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News & Tours

Tiger Woods reportedly hitting full shots, "feeling pretty good"

After a disappointing season, Tiger Woods looks on track to at least finish the year on the golf course.

USA Today reports the 14-time major winner has started to hit full shots after getting the OK from his doctors. Woods, whose back injury had previously limited him to chipping and putting, is scheduled to play in his tournament at Isleworth in December.

Related: A history of Tiger Woods' injuries

"The doctors said he could hit golf balls again, and he's listening to his doctors and to his body," Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, told USA Today. "He will keep listening to his doctors and body.

" . . . He's feeling pretty good."

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Woods had surgery for a pinched nerve before the Masters. He came back at the AT&T National and missed the cut before making the cut on the number at the British Open. At the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Woods withdrew in the final round after injuring his back again. He played the following week in the PGA Championship, but missed the cut before announcing he would take time off to heal. His best finish in seven PGA Tour starts in 2014 was a T-25 at Doral, and he has currently fallen to 17th in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Related: An unauthorized history of Tiger Woods' jeans

Of late, news about Woods has revolved around things not involving his play. Construction of a course he designed in Houston, Tex., is progressing nicely and he has plans to open a new restaurant in Jupiter sometime in 2015. He was also recently passed by NBA star LeBron James for the world's most valuable sports brand.

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News & Tours

Report: Rory to take break from golf because of Horizon lawsuit

Rory McIlroy's legal dispute with his former management company, Horizon, took another interesting turn on Monday as the World No. 1 announced he will take a short break from the game to prepare for the forthcoming court case.

According to the Irish Independent, who broke the story, Rory will skip the BMW Masters and the WGC-HSBC Champions, and not play any tournament golf until the World Tour Championship in late November. And with the trial slated for early next year, McIlroy could be forced to miss more action.

"I'm going to need time away from tournament golf to prepare for the trial over my legal dispute with Horizon Sports Management," Rory told the Independent. "The court-directed mediation process failed over the weekend to resolve the issue."

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McIlroy joined Horizon Sports Management in 2011 but left in May 2013 to start his own management company. McIlroy launched a lawsuit against Horizon shortly after, claiming the terms of his deal were not as generous as the ones offered to fellow professional Graeme McDowell, who at the time was also a client of Horizon's.

Once McDowell's name was included in the suit a judge ordered both parties to discuss a potential settlement. Those talks broke down on Monday, so the lawsuit will go to trial early next year, with McIlroy due to take the stand. 

In his article for the Daily Telegraph, James Corrigan discusses the potential golfing implications:

There will be inevitably be concerns that the experience and the fall-out could affect McIlroy’s preparations for The Masters, which starts on April 9 at Augusta, where he will try to become just the sixth player in history to win the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy is due to play in Abu Dhabi from Jan 15-18 and then at the Desert Classic from Jan 29-Feb 1. His next start after the Dubai event is scheduled to be the Honda Classic, which takes place in his adopted home town of West Palm Beach, beginning on Feb 26. An exact date for trial has yet to be set, but reports in Ireland suggest that McIlroy could spend up to two weeks on the stand.

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News & Tours

'Gitmo at play': Photographer's stark photo of makeshift green

The U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Gitmo, has a golf course, loosely defined. It is nine holes of rocky terrain that requires players to bring along patches of artificial turf from which to hit shots to hard tiny greens.

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(Photo by Debi Cornwall)

The course is called Yatera Seca, but is better known to those stationed there as the Lateral Hazard Golf Course.

It was there that documentary photographer Debi Cornwall ventured one day, with an escort, according to military regulations. But it wasn’t the course that caught her eye. It was the adjacent driving range.

“My parents are both avid golfers,” Cornwall said from her Brooklyn home, “and I’ve walked a course or two with them. I have a sense of what golf looks like: lush green, well-tended landscapes. So the makeshift peat stacked around the hole, dropped on top of dirt, with balls everywhere on the Lateral Hazard driving range, really struck me.”

The above photo, showing eight squares of artificial turf with a flagstick planted in their midst appeared in her photo series, “Gitmo at Home, Gitmo at Play,” that appeared in part in the New York Times’ Lens blog recently.

The series, culled from two trips she made to Guantanamo Bay on the southeastern side of Cuba, earned honorable mention in the 2014 International Photography Awards, Deeper Perspective Category. The series can be seen in its entirety at her website.

Related: Even NASA recognizes Jimmy Walker’s talent

“I spent 12 years as a wrongful conviction lawyer bringing civil rights lawsuits across the U.S.,” she said. “When I stepped away from litigation last year and returned to documentary photography, I wanted to look at some of the same issues that concerned me as a lawyer, but from a new perspective. Guantanamo, this mysterious offshore place where more than half of the remaining 149 detainees had been cleared for release but were still held, some up to 12 years after arriving, seemed like the perfect place to go.”

She was required to abide by a “no-faces rule,” preventing her from taking photos of people, whether detainees, guards or civilians. “I was told that Gitmo is ‘the best posting a soldier can have,’ so I looked to residential and leisure spaces for both detainees and guards as a window into the human experience of life there.

“My goal was to get people looking at Guantanamo who might not otherwise have thought twice about it, and perhaps to get those who already had strong opinions to think about it a little differently. That seems to be happening. I’ve been contacted by people from all walks of life — from veterans who served there to high school students doing term papers. That is really gratifying.”

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Business

Watch The Caddy Girls get turned down on ABC's "Shark Tank"

For the second time in a month, golf played a large role in ABC's "Shark Tank." This time, however, there wasn't as happy of an ending.

Meghan Tarmey went on Friday's episode to pitch her business, The Caddy Girls, which she started while she was still a cheerleader at Costal Carolina University in 2005. As you can probably gather from the name, it's a group of female caddies that golfers can hire to make their rounds more entertaining.

Related: Watch a putter company's emotional sales pitch on "Shark Tank"

Tarmey came on the show asking for $100,000 for a 20-percent stake in her company. However, she did not walk away with a deal, getting turned down and then turning down a $100,000 counter offer for half of her business. Here's the clip:


It wasn't all bad, though. Tarmey was praised by the Sharks, even by the show's tough guy, Kevin O'Leary, for her pitch. And the appearance on the show has already sparked a lot of interest in her company. Tarmey told Myrtlebeachonline.com she had received about 50 independent investment offers by noon on Saturday.

In the season premier of the show, putter manufacturer Kronos Golf struck a deal after an emotional presentation. But The Caddy Girls still have Kronos Golf beat in one area: calendars.

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News & Tours

An 81-year-old man had three holes-in-one in three consecutive days

There are hot streaks, and then there's this.

Dom Debonis is an 81-year-old Pennsylvania with a 14-handicap who, on a recent buddies trip to Myrtle Beach, had three aces in three days, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Considering the odds of making a hole-in-one at all for a golfer of that skill level are about 12,000-to-1, it's tough to understate how unlikely making three in three days actually is. The odds are likely so astronomical, no one's even bothered to calculate them.

Here's a selection from the article:

Nobody, though, would have expected this. On Day 3 of their trip, Mr. DeBonis and his group played at Blackmoor Golf Club Oct. 8. Sure enough, four holes into the round, he did it again -- holing an 8-iron from 118 yards for his third hole in one in three days.

Unlike the first two, Mr. DeBonis and the other members of the foursome didn’t see this one go in the hole.

"There was a tree in front and a shadow over the green, but I said, ‘Oh, my God, I think it went in,’" Mr. Debonis said. “We couldn’t see it. One of the guys said, ‘I think it’s in.’ So we walked up to the hole and there it was. I just couldn’t believe it. It was the most memorable week."

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Stats

Meet Tony Finau, the PGA Tour's newest long-driving, par-5 destroying star

From "The Big Break" to the big leagues, Tony Finau was bound to be a popular rookie on the PGA Tour this season. The fact that he's also a big hitter (it's not just "chicks" who "dig the long ball," after all) certainly doesn't hurt, either.

In the first two starts of his first PGA Tour campaign, Finau, 25, has already been turning heads with his prodigious length off the tee. He's hit drives of 374 and 373 yards and he has registered five of the 20 longest drives of the young season.

Related: Finau and 10 other PGA Tour sleepers to watch

Overall, his driving average of 321.9 puts him second right now behind Daniel Berger (Bubba Watson led the tour with a 314.3 average last season). Unlike Berger, though, a fellow rookie who has missed the first two cuts of the season, Finau's all-around game has been equally as impressive as his performance off the tee.

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After a T-12 in the season opener in Napa, Finau finished T-7 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open over the weekend. Not bad for someone who had only three previous tour starts, the last of which was in 2011.

Finau is 24 under through two tournaments and not surprisingly, a lot of those red numbers have come on par 5s. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound bomber is a staggering 20 under on the 28 par 5s he's played thus far.

A former high school basketball star in Utah, Finau and his younger brother, Gipper, turned pro instead of playing in college. After bouncing around on mini-tours (Gipper is currently trying to earn his Web.com Tour card), Finau finally ended up on the Web.com Tour in 2014 and finished 12th on the tour's final priority ranking to earn his PGA Tour card for 2014-15.

After earning nearly as much ($310,833) in two PGA Tour starts as he did in 27 starts on the Web.com Tour last year, Finau is off to a great start in making sure he stays where he wants.

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How He Hit That

How He Hit That: Ben Martin's cross-country eagle putt

Ben Martin was feeling the pressure. 

A three-shot lead at the beginning of the final round of the Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas had disappeared, and Martin was tied with Kevin Streelman as he walked to the 16th tee. At stake was a chance at his first PGA Tour victory -- and the freedom to play through this season and next without worrying about his status.  



After reaching the green of the 560-yard par-5 in two, the 27-year-old Martin faced a 46-foot eagle putt with four feet of right-to-left break. He died it into the hole perfectly, giving himself the two-shot buffer over Kevin Streelman that he would carry through to the end.

"When you have a long putt like Ben's, you're usually playing from a spot on the green that is on a different plateau than the hole," says ESPN Swing Coach Jerome Andrews. "The better you understand how the two areas connect, the better your result is going to be. As you walk up to the green from the fairway, pay attention to the overall contours of the entire green complex to get a sense for the ebbs and flows.

When it's time to read and roll the putt, use your eyes and mind to trace the route the ball will take to the hole, says Andrews, who is based at the Spring Creek Golf Club in Charlottesville, Va. "In terms of setup, play the ball more forward in your stance to let the putter release and to promote solid contact. Lastly, relax your neck, arms and shoulders and trust your read. Ben looked like he was rolling a putt during a practice round -- not on the back nine on Sunday under huge pressure."

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News & Tours

Missing Links: Ian Poulter has written a book that Nick Faldo won't like one bit

Stories of interest you might have missed…

Ian Poulter’s autobiography, “No Limits,” will be released this week and based on this story by Derek Lawrenson it promises to be an interesting one. “Ian Poulter has slammed Sir Nick Faldo for calling Sergio Garcia ‘useless’ during the Ryder Cup and claimed he has lost the respect of Europe’s top golfers,” Lawrenson wrote in the Daily Mail. “Poulter revealed the home locker room was fuming about the remark and said Faldo had gone from being his hero to zero. He accused him of sour grapes and being embittered because he is the only losing European Ryder Cup captain this century.”

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Ian Poulter and Nick Faldo at 2008 Rydcer Cup (Getty Images photo)

The World Golf Hall of Fame largely got it right (finally), the PGA of America got it wrong (as usual), and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews got it right or wrong (not sure). John Huggan in the Scotsman has myriad opinions on a hectic few days in the golf world. Example: “They round up almost everyone involved in this almost-unbroken run of defeats and ask them what they think. You’ve got to laugh,” he wrote about the PGA of America’s new Ryder Cup task force.

***

Mike Keiser already has a place in golf lore with Bandon Dunes. But the Chicago-based developer wants more and has turned his attention to Town of Rome, Wisconsin. Keiser's vision is what Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Gary D’Amato called possibly “the most ambitious golf project ever undertaken in Wisconsin. If all goes according to…Keiser’s plan, someday there will be five courses and lodging on 1,500 acres a few miles south of Wisconsin Rapids — a resort that would provide hundreds of jobs in depressed Adams County and further enhance Wisconsin's reputation as a world-class golf destination.”

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It was a special weekend for Jay Haas and his family. Haas’ son Bill joined him in the Wake Forest Hall of Fame on Friday, and on Sunday Jay, 60, won the Greater Hickory Kia Classic to become the 22nd player in the history of the Champions Tour to win in his 60s. “It’s just great for him that he can still do it,” Bill Haas told John Dell of the Winston-Salem Journal. “I think what is really underrated about his game through the years is his ball-striking. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

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Mikko Ilonen, the winner of the Volvo World Match Play Championship over the weekend, has had to overcome a malady that has driven some from the game: The yips. ”I’ve had my problems with the putter and I never wish anyone to experience the problems I had,” he said in this story by Reuters’ Tony Jimenez. “I changed my grip a couple of years ago, it's a reverse interlock with the left hand going into the middle of the right hand…I’m trying to eliminate my left hand completely. My left hand is no good. I would cut it off if I could.”

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News & Tours

Here are pictures of the pool scene at the Shriners, which didn't seem weird at all

Last month the PGA Tour announced it would scatter six swimming pools around the grounds of the 2014 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open so tournament-goers can have a quick dip while they watch some live golf. It's the latest initiative drummed-up by the powers that be to increase interest in the game. On Sunday, pictures of people playing in the pools surfaced on Getty Images.

Call me crazy, but I'm not sure these women just stumbled upon the pool.

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Forget golf. Volleyball!

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Hey, check out that logo!

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'Wait, there's a golf course behind me?'

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That bear's wearing a fun hat.

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'All this not-watching-golf is exhausting. Time for a selfie.'

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Equipment

Winner's bag: What Ben Martin used to win the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

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Seeking his first win on the PGA Tour, Ben Martin needed a fast finish at TPC Summerlin as Kevin Streelman had snuck ahead during the final round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. That's when Martin's Scotty Cameron by Titleist GoLo Tour putter came alive.

Related: Ben Martin rallies in Vegas for first win

After a three-foot tap-in for birdie on the par-4 15th, Martin put his approach from 196 yards on the par-5 16th on the green but 46 feet, 5 inches away and made the bomb for an eagle to take a one-shot lead. Needing just two putts at the last from 19 feet, Martin and his heel-shafted GoLo Tour holed one final putt to secure victory.

Here's the rest of Martin's clubs, which were all Titleist except for a Ping i25 3-wood.

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Titleist 910D3 (Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 7X), 8.5 degrees
3-wood: Ping i25, 14 degrees
Hybrid: Titleist 913H, 17 degrees
Irons (3, 5-PW): Titleist CB 712
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM5 (50, 54 degrees); Titleist Vokey TVD-K Grind (58 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist GoLo Tour

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