Go time with Fowler PGA Tour 12 The Masters

By Win McMurryMarch 4, 2011, 7:14 pm

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JUPITER, Fla. – Tuesday morning, 9 a.m. Rickie Fowler zoomed into his driveway in his all-black Nissan GT-R, from a morning workout. Five slightly less flashy cars were waiting in front of his waterfront home. His agent, the PR team for EA Sports, an ad agency from California, two camera crews, producers, and an EA Sports gaming specialist were on hand joining me for a friendly mano-a-mano with Rickie on the new Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters. The game is scheduled to be released March 29.

Fowler, 22, moved into his home on the Loxahatchee River in November. From his backyard he pointed out the homes of fellow Tour pros Steve Marino and Will Mackenzie and where Mark Calcaveccia and Olin Browne’s homes are as well. As you would expect from a young guy on the go there was not a lot of extensive décor, just the essentials – some picture frames on the walls, a comfy couch, coffee table and a nice, large flat-screen hung on his living room wall. Your “basic” bachelor pad included a turf mat for hitting balls from his living room floor out of the retractable glass living room walls and into the water.

Rickie, in a bright green Puma logoed t-shirt, gym shorts, flip flops, backwards Puma hat and his new Clark Kent-style eyeglasses made by a company named Salt owned by a friend of his, welcomed the whole gang for what he told me was the first time a camera crew had filmed in his new home. We set-up outside by his pool with his dock and dual black and orange jet skis in the background.

Once everything was ready Rickie and I chatted about him being in a video game for the first time, a video game that features Augusta National, which he will play for the first time in the coming weeks before making his first start in the Masters. He’s been playing himself in the new game as a prep for the year’s first major.

We also spoke about his aspirations for his first start at Augusta, the pressure of being hyped as a new star in the PGA Tour’s changing-of-the-guard marketing campaign, his career goals, and the next big “first” we can expect from the first freshman to be named NCAA Player of the Year and first rookie to play in the Ryder Cup.

After our Q & A session, which will air on Golf Central in our countdown to the Masters, we took a seat in front of his TV for me to try my game against his on PlayStation. His avatar is spookily true-to-life. He told me he was able to pick out four favorite outfits for his virtual representation, which, of course, includes his anything-but-traditional all-orange Sunday attire.

Unlike Rickie, I couldn’t play as myself, so I was Paula Creamer. We squared off on Amen Corner. The game looked incredibly true to life. The azaleas I was told were tweaked by Augusta National to be the exact shade and color as they are in tournament conditions. In fact, it looked like we were watching a broadcast of the Masters. Jim Nantz commentated. The Masters music hummed in the background. The graphic packages were spot-on. We had caddies wearing our names on their caddie bibs. The game also takes into account wind conditions and the accurate undulation and speed of the greens and our scores were recorded in a replica of the authentic Augusta National scorecard. After playing the three iconic holes Rickie beat me by a mere shot. I wish that too were true to life!

Other features of the new game included a Masters Classics option where you could try your game against great classic shots in Masters history. Rickie tried unsuccessfully the challenge to make Tiger’s chip-in for birdie on 16 from 2005. Phil’s shot from the pine straw is included as well, but we were told by the gaming specialist not to even try that one, because it was impossible.

Impossible maybe in the game, but obviously not impossible in reality Rickie reminded us, saying that’s one shot he is excited to try when he finally gets to Augusta for the first time. And maybe then, he’ll create his own instant Masters Classic.

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below:

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Bubba gets to drive dream car: K.I.T.T. from 'Knight Rider'

By Grill Room TeamMay 25, 2018, 4:42 pm

Bubba Watson is a known car aficionado.

He purchased the original General Lee from the 1980’s TV show “Dukes of Hazzard” – later saying he was going to paint over the Confederate flag on the vehicle’s roof.

He also auctioned off his 1939 Cadillac LaSalle C-Hawk custom roadster and raised $410,000 for Birdies for the Brave.

He showed off images of his off-road Jeep two years ago.

And he even bought a car dealership near his hometown of Milton, Fla.

While recently appearing on the TV show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the former “Tonight Show” host surprised Watson with another one of his dream cars: K.I.T.T.

The 1982 Pontiac Trans Am was made famous in the ‘80s action show “Knight Rider.”

Though, Bubba didn’t get to keep this one, he did get to drive it.

Bubba Watson gets behind the wheel of his dream car—the KITT from Knight Rider from CNBC.

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Cut Line: USGA readies for Shinnecock 'mulligan'

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 3:26 pm

In this week’s Memorial weekend edition, the European team adheres to the Ryder Cup secret formula, the USGA readies for the ultimate mulligan at next month’s U.S. Open and a bizarre finish at the Florida Mid-Am mystifies the Rules of Golf.

Made Cut

Cart golf. When the U.S. side announced the creation of a Ryder Cup task force following the American loss at Gleneagles in 2014, some Europeans privately – and publicly – snickered.

The idea that the secret sauce could be found in a meeting room did stretch the bounds of reason, yet two years later the U.S. team emerged as winners at Hazeltine National and suddenly the idea of a task force, which is now called a committee, didn’t seem so silly.

To Europe’s credit, they’ve always accomplished this cohesion organically, pulling together their collective knowledge with surprising ease, like this week when European captain Thomas Bjorn rounded out his vice captain crew.

Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald (a group that has a combined 47-40-13 record in the matches) were all given golf cart keys and will join Robert Karlsson as vice captains this year in Paris.

Perhaps it took the Americans a little longer to figure out, but Bjorn knows it’s continuity that wins Ryder Cups.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The USGA’s mulligan. The U.S. Open is less than a month away and with it one of the most anticipated returns in recent major championship history.

The last time the national championship was played at Shinnecock Hills was in 2004 and things didn’t go well, particularly on Sunday when play had to be stopped to water some greens that officials deemed had become unplayable. This week USGA executive director Mike Davis was asked about the association’s last trip to the Hamptons and, to his credit, he didn’t attempt to reinvent history.

“Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief (Goosen) and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”

Put another way, players headed to next month’s championship should look forward to what promises to be a Bounce Back Open.

Tweet of the week:

Homa joined a chorus of comments following Aaron Wise’s victory on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, which included an awkward moment when his girlfriend, Reagan Trussell, backed away as Wise was going in for a kiss.

“No hard feelings at all,” Wise clarified this week. “We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was.”

Missed Cut

Strength of field. The European Tour gathers this week in England for the circuit’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and like the PGA Tour’s marquee stop, The Players, the event appears headed for a new spot on the calendar next year.

As the PGA Tour inches closer to announcing the 2018-19 schedule, which will feature countless new twists and turns including the PGA Championship’s move to May and The Players shift back to March, it also seems likely the makeover will impact the European Tour schedule.

Although the BMW PGA currently draws a solid field, with this week’s event sporting a higher strength of field than the Fort Worth Invitational on the PGA Tour, it’s likely officials won’t want to play the event a week after the PGA Championship (which is scheduled for May 16-19 next year).

In fact, it’s been rumored that the European Tour could move all eight of its Rolex Series events, which are billed as “unmissable sporting occasions,” out of the FedExCup season window, which will end on Aug. 25 next year.

Although the focus has been on how the new PGA Tour schedule will impact the U.S. sports calendar, the impact of the dramatic makeover stretches will beyond the Lower 48.

Rules of engagement. For a game that at times seems to struggle with too much small print and antiquated rules, it’s hard to understand how things played out earlier this month at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Jeff Golden claimed he was assaulted on May 13 by Brandon Hibbs – the caddie for his opponent, Marc Dull, in the championship’s final match. Golden told police that Hibbs struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

The incident occurred during a weather delay and Golden conceded the match to Dull after the altercation, although he wrote in a post on Twitter this week that he was disappointed with the Florida State Golf Association’s decision to accept his concession.

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Because of the conflicting statements, it’s still not clear what exactly happened that day at Coral Creek Club, but the No. 1 rule in golf – protecting the competition and the competitors – seems to have fallen well short.