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Sep 26, 2013 | 03:19 PM

Best and Worst Stats

With the conclusion of the FedExCup Playoffs and the Tour Championship on Sunday, the PGA Tour season is now in the books, so who finished first and last? No, not in FedExCup points or on the money list, but in all the statistical categories like scoring, driving, and putting? Here are a few of the more interesting takeaways: Despite winning the Vardon Trophy, Tiger Woods did not have the lowest adjusted scoring average; semi-retired Steve Stricker did at 68.94, but he didn't win the trophy because he didn't have the required 60 rounds. Luke List led the tour in driving distance at 306.3 yards, but he was last in driving accuracy at 45.58 percent (he also hit it in the left rough more than anyone else at 22.66 percent of the time). Phil Mickelson was first in putting average with 1.718 per green in  regulation, while Vijay Singh was last at 1.888 (he was also last in three other putting categories—that’s what he gets for suing the tour!). Click here to see all the stats.

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Sep 25, 2013 | 12:27 PM

European Breakfast

It was good to hear that Golf Channel just signed a new 10-year deal with the European Tour, because the morning telecasts are one of the things The Buzz likes best about the network, for a number of reasons:

1)    Watching golf before we head to the course gets us excited to play ourselves.
2)    There are a lot of great courses on tour, such as Kingsbarns in this week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and next year's Scottish Open host Royal Aberdeen (above), which we wouldn’t get to see otherwise.
3)    European Tour telecasts beat the heck out of the morning news shows.
4)    With all the scenic bumper shots, they’re like a golf and travel channel combined!
5)    We get to see a lot more of the World’s Most Interesting Golfer, Miguel Angel Jimenez.

The broadcasts have come a long way since the first one, the Dubai Desert Classic won by Fred Couples, aired in 1995, and they’re only going to get better, according to Golf Channel President Mike McCarley. “We're working on a couple of ideas where we can cover things a little differently and innovate," he told Golf.com. “The last few years we've taken a much more active role in collaborating with the European Tour on their premier events to make for better viewing in the United States. George [O'Grady, CEO of the European Tour] and I have had good conversations. They're very open.”

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Sep 24, 2013 | 10:25 AM

Kickstarting The Golf Industry

About 20 years ago, the golf industry changed dramatically when Callaway Golf, followed by other companies, went public, allowing golfers to invest in their favorite game. If the stock market isn’t your second favorite game but you still want to support the industry, check out Kickstarter, one of a number of websites that offer real people the chance to help a new company or product get started. There are some golf gadgets currently looking for initial funding, including SmartClaw, an oversized golf tee that looks like a crab leg and is guaranteed for life. The inventor is looking for $2,000 and has three weeks left on the site, which puts restrictions on all its projects. SmartClaw might not be your dream investment, but who knows? Maybe the next Ely Callaway is out there now looking for a few angels. (Note: This is not an endorsement, just something The Buzz found interesting.)

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Sep 23, 2013 | 10:28 AM

History Repeats Itself

A century and a day later, Francis Ouimet once again took on Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in the 1913 U.S. Open playoff at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. On Saturday, September 21, 2013, before more than 250 spectators in period-dress costume, the three golfers played the same, final four holes as on Saturday, September 20, 1913, hitting the same shots as described in newspaper accounts of the day.

And, once more, the 17th hole proved decisive when Vardon, trailing Ouimet by one shot, hit his tee shot into a fairway bunker, could advance the ball only 70 yards, and eventually took a bogey, while Ouimet hit his second shot, a mashie niblick, onto the green and sunk the birdie putt (with the invisible aid of a nylon filament) for a three-shot lead.

The re-creation was played with wood-shafted golf clubs from the early 1900's, and with golf balls designed to repeat the performance of balls from that era; the drives of all three players averaged in excess of 200 yards.

After Ouimet parred the 18th hole, the same post-match speeches delivered by the players and USGA Secretary John Reid, Jr. in 1913 were again delivered on the steps of the clubhouse porch. A copy of the same U.S. Open trophy (provided by the USGA) was again presented to the unlikely winner—the 20-year-old amateur and former caddie from across the street, Francis Ouimet.

The roles of Ouimet, Vardon, and Ray were all filled by members of The Country Club: John Dean, who played on the Cornell golf team during 2009-12, took the role of Ouimet; Scott Dabney, a 1-handicap golfer, played Vardon; and Robert Manice, a single-digit golfer, captured the swing and presence of the big-hitting Ray. Eddie Lowery was played by James Sanford, a caddie at The Country Club, whose grandfather, as a 12-year-old, had caddied for the real Francis Ouimet and Eddie Lowery. Also on hand: Ouimet's granddaughter, Sheila Macomber, and Lowery's daughter, Cynthia Wilcox.

The re-creation of the playoff's closing holes was part of a larger centenary celebration of Ouimet's historic triumph; during the day at The Country Club, no vehicles newer than 1913 were on the property (the vintage cars included a Model T and a Packard), horse-and-carriages were used, a bi-plane flew over during play on the 16th green, and a herd of sheep (the original lawnmowers in the game of golf and at The Country Club), were also present.

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