Aug 19

Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy visit Jimmy Fallon to promote Nike and play games

On Monday night, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy visited Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show." Or, perhaps, that should read "Rory McIlroy visited Jimmy Fallon, and brought along Tiger Woods as a special guest." Whichever, all three had a fine time, but it was clear McIlroy is the man of the moment.

The appearance was part of a Nike product launch, touting the new "Vapor" iron series, and included a pre-show media event at the Statue of Liberty. There and at the show, Fallon and McIlroy traded golf swings. Woods, still recovering from back surgery, indicated he won't be swinging a club for at least another month.

Still, Woods was effusive in his praise of McIlroy, who in turn was gracious about Woods' approval.

“We’ve seen him have runs like this before," Woods said of McIlroy. "He made a wholesale equipment change and also at the same time made a few changes in his swing. It’s tough to make all those changes work at the same time, especially at the elite level. When he puts it together, he can get on hot streaks and runs like this. To win two major championships and a World Golf Championship, that’s tough stuff. That’s not easy to do and not many people have.”

“It’s a huge compliment for me to be compared with Tiger,” McIlroy said. “But I'll never be able to do what he's done for the game.”

He did one thing Woods didn't do: defeat Fallon at his own game. Fallon famously topped Woods in a video game showdown, but McIlroy came out the winner in the FACEBREAKERS showdown. Conveniently enough, the trophy was already engraved with his name.

 

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

Aug 18

Winners and losers from the Wyndham and LPGA Championship

This past weekend saw a lot of great storylines and we are here to give you the good and the bad of it. Here are our winners and losers from the past week in golf.

Winners

Camilo Villegas — Years ago, Villegas was the "next big thing" in golf, a young, fit star from Columbia with a ton of potential and the appeal to pull different fans to golf. Villegas' career took a serious hit in 2012 when he made just 15 of 25 cuts and failed to card a single top-10, and while it didn't improve much in 2013, there were signs that he could return to relevance. The 63 that Villegas put together on Sunday at the Wyndham was good enough for a one-shot victory and a fourth PGA Tour win. It also moved Villegas up to 37th on the FedEx Cup points list, important considering the next four weeks of golf and the money to be made if he can continue to play like he did at Sedgefield.

Inbee Park — As regulation was winding down at the LPGA Championship, it looked like Americans would sweep the majors in 2014, but when Brittany Lincicome three-putted the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Park, it seemed inevitable that the 26-year-old from South Korea would finish with the trophy. Another bogey by Lincicome in the playoff meant a a fourth major title in the last 10 LPGA majors, and a fifth overall for Park.

Sang-Moon Bae — Needing a good week to qualify for the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs, Bae shot matching 66s on the weekend to sneak into the top-125 and earn a spot at the Barclays next week. Bae finished his round off with a 10-footer on the 72nd hole for a birdie, celebrating like a man that had a goal in mind before the week began and was able to pull it off.

Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker — Knowing that Tom Watson is looking for anyone playing well to pick with his three captain's selections, Simpson and Snedeker both finished T-5 at the Wyndham, trending in the right direction to sport the red, white and blue next month at the Ryder Cup.

Losers

Nick Watney — For most of Sunday, it looked like Watney would be the PGA Tour player with the jump-start win, and needing a birdie on the last to tie Villegas at 17-under, Watney hit his tee shot out of bounds, making a disappointing double-bogey to drop into a T-5.

Heath Slocum — Not only was Slocum playing for a spot in the playoffs next week, but the 40-year-old had a chance to win his fifth PGA Tour title after an eagle on the 15th and a birdie on the 16th. That was when the wheels started to come off, with Slocum making a bogey on the 17th and with a 50-foot birdie putt on the last to get back to 17-under and tie Villegas, he ran it well by, missing the par putt that not only dropped him another spot on the leaderboard, but would have landed him a spot in the top-125. Now Slocum has to head back to the Web.com Tour Finals if he wants to earn his PGA Tour card for 2015, a really disappointing finish for the man that had plenty at stake down the stretch at the Wyndham.

Aug 17

Kevin Sutherland becomes the first Champions Tour player to ever shoot 59

The Champions Tour is named "champions" for a reason. So many legends turn 50 and take their talents to a completely different tour, going up against huge names in golf that can still really, really golf their ball.

But unlike the PGA Tour, nobody had ever broke 60 until Saturday on the Champions Tour. While we've seen six 59s on the PGA Tour, never has someone done that on the Champions Tour until Kevin Sutherland got going in the second round of the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

Sutherland, who turned 50 on July 4, had one of the hottest starts ever to a round, playing his first eight holes in 9-under, and after a par on the ninth, added two more birdies to get to 11-under after just 11 holes.

After three straight pars, Sutherland needed some magic and got it, adding three straight birdies to get to 14-under par (!), finishing with a bogey on the last and still shooting 13-under for the day.

It was an amazing round of golf, and one that will live on in the history of the Champions Tour as the lowest ever, and one of the craziest starts you will ever see from any golfer, 50 or otherwise.

Aug 14

Tiger Woods walks away from at least $8 million in potential appearance fees

On Wednesday, Tiger Woods announced that he was withdrawing his name from Ryder Cup consideration, and would be forgoing any professional events for the next few months while he rehabilitates after back surgery.

Considering Woods' recent performances in tournaments — two missed cuts, one withdrawal, and a 69th-place finish — it's not surprising that Woods would take the rest of the year to get his game back together. But considering how much money he's leaving on the table, you can understand why he'd have a hard time walking away.

Outside of the PGA season, Woods appears in several tournaments and corporate outings a year in which he's paid an appearance fee. These are hefty indeed, and according to one estimate, Woods is passing up a staggering $8 million in potential appearance fees by sitting out. Appearance fees, as the name implies, are payable just for showing up; there's no need for Woods to do anything but smile and swing in order to cash the check. (Not that Woods is in particularly dire financial straits, as far as we know, but for reference, he's made about $100,000 in winnings this season.)

Woods was scheduled to play in the America’s Golf Cup in Argentina, for which he would have received about $4 million, and at least two corporate events in Asia, for which he generally receives about $2 million per appearance.

Obviously, for Woods, money isn't the issue; getting healthy for majors is. If he's able to prep sufficiently to make a run at the newly dominant Rory McIlroy at Augusta next year, for him, the layoff would be worth the cost.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

Aug 13

Tiger Woods informs Tom Watson and the PGA of America that he is withdrawing his name from Ryder Cup consideration

Tiger Woods has pulled his name out of consideration for a Ryder Cup captain's pick, the PGA of America announced on Wednesday.

Woods informed the PGA of America and American captain Tom Watson that he didn't want to be picked for next month's matches against Europe because of ongoing back issues that Woods has struggled through for most of 2014.

“While I greatly appreciate Tom thinking about me for a possible Captain’s Pick, I must take myself out of consideration,” Woods said in the release. “I’ve been told by my doctors and trainer that my back muscles need to be rehabilitated and healed. They’ve advised me not to play or practice now. I’m extremely disappointed that I won’t be ready for the competition. The U.S. Team and the Ryder Cup mean too much to me not to be able to give it my best. I’ll be cheering for the U.S. Team. I think we have an outstanding squad going into the matches."

The automatic qualifiers for the American team are already set, with Watson still needing to pick three players on September 2, and some thought if Woods was healthy, he might be a choice.

But as we've seen for most of this season, Tiger's back issues continue to flare up, and after struggling to a missed cut at the PGA Championship at Valhalla, a lot hoped Woods would shut it down for the rest of the season and get healthy.

Watson spoke about Tiger's decision to pull himself out of the running, and what he now has to focus on moving forward.

“My primary wish is for Tiger to be healthy and competitive, and I hope that he’ll return to the game very soon,” said Watson, in the release. “Of course, I’m disappointed that Tiger Woods has asked not to be considered for the U.S. Ryder Cup Team, and that his health is not where he would like it to be. However, I think we can all agree that we need Tiger Woods in this great sport, and he has taken the high road by informing me early on in the selection process. My focus will remain on identifying three players to join the U.S. team and give us the best chance for success at Gleneagles.”

The "focus" Watson talks about is on what players he can pick, with Dustin Johnson pulling out, Jason Dufner suffering through back spasms and withdrawing from the PGA Championship and Matt Kuchar also pulling out before the PGA began because of health issues.

On paper, the Americans continue to be the underdogs at Gleneagles, but if there is any silver lining in this at all, it's that the only United States victory in the last six Ryder Cups came when Woods was also off the team because of injury back in 2008.

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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 shanebaconblogs@yahoo.com or

Aug 13

The five best golf shots ever hit by a left-hander

August 13 is the one day a year where being left-handed is celebrated. As a southpaw myself, I tend to celebrate this holiday much like right-handers celebrate all the other days, getting any and all golf clubs they want, never having to use awkward scissors and never having ink covering the bottom of their palm.

We figured it would be a good time to look back on some of the best golf shots ever hit from the wrong side of the ball. We tried to find some YouTube worthy clips so you could watch the greatness of the lefty, so while Bob Charles was the first lefty to ever win a major, none of his shots will be making the list (even his 11 one-putts he had in the first leg of the 36 hole playoff he won at Royal Lytham & St. Annes).

So, here is our list. Let us know what you think, and for all the lefty readers out there, this post is for you!

5.) Mike Weir's 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole at the 2007 Presidents Cup — The Cup wasn't really in question back in '07, with the United States well up on the International squad playing at Royal Montreal in Canada, but it was the singles match between Mike Weir and Tiger Woods that had a whole country on the edge of their seat.

Weir, who won the Masters in 2003, drew Woods in singles and was 1-down heading to the 17th when he rolled in this 10-foot birdie putt to square the match, rocking his entire country when the putt dropped.

Woods would go on to pull his tee shot on the 18th hole in a hazard, giving the full point to Weir with a win on the 18th hole, a moment Weir said, "may be even more special than winning the Masters."

4.) Bubba Watson's 283-yard albatross at the 2011 Chevron World Challenge — There are plenty of fun Bubba shots over the years that could make this list, but we figured we'd start it off with one of the craziest double-eagles you'll ever see. Watson had 283 yards in on the par-5 16th at Sherwood Country Club, and cashed his four-wood for the albatross, not something most would think was possible from that distance.

3.) Phil Mickelson's second shot on the 13th hole at the 2010 Masters — 209 yards out, a two-shot lead on Sunday at the Masters, and your drive finds the pine straw on the famous 13th hole. Most people would lay up, but Phil pulled 6-iron, hit a high draw out of the questionable lie, and saw his ball land just on the front of the green, a golf shot that only a couple of humans on this planet would even try, much less pull off.

2.) Bubba Watson's wedge on the second playoff to win the 2012 Masters — Not many golfers to ever play the game have the creativity of Bubba, and it showed when the pressure was on at the 2012 Masters. In a playoff with Louis Oosthuizen, Watson missed the fairway on the 10th hole only to hook his wedge around all sorts of trouble, landing it in the middle of the green and two-putting for the par and a first green jacket.

1.) Phil Mickelson's birdie putt to win the 2004 Masters — There are few golf moments where you remember where you were when they happened, but the birdie putt that just caught the lip on the 18th hole at Augusta National in 2004 sticks in your mind.

I was at a lake house in East Texas watching it with 20 or so family members huddled around a guest room television when Mickelson won his first major, knocking in that putt to beat Ernie Els by a single shot. The putt just caught the lip and the Mickelson jump is still one of the most iconic images ever on the 18th green at Augusta National.

 

Aug 13

Devil Ball Proving Ground: Miura wedges

Welcome to Devil Ball's Proving Ground, where we put the latest golf gear through its paces. Today we look at the Miura wedges.

Tester — Shane Bacon — Handicap: +1.0

Target Golf Audience — All golfers

Initial thoughts

Your first moment with a set of Miura golf clubs is much like a first experience with an iPhone. You've heard about them, you may have even seem them in another bag, but when you hold them in your hands for the first time, you know you are touching something revolutionary.

If you don't know about Miura, you don't really know about exceptionally made golf clubs. Katsuhiro Miura and his sons, Yoshitaka and Shinei, make these golf clubs out of a factory in Himeji, Japan, and the clubs are known around the world as some of the best golf clubs out there.

As for the Miura wedges, the first look is simply one of beauty. The golf clubs are beautiful, in every sense of the word. They're simple, clean, and the mild steel dulls the shine just enough to keep the glare out of your eyes when you're playing golf in the sunshine.

There are a lot of golf companies that make good, solid wedges, but as for sheer beauty, these wedges take the cake.

On-Course Thoughts

Of course, a golf club can be as beautiful as a swimsuit model and not perform, so taking the Miura wedges out on the course was my first step to falling in love.

Miura uses something they call "spin welding" to make sure that all the golf clubs are as consistent through the set as they can be, which definitely matters for someone buying two or three of these wedges to compliment their set of clubs.

While we spend plenty of time talking about new drivers and hot putters, wedges are as important to a golfer as anything else. So many times I'll see golfers with the newest driver and a shiny set of 2014 irons sitting in the same bag as a groove-less wedge they've had since high school.

How much technology goes in to the simple idea of a wedge when discussing Muira? Check out this paragraph from their website explaining the clubs:

"Miura's forging techniques rearrange the molecular structure of the mild steel in a pattern that is uniform throughout the hitting area of the club in a manner that is unique to his clubs. This tightness in the grain structure of the metal is what gives Miura made clubs the controlled, soft feel that other manufacturers cannot achieve."

Rearranging molecules?! Tightness in the grain?! This is seriously advanced stuff, and is the reason these wedges perform like nothing else on the market.

I love taking these out, and was really impressed with how soft they were around the greens, especially when I found myself in a sketchy lie. So many times golfers can slam down on a ball when it sits in the rough near the green, sending it shooting over the green for another chip and a pending double-bogey. The way these wedges cut through the rough made it easier to put the middle of the club on the back of the ball, and helped get the ball around the hole, meaning even a missed putt is still just a bogey.

Final Verdict

The Miura wedges aren't popular with tour pros for no reason. The clubs look great, which will draw you to them initially, but they perform as good as anything you'll find on the market.

I love them, and have recommended them to multiple people that have asked or picked them up out of my bag when out at the driving range. Chipping with them actually makes you excited to practice your short game (shocker!), which means you'll quickly drop a shot or two just by putting in a little bit more work.

www.miuragolf.com