Nov 28

Brazil judge rejects request to halt Olympic golf course construction

Leave good enough alone. That was the pre-Thanksgiving ruling of a Brazilian judge, rejecting a plea from national prosecutors to halt the construction of the 2016 Olympic golf course on the basis that its design violates the country's environmental laws.

Prosecutors have been trying for months to derail the project, ranging from demands several holes of the previously approved design be changed to this latest request seeking a total shutdown of construction. 

Judge Eduardo Antonio Klausner said in his Wednesday decision there is "no new fact justifying ... a halt in the implementation of the golf course for the Olympics."

Developers and the city of Rio de Janeiro, host to the 2016 Olympics, agreed to relocate the course's 12th hole to allow for a 109-foot-wide "wildlife corridor" to protect plant and wildlife habitats beyond what was required to earn initial approval to build the Gil Hanse-designed course.

The course is reportedly over 70 percent complete. With the finish line in sight, the course will start to grow in and be prepared for a potential test event or two before the games in less than two years.

Golf makes its return to the Olympics in 2016 after a 112-year absence. 

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

Nov 28

McIlroy, Scott and Spieth poised for weekend battle at Aussie Open

At The Australian Golf Club, an Australian leads the Emirates Australian Open. However, through two rounds, an Ulsterman, American and the world's top-ranked Aussie are in contention for the second leg of the nation's Triple Crown.

Two-time Aussie Open winner Greg Chalmers leads the way after shooting course-record-tying 5-under 66 on Day 2, taking a one-shot lead on the same mark over three players, including world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, Aussie amateur Todd Sinnott, Adam Crawford and American Conrad Shindler. 

First-round leader Jordan Spieth is another shot behind a 3 under through 36 holes, making birdies on his final two holes of the round to go from 3 over to 1 over.

Another shot behind Spieth is Adam Scott, who set the new Australian course record earlier in the day with 66 to overcome a sluggish first round and join countrymen Rod Pampling and Robet Allenby, among others, in a tie for ninth place.

Aussie Masters winner Nick Cullen is five back of the lead on even-par 142.

The challenge for the weekend will be trying to figure out the putting surfaces redesigned by Jack Nicklaus. With just 16 players under par at the halfway mark, they're clearly tricking the players, including Scott.

"I've hit a lot of wedge shots that have been a little mis-struck and then spinning off the greens," Scott said. "I guess that's got to do with the pin positions as well. So getting it very close to the hole is not that easy. I think the greens have to be the defense because there is no rough."

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

Nov 26

Rory McIlroy didn’t plan on returning to No. 1 in 2014

Consider it a pleasant surprise. When plotting out his goals for 2014, Rory McIlroy didn't plan for a return -- much less a dominant one -- to the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.

However, three consecutive wins, including the final two majors of the year, quickly catapulted McIlroy above Adam Scott and into the top spot in the world. 

"I remember sitting down with my team and thinking about what I wanted to do and it was going to take a lot to get back to world No.1," McIlroy said Wednesday at the Emirates Australian Open.

"I didn't think it was possible this year. I was thinking maybe early '15. I was able to get back there at the start of August and it's been a great journey back. I'm not saying I was ever gone in any way, but it was nice to be back playing golf the way I knew I can."

This week marks the end of McIlroy's 2014 campaign, giving him a chance to cap off the year by defending the title he won a year ago from a poised Scott that began his ascent back to the top of the game. 

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

Nov 26

Brits will cycle through as host of reinvigorated British Masters

It's a right of passage for great players, the chance to host a prominent pro golf tournament. Jack, Arnie and Gary Player host invitational tournaments. So does Tiger Woods. Davis Love III hosts the McGladrey Classic. Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson did when they were still alive, and the tournaments still honor them today.

But it's been unheard of for a tournament to have multiple big-name hosts, much less in a cycle. That will almost certainly change in 2015. 

The British Masters will most likely be back on the European Tour schedule for 2015, and some of the game's most notable modern British players will rotate as host of the event. Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald have agreed to serve as host of the event each year through 2018, according to the Daily Mail.

While the tournament isn't officially on the schedule yet, organizers and the British quartet see no stumbling block to prevent a formal announcement soon. The event would slide into an open October date on the European Tour schedule.

"We’ve been going on about England having another event for long enough and it’s great that it looks like it is finally going to happen," said fellow host Luke Donald. 

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

Nov 25

Watch Tiger’s new swing ‘consultant’ jump clothed off a diving platform

Tiger Woods' new swing coach -- sorry, consultant -- Chris Como is an unconventional kind of teacher. He relies on biomechanics, in which he's pursuing a Masters degree, to inform the techniques he recommends for his students. Apparently, he's willing to go to great lengths to prove his swing philosophy. 

In fact, last year, the 37-year-old, Texas-based teacher jumped off a platform diving board with a golf club in hand to explain the important role ground force plays in the golf swing. This, uh, unconventional stunt demonstrated how important ground force is in generating power in the golf swing. You see, by swinging a golf club in free fall, without the support of the ground pushing back against you, Como demonstrates how it is impossible to use your legs to drive through the golf ball and generate power and distance.

While Woods probably won't find himself atop a platform anytime soon, it wouldn't be too shocking if this video is a muse for some of the Internet's best golf trick-shot artists.

Via Eye on Golf

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

Nov 24

McDowell: Rory McIlroy can dominate for next 5 years

When golfers dominate the sport, they have a window. For Padraig Harrington, it was 14 months in which he won three majors. For Tiger Woods to date, it was a 12-year span in which he took down 14 majors.

It's clear Rory McIlroy, with four major titles, is in his window. How long that window will last is anyone's guess, but Graeme McDowell probably can make the most educated prediction of anyone short of the world No. 1 himself. In his season-wrap column for the BBC, the 2010 U.S. Open champion said he sees McIlroy's window lasting until the end of the decade.

“I think we are witnessing at least a five-year spell as world number one,” McDowell wrote. “I think he is going to dominate in the fashion of Tiger Woods."

Coming off a two-major season, McIlroy is looking for his fifth at the Masters in April, which would complete the career grand slam and leave him a second U.S. Open title at Chambers Bay away from holding all four major championships simultaneously.

No matter if McIlroy dons the green jacket at Augusta National next year or not, McDowell believes his countryman will become the fourth player in history to win double-digit majors.

“Of course, a lot can happen in the next five years, but, looking at Rory, he could win three, four or maybe five more majors in that time," McDowell said. "He could then be close to the 10 in total and whether he wants to go beyond that is entirely up to him.”

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

Nov 23

President Obama, Derek Jeter play very slowly at Vegas’ Shadow Creek

Derek Jeter playing baseball and Derek Jeter playing golf have two things in common: unnecessarily long games.

Jeter and President Barack Obama played golf on Saturday in Las Vegas at Shadow Creek, one of the most exclusive courses in Vegas. Obama arrived in town on Friday to discuss and sign Executive Orders designed to offer deferred deportation to some 5 million illegal immigrants.

The two were joined by Obama campaign supporter Stephen Cloobeck and Brian Greenspun, the owner of the Las Vegas Sun newspaper.

After the round, the Commander-in-Chief intended to play another nine holes but only got in a few more before leaving the property.

Shadow Creek, a Tom Fazio design, opened in 1989 and is now owned by MGM Resorts International. 

President Obama returned to the White House on Sunday. No word if Obama agreed to write an article for The Players Tribune.

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

Nov 23

Stacy Lewis earns LPGA’s triple crown of season-long honors

Stacy Lewis completed a season on Sunday that the LPGA hadn't seen in 21 years. With her finish at the CME Group Tour Championship, Lewis became the first American since 1993 to win the tour's money title, as well player of the year and scoring average awards in the same season.

With a final-round, 1-under 71 at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., Lewis finished T-9 to secure all three honors. Betsy King was the last American to pull of the feat. 

Lewis successfully defended the Vare Trophy, the LPGA's award for the player with the lowest scoring average. She did it facing the stiffest competition for the honor in tour history, with a record four players recording sub-70 averages for the season. 

The Arkansas product won player of the year honors in 2012, ending an American drought dating back to 1994 for the points-based award. That year, Beth Daniel took both the Vare Trophy and Rolex Player of the Year trophies. However, Daniel couldn't sweep the tour's major awards as Laura Davies took the money title. 

Lewis didn't win a major title this season, but she did win three LPGA titles, part of the 13 won by Americans during the 2014 campaign. That baker's dozen is the highest number of American wins in a single LPGA season since 1999.

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