The Local Knowlege

Watch Rory McIlroy get schooled by Fifty Shades of Gray actor in soccer

What a month it has been for World No. 1 Rory McIlroy.

First Rory had One Direction star Niall Horan caddie for him at the Masters Par-3 Contest. Now, he's mixing it up with Fifty Shades of Gray actor Jamie Dornan for a game of Circular Soccer.

Does it make us not hip because we've never heard of Circular Soccer? Probably. But Rory looks like he gets schooled in this video, only to recover and win? Who knows...watch the video to see for yourself.


Dornan is actually an avid golfer, too, in addition to being a talented actor, and apparently, pretty good at soccer. Add him to the list of Rory's big-shot friends! The life!

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News & Tours

Ian Poulter on why he's skipping the European Tour's flagship event: "I can't shovel s#*! uphill forever"

Ian Poulter isn't the only golfer skipping next month's BMW Championship, the flagship event on the European Tour. But he has been the most vocal (surprise!) in defending/explaining his decision, which hasn't been particularly well-received.

The Grind: The surprising best shot of the year and the best(?) abs in pro golf

On Tuesday, Poulter took to Twitter to combat criticism after the Daily Mail's Derek Lawrenson wrote a column ripping European stars like Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garica for skipping the event. Lawrenson unfavorably compared them to Jordan Spieth, who kept his commitment to play the RBC Heritage after winning the Masters. Poulter didn't like that column.

A little later, Poulter turned to his poor stats at Wentworth -- not the most popular course among pros -- to back up his decision to skip the event:

That's some impressive math! Of course, not all of his fans reacted well to his reasoning:

But Poulter pointed out that he's playing his normal amount in the UK this year.

And finally, here's his response to a fellow player who is looking forward to teeing it up at Wentworth:

Fair enough, Ian. Fair enough.

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Golf & Business

How more golf in D.C. can improve the relationship between Republicans and Democrats

Every time President Obama picks up a golf club, someone has a comment about how he's wasting time he should be spending focused on his day job. This obviously upsets all of us here at Golf Digest, because we think it's great our Commander-in-Chief hits the links. No one can work 24/7. A little time on the course is a smart way for President Obama to clear his head. 

Of course, the President isn't the only public official in Washington who plays golf ... or could benefit from playing the sport. According to a story from NPR, golf has historically been a good way for public officials of different parties to find a little common ground.   

NPR's story makes it clear the golf course isn't necessarily where members of Congress are brokering the final parts of any specific legislation. Where the value in regular golf outings in D.C. can be found in that they create a relaxed place for politicians to work on fostering relationships with rivals from across the aisle. 

"It's still one of the best ways to communicate with one another and solve a problem - on the golf course," Rep. Don Young, a Republican from Alaska, says in the story.

The current issue, however, is that the politicians are playing less golf together, creating a greater divide between the parties. It seems like one big step to a healthier capital is for everyone to follow the President's lead, and play a little more golf. 

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Courses & Travel

You probably shouldn't be watching these webcam feeds

Sitting in the office. Tuning out your professor. Checking out of the end of a meeting. All the times you’d probably rather be on the golf course.

Which is what makes these live streams so dangerous.

The Old Course at St. Andrews and Pebble Beach are two world-class golf courses offering live feeds via webcam on their websites. They can be found here for the St. Andrews feed, and here for the Pebble feed. (Actually, there are five live feeds from Pebble -- the first, ninth, 17th and 18th holes, plus the putting green -- and nine from St. Andrews.)

Some of the coolest views? You can see the grandstands being assembled at the Old Course as it preps for this year's Open Championship. The stands at the 18th hole will seat more than 10,000 people this year, a tournament record. Now you can track the construction progress here!

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You can see golfers teeing off and watch as they approach the famous Swilcan Bridge. This is the golf equivalent of FOMO!

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One of the coolest parts? You could have family and friends watch the feeds whenever you visit these golf landmarks. But you can't lie after you duff your tee shot. It's all gonna be caught live!



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Nothing beats the real thing, though, as this photo of the famous par-3 17th hole by our veteran photographer Stephen Szurlej proves.

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There are other live feeds at great courses around the world, too. You’ll either thank us, or blame us, later.

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Photos

9 reasons why you have to attend next year's "Think Young, Play Hard" tournament

Golf Digest hosted its first-ever "Think Young, Play Hard" tournament in Las Vegas over the weekend and it was a lot of fun. So much fun that it's going to become an annual event. Here are nine reasons why you should attend next year:

You'll be able to wear ridiculous outfits while pulling off ridiculous shots.

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If you're lucky, you'll arrive to the first tee via helicopter.

When you're late for your tee time at Royal Links. #thinkyoungplayhard

A video posted by J Michael Morris (@jmichaelmorris) on


A cannon will kick off the event. An actual cannon. 

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Golfboards. There will be many golfboards.

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You'll have a chance to compete against guys like long-drive champion Jeff Flagg (nobody could outdrive him during the first-annual "Think Young, Play Hard" tournament...he's an animal) and 
the Bryan Bros. Participants took these guys on for chances to win GoPro cameras and Callaway's not-yet-released PM wedges.


This was one of our favorite photos of the day!! Thanks @gopro for taking good care of us! #TeamCallaway #GoProGolf

A photo posted by Bryan Bros Golf (@bryanbrosgolf) on


Off-course activities include gambling (lots of it), go-cart racing, dolphin shows, tiger-watching, pool parties, concerts and more. Contestants this year played blackjack on these awesome tables at the Mirage.


The swag bag is awesome.


The champions take home a cool trophy and can create their own media blitz. (The champs of the first "Think Young, Play Hard" took their trophy on a tour of San Francisco's Olympic Club.)

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It is, without a doubt, the most fun you'll ever have with three friends on a golf course.

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(Many thanks to AJ Voelpel for providing most of these images.)

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The Grind

A longer drought than Jim Furyk's ends, the surprising best shot of the year, and the best(?) abs in pro golf

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where there's nothing we like more than seeing a long-suffering golfer win. Those years of hard work and waiting just make that payoff all the more sweeter. In other words, I was really excited -- and relieved -- to finally win my first Golf Digest major at the Spring Opener! What, did you think I was talking about Jim Furyk? I'll get to him in due time, but first, this is me sinking the winning putt on our office putting green ("Royal Wilton") in front of a huge gallery:

blog-alex-winning-putt-0421.jpgThen, this is me receiving the Founder's Jacket from defending champ Steve Hennessey and doing my best Jordan-Spieth-clapping-for-the-patrons routine:

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And finally, this is me on Letterman:

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Man, I really had Dave going with my office cafeteria tales. What a wild week -- and that's just my golf! OK, OK, let's get to everything else that happened.

WE'RE BUYING

Jim Furyk: On a more serious note, thank goodness this guy finally won a golf tournament. It was getting rough to watch and had this victory been snatched away by Kevin Kisner, we would have feared for Furyk's well-being. But Furyk won for the first time in 100 starts on the PGA Tour, and more impressively, he did it in clutch fashion at the RBC Heritage. Sure, it's easier to shoot 63 on Sunday when you're coming from behind, but to birdie both playoff holes? Including one after Kisner had already made birdie?

Jordan Spieth: After a media blitz of NYC, a tired Masters champ returned to action at Hilton Head, finally took off his green jacket and promptly shot 74 on no practice, snapping a streak of 16 consecutive sub-par rounds. But looking like he might miss a cut and take some time off, Spieth rallied with a 62 on Friday and finished T-11. It wasn't a fifth consecutive top-two finish, but it was pretty impressive considering the circumstances.

Related: 19 things you should know about Jordan Spieth

Sei Young Kim: Furyk's win was exciting, but it will be tough for any tournament to top the dramatic finish we saw on the LPGA Tour in Hawaii. Kim chipped in on No. 18 to force a playoff with Inbee Park and then holed her approach shot from 154 yards minutes later on the same hole for a walk-off eagle. The 22-year-old South Korean is the first player to win twice on the LPGA this season and she leads the way in the Rolex Player of the Year standings. Not bad for a rookie. And not a bad vertical, either.

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Freddie Jacobson's putting: Lost in the performances by Jim Furyk and Jordan Spieth, Jacobson broke a PGA Tour record by extending his streak without a three-putt to 524 holes and counting. That's more than 29 full rounds of golf since his last three-putt. Most people have never gone 29 holes without one.

WE'RE SELLING

Freddie Jacobson's ball-striking: While he ranks first in three-putt avoidance and third in strokes gained/putting, Jacobson ranks 173rd in strokes gained/tee to green. As a result, he's only 141st on the FedEx Cup standings. Maybe that "putt for dough" bit is a little overrated.

Graeme McDowell: We thought we were finally seeing signs of life from the 2010 U.S. Open champ when he shared the 18-hole lead at Harbour Town. But he only shot two under the rest of the week at a course where he's won before to finish a disappointing T-26. On the bright side, that's G-Mac's best PGA Tour finish of 2015. On the bad side, that's his best PGA Tour finish of 2015.

Related: Pictures of PGA Tour wives and girlfriends

Swan songs: Even though he made the cut at Harbour Town, Tom Watson said he's thinking about making the 2016 Masters his last one. At St. Andrews in July, Watson will make his last British Open start. So will Nick Faldo. And this comes on the heels of Ben Crenshaw playing his final Masters. These send-offs are kind of cool, but they're also kind of sad. Great players are getting old -- and so are we.

CBS: With Sunday tee times (smartly) moved way up because of a bad weather forecast, CBS (foolishly) only provided tape-delayed coverage. It's 2015, people!!! Anyone who actually cares about following the tournament was getting a play-by-play on Twitter, so why not live stream the action on CBS' website? The network could have still aired the tournament on a delay in its 3-6 window and gotten the same people who haven't discovered the Internet yet to watch. And even that part of the population in Savannah got hosed when their local CBS affiliate cut away just before Furyk's winning putt to show a weather update that the weather was fine. We just hope Jim Furyk's parents weren't watching in Savannah. They can only take so much.

ON TAP

The PGA Tour heads to New Orleans for the Zurich Classic, aka that tournament where that big gator always seems to be hanging out on the 18th hole. Last year, John Peterson, an experienced gator handler, helped keep play going by bravely nudging the large reptile back into the lake so his playing partner could hit a shot. John Peterson should have his own show on the Discovery Channel.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Random tournament fact: This tournament began at City Park Golf Courses in New Orleans, where it was played until 1962. If City Park sounds familiar, that's the place where a man was living in a tree protesting a new golf course being built there -- until he fell out of the tree.

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

-- Someone will go chip-in, hole out from 150 yards again to win: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds

-- John Peterson will get that gator to roll over and do other tricks this year: 10-to-1 odds

Related: The top 25 golf viral videos in 2014

-- This week's winner won't fist pump as hard as Jim Furyk: LOCK

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Jim Furyk with his putter already dropped about to unleash the most vicious fist pump by anyone not named Tiger Woods as his winning putt disappears into the hole. Perfect.

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VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK

The Jacksonville Jaguars mascot put everyone to shame at the Players media day by winning the closest-to-the-pin contest on the par-3 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. The shot -- in full costume, no less -- was so good, it made us wonder if Jags kicker and plus-handicapper Josh Scobee was behind it. Turns out the mascot, Curtis Dvorak, is a scratch player himself. Sorry, Sei Young Kim, but this is the shot of the week and maybe the year:

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (NOT INVOLVING A MASCOT)

From the graceful to the not-so graceful, this LPGA fan had a rough day in Hawaii when his beloved hat got blown into a water hazard. He wound up retrieving it, but only after he got soaked, lost his beer and had his embarrassing moment go viral.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"That was four-and-a-half years of frustration in that celebration." -- Jim Furyk. I feel your pain, Jim. I worked at Golf Digest for SIX years before finally winning a major and there were plenty of heartbreaking moments along the way.

THIS WEEK IN RICKIE FOWLER-ALEXIS RANDOCK PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

Aww, that's sweet. And now we know the approximate anniversary of these two. That means Fowler played most of his great golf last year at the majors while dating Alexis. There goes the silly "she's a distraction" theory. Haters.

And then there was Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret posing with Jake and Lacey Owen at the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday. Sorry, ladies, Jordan still has a girlfriend.

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THIS WEEK IN BELEN MOZO MAKING US FEEL BAD WITH SHOWING OFF HER TRAINING

THIS WEEK IN NATALIE GULBIS TRAINING TAKING RANDOM SELFIES

Last day in Hawaii. ๐ŸŒฟ

A photo posted by Natalie Gulbis (@natalie_gulbis) on

OK. . .

THIS AND THAT

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The USGA announced mobile devices less than seven inches long will be allowed at the U.S. Open. In other words, as long as you don't have Zach Morris' cell phone from "Saved by the Bell," you should be good at Chambers Bay. . . . Olin Browne won on the Champions Tour in an event cut to 36 holes by bad weather. We guess that counts. . . . Kiradech Aphibarnrat won on the European Tour. APHIBARNRAT! A great golfer with an even better name. . . . Rory McIlroy was reportedly in Rochester, N.Y., to visit Erica Stoll. A weekend in Rochester? Sounds like things are getting pretty serious. . . . United Airlines is adding flights from Denver to North Bend this summer, which will make traveling to Bandon Dunes a lot more convenient. My golf group has taken note and this could help Bandon land a future HGGA Championship.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

Who has the best abs in pro golf?

Do kids today even know what "Saved by the Bell" is?

Who has worn their new jacket more: Jordan Spieth or me?

-- Alex Myers is an Associate Editor for GolfDigest.com. Feel free to email him and please follow him on Twitter since he has self-esteem issues.

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News & Tours

How Jordan Spieth's grandfather has been on the ride of his life, too

Bob Julius describes the hug behind the 18th green at Augusta National as being surreal. "I got so emotional after he picked up his ball and started walking up," said the 82-year-old grandfather of the 21-year-old Masters champion, Jordan Spieth. "I kind of lost it a little bit. I was, you might call it, teary-eyed."

Julius is the father of Jordan's mother, Chris, and the oldest member of Team Spieth. He lives in Hampstead, N.C., and drives his compact SUV to tournaments on the East Coast. For the Masters, that meant a couple of round trips from North Carolina because one of his 11 grandchildren was getting an Eagle Scout Award on the Saturday of Augusta.

Gramps returned at 5 a.m. of the Sunday Jordan would win the Masters, driving five hours back to Augusta before entering the gates and unloading his motorized scooter for the ride of his life. Afterward, he and his artificial knee happily limped through the champion's reception at the club. Julius had only a couple of bites of lobster and drank only half of his champagne but stayed up until 2 a.m. celebrating at the Spieths' rented home.

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AP Photo

"It was really special to have him there," Jordan said after shooting 62 to make the cut on Friday at the RBC Heritage. "Like my parents, he had never seen me win a pro event, so I'm glad he could be there and enjoy it with me."

Julius is a retired electrical engineer at Bethlehem Steel who wishes his wife, Ginny, could have enjoyed it, too. She survived a brain aneurysm when Chris was 4. Bob took care of her for 44 more years while raising six children. All of them played high school sports at Saucon Valley (Pa.) High School, and four played college sports, Chris making the basketball team at Moravian College.

"I've had so many great experiences, it's too bad my wife was not around for them," Julius said. "I know she's having a ball up there, but it would have been nice for her to see this."

Last Monday, Julius sent out emails to members of the Olde Point G.C. Men's Golf Association, updating them as he always does via email and Facebook, before driving to Hilton Head on Tuesday. These were many of the same guys Jordan would play against during summer visits. Julius still talks about the day 12-year-old Jordan shot 76 to beat all of them.

"He doesn't get any of that from me," Julius said of Jordan's talents.

Jordan says he inherited his grandfather's personality, his sense of humor and his drive. That is evident when the two sit down to play gin rummy. Julius likes to say that for every time he beats Jordan, Jordan beats him five times. And Jordan denies ever letting him win. "No, he beats me fair and square," Jordan says. "Experience plays a major role in that game, but I've tried my best."

Spieth did the same at the RBC, finishing in a tie for 11th after an opening-round 74. Bob was there for 72 holes and is already planning his next road trip, to Ponte Vedra, Fla., for the Players. Bob will turn 83 that week and has already asked for an entire cake, not just creme brulee—like he got in the TPC Sawgrass locker room last year, when Jordan finished T-4.

"It's a bucket list that keeps going," said Gramps.

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Tiger Woods

Lindsey and Elin agree: Tiger's parenting skills are locked in

Well, if you want to be technical, Lindsey Vonn (Tiger Woods' current girlfriend) and Elin Nordegren (his ex-wife) varied slightly in their description of how the golfer is raising young Sam, 7, and Charlie, 6.

Nordegren told People magazine last year that Woods is a "great father," whereas Vonn recently stepped it up a notch and told People he was "amazing." 

“They’re great. They’re amazing kids, and he’s an amazing father,” Vonn, 34, said at the New York premiere of the movie "The Age of Adaline" Sunday evening. “You know, I feel privileged to be along for the ride, and I help as much as I can. They’re great kids -- I love ’em."

The public was given its best window into Woods' -- and Vonn's -- relationship with the golfer's kids at the Masters. Woods had Sam and Charlie caddie for him in the Par-3 Contest, and the four did seem quite content. 

Here's Tiger appearing to ask Sam for help with a putt.


Here's Lindsey snapping a quick shot of Sam with a GoPro.

 
And here's Lindsey telling Charlie that Tiger needs to be more upright at address when putting (or something like that).

h/t FTW

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My Usual Game

Have a cigar! Hey, have two!

There are two approaches to turning yourself into a human billboard: the single-logo, less-is-more approach, typified by Tiger Woods (Nike) and Jordan Spieth (Under Armour), and the how-much-personal-surface-area-can-I-embroider approach, typified by Jim Furyk and NASCAR. My friends and I fall into the second category, and, even though by now we have virtually covered ourselves with umlauts (thanks to Jagermeister, the official all-weather intoxicant of the Sunday Morning Group), we haven’t finished selling out.

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Recently, we added another major sponsor: Famous Smoke Shop, which sells cigars online, by mail order, and in person (at the company’s headquarters and retail super store, in Easton, Pennsylvania). Famous Smoke is what is known in the business world as a "good fit" with a lot of the guys I play golf with.

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Famous Smoke was founded in New York City in 1939 by David and Rose Zaretsky, and it’s owned today by their son Arthur, who, whether he plays golf or not, is now an honorary member of the Sunday Morning Group. The company operates several cigar-oriented websites -- not just Famous-Smoke but also CigarAuctioneer (which sells lighters and other accessories) and CigarMonster (which has the coolest golf hats):

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When we played at Richter Park two weekends ago, we handed out a bunch of goodies that Famous Smoke had sent us during the courtship phase of our relationship: cigars, hats, shirts, towels, and other stuff. We gave those things to ourselves and also to random strangers, including this guy:

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It was like Man Halloween.

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Cigars have sort of been in the news recently, because the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba will presumably lead eventually to the normalization of relations between American cigar smokers and Cuban cigars. I asked our new friends at Famous Smoke about that, and learned that Arthur Zaretsky believes that an end to the cigar embargo would be good good for Cubans and for his company (and therefore, by extension, for the Sunday Morning Group), but that, for a variety of mostly legal reasons, he doesn’t believe it will happen soon. Even so, he’s optimistic, long-term; he told a local reporter, “I’ve been waiting 45 years to sell Cuban cigars.”

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Recently, someone told me that when the pros sell out they do it for money, not just for hats and shirts with awesome logos on them. Whoa! Maybe we'll work on that next.

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MyUsualGame

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Trending

This tee shot by the Jacksonville Jaguars mascot might be the most impressive golf shot of all time (or at least by an NFL mascot)

There's so much to talk about with this video of the Jaguars mascot, Jaxson De Ville, teeing off on the iconic 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. But first, watch for yourself:


And here's another view:


So here's what we know: We know that the shot was part of a closest-to-the-hole competition last week. We know that the man inside the suit is Curtis Dvorak, the longtime Jaguars mascot who is said to be a scratch player (but who doesn't have an official handicap as far as we could tell). And we know Dvorak, er, Jaxson De Ville beat out a field that included former Masters runner-up Len Mattiace, and former Champions Tour winner Bob Duval. The shot not only ends up five feet from the hole, but even includes some pro-level backspin. 

As for what we don't know, we don't know how someone can make that sort of swing inside a big furry suit. In fact, let's break it down for a second.

Here's the setup position: stance slightly closed to promote a draw, perfect posture with the chin up and spine straight. Not an ounce of tension in the tail.

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Here he is at the top. Nice free hip rotation, arm stretched across the chest. We're not sure what's going on with his shorts, but the legs are moving correctly.


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And just look at that follow-through -- body turned toward the target, hands nice and high, club across his back. See how the right foot is coming off the ground. Textbook.

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Check out that tail position. Exemplary.

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