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News & Tours

Allenby defiantly stands by his account, blames media for the controversy

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Robert Allenby defiantly stuck to his story on Tuesday while blaming the media for creating and sustaining a controversy from his night on the town in Honolulu on Jan. 16.

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“There has definitely been a lot of confusion,” he said, while still showing signs of the cuts and bruises he suffered on the night in question. “But I think the number one thing that you should remember is that my story stays exactly the same as the way I told it. I told you what I knew and what someone told me. That’s the bottom line.

“From that, obviously the media have decided that they’re the most amazing experts at investigations. There is a reason why detectives in Honolulu are some of the best in the world. I’d really appreciate it if we’d just let them do their job and maybe we could get to the bottom of it.”

Related: Robert Allenby isn't getting any help from Honolulu witnesses

Allenby’s story included a drugging, kidnapping, beating and robbery and that he was left at a park six miles from the wine bar at which he had been drinking. He also has said that he has no recollection of what happened between “about 11:06 [p.m.] to about 1:27 a.m., no memory in my brain. Nothing.”

The story doesn’t jibe with that has been told by others who have claimed to have witnessed some of it.

“I was in a place having a nice dinner and having a nice night and then I became a victim and now it’s all been turned around. I understand the way the media works. I have been around for 25 years as a professional golfer, and I have endured a lot of different comments from the media. But I’m happy to take it on the chin. I’m a strong-willed character. At the end of the day, what’s happened has happened. The police will come out with the right story so please, let them do their job. Don’t get in the way of them and everything will be great.”

Allenby, 43, from Australia, picked a curious place in which to return to competition. The Waste Management Phoenix Open has the largest, most vociferous crowds in golf.

Related: Allenby gets exposed and a possible link between "Deflategate" and the PGA Tour

“Mentally I’m preparing myself for probably one of the toughest weeks of my life,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy decision. But I thought I needed to get my life back on track. I’m a professional golfers and why should I let controversy put me out of the game I love?”

He said he is hitting the ball well and feeling better. “Obviously there’s a lot going on in my head. “I’m not expecting a lot from this week, but I’m just expecting myself to overcome this ordeal and just try to move on with my life.”

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Video

This woman with ALS draining a long putt on live TV will be the coolest thing you see all day

Branden Grace's remarkable recovery shot at the Qatar Masters grabbed the early lead for pro golf's shot of the year, but we're declaring the competition in the amateur ranks over for 2015.

Meet Madeline Kennedy, an avid golfer who was diagnosed with ALS 30 months ago. Kennedy has lost the ability to walk, but she has kept on playing golf thanks to a specialized cart that helps her stand up to hit the ball.

Related: The top 25 viral videos of 2014

Inspired by Kennedy's fight with this awful disease, Worthington Country Club in Bonita Springs, Fla., held an event to raise money for ALS research. And when WINK-TV News (CBS) showed up to do a live report from the course with Kennedy, she struck this amazing putt on her first try:

How about that?! The putt was officially measured at 77.6 feet, but we're going to round up and call it an even 78. Nice job, Madeline. Oh, and out of curiosity, how much do you charge for putting lessons?

(h/t thegolfnewsnet.com)

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News & Tours

Tiger Woods has his tooth fixed, but what about his game?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Tiger Woods can smile again, though whether his golf game will allow him to do so won’t be known until later in the week.

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(Getty Images)

Woods made his first public appearance Tuesday morning at the TPC Scottsdale, site of the Waste Management Phoenix Open this week, and the tooth that went mysteriously missing in Italy recently has been replaced. Only the story of how it happened is unchanged.

It occurred in the media melee after girlfriend Lindsey Vonn set the all-time record for World Cup ski victories.

“I had my mask on so no one knew who I was,” he said. “That was the whole idea of the mask. I was looking down and all the camera guys were below me on their knees trying to get a picture [of Vonn]. Dude with a video camera on his shoulder, right in front of me, stood up and turned and caught me square on the mouth.”

Woods said the camera chipped on tooth and cracked a second tooth. “I’m trying to keep this thing so the blood is not all over the place,” he said. He was fortunate that the chipped tooth was the one on which he had had a root canal, he said.

Whether his answer is a satisfactory one apparently is open to debate.

“So many people are not believing your story,” he was asked.

“Dude, you guys, it’s just the way the media is. It is what it is,” he said.

And that’s that. Whether he has restored the teeth to his golf game in the wake of back surgery last year is another matter and a question that won’t be resolved until he tests it in competition.

He last played in his own tournament in December, when he finished 17th in an 18-player field and battled chipping issues. He also was fighting a flu virus, he said, that plagued him for three weeks afterwards.

“I lost a lot more weight,” he said, “but I was finally able to start gaining weight again and started training. I started practicing with Chris (Como, his new instructor). We’ve done some really good work. We have a game plan we need to get to. We’re ahead of schedule on each stage of the game plan. That’s a good sign.

“Overall I’m very pleased to go out there and hit shots. As you saw, I’m cranking up speed. The speed’s coming back up. It’s going to be a fun year. Chipping, I was caught between techniques, between my old release pattern and body movement, when I was working with Sean [Foley, his former instructor], and my new release pattern. We had to basically just hit thousands upon thousands upon thousands of chips and just get it out of there. Now it’s better.”

He has made the quickest progress with his driver. “I’m a lot longer than I thought I ever could be again,” he said. “My speed is way back up and that’s fun. I’m touching number that I did 15 years ago, so that’s cool.”

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The Grind

The Grind: "Deflategate's" possible link to golf, Paulina's baby, and first world WAG problems

Welcome to a special 100th edition (!) of The Grind, where we, well, OK, so we don't have anything special planned. We've been just as caught up in "Deflategate" as everyone else and just hope the PGA Tour isn't implicated in the scandal as well. Remember last year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open when we all marveled at Phil Mickelson's throwing arm? Sadly, we can't say for sure anymore if that football was inflated to the NFL's legal PSI level.

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And now, the PGA Tour recently banned the throwing of objects into the stands at this year's tournament. Hmm. Was the move really done as a safety precaution -- or is it part of a larger cover-up?

WE'RE BUYING

Bill Haas: After an odd 2014 campaign in which he never missed a cut, but also almost never surfaced on a Sunday leader board -- thanks in large part to a broken bone in his wrist -- Haas began his 2015 with a second win at the Humana Challenge. That gives Haas, a fellow member of Wake Forest's Class of 2004, six PGA Tour titles and $32 million in on-course earnings (if you count that $10 million bonus for winning the 2011 FedEx Cup) by age 32. That means we have combined to make slightly more than $32 million since graduation. Not too shabby.

Related: Pictures of PGA Tour wives and girlfriends

Branden Grace: If anyone has racked up quality wins with less fanfare than Bill Haas in recent years, it's this South African. Grace picked up his sixth European Tour title at the Qatar Masters and he can thank this early shot-of-the-year candidate in the third round:

The only golfer under 30 with more worldwide wins than Grace? Some guy named Rory McIlroy.

Miguel Angel Jimenez: Everybody's favorite "Mechanic" kicked off the 2015 Champions Tour season in style with a win at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship. Jimenez is now batting .666 on the senior tour with two wins in just three starts. Perhaps more impressively, he also survived Hawaii's wine bar scene without a scratch.

WE'RE SELLING

Bill Haas in majors: As good of a career as Haas has had, his performance in golf's majors has been puzzling. In fact, he just might be "the best player never to contend in a major." It's not a flattering title, but it's also not the worst thing to happen to someone. Again, six wins and more than $30 million earned. But no top 10s in 21 major starts? C'mon, Billy! We love you, but you're better than that!

PHOTOS: The Year In Golf WAGs

Compton coming up short: As happy as we were to see Haas emerge from the pack in Palm Springs, we realize most viewers were tuning in to see if a man who has undergone two heart transplants could win. But a disappointing Sunday 70 dropped the co-leader after 54 holes into T-10. That's OK, though. Compton, who finished T-2 at last year's U.S. Open, isn't a flash in the pan. He and ticker No. 3 will be back to hopefully write a different ending next time.

Related: 11 PGA Tour sleepers to watch in 2014-15

Robert Allenby's story: So. . . it seems that whole "kidnapping" thing didn't actually happen. Instead, it appears Allenby ran up a $3,400 tab at a strip club (ouch) and passed out on a street corner. Allenby doesn't look good here, but he also doesn't deserve all the blame. There have been way too many "Taken" movies made.

ON TAP

The PGA Tour heads to the Waste Management Phoenix Open, aka that tournament that wraps up on Super Bowl Sunday and where all the rowdy, drunk fans congregate on one hole.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Random tournament fact: The big game is in the area as well for the first time since 2008. That year, Phil Mickelson, who lost in a playoff to J.B. Holmes, gave away his tickets. This year, Keegan Bradley, a huge Patriots fan, is hoping he doesn't have to do the same. In other words, this would be one time Bradley wouldn't mind having an early tee time on Sunday.

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

-- The New England Patriots will use an illegally deflated ball in the Super Bowl: 1 million-to-1 odds

Related: The top 25 golf viral videos in 2014

-- Tiger Woods' first round at the Masters will be higher than Julian Edelman's receiving yards total in the Super Bowl: 12-to-10 odds (actual odds of actual prop bet)

-- Keegan Bradley isn't giving his Super Bow tickets away: LOCK

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK

Just go through 11-year-old Matty Duplessis' Instagram feed and pick. Let's just say he looked like he enjoyed his first trip to the PGA Merchandise Show:

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VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Bubba Watson's latest mini-golf antics include a shirtless celebration.

Bubba, we double dare you to do that at Augusta.

THIS WEEK IN WAG FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS

Ah, the troubles with multi-course tournaments. And Sergio Garcia's fiancee, Katharina Boehm, needs help finding a protein shake that tastes good:

The struggle is real, folks.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"Being famous on Instagram is like being rich in Monopoly." -- Alicia Carriles, wife of Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. We're not sure if her fellow golf WAGs would all agree, but well said, Alicia.

RANDOM WORDS OF INSPIRATION OF THE WEEK

One Mission.

A photo posted by Russell Wilson (@dangerusswilson) on

That's right, Russell! You've got to GRIND! Thanks for sharing. Like the rest of the civilized world outside of New England, we'll be rooting for you in the Super Bowl.

THIS WEEK IN DUSTIN JOHNSON-PAULINA GRETZKY-BABY PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

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We are thrilled our favorite golf couple had their first baby, but did the announcement have to come as the State of the Union address was about to start? And couldn't they have given us a bit of a heads up?!

THIS AND THAT

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Dustin Johnson announced he'll make his PGA Tour return at Torrey Pines exactly six months after he wasn't suspended by the tour for six months. Hmm. . . . Peter Oosterhuis is retiring from being a golf analyst on CBS. Don't worry, Peter Kostis and that Konica Minolta Bizhub swing camera aren't going anywhere. . . . Congrats to English sports reporter Cara Robinson for being the latest hire by Golf Channel for its "Morning Drive" program. Above is a photo of Robinson conducting an interview with two dog puppets at Wimbledon in the rain. Now that's talent.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

Has the PGA Tour launched an investigation into Bill Belichick making the Pebble Beach Pro-Am cut in 2012?

Has any golfer earned more than $30 million more quietly than Bill Haas?

How many photos did Blair O'Neal pose for at the PGA Show?

-- 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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Instruction

Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #47: The Shooter's Mentality

One of the key mental toughness tools we teach in our golf schools and junior camps is the "Shooter's Mentality." The lesson comes from basketball and is designed to help players understand the mindset associated with maximizing success. In our session we tell the story of how a top player like Michael Jordan might get off to an amazing start in a game, making every shot. He's in a zone. The crowd feels it. His teammates feel it. The building is about to burst as shot after shot hits nothing but net. In this instance, the player's emotional state is so positively charged the prospect of failure seems ludicrous. As he runs down the court his confidence is off the charts as he telegraphs to his teammates "Give me the ball!"

As we know, life is often not one continual hot streak. A player who has a career game, the next day against the same opponent might have just the opposite result. Even a player as talented as Michael Jordan is not immune to such a swing in performance. He understands, however, the secret to getting his mojo back, is all in the mindset associated with playing a game of opportunity.

As we tell the "shooter's story," we explain this time, things just aren't going the player's way. Nothing is going right, as each shots smacks the backboard or bounces off the rim. The crowd is silent as their star misses again and again. In this moment we ask the question, "What is he thinking now?" Nearly 100% of the class answers, "Don't give me the ball!" This is the answer we expect, setting up the key point of the conversation.



The mentally tough athlete fully understands the correlation between thinking and success. They understand the more they elevate their mood, the more access they'll have to their athletic brilliance. In this instance, where not a single shot has been made, the thought process is no different than it was the night before." As he runs down the court his mind is saying, "This is perfect. This couldn't be better. Give me the ball!" It's a powerful mindset to operate from and a likely reason the entire world knows about players like Michael Jordan.

To have the "Shooter's Mentality" means you always want the ball. You see everything you do as a game of opportunity with no reason to shrink or hesitate just because one swing, one shot or one attempt at anything didn't go your way. It's the understanding that people are at their best when they feel their best and an elevated mood is always only a thought away!

Spend some time thinking like a champion and you can count this week's challenge as complete!

BENEFITS
Elevate Mood
Develop Mental Toughness
Increase Performance

Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf ... Read
Trending

This guy had the best time of anyone at the PGA Show and it wasn't even close

Matty Duplessis is an entrepreneur, an entertainer, and an accomplished golfer. Oh yeah, he's also only 11.

We recently highlighted his music video in which Matty, better known by his social media handles @Md_18undapar, shows off his skills as both a rapper and a putter. But his biggest talent just might be his ability to light up a room -- even golf's biggest room.

Related: The 12 coolest products at the PGA Show

Matty made his first appearance at the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando last week and boy, did he make the most of it as evidenced by his Instagram feed. Here he is with some of the game's biggest stars, like Bubba Watson:

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Lexi Thompson:

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And Lydia Ko, with whom Matty joked by saying "Prom?" in his caption. Aww.

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Then there were the teachers this young player took advantage of meeting, like Hank Haney:

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Dave Pelz:

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And Dave Stockton:

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Matty then got to show off his skills. Check out that powerful swing! And the perfect club twirl:

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And of course, Matty got his picture taken with Blair O'Neal -- a must for all PGA Show first-timers:

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Nice work, Matty. We can't wait to see what you do next year. You know, when you're 12 and running the entire event.

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How He Hit That

How He Hit That: Bill Haas' awkward lie escape

Sometimes winning isn't pretty, and Bill Haas proved that at the Humana Challenge--even as he was signing for an aggregate score of 22-under. 

Haas hit his tee shot on the final hole right, and his ball perched on on the grass just above the lip of a steep fairway bunker. When Haas took his stance, the ball was nearly waist high. The mission was simple: Advance the ball to a position where he could reach the green in regulation without shanking it, or pull hooking it across the fairway into the water.



Using a middle iron, he caught the ball cleanly with a baseball swing and left himself a straightforward third shot into the green. He made his par and preserved a one-shot victory over five other players. 

"Bill made all the right decisions there," says top Georgia teacher Mike Granato. "Even though he was only trying to advance the ball a short distance, he picked a lower-lofted iron, which reduced the chance of the shot shooting off to the left from such a severe lie. And when he swung, he was thinking single instead of home run. He resisted the temptation to try to push the ball farther down the fairway. He picked a 6-iron, choked down and made a controlled swing to promote clean contact--which is way more important than total distance."

Your next bad lie situation might not match Haas', but you can still make the same good strategy choices. "Another thing to take in consideration is what the shaft is going to do through impact," says Granato, who is based in White, Ga. "On every shot you hit, the shaft droops--or bends slightly downward--through impact. When the ball is above your feet, the drooping effect is increased. Plan for it, and address the ball a little higher than normal."


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Stats

Is Bill Haas the best player never to contend at a major?

With his second Humana Challenge victory, Bill Haas picked up his sixth career PGA Tour title. That number is nothing to sneeze at -- especially in this era where professional golf is more global and deep than ever -- but it prompts two questions: Why hasn't Bill Haas done more in majors? And is he the best player never to have contended in a major?

Haas has come to this win total and $21.5 million in earnings (NOT including a $10 million FedEx Cup bonus) before turning 33. That means he could just be entering the prime of his career, but still, his results in golf's four biggest events are puzzling.

Related: The 11 best golfers without a major championship

Haas has played in 21 major championships and has never finished in the top 10. The closest he's ever come to contending was holding the 18-hole lead at the 2014 Masters. He shot 78 on Friday, though, and wound up T-20. Only twice in those 21 starts has Haas bettered that performance with a T-12 at the 2011 PGA Championship and a T-19 at the 2012 British Open.

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Haas actually has plenty of company when it comes to his ratio of tour titles to major titles. He's the 80th golfer to have six or more wins without a major and he's not even close to Harry Cooper's record of 31 victories without a major. But Haas' history is unusual because unlike Cooper and the overwhelming majority of those 79 other players, Haas has never come close to even contending at a major, let alone winning one.

Of the 80 players on that list, only four never finished in the top five at a major championship: Joey Sindelar, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Willie Klein, and Wayne Levi. Only one of those other golfers also never once finished in the top 10: Levi.

In fact, Levi is the gold standard for unusual track records in major championships. He had twice as many wins (12) as Haas currently does and even won the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award in 1990. Yet his best finish in a major was a T-11 at the 1984 Masters and he only had four top 25s in 33 major starts.

More typical is someone like Bill's dad, Jay. The nine-time PGA Tour winner never won a major, but he had T-3s at the 1995 Masters and 1999 PGA Championship, as well as a T-4 at the 1995 U.S. Open. "I think he deserved a major in his career as good as he played," Bill said of his dad in 2014. 

But so far, Bill, hasn't followed in his father's footsteps when it comes to those close calls -- which is probably why his name never seems to come up in the "Who is the best player without a major?" debate despite the fact Haas has played on the last two U.S. Presidents Cup teams and has as many PGA Tour titles as Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood combined. Unlike those guys, Haas has never been higher than No. 12 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Related: Lee Westwood saves a man from drowning in Barbados

Of course, some might argue that winning the Tour Championship and claiming the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus like Haas did in 2011 is a major in its own right. But until he at least shows up on a final-round leader board at one of golf's four biggest tournaments, we're going to continue to wonder why.

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Business

Back9Network eliminating 35 full-time positions, sues former CEO

The Back9Network, the new golf lifestyle channel that made its debut Aug. 29 on DirecTV, is eliminating 35 full-time positions, the Hartford Business Journal reported.

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CEO Charles Cox called it "a thoughtful strategy that will allow the network to remain competitive and produce engaging content while growing the golf lifestyle," in a statement provided the Hartford Business Journal.

Meanwhile, the network is suing its former CEO Jamie Bosworth, according to the Hartford Courant, which reported that he "expressed doubts about the company's ability to succeed to investors and potential investors while he was leading the company -- and continued doing so after he left, the company says in a Superior Court lawsuit against him."

The suit claims that the network sent him a cease-and-desist letter in October, but that "he continued to criticize the company's management and programming," the Courant reported.

Ten days ago, the Courant reported that the network had "delayed payroll payments to some employees last week but made the payments on Friday and remains on track in its growth strategy, a company official said."

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News & Tours

Missing Links: Recalling a Tiger heckler with a gun he used to take his own life

Stories of interest you might have missed…

At the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 1999, Tiger Woods had a heckler, an Air Force veteran, who, it turned out, was carrying a gun in his fanny pack. “It was the same one he used to end his life six years later,” columnist Paolo Boivin of the Arizona Republic writes in recalling the incident and the aftermath.

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A Tiger Woods' heckler at Phoenix Open being apprehended (Getty Images)

“The Phoenix Open’s success can be instructive for the PGA Tour as it thinks about life without Mickelson…and Woods,” Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic writes. “The Phoenix Open is the rare event on Tour that has thrived without Woods…That’s one reason representatives from several PGA Tour events will be in Scottsdale this week. Their mission: Find out why the Phoenix Open attracts huge crowds, younger audiences and is a transcendent sporting event in the Valley.”

***

European Tour players received this memo recently: “In recent weeks, there have been a number of occasions where players have not played a provisional ball when their original ball has not been found. Some of those players when asked for the reason why …stated they were unsure that they were entitled to do so.” Geoff Ogilvy floated an idea, recounted in this Scotsman column on the plague of slow play by John Huggan: “It would be interesting if part of gaining a tour card were passing a basic rules test.”

***

Matt Kuchar is a member of the Vintage Club in Indian Wells, Calif., and sounds like a member of the Chamber of Commerce for the region. “This is what people move to Palm Springs for, is weather like this,” Kuchar said in this story by Larry Bohannan of the Desert Sun on how tour players’ enjoy coming to the desert. “I’ve really enjoyed coming here, I spent a lot of time here, and this is one of the reasons is the fantastic weather, the great golf that exists.”

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