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News & Tours

Aaron Baddeley just made the craziest birdie in golf history. Seriously.

A lot of crazy things happened during the opening round of the Valero Texas Open. PGA Tour pros making huge numbers, struggling to break 90, and even breaking clubs in bunkers.

Related: TPC San Antonio is winning on Day 1 at the Valero Texas Open

But it wasn't all bad.

Aaron Baddeley turned another potential Day 1 disaster into the craziest birdie he or anyone has probably ever made in golf history. On the drivable par-4 17th (playing 336 yards to the pin today), Baddeley yanked his tee shot into the woods. But after taking an unplayable lie, he re-teed and miraculously holed his next shot. Again, from 336 yards. In other words, this is NOT a misprint:

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Baddeley hit driver on both shots, but choked down on his second attempt with the hole playing downwind. The improbable result put him just one shot behind Charley Hoffman after the first round.

"I just thought I'd just hit it straight and so I hit it and started walking and then heard the crowd going nuts," Baddeley said. "I was like, wait, I just made birdie."

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Celebrity

A supermodel with a decent golf swing and a Grammy-winning husband

Adam Levine, front man for the Grammy Award-winning Maroon 5, is an avid golfer who was among those tutored by Hank Haney on the Golf Channel series, “The Haney Project.”

His wife, supermodel Behati Prinsloo (Victoria's Secret, among other accounts), apparently is into the game as well. We’re not sure how her game matches up to his, but her swing looks up to the challenge. She posted this video of herself on her Instagram account, with the caption "when the cat's away the mice will play" (Levine was performing out of the country):

When the cat's away the mice will play 😊 @adamlevine @jbeckmancabo ⛳ᅬ #gulffffff

A video posted by Behati Prinsloo (@behatiprinsloo) on

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Gear & Equipment

Executive shuffle at TaylorMade-adidas Golf

Less than a year after taking over for Mark King as CEO of TaylorMade-adidas Golf, Ben Sharpe has left the company. A company-issued press release Thursday cited "personal reasons" for the departure.

Elevated to company president and CEO is David Abeles, an industry veteran who rejoined the company as president of TaylorMade and Adams at Sharpe's direction Feb. 12. Abeles will report directly to Herbert Hainer, CEO of adidas Group.

This is Abeles third stint at TaylorMade. He started in 1998 as general manager for Asia Pacific, then was promoted to director of sales, North America before spending six years with Acushnet (parent of Titleist/FootJoy) as VP sales and marketing. Abeles returned to TaylorMade in 2008 as executive VP and GM only to leave the company a second time in late 2013.

"David has a proven track record of success and leadership excellence," Hainer said. "I am convinced that David will lead our golf business into the next era of growth."

Hainer has a vested interest in hoping that statement comes true. A Wall Street Journal article from last September stated that, "In meetings with Adidas representatives, large shareholders have criticized the performance of Chief Executive Herbert Hainer, arguing that Mr. Hainer should have reacted faster to the steep slide in U.S. sales at its TaylorMade golf brand, according to people present at the meetings."

Another WSJ article published today noted that Adidas' stock price fell 40 percent in 2014 and that it was seeking to bring products to market at a more rapid pace. The article detailed that Adidas reported 2014 net profit of 490 million Euros, down from 787 million Euros the year before, on sales worth 14.5 billion Euros.

When Abeles rejoined TaylorMade in February, Sharpe stated: "We now have the executive talent to execute the game plan we have established for long-term success."

That success, if achieved, will ironically happen with Abeles, not Sharpe at the helm. 

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News & Tours

The carnage continues at TPC San Antonio as Scott Stallings makes an 11

Earlier on Thursday we told you about the travails of D.A. Points at the Valero Texas Open, but he is far from the only PGA Tour player struggling mightily in the opening round at TPC San Antonio. At one point, none of the 70 players on the course at the time were under par.

We're calling it "Greg Norman's revenge."

Related: America's 75 toughest golf courses

Scott Stallings became the latest victim of the Shark's tough track -- a wind advisory in San this morning certainly isn't helping -- with an 11 on the par-5 eighth hole. PGA Tour Shot Tracker shows us how it all played out:

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That's still five fewer shots than what it took Kevin Na to finish the ninth hole here in his opening round in 2011, but there's still a lot of golf to play on Thursday. That 16 could be within reach, after all.

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Courses & Travel

A 42-hour trip through eight countries for a round of golf (yes, golfers are nuts)

Golfers are nuts, as we know from the motto they have appropriated from the U.S. Postal Service: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep golfers from their appointed rounds.

Nor a volcano, as it turns out.

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(Getty Images)

On Throwback Thursday, the blog at the St. Andrews Links website recalls how a trio of golfers from Sweden with a tee time on the Old Course at St. Andrews had their flight canceled as ash from a volcano that erupted in Iceland disrupted air traffic throughout Scotland and across Northern Europe in the spring of 2010. They were not deterred.

“Their journey included a drive from Sweden to Denmark and ferry ride from Denmark to Germany,” the blog post said. “They then drove through Europe to Calais [France] where they boarded a second ferry to Dover [England] and finally a ten hour drive from Dover to St Andrews.”

It was a 42-hour trip that encompassed eight countries (Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, England and Scotland) for a four-hour round of golf.

To play the Old Course, no further explanation necessary.

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Weird Golf News

Nebraska councilwoman wins battle against ban on feminine-hygiene ads at local golf courses

A ban on feminine-hygiene ads at city-run golf courses in Lincoln, Neb., has been overturned thanks to the work of a city councilwoman, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

The report says Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird stumbled on the ban when reading the agreement with the company, Bench Craft Co., that supplies Lincoln's golf courses with scorecards, course guides, benches, ball washers and display boards. In the agreement, Bench Craft can sell advertising, but Lincoln has a long list of banned substances.

Related: Let's all help to catch this golf club thief

On that list are things you'd expect like tobacco or alcohol, as well as nothing graphic and nothing political. But what jumped out to Baird was the prohibition of advertising feminine hygiene products or contraceptives. Baird then convinced the council to remove the ban.

"The city really doesn't need to be signaling to women and young girls that this is anything to be embarrassed about," Baird said. "They certainly don't need another . . . reason to be self conscious about their bodies."

Well said. So if you're a guy playing golf in Lincoln and you happen to come across a Playtax ad, don't make a big deal out of it, OK?

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News & Tours

D.A. Points absolutely butchered the first and third holes at TPC San Antonio, but he's still no Kevin Na

D.A. Points found the left side of the fairway with his opening shot of the Valero Texas Open, but that was the extent of his good start at TPC San Antonio. Points flew the green with his approach, and then, well, let's just say he struggled with a couple of bunker shots before struggling with a short putt.

Related: Meet the WAGs of the PGA Tour

Here's what the entire hole looked like on PGA Tour's Shot Tracker:

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And here's a closer look at how Points opened with a triple bogey despite a good tee shot:

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Of course, when it comes to blow-up holes in these parts, Kevin Na is still the king. In the opening round of the 2011 Valero, Na made a 16(!) on the par-4 ninth hole. Here's a look back at that nightmare:

So cheer up, D.A. It could be worse. Much, much worse.

UPDATE: Perhaps, we spoke too soon. After bogeying the second hole, Points did this on No. 3:

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That's a quadruple bogey to go with a triple bogey through three holes, but 7+7 still doesn't equal Na's 16 on one hole.

With windy conditions, the already difficult TPC San Antonio is playing particularly tough on Thursday. Still, this is quite an unusual scorecard from a PGA Tour winner:

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Style

Robert Rock is wearing an interesting sweater at the Trophee Hassan II

Robert Rock, long regarded as the man with the best hair in golf, is apparently trying to make a name for himself in the sweater department. He busted out this number on Thursday at the European Tour's Trophee Hassan II event.


What do you think? Too jazzy? 

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Throwback Thursday

Peter Thomson's 1985 Senior Tour season remains remarkable

If the late Billy Casper is considered an adjunct member of The Big Three, the three-time major champion had an international counterpart in Peter Thomson. While the less flashy Casper could never seem to escape the wake created by the Arnold Palmer-Gary Player-Jack Nicklaus juggernaut, Thomson's problem with breaking in was a matter of geography. As an Australian considered a part-time player on the PGA Tour in the 1950s and '60s, Thomson existed in a parallel universe to American fans who, at that media-lite time, were rarely exposed to foreign stars.

Born just 18 days before Palmer, Thomson won an impressive 61 victories on the Australian and European tours. Like Player, his game traveled well. He won five British Opens, including three straight beginning in 1954. However, he won just one of the five after Palmer and other American stars had "rediscovered" the British Open in 1960 and began playing it regularly.

loop-peter-thomson-putting-350.jpgBy the time senior tour golf came around in 1980, Thomson was on the verge of one final show of his playing powers. Thirty years ago this month he started one of one of the greatest seasons in senior golf. Thomson won twice on the Senior PGA Tour in 1984, including the PGA Seniors. He then blitzed through 1985 with nine victories, still the most wins in a season on the Champions Tour, only matched by Hale Irwin in 1997. You could make the case, though, that Thomson's nine wins hold a more impressive historical edge because he won them in the year he turned 56 and Irwin won nine the year he turned 52.

The first of Thomson's 1985 victories came on March 17 when he shot a final-round 69 to edge Casper and Palmer by a shot at the Vintage Invitational at Indian Wells, Calif.

The monumental season was a dose of redemption for Thomson, whose low, running ball was more useful on bouncy courses, hence the Open victories and his lone PGA Tour win, the 1956 Texas Open. He was dogged by the stigma of being unable to win in America. But the record shows he finished in the top 10 for a third of his PGA Tour starts, and his lack of U.S. victories truly could be chalked up to his game, which was not designed for lengthy power courses but for a thinking man's layout. He was not an overpowering player, preferring to put a straight ball in play rather than smash it. He said, "Golf is like tennis. The game doesn't really start until the serve gets in."

Thomson's 1985 season showed a golfer in full vigor, solid in all aspects, his brisk playing and strategic thinking a showcase for efficiency. He has always been highly regarded as an articulate golf intellectual, sought out for commentary on golf developments but able to speak on a variety of nongolf topics. He's been a contributing golf writer since the 1950s, TV commentator, president of the Australian PGA from 1962-1994, golf course designer on more than 250 courses, and captain of the Presidents Cup International team three times, including the lone year they won in 1998 at Royal Melbourne in Thomson's birthplace and home. He earned a degree in chemistry, and his off-course interests extend to art and classical music. He even ran for the Australian Parliament in 1982, losing by four percentage points. The 1998 captaincy victory came 10 years after he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Wrist problems and a desire to be more home-grounded slowly ended Thomson's senior career. Asked by Golf Digest on separate occasions to analyze the meaning of his phenomenal 1985, he showed his common-sense intellect on his play, saying once, "There's great satisfaction in winning tournaments here, but I have no feeling of having proved anything. There's no sense of vindication or anything like that." He added, "It happened without rhyme or reason. I got myself organized, physically and mentally. I got my clubs organized and everything around me was in place, so I performed my best."

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News & Tours

Stacy Lewis might be on to something with the progressive format being played at her AJGA event

Distinctive or desperate? Whatever your stand, you have to admit that the format the AJGA is trying in June at the KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior All-Star Invitational will at least be different.

When the 54-hole stroke-play event is held at Blessings G.C. in Johnson, Ark., the 32 boys and 32 girls ages 12 to 15 in the field will be paired in foursomes but with a twist: each group be made up of two female and two male players.

The boys will be playing their usual tees for an AJGA event, and the girls will be playing what's normal for them as well. An individual winner will be crowned for each gender.

Additionally, a separate tournament within a tournament will also take place. The top eight girls scores will be totaled up and compared to the top eight boys to crown a team winner in the battle of the sexes.

"I am excited about how this format will not only help spark new friendships," Lewis said, "but will also encourage the development of a healthy gender-blind respect for each other."

It is a pretty progressive mindset, not to mention way to run a tournament. If it succeeds, it could be worth other junior or amateur events adopting a similar approach.

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