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News & Tours

Winner's Bag: What Troy Merritt used to win the Quicken Loans National

Troy Merritt not only won the Quicken Loans National, but he got Wilson Staff back in the winner’s circle (Padraig Harrington also won earlier this year at the Honda Classic using a set of Wilson irons). Merritt wielded the company’s FG Tour V4 irons. Merritt’s set makeup was a 2-iron that he put in the bag this week, no 3-iron, then 4-iron through pitching wedge. Merritt hit 80.56 percent of his greens at the Robert Trent Jones G.C. while the field averaged 71.32.

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(Getty Images)

Merrit’s putter also warrants mention as he was 1.165 strokes gained/putting using a Yes! C-Groove Mollie Tour—a heel-shafted half-mallet reminiscent of Odyssey’s #9 model.

Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Driver: TaylorMade R15 460, 9.5 degrees
3-wood: Callaway XR Pro, 14 degrees
Irons (2, 4-PW): Wilson FG Tour V4
Wedges: Wilson FG Tour (50, 54, 58 degrees)
Putter: Yes! C-Groove Mollie Tour

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News & Tours

Tiger Woods sees progress in the status quo

Tiger Woods called his play on Sunday a mixed bag, which in another life meant he won with what he would describe as his C game. These days, a C game is all he has, average by anyone's definition.

It represents an improvement over his play in January, but not over the last two months. He played three good rounds, one poor one in the Quicken Loans National and was never really a factor on the weekend. Again.

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(Getty Images)

Still, he responded in the affirmative when asked whether he’s closer to putting four good rounds together. “Absolutely,” he said.

Based on what?

“Saturday, it was nice to be able to struggle but score,” he said. “That’s something I hadn’t been able to do. Yeah, did I slap it all over the place? I did, for the first seven holes. I was even par. That’s what I used to do. On the eighth hole, I drove it in the fairway. If I hit it on the green and make birdie here, all of a sudden I’m at nine (under par), I can turn the tide. But I turned it the wrong way.”

That’s progress as measured in 2015.

Woods opened with rounds of 68 and 66, to generate excitement among those searching for a sign of life in a career gone dormant. This wasn’t it. A three-over par 74 in the third round ended whatever bid he had in mind.

The mixed bag on Sunday to which he alluded featured five birdies in his first 10 holes that were followed by bogeys on three of his next four holes, one coming when he sput a wedge shot back off the green and into a water hazard.

Woods again called it “a process. I’ve said that many times. It’s a process of putting one foot in front of the other and building and building and eventually I’ll get to where I’m in contention week in and week out and eventually I’ll start winning golf tournaments again.”

The trouble with this assessment was that he played similarly at the Greenbrier Classic, scoring in the 60s in three of four rounds and tying for 32nd. He followed by missing the cut in the British Open.

Now he’s got yet another week off (he hasn’t played consecutive tournaments since the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Farmers Insurance Invitational early in the year) before the PGA Championship.

There are second acts in golf, of course, Jack Nicklaus producing the most notable, winning the Masters at age 46. If this is building toward one for Tiger, well, only he is aware of it.

At this point, all he has arguing in his defense is that he’s Tiger Woods. Great athletes are always capable of surprising us. What argues against him and speaks to how far he has fallen is that there was a time that nothing he did would have surprised us.

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Weird Golf News

For the golfer who has everything, splurge on a $190k fleet of used golf carts

If you've recently picked up your own golf course in a fire sale -- or you want to be the most popular retiree in your neighborhood at The Villages -- you can become the commander of your own fleet of 79 late-model E-Z-GO golf carts. 

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The eBay listing says the carts are located in Southern California, where they came from a country club. A dedicated charger is included, and the model-year 2012 carts all have what is apparently the popular Trojan battery upgrade. 

The list price for the lot is $190,000 -- which works out to about $2,400 per cart, or about $5,000 less than the cost of a 2015 model. Of course, by the looks of the photos, you might have to hose a few of these ones down before use. But with a little elbow grease and some logistical help (how many trucks does it take to ship 79 carts?), you could be hosting your own senior citizen version of the Indy 500 within a week or two.

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Travel

A Florida resort tries to restore its historic charm (and its Donald Ross course won't hurt).

The Belleview Biltmore Hotel & Course, the venerable Florida tourist stop on the state's gulf coast, has been in the news ever since it opened in 1897. The news in 2015, however, hasn't been of facility's transition to a 21st century destination.

Not familiar with one of the grand ladies of early resort locales? Henry B. Plant was one of the pioneering Florida developers who were key to the infrastructure and growth of the state as a tourism locale. The main mode of transportation in the late 1800s was railroad, and Plant, who had developed a transportation system to the South after the Civil War, used the rails to build up the west coast of Florida as Henry Flagler would do for the east coast. Plant City, east of Tampa, is named after the developer. One of the hotels he built was the Belleview Biltmore in Belleair, on Clearwater Bay, and Plant, who died in 1899, had private railroad cars pull right up to the front door (see photo below) to drop off elite, wealthy and famous clientele, even presidents.

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If only the delivery of guests had stayed so simple, the hotel might not be in the precarious state it currently finds itself. Starting in the 1970s, various events and ownership changes began the hotel's decline. Threats to demolish the hotel were met with pleas to preserve and renovate it, even as it had been shuttered for several years. But in April, the Tampa Bay Times reported a sale was made of hotel that's on the National Register of Historic Places to St. Petersburg-developer Mike Cheezem and his JMC Communities for $6.2 million. In May, demolition began of the structure, known as the White Queen of the Gulf. By most accounts, the plan is to retain perhaps 10 percent of the hotel, or 36,000 square feet, as a classic inn and build condominiums on the rest of the old grounds. The inn (the name Belleview Inn is tossed around) would be the focal point of the new development and have 33 rooms, the original lobby and a grand living room.

The good thing for golfers still looking to experience the Donald Ross/Biltmore feel is that golf has never stopped being played there. Six holes were built in 1897, three more in 1899, and by 1909 the West Course was made into 18. The hotel is considered to have the first course in Florida. Then by 1915, a second 18 was done, by Ross, with both the East and West courses considered to have been done under his influence.

In 1959, the hotel bought a 1926 Ross course built very close to the Biltmore -- Pelican Golf Club -- making it a 54-hole resort. In the 1990s, the East & West courses went fully private as Belleair Country Club, and the Pelican layout continued as a resort course under the Belleview Biltmore Golf Club name to keep that heritage alive.

So while there is no more Belleview Biltmore hotel to stay at, you can play a Belleview Biltmore Ross layout (727-581-5498). Green fees range from $40 to $65, depending on the season, and you can dine at the Pelican Restaurant. If you play after Sept. 1, you can see the results of a complete bunker renovation.

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News & Tours

The golf world has no idea what to make of Tiger Woods at the Quicken Loans National

Tiger Woods is playing his second round at the Quicken Loans National in Gainesville, Virginia. After a second-round 66, he's just a shot out of the lead, but with most of the leaders teeing off in the afternoon, he could be a few back by day's end.

An intermediacy, it seems, that has thrown golf into a tizzy.

We love sensationalism. Everything has to be designated the best or the worst, and every take has to be made with conviction. There's no room for indifference.

Which is why we saw this after Tiger started his Thursday round with three bogeys in the first four holes:

But, unlike previous falters, Woods was able to bounce back mid-round, dropping six birdies in a nine-hole stretch, leading to...

That's right. A comparison to the year Tiger won nine events, including three majors. Not excessive at all.  

The reality of Woods' game this week, it appears, is somewhere in the middle. And its a mediocracy we can't seem to process.

Woods isn't the best golfer in the world. He's also not the worst. His current game is of the unassuming, ordinary variety.

Tiger Woods, just another golfer. Talk about unfathomable.

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LPGA Tour

The Donald says he doesn't know Lizette Salas. Here's what he's missing

Any time you paint with the broad brush of stereotype the resulting picture is sloppy, at best. Accuracy is achieved only with the sharp tip pen capable of subtlety and nuance. Nothing is as simple as it seems, and therein lies the flaw in Donald Trump's sweeping statements about immigration, especially pertaining to Mexicans.

 
The Donald showed up at the Ricoh Women's British Open in the middle of Thursday's first round and met with the media. One of the interesting things he said was that he has never heard of Lizette Salas. He should. It might make his statements on immigration more informed.
 
One of best memories I have in this job is standing behind the 18th green at Colorado GC during Sunday singles at the 2013 Solheim Cup with Ramon and Martha Salas, Lizette's parents. They were watching their daughter finish off a halved match against Suzann Pettersen when tears started to stream down Martha's face.

 
"You have no idea what it means for two immigrants from Mexico to see their daughter playing for the United States," she said.
 
Yes, Donald Trump should know who Lizette Salas is. If he did, he'd know that Ramon bartered his skills as a mechanic at Azusa Greens CC, a blue-collar, daily fee course, to get lessons and playing privileges for Lizette.
 
If the Donald took the time to know Salas he'd learn that Ramon drove her to Symetra Tour tournaments in a pick-up truck and that they lived hand-to-mouth as she tried to make it in pro golf.
 
If The Donald knew Lizette he'd know that every Tuesday she is in Azusa, Calif.,  and not on tour she leads a junior golf clinic at Azusa Greens. 
 
If he knew Salas -- the entire family -- he'd know another side to the immigration story than the nasty stereotype he paints. He'd know how hard the Salas' worked to make it in America.
 
 No, Donald Trump does not know who Lizette Salas is. In a way, that's his loss. In a greater way it is a loss for all of us. It makes it much easier for him to paint with the broad brush of stereotype.
 
Hey Donald, here's a campaign tip: Have dinner with Lizette, Ramon and Martha Salas. You might learn something. 

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Why you can't stay behind the ball

Most people think of the "glutes" as two massive muscles that help fill out a pair of jeans. But there are actually three types of glute muscles—maximus, medius, and minimus—and it's the middle child that is often neglected but plays a key role in hitting solid shots. 

Golfers who tend to excessively sway or slide during the swing likely have failed to activate the glute medius muscles. The maximus muscles play a key role in stabilizing the pelvis when you swing, but it's the medius that keep the body laterally stable. Without lateral stability, you'll likely lurch toward the target and in front of the ball's position usually resulting in a weak shot off the toe of the club. Or you'll sway too far away from the target in the backswing and end up hitting a thin or fat shot off your back foot. 

Do either of these results seem like your typical miss? If so, Golf Digest fitness advisor Ralph Simpson (@ralphsimpsonpt) has a simple exercise you can do prior to a round or in the gym to activate the medius muscles. "It's hard with traditional exercises like a traditional two-legged squat to get the glute medius primed," Simpson says. "But this does the trick."

Click on the video to see me demonstrate Simpson's activation exercise.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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News & Tours

Rickie Fowler made a hole-in-one and bought all the golf writers beer

One of the golden rules of golf: When you get a hole in one, you buy everybody drinks. 

Rickie Fowler took that literally today when he aced the ninth hole at the Quicken Loans National. While we can't vouch for how many people he actually bought drinks for, he did send this glorious tub of beers to the media tent. 



Who even thinks of the media tent? I'm picturing Rickie at the bar with all the players, toasting his hole-in-one - and then he's like, You know who could use a drink? All those writers holed away in a tent somewhere. No one thinks of that. And ya know what, writers could pretty much always use a drink. Media tents are stressful. 


Cheers, Rickie. To your hole-in-one, and for yet again proving why you're one of the most well-liked guys on tour. 


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News & Tours

What if golf had a trade deadline? Five moves we'd like to see

Friday at 4 PM EST marks Major League Baseball’s trade deadline. The days leading up to threshold have become an unofficial holiday for fans, as they believe their club is one move away from making a postseason run. Which of course is absurd, because unless you’re rooting for the Giants or Cardinals, it will all be for naught.

Still, who are we to rain on the parade? If anything, we wish golf would adopt a similar barter session. Granted, ours is not a team sport, per se, but swaps can still be had. Here are five golf moves we’d like to see:

Europe trades Ian Poulter to the International Team for prospects

The International Team is 1-8-1 in the Presidents Cup. For you math scholars out there, that computes to .150 winning percentage, which we in the biz academically refer to as “not good.”

Also on the struggle bus as of late is Ian Poulter. Following a strong start to the campaign, Poulter has lost his way, finishing 54th at Chambers Bay and missing the cuts at the Scottish and British Opens. At 39 years old, Poulter’s best days may be behind him.

Yet, when it comes to match play, Poulter is unrivaled, boasting 13 points in five Ryder Cup appearances and wins at the 2010 WGC-Match Play and 2011 Volvo World Match Play tournaments. With a formidable line of Jason Day, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Hideki Matsuyama, the addition of Poulter’s team-play merits make the International roster a formidable foe.

Coupled with the fact that, in two previous trips south of the equator, the United States club's performance has been so-so, this year’s event in South Korea may be the International squad’s best chance at grabbing a W.

As Poulter would be more of a rental entity, the International team will send Sangmoon Bae, Ryo Ishikawa and a player to be named later.

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Under Armour sends cash considerations to Titleist for Brad Faxon

What would the sporting apparel behemoth need with a 53-year-old player on the Champions Tour? Easy: let’s just say UA has a tad invested in a certain 22-year-old that’s had issues with the flatstick inside six feet. What better mentor for the fledgling superstar than Faxon, considered one of the best tour putters of all-time.

ESPN moves Mike Tirico to FOX for Gus Johnson

This is one of the few win-wins on our list. The Worldwide Leader is losing its British Open coverage after next season, and though Tirico is a sound, eloquent voice, he doesn’t enhance a particular broadcast, either.

But coming off one of a rough debut at the U.S. Open, FOX doesn’t need flashy; it needs a foundation. In Tirico, they get the dual dexterity of a studio host and play-by-play man.

As for Gus, he’s being wasted on second-tier Pac-12 football and Not-So-Big East basketball games. With this swap, we’re giving Gus the reins to Monday Night Football. That’s right, we’re teaming up Gus with Jon Gruden’s “Let me tell you what, THIS guy can play for me any day!” schtick. The booth bravado will be off the charts.

Happy Madison trades the rights to Happy Gilmore to HBO for the rights to The Brink

HBO Sports produces a documentary in the "7 Days of Hell" mold on the hockey-centric golfer, or simply holds the film to protect it from Adam Sandler and his cronies bastardizing it for a sequel. As for The Brink, it’s a show that entered with hype but has ended a dud…which should fit right in with the Happy Madison mantra.

The PGA of America gives 2022 PGA Championship to Bandon Dunes for a sleeve of Top-Flite x-outs.

That tournament is currently slotted to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. As the Ladies' Golf Union and LPGA players are finding out this week, it’s not worth it.

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News & Tours

Rickie Fowler hits walk-off hole-in-one. You read that correctly.

Golf has a problem with its finishes. Basketball has the buzzer-beater. Baseball, the walk-off homer. A sudden-death shootout in soccer and hockey.

As fans of the sport, it pains us to write such heresy, but a 20-foot putt on the 18th doesn't pack the same punch. In terms of last-play drama, golf usually falls short on the excitement barometer.

Usually, that is.

Starting the Quicken Loans National on the 10th tee on Thursday, Rickie Fowler's round ended on No. 9 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia, which happens to be a 200-yard par-3.

Coming off a bogey on the par-5 eighth, Fowler finished his day in fine fashion:

Now THAT, my friends, is how you end a round.

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