Jack Nicklaus and Kid Rock — yes, Kid Rock — win Skins Shootout tournament

Musician Kid Rock hits a tee shot on the third hole during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at the Pebble Beach Golf Links on February 8, 2014 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

When you hear the phrase “Kid Rock and Jack Nicklaus walk onto a golf course,” you expect a punchline to follow.

How’s this for an ending — “and win a tournament together.”

It doesn’t seem close to the funniest potential finish, until you realize this isn’t a joke.

This actually happened.

Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, and Nicklaus paired up to win the inaugural Skins Shootout at the Bass Pro Legends of Golf tournament at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri last weekend. The two took down Gary Player and Lee Trevino.

Kid Rock, a five-time Grammy winner, was a late addition to the nine-hole shootout and admitted he had some nerves about playing alongside a trio of golf legends.

“Yeah, it was nuts man,” he told KSDK. “I don’t get nervous much but I was a little bit today and then I started swinging and I’m like, ‘Man, stuff’s working out.’”

That was a humble assessment according to the Golden Bear.

“He hit the ball great,” Nicklaus said. “He told me he’s a member down there at Bear’s Club and I’ve never played with him before and he said he started practicing last week. He said he’s got blisters all over his hands. He said, ‘I didn’t know if they were gonna hit anything,’ and he hits eight out of nine greens. That’s pretty good.”

Rory McIlroy’s extravagant wedding set for Saturday in Ireland

Erica Stoll, Rory McIlroy and John Fitzpatrick at at a gala for the American Ireland Fund on Feb. 11, 2016. (Melanie Bell / Palm Beach Daily News)

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy’s next PGA event will reportedly be his first as a married man.

The 27-year-old is set to wed fiancee Erica Stoll on April 22 in Ireland, according to the Belfast Telegraph. Golf insiders are reportedly dubbing it the “wedding of the decade” with the sport’s biggest stars expected to attend along with McIlroy’s pop-star friend Niall Horan of One Direction.

The ceremony will be held inside an historic Irish castle and could feature a performance by Coldplay.

Sounds no different than your nuptials, right?

“I am excited,” McIlroy said at the Masters. “It’s a great time in my life, and it would have been nice to walk down the aisle in the green jacket!

“It’s a great time in our lives and it’s all about that over the next couple of weeks and I’ll come back at the Players refreshed and a married man and start a new chapter in my life.”

McIlory met Stoll in 2012, when she was working for the PGA of America and helped him get a police escort to make his tee time at the Ryder Cup after a scheduling mixup.

The two began dating after McIlroy ended his engagement with former No. 1 tennis player Caroline Wozniacki. McIlroy and Stoll were engaged in December 2015.

McIlroy finished in a tie for seventh at the Masters after shooting a three under par. He will make his next start at TPC Sawgrass in search of his first Players title.

Lexi Thompson loses lead in major after TV viewer calls in rules violation

Lexi Thompson cries in a towel as she walks to the 18th green after her second shot during the final round of the ANA Inspiration on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club on April 2, 2017 in Rancho Mirage, California. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

Lexi Thompson was positioned for a smooth landing into the year’s first LPGA major, up three strokes on the field with six holes remaining.

Then, a television viewer intervened via email to inform officials about a day-old rules violation. The infraction occurred on the 17th green Saturday, when she replaced her coin mark with the ball but put it maybe an inch out of position.

As small as the mistake was — tournament officials hadn’t seen it — the penalty was equally severe. Thompson was assessed a four-stroke penalty; two for incorrect ball placement, two for signing an incorrect scorecard (which, at the time, everyone believed was correct).

Thompson was alerted to the violation and punishment by a rules official on her way to the 13th tee at the ANA Inspiration.

“Is this a joke?” Thompson asked. Assured it wasn’t, she said, “This is ridiculous.”

Thompson teed off at 13 in tears. She had gone from a seemingly comfortable cruise to her second career major victory to knocked out of the lead.

She persevered and forced a playoff with three birdies down the stretch. But So Yeon Ryu birdied the playoff hole to take the trophy — plus $155,000 more than Thompson collected.

“It’s unfortunate what happened,” Thompson said. “I did not mean that at all. I didn’t realize I did that. I felt strong through the finish, and it was great to see the fans behind me.”

Thompson’s support extended to the digital realm, where Tiger Woods immediately offered his thoughts on Twitter. 

Even through tears, Thompson took the heartbreak as well as anyone could.

“Every day is a learning process,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting what happened today, but … it happens, and I’ll learn from it and hopefully do better.”

Rickie Fowler sports spikes at Bay Hill paying homage to Arnold Palmer

A look at the high-tops that Fowler will wear this week at Bay Hill. (Courtesy of Puma)

The first Arnold Palmer Invitational since The King’s death was sure to be rich with tributes to the seven-time major winner.

But it’s hard to envision a cooler homage than Rickie Fowler’s new footwear.

His sponsor, Puma, constructed two pairs of handmade shoes to honor Palmer.

The sides are adorned with photo collages of Palmer. The Velcro strap features a laser-engraving of his signature and the iconic umbrella logo.

A quote from Fowler on Palmer’s influence is found behind the tongue of the right shoe and reads: “Legends never die. You will live on forever Arnie. I will never forget the bear hug in front of the clubhouse at Augusta, watching you hit your final tee shot there, and to spending time with you in the locker room at Bay Hill. Thank you for being you and giving me the opportunity to do what I get to do everyday! I love you as did everyone! RIP The King.”

According to a news release, two pairs of the Puma Golf Hi-Top were made. Fowler will wear one pair as he plays. He’ll autograph the other so it can be auctioned off to support Palmer’s charity, Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation. The ebay bid was up to $10,300 as of Friday morning.

“To have the shoes, something different, it’s kind of a collage of Arnie through his years of golf,” Fowler told USA Today. “So it’s pretty cool. I told some people I’m not sure if I’m going to take them off. I had to put them on last night to lace them up properly and make sure they were good to go for this morning. It’s going to be a special week and I’m glad I was able to put a couple things together and as well as my sponsors stepping up as well.”

Jack Nicklaus ‘puzzled’ by Tiger Woods’ recent struggles, injuries

This June 3, 2012, file photo shows Jack Nicklaus, left, and Tiger Woods talking after Woods won the Memorial golf tournament at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.  Nicklaus says he was "painting a picture" when he suggested after a practice round with Tiger Woods at the 1996 Masters that Woods had the game to win at least 10 green jackets. He referred to Woods as a "puzzle" on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Honda Classic. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
This June 3, 2012, file photo shows Jack Nicklaus, left, and Tiger Woods talking after Woods won the Memorial golf tournament at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. Nicklaus referred to Woods as a “puzzle” on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Honda Classic. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

Jack Nicklaus seems like the perfect person to diagnose Tiger Woods’ golf problems.

The Golden Bear is the only one ahead of Woods on the all-time majors wins list. But that hasn’t given Nicklaus a better feel for Woods’ struggles than anyone else.

“I’m a bit puzzled by it,” Nicklaus told NBC at the Honda Classic on Sunday. “I’ve seen Tiger a little bit in the last several months, but he looked great. Physically, he looks fantastic. Mentally, he’s talking. He sounded great.

“Then he goes and plays and he either physically can’t make it — maybe mentally and physically they work together. I don’t really know. I’m not sure if anyone knows. It’s sad to me because he’s such a great talent. He’s a good kid. He’s got so much ability. I’m sad to see it happen to him. I hope he gets it corrected.”

Woods once appeared destined to break — and possibly shatter — Nicklaus’ career mark of 18 majors.

Woods was 32 when he captured major No. 14, claiming the 2008 U.S. Open after a 19-hole playoff thriller with Rocco Mediate. Nicklaus got his 14th at age 35, a two-stroke victory at the 1975 PGA Championship.

But Woods hasn’t added to his major collection since.

He went from August 2015 to January without playing due to back issues, then promptly missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open. Back spasms forced him to withdraw after one round at the Dubai Desert Classic and kept him out of the Genesis Open, the Honda Classic and even a scheduled press conference.

“That is the biggest puzzle to me that I know,” Nicklaus said. “I just don’t know where he is and where his mind is.”

Photos: Honda Classic spectator bloodied by errant shot from golfer C.T. Pan

A spectator was hit on the head with a golf ball by C.T. Pan, left, on the 18th hole during the Honda Classic golf tournament in Palm Beach Gardens on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. According to the Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue team, the man was given minor first aid treatment. Pan gave the man a signed golf ball after the incident. (Michael Ares / The Palm Beach Post) *NOTE: The man didn't wish to give out his name. The golfer's full name is Pan Cheng-tsung, he is from Taiwan.
A spectator was hit on the head with a golf ball by C.T. Pan, left, on the 18th hole during the Honda Classic golf tournament in Palm Beach Gardens on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. According to the Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue team, the man was given minor first aid treatment. Pan gave the man a signed golf ball after the incident. (Michael Ares / The Palm Beach Post)

PGA Tour rookie C.T. Pan hit a wild second shot on No. 18 that hooked left of the green and struck a spectator in the head.

There was blood on the spectator’s head and shirt and he received some minor treatment from Palm Beach Gardens Fire Department officers on site. The man, who did not want to give his name to a Palm Beach Post photographer, received a golf ball with Pan’s phone number on it as an apology.

“Hit a spectator on 18 today and watched him fall,” Pan wrote on his Twitter feed. “Worst feeling I have ever had. Hopefully he is fine.”

After The Post originally reported Pan gave the fan a signed ball, Pan tweeted: “It wasn’t a signed ball. I put my number on the ball in case needs anything I can help.”

A tweeter called Pan a derogatory name, to which he replied: “FYI, I already ordered some shirts for him before you (called me a name).”

Clearly Pan was rattled after the accident, but he kept his focus to birdie the hole with a 28-foot putt. His opening scores of 66 and 68 have the former University of Washington golfer near the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend. He has two wins on the Canadian PGA Tour and in 2013 was No. 1 in the world amateur rankings.

[FULL HONDA CLASSIC COVERAGE]

[Gallery: Latest images from the 2017 Honda Classic]

[Rory McIlroy: Golf with Trump wasn’t ‘endorsement nor a political statement’]

A fan at the Honda Classic was hit in the head by another errant shot back in 2014. That fan, Edwin Curtis of Palm Beach Gardens, was left with a large welt on the left side of his head courtesy of a George McNeill shot, also on the 18th hole.

Below are more photos from the incident.

PGA pro Pat Perez rips Tiger Woods: He ‘knows he can’t beat anybody’

PACIFIC PALISADES, CA - FEBRUARY 19: Pat Perez plays his shot from the second tee during the final round at the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club on February 19, 2017 in Pacific Palisades, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Pat Perez plays his shot from the second tee during the final round at the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club on February 19, 2017 in Pacific Palisades, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

PGA Tour winner Pat Perez is paid to give his candid thoughts.

He earned his money this week while holding nothing back on the present and future of Tiger Woods on the “Out of Bounds” show Perez co-hosts with ESPN’s Michael Collins on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio.

“(Tiger) knows he can’t beat anybody,” Perez said. “He knows it. The guy shot 77 [in the first round in Dubai]. That guy can’t shoot 77. What does he do the next day? ‘Ah, my back’s gone.’ He knows he can’t beat anybody.”

Woods, who had two back surgeries and a follow-up procedure between April 2014 and October 2015, laid out an ambitious start to his year. He planned to make four starts in five weeks, but he will only have played three of those possible 16 rounds.

The rough start in Dubai referenced by Perez led to an early withdrawal by Woods, who cited back spasms as the reason. He said the ailment made doctors advise him to skip both the Genesis Open and The Honda Classic, which is currently taking place at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.

Perez said he thinks there is more to it.

“He’s not going to come out and play, and play poorly,” Perez said.

Woods has not updated his future plans and schedule.

Perez thinks whether Woods plays the Masters could signal what — if anything — the future holds.

“If he doesn’t play Augusta, it’s over!” Perez said. “Personally, I don’t think you’ll see him again this year.”

Perez, whose comments have understandably caused a stir, has since tried to clarify his take.

“My whole point that he can’t beat anyone is that he only shows up to tournaments when he thinks he can win,” Perez told Golf Digest. “So he must be hurt still if he’s playing poorly and pulling out of tournaments. It probably sounded harsh the way it came out, but what I meant by that is he is probably still hurt.”

Perez said he has exchanged text messages with Woods, who wasn’t pleased but said he is entitled to his opinion.

Rory McIlroy one of Tiger Woods’ ‘biggest fans’

Tiger Woods of the United States and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland shake hands on the 18th green during the final round of the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2015 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Tiger Woods of the United States and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland shake hands on the 18th green during the final round of the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2015 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

When Rory McIlroy talks — or, in this case, types — something interesting often comes out of it.

And since the world’s No. 2 golfer is sidelined by stress fractures in his ribs, he has ample time to dish out several interesting somethings.

He recently participated in a five-day email interview with golf.com’s Michael Bamberger, discussing everything from his fiancee Erica Stoll to Tiger Woods and Tom Brady. Suffice it to say, he’s a fan of all three.

Stoll elicited the most insightful response of the session. McIlroy brought her up when asked which person has made the greatest impact to his off-course life.

“The only way I can describe it is if golf were to disappear tomorrow, I don’t think I’d miss it as much as I would have a few years ago,” McIlroy said. “I felt I needed golf to be complete as a person … I don’t feel like that anymore.”

As for Woods, McIlroy said he was and is “one of his biggest fans.

“I remember [him winning the 1999 Masters] like it was yesterday,” he said. “I think if you ask any fan of golf or tour player around my age, they will give you the exact same answer.”

McIlroy said he didn’t get to know Woods well until 2012, when he inked an endorsement deal with Nike. He credited Woods for handling the public portion of his celebrity “very well for the most part” and noted today’s world makes that a constant challenge.

“Privacy is a very uncommon commodity for most people these days,” McIlroy remarked. “I can see why Tiger longs for it so much.”

While McIlroy is a bigger fan of “football football” than “American football” — the word soccer is “very hard for me to use” — he did correctly predict the Patriots would prevail in Super Bowl LI. But the manner in which it played out, with New England erasing a 25-point deficit in the second half, prompted McIlroy to call it “the most incredible comeback I think I’ve ever witnessed in sports.”

On the health front, McIlory said he is “progressing well” and focused on “building it back up slowly.”

Honda Classic 2017: Full schedule of events at PGA National

honda-classic-logo-blackBelow is a complete schedule of the activities and special events the week of The Honda Classic.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16
7 – 10 p.m.: Kick off Party

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20
12:30 – 5 p.m.: The Honda Classic Pro-Am (Champion Course)

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21
All day: PGA TOUR Professionals Practice Rounds (Champion Course)
9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.: Executive Women’s Day
4 p.m.: Junior Clinic with PGA TOUR Professionals Emiliano Grillo and Bryson Dechambeau

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 22
All Day: The Honda Classic Cares Pro-Am presented by Tire Kingdom (Champion Course)

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23 
7 a.m.: The Honda Classic – First Round Begins – Pairings & Tee Times
6 – 10 p.m.: Kenny G Community Concert courtesy of American Honda, opening with Taylor Norris (Michelob ULTRA Terrace)

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24
7 a.m.: The Honda Classic – Second Round Begins – Pairings & Tee Times
6 – 10 p.m.: After Play Concert Featuring Fusion (Michelob ULTRA Terrace)
7:30 p.m.: Tire Kingdom Fireworks Spectacular

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25
8 a.m.: Honda Classic Saturday Pro-Am (PGA National Resort & Spa – Palmer Course)
9 a.m.: The Honda Classic – Third Round Begins – Pairings & Tee Times
12 – 8 p.m.: Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Kids Zone – Honda Pavilion
6 – 10 p.m.: Goslings After Play Concert featuring Entourage (Michelob ULTRA Terrace)
7:30 p.m.: Tire Kingdom Fireworks Spectacular

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26
9 a.m.: The Honda Classic – Final Round – Pairings & Tee Times
6 p.m.: Awards Ceremony – 18th Green

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27
8 a.m.: The First Tee of the Palm Beaches Invitational
1 p.m.: Gosling’s Dark ‘n Stormy Invitational

Tiger Woods, still recovering, generating interest for recent tournaments

Tiger Woods plays on the 13th hole during the 1st round of the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Tiger Woods plays on the 13th hole during the 1st round of the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

There are few constants in life, but death, taxes and the wide-ranging interest in Tiger Woods are all on the short list.

Never mind that the 41-year-old hasn’t won a tournament since 2013. Or that he’s 674th in the world rankings, nestled between Erik van Rooyen and D.A. Points.

When Woods tees off, he’s still an attention magnet. He proved as much once again during his short time at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

“Obviously there is huge interest in his comeback from injury and so on, the fact he was in the field proved to be a massive draw in terms of ticket sales and hospitality sales,” Peter Dawson, chairman of the Dubai-based Falcon Golf told GolfChannel.com. “People still want to see Tiger Woods.”

But attending fans and viewers didn’t get to see much of Woods. He withdrew from the event after just 18 holes because of back spasms. He did not score a single birdie and shot a 77 during his lone round at the tournament.

Perhaps that shouldn’t have been surprising. Woods has been plagued by nerve damage and surgeries the past three years, and it’s hard to think a 17-hour flight was good for his oft-ailing back.

Still, the 14-time major champion has a ceiling few, if any, can reach. And Tiger has had some recent success, leading the field in birdies at the Hero World Challenge in December despite stumbling through a rocky final round.

Woods is scheduled to compete in next week’s Genesis Open and in the Honda Classic beginning Feb. 23. Provided this flare-up doesn’t derail those plans, he will once again take the course with the eyes of the golf world upon him.

When he plays, people watch. For all the twists and turns his career his taken, that part of the story hasn’t changed.