Apr 20

Jim Furyk ends almost five-year winless drought at RBC Heritage

It was a long time in coming, but with a 12-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff at the RBC Heritage, Jim Furyk is once again a winner on the PGA Tour.

Furyk beat Kevin Kisner with his 11th birdie in 20 holes played on Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, S.C. In regulation, Furyk made nine birdies against just one dropped shot, turning in 8-under 63. However, Kisner's 64, including a 72nd-hole birdie, forced overtime at 18-under 266.

On the first playoff hole, Furyk, playing first, stuck his approach shot to the 18th close for birdie. Kisner hit an impressive shot, too, just outside of Furyk. Both players made birdie to send the playoff to the 17th hole.

Again, Furyk found the range on the tough par 3 and then sank the winning putt for his first victory since the 2010 Tour Championship. Furyk celebrated his 17th PGA Tour win with fist pumps resembling the ones he made in similarly inclement Atlanta weather almost five years ago to win the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bounty.

The 2003 U.S. Open champion hasn't faced a lack of chances to win since the culmination of that three-win season. He's been 0-for-9 with at least a share of the 54-hole lead since that Tour Championship win -- a statistic that didn't improve on Sunday as he trailed Troy Merritt by four heading into the final round. The 44-year-old had finished second seven times and won almost $15 million on the PGA Tour since that last win. 

Merritt finished two shots out of the playoff after shooting a third 69 on the week. Defending champion Matt Kuchar was solo fifth at 14-under total, and new Masters champion Jordan Spieth finished eight shots back and T-11.


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

Apr 19

Bubba Watson takes BP with a golf club for a great trick shot

Bubba Watson was in China this week to play a post-Masters event, the Shenzhen International on the European Tour. 

One of the perks of playing in the event, aside from a hefty appearance fee for the two-time Masters winner, was playing Night Golf at host Genzon Golf Club's Course B. (Yeah, that's what it's called.) After playing traditional golf one night, Watson decided he'd have a little fun with the help of caddie Ted Scott.

Watson had Scott climb up a lighting pole on the course to catch a ball he wedged up into his hands. Then the left-hander grabbed his pink Ping driver and had Scott pitch the same ball down toward him. Watson blasted the ball perfectly from midair down the fairway for one great trick shot.


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

Apr 18

E. Molinari disqualified after caddie hitches cart ride on Euro Tour

Edoardo Molinari got disqualified from the European Tour's Shenzhen International in China on Friday. But it wasn't really his fault.

Molinari's caddie apparently hitched a ride between the ninth and 10th holes, which is a penalty for the player. (You've got to walk, buddy.) Unfortunately, Molinari didn't see it.

 

 

The Italian should have called a two-stroke penalty on himself, turning his 75 into a 77. However, he signed for 75, which meant he was disqualified for signing for an incorrect score less than his actual score.

The caddie was trying to adhere to the basic looper code of "Show up, keep up and shut up," but, in doing so, it led to a mess up.


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

Apr 18

Tom Watson makes Heritage cut, declares ’16 Masters may be his last

A week after Tom Watson became the oldest player in Masters history to shoot an under-par round in competition, the 65-year-old made the cut at the RBC Heritage.

Watson made a birdie 3 at the difficult 18th hole at Harbour Town in Round 2 to secure a spot on the weekend at even-par 142. Standing on the tee, he knew only a birdie would keep him around for the last two rounds.

"First of all, I hit the best drive I've hit all week," he said after his 1-under 70 on Friday. "Put it just short of the water, and then I had 156 yards to the hole, and I hit a solid 8-iron that did exactly what I wanted it to do. … Didn't hit the greatest putt but the ball went in the hole, and made 3 to make the cut."

Watson made the cut at 65 years, 7 months and 13 days. He is still not old enough to become the oldest to make a PGA Tour cut. That distinction belongs to his fellow former pro emeritus at Greenbrier, Sam Snead, who made his last PGA Tour cut at 67 years, 2 months and 21 days.

However, Watson, a two-time Heritage winner, doesn't know how much longer he plans on trying to tee it up with the younger set.

After a Saturday 69 -- his best round of the week on Hilton Head Island -- Watson said he is considering making the 2016 Masters his final appearance.

Watson, the 1977 and '81 champion at Augusta National, said, according to the Associated Press, it "may be (his) last."


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

Apr 17

Jordan Spieth backs up tired 74 with stunning 62 at Harbour Town

Oh, come on.

A day after Masters champion Jordan Spieth looked deservedly tired and sluggish in shooting 3-over 74 in the first round of the RBC Heritage, the 21-year-old came back early on Friday and shot 9-under 62 at Harbour Town Golf Links to get into contention on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Spieth made nine birdies in the round, not dropping a shot. The Texan birdied the 10th hole, his first of the day, then made eight birdies in the final 14 holes of the round to go from the cut line to the first page of the leaderboard. 

On the back nine, Spieth made five birdies, with four of them coming on putts of 7 feet or less. At the par-4 eighth, his 17th hole of the day, Spieth made a 41-foot chip for birdie. 

The round ties his PGA Tour career low.

Spieth now has the afternoon session to wait to see the final leading number, but he now has a chance to become the first player to win the Masters and Heritage in back-to-back weeks since Bernhard Langer in 1985.


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

Apr 17

Jacksonville Jags mascot touches down to win charity par-3 contest

Golfers typically wear goofy clothes, by choice, on the course. They also typically don't play very well. So imagine how the average hacker might do playing in a mascot costume. 

Well, Curtis Dvorak, the guy who plays Jacksonville Jaguars mascot Jaxson de Ville, managed to win $10,000 for charity winning a closest-to-the-pin contest -- while wearing the costume he wears during Jags home games.

Dvorak squared off against 14 other challengers, including former touring players, in the 17th Hole Charity Challenge at TPC Sawgrass on Wednesday. He won the contest with a shot to the island-green par 3 that landed just 4 feet, 9 inches from the hole -- again, in costume. Former PGA Tour player Bob Duval came in second at 6 feet, 4 inches. 

With the win, Dvorak scored a $10,000 donation to the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund, which helps families with children facing cancer.

In Round 2, Web.come Tour player Jeff Klauk won to earn $5,000 for the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida. Klauk had battled seizures since 2006, undergoing a series of procedures in 2012 to help combat the issue. He returned to competition later in 2012.

Then, on top of beating everyone who wasn't wearing a hot, bulky costume, Dvorak then hit a drive from his knees onto the green.

Holy cow. I want that guy in my club scramble.


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

Apr 17

U.S. Open to allow mobile phones for the first time

The USGA is loosening up. They'll allow fans to bring their mobile phones to the U.S. Open for the first time in June.

The governing body announced the change Thursday, detailing specifically the types of devices allowed:

"Spectators may carry mobile devices smaller than 7 inches in length and/or height, including cellphones, smartphones and PDAs. All device volume controls must be set to silent or vibrate at all times."

Your tablet is a no-go.

Fans will be able to use their phones for calls and other needs in four designated zones at Chambers Bay in Washington, which will host the U.S. Open for the first time. The USGA will also offer an improved U.S. Open app with content for fans attending the event. 

However, fans will still be prohibited from using their cameras to take photo, video or stream the event on championship days (Thursday-Sunday). We're looking at you, Periscope and Meerkat users.


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

Apr 16

The 19th Hole Golf Show: Masters review with Paul McGinley

With the Masters behind us, we turned to one of golf's most enjoyable voices to review Jordan Spieth's record-setting win. Paul McGinley, winning 2014 Ryder Cup captain, joined the show to talk about Jordan Spieth's approach to the Masters and how he took control of the event. The Irishman also shared his views on how Rory McIlroy turned around his Masters in the final 45 holes, as well how Justin Rose did in standing toe-to-toe with Spieth.

McGinley also spoke about the Windsor beachfront community in Florida, where he was doing a post-Masters exhibition, including the important takeaways for amateurs and what he hopes people learn from him when he talks golf.

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


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

Apr 16

Get on the path to having Jordan Spieth’s mental edge

Before every shot, Masters champion Jordan Spieth does the same thing.

He stands behind the ball and identifies where he wants his ball to go. Then he takes a few soft practice swings to simulate the motion he needs to produce his desired shot shape. He faces the target line, one foot slightly ahead of the other, envisions the shot in his mind and steps in to swing.

It's a process that allows him to think through every aspect of a shot and free him up to execute. It's also the envy of his peers.

"His composure is Bernhard Langer-like, which is incredible for 21," said 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogivly to Golf.com. "That's his x-factor."

Developing a pre-shout routine, like Spieth has, is great for your game, too. Unfortunately, an overwhelming number of golfers don't have such a routine, and it costs them strokes.

Dr. Michael Lardon can help. He's worked with a number of top professionals, including five-time major champion Phil Mickelson, to improve their mental approach to the game. He has a system that he calls the Mental Pre-Shot, that encourages players to think through a three-step process before each shot: figuring out the distance, intended shot and the dangers; feeling what the shot is like, either through visualization or practice strokes; and finally executing the shot without a thought in your brain. 

"The problem for the average player," Lardon said in an interview, "is that they don't have a caddie to walk them through the process."

Lardon emphasizes the need for a physical trigger that reminds the brain that it's time to execute. That could be touching the cap, taking a breath or whatever makes you feel comfortable. Lardon believes a device like Game Golf, a game-tracking product which requires a player to tap a sensor to a device kept on your belt before each shot, could serve as not only a trigger, but deliver other benefits in the way of data and analysis into your game.

It's a simple thing to learn, but takes a long time to master and to fully integrate into your approach. However, once you learn how to do it and make it a part of each shot, it doesn't take a lot of time and can really help you throughout your round. Even if you can't pull of shots like Jordan Spieth, you can at least learn to think your way around the golf course somewhat like the Masters champion.


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