In February, Australian Richard Green made the craziest hole-in-one you'll ever see on a par 4 at the Oates Victorian Championship on the PGA Tour of Australasia. But unfortunately for the three-time European Tour winner, the rarest form of albatross came a day before the tournament started.
And now, less than a month later, it's happened again.
This time it was Henrik Norlander pulling off the trick in a pro-am ahead of the Cartagena de Indias at Karibana Championship on the Web.com Tour. Sadly, there's no video, but here's a tweet from the tour with a few photos:
The problem with golf movies often is believability, the result of an actor without sufficient golf skills, for instance, or a screenwriter or director who doesn’t fully understand the game.
This is not an issue with the new golf film, “The Squeeze,” scheduled to debut on April 17, the Friday following the Masters.
For starters, the film is based on a true story of an unknown golfer playing high-stakes gambling games, and it was written and directed by Terry Jastrow, whose golf credentials are impeccable. Jastrow attended the University of Houston on a golf scholarship at a time that the Cougars were the dominant golf team in the country. And in a 22-year career at ABC Sports, he produced or directed 62 major championships for the network (U.S. and British opens and the PGA Championships).
Jastrow, 66, cast Jeremy Sumpter, a bona fide strong player, as the lead character, Augie. Sumpter plays to a handicap index of +1.1 at Moorpark (Calif.) Country Club.
Jeremy Sumpter as "Augie"
“Golfers love movies with golf in them, but it’s been so disappointing,” Jastrow said, citing the case of Don Johnson and Kevin Costner in “Tin Cup.” “Great actors, but the minute they pick up a club, you know you’re not watching a great golfer, but an actor.”
So Jastrow set out to find an actor with golf ability, “a low single-digit handicapper, five or less,” he said. He narrowed the search to five candidates and took each of them to Bel-Air Country Club, where he is a member, and auditioned them on the golf course.
“You can tell whether a guy can play by the way he grabs the club,” Jastrow said. “And Jeremy could really play.”
Jastrow’s search for investors took him to friend Tom Watson, who was reluctant pending proof that Sumpter indeed was a good player. So Jastrow sent video to Watson, who called back immediately. “I’m in,” he said. Judy Rankin also is an investor.
The gist of the story is that a gambler traveling cross country discovers a local golf phenom in a small rural town who won his city championship by 15 strokes. The gambler convinces him to travel with him and play high-stakes gambling matches. They eventually wind up in Las Vegas, where he ultimately finds himself in a high-stakes game against a man with mob connections, a game of life or death, according to promotional materials.
The golfer in real life, incidentally, is Keith Flatt, whose wife Chris is the executive vice president hotel sales and marketing for Wynn Las Vegas (the final match in the movie was filmed at the Wynn Las Vegas Golf Course). Jastrow and wife Anne Archer are friends of the Flatts, and Keith matter-of-factly told him his story one day.
“This is a movie,” Jastrow told him. Several years later, it has become one.
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we're always in the mood for a good comeback story. Here was this week's uplifting plot: A great golfer who hasn't won a major championship since 2008 tinkers with his golf swing and falls to depths in the Official World Golf Ranking he hasn't seen since turning pro. But in his 40s, he gets a sponsor's exemption into an event he won a decade earlier and rallies to win again on a major championship course. Inspirational stuff. Congrats to Padraig Harrington, and hang in there, Tiger. You've got time to figure this out.
Padraig Harrington: For a second straight week, the World No. 297 won on the PGA Tour. This time it was Harrington, 43, who hadn't won since capturing back-to-back majors at the British Open and PGA Championship in 2008, and had earned less than $1 million in his 41 previous tour starts since 2012. But after winning the Honda Classic in a playoff over 21-year-old Daniel Berger, the popular Irishman showed he still has the guts under pressure that made him a three-time major winner -- and a good accountant.
Lydia Ko: We might just have to give the 17-year-old phenom a permanent slot in this section. Ko won for a second week in a row, capturing the New Zealand Open for a remarkable 10th professional title. By comparison, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Rory McIlroy didn't reach double digits in wins until they were 24.
The Loves: Talk about great timing. On the same day Davis Love III was officially introduced as the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, his son, Dru, picked up his first collegiate title. Congrats, Dru, but you're going to really have to kick things in gear if you're going to play for your dad at Hazeltine next year.
Ian Poulter: Poulter had his first 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event and was looking for his first stroke-play win in the U.S., but things got away from him during a wild final round. Poulter hit five balls in the water -- one more and we would have permanently dubbed him "two sleeves" -- on his way to a 74 and a T-3 finish. "It's a shame to hand tournaments away. I've handed one away this week," Poulter said. No arguments here.
Dan Olsen: A former PGA Tour player appeared on a radio show last Friday and claimed Tiger Woods is serving a 30-day suspension. Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, as well as the PGA Tour strongly denied the claims on Monday. A little later, Olsen retracted his statement and issued an apology. Just a guess, but Olsen has probably spent more time talking to lawyers the past few days than he has in his entire life.
Rory's 2015 U.S. debut: Not since Tiger's heyday has a player been such an overwhelming favorite at a PGA Tour event, but McIlroy's 2015 U.S. debut at the Honda Classic was a total dud. His 73-74 left him three shots off the cut line. "I'm pissed off," a candid McIlroy said afterward. So was everyone who plays fantasy golf.
The PGA Tour moves from Palm Beach and "The Bear Trap" to Miami and Trump National Doral, aka "The Blue Monster," aka "The Trump Trap." OK, so we made that last one up.
Random tournament fact: The entire top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking is in the field this week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. It's the first time that's happened since the 2012 PGA Championship. Wait, that has to be a misprint because Tiger Woods isn't playing. Oh. Right.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- A player will hit five balls in the water in the final round and only lose by one shot: 1 million-to-1 odds
After downing Daniel Berger in a playoff, Paddy celebrated by downing a burger. Was Paddy sending a message? Chew on that.
"GOLF BABE" PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Courtesy of Instagram handle @golfbabes, we introduce Hayden Sylte. Hayden is a reporter for Golfcentraldaily.com and is an assistant pro at Dove Canyon Golf Club, where her father, Russell, is the director of operations at the Orange Country, Calif., course.
Minivans must be considered a lot cooler in Canada.
THIS WEEK A LOOK BACK IN JASON DUFNER-AMANDA DUFNER PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
This is actually a throwback photo with LeBron James from Dec. 19. In fact, it's the last photo Amanda posted of herself and her hubby, which is especially perplexing considering how good a slimmed-down Duf is looking these days. Where have you gone, Amanda?! Come back to us!
THIS AND THAT
While Lydia Ko was winning the New Zealand Open, Amy Yang won the Honda LPGA Thailand. It's rare when the LPGA takes a back seat to another women's golf tournament, but that's exactly what happened this week. . . . Andy Sullivan won his second European Tour title in South Africa in just over a month for his second career Euro Tour victory. No one would think twice if he legally changed his middle name to "Johannesburg." . . . Dru Love wasn't the only big name to earn his first collegiate win this week. University of Texas sophomore Beau Hossler broke through as well. We'll never forget that time he led the U.S. Open as a high school junior. . . . Jack Nicklaus is coming out with his own line of ice cream. Sounds fantastic, Jack, but instead of a press release, could you send some samples next time?
. . . Speaking of delicious desserts, you know what's the most underrated moment of the year if you work in an office? When you get the Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies you ordered delivered to your desk.
As part of a promotion for its XR line, Callaway Golf joined forces with Dude Perfect to produce one of the better golf trick shot compilations we've ever seen. A particular highlight was when Jaime Sadlowski, a two-time winner of the Remax World Long Drive Championship, decided to hit a golf ball through a bunch of random things. Like this Pineapple.
And Captain America.
And a bag of Skittles.
And some milk.
And finally, a watermelon.
It's a cool video and one worth watching in it's entirety. Don't take our word for it:
Like "yips," "shank" is a word PGA Tour players don't even like to say, never mind actually do.
Ian Poulter can avoid saying "shank" if he chooses, but video from the final round at the Honda tells the story. On the tee at the par-3, 174-yard fifth hole, Poulter shanked his 8-iron dead right. The ball bounced on the cart path and into the water, leading to a double bogey that dropped him from the lead permanently. He ended up shooting 74 and missing the Padraig Harrington-Daniel Berger playoff by a shot.
"Tour players usually hit a shank--when the ball hits the hosel and comes off sideways--when they apply force a little differently in the downswing, like trying to hit it harder or softer," says 50 Best Teacher Brian Manzella. "Poulter said after his round that the shank--and some of the other bad shots he hit--came when he was trying to take something off it."
The most common shank for the average player comes on a shorter shot, or one where the player consciously opens the clubface a bit more in an effort to produce some height. "Take a wedge shot," says Manzella. "If you open the face, it can make it so that it feels like the shaft itself--and the hosel--is the sweet spot. Then you swing down feeling like the point for center contact is at the end of the shaft, when really it's offset from that."
If you find yourself out there hitting shanks in the middle of the round, focus on turning your lead arm down, toward the ball, on the downswing. "Turning that arm down should automatically make your arms start moving toward your body," says Manzella, who is based at English Turn Golf & Country Club in New Orleans. "That will cure a vast majority of shanks the average player gets."
At the 2013 PGA Show, I walked past a tent full of people trying to swing in what looked like a straight jacket and found myself intrigued. I was quickly introduced to a guy -- the inventor -- Raymond Rapcavage, who described how he came up with the idea.
"I was so angry...I put my arms in my sweater and ripped one of the sleeves off," Rapcavage said. "I jammed both by arms in one of the sleeves and almost immediately I started thinking: 'hey, this actually feels kind of good.'"
The product that came out of that semi-destructive process is called the Golf Swing Shirt, which is essentially just a spandex golf shirt with one sleeve. Rapcavage managed to get it into the hands of a few different tour pros, and one of them -- Padraig Harrington -- liked it so much that he agreed to become the face of the product.
The change is subtle, as you can see below, but Padraig gravitated towards the product because he liked how it kept his hands and arms more compact at the top of his backswing. When your hands get too high at the top of your backswing, it's easy to loose control and can even lead to an injury, which is part of the reason Padraig made the change.
"I changed my shoulder turn. I used to try and clear my shoulders under my chin," Harrington said in 2011. "I'm trying to swing my shoulder into my chin now so I'm trying to tuck my chin in more at the top of my backswing."
In any case, it seemed to work for Padraig. It's been a hard slog for him these past few years, but hopefully we'll see more shots like this in the future.
It's probably too late for you to live the dream and make the PGA Tour. But even if you can't play like a professional, you can still live like one.
Tour players like Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson love Orlando's Lake Nona for its gated security, first-rate Tom Fazio course and practice facility and 10-minute drive to the airport.
The best part is that it's been on the market for more than a year, which means you can probably be aggressive with an offer. Couple that with the tax benefits that come with moving to Florida and you'll have enough scratch in your pocket for the $50,000 Lake Nona initiation fee -- and some crumbs left over to donate in one of Poulter and Rose's money games.
For nightlife, you won't need a car. McDowell's restaurant, Nona Blue Modern Tavern, opened just outside the Lake Nona gate in early 2013 and has been standing room only since.
The PG in PGA Tour does not stand for Parental Guidance, though maybe it should, given the way the future is putting the squeeze on the past and present these days.
Yes, a geezer, by today’s standards, won the Honda Classic on Monday. Padraig Harrington, the affable Irishman, 43, prevailed over Daniel Berger, 21, on the second hole of a playoff at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Daniel Berger after making birdie at 18 (Getty Images)
So the old guys won this round. But the game does seem to be trending younger, even this young: The best player in women’s golf is a girl, Lydia Ko, 17.
Berger, meanwhile, is part of a high school class of 2011 that includes Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, each of them also 21 and already factors on the PGA Tour. Then there’s Berger’s Florida State teammate Brooks Koepka, 24, who won the Waste Management Phoenix Open last month, and Patrick Reed, also 24, who not long ago declared himself a top five player in the world and is closing in on proving it.
Other tour winners in the 2014-15 season include Ben Martin and Robert Streb, each 27, Sang-Moon Bae 28, Jason Day, 27 and Nick Taylor 26.
“They’re better prepared when they get on tour,” Arizona State coach Tim Mickelson said, explaining the influx of youth. “They’re not afraid, not concerned and they’re thinking about winning. College golf is so deep now. The amount of competition is so much better than it used to be.”
They’re unafraid because they’ve competed against one another in college and even dating to junior golf, Mickelson said.“With Jon [Rahm] playing well at the Phoenix Open, we’ve got guys saying, ‘well I beat him two weeks ago in a match.’ I certainly think you can feed off that.”
Rahm, a 20-year-old Arizona State junior, tied for fifth in the Phoenix Open, ahead of Spieth, Berger and Streb, all of whom occupied the top 10.
“We've all played against each other for years and years now,” Koepka said in Phoenix. “When you see someone else succeed, you're thinking in your mind, hey, I've played with him for years and years. I know that I can compete with him week in, week out.”
Berger has played only 11 events as a tour member and has finished in the top 10 in three of them, the top 25 in six. He already has earned $1,188,405.
He shot 64 in the final round of the Honda Classic, but lost the playoff when he hit his tee shot on the second playoff hole into the water.
“It’s all a learning process,” he said, a reminder that he and his ilk are still undergoing an education, even as they’re already threatening to conquer the world.
Update, 1:35 p.m.: According to ESPN.com, Olsen has retracted his claims about Woods' suspension. "Everything I said on that radio interview was only my opinion and not based on any firsthand knowledge or facts," Olsen told ESPN.com on Monday. "I want to make a full retraction to everything I said for the entire radio interview, and I apologize to Tiger, Nike, Phil [Mickelson], [commissioner] Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour."
Earlier: A claim by a former PGA Tour player that Tiger Woods is serving a suspension by the tour was shot down Monday by both the tour and Woods’ agent in strongly worded denials.
Dan Olsen, 48, told 730AM The Game in Lansing, Mich., last Friday that Woods is serving a 30-day suspension. Olsen, who played 31 events on the tour in 2004 and now teaches and caddies, told the radio station: "I heard he's on a month's suspension . . . it's kind of a strong witness. It's a credible person who is telling me this. It's not testosterone, but it's something else. I think when it's all said and done, he's gonna surpass Lance Armstrong with infamy.''
Ty Votaw, PGA Tour executive vice president for communications and international affairs, said, "There is no truth whatsoever to these claims. We can categorically deny these allegations."
Added Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg of Excel Sports Management: "These claims are absolutely, unequivocally and completely false. They are unsourced, unverified and completely ridiculous. The PGA Tour has confirmed that there is no truth to these claims."
Olsen also claimed that Woods uses a "cheater ball.'' Woods, like many other tour players representing many companies, uses a version of the Nike ball that is not available to the public but one that conforms to USGA standards.
The policy of the PGA Tour is to not comment on disciplinary matters. When drug testing went into effect in July 2008, the tour said it would inform media of any penalties for performance-enhancing drugs after the player had exhausted all appeals. The tour also said it would not disclose failed tests involving recreational drugs.
Woods, who missed much of last season after back surgery, missed the cut in his first tournament of 2015 and then withdrew after 11 holes of his second event. He later said that his withdrawal was not related to his back surgery, adding that he would not return to tour until he felt his game was ready for competition.
With the Masters barely more than a month away, Woods has little time in which to prepare for an attempt to end a winless streak in the major championships that dates to the 2008 U.S. Open.
In the last two years Harrington has struggled with his putting, ranking outside the top 100 in strokes gained/putting and residing at 107th in that stat entering the Honda. At PGA National's Champion Course, however, Harrington putted well enough (0.168 strokes gained, ranked 37th), including the clutch 16-footer for birdie to get into a playoff with Daniel Berger.
The putter Harrington used was a Wilson Infinite South Side center-shafted mallet that utilizes a 104-gram grip to produce a counterbalanced effect. And for history buffs there is this: The last time a Wilson putter won a PGA Tour event it was in 1995 when John Daly used a Wilson 8802 blade to win the British Open at St. Andrews.
Ball: Titlist Pro V1x Driver: TaylorMade AeroBurner (Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Silver 60 TX, 9 degrees Driver: TaylorMade SLDR Mini, 12 degrees 3-wood: TaylorMade SLDR, 15 degrees Hybrid: Wilson D100, 19 degrees Irons (4): Wilson FG Tour V4; (5-PW): Wilson FG Tour V2 Wedges: Wilson FG Tour (52 degrees); Ping Eye2 Gorge (60 degrees) Putter: Wilson Infinite South Side