Devil Ball Golf

  • Thomas Bjorn named 2018 European Ryder Cup captain

    Ryan Ballengee at Devil Ball Golf 1 day ago

    Europe has found its man to lead them back to the Ryder Cup in 2018.

    Thomas Bjorn is the new European Ryder Cup captain, landing the job for the next matches in the biennial series in Paris. Bjorn earned the vote of a five-person panel to get the captaincy, succeeding Darren Clarke, whose team lost 17-11 at Hazeltine National in October. The defeat marked the first time the Europeans had lost since 2008 in Kentucky. However, the Europeans haven’t lost a home game since 1993, when Tom Watson led the U.S. side for the first time in Ireland.

    “It’s a huge honor for me to be named European captain for the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris,” Bjorn said. “This is one of the greatest days in my career.”

    Bjorn is the first Scandinavian golfer to lead the European Ryder Cup team, taking the position after a Ryder Cup career that began in 1997 at Valderrama. The Dane was also on winning European teams in 2002 and 2014, totaling a 3-4-2 record. He’s also been a vice-captain, doing so in 2004, ’10, ’12 and ’16.

    Bjorn has been chairman of the European Tour’s three-player Tournament Committee since 2007, a post which he’ll relinquish now that he’s European captain.

  • Jaye Marie Green wins LPGA Tour Q-school for the second time

    Ryan Ballengee at Devil Ball Golf 1 day ago

    You might call it a dubious distinction, but Jaye Marie Green would probably tell you that it proves she can handle pressure.

    Green won the final stage of LPGA Tour Q-school on Sunday, taking a one-stroke win at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., in the 90-hole event to earn one of 20 LPGA Tour cards for 2017 offered through the top available priority group, Category 17. Green finished at 13 under par, beating Olafia Kristinsdottir of Iceland.

    So, the dubious distinction for Green, who is just 22 years old, is that this is her second-career final-stage win. Back in 2013, Green won the qualifying tournament at a record 29 under par. That makes her the first person to win the final stage twice since the event moved to Daytona Beach in 1991. The experience of winning in the past was more of a help for her than finishing 112th on the money list to land herself in this position.

    “I knew I had to play well to get my card and now I know that I can make a putt to win so there are a lot of positives to take away,” she said. “Now I know I can play well under the gun. Going into next year, I have this experience to draw on.”

  • Hideki Matsuyama hurtling toward world No. 1 after torrid run

    Ryan Ballengee at Devil Ball Golf 2 days ago

    Hideki Matsuyama has finished no worse than second in his last five starts. He’s won four times, including on Sunday at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. That bookends a stretch in which Matsuyama also won the WGC-HSBC Champions for his second official PGA Tour win and his national Open in Japan.

    Suddenly, Matsuyama is on the precipice of breaking through into the top five in the Official World Golf Ranking. Look out, Jordan Spieth.

    Always recognized as a great ball-striker — one of the best on the planet, in fact — the 24-year-old has struggled with putting. In this run, however, his putting has, at a minimum, not hurt him. For the developing sensation, that has led to more confidence on the greens that can lead to somewhat self-fulfilling results.

    “When I putt well, I can contend,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270 to beat Henrik Stenson by two shots at Albany Golf Club.

    “But these last five weeks I’ve been able to make some putts, and the more putts you make, the bigger the hole gets and the confidence grows and that’s played a big part in it.”

  • Hideki Matsuyama wins Hero World Challenge, extends run of domination

    Jay Busbee at Devil Ball Golf 2 days ago

    NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND, Bahamas—Tiger Woods was never a serious threat to win the Hero World Challenge, and thanks to Hideki Matsuyama, neither was anyone else.

    Matsuyama lit the Albany Golf Club course on fire with an 18-under performance and a two-stroke victory over Henrik Stenson that wasn’t nearly that close. Matsuyama was in control all weekend long, passing J.B. Holmes and shedding Dustin Johnson en route to the victory. Matters got a bit rocky toward the end; nerves may have sabotaged Matsuyama, whose Sunday 73 was his worst score by six strokes. His seven-stroke cushion over Stenson dwindled to two, but he was able to keep the relentless Stenson at bay long enough to hold on for the trophy.

    “I can’t say that I played well today,” Matsuyama said afterward, “but I did win Tiger’s tournament, and what a great honor that is.”

    “I was miles away,” Stenson said. “It reminded me of the final round at [the U.S. Open at] Pinehurst in 2014, when [Martin] Kaymer was miles ahead and you were just kind of walking in a bit of a vacuum.”

  • Where will Tiger Woods play next?

    Jay Busbee at Devil Ball Golf 2 days ago

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    NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND, Bahamas — Now that Tiger Woods is back in the mix, playing well enough not to embarrass himself, if not necessarily win tournaments, the next question is: where will we see Woods next?

    “I would like, in my heart of hearts, to play a full schedule next year,” Woods said after Sunday’s final round at the Hero World Challenge. “I really want to play.” A full schedule for Woods likely means 15 to 20 events, plus non-Tour events and exhibitions; he played 16 Tour events in 2013 and 19 in 2012.

    Given that Woods will play Augusta any time he’s not actually on fire, we can start at the Masters and work backward. There are 15 tournaments on the PGA Tour slate between now and that first full week in April. So let’s strike a few right off the tee:

    So what does that leave?

    • The Tiger Woods Foundation now operates the Genesis Open (the new name for the former L.A. Open/Northern Trust Open) at Riviera in February, so it’s an all-but-certain lock he’ll be in the field there.

  • Tiger Woods' return a success, even if victory's a long way off

    Jay Busbee at Devil Ball Golf 2 days ago

    NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND, Bahamas — Let’s call this what it is, before the moment cools: the single greatest performance in the history of Tiger Woods’ career.

    Nah, not really. Woods’ 15th-place finish (in a 17-player field) in the Hero World Challenge was a milestone, perhaps even a triumph, since Woods was about 50-50 odds to even finish the tournament at all. But we’re in an era of expectations diminished to the point of invisibility for Woods; if he’s able to swing a club without his back igniting, that counts as a success.

    “It feels good to be back out here playing again, trying to beat the best players in the world,” Woods said shortly after the round. “I missed it. I love it.”

    Woods played four straight rounds of respectable, often impressive golf, showing flashes of the spectacular play that was once routine. But he also showed the effects of 16 months away from the course, fading hard at the end of every round, concluding with a double bogey on his 72nd hole.

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  • Tiger Woods’ return, Day 3: 'Not quite there, but it’s coming'

    Jay Busbee at Devil Ball Golf 3 days ago

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    NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND, Bahamas — Turns out climbing back to the top of the mountain is a hell of a lot tougher than getting there the first time.

    Tiger Woods’ Grand Return hit a mud patch late Saturday afternoon, sputtering to a two-under-par 70 and an eight-under overall score after the kind of impressive, four-birdies-in-five-holes start that made even curmudgeons start wondering if maybe this guy was plugging into some long-lost mojo. With every long putt and sand save, every bombed drive and dart-accurate pitch, the years seemed to melt away and Woods seemed the Woods of old.

    Woods was playing with Rickie Fowler Saturday, but he could have been playing with Mickelson, or Els, or Garcia, or Norman, or Watson, or even Nicklaus, any of the greats whom Woods had sized up and beaten head-to-head. He was playing in front of galleries of a few dozen, but it wasn’t hard to call up images of him pulling off these kinds of shots in front of thousands stacked 20 deep. Nobody said this comeback would be easy, but Woods was making it look that way as he plowed around the front nine in 32.

  • Tiger Woods brings even more momentum to his return

    Jay Busbee at Devil Ball Golf 3 days ago

    NASSAU, Bahamas — Forgot about what Tiger Woods could do, didn’t you?

    Forgot how he could grab control of a leaderboard. Forgot how he could make a better shot than you could even imagine. Forgot how he could singlehandedly take down an entire tournament, nothing but him, his putter and that stare.

    Woods started the first two days at the Hero World Challenge by hitting every realistic mark. Saturday, he got ridiculous.

    With all the conditionals about this being an easy setup and a small field, the facts remain: Woods opened his third round with four birdies in the first five holes. After being nine strokes off the lead after the first day, by his fifth hole on Saturday he was just two strokes behind Hideki Matsuyama and Dustin Johnson atop the leaderboard.

    Still, considering the fact that we figured there was a decent chance some body part on Woods would detonate and he wouldn’t even finish the tournament, what he’s done so far at the Hero World Challenge has been an unqualified success.

    He sits at 8-under for the tournament, after a double bogey on 18, middle of the pack for this now 17-person field.

  • Tiger Woods wasted little time switching back to his Scotty Cameron putter

    Ryan Ballengee at Devil Ball Golf 3 days ago

    Tiger Woods is putting well in his comeback at the Hero World Challenge, and he is thanking an old friend for helping him.

    Woods put in his bag this week the Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter he used to win 13 of his 14 major championships. It’s a move he made quickly after Nike Golf announced in August that they would be getting out of the golf-club business. How quickly?

    “The day that we (Nike) were no longer a part of the hardgoods side,” Woods said Friday.

    Woods said earlier in the week that the Newport 2 and the Scotty Cameron by Titleist Teryllium Newport he used to win the 1997 Masters are the only two putters off-limits to his son, Charlie, in his home putting studio.

    “These two, Daddy only,” Woods said, referring to those putters.

    Dating back to 2010, Woods had been using varying Nike Method putters, but he didn’t win a major championship using a Swoosh-branded flat stick. And now we know he likely never will.

    However, Nike isn’t completely out of Woods’ bag. Hardly. He’s using the same Nike VR Pro blades he had been using prior to his pair of 2015 back surgeries that put him on the shelf for 15 months.

  • Report: Peyton Manning invited to join Augusta National Golf Club

    Ryan Ballengee at Devil Ball Golf 3 days ago

    Pey-ton in a green jack-et.

    Retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning is apparently set to become a member of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, according to a report from Austin Rhodes of the Augusta-area radio station, WGAC.

    I have a report that the Augusta National has invited Peyton Manning to become a member!

    — Austin Rhodes (@GetAustinRhodes) November 25, 2016

    Augusta National does not (and is under no obligation to) discuss membership matters, so it’s not like there will be confirmation or denial. However, according to Woody Paige of the Colorado Springs Gazette, Manning was playing golf at Augusta National recently.

    “Peyton’s at Augusta [National] playing golf,” Manning’s father, Archie, told Paige. “I think he’s really enjoying his retirement, but I know he misses the game.”

    Manning retired after winning the Super Bowl in February with the Denver Broncos, his second Super Bowl win.