and even Jessica Korda, there are a lot of great names that have been able to do it. I'm hoping that I'm one of them."

For her part, Ko is in contention to defend her title. She shot 72 on Friday, which leaves her four shots back of Henderson.


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

Apr 24

Freddie Jacobson’s record three-putt avoidance streak ends in NOLA

When Freddie Jacobson teed off in Round 2 of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, it had been 30 rounds since the Swede had three-putted a green. However, Jacobson's PGA Tour record streak didn't last long on Friday at TPC Louisiana.

On his first hole, the 10th at the Pete Dye-designed track, Jacobson three-putted from 34 feet, leading to a bogey that ended a streak of 542 holes without a three-jack.

Jacobson had not three-putted since the second round of the Humana Challenge on Jan. 23. At the RBC Heritage last week, he surpassed the Tour's previous three-putt avoidance record, held by Luke Donald at 483 holes. Tracking of that statistic dates back to 2003.

In the end, he closed with 1-under 71 to get to the weekend at 5-under 139 and within striking distance of the lead heading into the weekend.


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

Apr 24

Tiger Woods will compete in The Players Championship

We now know when Tiger Woods will play next on the PGA Tour.

Woods announced on Twitter on Friday that he'll compete in two weeks at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

This will be Woods' first appearance at The Players since 2013, when he won the event for the second time (2001). Woods didn't play in the event last year as he was recovering from a microdiscectomy procedure on his back on March 31. 

The 14-time major champion finished T-17 at the Masters two weeks ago, which marked his first tournament after taking two months off to find his game. Jack Nicklaus said he spoke with Woods at Augusta National, relaying that Woods indicated to him that he'll play in his Memorial Tournament in early June. Woods is a five-time champion of the event.


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

Apr 23

Marc Leishman returns after wife’s health scare

Marc Leishman returned to the PGA Tour on Thursday, shooting 2-over 74 in the first round of Zurich Classic of New Orleans. However, the Australian came back with a new perspective, relieved his wife will survive a major health scare.

Leishman withdrew from the Masters two weeks ago, citing his wife Audrey's condition. The severity of the situation, however, was unclear. As it turns out, Audrey was facing both acute respiratory distress syndrome and toxic shock syndrome. At one point, her doctors gave her just a five percent chance of surviving. 

"It wasn't looking good for her survival," Leishman said, according to the Australian Associated Press. "It was shattering. The toxic shock syndrome started shutting down all of her organs."

Initially, Audrey believed she was dealing with the flu, but on March 31 decided to go to the hospital. Fortunately for Audrey, doctors were able to flip her onto her stomach to help drain fluid that had built up in her lungs. She was in a medically induced coma for four days.

"The only thing in our favor was she was fit, goes to the gym all the time, is young and has two young kids and a real will to live," Leishman said. "Thankfully in the end, that's what got her through."

Leishman lost 10 lbs in just a few days, doing what he could to remain supportive and lend whatever help he could to his ailing wife. 

As Audrey recovers and regains strength, she is grateful for the doctors who saved her life and the outpouring of support.

"I never really allowed myself to ask why it happened I have instead chosen to focus on the fact that I survived and the amount of love and support everyone has shown us," she said. "It has been so overwhelming and humbling to see how many people are in our corner and supported us."


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

Apr 23

Nicklaus: Tiger Woods told me he’s in for the Memorial

Tiger Woods hasn't said yet publicly when he'll play again, noting after the Masters that he would take some further time away from the PGA Tour following a two-month stint to again find his game.

However, according to six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus, the former world No. 1 told him at Augusta National that he'll be playing in Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament in June.

“It’s as much conversation as I’ve ever had with Tiger,” Nicklaus said Wednesday at a tournament-related luncheon in Columbus, Ohio. “We talked about a lot of things. It was good. And he said, ‘Hey, (I’ll) see you in May. I’ll be at the Memorial.’ It’ll be nice to have Tiger back.”

The Memorial will be played June 4-7. Woods missed the tournament last year as he was recovering from a March back procedure.

However, Woods is expected to play at least once before the week at Muirfield Village. He is expected to play in The Players Championship in two weeks.


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

Apr 22

Lindsey Vonn isn’t very convincing when she says she loves golf

Though she may be Tiger Woods' girlfriend, skiing great Lindsey Vonn does not have the Golf Bug.

Appearing on "Late Night with Seth Meyers," Vonn was asked if she enjoys Woods' sport. She was very diplomatic, although completely unconvincing. 

"I love golf," Vonn said through pursed lips, drawing laughter from Meyers and the audience.

Meyers tried to draw a comparison between the speed of downhill skiing to a golf tournament. Vonn tried to volley back, but couldn't come up with anything positive, so she repeated, "I just love golf."

She added, "(A round of golf) is like five hours," nodding her head. "That's a long time."

The talk-show host wanted to prop up his guest for her willingness to subject herself to watching a sport she doesn't seem to like all that much.

"You're a very good girlfriend," he said.

Vonn agreed, smiling and saying, "I am."


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

Apr 22

Poulter rants on Twitter about decision to skip Euro Tour flagship event

Ian Poulter does not have a good track record in the European Tour's flagship event -- their Players Championship -- the BMW PGA Championship. So he's not going to play in it next month, and the Englishman caught a lot of heat for the decision.

Naturally, Poulter responded to the haters on Twitter, including Daily Mail writer Derek Lawrenson. 

However, there's no fear that British fans won't see Poulter on home soil this year. He'll play in the Open Championship in July, as well the revived British Masters in October.

Meanwhile, the BMW PGA is suffering from the draw of the Irish Open, to be played the next week at Royal County Down, one of the top 10 courses in the world. Rory McIlroy has been actively recruiting players to compete in the event, leading some, including Sergio Garcia, to skip the week at Wentworth in favor of the Emerald Isle.


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

Apr 22

Paula Creamer continues pushing for women’s Masters

Paula Creamer thinks Augusta National can be the home to two Masters tournaments, including one for female players.

"I've been there, I've played there, stayed in Butler's Cabin," said Creamer on Tuesday ahead of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.

"I had an awesome time. I think the patrons and everybody would love to have two weeks there, two tournaments. Why wouldn't you? Hopefully, we will see something change and happen."

Under chairman Billy Payne, Augusta National has done more to simultaneously build the Masters brand and contribute to the game's expansion in Asia and Latin America, as well among junior American golfers with the Drive, Chip and Putt contest. Creamer sees no reason why Augusta National can't do the same for women's golf.

"It's 2015. I think Augusta and the Masters and everybody with that event, they want to grow the game so badly," Creamer said. "That's what it is, about growing the game and giving people opportunities. The Chip and Putt, all of that for the kids to be able to come out there. There's no reason why we can't do that in women's golf. We're just as much a part of growing the game."

Payne was asked about the possibility, posited each year by LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan, ahead of the Masters. He was dismissive of the idea.

"We have a very short member season at Augusta National. It's seven months only," he said. "The time that we dedicate to the preparation and conduct of the tournament is already extensive. I don't think that we would ever host another tournament."

Creamer begs to differ, looking at Pinehurst No. 2, which hosted the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open in consecutive weeks last summer, as an example.

Told of Payne's remarks, the 2010 U.S. Women's Open champion said, "You could have two major tournaments back-to-back."


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