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News & Tours

Why it's worth watching the Asia-Pacific Amateur this weekend

When the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship was created in 2009 -- dangling the carrot of an invitation into the Masters for the winner -- the belief was that Australian golfers would be the biggest beneficiaries. The presumption came based on the fact that the country had the most developed amateur program among the 30-some nations eligible for participation in the event. Yet in the first five years of the event, golfers from South Korea (Chang-won Han and Chang-woo Lee), Japan (Hideki Matsuyama, twice) and China (Tianlang Guan) have claimed the title or its coveted perk while the men Down Under have been shut out.

loop-antonio-murdaca-518.jpgThat, however, could change this weekend as Australians Antonio Murdaca and Todd Sinnott sit atop the AAC leader board after 36 holes at Royal Melbourne. A 69-68 start from the 19-year-old Murdaca leaves him a stroke ahead of Sinnott, 22, who claimed the first-round lead with an opening 67. Four other Australians -- Ryan Ruffels, Cory Crawford, Jarryd Felton and Geoff Drakeford -- are also within six strokes of the lead.

Betting on an Aussie to pull out the title makes sense given the home-course edge they have playing at Royal Melbourne, the first time the course or country has hosted the championship. That's particularly the case for Sinnott, who is from the Melbourne suburb of Williamstown and has played Royal Melbourne at least 30 times, including the last four years in competition at the Master of the Amateurs event that the course hosts.

The Australian locale makes it convenient for American golf fans to follow the action, with the third and fourth rounds being shown live on ESPNNews from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. EDT Friday and Saturday nights, respectively.

And why should you put in the time for the late-night viewing? The winner is likely somebody you'll see playing over the weekend this coming April at Augusta National. Three of the last five winners of the AAC have made the cut in the Masters the following year. By comparison in that same time frame, no winner of the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Public Links or U.S. Mid-Amateur has made the cut in the same time period.

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Two easy core exercises you can do at home

Many people think of the core as solely the abdomen muscles. But there are literally dozens of muscles that help stabilize the body and allow it to move powerfully and athletically. It's better to think of the core as a belt of muscles that wraps around the body from the hips to the chest. To play golf effectively and safely, you need to train more than just your abs.

Two exercises that work other parts of your core come from former PGA Tour trainer Ralph Simpson (@mostpt). The beauty of these moves is that you can do them in front of the TV or just about anywhere with a comfortable floor. All you need is about five to 10 minutes.

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1. Side planks (three reps, each side, hold for 15 to 60 seconds): These strengthen the obliques, abdomen and hips. They also help prevent lower-back pain and increase your ability to rotate your trunk powerfully when you swing. To avoid injury, make sure your propped arm is stacked directly under your shoulder.


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2. Bird dogs (four reps, each side, hold for 15 to 60 seconds): These strengthen the muscles that support your vertebrae including the erector spinae and the smaller muscles that allow your back to bend and rotate. They also help stabilize the lower back reducing the stress placed on it when you swing a club.

WORLD GOLF FITNESS SUMMIT
The Titleist Performance Institute (@mytpi) is playing host to the fifth World Golf Fitness Summit starting on Sunday in Carlsbad, Calif. The three-day event features lectures from dozens of experts in golf and fitness. Among those speaking this year include former NFL head coach Dick Vermeil, major league baseball pitching coach Tom House, PGA Tour veteran Brad Faxon, strength coach and fitness expert Dr. Charlie Weingroff, and one of my favorite fitness experts, Mike Boyle (@bodybyboyle). Look for a summary of the event next Wednesday and more detailed information over the next few months.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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News & Tours

PGA president Ted Bishop defends Faldo, calls Poulter ‘lil girl’

PGA of America president Ted Bishop, no stranger to controversy, entered another one via Twitter on Thursday, lashing out at Ian Poulter and calling him “lil girl” for comments he made about Nick Faldo in his new autobiography, “No Limits.”

The Tweet has since been deleted, but here's a screenshot: Bishop.jpg

In the midst of the Ryder Cup last month, Faldo, the last losing European Ryder Cup captain, in 2008, called Garcia “useless” in the ’08 matches and said that he had “a bad attitude.”

Poulter wrote, among other things:

"It makes me laugh. Faldo is talking about someone being useless at the 2008 Ryder Cup. That's the Ryder Cup where he was captain. That's the Ryder Cup where the Europe team suffered a heavy defeat.

"And he was captain. So who's useless? Faldo might need to have a little look in the mirror. I have always got on great with Faldo in the past and I have a great deal of respect for everything he has achieved but this feels like sour grapes. It feels like a guy who is still bitter that he lost in 2008.Bishop

"Faldo has lost a lot of respect from players because of what he said. There were plenty of things a lot of the players were unhappy with at Valhalla but none of us criticised him. He may find that begins to change now.”

Poulter has yet to respond to Bishop, but he has responded to other critics of his Faldo comments.

"I guess we can only have opinions if you won a major or 6," he Tweeted.

Bishop has largely been held responsible for selecting Tom Watson as U.S. Ryder Cup captain.

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Celebrity

Bill Murray's newest pair of outrageous golf pants have Ellen DeGeneres' face on them (really)

Bill Murray's outlandish wardrobe has become part of his celebrity persona, one he likes to push the limits with whether making public appearances promoting his movies or out on a golf course enjoying his favorite pursuit. If Murray could wear a Jackson Pollock painting while on the links, we're guessing he'd sign-up quicker than you could say, "So I got that going for me, which is nice."

Recall these beauties he wore at a celebrity outing during the 2012 Ryder Cup: 

loop-bill-murray-pants-518.jpgAnd here he is at a recent AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

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Oh, and another from Pebble. No, we're not sure what this actually is either.

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Knowing full well, then, Murray's penchant for wearing crazy golf outfits, Ellen DeGeneres surprised the famous "Caddyshack" star when he appeared on her talk show to promote his new movie, "St. Vincent." At the end of his segment, she told him she had a gift for him, and then pulled out a pair of modest grey slacks . . . dotted with Ellen's face all over them.

As you can see on the video, Murray played along superbly, trying them over the pants he was already wearing and doing his usual Bill Murray hijinks.

Unlike other actors, who would probably would have tossed the pants in the dumpster once the cameras turned off, we're guessing Murray not only kept this pair but will indeed show up on the first tee some day at a celebrity golf event actually wearing them.

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Video

Watch this guy make the longest four-foot putt ever (you'll see what we mean)

As far as viral stunts go, there is still nothing better than your basic “how did he do that” putt. In this case there are the usual YouTube commenters suggesting fakery and, more legitimately, gripes about the vertical framing.

Either way, according to the golfinguniverse.org posted clip, “Greg” reached Elie Golf Club’s long, difficult par-4 ninth green and had a four-footer for birdie. But because golfers never want to take the easy way out he belted his putt up a slope and appeared to cover about 100 feet of fescue green to make his birdie. 

Looks real to us:


 

As a side note, The Golf House Club, Elie, as it’s formally known, sits in the “East Neuk” of Fife and is one one of Scotland’s quintessential “hidden gems.” The 6,273-yard course features a tremendous golf experience offering stellar ocean views, a connection to the quaint town of Earlsferry and the kind of satisfying challenge that makes you understand why golf prospered in Scotland.

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Photos

This viral golf photo speaks volumes about the separation of two worlds

Golf often is a place to escape life’s realities, but a Spanish course couldn’t avoid them as it became the backdrop for a dramatic photo making its way around the Internet Thursday.

The image shows several African migrants trying to enter Europe from Morocco by climbing a nearly 20-foot-tall, razor-wire fence adjacent to the Club Campo de Golf in Melilla, Spain. The migrants had been living for months in makeshift campgrounds near the fence, waiting for an opportunity to cross the border and seek asylum as Spanish officers (hidden by the bushes) attempted to keep them from coming over.

The photo was taken by Jose Palazon of the human-rights group PRODEIN, and posted on Twitter.

According to a story in The Guardian, roughly 200 migrants tired to scale the fence with 20 successfully making it over. As many as 70, meanwhile, remained stuck on the fence for several hours.

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Tenuous golf connection

The iPod was introduced 13 years ago, and golfers may have benefited most of all

Thursday marked the 13-year anniversary of Apple's debut of the iPod, and surely your life hasn't been the same since. Remember trying to run with a Discman? It was like carrying around a manhole cover. The Walkman was a little better, but that required you to listen to cassettes, and sometimes your idiot sister taped over your favorite mix with some awful Depeche Mode album.

But the iPod changed all that. It was personal, powerful and, most importantly, highly portable.

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"With iPod, Apple has invented a whole new category of digital music player that lets you put your entire music collection in your pocket and listen to it wherever you go," the late Steve Jobs said when introducing the iPod in 2001.

As it turned out, sometimes that place was the golf course. While the idea of practicing or playing while listening to music was not born with the iPod -- Richard Zokol earned the nickname "Disco Dick" in the early 1980s when he listened to a Walkman during tournament play -- the iPod opened the idea up to the masses. Now golfers everywhere could tune in/out, while at least practicing (Zokol was an extreme in listening while competing). The notion of the ideal golf "playlist" was introduced. Eventually in 2007 came the iPhone, which in most cases rendered the standalone iPod obsolete, but the same concept endured.

And golfers have taken advantage ever since, if no other reason, than as a means of avoiding interactions with pesky reporters. 

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Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: The World Golf Hall of Fame's Grand Opening 40 years ago in Pinehurst

After a one-year hiatus to revamp its selection process -- creating a 16-member Selection Commission to determine inductees -- the World Golf Hall of Fame announced Oct. 15 the four new members who’ll make up the Class of 2015: Laura Davies, David Graham, Mark O’Meara and A.W. Tillinghast.

The news came a little more than a month after the World Golf Hall of Fame first opened its doors -- albeit in a different locale -- on Sept. 11, 1974. The original WGHOF was built in Pinehurst, N.C., adjacent to the resort’s famed No. 2 course. On opening day 40 years ago, President Gerald Ford was present to cut the ribbon and address the assembly who were there to see the inaugural 13 inductees be honored.

loop-throwback-wghof-player-518.jpgLike the initial class that entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939, which had the likes of Ruth, Cobb and Wagner, the WGHOF class recognized golf’s early legends Bobby Jones, Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, Babe Zaharias and Walter Hagen. Enshrinees attending included Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Patty Berg, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Sam Snead.

loop-throwback-wghof-hogan-350.jpgThe creation of the WGHOF had been a long time coming, and officials had high hopes that it would become a mecca for golf visitors. Along with the presence of President Ford and a parachute exhibition by the Golden Knights, the assemblage of eight of the game’s royal legends gave the Hall of Fame an extra-special start. The ceremony was also notable for a rare dressing of Player—the Black Knight—wearing white, and the normally serious Hogan laughing broadly.

But the lure of Pinehurst wasn’t enough, and low attendance, among other issues, forced the hall to close in 1993, having witnessed 71 member inductions. In May 1998, the WGHOF opened in a new location, St. Augustine, Fla., just a high-handicapper’s wedge shot off I-95. It is the main attraction of the World Golf Village, but it’s also still working to find its niche in the golf world. Election of new Hall members had been a major concern in recent years, some feeling the threshold for entry was too easy, allowing popular players who might not have proven their worth for an entirety of their career to be inducted to make the ceremony a must-see event.

The WGHOF now has 146 members, and artifacts from those members alone are enough to provide a significant history of the game. So the WGHOF is putting out great effort to fulfill its mission to “preserve and honor the history of the game of golf and the legacies of those who have made it great.” And the fulfillment of that all started 40 years ago in Pinehurst.

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News & Tours

Tom Watson resurfaces from Ryder Cup exile at the World Series

Longtime Kansas City Royals fan Tom Watson has kept a low profile since his less-than-stellar Ryder Cup captaincy and the ensuing brouhaha over his communication skills. But the Kansas native resurfaced at Game 2 of the World Series Wednesday proudly wearing a classic Royals jacket and the team's alternate white cap, rooting on the team he's supported through thick and thin.

Multiple Tweeters noted the golfing legend's presence but it was a photo with Major League Baseball's Joe Torre that got the most social media traction. It didn't hurt that Anchorman star Paul Rudd and Kansas City Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt joined the shot. Watson undoubtedly left a happy man as the Royals evened the World Series at 1-1 with the San Fransisco Giants after a resounding 7-2 victory.

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Gear & Equipment

Adidas' newest additions to its Tour 360 x shoe line have plenty of tech to talk about

The latest entry to the Tour360 shoe line from Adidas Golf -- the Tour360 x -- features a new outsole and additional cushioning in the midsole for comfort. The Tour360 x's nine-cleat design is intended to increase stability and reduce the shoe's weight.

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Also joining the line is the Tour360 x Boa, which uses a dial on the tongue to adjust for comfort and fit.

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The Tour x ($140) will be available in six colors—three of which: white/silver/black, blue/gray/white and silver/white/black—go on sale Nov. 1. The other three colors will be available in February. The Tour360 x Boa ($180) will be offered in two colors and available Dec. 1.

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