The Local Knowlege

My Usual Game

Have a cigar! Hey, have two!

There are two approaches to turning yourself into a human billboard: the single-logo, less-is-more approach, typified by Tiger Woods (Nike) and Jordan Spieth (Under Armour), and the how-much-personal-surface-area-can-I-embroider approach, typified by Jim Furyk and NASCAR. My friends and I fall into the second category, and, even though by now we have virtually covered ourselves with umlauts (thanks to Jagermeister, the official all-weather intoxicant of the Sunday Morning Group), we haven’t finished selling out.


Recently, we added another major sponsor: Famous Smoke Shop, which sells cigars online, by mail order, and in person (at the company’s headquarters and retail super store, in Easton, Pennsylvania). Famous Smoke is what is known in the business world as a "good fit" with a lot of the guys I play golf with.


Famous Smoke was founded in New York City in 1939 by David and Rose Zaretsky, and it’s owned today by their son Arthur, who, whether he plays golf or not, is now an honorary member of the Sunday Morning Group. The company operates several cigar-oriented websites -- not just Famous-Smoke but also CigarAuctioneer (which sells lighters and other accessories) and CigarMonster (which has the coolest golf hats):


When we played at Richter Park two weekends ago, we handed out a bunch of goodies that Famous Smoke had sent us during the courtship phase of our relationship: cigars, hats, shirts, towels, and other stuff. We gave those things to ourselves and also to random strangers, including this guy:


It was like Man Halloween.


Cigars have sort of been in the news recently, because the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba will presumably lead eventually to the normalization of relations between American cigar smokers and Cuban cigars. I asked our new friends at Famous Smoke about that, and learned that Arthur Zaretsky believes that an end to the cigar embargo would be good good for Cubans and for his company (and therefore, by extension, for the Sunday Morning Group), but that, for a variety of mostly legal reasons, he doesn’t believe it will happen soon. Even so, he’s optimistic, long-term; he told a local reporter, “I’ve been waiting 45 years to sell Cuban cigars.”


Recently, someone told me that when the pros sell out they do it for money, not just for hats and shirts with awesome logos on them. Whoa! Maybe we'll work on that next.



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This tee shot by the Jacksonville Jaguars mascot might be the most impressive golf shot of all time (or at least by an NFL mascot)

There's so much to talk about with this video of the Jaguars mascot, Jaxson De Ville, teeing off on the iconic 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. But first, watch for yourself:

And here's another view:

So here's what we know: We know that the shot was part of a closest-to-the-hole competition last week. We know that the man inside the suit is Curtis Dvorak, the longtime Jaguars mascot who is said to be a scratch player (but who doesn't have an official handicap as far as we could tell). And we know Dvorak, er, Jaxson De Ville beat out a field that included former Masters runner-up Len Mattiace, and former Champions Tour winner Bob Duval. The shot not only ends up five feet from the hole, but even includes some pro-level backspin. 

As for what we don't know, we don't know how someone can make that sort of swing inside a big furry suit. In fact, let's break it down for a second.

Here's the setup position: stance slightly closed to promote a draw, perfect posture with the chin up and spine straight. Not an ounce of tension in the tail.

Here he is at the top. Nice free hip rotation, arm stretched across the chest. We're not sure what's going on with his shorts, but the legs are moving correctly.

And just look at that follow-through -- body turned toward the target, hands nice and high, club across his back. See how the right foot is coming off the ground. Textbook.

Check out that tail position. Exemplary.

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Freddie Jacobson's record-breaking streak of avoiding three-putts dates back to before the Super Bowl

The date was January 23rd. "Deflategate" was the hottest topic in sports and we were still more than a week away from Super Bowl XLIX.

That was also the last time Freddie Jacobson had a three-putt on the PGA Tour. The 40-year-old Swede made the mistake on the 16th hole during the second round of the Humana Challenge -- and he hasn't made another one since.

Related: Golf's all-time greatest streaks

In the second round of last week's RBC Heritage, Jacobson broke Luke Donald's tour record (the stat has been kept since 2003) of 483 and then kept going. He finished the tournament (T-37) with his streak intact, running the total up to 524 holes without making a three-putt. To put that in perspective, Jacobson has posted more photos of himself hanging out with Rihanna at the Super Bowl in the past three months than he's three-putted on a golf course.


Of course, it helps that Jacobson wasn't in the Masters field, thus avoiding some of the toughest greens in the world. Even Jordan Spieth three-putted three times at Augusta National.

Still, his putting has been incredible. Jacobson is first in three-putt avoidance at .65 percent (the tour average this season is three percent) and he's third in strokes gained/putting. Unfortunately, is Jacobson being ranked 173rd in strokes gained/tee to green.

Related: 8 eye-popping stats from the PGA Tour

When Donald set the record in 2011, he won PGA Tour Player of the Year and was the world's top-ranked player. Jacobson, however, ranks just 147th on the FedEx Cup list and has just one top-30 finish this season. But hey, he's got the record now -- and that photo with Rihanna.

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Rory McIlroy went to Rochester (Yes, Rochester) to see a female friend after coming up short at the Masters

After finishing in fourth place at the Masters, there was no green jacket tour for Rory McIlroy. But the World No. 1 did do a bit of traveling to see a special someone.

Related: The year in golf WAGs

The Democrat & Chronicle reports McIlroy was out with Erica Stoll and others in Rochester, N.Y., on Saturday night. McIlroy and Stoll, the PGA of America employee who helped him make his Sunday 2012 Ryder Cup tee time, have been linked since spending New Year's together, according to the Belfast Telegraph. Here are a couple photos of Stoll:


McIlroy's ex-fiancee, Caroline Wozniacki, has been a little more public with her dating life. She was seen sitting with NFL star J.J. Watt during the NCAA Championship Game between Duke and Wisconsin the Monday of the Masters.

Related: Meet the wives and girlfriends of the PGA Tour

By contrast, McIlroy and Stoll have avoided any photographs of them together in public and until now, there was very little proof of them actually dating. But a trip to Rochester?! Yeah, we're taking that as a pretty good sign.

(h/t For The Win)

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How He Hit That

How She Hit That: Sei Young Kim's putter-free winning technique

Every player dreams of sinking the winning putt on the last hole. LPGA rookie Sei Young Kim got it done in a dramatically different way at the LOTTE Championship in Hawaii. 

Kim recovered from a rinsed tee shot on the 18th hole by chipping in for par to force a playoff with Inbee Park. On the next hole, she jarred an 8-iron from 154 yards for eagle to win in sudden death. It was the 22-year-old's second win of the season, and it is unlikely she'll ever have another as pulse-pounding. 

On both shots, solid fundamentals put her in position for success under intense pressure. "On the chip, she gets herself almost into a putting position," says Lukas McNair, who teaches at the Hank Haney Vista Ridge Golf Ranch outside Dallas. "She has the shaft standing more upright, and her body weight is forward. The stroke is putter-like, and the ball gets rolling like one."

Kim's full swing is also pure. Her eyes stay level to the ground on both the back and forward swings, which helps her preserve a consistent swing plane, says McNair. "That's something you can practice yourself at home, with a mirror. Watch yourself as you slowly turn back and through. If you can keep your eyes level, you're going to hit much more solid and accurate shots."

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Courses & Travel

Why getting to Bandon Dunes is about to become a lot easier

The only bad thing you'll ever hear about a trip to Bandon Dunes is about the journey itself. Most people fly to Portland and then drive four and a half hours south to reach the popular golf destination.

Related: The 18 best holes at Bandon Dunes

Of course, the long trek is worth it, but an easier and quicker method will be available this summer. According to United Airlines will add two flights a week (Sunday and Wednesday) from its Denver hub to Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend from July 1 to Oct. 18.


And according to Google Maps, that post-flight drive is only 36 minutes. Hmm. We wonder what you could do at Bandon with a few extra hours. . .

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Jordan Spieth's green jacket tour makes an appearance at the ACM Awards

Jordan Spieth's exhausting post-Masters schedule seemed to be over with a T-11 at the RBC Heritage on Sunday. Only it wasn't.

Related: 19 things you should know about Jordan Spieth

Before getting home to that new Dallas mansion he has barely seen, Spieth made a stop in Arlington, Texas, to present the award for female vocalist of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards. Spieth announced the winner, Miranda Lambert, while flanked by artists -- and golf fanatics -- Jake Owen and Darius Rucker. And of course, Spieth was wearing his new favorite piece of clothing:

And here is Spieth backstage with his girlfriend, Annie Verret, alongside Jake Owen and his wife, Lacey.

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo was also there as a presenter, so perhaps this was also a bit of a business trip for Spieth. Actually, Getty Images lists Verret as an event coordinator. Her boss must have been pretty impressed she could snag the new Masters champ.

OK, now go get some rest, Jordan. You deserve it.

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Missing Links

Jordan Spieth 'was one of those kids that would stay and help clean up in the cafeteria'

Stories of interest you might have missed...

Would this surprise anyone about Jordan Spieth? “Jordan was always respectful to staff and students alike,” Colette Corbin of Jesuit Dallas’ Student Services Department said recalling Spieth in high school in this story in the Catholic Register. “He was one of those kids that would just stay and help clean up in the cafeteria if he saw that I was short on students helping. He was considerate of others’ feelings and tried to include other students that might otherwise not be part of a group.”

(Getty Images)

Spieth predictably did the right thing in the wake of his Masters victory by fulfilling his commitment to play in the RBC Heritage. It was duly noted by Island Packet columnist David Lauderdale. “The 21-year-old gave the tournament energy it hasn’t seen in years. By simply living up to his commitment to play, he attracted the largest gallery that Henry Pratt has seen in almost 20 years of announcing the touring pros on the first tee.”


Does a green jacket count for nothing? Not when it comes to friends and a master bedroom. Justin Thomas prevailed over Jordan Spieth by claiming the master bedroom in the rented home they shared at the RBC Heritage. “I was the first one there,” Thomas said in this story by ESPN’s Jason Sobel on the “mellow vibe” enjoyed by Spieth post-Masters. “There’s no reason that he should get it, so I got in there. No problem at all.”


Michelle Wie, defending champion of the Lotte Championship in her native Hawaii, returned home last week “as a bit of a mystery,” Bill Fields writes for ESPNW in this look at her indifferent play after winning the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst last year.


It’s probably not prudent to call San Francisco the epicenter of anything, given its history with earthquakes, but nonetheless it is the epicenter of golf over the next couple of weeks, as Ron Kroichick notes in the San Francisco Chronicle. “Barely more than a decade ago, the power brokers in golf hardly knew the Bay Area existed…The landscape has changed dramatically, as the next two-plus weeks vividly illustrate,” he writes in advance of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship and the U.S. Amateur Four-ball Championship.

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News & Tours

Jim Furyk rewrites the Sunday script and burnishes Hall of Fame credentials

It has been exhausting, sans a shot of 5-Hour Energy for which he used to shill relentlessly, watching Jim Furyk in recent years. Too often he reminded us how good he is, not how great he is.

He had become a productive worker who took Sundays off, a schedule that works in other industries, but not in this one. Since his last win, in the 2010 Tour Championship, he was 0 for 9 in converting 54-hole leads into victories.

“We all expect a lot of ourselves and we all put pressure on ourselves on Sunday,” he said a few months ago, at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, from which one of those nine came. “But I think that the way maybe I was doing it in the past was a little counterproductive at times.”

So on this Sunday, he threw out the script. This time, he started in arrears, four behind, made 11 birdies in 20 holes, the latter two in a playoff with Ken Kisner, and won for the first time in more than four years.

furyk fist.jpg
(Getty Images)

Yes, Furyk is great, according to golf’s shifting metrics. There was a time that 20 victories, one of them a major, was an unofficial benchmark for inclusion in the World Golf Hall of Fame. But when Fred Couples was given to the key to the Hall on the basis of 15 victories, one a major, well, the bar had been lowered.

The old metric is not unattainable for Furyk, but in the meantime he already is two victories clear of Couples. This was his 17th win, one of which was the U.S. Open in 2003, and enshrinement is but a formality for this fixture in the top 10 in the World Ranking. Tenth in the world entering the RBC Heritage, he has spent more than seven years of weeks residing in the top 10.

It was his second victory in the RBC Heritage, on a Harbour Town Golf Links that fits his game, given its emphasis on precision over power. “If it's long and open and there's not a lot of rough and there's no penalty for hitting it crooked, you can bomb it, find it, hit it again,” he said earlier this year. “That obviously doesn't do me any good. I'm looking more at the shot value than the length, if that makes sense.”

A hot putter is capable of rendering courses defenseless whatever their length, and Furyk was wielding one on Sunday. In the playoff, he holed a seven-foot birdie putt to continue the playoff, then holed a 12-footer to win.

Furyk then dropped his putter, pumped his fist and hugged his caddie, Mike Cowan, Fluff as he’s known, who on Twitter refers to his boss as the player.

The player who on this day burnished his Hall of Fame credentials.

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News & Tours

Video: LPGA player holes out from fairway to win playoff, isn't quite sure what happened

We're not sure what's more amazing here: Sei Young Kim's two-bounce hole out from 154 yards to win a playoff against Inbee Park or her reaction, which is more befitting a solid lag putt on Thursday. Check out the whole sequence here.

Actually, you can see that was just Kim's initial reaction, when she wasn't quite sure where the ball landed. But once she realized what she did, her reaction was more fitting to the feat, which is probably the most dramatic finish to a tournament this year (Kim also chipped in on the final hole of regulation to force a playoff). The win is the second of Kim's career. She also won the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic earlier this season.

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