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News & Tours

Thanks a lot, Jack! Nicklaus paints Watson into corner, says Tiger should "absolutely" be on Ryder Cup team

Are you ready for the ad nauseam discussion over whether Tiger Woods deserves to be on the U.S. Ryder Cup team? No? Too bad, because it's already well under way.

After Woods himself chimed in on Sunday at the British Open to say he would contribute to captain Tom Watson's team, Jack Nicklaus said on Thursday a Woods wildcard pick is essentially a no-brainer. But hey, no pressure, Tom!

"Oh, absolutely," Nicklaus said on a conference call Thursday with reporters to promote the PGA Championship. "I couldn't imagine [Woods] not being on a Ryder Cup team, unless he does absolutely nothing in recovering from his game between now and then."

The endorsement can be parsed a bunch of different ways -- what's the definition of doing "nothing in recovering"? -- but it's clear Nicklaus believes the U.S. team is better off with Woods than without him. If Woods does not play his way onto the team in the next two weeks -- he probably needs a win in either the Bridgestone or the PGA -- he would have to rely on one of Watson's three captain's picks Sept. 2. And to hear Nicklaus put it, his old rival would be crazy to pass on the 14-time major winner.

"I don't care what he does between now and then. If Tiger wants to play, I would certainly choose him," Nicklaus said. "My guess is that Tom feels pretty much the same way. Tom would certainly like to have Tiger on his team and I think anybody in their right mind, unless he just doesn't want to play or doesn't think he could play, would not choose him."

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Gear & Equipment

How do you shop for golf clubs? Study says it depends on your handicap

By Mike Stachura

There's more that separates a high-handicap player from a low-handicapper than just score. New research from Golf Datatech suggests the way they shop for equipment is different, too.

loop-buying-clubs-518.jpgThe study of "serious golfers" (respondents played an average of 62 rounds in the past year) found 70 percent of low-handicap players (10 and under) said they tried new clubs on the range or course before buying, compared with less than half of high-handicappers (16 and up). Also, two-thirds of better players said they consider different models, but less than half of 90-plus shooters did.

The report shows a difference as well in where they buy their clubs. Only 3 percent of low-handicappers said they would purchase their next driver at a sporting-goods store, compared with 17 percent of high-handicappers.

Interested in more stories on equipment? Signup to receive Golf Digestix, a weekly digital magazine that offers the latest news, new product introductions and behind-the-scenes looks at all things equipment.


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News & Tours

Why the International Crown is a great idea

By Ron Sirak

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The history of women's golf changed forever in one dramatic hour at Killeen Castle in the 2011 Solheim Cup, when Europe stormed from behind to victory over the United States.

That rally had as much to do with the creation of the International Crown as anything, and in one fun Thursday at Caves Valley GC it became abundantly obvious this competition is one cool idea.

Related: 6 things you need to know about the International Crown

Before the comeback at Killeen, the Americans had won three Solheim Cups in a row and eight of 11. The pressure to add the rest of the world and create an International Team was significant.


And when Team Europe saved the Solheim Cup with its comeback win, the LPGA was smart enough to think outside the box when creating an event that could include non-Solheim eligible nations.

Instead of putting together an artificial International Team, the idea was to have eight nations qualify off the Rolex Rankings and put together four-woman squads also based on the rankings.

The spirited beginning to the competition showed that the idea worked. Each nation had team bags and each team was introduced on the No. 1 tee to their national anthems. There were some tears of pride.

Part of the problem with the Presidents Cup -- other than the fact the United States has won eight of the 10 competitions -- is that the International team is a completely contrived entity.

The sizzle factor is conspicuously absent. The nations that comprise the International Team have nothing in common other than the fact they are not eligible for the Ryder Cup.

The Ryder Cup team and the Solheim Cup team representing Europe have an identity. The European Union has a flag, an anthem and its colors are blue and gold. The International Team is a pick-up squad off leftover players -- albeit great ones.

The players representing the eight nations competing here this week -- the United States, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Japan, Australia, Taiwan and Thailand -- have a sense of national pride that adds an intensity to the tournament.

Among the many really cool moments during the opening ceremony were the times you saw a player singing along with her country's national anthem. There was a real, emotional connection to why they were here.

The Grind: Jagermeister in the claret jug? Really, Rory?

Another big difference that distinguishes the International Crown from not only the Presidents Cup but also the Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup is that nations qualify for the event.

You get the feeling that the players fortunate enough to be here this week will share with their colleagues what a great experience this was. And that will motivate countries not here -- like Scotland, England and China -- to work harder to get to get to the next edition of this tournament at Rich Harvest Farms in 2016.

The very good year the LPGA is having got a lot better this week with the inaugural International Crown. Simply put, it's a great idea. Now let's see if the golf lives up to the event.

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News & Tours

Sorry, Nadia, it looks like Rory McIlroy has a new girl

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

Everything about Rory McIlroy has been a hot topic since his third major victory last week. And with the British Open champion's engagement to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki over, his love life has been a particular point of interest.

Rory had been linked with Irish model Nadia Forde after the two were reportedly set up by mutual friends. But rumors they were an item were slightly overstated, it turns out; she "wasn't his type", apparently.

But new reports are surfacing that Rory has been seeing someone else: 23-year-old part-time model, part-time receptionist Sasha Gale. The two have been spotted around town, and The Sun quotes an anonymous source saying their romance was "blossoming."

Sasha's people aren't commenting on the matter, but she did tweet this the right after Rory's victory at Royal Liverpool:

And in case you want to get more familiar with Rory's prospective new girlfriend, here are some pictures from her Twitter feed:

Some people think she looks a little like Mila Kunis.


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Former No. 1 tennis player Yevgeny Kafelnikov is Russia's highest-ranked golfer. Sort of.

By Alex Myers

It's a technicality, but Yevgeny Kafelnikov, once the world's top-ranked tennis player, is now Russia's highest-ranked golfer. How did he accomplish this? Simply by having an official ranking.

Related: Tennis players who love golf

With zero ranking points to his credit, Kafelnikov, 40, is currently tied with a bunch of his countrymen at No. 1,556 -- the lowest the ranking goes at the moment. Here's a look at Russia's ranking page from the OWGR's website:


Kafelnikov has played the most events (15) that count toward the ranking of any Russian male pro in the past two years. That includes four starts on the European Tour and 11 starts on the Challenge Tour. He's missed the cut in all 15 of those starts and has never played the weekend in 19 career starts on both tours.


Maria Balikoeva is the highest-ranked Russian female pro at No. 246, but only one other Russian, Galina Rotsmistrova (No. 622), has an official ranking. Not that we should be too surprised for a country that opened its first 18-hole golf course in 1994.

Related: Photos of Maria Balikoeva

Despite his lack of success, Kafelnikov might be Russia's best golfer. He and Balikoeva both won their country's national championship in 2011.

We bring all this up because Kafelnikov and several other Russian pros are in the field at this week's Russian Open on the European Tour. However, we don't expect his ranking to get any better after an opening 83 on Thursday.

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ESPN anchor faced with one of life's most difficult questions: do you take the car or the cash after a hole-in-one?

By Sam Weinman

The bad news for Jay Harris is he now can't remain an amateur.

"I can't?" the ESPN SportsCenter anchor replied. "Aww man!"

For an 18 handicapper confined by Connecticut winters, consider this a good problem to have. Another one is this: After acing the 17th hole at basketball coach Mike Woodson's Charity Invitational at Southern Highlands Golf Club in Las Vegas, Harris hasn't decided whether he'll accept the 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque SUV, or the cash equivalent -- roughly $42,000.
All this the result of a 6-iron from 190 yards, Harris' first hole-in-one, which he says he saw coming. Sort of.

"Our group had been putting really well that day, to the point where we were rolling putts and walking off the green before they even went in," Harris, 49, said of the scramble event. "So when we drove up the hole with the car in it, we said, 'This would be the ultimate walk-off.' So we kind of called it."

Sure enough, Harris put a smooth swing on his tee shot, then watched his ball carom off a slope and roll toward the hole. His caddie was following the ball with his range finder, and then lost sight of it.

"He said, 'I don't see it. I think it's in the hole,'" Harris said.

Once the ace was confirmed, Harris was greeted with a standing ovation -- and a fake bar bill of $55,000 -- from the rest of the outing. As far as athletic accomplishments go, it may have been his finest hour. Either that or the time a young Michael Jordan dunked on him during a pick-up basketball game in Harris' native Chapel Hill, N.C.

Talking over the phone with his son in the car, Harris cracked, "My son wants to know if that counts as an athletic accomplishment."

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Game improvement: Recharge your whites

By Alex Holmes

No matter who you are, chances are you've got some gear in your game that could use an update. While we don't advise retooling everything at once, trading up a few staples at a time is the ticket to solid style. Each week we'll pull a dud from the dark depths of every man's collection and suggest a simple substitute. Check your nostalgia at the door -- it's time for your tune up.

Deep into the heart of summer and a few weeks removed from Wimbledon, I figured it was high time to address summer's most suitable shade -- white. Weather you're on the beach, the boat or the back nine, there are a ton of great white options to take you through the summer in style. 

The rules? They're aren't many -- depending on what your wearing white will go with pretty much anything. (Just watch out for red wine and red lips and you should be in the clear.)

Check out some of our summer staples and re-charge your whites for the last leg of the season.

Uniqlo Extended Placket Polo, $29.90

loop-Uniqlo-White-Polo-Extended-518.jpgIf you've been following the style content on the Loop you know we love ourselves some Uniqlo, and this polo's yet another reason why. You can never go wrong with well-priced, well-fitting basics with just the right amount of detail. This white polo is the only one you'll need to wear this summer.

Levis White 501, $68

loop-Levis-White-501-518.jpgWearing white is one of the easiest ways to dress up your denim. Wear these with a simple stripe shirt and a navy blazer and you've got casual Friday nailed through September. **The whole "no white after Labor Day" thing was made up by somebody's mom. Wear it right and white can last you through winter.

Patrik Ervell White Club Collar Oxford, $110

loop-Patrik-Ervell-White-Oxford-518.jpgA white oxford shirt is one of most integral pieces in a man's wardrobe. If your current one is starting to muffin top a bit out of your trousers, it's time for an update. The club collar and button pocket offers just the right amount of interest in this menswear mainstay.

RLX Cypress Tech Bermuda, $79.50

loop-RLX-Cypress-Short-518.jpgThe only issue with white is that it will show off even the smallest dirt and divot stains. The polyester tech shorts from RLX look sharp but more importantly will continue to look that way wash after wash after wash.

Me Undies, $20

loop-Me-Undies-518.jpgSave the fundies for valentines day and keep the undergarments light and white for summer. Me Undies is a new start up that sends you fresh basics made from organic fibers on subscription every other month.

Take a peak in your closet and figure out which of your whites are in need of an upgrade and start working your new gear into your game on and off the course this season.

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News & Tours

7 reasons why you should enjoy Tiger Woods while you can

By Bob Carney

Enjoy the PGA Championship. Enjoy Tiger, the greatest or second-greatest player ever, depending how you judge it. Enjoy even this recovery-room version of Tiger. As Brandel Chamblee said this week: "There will never be another."
Given the way the professional game is proceeding, the chance of there being another golfer as dominant as either Tiger or Jack Nicklaus is nil. Nicklaus continues to hold the majors record, with Woods close behind. Woods has a record, too, that will never be matched: He's won a record 27 percent of the professional tournaments in which he's played. That's like batting .400 for a career.
Some of us have been spoiled to able to watch the two of them in their primes. And whether Tiger ever reaches Jack's record or not, their two careers, entwined by this fictional total-majors race, will one day be as distant as Joe DiMaggio's hit streak, Oscar Robertson's triple-double per-game season, Gretzky's 92 goals, Bob Gibson's 1.12 ERA.
Eighteen majors? Fifteen majors? Doesn't matter. Neither will ever happen again. Enjoy it while it lasts.
There will be McIlroys and Trevinos and Millers and Faldos and Kaymers and Mickelsons. There will be Watsons and Els and Stensons. But no more Tigers and no more Jacks.
Here's why:

1. Physical toll

Jack Nicklaus has argued, for as long as I can remember, that kids should play lots of sports and wait to specialize. But who does that anymore? Kids start beating balls in elementary school and don't stop until they're 50…maybe. They don't play golf, they work golf, and like the ACLs of adult basketball players who've been doing it since they were 5, their bodies can't take it. Ask Tiger Woods. Work ethic is a two-edged weapon; it gets you there, but it breaks you down on the way. The current insistence on specialization, on long hours of practice, some of it purposeful, some of it not, takes a toll. Professional golfers will get younger, like Jordan Spieth, and they will, effectively, retire younger, too. Major winners in the future could be very young, but they won't be very old. The Masters at 46? Not again, despite the fact that players work to stay fit longer.

2. Stress of the work-life "balance"

It's de rigueur these days for golfers to leave or skip tournaments to attend the birth of their children, or, in Phil Mickelson's well-celebrated case, the graduation of his grade-schooler. Jack Nicklaus built his schedule around majors in part to attend to family obligations, redefining what it meant to be great. Modern players, especially married younger players -- McIlroy dodged that one -- expect even more balance in an unbalanced profession. Graeme McDowell talked about missing the Scottish Open for family obligations. In his Q&A Henrik Stenson was asked about his motivation for winning, given that he's amassed so much prize money and has a wonderful wife and two children. It's not a question Jimmy Demaret got, I suspect. It will get more and more difficult to maintain the kind of focus that Woods and Nicklaus have had on golf. Even if the body holds up, the mind, and the tug of family obligations, will work to undermine it. Grinding from grade school to grandfatherdom will burn players out mentally even faster than physical wear and tear. "If they're 40 and have been out here for almost 20 years and have earned their $40 million or $50 million or whatever it is, it's a grind," veteran Chris DiMarco said. "There are other things they might want to do."

3. The schedule

The FedEx Cup, not to mention the World Golf Championships, dangles so much money in front of players, it forces them to play events beyond the majors that increase the challenge of Nos. 1 and 2. Would Jack have said no to the FedEx Cup to stay with his major concentration? Would Tiger have said yes if it were there at the beginning of his career? "The tough thing for myself and a number of other Americans is it's a huge stretch from here through The Tour Championship," Matt Kuchar said of his scheduling changes. "It would really be a tough stretch with the British Open followed by the Canadian Open, followed by the Bridgestone Invitational, the PGA Championship, Greensboro, and then right away our four playoff events start. So to have any sort of chance to play well through that stretch, hard to figure out just how much to play beforehand." He did not mention that there are, in alternate years, the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup. Jack was able to plan his schedule around the majors. Tiger has, but has compromised by playing in these other events. His body may be paying the toll.

4. The money

In the same way that the enormous purses can alter schedules, they can also alter career goals -- and longevity. Take the FedEx Cup. With $10 million on the line, where does a player focus? If you're not chasing history, how much money do you need? If you've won a major or two, have lucrative endorsement deals, does it matter if you're considered the "best ever"? Will a player with the potential to win double-digit majors even see the point? Some people who know Tiger well say the idea of his chasing Jack's record was ours, not his. Not sure I buy that, but how many massively talented players in the future will see the point anyway of chasing either Woods or Nicklaus' majors record? I don't hear Rory talking like that.

5. Competitive definition of greatness

Nicklaus refined the definition of golf greatness by accentuating the importance of the four majors. Winning majors, and, to an extent not emphasized until he came along, winning all four of them at least once, became the goal. Today, "near majors" like the the Players, the WGC events, and the FedEx Cup, have grown in significance, and Ryder Cup participation means more than in its "exhibition" days. Will majors remain the main measure? It's not a sure thing. Over time the near-majors may lessen the weight of the four, and give players the opportunity to define their success differently.

6. The @#$%^! media

As Tiger knows, and learned for certain in 2009, there is no place to hide. The unceasing pressure from media of all kinds, in good times and especially bad, will only grow, with social media showing the capacity to intrude even further than print, TV or web. Such scrutiny only increases as a player succeeds. Will any player tolerate this kind of pressure for, say, 20-25 years? One might argue that Tiger was the modern media's first "major" victim.

7. Heavier competition

It appears that more of America's best athletes are choosing golf, and so are many athletes globally. The Olympics should magnify the appeal of golf in many countries where it's a lesser sport now, deepening the depth of competition. (China alone changes the balance.) As more talent chasing more money with more and more technical and consultative help enters the game, the dream of dominance diminishes.
Enjoy Tiger while you can. There won't be another.

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Weird Golf News

Weird golf news of the week: Man survives SECOND gator attack on golf course

By Alex Myers

Meet Stephen Martinez, the bravest -- or dumbest -- man in the golf industry depending on your perspective.

Martinez makes a living diving for golf balls and has done so for more than 20 years. On Wednesday, CBS Miami reported he was bitten by an alligator while collecting golf balls in a pond at Bonaventure Country Club in Weston, Fla.

Related: A PGA Tour pro's 5 tips for dealing with gators on the golf course

Fortunately for Martinez, he was able to leave the scene with what he called "minimal" bite injuries to his left hand and arm. Martinez described the gator as "aggressive," saying it "chased him down" in the murky water. Later that day, alligator trappers caught an eight-foot gator they believe is the same one that attacked Martinez. Here's video of the news report:

While Martinez won't have to worry about that gator anymore, obviously, there's always a chance he'll come across others. In fact, he knows from personal experience. In 2006 he was interviewed by CBS after suffering a similar attack at a golf course in Boynton, Fla.

Related: More weird golf news

But despite his repeated reptile run-ins, Martinez says he plans to continue with this line of work. For his sake, we hope this is the last time Martinez winds up on the news.

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Cleveland's tour-only wedges now for sale

By Mike Stachura

In this era of widely available high-tech custom fitting, personalized accents on nearly every club in the bag and even drivers that can be built to colors matching your favorite football team, it is increasingly easy to experience what it's like to be a tour player. Now, Cleveland Golf is offering not merely the opportunity to be treated like a tour player, they're literally selling special versions of their wedges originally made only to be used by tour players. 

Certainly "tour-only" products have been available in select ways and on ebay for years, but Cleveland is making a specific effort with its new Tour Rack wedges to offer exclusive limited editions of its wedges that were made only for tour players' use. According to the company, these clubs previously never would have been available to the general public, but were set aside literally on a rack at the company's headquarters in Huntington Beach, Ca. (Having seen the boxes of heads before myself, I believe the expression "kid in a candy store" would be a fair assessment.) As Cleveland's Keith Patterson says, "These are wedges we allow our Tour guys access to, and if they love it, it goes in their bags." 

The company expects there likely will be a few different models of these wedges introduced periodically, but for now they will remain in limited edition (just 300 have been made) and only sold at highly selective locations, not on the company's website (call 800-999-6263 for participating shops). The Tour Rack Limited Edition No. 38 ($250) will be available in 56- and 60-degree models.

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