Mar 05

Former PGA pres. Bishop: Mickelson was ‘grandmaster’ of Ryder Cup task force

Former PGA of America president Ted Bishop believes Phil Mickelson got precisely what he wanted from the now-dissolved Ryder Cup task force, acting as the "grandmaster" of the 11-man committee.

Writing for Golf Magazine, Bishop said Mickelson got the captain he wanted in Davis Love III, even though at the 2014 Ryder Cup he explicitly named Paul Azinger and favoring his approach. However, Bishop also contends Mickelson didn't care for Azinger's sometimes brash leadership style. The five-time major winner liked the framework, which Love employed in building a four-point lead heading into the final day of the 2012 Ryder Cup.

Bishop believes Fred Couples, three times the winning U.S. Presidents Cup captain, will get the nod to lead in France in 2018, followed by Steve Stricker in his native Wisconsin in 2020, Jim Furyk in 2022 and Phil Mickelson taking his turn at Bethpage Black in 2024.

Perhaps most interesting was Bishop's suggestion that the Ryder Cup is now Mickelson's baby, and may somewhat explain why fellow task force member Tiger Woods didn't show to last week's news conference to announce the changes.

"Phil made his presence felt. I can't help but think that Phil's taking charge of the U.S. Ryder Cup process might represent the first time in years that he isn't living in Tiger's shadow," Bishop wrote. "I wonder if that has motivated Phil, because he certainly seems energized by the task at hand."


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

Mar 05

Adam Scott has gone to the short putter

Ch-ch-ch-changes aplenty this week for Adam Scott.

Scott, who is making his 2015 debut at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, is a new father to a daughter and has been wielding a new, traditional-length putter at Doral. He is expected to play this week with a short putter for just the second time since the 2011 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, when he made the switch to the anchored broomstick.

Scott came to the decision after testing a slew of putters in his offseason.

"I’ve kind of enjoyed experimenting at home the last couple months because I’ve had so much time up my sleeve,” said Scott. “I’ve got about 50 putters I’ve collected over my career back home in the garage, so to speak, but then I’ve also tried out lots of other putters at home in Australia over the these last few weeks.”

Scott still had not decided on the putter he'd use this week on Monday at Doral, when he was working with four putters on the practice greens.

The Aussie is making the change now instead of waiting until later in the season. The anchored putting stroke, which Scott used in tandem with the long putter to win the 2013 Masters, becomes illegal on Jan. 1, 2016. Though he knows there will be a transition, Scott seems confident the switch will go well.

“You know, I’ll just go out there and like I said, just stay patient with it all,” Scott said. “It’s going to be demanding, certainly if the wind is blowing. But I’m thinking, you know, my stroke and everything feels as good as it ever has."


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

Mar 03

Phil Mickelson was too tired to play a round at Augusta National

If someone told you that, if you stayed up for 48 consecutive hours, you could play Augusta National Golf Club, there's a good chance you would run to your nearest coffee machine and start brewing. 

If you had to give a kidney to play the home of the Masters, there's a chance you'd handle the scalpel yourself.

Not Phil Mickelson, though. The three-time Masters winner has probably played Augusta National more times than he can ever remember. So, not that it's old hat, but he can go there pretty much whenever he wants. Perhaps that's why he canceled a scheduled Tuesday practice round there. Why?

"Just tired," Mickelson said Monday after The Honda Classic. 

Mickelson then made the short drive from PGA National to Seminole Golf Club for its famous, star-studded pro-member tournament. Along with partner and Augusta National member Jimmy Payne, Mickelson came in a tie for eighth, four shots behind the winning duo of Rory McIlroy and John Pinkham.

Ah, the life of a golf legend. 


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

Mar 03

Dude Perfect, long-drive champion Jamie Sadlowski perform sick trick shots

Trick-shot videos are hot right now in golf.

The Bryan Brothers light it up on a regular basis, while a host of others are trying to make a name for themselves by showing what they can do with a club, a ball and the occasional prop.

However, two-time Remax World Long-Drive champion Jamie Sadlowski has taken the art form to a new level. Sadlowski, a Callaway Golf staffer, teamed up with YouTube mega-sensations Dude Perfect for a trick-shot compilation that will blow your mind.

This five-minute video has a little bit of everything in it. Of course, there's the requisite GoPro cameras and lots of high-fiving and man-hugging. However, the tricks are dynamite.

Here's a set list:

Sadlowski hits a 100-yard punch shot to a small target attached to a basketball hoop, knocking a suspended ball into the basket

He hits a putter some 170 yards on a par 3, then makes the birdie putt in a great one-club challenge, then later makes a 132-foot putt with his driver

Several everyday items are demolished at point-blank range of Sadlowski's drives, including fruit, action figures and candy

The Dude Perfect guys ride jet skis to catch a golf ball Sadlowski blasts off the U.S.S. Midway

Finally, Sadlowski hits a kiddie pool set up 250 yards away from him

Does this have anything to do with pro golf? Not at all. But the skill set Sadlowski showed on these trick shots should tell you the kind of showmen some of the longest hitters in the world are.


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

Mar 03

Power rankings: WGC-Cadillac Championship

The PGA Tour splits off this week, with the best players in the world in the Miami area for the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral. The Gil Hanse-renovated TPC Blue Monster hosts the top 50 players in the world and a slew of money leaders from global tours. 

Patrick Reed is defending champion this week, but the headliner is again Rory McIlroy, who will look to bounce back in this no-cut event after missing the weekend at The Honda Classic.

Here are my top five picks for the week.

1. Rory McIlroy -- McIlroy didn't make the cut at Honda, but he had an awful draw along with half the field. He was T-25 here a year ago. He's a very different player since then.

2. Jordan Spieth -- Hey, maybe we'll see Jordan Spieth on TV this week. Spieth is a top-10 machine at the moment, taking that mantle from Matt Kuchar. His game plays anywhere and should be handy in windy conditions.

3. Dustin Johnson -- Johnson got cut at Honda playing alongside McIlroy and Brooks Koepka. He's been close to wins in two of his last three starts and was T-4 here last year, as well a runner-up in 2011.

4. Patrick Reed -- Reed came up short (in the drink) on Monday at The Honda Classic, making the rare mistake with a chance to win. However, he's playing very well and would love to defend a title at Doral.

5. Bubba Watson -- Watson was runner-up here a year ago, and he's been in the top 14 in his last five starts. If the wind picks up, he's a must-have since his length and ability to flight the ball as needed will be a huge asset.


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

Mar 03

Greg Norman: ‘Certain players…would rather be a sheep’

Greg Norman thinks some modern PGA Tour pros are a little too happy to get fat on top-20 finishes instead of chasing down wins.

“Certain players are happy just going through the motions," Norman said to the Wall St. Journal. "They don’t want to be the leader, they would rather be a sheep. They enjoy grazing the field and getting fat and sassy."

Perhaps Norman, who turned 60 in February, has a point -- or just a different frame of reference. A total of 96 PGA Tour players earned over $1 million during the 2013-14 season. In 1996, the year Norman led a six-shot lead slip away in the final round of the Masters, just nine players made seven figures. 

However, the Aussie also believes many players have the hunger to live in golf's spotlight, including Jason Day, who said in January that he'd like to get to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

“To say he wants to be the best in the world, that’s a big statement to make to yourself, let alone publicly. So he is willing to put it out there," Norman said of his fellow Aussie.

Norman also lauded another fellow countryman, Adam Scott, who makes his 2015 debut this week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship after becoming a father two weeks ago. The Shark thinks the 2013 Masters winner could be due for even bigger things now that he's a dad.

“His life is solidified," Norman said. "He has everything except more tournaments. So let’s go win some more tournaments.”


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

Mar 02

Former Tour player claims Woods suspended by Tour; agent, Tour deny claims

Former PGA Tour player Dan Olsen made a serious accusation on Friday: that Tiger Woods had been suspended by the Tour for a month.

Olsen, who was an exempt player for the 2004 PGA Tour season, made the claim Friday on radio station WVFN to host David DeMarco. The Michigan-based pro claimed his sources were "exempt Tour players," but that Woods was not suspended for taking testosterone.

“I think when it’s all said and done, he’s going to surpass Lance Armstrong in infamy," Olsen said.

Both Tiger Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, and the PGA Tour vehemently deny Olsen's claims.

“These claims are absolutely, unequivocally and completely false," Steinberg said in a statement. "They are unsourced, unverified and completely ridiculous. The PGA Tour has confirmed that there is no truth to these claims.”

“Regarding the allegations made by Dan Olsen concerning Tiger Woods, there is no truth whatsoever to his claims and the PGA Tour categorically denies them," said PGA Tour media official Joel Schuchmann in a statement made on behalf of the Tour.

Olsen went on to make other claims, including that Nike Golf had provided Tiger Woods with a golf ball that gave him an advantage over other players and that Olsen would "almost bet hadn't been tested."

"So he's really playing with -- I'm not gonna say a cheater ball, because he has the help of the establishment, really -- but he played a ball that nobody else could play. ...

"So that combined with his enhancement issues, like having a Canadian blood spinning doctor in his phone, you know? I mean, I think people are starting to openly call it what it is, which is gonna be a problem for him."

In a statement, Nike Golf said, "Every ball Tiger has put in competitive play from Nike has been thoroughly tested and approved by the USGA and R&A in accordance with their governing rules."

Olsen also said he believed Woods was faking the back injury the 14-time major winner cited in withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open.

Woods announced Feb. 11 that he would not play again on the PGA Tour until his game was "tournament ready." 

On Monday, Olsen backed off his claims.

"Everything I said on that radio interview was only my opinion and not based on any firsthand knowledge or facts," Olsen said to ESPN.com. "I want to make a full retraction to everything I said for the entire radio interview, and I apologize to Tiger, Nike, Phil [Mickelson], [commissioner] Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour."


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

Mar 02

Padraig Harrington wins Honda for first PGA Tour win since 2008

Irish eyes are smiling in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Padraig Harrington is a winner again on the PGA Tour.

Harrington, who was playing this week on a sponsor's invitation, defeated Daniel Berger on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to win his first PGA Tour title since the 2008 PGA Championship.

The three-time major winner was tied with Patrick Reed for control of the golf tournament on the 17th tee in regulation after Ian Poulter had put five balls in water hazards in the final round. On the par-4 14th, Poulter's tee shot went right into a water hazard. Then, after a drop, his third shot caromed off a tree into the same hazard. He eventually made triple-bogey 7 to lose the lead.

On the 15th hole, Reed's tee shot landed in the water at the par 3 and led to a double bogey.

Alone in the lead on the tee at the par-3 penultimate hole, Harrington's attempted cut shot to the water-guarded end of The Bear Trap landed in the water hazard, leading to a double bogey that cost him the lead to the 21-year-old Berger, who was already in the clubhouse at 6-under 274.

Harrington needed birdie to force a playoff, but wasn't the only player in the final group that could catch Berger, who shot 6-under 64 to come back from nine shots down to start the final round. Poulter made birdie at No. 17, needing an eagle at the par-5 last to get in a potential playoff. Reed was locked out because of a bogey. 

Poulter laid up with his second shot from 290 yards and was unable to sink the wedge shot for an eagle 3, leaving Harrington the only man in between Berger and a Masters berth. The Irishman sank a 15-footer for birdie to force the playoff.

Both players made par on the first playoff hole, replaying the 18th. Harrington took a long time on the tee of the par-3 17th, the second playoff hole, but his second crack at the hole was masterful. His ball landed 3 feet from the hole. With the pressure on, Berger put his tee shot in the water hazard. It took two putts, but Harrrington sealed his win with a par.

Apparently it pays to be No. 297 in the Official World Golf Ranking. A week ago, James Hahn was 297th when he won the Northern Trust Open in a playoff. This week? Harrington was slotted in the same place in golf's pecking order. 

Now Harrington is back in the Masters and in the top 85 in the world ranking.


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