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News & Tours

Sorry, Tiger Woods. Tim Finchem isn't inclined to give you any special treatment


By Sam Weinman


The No. 125 ranked player in the FedEx Cup points standing right now is Charlie Beljan. That's worth noting because somewhere in the secret PGA Tour commissioner's handbook there is probably a clause that says you're not allowed to outwardly root for Tiger Woods more than you would for Charlie Beljan.

Related: Tiger gives a lesson to Lindsey and wins at mini-golf

Or something like that. The point is that as the FedEx Cup Playoffs draw nearer, Tim Finchem faces the very real prospect of the tour's prized playoff series being contested without the tour's most marketable player. Currently 215th in the FedEx Cup standings with just 45 points, Woods likely needs a win either this week at Firestone or next week in the PGA Championship to qualify for the Barclays, the first leg of the playoffs, in three weeks at Ridgewood Country Club.

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Barring a dramatic Woods resurgence, it would be the third time in the eight-year history of the FedEx Cup that the 14-time major champion would be absent from the entirety of the playoffs. In one of those years, 2008, Woods was unable to play after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery. But in 2011 and again this year, he returned to competition in mid-summer after missing an extended period due to injury, and thus had a limited window to earn points.

Would the tour ever consider a medical exemption into the playoffs for elite players like Woods?

Finchem mulled that question over for only a brief moment on Tuesday.

"Ah, no," Finchem said at a press conference to promote the Barclays. "And the reason I say that is the competition is set up, it's not just a playoff event. It's a yearlong competition. Then you would say, I would have to start fiddling with field sizes. So it kind of muddies up the comparative nature of the competition."

So those are the breaks for Woods. Or maybe not. There is, after all, the chance that he earns his way into the field playing two golf courses where he's won before (eight times at Firestone, once, in the 2000 PGA Championship, at Valhalla). Maybe the commissioner won't be outwardly rooting, but you can bet he'll be watching closely.

Related: The top 10 moments in FedEx Cup history

"He's got a couple tournaments coming up where he's won on both golf courses and one on which he's won a lot of times (eight)," Finchem said. "So I'm not one of those who are pessimistic about his immediate or long term future in the sport."

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News & Tours

After winning the British Open, Rory McIlroy decides to "move on and move forward"

By Dave Shedloski

AKRON, Ohio -- With a third major title secured and the chance to return to No. 1 looming this week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Rory McIlroy said he hasn't dwelled much on his British Open victory two weeks ago at Royal Liverpool, even if it was the most coveted major for the young man from Northern Ireland.

"I've obviously had a bit of time to reflect after the Open and everything, but just decided I wanted to move on and move forward," McIlroy said Tuesday at Firestone C.C.

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Well, yes, he's moving forward -- after quaffing a few beverages from the claret jug, taking it out on the town in Belfast with his friends and capturing pictures of it in various locations, including, for some reason, atop the toilet.

Related: Rory and Jagermeister: An unauthorized history

Yeah, he's had his fun. But now McIlroy gets back to business, hoping to ride his newfound momentum to further conquests starting at this limited-field World Golf Championship. The following week is the year's final major, the PGA Championship at Valhalla GC, where he'll surely be the prohibitive favorite. And the FedEx Cup Playoffs and Race to Dubai remain in the not too distant future, with the Ryder Cup sandwiched between them.

"There's a lot of big tournaments left this year, a lot of golf left to play, and a lot of things I still want to achieve," said McIlroy, 25, who has risen to No. 2 in the world behind Adam Scott. "World No. 1 is a big goal of mine. I've never won a World Golf Championship. That's another thing. I've got three majors but never won one of these. That's another thing I'd like to knock off the list. So there's a lot of stuff still to play for."

Not that there hasn't been stuff to play for in the past, but McIlroy hasn't always played to his potential. Accompanying his occasional hot streaks, like his burst in the FedEx Cup playoffs in 2012 following his record eight-stroke PGA victory at Kiawah Island, have been notable periods of indifference.

At Hoylake, Tiger Woods noted, bluntly, that his fellow Nike teammate has lacked consistency, a hallmark of Woods' career. "When he gets it going, he gets it going. When it gets going bad, it gets going real bad," Woods said. "If you look at his results, he's kind of that way. Very similar to what Phil [Mickelson] does. He has his hot weeks and he has his weeks where he's off. It's no right way or wrong way. But it's just the nature of how he plays."

McIlroy doesn't disagree. "I think for me it's all a mental thing," he said. "If I can get myself in the right frame of mind week in, week out, and give myself some little mental triggers throughout the week, like I did at the Open Championship, then, hopefully, I'll have a lot more of those 'on' weeks. . . . But definitely, if you said there's one thing I'd like to get better at, it would just be a little bit more consistency in there. Hopefully, I'm on the right path to try and do that."

He already is, frankly, having not finished outside the top 25 in 10 PGA Tour starts this year while adding a victory at the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship in May following his celebrated breakup with his fiance, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.

Related: 19 things you should know about Rory McIlroy

With three legs of the career Grand Slam in his possession, McIlroy can set his sights higher, although that is nothing new. He has talked in the past about going to bed thinking of golf and waking up thinking of the game. It's a mentality he'll continue to embrace in the hopes of embellishing his record.

"It's what I've always done. It's what I've always known. That's been my life since I was sort of 10 years old was golf," he said. "I think it's just waking up every morning with that drive to want to get better and to want to be the best. I talked about going to bed thinking about it as well, it's more about reflecting on what you've done that day. 'Have you become a better golfer than you were when you woke up that morning, or have you maybe not gotten better but made a step in the right direction to become a better player?' Yeah, that's the place that I'm in right now, and that's my main objective and my main focus. I feel like I'm playing well. I just want to continue to keep doing that."

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News & Tours

Fans once again can pick players' poison at the PGA Championship

By Mike Stachura

A year ago when the PGA of America offered fans the opportunity to choose the hole location at Oak Hill's 15th green for the final round of the PGA Championship, it ushered in a new era of fan interaction in tournament golf. It also gave a chance for the public to confound the best golfers in the world.

loop-pga-valhalla-16-hole-location-518.jpgThe PGA of America is doing it again this year at Valhalla, offering fans four choices on the brutish par-4 16th (above).

Voting runs through Aug. 9 at picktheholechallenge.pga.com. And if the early trend holds, fans seem to want to test the best under pressure. The current top choice is the diabolical back-left location.

Here's a PGA of America video highlighting the four choices, with commentary from Jack Nicklaus, who designed Valhalla, and Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America's course set-up guru.


Photo: Gary Kellner/The PGA of America via Getty Images

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News & Tours

Rory McIlroy's house in Florida looks amazing

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

There aren't many professions where a 25-year-old -- no matter how good he is at what he does -- can afford to buy a multi-million dollar mansion. Golf happens to be one of those professions, and when you're as a good as Rory McIlroy, buying a big house is less of a treat and more of a foregone conclusion.

As part of a summer-long marketing campaign, Nike photographed Rory McIlroy at his more than 15,000-square-foot, $9.5 million house in Jupiter, Fla. The house has six bedrooms and nine bathrooms, according to Back 9 Network, who first spotted Nike's campaign.


You may remember last August, as part of a different marketing campaign for Bose, Rory gave a quick tour of his house and talked about why he likes living there.

"Walking through the door, I'm thinking, 'I can't believe I actually live in a place like this,' " Rory says in the video. "It's something I really appreciate and is something I definitely don't take for granted."


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Travel

Deal of the Week: Stay and play at Arcadia Bluffs

By Matthew Rudy

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Northern Michigan's Arcadia Bluffs has million-dollar views from its position high above the Lake Michigan shoreline. Now, it can be had for a good bit less.

Normally, you'd pay $180 to play one of Golf Digest's Top 100 public courses in prime summer season. But with Arcadia's Sunday Night Special, you can book a Sunday tee time and stay overnight afterward in one of the 15 guest suites on the second floor of the clubhouse for $270 per person, double occupancy. That's $140 off the regular rate, and good through Sept. 28. The deal also includes breakfast for two in the Sunset Grill, which has panoramic views of the lake both inside and out on the patio. Stop by after your round as well, as it's perennially listed as one of the best 19th holes in golf for the view, big-screen televisions and comprehensive list of craft beer, bourbon, scotch and wine.    

Arcadia's front nine plays like a sweeping Scottish links, with the lake tumbling into view as you crest a rise on the fourth hole. The back nine tightens up through gullies protected by mature heather and deep bunkers. If you turn to your left on the lakeside 12th tee box and hit a ball, it wouldn't make landfall for 60 miles, in Kewaunee, Wis. Four of Arcadia's most severe greens -- the seventh, 10th, 17th and 18th -- were given facelifts over the winter to make them slightly more accommodating. The 10th was a particularly nasty welcome to the back nine, with a false front and horizontal ridge on either side of a giant sod-faced bunker.     

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News & Tours

The Grind: Langer laps the field, Lindsey and Paulina get golf lessons, and Tiger wins at mini-golf

By Alex Myers

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we'll have two of whatever Bernhard Langer is having. No disrespect to Tom Watson, but since turning 55 he's looked like a senior golfer even if he hasn't played like one. Langer looks like he could be a stunt double in a James Bond film. The German impressed everyone this past week with his latest age-defying performance, but there's plenty of other stuff to talk about. Let's channel our inner Langer and kick it into gear.

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WE'RE BUYING

Bernhard Langer: What's the all-time mark for shooting your age? Because Bernhard is going to shatter that eventually. But first, let's stick to his latest record. Langer won the Senior British Open by 13 shots. Yep, he won a major championship by 13 shots! 13! Martin Kaymer's eight-shot win at the U.S. Open isn't even the biggest blowout in a major by a German this year anymore. Langer turns 57 in August, about a month before the Ryder Cup. Is it possible that European captain Paul McGinley, nearly 10 years his junior, will put Langer on the team? He should -- just in case he ever runs into Bernhard in a dark alley.

Related: Pictures of PGA Tour wives and girlfriends

Tim Clark: The South African seemed destined for a bunch of PGA Tour wins after he broke through for his first at the 2010 Players, but a bad elbow has held him back since. Nothing held him back at the RBC Canadian Open, though, as he fired back-nine 30 on Sunday to finally claim win No. 2.

President Obama's golf balls: Regardless of what you think of his politics, we think we can all agree that these personalized golf balls (via Instagram user @larrydoh) are pretty badass:

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Of course, losing one in the woods off the first tee isn't as badass. . .

Female golfers from Spain: We're still trying to figure out this confusing new event, but we know the team of Beatriz Recari, Azahara Munoz, Belen Mozo and Carlota Ciganda won the International Crown. We also know that Recari and Mozo were both semifinalists in our Hottest Golfers Contest last year. Viva Espana!

WE'RE SELLING

Female golfers from the U.S.: The Americans were the No. 1 seed at the International Crown, but they certainly didn't play like it. On Day 1, the U.S. was swept by eighth-seeded Taiwan, and the Americans wound up not being among the five teams that qualified for Sunday's singles. Afterward, Stacy Lewis said the format needed to be tweaked. Wait, she could actually understand the format? OK, now we're impressed.

Male golfers from Russia: Did you know that former No. 1 tennis player Yevgeney Kafelnikov is arguably his country's best golfer? Nine Russians played in the European Tour's M2M Russian Open and none made the cut. Zero is the same number of Russians who have earned any Official World Golf Ranking points in the past two years. Kafelnikov shot 83-89. It's not good when your scores resemble speeds of a good second serve.

Jim Furyk: It's hard to feel bad for a guy who has banked more than $4 million playing golf in 2014, but as good as the 44-year-old Furyk has played the last few years, he hasn't won since the 2010 Tour Championship. Of course, that victory also won him the FedEx Cup and earned him a $10 million bonus . . . why do we feel so bad for him again? It's tough to explain, but we do. With his runner-up in Canada, Furyk now has 28 career second-place finishes and just 16 wins.

Related: Jim Furyk is really, REALLY good at finishing runner-up

Long putters: Sorry to be a downer, but both Langer and Clark's victories might not be possible in about 16 months when the anchoring ban goes into effect. Langer says he plans on using his long putter as long as possible. Good luck trying to pry it from his steely grip.

ON TAP

The PGA Tour heads to Akron for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, aka that event Tiger Woods wins every year. Woods won by seven shots a year ago for his fifth PGA Tour win of 2013. That seems like ancient history, doesn't it?

Related: 15 undeniable truths from the British Open

Random tournament fact: If the crowds at Firestone seem to be in a better mood this year, we're guessing it's because Akron's own LeBron James recently announced he's returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK 

-- Phil Knight's ultimate dream of LeBron James caddieing for Tiger Woods will come true: 1 million-to-1 odds 

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

-- Bernhard Langer will be a Ryder Cup captain's pick: 25-to-1 odds

-- Bernhard Langer would be useful for Europe if a locker-room brawl broke out against the Americans: LOCK

THIS WEEK IN PAULINA GRETZKY-DUSTIN JOHNSON JASON DUFNER-AMANDA DUFNER-LITTLE KID PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

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This adorable photo came from the Dufners recent visit to an Alabama Boys & Girls Club. The Jason Dufner Charitable Foundation is "on a mission to end childhood hunger in Lee County." Good stuff, guys!

Related: DJ & Paulina's magical year in pictures

THIS WEEK IN GOLF WAGS PLAYING GOLF

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There's Dustin and Paulina! On the same day Paulina posted this photo, DJ, pictured in bare feet and holding a drink, withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone, citing "personal reasons." Paulina called him the "best caddy ever." Is he thinking about changing careers?

Related: The week in Instagrams

Not to be outdone, Lindsey Vonn posted this photo instead of a video (she's not ready to show off her swing just yet), but said "good thing I have an amazing teacher!" Aww.

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VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK

A group of guys who go on a yearly golf buddies trip has made one of the greatest parody music videos of all time. Adding to the impressive feat is that the song they chose was Queen's iconic "Bohemian Rhapsody." Enjoy.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"We had a good little time. We toured a little bit and even played a little putt-putt, which I won every single time." -- Tiger Woods on spending time with his son Charlie after the British Open. Who says he's lost his competitive drive?!

THIS AND THAT

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Tiger Woods will play in Notah Begay's charity tournament. Woods has played in the event four times previously, but this is the latest indication that his back is feeling good. . . . Oregon star QB and Heisman Trophy hopeful Marcus Mariota will take only golf and yoga this fall while concentrating on football. Hey, at least he's likely to go to class. . . . Taylor Pendrith is golf's latest long-driving sensation. He can hit a golf ball a LOT farther than you can. . . . Apparently, Arizona makes a "Soda Shaq." Something tells us Arnold Palmer has nothing to worry about.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

Does Tiger frequently fist pump when he plays mini-golf?

More confusing: International Crown or FedEx Cup?

Could Bernhard Langer take Chuck Norris in a fight?

-- 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 Challenge #20: Learn Your Lesson

By Jeff Ritter

One of the more predictable behaviors you'll find woven into the fabric of the game is the general moaning and malaise associated with the completion of one's round. This action usually begins when the player walks off the 18th green into the golf shop or 19th hole and someone asks the question, "How'd it go?" Normally, the kind of answers you hear are things like, "If I could only putt," "Pour me a drink," or "At least I'm not dead!" Think about it. How often have you heard a positive response to this question?

Interestingly enough, kids and adults respond to this question quite differently. That is, until the adults poison the kids' developing minds and condition them to believe "When you don't get what you want, everything is miserable!"

A good friend of mine who's a performance psychologist actually conducted an experiment on this phenomenon. He simply divided a legal pad into two columns. One side said "kids" and the other said "adults." He waited on the 18th green of his home course one Saturday afternoon and asked each group a simple question: "How'd it go?" Based upon the response, he would insert a (+) or (-) into the column associated with each group. As discussed above, the responses from the adults were overwhelmingly negative, whereas the responses from the kids were nearly entirely positive.

Kids are wired to play, have fun and seek out things that are amazing, so much so, they seldom notice or even remember when things aren't going their way. Comments from the kids were things like, "I hit my ball so far on No. 10 it went in the water!" or "I finally saw that massive turtle everyone's been talking about ... it was HUGE!" The comments were more rooted in the joy associated with believing their game was developing or things not even associated with the act of playing golf at all.

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The next time you tee it up, remember that golf is really challenging and you're not ALWAYS going to get what you want. Remember to "PLAY" and celebrate when you pull off amazing stuff. A great drive, perfect chip, hammering home a long, snaking putt. Anything, as long as you give yourself credit for doing at least one thing well. At the completion of your round, shock your buddies and tell them about something that was fun or cool about being out there. Trust me, it's OK to do this.

After acknowledging the good stuff, ask yourself the question, "What's today's lesson?" This is where you determine what area of your game needs some work before you head out and go after it again.

If you're not having much fun these days, this challenge is really important and a great reminder of why you're out there to begin with. Prove you have what it takes to find a little joy within the struggle and you can count this week's challenge as complete.

BENEFITS
Become a more efficient practicer
Elevate your performance mindset
More fun

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
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Three Golf Digest editors show improvement, feeding speculation they're not working hard enough

Editor's Note: Three Golf Digest editors are chronicling their golf season, with the free Golf Digest Handicap tool charting their progress along the way. You can see previous installments of the series here.

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Keely Levins (above)

Golf Digest Handicap: 4.1 (down from 6.0)

My Goal: To get rid of some extraneous moving parts in my swing, placing the focus on efficiency. Start making up shots around the green (instead of losing them). And finally, qualify for the U.S. Women's Amateur.

What’s working: My swing feels shorter. I’ve stepped away from the ball, which makes it harder for me to start the takeaway with my hips. That move opened me up too much, and created too much room for my arms to turn, allowing them to get past parallel at the top (OK, sometimes WAY past parallel). I like where my short game is going. I have three drills for chipping and putting that I rotate through. The result: I’m feeling more confident around the greens. (I actually have a decent idea of where the ball is going when I have a wedge in my hands!)

What still needs work: I played in that U.S. Am qualifier. Unfortunately my front nine was not good. Quick swings, missed greens, unforced errors. If I took what I shot on the back nine and doubled it, I would have qualified. But alas, that isn’t how it works. So now the goal becomes figuring how to put a full round together. And that’s going to come from more time at the range, getting a better handle on my distances, and keeping my swing speed in check -- no matter how excited I get.

Sam Weinman (below, video)

Golf Digest Handicap: 14.2 (down from 16.7)

My goal: The plan was to either get down to a single-digit handicap by the end of the summer -- or at least get close enough where saying my goal out loud would not be met with laughter.

Related: The 100-Day War: Our Editors Are Making Progress?

What's working: I used to think of my right elbow chicken wing as an aesthetic flaw that was otherwise inconsequential. What I've learned is that by tucking my elbow into my side, I'm able to turn and swing without fear of a hook. The result has been much more consistent ball-striking, and regular scores in the 80s.


What still needs work: I still feel like I'm working too hard for pars and bogeys, which is a function of me not hitting enough greens. Though my ball-striking has certainly been crisper, I'm still a little loose with my irons, which I suspect is an alignment issue. It certainly would help if I was a little longer off the tee. Right now I'm decidedly average.

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Steve Hennessey (above)

Golf Digest Handicap: 18.5 (down from 25.3)

My goal: I entered this summer a 25-handicapper, with a goal of shooting in the low 90s consistently. I’ve never made “goals” to improve my game, so this was a new concept to me. I made an effort to eliminate double and triple bogeys from my scores, which I’ve accomplished so far this summer. This challenge finally forced me to focus on fixing my inconsistencies.

What’s working: My golf swing has resembled more of a baseball swing since I picked up golf my senior year of high school. My backswing was infamously short the last seven years. I would make a practice swing with great extension back and through the ball, but once I made a real swing, it looked completely different. In my head I was making a full swing, but I barely was bringing the club above my shoulders.

Great advice from Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher Mike Adams and Golf Digest’s own Jeff Patterson gave me great swing thoughts: Feel like my right hand was bringing the club up to the top. (Before, my left hand was controlling the club.) Also, I’m finally making a full turn behind the ball, focusing on turning my right pocket away from the target. It’s worked so far. I’ve really come on strong -- I’ve gone from a 25.6 to a 18.5 in less than two months. And I shot my career-low score -- an 86 at beautiful Seaview Resort’s Bay course, where the LPGA ShopRite Classic is held (photo, above) -- two weeks ago. Let’s just say I’m not as disappointed with my game as I was on May 30th.

What still needs work: Put a 5- or 7-iron in my hands, and it’s a guessing game. Adding a 6-hybrid, however, has been a money decision. If every approach shot was 170 yards, I’d be making pars left and right. So long irons and not having a fairway wood are still leaving gaps in my game, which I could fill to shave some more strokes off my game.

Sign up for your Golf Digest Handicap.


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Celebrity

Oregon star QB Marcus Mariota is taking only golf and yoga next semester

By Keely Levins

Marcus Mariota may be one of the top prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft, but the senior quarterback at the University of Oregon and I actually have more in common than you'd think: he's taking two classes this fall to complete his degree. If you take my thesis out of the equation, I took two classes during a semester of my senior year, too. We're basically twins!  Only Mariota's two classes are Golf and Yoga. Yep, Golf and Yoga. That's it.

I was pretty impressed with Mariota's class choices, so I looked up Oregon's course catalog to see what a semester of golf looks like. First of all, the course catalog for the Physical Education department is huge.

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(Photo: Getty Images)

There are five different Golf offerings Mariota could be taking: Golf I, Golf II, Golf III, Golf Swing Exercise, or Men's Golf. Assuming he's a beginner and taking Golf I, his semester will look like this: "Introduction to the game. The majority of class time is at the driving range learning swing techniques for distance, pitching, chipping and putting, rules, etiquette, and golf vocabulary. Includes 4 free rounds of play during the term. Students must provide their own transportation." Four free rounds of play?! Unreal. That's basically saying  your homework is to go and play golf. For free. At least four times. 

But then I started thinking, what if Mariota isn't a beginner? What if he's trying to hone his game this semester? Golf Swing Exercise is a course where you learn to "Improve your golf swing in the off season via swing specific exercises." This class seems like a logical choice for an elite athlete. I don't think the Heisman Trophy hopeful would have trouble with any exercises. 

Regardless of which Golf class Mariota is taking this upcoming semester, we're sure his teammates are glad he'll have plenty of time to commit to football.


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News & Tours

You probably didn't notice . . . Golf's latest long-driving sensation is a 23-year-old Canadian

By Alex Myers

Meet Taylor Pendrith. The 23-year-old Canadian is 6-foot-1, 205 pounds and he can hit a golf ball farther than you can. A LOT farther.

Pendrith made his PGA Tour debut at last week's Canadian Open and finished T-43 to grab low amateur honors. The recent Kent State graduate garnered attention for an opening 65, but he turned more heads for how he attacked Royal Montreal GC.

Related: Jim Furyk is really, REALLY good at finishing runner-up

On Thursday, Pendrith posted the four longest drives of anyone in the field. He wound up with seven of the longest 30 drives for the week, and finished second overall in driving distance to Patrick Rodgers. When counting all drives and not just the two holes per day that are officially measured at PGA Tour events, Pendrith was first with an average of 306.9 yards.

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If those numbers seem relatively low, that's because hitting driver at the tight track wasn't always the best plan of action. But Pendrith managed to poke a 365-yard drive on the eighth hole in the first round and hit 16 drives of at least 330 yards over four days.

Before being a two-time Mid-American Conference Golfer of the Year while at Kent State, Pendrith won the Canadian Junior Long Drive Championship with a 349-yard clout and had his ball speed measured at 190 mph (The average for a PGA Tour pro in 2013 was 167). The Ontario native's biggest win to date was a five-shot rout at the 2013 Porter Cup.

Pendrith plans on turning pro in the fall after the circuit of big amateur tournaments conclude. When he does, his prodigious power should make him a crowd favorite -- even when he's not playing in his home country.

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July 28, 2014

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