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News & Tours

Remember the Ryder Cup snub? Another Chris Kirk victory underscores it again

Chris Kirk was notoriously overlooked once, but he has a new loud tartan jacket that will won’t allow him to blend into a crowd as maybe he did before.

Neither will four PGA Tour victories in four years and two in the last eight months, the latest coming in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on Sunday, earning the victor’s red plaid jacket.

Kirk’s languid swing and seemingly placid demeanor belie the talent that briefly made him part of the Ryder Cup conversation last year.

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(Getty Images)

He won the Deutsche Bank Championship, his second victory of the season and one that made him a viable candidate as a Ryder Cup captain’s pick. Instead, a day later, Tom Watson took Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson, a trio that has two victories among them since the 2012 Ryder Cup and only one since October, 2013.

Yet Kirk handled the rejection with aplomb. “I was like, ‘hey, I just won the biggest tournament of my life yesterday, so it’s going to take a lot more than this to get me in a bad mood.’”

Kirk, 30, similarly was unruffled on Sunday, when he had to scramble on the final two holes to protect a one-stroke lead and sealed the victory with a seven-foot par putt at 18.

“I was as nervous as I’ve ever been today,” he said, though there was no outward indication of nerves . “Those ups and downs the last couple of holes and especially making that putt on 18 was pretty sweet.”

Kirk has ensured he’ll be part of the Presidents Cup conversation later this year, too, though this time he is in a strong position to play his way onto the team. Tough to overlook a player ranked in the top 20 in the world.

This victory was a moderate surprise only in that he staved off a challenge from local favorite Jordan Spieth, the Masters champion, who tied for second. Kirk expects to play well at Colonial Country Club, given his appreciation for the course that dates to the 2007 Ben Hogan Award ceremony.

Kirk, then a senior at Georgia, won the award given to the best collegiate player, and the ceremony was held the week of the Colonial tournament.

“I’ve always loved this golf course,” he said. “This has been my favorite tournament on the tour since before I was on the tour, when I came here for the Ben Hogan Award ceremony. Just to be a part of the history of this tournament is really just amazing to me.”

He will have his name added to Colonial’s Wall of Champions, a fairly illustrious list of names, few of them obscure. Or, as it were, easy to overlook.

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Equipment

Winner's bag: The putter that propelled Chris Kirk to a win at Colonial

At a shorter course such as Colonial C.C., putting is at a premium and Kirk did well on the greens with his Odyssey ProType 10 putter, ranking third in strokes gained/putting and first in putts per GIR. Kirk needed all the help he could get picking up strokes with his putting as he was below the tour average for the week in driving distance, driving accuracy and greens in regulation.

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Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Callaway XR Pro (Mitsubishi Diamana S+ Blue Board 60x), 8.5 degrees
3-wood: Callaway X2 Hot, 15 degrees
Irons (2-3): Callaway Apex UT; (4-9): Callaway RAZR X MB; (PW): Callaway Mack Daddy 2
Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy 2 (52, 58 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey ProType 10 Putter

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News & Tours

Billy Horschel and Brandt Snedeker try to set up bet on Twitter, but outfit scripting gets in the way

Florida alum Billy Horschel was happy with the school's men's baseball team winning to advance to Sunday's SEC Championship against Vanderbilt. Of course, as a modern-day pro, that meant a celebratory tweet and a challenge to fellow modern-day pro and Vanderbilt alum Brandt Snedeker.

And of course, Snedeker responded:

Leading to this:

Leading to this:

Good idea. So it's settled then? Nope.

Oh, right, scripting. Along with being on social media, that's another crucial element of being a modern-day pro.

Apparently, Snedeker doesn't script. So Horschel repeated his predicament.

Guess we'll have to wait until the Travelers to see if either pays off the bet. In the meantime, we learned a crucial piece of information. Remember those octopus pants he wore at the 2013 U.S. Open?

Too bad.

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Video

Video: Jimenez makes yet another hole-in-one, third this year

Miguel Angel Jimenez no doubt has bought his share of rounds over the years, but his bar bill has grown exponentially this year.

On Saturday, Jimenez made a hole-in-one for the second week in a row, this one in the third round of the BMW PGA Championship, and has made three this year, a tour record 10 in his career.


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Missing Links

Texas isn't a lone star state, as Jordan Spieth expects to have company

Stories of interest you might have missed…

“[Jordan] Spieth headlines a corps of North Texans who have won six of the last 16 U.S. Junior Amateur titles and four of the last six, with Spieth winning in 2009 and 2011,” Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes in this look at the emerging strength of North Texan golfers. “In that sense he’s still one of the boys. Spieth not only is keenly aware of his fellow North Texas Junior Amateur winners and which kids might be on deck to carry on the tradition, but he has desire and financial means to further nurture this region’s fertile golf landscape. ‘I think a lot of professionals in the coming years will come out of Dallas/Fort Worth — or, really, out of the state of Texas,’ Spieth said. ‘It’s arguably the strongest state right now as far as junior golf goes. And that’s really cool.’”

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(Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy missed the cut in the BMW PGA Championship, but is that a good thing? Maybe so. “The ghost of Friday past visited Rory McIlroy here in the BMW PGA Championship but far from being spooked missing the cut he actually sounded a touch relieved to have the weekend off,” James Corrigan of the Telegraph writes. “At least the world No‚ÄČ1 will arrive at next week’s Irish Open, the event he is calling ‘my fifth major’, with his batteries recharged.”

***

McIlroy might not be appreciated enough in his hometown of Holywood. “He's one of the world's most famous sportsmen, yet a visitor would be hard-pressed to know that Holywood is Rory McIlroy's home town,” Joanne Sweeney writes in the Belfast Telegraph.

***

Where have you gone Adam Scott? “A year after capturing the so-called Texas Slam, Adam Scott finds himself in a much different state,” Bill Nichols of the Dallas Morning News writes. “The popular Australian begins defense of his Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial title juggling multiple changes.”

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News & Tours

Large sinkhole develops on course on which Champions Tour’s Legends tournament was held

A huge and reportedly growing sinkhole developed at the Top of the Rock Golf Course in Ridgedale, Mo., one month after the Champions Tour’s Bass Pro Shops Legends was played there.

The sinkhole was located between the practice tee and a pond near the entrance to the property, Tammy Sapp, director of communications at Bass Pro Shops, said.

“We discovered at about 6:30 this morning a geological event at the Top of the Rock,” Sapp said. “We reported it to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Our team and their geologic survey team were doing a geologic assessment of the area.

“Safety measures were immediately initiated. Sinkholes in this area of the Missouri Ozarks are not uncommon. They can occur because of the type of rock we have. But it did not affect any of the buildings and we’re draining the entrance pond,

“Golf is still being played at Top of the Rock. Those golfers with tee times are allowed to use driving range, and they have access to a small putting green.”

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Celebrity

5 things to talk about on the course: David Letterman, Riley Curry, and the Spin Doctors

From sports to TV to politics (OK, so mostly the first two), we offer five hot topics that are sure to liven up your round of golf:

1. David Letterman: Nearly 14 million viewers watched Dave's final time hosting "The Late Show," giving the program it's biggest TV audience since February 28, 1994. And I actually remember that show -- which will finish as Letterman's most-watched ever -- very well. Why? Because I was in sixth grade and I was allowed to stay up late to watch my favorite band, the Spin Doctors, perform.

Spin Doctors! 1990s rock! Woo! Sorry, I got a little carried away there. What were we talking about? Oh, right, David Letterman. Yeah, he's pretty good, too.

Ranking: The 17 best musical acts to perform at "Tiger Jam"

2. NBA conference finals: Everyone has penciled Golden State and Cleveland into the Finals, but not so fast. Judging by the first few games, those teams have their hands full with the Rockets and Hawks, respectively. In fact, the Warriors squeaked out home wins the first two games after winning all four regular-season contests between the two squads by an average of 15 points. Hmm. Maybe those critics who say the NBA regular season is too long and kind of pointless have a point. . .

3. NBA Draft Lottery: Well, it's official. The Knicks suck at sucking. After purposely tanking for the entire season, they decided to win three of their last six games (they finished 17-65 overall) to end up with just the second-worst record in the league. Then, the lottery balls screwed them and the team fell to the fourth pick in the draft. Congrats to the three teams that will be picking ahead of Phil Jackson now. You're pretty much guaranteed selecting a future Hall-of-Famer now.

4. Potential historic baseball seasons: I've been out of the loop more than ever with baseball this year and when I finally checked the stats I saw a couple crazy things. Dee Gordon is batting around .400? I didn't even know that and the guy is on my fantasy baseball team! And as of Thursday, Nelson Cruz was in line to pull off the rare Triple Crown in the American League. Guess the Mets signing Michael Cuddyer instead of him in the off-season wasn't a great move.

Related: NBA stars who love playing golf

5. Riley Curry: The appearance of Stephen Curry's adorable daughter at a post-game press conference sparked a heated debate about whether athletes should bring their kids to work. Really, people? A.) It's cute and B.) If anything, it puts the athlete more at ease and willing to give insightful answers to questions. Plus, you get moments like when Chris Paul's son imitated Blake Griffin with Blake Griffin sitting right there:

Paul and Curry are already in State Farm commercials together, but when are Lil Chris and Riley going to team up? It's too bad they didn't appear on Letterman together. Throw in the Spin Doctors and that show could have really gotten some good ratings.

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Equipment

Best ever April in golf ball sales, the one category that drives the whole industry

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The April monthly sales reports from golf industry researcher Golf Datatech show positive signs for revenue, especially in the one category that might best reflect the health of the game: golf balls.

Overall sales of golf balls in April at on- and off-course shops were up 4.9 percent in units and nearly 10.9 percent in dollars, compared to April 2014. According to Golf Datatech, it was the best April for golf ball sales in terms of dollars (just over $48.5 million) since the research firm began publishing monthly sales figures in 1997. Part of the reason is an ever-increasing shift by golfers to play the more expensive, multilayer urethane construction ball preferred by tour players. The average selling price for a dozen golf balls broke the $30-a-dozen barrier for the first time ever. Still, a little more than half of the top 20 selling golf balls retail for less than $25 a dozen.


Balls is an obvious indicator of interest in the game because you’re not buying golf balls if you’re not also playing. Although rounds played data is not available for April, the numbers were up in March by 5 percent and were also up for the year (4.1 percent). According to PGA Performance Trak, 26 states had reported positive year-over-year growth through March. 

Other categories showed mixed signs but clearly positive interest in new products as compared to discounted, older products. Sales of metalwoods were down in units (-3.2 percent) but up in dollars (4.7 percent) compared to last April, while irons were flat in revenue and down in units (-7.6 percent). In both woods and irons, the average selling price is markedly higher, up $10 per iron since April 2013 and $15 per metalwood since last April. 
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News & Tours

That time I made a complete ass of myself to Loren Roberts at Colonial

Do you remember that Kenny Perry won the 2003 Colonial? I didn't until I looked it up this morning. I was at that tournament, and in hindsight, I vaguely recall Perry winning in what was a resurgent season for the veteran. But 12 years later, I think we all more likely recall that year's Colonial for Annika Sorenstam's historic two rounds playing on the PGA Tour

The concept of a player other than the event winner hijacking a tournament storyline isn't uncommon in golf. We remember that tournament where Michelle Wie made her professional debut and got DQed because of a bad drop, but we don't remember that (fittingly) Sorenstam was the winner. We remember the time Jean Van de Velde coughed up the Open Championship, but you might need a moment to recall that Paul Lawrie was the benefactor.

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But back to that year's Colonial. There was no bigger story in golf in 2003 than Sorenstam, the unequivocal star of the LPGA, testing herself against the men. And as reporters on the scene, our job that week was to try to put it all in its proper perspective.

So there I was, and there was then 47-year-old Loren Roberts. Nice guy, thoughtful quote. Great putter. Roberts was one of more than a dozen players I interviewed that week about Sorenstam, how she might fare and the historical implications of her appearance.

We were standing by the practice green and at some point I introduced the premise (a prescient one, it turns out) that years from now, all we'd remember about this tournament is Sorenstam playing in it. Then to underscore my point, I continued.

"It's really like when Tiger made his pro debut at the Greater Milwaukee Open in '96," I said.

Roberts nodded.

"I mean, everyone remembers Tiger that week. But does anyone even remember who won?" I said. "Do YOU?"

"Yes," Roberts said. Then he smiled. "I did."

"Oh," I said, blood rushing to my face. "Right."

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: A refresher on deadlifts

Deadlifts are often regarded as one of the best exercises for anyone, but they're particularly helpful for golfers since they improve strength or functionality in a number of areas of the body needed to make a good golf swing: the legs, back, hips, butt, etc.

This full-body, compound exercise does require good form, however, or you risk suffering anything from shin bruises to herniated spinal discs. To that end, strength-training expert Mike Boyle (@bodybyboyle) offers a quick tutorial on the deadlift. His advice is both informative and interesting. Click on the video below to watch it.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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