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5 things to talk about on the course: Kentucky's dominance, "The Last Man on Earth," and a Brad-Jen stinker

From sports to TV to politics (OK, so mostly the first two), we offer five hot topics that are sure to liven up your round of golf:

1. March Madness: By the end of this weekend, the Final Four will be set. In other words, we'll know the other three teams that will have a chance to get blown out by Kentucky. The Wildcats destroyed West Virginia 78-39 on Thursday night after a freshman Mountaineer guaranteed a win. Stupid freshman. Actually, Notre Dame, after its own thrashing of Wichita State, could give Kentucky a good game in the Elite 8 on Saturday night. Don't laugh. Saturday's other game, Wisconsin vs. Arizona should be great too. The only bad part about Arizona getting there is the fact they eliminated Xavier and everyman/Uber driver Matt Stainbrook in the process:

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Fear the rec specs!

We'll miss watching you play, Matt, but we're confident you and your old-school game will be dominating YMCA pick-up games for decades to come.

Related: Vote in our ultimate golf excuse bracket

2. Fantasy baseball: MLB Opening Day is fast approaching, meaning fantasy baseball drafts are happening all across the country. My league's auction draft is on Saturday and I'm actually in decent shape entering the season for once with Clayton Kershaw and Troy Tulowitzki coming back as keepers. Anyone have any good sleeper suggestions? I've done less preparation than John Calipari does before a typical Kentucky game. Please help.

3. Aaron Baddeley: In case you missed it (sadly, all the cameras did), the 34-year-old Aussie made the craziest birdie ever on the 17th hole in Thursday's first round of the Valero Texas Open. How can we say that with such certainty? Well, have you ever heard about a player taking an unplayable after a wild drive, trudging back to the tee on a par 4 and then holing his third shot from 332 yards? Didn't think so. Baddeley said all he did differently for the second time was choke down on his driver and hit a straight ball. Yep, it's that easy!

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"It doesn't matter what the critics are saying, we're still getting paid!"

4. "Serena": Jennifer Lawrence stars in this Serena Williams biopic that comes out in theaters this weekend. Kidding. J-Law is a great actress, but she's not that great. No, the movie also stars Bradley Cooper and it's set in North Carolina during the Great Depression. But despite the star power, apparently, there's not the same magic that we saw with these two in "Silver Linings Playbook." In fact, these reviews (New York Times, Time Magazine, Daily Beast, etc.) are some of the worst I can remember reading. Sounds like something I'd only watch if it were the last movie on Earth. That reminds me. . .

5. "The Last Man on Earth": After not being thrilled by the premise of this new Fox sitcom, I finally gave it a chance and I'm all in. First of all, Will Forte is fantastic. I've also always really liked him because I'm 95 percent sure I played a dawn-patrol round with him by chance years ago after he'd come straight from a Saturday Nigh Live post-show party. And if it wasn't him, I don't want to know because I don't want to ruin the story. Speaking of potentially ruining the story. . . SPOILER ALERT: If you notice, the title doesn't say anything about women. 2ND SPOILER ALERT: The title might also not be 100 percent true. Sorry, but I tell you these things to get you to watch because the title might scare you off. Now go support my golf buddy!

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Gear & Equipment

What happened to Troy Merritt's 2-iron (and Phil Mickelson's 8-iron) isn't normal

OK, what the heck is going on at the Valero Texas Open? The first day featured the craziest birdie ever by Aaron Baddeley as well as 31 players failing to break 80 at TPC San Antonio in windy conditions. It also provided two of the strangest equipment malfunctions you'll ever see.

Related: 9 costly equipment rules blunders

First, Troy Merritt, whose 2-iron's face caved in somehow on the 11th hole:

Merritt, remembering where a lot of his bread is buttered, was quick to offer a follow-up tweet promoting his equipment sponsor. Smart.

But TPC San Antonio didn't discriminate when it came to embarrassing players or breaking certain brands of equipment. Phil Mickelson had the head of his Callaway 8-iron snap off at impact while hitting out of a fairway bunker on the 12th hole:

Hey, you know what they say about messing with Texas.

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Trending

Michelle Wie looks sharp in Self Magazine despite playing a yellow ball

Michelle Wie appeared in the April issue of Self Magazine to bestow her "4 Tips to Perform Better Under Pressure." There's some good stuff from the LPGA Tour star in there, as well as some good photos.

So honored to be featured in the April Edition of Self Magazine!! #thementalist @nikegolf @selfmagazine ,

A photo posted by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Related: The Oscars shows its anti-golf bias once again

@SelfMagazine  #AprilEdition #TheMentalist

A photo posted by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

The four areas Wie touches on are resilience, confidence, grit and focus. Coincidentally, those are all things you need if you're going to pull off playing with a yellow ball.

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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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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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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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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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Fantasy Golf

Fantasy Fix: Why Jim Furyk's winless drought will end in Texas

What an odd season it's been on the PGA Tour. Through 19 events, we've seen 19 different winners, yet three golfers have already repeated in tournaments they won last year. In other words, if you've been picking defending champs, you've probably been doing pretty well. Maybe we should start using that strategy this week with the Valero Texas Open. Last year's edition was won by. . . let's see here. . . Steven Bowditch. Hmm. Maybe we'll start next week. Sorry Steven, but here's who we're going with in our Yahoo! weekly lineup instead:

The Grind: Golf's March Madness and the PGA Tour's new "it" couple

Starters -- (A-List): Jim Furyk. The Grinder is coming off a rare bad performance (T-40 at Innisbrook), but he's fared well in his two trips to the difficult TPC San Antonio. Furyk has shot under par in seven of his eight rounds to finish T-3 and T-6 the past two years on what he described last year as a "tough, grueling golf course." Does anyone enjoy those more than Furyk?

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(B-List): Jimmy Walker. Perhaps, playing in front of a home crowd will lift Walker out of his recent lull. The San Antonio resident hasn't finished in the top 20 in three straight events. More telling of how he's played this season, though, is he still sits atop the FedEx Cup standings.

Related: The top 25 viral golf videos of 2014

(B-List): Jordan Spieth. The 21-year-old Texan looked great in picking up his second PGA Tour title at the Valspar Championship two weeks ago. Even more impressive? He did it while in the process of buying his first house.

(C-List): Brendan Steele. A winner at TPC San Antonio, Steele also backed up that lone PGA Tour title with a T-4 the following year. Now, Steele is playing the most consistent golf of his career with 14 straight made cuts, including a runner-up at the Humana Challenge.

Bench/Backups: Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, and Justin Thomas.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Jim Furyk. This is the week! We can feel it! The long winless streak stops here! Hey, if we're going to continue to have a different winner on tour every week, the seventh-ranked player in the world has to win eventually. . . right?

Previously used: Keegan Bradley (Bay Hill), Paul Casey (Honda), Jason Day (Famers -- WINNER!), Luke Donald (Valspar), Jamie Donaldson (Doral), Bill Haas (Riviera), Charles Howell III (Sony), Dustin Johnson (Pebble), Geoff Ogilvy (Hyundai), Ryan Palmer (Humana), Brendan Steele (Phoenix).

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News & Tours

Keegan Bradley's college coach got fired, and he's so mad he took the school logo off his bag

Former St. John's golfer Keegan Bradley has always been proud of where he came from, so much so that he had his alma mater's logo prominently displayed on his tour bag. Well, until recently anyway. 

Following the abrupt dismissal of St. John's long-time men's coach, Frank Darby, after the fall season, Bradley has decided to remove the logo from his bag

"I'm pretty disappointed with the school," Bradley told Bloomberg in standing up for his former coach. "Chris Monasch [the athletic director at SJU] doesn't really care about the golf team. He never did when I was there at least." 

Darby had been at St. John's since 1994, his squads winning more than two dozen tournaments during his tenure. In 2014, his last season, the Red Storm won the Big East title, and Darby was named conference coach of the year. Clearly he had maintained a successful team while being located in the New York City borough of Queens -- not exactly the easiest place to play golf. So, what the heck happened? 

When I gave Darby a call, he said he wasn't at liberty to talk about the details of his firing. He did tell me: "There are a few more wrinkles. I will be able to talk, but just not now. I don't agree with what they did."

While dealing with everything that is going on, Darby is thankful for the support from his most famous alum, whom he still talks to regularly. 

"I give Keegan a lot of credit for speaking up," Darby said. "He respected how I did things there and I respect the way he did things there, and more importantly the things he's done after. It's more about life than just playing golf."

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Weird Golf News

Golf protest by man living in a tree ends abruptly when man falls out of tree

Last week we brought you the odd story of two protesters living in a tree in New Orleans' Sharp Park in an effort to stop construction of a new $25 million golf course. Now the situation has gotten even stranger.

The lone man standing, er, sitting fell out of the tree on Tuesday, according to Nola.com. Witnesses say Jonathan "Lloyd" Boover flipped out of a hammock perched midway up the tree. He appeared to injure his nose, leg and foot, and was eventually taken away by an ambulance.

Related: Bold thief steals set of golf clubs in broad daylight

Lloyd, the name he was known by among fellow protestors, had been living in the tree since March 13. That's 11 days of living in a tree. Hammock or not, that's impressive.

A female, known only by her protest name of Heart, came down a week before after spending four days with Lloyd in the tree. Lloyd was thought to be running low on supplies. He waved to a crowd of supporters as he was carried away on a stretcher.

City officials had decided they wouldn't forcibly remove the protesters, but a police officer had been assigned to watch him. An arrest warrant was also issued for Lloyd for disturbing the peace and criminal trespassing.

Related: More weird golf news

"Mr. Boover chose to interfere in the construction of the golf course . . . he broke the law and now becomes the subject of civil and criminal action," said City Park spokesperson Marc Ehrhardt.

Construction of the Rees Jones design had continued with Lloyd in the tree and the course is scheduled to be finished by February 2017.

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