Golf Buzz

November 6, 2013 - 10:36am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Zach Johnson
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Zach Johnson always seems to have a hot putter. This week, he also has a home game.

Following a two-week stint in Asia, the PGA Tour returns stateside this week for the McGladrey Classic at the Seaside Course in Sea Island, Ga.

Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey returns to Sea Island as the defending champion. Davis Love III is the tournament host and is also in the field this week.

SCORES: Follow the McGladrey Classic leaderboard on PGA.com

Here's a look at five players to watch at the 7,005-yard, par-70 Seaside Course, where we could see players flirt with a 59 -- Gainey shot a course-record, 10-under 60 in 2012.

5. Harris English.
Best finish in 2013:
T9 at the Greenbrier Classic.
Reason to watch: Like many players on this week's watch-list, English calls Sea Island home. So, it stands to reason he should have some kind of an advantage, right? Of course, with a home game also comes more pressure. Aside from his eight top-25 finishes in 2013 -- four of those top 10s -- I also like English because he's coming off a tie for seventh at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. English's consistency (he made the cut 21 times in 25 starts last season) will also serve him well.

4. Davis Love III.
Best finish in 2013:
Winner of the St. Jude Classic.
Reason to watch: I don't think it would be hyperbole to say that -- for PGA Tour players living in Sea Island -- Davis Love III is the guy who put the place on the map. The 2007 PGA Champion and 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain has enjoyed an incredible career. He's got nothing left to prove, having won 20 times on the PGA Tour and top-5 finishes in all the majors. While he hasn't played great lately -- two missed cuts and two T62s in his last four starts -- maybe a week at home is just what the doctor ordered for Love. It won't be easy. As tournament host, Love will have a lot of responsibilities outside of the ropes. Still, you can bet there's nothing Love would (ahem) love more than to win at home.

GALLERY: Amazing golf course photos on Instagram

3. Webb Simpson.
Best finish in 2013:
Runner up in a playoff at the RBC Heritage.
Reason to watch: Along with Rory McIlroy and last week's winner Dustin Johnson, Simpson is the only player under the age of 30 with four or more PGA Tour victories. That's pretty solid. And, after a winless 2013, Simpson is already a winner in 2014 (weird, we know since it's still 2013 -- but that's how the new wraparound schedule works). Simpson won in Las Vegas in his first start of the new season, so he's still riding high on confidence. Furthermore, Simpson hasn't missed a PGA Tour cut since the Memorial way back in May -- a stretch of 12 events that included seven, top-25 finishes.

2. Matt Kuchar.
Best finish in 2013:
Won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Memorial.
Reason to watch: Few players on the PGA Tour are as solid, week-in and week-out, as Kuchar. He hasn't missed a cut in 27 PGA Tour starts. The last time he missed the weekend was the 2012 PGA Championship. Bottom line -- the man doesn't make mistakes. In two starts at the McGladrey Classic, Kuchar's best finish was a tie for 20th in 2011. As good a player as he was then, Kuchar is an even better player now. Forgive us for sounding like a broken record but, yes, it's also a home game for Kuchar and his first start of the new season.

1. Zach Johnson.
Best finish in 2013:
Won the BMW Championship.
Reason to watch: Anyone want to guess where Johnson makes his home these days? If you said Sea Island, you're close -- he's just over the bridge in St. Simons Island. So, yes, another elite player with a home game this week. The 10-time PGA Tour winner and past Masters champion is as good as anyone in the world with his short game -- especially the putter. As usual, Johnson was so good in 2013, racking up eight top-10 finishes, including that victory at the BMW Championship. In short -- if Johnson is rolling his ball this week, look out.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
 

November 6, 2013 - 9:52am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Joe LaCava
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Joe LaCava, caddie for Tiger Woods, is one of a number of PGA Tour caddies putting together a group known as the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

A report filed by GolfChannel.com's Rex Hoggard on Wednesday morning, stated that PGA Tour caddies are finalizing a plan for an association.

Hoggard wrote:

A group of PGA Tour caddies met with lawyers on Tuesday at Sea Island (Ga.) Resort to finalize plans for the creation of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies (APTC).

A seven-member board was elected last month to represent the APTC, including president James Edmondson, who caddies for Ryan Palmer; vice president Lance Bennett (Matt Kuchar); treasurer Jimmy Johnston (Steve Stricker) and Joe LaCava (Tiger Woods).

"We can't be a union because we aren't employed by the Tour," Edmondson told GolfChannel.com. "We feel like we are going to have one voice. I reached out to everybody and received an overwhelming response."

Hoggard reported that Edmondson says more than 100 Tour caddies have joined the organization and the group hopes to create health insurance and retirement plans for its members.

Members will pay dues to join the APTC and Edmondson plans to meet with the Tour in the hope of drawing financial support from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

There are also plans for APTC to create associate programs for Web.com Tour and Champions Tour caddies, and caddies from the European Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia will also sit on the board.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
 

November 6, 2013 - 9:33am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Brandt Snedeker
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A fall from a Segway in Shanghai on Monday forced Brandt Snedeker's withdrawal from this week's Australian PGA Championship.

In this space yesterday, we relayed the news that Brandt Snedeker withdrew from the Australian PGA Championship citing a knee injury suffered while in China following last week's WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai.

Now we know how the injury occurred.

Snedeker's representatives at Lagardere Unlimited sent out a press release on Tuesday explaining the circumstances of the incident, which involved a Segway.

READ: Tiger Woods hits tee shot from Asia to Europe

Brandt Snedeker suffered a bruised tibia and a strained ACL in his left knee Monday while at a corporate outing at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai. He immediately withdrew from the Australian PGA Championship and returned to Nashville to consult Dr. Burton Elrod at Elite Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. The injury occurred when Snedeker lost his balance on a Segway, hopped off and fell awkwardly.

"I felt a pop in my knee and pain," said Snedeker. "Fortunately this is a relatively minor injury and no surgery is required, so this is good news."

The 2012 FedEx Cup champion and six-time PGA Tour winner plans to undergo daily therapy for a week and have the injury reevaluated.

"It could heal in two to three weeks or six to eight," said Snedeker, who missed six weeks earlier this year when he suffered a cracked rib at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. "Different people heal differently."

As of now, Snedeker is scheduled to play the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club and the Franklin Templeton Shootout in Naples, Fla., next month.

"We'll see what happens," Snedeker said, "but we have time."

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
 

November 6, 2013 - 9:19am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Lorena Ochoa, a 27-time winner on the LPGA Tour, took to Twitter on Tuesday to announce the birth of her second child, a girl, named Julia.

The tweet translates to: "We are happy to share that today at 3:30 p.m. our daughter, Julia, was born. Thanks for the good wishes."

The 31-year-old Ochoa is a two-time major champion and a former No. 1-ranked player in the ladies game. She stepped away from golf in April of 2010 -- leaving the door open for a return -- to start a family.

Ochoa's first child, a boy named Pedro, turns 2 next month.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
 

November 5, 2013 - 7:22pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Callaway Apex Pro irons
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
The Apex Pro clubs are more compact than the standard Apex clubs, and have less offset, a thinner topline, a narrower sole and a shorter blade length from heel to toe.

Back in September, Callaway unveiled its new Apex irons, which it bills as ''forged performance'' clubs. Now comes the Apex Pro edition, a tuned-up version for better players.

The Apex Pro clubs have a one-piece, 1020 carbon steel, forged construction designed specifically to deliver a soft and responsive feel – that is also a primary goal of the standard Apex clubs. The Apex Pro heads are more compact than the standard Apex clubs, and have less offset, a thinner topline, a narrower sole, and a shorter blade length from heel to toe.

One of the standout features on the Apex Pro irons is what Callaway calls its High Performance Wide Groove profile. Callaway engineers discovered that tour players and better amateurs were often generating too much spin out of the rough, largely because of high clubhead speed, reducing both distance and consistency. To remedy this, they came up with a new wide-spaced groove.

GOLF BUZZ: Callaway unveils Apex 'forged performance' irons

In addition, the Apex Pro clubface is about 17 percent thinner than the 2013 edition of the X Forged irons, which improves ball speed. Increasing ball speed was secondary to improving sound and feel on the Apex Pros, and to that end Callaway added a high-damping polymer insert in the back of the head that helps eliminate unwanted vibrations at impact.

The soles of the long irons (2-5) have tungsten inserts to lower the Center of Gravity, which produces a higher launch angle and makes easier to hit. The Center of Gravity gets progressively higher down the set from longer to shorter irons. In the 9-iron and pitching wedge, this higher CG helps flight the ball down a bit and deliver a flatter trajectory.

The stock shaft on the Apex Pro irons is the new KBS Tour V, which Callaway describes as a premium, mid-launch, low-torque steel shaft that maximizes energy transfer for a smooth feel and faster ball speeds. A graphite UST Recoil shaft will be available through custom order.

The Apex Pro irons will be available at retail in early January. Callaway hasn't yet announced a suggested retail price.

Here is a video from Callaway talking about the new Apex Pro irons:

 

 

November 5, 2013 - 12:32pm
Posted by:
PGA of America
Michael.Benzie's picture

The PGA of America announced today a joint press conference with the PGA Tour set for Wednesday at 1 p.m.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and President of The PGA of America Ted Bishop will announce new cooperative initiatives.

The conference will be streamed live here on PGA.com. Return to PGA.com for full coverage starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday.