Sep 20

Steve Stricker to wield wedge to win Whistling Straits tickets

Steve Stricker may be a part-time pro golfer these days, but his wedge game is still as sharp as the best in the world. He's hoping that will translate into a pair of great 2015 PGA Championship tickets for two Wisconsin football fans.

During halftime of the Oct. 11 game at Camp Randall Stadium against Illinois (curiously, Stricker's alma mater), Stricker will hit a 135-yard shot from the video-board platform to the school's midfield W. If the ball lands on the target, a fan will win a pair of Wanamaker Club tickets to next August's PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisc.

Wanamaker Club tickets run $475 for the week and come with access to "an air-conditioned, sports-bar themed pavilion with indoor seating, multiple HDTVs and upgraded food and beverage available for purchase," according to the PGA Championship website.


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

Sep 20

Westwood: Europe can’t rely on Poulter dramatics at Ryder Cup

Ian Poulter has been a part of four Ryder Cup teams and won 80 percent of his matches. Almost single-handedly, he inspired the 2012 comeback now known as the Miracle at Medinah. He birdied the final five holes of his Saturday fourballs match with Rory McIlroy to beat a shocked Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson. He then came through on Sunday with a singles win against Webb Simpson, leading the record charge to overcome a four-point Saturday night deficit.

However, Poulter has been off in 2014, posting just a single top-10 PGA Tour finish in the calendar year. He didn't qualify for the team on points, leaving European captain Paul McGinley no choice but to select Poulter as a courtesy to his previous record.

Fellow 2014 captain's pick Lee Westwood made clear a European victory at Gleneagles will have to be more of a team effort.

"I think it's a lot to ask of him to do the same as he did last time," Westwood said at the Wales Open on Saturday. "He turned the whole momentum of the Ryder Cup around on that Saturday night so let's not put too much pressure on him with that, but certainly he seems to be able to raise his game for a Ryder Cup."

The last two Ryder Cup matches have gone in Europe's favor by a single point, with Poulter leading the way (along with Luke Donald in 2010) in European points in both matches. However much Westwood would like to lessen the load on Poulter, it's clear he has been integral to their last two wins.


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

Sep 19

How Tiger Woods did the last time he coached himself

One sentence in Tiger Woods' latest blog post, published Thursday, caught enough attention to merit worldwide headlines.

"I may just do it on my own," wrote Woods concerning who might be his next swing coach. It wouldn't be the first time in Woods' career where the 14-time major winner has been teacher and student. 

When Woods and Hank Haney parted company in May 2010, Woods had just withdrawn in the final round of The Players citing an inflamed neck joint. Woods next appeared at the Memorial Tournament the next month, and the questions about Woods' future were obvious. Asked if he was "self-diagnosing," Woods confirmed he was figuring things out on his own.

"That's the great thing about technology. We can use video," Woods said. "That's what I've been doing and been working on it that way."

And so began a two-and-a-half month experiement. Woods didn't win in this stretch (he didn't win in 2010 or '11), but did finish T-4 at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and T-23 at the Open Championship at St. Andrews where Louis Oosthuizen blitzed the field for his only major title. However, Woods was left searching after he finished T-78, dead last, in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, a tournament he has won eight times.

The next week at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Woods was seen working with Sean Foley.

However, Woods is done until his World Challenge event in December. He hasn't touched a golf club since the PGA Championship in August. For now, the focus is on getting healthy and getting right a back problem that has marred his season. It may not be until 2015 that Woods decides, if at all, to rebuild his swing yet again. If he does overhaul once more, it may not be before 2016 that Woods shows flashes of his once-dominant self.


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

Sep 19

Rory McIlroy ready to take on all U.S. comers at Ryder Cup

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy knows he has a target on his back at next week's Ryder Cup. A two-time major winner this season, McIlroy is the de facto leader of the European side looking for a third consecutive win. The Ulsterman said Thursday he's happy to take on any player American captain Tom Watson sends out to be his foil.

“Whoever they want to send out against me, it’s no problem to me,” McIlroy said in an appearance for sponsor Santander in London. “I want to lead from the front and by example, and I’m confident enough in the way I am playing right now to do that.”

McIlroy realizes any time he doesn't walk away from a match with a full point will be a disappointment for him and, more critically, a big moral boost to the American side.

“I know I will have a target on my back but I love that and I am going to play up to it as much as I can,” he said. “It’s a massive compliment whenever the opposition are talking about you. I know what a huge fillip it would be for them if I lose, but it is up to me to make sure it doesn’t happen.”

The 25-year-old will likely play in all five sessions over the three-day event. McIlroy said he's happy to partner with countryman Graeme McDowell, who has been a good partner with him in the last two Ryder Cups. McIlroy downplayed the impact on their relationship of an ongoing lawsuit McIlroy filed against their once-shared representation, Horizon Sports Management. McDowell announced earlier this summer he'd be tending to his own representation at year's end.

"I’d love to play with G-Mac," McIlroy said. "I think everyone can see the chemistry we have together and there’s no reason why it can’t be the same this time. We were both playing in Denver two weeks ago and went out to dinner together. There’s no problem between us."


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

Sep 18

Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews votes to admit female members

It only took 260 years. 

On Thursday, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews announced its membership has voted to allow female members. Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, the governing body off-shoot of the club, said the club will fast-track membership for "a significant initial number" of women into the club.

"I am very pleased indeed to announce that the membership of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews has voted overwhelmingly in favor of welcoming women members," said Dawson, who is also the club's secretary, in a statement.

Over 75 percent of the estimated 2,400 members voted, many by a proxy ballot thought critical to secure the simple majority needed to pass this measure. Of those approximately 1,800 members that voted, over 1,500 did so in the affirmative. That means some 300 members said no with another 600 effectively saying no by not voting.

The club was founded in 1754. In 2004, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews formed the body known today as The R&A, charging it with administering the Rules of Golf, running the Open Championship and other events and serving as the game's governing body outside of the United States and Mexico.

Reaction from this side of the Atlantic has been positive, if not with a slight foot-tapping tone.

In an unattributed statement, the LPGA said, "The LPGA is happy to hear that the members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club in St. Andrews have voted to include female members. This decision is certainly a step in the right direction and one that better captures the current diversity and inclusiveness of our great game."

PGA of America president Ted Bishop applauded the decision, viewing the vote through the prism of a sagging golf industry.

"Women have played and will continue to play an integral role in the game of golf," Bishop said. "In fact, women represent the biggest growth market in the sport, and every step to make golf more inclusive is good for the game. The PGA of America is thrilled that the R&A is welcoming women into its organization, and loudly applauds its decision."

While the Royal & Ancient will now have male and female members, there are still three clubs in the Open Championship rota that are single-sex: Muirfield, which hosted the '13 Open; Royal Troon, which hosts in 2016; and Royal St. Georges Golf Club. 

For its part, Troon, which has a 370-member ladies club that shares the property with the male-only club, reiterated it has no plans to integrate the two organizations.

"At present, membership of Royal Troon is open only to those of the male gender and we have no plans to change our constitution at this time, although I must point out that we are quite different from many of the other single-gender clubs in that we share our facilities with an active ladies’ club," said club secretary David Brown in a statement.


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

Sep 18

Before the NFL, Tom Brady spent two summers working at golf courses

Sure, Tom Brady has three Super Bowl trophies, a pair of Super Bowl MVP awards and two NFL MVP honors. But he could have made an outstanding golf course general manager.

The New England Patriots quarterback dusted off his post-college resume and shared it on Facebook on Thursday.

Tom Brady's resume, circa 2000 (Facebook)

"Really thought I was going to need this after the 5th round,” Brady said, alluding to being the 199th overall selection of the 2000 NFL draft. 

Turns out, Brady has some significant experience working on golf courses. Brady listed a pair of summer jobs at two Michigan golf courses. In the summer of 1998, Brady was a sales representative and course ranger at Polo Fields Golf & Country Club in Jackson, Mich., and assistant clubhouse manager the following summer at the University of Michigan golf course.

Among the skills Brady learned in his clock-punching days on the links, the signal caller listed "interpersonal skills" and "flexiblity in order to better serve club members." We're going to assume "serially bad high-five giver" is not an interpersonal skill.


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

Sep 18

Nicolas Colsaerts hit a 447-yard drive at the Wales Open

For most every human on the planet, reaching a 600-yard par 5 in two shots is impossible. For a select few touring pros, they can get there with a big drive and a huge fairway wood. Then there's Nicolas Colsaerts.

Playing the 613-yard par-5 18th at Celtic Manor on Thursday in the opening round of the Wales Open, the Belgian smashed a 447-yard drive. He needed just a full gap wedge to hit the green in two, leading to a closing eagle and a share of the Day 1 lead at 5 under par.

“The hole was playing downwind (10-15 mph) and I managed to get a good bounce,” Colsaerts said.

Colsaerts' tee shot surpassed the previous Euro Tour best of 442 yards, set by Shiv Kapur in 2012. By comparison, the longest drive on the PGA Tour this season was Bubba Watson's 424-yard smash at Firestone C.C.'s 16th hole during the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Back in July, Rory McIlroy drove a 436-yard hole during the Scottish Open.


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

Sep 17

Former PGA star Anthony Kim reportedly could make $10 million by not playing golf

Anthony Kim hasn't been seen on the PGA Tour since May 2012, withdrawing from the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina after a first-round 74. That Thursday, he cited injuries to his right wrist and elbow, as well continued pain in a surgically repaired left thumb. He said he would review his options and consider competing in The Players Championship the next week. 

Kim chose not to play. Then he tore an Achilles and hasn't been heard from since. Two-and-a-half years later, what happened to Kim remains an unsolved mystery. 

However, a Golf.com report suggests that according to a friend, Kim is safe and healthy enough to play. So why isn't he playing?

Kim reportedly took out a $10 million insurance policy against career-ending injury that could be worth at least $10 million tax free, if not more.

If Kim returns to the PGA Tour in any capacity, the policy is void and he would lose the money on what amounts to a lifetime disability plan.

According to the Golf.com story, Kim told a friend, "If I take one swing on Tour, the policy is voided."

Were Kim to make a comeback at 29, he'd have to earn an estimated $35 million simply to clear what he's being paid not to play. In seven seasons on Tour, Kim earned $12.2 million, with all but $3 million earned from 2008-10. The gamble's simply not worth it.Anthony Kim hits a tee shot during a 2012 tournament. (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Kim is free to enjoy life. He's become an urban legend in Dallas, where he's been seen at area bars and playing in high-stakes card games. However, he's rarely seen playing golf recreationally. He reportedly makes the occasional cameo on a driving range or for nine holes at a high-end private club.

Kim reportedly contacted the PGA Tour in April 2014 asking for the password to a player information portal. However, Kim has no love for the Tour, its corporate feel or its executives. It doesn't suit his blue-collar background, he feels. Media intrigue in his story and legendary off-course behavior may make him apprehensive to step under a microscope again.

However, Kim seems to have become even more of a recluse, choosing to sell his Dallas pad, removing some bling from his Rolls-Royce, avoiding frequented bars and strip clubs. 

So there Kim sits, reportedly well apprised of what's happening on the PGA Tour, but paralyzed by a potential massive financial windfall and the dread of constant scrutiny if he decided to return. 

Maybe the money is the best choice.


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

Related Video:

Sep 17

The Olympic impact of an independent Scotland

On Thursday, Scots vote to decide if they will break off from the United Kingdom, launching an independent Scotland after hundreds of years under the Union Jack. The impact of such a decision is far-reaching, including impacting the world of golf.

When golf returns to the Olympics in 2016, it will select the 60-player fields for both the men's and women's tournaments based on respective world rankings. However, countries will be limited in the number of players that can represent them in the 72-hole events. A country can send no more than four players, and that's if all four players are ranked inside the top 15 of the world rankings. Outside of the top 15, the two highest-ranked players from a country qualify until the field is filled.

As you might imagine, Scotland is pretty good at golf. In both the men's and women's ranking, Scots rank highly enough to earn a pair of slots in the 60-player field, kicking out players from other countries.

Were Scotland to go independent and the Olympic tournament held today, Ryder Cup player Stephen Gallacher and Marc Warren would be in the men's draw, kicking out Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines and Adilson da Silva of Brazil. On the women's side, Catriona Matthew and Kylie Walker are in while Fabienne In-Albon and Margarita Ramos would be out.


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

Sep 17

Miguel Angel Jimenez saves the most interesting Ice Bucket Challenge for last

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has kind of come and gone in terms of viral popularity and public delight at each new celebrity taking a cold water over the head. However, Miguel Angel Jimenez had yet to take on the challenge. He finally got to it this week, and it's delightful.

Jimenez challenged several fellow Spaniard golfers as well as a professional bullfighter before kicking back with a stogie on a golf-course bench. A bunch of friends came in to dump a trash can full of cold aqua on the Mechanic's head, and the oldest winner in European Tour history took it like the champion he is.

This should officially end golf's involvement with the Ice Bucket Challenge, bringing full-circle the sport's integral part in rise of the challenge.


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