Saturday, April 30, 2016

Nicklaus believes Spieth's Masters collapse could be good for him

Jack Nicklaus knows a little something about winning major championships. He won 18. And he knows something about winning majors at a young age. He had won three majors before he turned 24.

So, Nicklaus' message to Jordan Spieth after his Masters collapse should be one he takes to heart.

"He's got a long future in front of him. He's a very talented young man, he's a nice young man, he's very focused,"Nicklaus said at last week's Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf on PGA Tour Champions. "Winning it twice might take away some of that focus. It is exactly what I said to you about if I had won the U.S. Open when I was an amateur in 1960, I might not have continued to work because I felt like I'd be scratching my head out here."

However, as Nicklaus previously said afterward, he feels for the 22-year-old and knows that the quadruple-bogey 7 on the par-3 12th in the final round will ultimately make him a better player.

"I think that there will be some good that comes out of all bad," he said. "Although I know he would have liked to have won obviously and a lot of people would have liked to have seen him win, I don't think in the long run that it'll ever hurt him; it will only make his resolve stronger."


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

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Wesley Bryan wins 2nd Web.com Tour event in last three starts

It took Wesley Bryan but just six starts to guarantee he'll have a spot on the 2016-17 PGA Tour.

Bryan, one half of a viral trick-shot duo with his brother George, won the El Bosque Mexico Championship on Sunday for his second Web.com Tour win in the first six events of the season. 

With a closing 5-under 67 at El Bosque C.C., Bryan won by four shots over Richy Werenski and last week's winner Brad Fritsch with a 19-under 269 total. Fritsch started the final round in the lead at 16 under par, but shot 1-over 73 on the final day in search of a second consecutive win. Nonetheless, the split second-place money should be enough to also assure him a spot on the 2016-17 PGA Tour as one of the top 25 players on the Web.com Tour's season-ending money list.

For his second Web.com Tour win, Bryan didn't have his brother on the bag as he did when he won the Chitimacha Lousiana Open. Rather, he had Callaway Golf social media director Chad Coleman on the bag, influenced, in part, by a conversation on social media. No word if Coleman will get the customary caddie's 10 percent for a win. If he does? Coleman pockets $11,700 of the $117,000 Bryan gets for the victory.

If Bryan can manage a third Web.com Tour win this season, he'll earn what was once called the Battlefield Promotion, instantly picking up PGA Tour status.


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

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Woods won't play Wells Fargo but still could make Ryder Cup team

That rumored Tiger Woods comeback isn't happening next week in Charlotte.

The entry deadline for the Wells Fargo Championship came and went on Friday afternoon, and Woods did not show up on the final entry list.

Meanwhile, Woods was in Las Vegas for his annual Tiger Jam event to support his Tiger Woods Foundation. During a Friday clinic at Shadow Creek, Woods said he was itching to get back inside the ropes.

"I'm sick and tired of being on the sidelines," Woods said in a range session broadcast through Periscope. "I want to start competing against these boys. I miss it."

Earlier this week at the opening of Bluejack National, his first U.S. gofl course design, near Houston, Woods played five holes which he said were the first since he underwent a pair of back surgeries last fall. Woods looked to make gingerly swings in that exhibition, and he said in Sin City on Friday that he's still holding back. Saying that he can drive the ball in the 285-290 yard range, Woods added, "I've got a lot more in the tank. ... Right now, you see me just cruising, hitting shots. I'm not going to hurt myself out here." 

Of course, with each passing week now, a pocket of golf will be on Tiger Watch. Will this be the week Woods returns? While Woods isn't playing in Charlotte, there's the thought Woods could return at The Players the next week. Given what Woods has said about his recovery and how he's holding back in public exhibitions, it might be considerably longer before the 14-time major winner feels comfortable showing off his full game.


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

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Jim Furyk to come back from wrist surgery at Wells Fargo Championship

Jim Furyk will make his comeback from a wrist injury and subsequent surgery next week at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Furyk announced his return date on Friday, adding that he'll also play the following week at The Players Championship in his backyard in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The 2003 U.S. Open winner hasn't played since withdrawing from the BMW Championship in September 2015 after six holes because of pain caused by his wrist injury. He first experienced the injury two weeks prior at the Deutsche Bank Championship in a pro-am. Although he qualified for the Tour Championship and the U.S. Presidents Cup team, Furyk pulled out of both events.

He had hoped to wait out the injury and avoid surgery. However, in February, Furyk decided to go under the knife and speed up the process. He expected to be out three months, and he'll return right on schedule.

Furyk, who won the RBC Heritage last year for his 17th PGA Tour title, is ranked 24th in the Official World Golf Ranking.


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

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Day: Greg Norman wants me to be at No. 1 longer than him

Jason Day has been No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for a total of nine weeks. With Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy idle this week, Day will remain in the top spot on Monday, marking a 10th week atop the ranking. 

That will put him 15th, just ahead of Ernie Els, on the list of the most weeks at No. 1 since the ranking was created in 1986. Another week and Day would then tie Adam Scott for the second most weeks at No. 1 for an Australian-born player.

At No. 1 among the Aussies? That'd be Greg Norman, who spent what seemed like an astounding 331 weeks atop the ranking in his career -- that is, until Tiger Woods spent 683 weeks in that position. No one is catching Woods' record anytime soon, but the Shark hopes Day eventually catches his mark.

“I shared a text with Greg Norman earlier this year, and he said that he would love to see me pass him,” Day said ahead of this week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans. “I’m like, ugh, that’s 330 something weeks at No. 1.”

Only 321 -- 6 years, 9 weeks -- to go after this week!

Day shot 3-under 69 on Thursday at TPC Louisiana to open the Zurich Classic. He got off to a hot start, shooting 5-under 31 for his first nine after teeing off on No. 10. However, Day stumbled to the house, particularly after having to come back following a lengthy rain delay. He had to finish his 16th hole, the seventh, and play out the final two. He bogeyed the last two holes to finish at 3 under par. He's five back of Brian Stuard's clubhouse pace at the suspension of play.

“It’s under par," Day said. "That’s all I can really take from it."


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

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John Daly says Fuzzy Zoeller owes him $150,000 for turning 50

John Daly turned 50 on Thursday, and golf largely celebrated the two-time major winner's milestone birthday, which makes him eligible now for PGA Tour Champions. 

Daly has been embraced by wide swaths of the sport's players and fans because he has very visible flaws, some of which he has overcome and other which he has accepted. He's more like most of us than most of the players who walk inside the ropes. It's easy to root for John Daly, even when he's not doing well.

It may have been on one of those occasions when Daly wasn't doing his best that 1979 Masters champion Fuzzy Zoeller made a curious wager.

In an interview with USA Today, Daly explained it:

“I think it was Tuesday morning and we played nine holes and went to T-Bonz (restaurant) and had some lunch,’’ Daly said in the interview. “Next thing I know, we were in the same clothes playing Wednesday at 7:30 in the morning and the par-3 tournament. We stayed through the whole nine (holes), drinking, having a good time and eating.

“Fuzzy said, 'I got 150 grand you’re never going to make it to 50.’ ”

Daly remembered that wager on Thursday on Twitter.

However, the 1991 PGA and 1995 British Open champion said the two never shook on the wager, so he's not going to be walking up to Zoeller with an outstretched hand any time soon.


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

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Watch Zurich Classic of New Orleans featured holes on Yahoo Sports

The PGA Tour rolls into the Big Easy this week for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Defending champion Justin Rose, world No. 1 Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Smylie Kaufman and Valero Texas Open winner Charley Hoffman headline the field.

Yahoo Sports will stream PGA Tour Live's featured holes coverage from TPC Louisiana on Thursday and Friday from 3-6 p.m. Eastern on our Golf page, as well the CBS telecast of the weekend action on Saturday and Sunday from 3-6 p.m. Eastern. 

Here are some of the featured groupings that will come through the the par-4 15th and par-3 17th holes in that coverage window on Thursday and Friday.

Thursday, First Round

All times Eastern

Off No. 1

1:40 p.m. -- Charley Hoffman, Smylie Kaufman, David Toms
1:50 p.m. -- Justin Rose, Billy Horschel, K.J. Choi
2 p.m. -- Robert Garrigus, Roberto Castro, Anirban Lahiri

Off No. 10

1:20 p.m. -- Brendon de Jonge, Will Wilcox, Jamie Lovemark
1:30 p.m. -- Chris Kirk, Brian Harman, Russell Henley
1:40 p.m. -- James Hahn, Hunter Mahan, Brendon Todd

Friday, Second Round

Off No. 1

1:40 p.m. -- Jason Day, Danny Lee, Steve Stricker
1:50 p.m. -- Rickie Fowler, Ben Crane, Jason Bohn
2 p.m. -- Morgan Hoffmann, D.H. Lee, Byeong-Hun An

Off No. 1o

1:50 p.m. -- J.J. Henry, Chesson Hadley, Vijay Singh
2 p.m. -- Robert Streb, Geoff Ogilvy, Retief Goosen
2:10 p.m. -- Derek Ernst, Charles Howell III, Chad Collins


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

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

In front of friendly crowd, Kaufman looking to get past Masters

It's been quite an April for Smylie Kaufman.

He had a breakout performance in his first Masters, landing a spot in the final pairing on Sunday at Augusta National alongside defending champion Jordan Spieth. Kaufman had a tough Sunday, shooting 9-over 81 to finish tied for 29th place. 

He hasn't played on the PGA Tour since that Sunday, and he unwound from the experience with a very public vacation last week in the Bahamas with Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas. Kaufman had himself a great time, including impersonating a TV golf commentator, playing shirtless golf in board shorts and being a 24-year-old kid.

Now it's back to business, and it's in a very friendly place. Kaufman is playing in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana in nearby Avondale, La. As a product of Louisiana State University, Kaufman is going to have a partisan gallery all week.

"This is definitely a home game for me," Kaufman said Wednesday.

He should expect to hear a lot of college-related affirmation this week.

"I've only played nine holes here, but it definitely feels like a home game from all the folks so far that have given me support, (and) said 'Go Tigers,'" Kaufman said.

If Kaufman is to pick up his second PGA Tour win in his rookie season -- after winning in Las Vegas in October -- then he'll have to overcome world No. 1 Jason Day, defending champion Justin Rose and his vacation buddy Fowler.


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

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Bubba Watson will defends Travelers title, play Olympics the next week

For the last several weeks, we've heard from a handful of players who have decided not to compete in the 60-player men's Olympic golf tournament in Brazil in August.

On Wednesday, we got affirmation of a player who does intend to make the trip to Rio to represent his country.

Bubba Watson committed to defend the Travelers Championship title Aug. 4-7, one he won last year in a playoff with Paul Casey. Normally played the week after the U.S. Open, the Hartford, Conn., area event was moved in this Olympic year to precede the men's tournament by a week. So, not only did Watson announce he'll defend a championship he's won twice but also his commitment to represent the United States in the men's Olympic golf contingent.

"I want to make the Olympic team," Watson said at the Tour Championship in September. "I want to represent my country, and this is probably my only year to have that shot because I'm getting older. Four years is a long time for me to prepare later, so this is a good shot for me to make it. It would be an honor and a thrill just to put the USA flag around me and represent my country."

Ranked fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking, Watson is the second-highest ranked American in the world behind second-ranked Jordan Spieth. Spieth, Watson, fifth-ranked Rickie Fowler and No. 8 Dustin Johnson would currently constitute the four American players who would make the Olympic tournament. A country can have no more than four players in the 72-hole event, and, to do that, all four of them have to be ranked inside the top 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Watson's announcement comes on the heels of opposite decisions shared by former world No. 1 players Adam Scott and Vijay Singh, Miguel Angel Jimenez and South African major winners Louis Oothuizen and Charl Schwartzel.


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

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tiger Woods plays 5 holes at Bluejack National course opening

Tiger Woods played five holes of golf in public on Monday. No, he didn't withdraw from a tournament. His glutes, presumably, activated. He was on hand at Bluejack National, his first U.S. golf course design, near Houston as the 18-hole course was opened.

The former world No. 1 said afterward that these five holes were his first on-course play since beginning his rehab from two back surgeries last fall, his second and third back procedures in a 20-month span.

 "I haven't been out here playing like this. I hadn't played any holes until today, Woods said, acknowledging a Golf World and Golf Channel report last week that Woods had been playing some holes in ramped-up practice sessions.

"I know people have said I've played holes back at Medalist, but I haven't. This is actually the first time I've played holes since Wyndham. It's been awhile."

Woods looked like a guy who is still recovering from two back surgeries last fall, not like a guy who is ready to play next week at the Wells Fargo Championship or in two weeks at The Players Championship, as has been reported possible. And the 14-time major winner acknowledged as much after his exhibition: He wants to play in his heart, but his mind overrides, telling him he's not yet ready.

"I'm just progressing," he said. "You saw how I was going at it today, nice and smooth. That's harder than I have been going at it the last month. Just gradually progressing. We're just trying to progress and I'm doing that."

Woods has registered for the U.S. Open in June, a clerical step which makes the Oakmont-hosted event a possibility for him. Among Woods fans, there's talk he could return at Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament in late May, an event Woods has won five times. Uncertain himself it seems of when his body will let him come back as he'd like, Woods knows he can't keep on practicing forever.

"Eventually I'm going to have to get to a competitive environment," Woods said to ESPN

He continued, "The hard part is once I get in that competitive environment to have that patience and plod my way along. I can play a lot more at home and get my playing sense back, but tournament golf is so much different than playing [at] home, and I'll have to make those adjustments. And the only way to make those adjustments is to get out there in the heat and feel it."


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

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Power rankings: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

The PGA Tour makes its annual stop in the New Orleans area this week, with TPC Louisiana hosting the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Justin Rose is the defending champion here, going deep last year on a wet host course.

World No. 1 Jason Day headlines this field, which also features Rickie Fowler and Valero Texas Open winner Charley Hoffman.

Here are our top five players for this week:

1. Justin Rose -- He's the defending champion and the only guy in the field with more than two top-15s here in the last five years. He has four. He likes this place.

2. Jason Day -- Day is looking for his third win of the PGA Tour, again on a Pete Dye course, on which he has won two of his four starts. Tied for fourth in 2015.

3. Charley Hoffman -- I'm probably overrating Charley Hoffman this week after a Texas Open win. However, he was fifth here in 2014. Of course, he's riding high, which could be bad.

4. Billy Horschel -- The 2013 winner here, Horschel is playing very good golf. He's been knocking on the door for weeks, with another top-five finish at the Texas Open.

5. Rickie Fowler -- Fowler makes NOLA a consistent part of his schedule, but he rarely plays extremely well here (T-10 in 2012). That said, he won The Players on a Pete Dye track, has been a top-10 machine this year and is rested after his Bahamas vacation.


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

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Nicklaus believes Spieth's Masters collapse could be good for him

Jack Nicklaus knows a little something about winning major championships. He won 18. And he knows something about winning majors at a young age. He had won three majors before he turned 24.

So, Nicklaus' message to Jordan Spieth after his Masters collapse should be one he takes to heart.

"He's got a long future in front of him. He's a very talented young man, he's a nice young man, he's very focused,"Nicklaus said at last week's Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf on PGA Tour Champions. "Winning it twice might take away some of that focus. It is exactly what I said to you about if I had won the U.S. Open when I was an amateur in 1960, I might not have continued to work because I felt like I'd be scratching my head out here."

However, as Nicklaus previously said afterward, he feels for the 22-year-old and knows that the quadruple-bogey 7 on the par-3 12th in the final round will ultimately make him a better player.

"I think that there will be some good that comes out of all bad," he said. "Although I know he would have liked to have won obviously and a lot of people would have liked to have seen him win, I don't think in the long run that it'll ever hurt him; it will only make his resolve stronger."


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

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Charl Schwartzel takes his name out of Olympic consideration

Charl Schwartzel is now the fourth major winner to pull himself out of consideration for the 2016 men's Olympic golf tournament.

The 2011 Masters winner didn't announce this decision himself. Rather, it was South African team captain Gary Player who revealed Schwartzel's choice in a statement shared on Twitter about the rash of players -- five now -- who have chosen to skip golf's first Olympic appearance since 1904.

"I am sad and disappointed that several top players have withdrawn from the Olympic Games in Rio," Player wrote. "Not just South Africans. I would have give anything to play in the Olympics. South Africa had a great team, but now obviously, it wiill not be as good. Players withdrawing hurt the game of golf. I was sorry to hear that Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have withdrawn their names from consideration."

Schwartzel and Oosthuizen join Adam Scott, Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, who have all decided to also pass on Olympic tournament in Brazil. Several players have cited scheduling conflicts, perhaps valid based on the concentrated schedule of the four majors to accommodate Olympic golf, as well the potential spread of Zika virus, which causes birth defects in children.

The South Africans clear the way for Jaco Van Zyl and George Coetzee to potentially take a second spot in the 60-player men's event along with Branden Grace.

No matter who winds up playing in the 60-player men's and women's events, Player believes this is a great opportunity for the field and the sport at large.

"The Olympics will undoubtedly grow the game worldwide no matter who plays and who doesn't," Player said. "All top players should think carefully about this."


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

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Tiger Woods has registered for the 2016 U.S. Open

We don't know when Tiger Woods will return to competitive golf, but the smoke signals from Jupiter Island, Fla., seem to suggest it's going to be sooner than later.

The latest indication Woods could be inside the ropes soon is that he registered for the U.S. Open at Oakmont in June. Woods registered on April 4 -- Monday of Masters Week -- at 4:33 p.m., well ahead of the April 27 at 5 p.m. Eastern deadline.

For what it's worth, eligible former U.S. Open champions, as well other notable players like Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy, have already filled out the paperwork, too. They're in the field.

Woods announced on April 1 that he wasn't yet healthy enough to compete in the Masters, though he did attend the annual Champions Dinner. He suggested then, as his agent Mark Steinberg did last week, that there is no timetable for his return. However, there are signs that Woods is getting closer.

Golf World's Tim Rosaforte reported Woods has been putting in serious time in practice sessions, spanning hours on end, including some golf course play. Woods then conducted a clinic for the elite junior players in last week's Sage Valley Invitational in South Carolina, going through his bag at full speed, including 300-yard drives and 2-iron stingers. Rosaforte then reported that, while no return has been announced, Woods could return at the Wells Fargo Championship or The Players Championship in two and three weeks' time, respectively.

Woods is a 14-time major champion, with three U.S. Open titles to his credit, winning his first by 15 shots in 2000 at Pebble Beach, then taking the 2002 title at Bethpage Black on Long Island, then winning the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines (South) in a 19-hole playoff with Rocco Mediate, doing so basically on one leg.

The former world No. 1 hasn't played competitively since finishing tied for 10th at the Wyndham Championship in late August. He's since had two back surgeries: a microdiscectomy in September 2015 on the same place in his back where he had the procedure performed in March 2014 and a follow-up procedure a month later.


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

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

With final-hole birdie, Hoffman wins Valero Texas Open

Heading into the final round of the Valero Texas Open, Charley Hoffman ranked 200th on the PGA Tour in fourth-round scoring. That didn't matter when it mattered most at TPC San Antonio, however, as he made a 9-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win the tournament.

Hoffman finished at 12-under 276, beating Patrick Reed, one of his Sunday playing competitors by a stroke. 

Chad Collins finished alone in third at 10 under par.

Ricky Barnes, the 54-hole leader seeking his first PGA Tour win in 222 career starts, shot 2-over 74 to finish in a tie for fourth at 9 under par, along with Kevin Chappell, Martin Piller and Billy Horschel.

For Reed, this is another tantalizing finish, his eighth top-10 effort on the year, including four of his last five starts. However, Reed has gone without a win since the 2015 Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The frustration may be mounting.

"I'm still first loser," Reed said. "I'm tired of finishing in second and top five and top 10. I need to close out tournaments and get Ws."


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

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Wesley Bryan wins 2nd Web.com Tour event in last three starts

It took Wesley Bryan but just six starts to guarantee he'll have a spot on the 2016-17 PGA Tour.

Bryan, one half of a viral trick-shot duo with his brother George, won the El Bosque Mexico Championship on Sunday for his second Web.com Tour win in the first six events of the season. 

With a closing 5-under 67 at El Bosque C.C., Bryan won by four shots over Richy Werenski and last week's winner Brad Fritsch with a 19-under 269 total. Fritsch started the final round in the lead at 16 under par, but shot 1-over 73 on the final day in search of a second consecutive win. Nonetheless, the split second-place money should be enough to also assure him a spot on the 2016-17 PGA Tour as one of the top 25 players on the Web.com Tour's season-ending money list.

For his second Web.com Tour win, Bryan didn't have his brother on the bag as he did when he won the Chitimacha Lousiana Open. Rather, he had Callaway Golf social media director Chad Coleman on the bag, influenced, in part, by a conversation on social media. No word if Coleman will get the customary caddie's 10 percent for a win. If he does? Coleman pockets $11,700 of the $117,000 Bryan gets for the victory.

If Bryan can manage a third Web.com Tour win this season, he'll earn what was once called the Battlefield Promotion, instantly picking up PGA Tour status.


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

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With final-hole birdie, Hoffman wins Valero Texas Open

Heading into the final round of the Valero Texas Open, Charley Hoffman ranked 200th on the PGA Tour in fourth-round scoring. That didn't matter when it mattered most at TPC San Antonio, however, as he made a 9-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win the tournament.

Hoffman finished at 12-under 276, beating Patrick Reed, one of his Sunday playing competitors by a stroke. 

Chad Collins finished alone in third at 10 under par.

Ricky Barnes, the 54-hole leader seeking his first PGA Tour win in 222 career starts, shot 2-over 74 to finish in a tie for fourth at 9 under par, along with Kevin Chappell, Martin Piller and Billy Horschel.

For Reed, this is another tantalizing finish, his eighth top-10 effort on the year, including four of his last five starts. However, Reed has gone without a win since the 2015 Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The frustration may be mounting.

"I'm still first loser," Reed said. "I'm tired of finishing in second and top five and top 10. I need to close out tournaments and get Ws."


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

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Ricky Barnes takes 1-stroke lead thru 54 holes at Texas Open

Ricky Barnes won the 2002 U.S. Amateur, and big things were expected of the California native. There were glimpses of his potential but never any trophies. Now, at 35, Barnes could land his first PGA Tour win on Sunday. 

On the back of a 5-under 67 on Saturday at TPC San Antonio, Barnes will carry a one-shot lead into the final round of the Valero Texas Open. At 11-under 205, Barnes will take his advantage into Sunday's final group along with 2011 winner and solo second place Brendan Steele, as well Luke Donald, who shares third with Charley Hoffman. 

Barnes is seeking that first win in 222 PGA Tour starts, with his best-ever finish a tie for second at the rainy and muddy 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black on Long Island, N.Y. Despite having made $6.65 million in his PGA Tour career, Barnes isn't satisfied having banked a lot of money.

"I'd be lying if I would say it was a successful career being out here without a win," Barnes said. "This is why you play the game, right? Come in on Sundays and have a chance to win."

Steele, who played alongside Barnes as he finished T-9 last week at the RBC Heritage, is looking for a follow-up win to a rookie season breakthrough here five years ago. He did well to shoot even-par 72 on Saturday.

"I played with Ricky last week, and his game is looking really good right now," said Steele. "I was really struggling. I was able to make enough recovery shots to not make many mistakes and I was able to be patient enough and make a couple of birdies at the end."

Barnes made eight of 10 cuts to start his season but has since missed three of his last five. However, Barnes feels confident that this isn't a one-off.

"It's not a fluke being out here," said Barnes. "I've been showing a lot lately. Just need to keep what I'm doing the last three days."


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

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Tiger Woods isn't back yet but he's getting very close

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The news on Tiger Woods is no news, but you get the feeling something's about to happen, don't you?

Woods hasn't played competitive golf since August 2015, and since then he's undergone two surgeries. He ended months of (mostly idle) speculation the Friday before the Masters by declining to play in the tournament, although he did fly in for the Champions Dinner. The golf world has moved on from Woods, but it appears, based on recent rumblings, that Woods isn't quite ready for permanent residency on the couch just yet. 

A report earlier this week indicated Woods has been practicing at Medalist Golf Club near his home in Jupiter, Fla., including playing some holes. On Friday, Golf Digest's Tim Rosaforte, who filed the initial report on Woods, offered up this prediction:

Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, immediately texted Rosaforte to report that "Nothing has changed," i.e. that no return date had been selected. But what's clear is that Woods is on track to return to the game, and possibly very soon. A return at the Wells Fargo or the Players in May would set up Woods to play in the season's final three majors, the U.S. Open, the Open Championship, and the PGA Championship ... assuming, of course, his health permits him to do so.

It's indisputable that Woods belongs to a bygone era; he'll never again dominate the world of golf the way he did in the early 2000s. Indeed, it's entirely possible he'll never win another tournament, and that he'll be teeing off hours before the leaders in every tournament he plays ... assuming he even makes it to Sunday. This is the era of Spieth and McIlroy and Day now, guys who looked to Tiger the same way they looked to Nicklaus and Palmer--as forerunners, not competitors.

But what's also indisputable is that Woods is one of sports' true icons, a player who shifts golf's axis with every public statement and appearance. Success, failure, mediocrity ... no matter what Woods does next, it will be a fascinating story in its own right.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

5 things we learned in ESPN's 'Secret History of Tiger Woods'

In the last nine months, we've learned more details of Tiger Woods personal life, his character and flaws, through the work of several outstanding journalists.

First it was Lorne Rubenstein with an illuminating interview with Woods for Time. Then it was Alan Shipnuck in Sports Illustrated with a compelling look at where it all went wrong for Woods. Now, this week, ESPN the Magazine's Wright Thompson offers a 12,000-word look at Woods' "secret history."

While Woods fans and watchers should have already surmised some key takeaways of the piece, including Woods' haunting after his father Earl's death, the details and storytelling are a breathtaking look at how the writing craft can be at its best.

Of course, if you have 20 or 30 minutes of free time, you should read the whole thing for yourself. However, if you're not convinced, here are 10 things we took away from the piece:

1. Woods wasn't motivated by Jack Nicklaus' majors record: Hank Haney offered this in his "The Big Miss," but Thompson reiterates that Woods was perfectly happy with his career well before his personal downfall in 2009.

To many people inside Tiger's circle, Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors wasn't as important to Tiger as it was to the golfing media and fans. He never mentioned it. Multiple people who've spent significant amounts of time with him say that. When Tiger did talk about it, someone else usually brought it up and he merely responded.

2. Woods' friend, Michael Jordan, think Woods wants to retire but doesn't know how: Jordan, quoted throughout the piece (Thompson did a big profile on him, so likely grabbed some info in that reporting), said Woods is dealing with similar career mortality issues as he did.

"I think he's tired," Jordan said. "I think he really wishes he could retire, but he doesn't know how to do it yet, and I don't think he wants to leave it where it is right now. If he could win a major and walk away, he would, I think."

3. Woods could well have retired and joined the Navy had he beaten Nicklaus' mark: Before injuries condemned Woods to even more surgeries, including three back procedures in the last two years, there was a thought in Woods' camp that he would have walked away from the game basically the second he won a 19th major.

"If he had had a hot two years and broken the record, he would have hung up his clubs and enlisted. No doubt."

4. Woods struggled, like many do, with superstardom: Thompson writes at length about Woods' struggles to seem like what he probably believed was a prototypical superstar. He told the same jokes. He didn't know how to talk to women in clubs. He felt more comfortable keeping to himself.

5. Mark Steinberg tried his best to snap Woods out of his Navy SEALs hypnotic trance: Woods' agent led what amounted to a small intervention of friends and associates to get the No. 1 golfer to stop obsessing over the Navy SEALs and training like one to focus on his golf career. 

This all must have seemed insane to someone who just wanted to manage a great athlete: secret trips to military facilities, running around a golf course in combat boots, shooting guns, taking punches. That night after dinner, Steinberg took Tiger into his downstairs office, a room in his finished basement. What they talked about remains private. But this was the moment when Tiger could have connected the dots and seen how out of control things had become.

Ultimately, Thompson's piece paints the picture of a guy who has an amazing talent but was perhaps ill-prepared for the fame and pressure that came with putting that skill on such public display. He struggles to grieve the loss of his father -- his best friend and confidante -- and it is, ironically, that loss which may have set in motion a series of distractions, injuries and personal failings that undid his career.


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

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Louis Oosthuizen takes himself out of men's Olympic golf event

Louis Oosthuizen announced Thursday he would be the fourth major men's player to withdraw his name from consideration for the 2016 Olympic golf tournament.

In a release through his management company, Oosthuizen cited "family and scheduling issues" as why he won't participate. 

“I have always represented South Africa with pride so I didn’t make my decision without a great deal of thought,” he said in a statement.

Oosthuizen's concerns are legitimate, even if not above reproach. 

The major golf schedule is scrunched together in 2016 to accommodate the Olympics, with the PGA Championship moving up to the end of July, played just two weeks after the British Open at Royal Troon.

There's also the threat of the Zika virus, spread by mosquitoes throughout Latin America and potentially into North America this summer. The virus, which can cause birth defects, can remain in the body for at least 6 months without outward symptoms, potentially scaring off players who are planning on expanding their families.

Ranked 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking, Oosthuizen would currently be the second player to represent his country in the 60-player men's tournament in Brazil in August. Branden Grace, ranked 11th in the world, is the top-ranked South African player. Charl Schwartzel, ranked 20th, would take Oosthuizen's place.

Oosthuizen joins Aussie world No. 7 Adam Scott, former world No. 1 Vijay Singh and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez as players who have announced they will not compete in the Olympic golf tournament. No major female player has come out with a similar announcement.


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

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Masters champion Willett accepts PGA Tour membership

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American golf fans can expect to see more of Masters champion Danny Willett.

The PGA Tour announced Monday that the Englishman has accepted the five-year exemption that comes with a major championship victory. He had 60 days from winning the green jacket to make that decision.

Not only is the 28-year-old exempt through the 2020-21 season, but he also now claims the 600 FedEx Cup points that come with his Masters victory, as well the 44 points he had banked as a non-member in the Valspar Championship.

Of course, Willett will maintain European Tour membership as well, a requisite for representing the continent in the Ryder Cup. He currently leads that tour's Race to Dubai standings, in which he finished second last year to Rory McIlroy. Under new membership requirements, a European Tour member is required to play in five events that are not the majors or World Golf Championships events to maintain status. Willett has already played in four of those events; he played in 15 such events last season.


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

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Nicklaus calls Scott's decision to skip Olympics 'sad' for sport

Jack Nicklaus is a proponent of Olympic golf and a believer in what the game's place on the Olympic program can do for its growth. 

It's not surprising, then, that Nicklaus said he was disappointed when world No. 7 Adam Scott announced he would not participate in the men's Olympic golf tournament in August in Brazil.

"I think that's sad. I think it's sad for the Olympics and for the game of golf," Nicklaus said Wednesday at a charity event in Ohio related to his Memorial Tournament, according to Golf Digest. "I don't know Adam's circumstances, so I couldn't comment on what he's dealing with. Obviously, he felt like he couldn't play, and if he felt that way, I understand. But it's unfortunate."

Scott made the announcement early Wednesday on the Australian clock, making official what the 2013 Masters winner had suggested publicly for the better part of two years. In announcing his decision, Scott cited a busy schedule and a lengthy list of commitments. The spread of the Zika virus in Latin America likely contributed to his decision, too.

Nicklaus hopes that the 60-player events for men and women will be a hit on the Olympic stage. The International Olympic Committee is set to vote in 2017 on the future of the Olympic program, including golf's fate. So far, golf is only guaranteed a place in the program in 2016 and in Tokyo in 2020. The Golden Bear views the Olympics as an opportunity for the sport to showcase the new generation of pros.

"What I'm concerned about is that golf has a little bit of momentum going right now," said Nicklaus. "If the guys don't want to participate, then we might not be in the Olympics after this. They vote next year. And if they vote to keep golf in, then that's great, but if not then we lose that momentum with growing the game."


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

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Watch Valero Texas Open featured holes on Yahoo Sports

The PGA Tour heads back into the Lone Star State for the Valero Texas Open from the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio. Jimmy Walker is defending champion this week, as the likes of Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson look to take the title.

Yahoo Sports will stream PGA Tour Live's featured holes coverage from TPC San Antonio on Thursday and Friday from 3-6 p.m. Eastern on our Golf page, as well the CBS telecast of the weekend action on Saturday and Sunday from 3-6 p.m. Eastern. 

Here are some of the featured groupings that will come through the 13th and 17th holes in that coverage window on Thursday and Friday.

Thursday, First Round

Off No. 1

12:50 p.m. -- Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald
1 p.m. -- Branden Grace, Brandt Snedeker, Patrick Reed
1:10 p.m. -- Chris Kirk, Geoff Ogilvy, Matt Kuchar

Off No. 10

1:30 p.m. -- Daniel Summerhays, Steve Marino, Richard H. Lee
1:40 p.m. -- Johnson Wagner, Scott Langley, Si Woo Kim
1:50 p.m. -- Will MacKenzie, Tyrone Van Aswegen, Luke Guthrie

Friday, Second Round

Off No. 1

12:50 p.m. -- Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Leonard
1 p.m. -- Peter Malnati, Billy Horschel, Hunter Mahan
1:10 p.m. -- J.B. Holmes, Matt Every, Brian Harman

Off No. 1o

1 p.m. -- Matt Jones, Scott Stallings, Ernie Els
1:10 p.m. -- Padraig Harrington, Charley Hoffman, Kevin Streelman
1:20 p.m. -- James Hahn, Ben Crane, Chesson Hadley


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

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Podcast: Should we care about Tiger Woods' rehab progress?

Adam Scott has announced he won't play the Olympic golf tournament. So, on this week's podcast, we discuss what can be done to make it more appealing to top male players, who seem to have the issues with it.

Also, Tiger Woods did something, but why is golf still obsessed with a guy who could barely walk four months ago? Maybe it's time to let the guy recover quietly and let him prove himself again when he's healthy.

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle Play Music (NEW!), TuneInPlayerFM or Stitcher.


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

Adam Scott makes its official: He won't play in the Olympics

Adam Scott has been saying for the better part of two years that he's not all that keen on golf being in the Olympics. It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that Scott made it official early on Wednesday in announcing he won't compete in this summer's Olympic golf tournament in Brazil.

“My decision has been taken as a result of an extremely busy playing schedule around the time of the Olympics and other commitments, both personal and professional,” Scott said in a release.

“I have informed the Australian team captain (Ian Baker-Finch) and relevant authorities, who are understanding of my position and I wish the Australian Olympic team the very best of luck in Rio.”

Scott has called the Olympic golf tournament an "exhibition," saying he was struggling to find value in the competition because the sport has evolved without a place in the quadrennial program. Golf hasn't been in the Olympics since 1904 in St. Louis, so the Aussie has a point. However, the Olympic tournament also offers an opportunity for this generation of the game to establish a new tradition that could keep golf on a big global stage for two weeks -- between the men's and women's tournaments -- every four years.

In deciding not to participate, Scott essentially locks Australia out of having more than two men in the 60-player tournament. A country can have no more than four players in each respective event, and all of those players must be in the top 15 in the Olympic ranking. If a country has less than three players in the top 15, then they're limited to just two players.

Scott joins Fijian VIjay Singh and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez as players who have announced their intentions to skip the Olympics.


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

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Report: Tiger Woods engaged in extensive practice at home club

The slow drip of the details of Tiger Woods' recovery and rehabilitation continued on Tuesday.

Golf World's Tim Rosaforte reports the 14-time major champion is putting in significant hours at Medalist Golf Club, near Woods' home in Jupiter, Fla. On Golf Channel, Rosaforte said that Woods has spent his last two weeks "involved in a series of four-to-five-hour practice sessions at Medalist Golf Club … including the playing of some holes." 

Rosaforte added he was told Woods is happy and in good spirits.

Woods has not played competitively since a T-10 finish at the Wyndham Championship in August 2015. After he missed the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs, Woods visited his surgeon in Utah to learn that pain he complained of that week was related to the same spot in his back where he had a microdiscectomy performed in March 2014. Woods opted for a second microdiscectomy in September, then had a follow-up procedure done a month later.

On the Friday before the Masters, Woods announced, as widely expected, that he would not play in the Masters. 

"I've been hitting balls and training daily, but I'm not physically ready," Woods said, in part, on his website to announce he wasn't playing at Augusta National.

"I've said all along that this time I need to be cautious and do what's best for my long-term health and career. Unfortunately, playing Augusta next week wouldn't be the right decision. I'm absolutely making progress, and I'm really happy with how far I've come, but I still have no timetable to return to competitive golf."


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

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Power rankings: Valero Texas Open

The PGA Tour makes its third of five Texas stops tihs week, heading to TPC San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open.

Texan Jimmy Walker defends on a demanding AT&T Oaks Course, which has large greens that are among the most difficult to hit on the PGA Tour. Wind is typically a factor. Walker will also have to face off with the likes of Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker and Bryson DeChambeau.

Here are our top five players for the Valero Texas Open:

1. Charley Hoffman -- Coming off a T-14 at Harbour Town, Hoffman has been in the top 15 here in each of the last five years. No reason to bet against that.

2. Matt Kuchar -- Kuchar also has a very good record at TPC San Antonio, finishing in the top 15 in three of the last four years. A T-9 at Harbour Town is encouraging, of course.

3. Branden Grace -- The Harbour Town winner is going to keep on going this week. He's made both cuts here in the past, and he handled nasty conditions well on his way to both of his worldwide wins in 2016.

4. Daniel Summerhays -- Not going to see this much this year, but Summerhays is a grinder that is perfect for this course. He's been inside the top seven here in each of the last three years.

5. Billy Horschel -- Horschel seems to play his best when the weather gets nasty. He's missed one cut this season and has four top-20 finishes. He has two third-place finishes here in the last three years.


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

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Monday, April 18, 2016

DeChambeau makes big progress in quest to earn PGA Tour card

Bryson DeChambeau started his professional career better than Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. He finished tied for fourth, four shots behind winner Branden Grace, in his pro debut at the RBC Heritage, a great start in what is quite an uphill climb for a newly minted pro to earn PGA Tour status.

The 2015 U.S Amateur champion won $259,600 for his finish, helping him on his way toward earning his 2016-17 PGA Tour card.

However, the immediate goal for DeChambeau is to earn Special Temporary Membership, which he can achieve by earning enough non-member FedEx Cup points equivalent to the 150th place finisher in the standings last season. At Harbour Town, DeChambeau earned 122.5 non-member FedEx Cup points at Harbour Town, and that leaves him 238.5 points away from last year's No. 150 player.

If DeChambeau earns Special Temporary Membership, he's allowed to take unlimited sponsor's exemptions for the remainder of the season. Right now, he's only able to take a total of seven exemptions, one of which he used to play last week. DeChambeau can also earn spots in other tournaments by either finishing in the top 10, which gets him into the very next open event, or by Monday qualifying. 

Short of winning, DeChambeau would then want to finish inside the top 125 in non-member money or FedEx Cup points for this season. While we don't know what those water marks will ultimately be, last year is a good guide. The No. 125 player on the 2014-15 money list earned $747,899, leaving DeChambeau $488,299 off last year's bar. As for FedEx Cup points, DeChambeau would have to earn 335.5 points to match No. 125 from last year. 

Ultimately, however, DeChambeau wants to win. If he can do that, he'll instantly earn membership and be exempt for the rest of this season and the next two.

"It's been quite a journey so far, these past couple weeks," he said Sunday. "It's an honor to be playing out here with these big boys, trying to do my best. Hopefully I can keep competing out there and hopefully I can get a couple of wins out there."


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

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Masters champion Willett accepts PGA Tour membership

American golf fans can expect to see more of Masters champion Danny Willett.

The PGA Tour announced Monday that the Englishman has accepted the five-year exemption that comes with a major championship victory. He had 60 days from winning the green jacket to make that decision.

Not only is the 28-year-old exempt through the 2020-21 season, but he also now claims the 600 FedEx Cup points that come with his Masters victory, as well the 44 points he had banked as a non-member in the Valspar Championship.

Of course, Willett will maintain European Tour membership as well, a requisite for representing the continent in the Ryder Cup. He currently leads that tour's Race to Dubai standings, in which he finished second last year to Rory McIlroy. Under new membership requirements, a European Tour member is required to play in five events that are not the majors or World Golf Championships events to maintain status. Willett has already played in four of those events; he played in 15 such events last season.


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

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Luke Donald looking for first win since 2012 at RBC Heritage

There's a lot on the line for Luke Donald on Sunday at the RBC Heritage.

The Englishman and former world No. 1 carries a one-shot lead into the final round at Harbour Town Golf Links, and, with a win, he'll end a nearly four-year worldwide winless skid that dates back to his last victory in May 2012 at the BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour's flagship event. Donald's last PGA Tour win came a few months earlier at the Valspar Championship. 

A win would also end a run of close calls for Donald on Hilton Head Island. Donald has finished on the medal stand five times in 10 prior career starts, including a trio of second-place finishes. 

Even further, a victory would get Donald, ranked 94th in the world, back into the Masters, a tournament he missed last week for the first time since 2004.

The problem is that there are three long-term trends working against Donald:

  • Donald hasn't closed out a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour since the 2006 Honda Classic. In fact, he's been unable to wrap up 54-hole leads at Harbour Town in 2011 and '14.
  • The winner at Harbour Town in four of the last five years has been at least four shots back going into the final day, including when Jim Furyk won in a playoff last year.
  • Only nine of 21 54-hole leaders or co-leaders this season on the PGA Tour have managed to win.

Donald isn't concerned with the last two trends, and he's hoping to take what he learned in failing to seal the deal in 2011 and '14 as wisdom for how to take the plaid jacket on Sunday.

"You can't sit back and make pars," he said. "I've got to go out there and be reasonably aggressive and shoot a good score if I want to win tomorrow."


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

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Jason Day goes backwards with stunning 79 at Harbour Town

Golf is hard, and Jason Day is the latest top player to prove that even the world No. 1 is not immune from a rough afternoon inside the ropes.

In the final pairing on Saturday at the RBC Heritage, Day moved way back in difficult scoring conditions -- the toughest, by average, of the week -- after shooting an 8-over 79 that is his career-worst PGA Tour round.

Day, the top-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, had the proper perspective.

"It happens," he said.

It does, and not just to him. When Jordan Spieth was still No. 1 in the ranking, he opened with a stunning 79 at the Northern Trust Open. While it wasn't the score he wanted to shoot, it clearly wasn't an indication of some kind of erosion of his talent. After all, barring two bad swings on Sunday at the Masters, Spieth would have won a second consecutive green jacket without his best stuff all week. 

Day seemed to take a bad break on the third hole at Harbour Town Golf Links as a sign that Saturday wasn't his.

"I knew something was up when my ball on the third hole hit a tree and bounced 80 yards right into the hazard," Day said. "And then from there just got a couple of bad breaks. And then kind of the head wasn't quite there after that. And it's really tough to fight that."

On a golf course where placement is everything, Day continued to find himself in bad spots where getting up-and-down for pars turned out to be very difficult.

The bad news is that Day now finds himself at 2-over 215 and nine shots back of 54-hole leader Luke Donald. 

The good news is twofold, believe it or not: He has plenty of room to improve on Saturday and the Harbour Town winner has been four or more shots back of the Saturday night lead in four of the last five years.

"Just got to come out and try to shoot low, something low, at least," Day said, "and give myself opportunities,"


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

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Must see: The most improbable hole-in-one ever at the Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Okay, this one is up for debate: Did Louis Oosthuizen just hit the greatest shot in Masters history or the luckiest?

Let's set it up: The pin at the par 3 16th was set in its traditional Sunday position, far left side at the bottom of the slope. From here, you know the drill – plop your drive to the right and let the hill do the rest.

J.B. Holmes decided to knock his stiff, to five feet. Oosthuizen followed with a different approach, playing the hill. And then this happened:

Yes, that counts.

So, was he lucky or good?

Whatever it is, it was the third hole-in-one of the day at 16, and yes, that's a record. 

Out on the course the roars were audible, but because no one has a cell phone, it left patrons guessing. Did Jordan Spieth birdie? Did Danny Willett (whoever he is) do something? Slowly word spread that there was a hole-in-one on 16. 

Shane Lowry knocked in the first one:

Then it was Davis Love III:

 By the time Oosthuizen kocked his in, many figured it was just another hole-in-one at 16. It was, except it wasn't. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Steve Stricker, Nick Price to captain 2017 Presidents Cup teams

The two captains who will face off in the 2017 Presidents Cup were announced Tuesday, with Nick Price getting a third run as the International leader and Steve Stricker taking over as the U.S. captain from Jay Haas.

Haas led the U.S. to a one-point win last October in South Korea, played under a revamped format that allowed Price, as International captain, more opportunity to bench poorly performing players.

It was Price who implored PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who oversees the Presidents Cup, to make those changes in hopes of giving the International side a better opportunity to win. While the changes seemed to have a clear impact, the team came up short. 

Stricker becomes the third American captain in as many editions of the biennial match. In 2013, Fred Couples wrapped up a three-match -- and three-win -- run as captain. Haas took his turn in 2015.

“I’m incredibly honored to have been selected as a U.S. team captain for the Presidents Cup, and am looking forward to it coming to Liberty National, one of my favorite venues," said Stricker, who went 14-10 in five Presidents Cup appearances. "This event has meant a lot to me, and I’m looking forward to leading what will be a very promising U.S. team in 2017.”

Price gets a third chance at captain, as did Peter Thomson, who captained in 1996, '98 and 2000, as well Gary Player, who was at the helm in 2003, '05 and '07. 

“It’s an honor for me to continue to serve as International team captain once again in 2017,” said Price. “The Presidents Cup has meant so much to me and to my career, both as a player and a captain, and I’m excited to have another chance to be a part of this great event. I am so looking forward to leading what I'm sure will be another very strong International Team and having another opportunity to win the Cup, after such a close finish last year."

The 2017 edition of the matches, in which the U.S. has a 9-1-1 record, will take place Sept. 28-Oct. 1 at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J. The Americans have never lost on home soil, losing in Australia in 1998 and tying in South Africa in 2003.


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

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Bryson DeChambeau in contention in pro debut at Harbour Town

So far, so good for Bryson DeChambeau in his professional debut.

The 2015 U.S. Amateur and NCAA men's individual champion turned pro ahead of this week's RBC Heritage, and, heading to the weekend, the SMU product is in contention.

DeChambeau shot 2-under 69 on Friday at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, S.C., to reach 3-under 139 and trail world No. 1 Jason Day and Kevin Chappell by just three shots as part of a 10-way tie for 11th place amid a bunched leaderboard.

The newly minted pro could have found himself in one of the final three groups on Saturday had it not been for a disappointing double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth, his 17th hole, on Friday. DeChambeau had to hook his second shot after a less-than-ideal drive, and he got too much action on the ball, as it went into a water hazard.

"I hit the right shot, the wind just picked up a little bit, and subsequently it cost me," he said. 

The rookie feels he's adjusting well to the windy conditions which have plagued the field for the first two days. 

"You can't adjust completely, but you get used to it more and more," he said. "You can never fully understand what a gust is going to do to a golf ball. It's too difficult to control and understand it."

However, DeChambeau doesn't really feel it'll be much of an adjustment from playing for no money to playing for a lot of money this weekend.

"Honestly I'm trying to keep it the same as last week," he said. "Again, it is playing for money, but again I'm just out here trying to win some championships."


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

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Podcast: Where does Jordan Spieth go after his Masters letdown?

On this week's podcast, we go in-depth on Jordan Spieth's Masters letdown, including how he handled the 12th hole, his mini-comeback and how he handled the gauntlet of gotchas in the post-tournament news conference and green jacket ceremonies.

Also, we resoundingly answer how this will affect Spieth with caddie Michael Greller as a guide.


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

Jack Nicklaus offers Masters praise for Willett, sympathy for Spieth

In the wake of the outcome of the Masters, 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus felt compelled to issue a statement on Jordan Spieth's meltdown on the par-3 12th and Danny Willett's bogey-free, final-round 67 that clinched his first major championship.

"I think the whole golfing world feels for Jordan Spieth," the statement started. "He had a chance to do something truly special and something very few have done before—and be the youngest to accomplish that—and he just didn’t pull through. My heart goes out to him for what happened, but I know that Jordan is a young man who will certainly learn from this experience and there will be some good that comes out of this for him. He’s a wonderful talent and a wonderful young man."

With every sports meltdown, there's also a winner who benefits. Willett, however, played the final 21 holes without dropping a shot and was spectacular in taking the lead and nursing it with three holes remaining.

Nicklaus was impressed.

"What impressed me so much is that when he realized he was in a position to win, he finished it—and that’s the mark of a champion: To finish a good round; give yourself an opportunity to win; and when the other fellow doesn’t finish, you’ve got to be there," Nicklaus wrote. "Danny Willett was and kudos to him."


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

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Watch RBC Heritage featured holes on Yahoo Sports

The PGA Tour makes the short trek from Augusta, Ga., up into the Palmetto State for this week's RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

The Pete Dye & Jack Nicklaus design is radically different in look and style from Augusta National, but it makes for a fascinating contrast a week after the year's first major. Jason Day is the headliner this week, with 2015 playoff runner-up Kevin Kisner also in the field in his home state.

Yahoo Sports will stream PGA Tour Live's featured holes coverage from the Snake Pit on Thursday and Friday from 3-6 p.m. Eastern on our Golf page. In that coverage window, you'll be able to see Jason Day play on Friday.

Here are some of the featured groupings that will come through the par-3 14th and 17th holes in that coverage window:

Thursday, First Round

Off No. 1

12:40 p.m. -- Graeme McDowell, Billy Horschel, Webb Simpson
12:50 p.m. -- Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker, Bill Haas

Off No. 10

12:50 p.m. -- Matt Jones, Stuart Appleby, Paul Casey
1:00 p.m. -- Brendan Steele, Ricky Barnes, Steve Wheatcroft

Friday, Second Round

Off No. 1

12:40 p.m. -- Kevin Kisner, Justin Thomas, Zach Johnson
12:50 p.m. -- Jason Dufner, Davis Love III, Matt Kuchar

Off No. 1o

12:50 p.m. -- Nick Taylor, Geoff Ogilvy, Russell Henley
1:00 p.m. -- Charley Hoffman, Brian Gay, K.J. Choi


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

LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Reacting to Jordan Spieth's Masters letdown

Vijay Singh pulls out of Olympic golf tourney, citing Zika threat

Vijay Singh is taking a pass on the Olympics.

The Fijian told Golf Channel on Tuesday that he's planning to skip the men's Olympic golf tournament out of concerns over the Zika virus in Brazil and throughout Latin America.

“I would like to play the Olympics," said Singh, "but the Zika virus, you know and all that crap.”

Singh also didn't find the timing -- with the men's tournament played Aug. 11-14 -- to work well with his schedule, which focuses on the PGA Tour but includes occasional PGA Tour Champions starts.

“I feel bad, I wanted to play and finally decided against it," he said. "It’s in the middle of the Tour over here and I’m trying to figure out my game.”

The three-time major winner is not the only potential Olympic golfer who has bowed out of consideration for competing in one of the two 60-player tournaments, first for the men, then followed by the women the next week. Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez also said he will not compete in the Olympic tournament.


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

LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Reacting to Jordan Spieth's Masters letdown

Podcast: Where does Jordan Spieth go after his Masters letdown?

On this week's podcast, we go in-depth on Jordan Spieth's Masters letdown, including how he handled the 12th hole, his mini-comeback and how he handled the gauntlet of gotchas in the post-tournament news conference and green jacket ceremonies.

Also, we resoundingly answer how this will affect Spieth with caddie Michael Greller as a guide.


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

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Steve Stricker, Nick Price to captain 2017 Presidents Cup teams

The two captains who will face off in the 2017 Presidents Cup were announced Tuesday, with Nick Price getting a third run as the International leader and Steve Stricker taking over as the U.S. captain from Jay Haas.

Haas led the U.S. to a one-point win last October in South Korea, played under a revamped format that allowed Price, as International captain, more opportunity to bench poorly performing players.

It was Price who implored PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who oversees the Presidents Cup, to make those changes in hopes of giving the International side a better opportunity to win. While the changes seemed to have a clear impact, the team came up short. 

Stricker becomes the third American captain in as many editions of the biennial match. In 2013, Fred Couples wrapped up a three-match -- and three-win -- run as captain. Haas took his turn in 2015.

“I’m incredibly honored to have been selected as a U.S. team captain for the Presidents Cup, and am looking forward to it coming to Liberty National, one of my favorite venues," said Stricker, who went 14-10 in five Presidents Cup appearances. "This event has meant a lot to me, and I’m looking forward to leading what will be a very promising U.S. team in 2017.”

Price gets a third chance at captain, as did Peter Thomson, who captained in 1996, '98 and 2000, as well Gary Player, who was at the helm in 2003, '05 and '07. 

“It’s an honor for me to continue to serve as International team captain once again in 2017,” said Price. “The Presidents Cup has meant so much to me and to my career, both as a player and a captain, and I’m excited to have another chance to be a part of this great event. I am so looking forward to leading what I'm sure will be another very strong International Team and having another opportunity to win the Cup, after such a close finish last year."

The 2017 edition of the matches, in which the U.S. has a 9-1-1 record, will take place Sept. 28-Oct. 1 at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J. The Americans have never lost on home soil, losing in Australia in 1998 and tying in South Africa in 2003.


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

LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Masters preview with a former contestant

Monday, April 11, 2016

Jack Nicklaus offers Masters praise for Willett, sympathy for Spieth

In the wake of the outcome of the Masters, 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus felt compelled to issue a statement on Jordan Spieth's meltdown on the par-3 12th and Danny Willett's bogey-free, final-round 67 that clinched his first major championship.

"I think the whole golfing world feels for Jordan Spieth," the statement started. "He had a chance to do something truly special and something very few have done before—and be the youngest to accomplish that—and he just didn’t pull through. My heart goes out to him for what happened, but I know that Jordan is a young man who will certainly learn from this experience and there will be some good that comes out of this for him. He’s a wonderful talent and a wonderful young man."

With every sports meltdown, there's also a winner who benefits. Willett, however, played the final 21 holes without dropping a shot and was spectacular in taking the lead and nursing it with three holes remaining.

Nicklaus was impressed.

"What impressed me so much is that when he realized he was in a position to win, he finished it—and that’s the mark of a champion: To finish a good round; give yourself an opportunity to win; and when the other fellow doesn’t finish, you’ve got to be there," Nicklaus wrote. "Danny Willett was and kudos to him."


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

LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Masters preview with a former contestant

McIlroy admits pressure to win career Grand Slam is getting to him

Rory McIlroy has the gift of candor in defeat, and he admitted after coming up well short at the Masters that he succumbed to the pressure of trying to complete the career Grand Slam.

The four-time major winner has the 2011 U.S. Open, 2014 British Open and the 2012 and '14 PGA Championships to his credit. All he's missing to complete the cycle is a green jacket from Augusta National. He'd join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods as the only players to accomplish the feat.

So far, McIlroy is 0-for-2 with a chance to join that historic company, and the Ulsterman admits he is pressing.

"I've been in position before and I haven't got the job done when I needed to and I don't think that's anything to do with my game, I think that's more me mentally," McIlroy said Sunday. "I'm trying to deal with the pressure of it and the thrill of the achievement if it were to happen. I think that's the thing that's really holding me back." 

McIlroy found himself in position to win the Masters through 36 holes, drawing a spot in Saturday's final pairing with Jordan Spieth. However, in difficult conditions McIlroy shot 77 to fall five off the pace heading into the final round. A Sunday 1-under 71 left him in a tie for 10th place, six back of winner Danny Willett.

While McIlroy hasn't managed to win the Masters yet, he has finished in the top 10 in each of the last three years, including a career-best fourth in 2015.

"Once I overcome that mental hurdle that I'm struggling with at the minute, then I know how to play this course," he said. "I've played this course very well before and I can string good rounds together here, but it's just a matter of doing it."


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

LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Masters preview with a former contestant

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