Golf Buzz

January 21, 2013 - 9:47am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
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On Sunday, Phil Mickelson said he's going to make some, "drastic changes," this year.

Phil Mickelson is no stranger to making headlines on the golf course. But, the headlines he made at PGA WEST on Sunday following the final round of the Humana Challenge had nothing to do with the way he played.

Mickelson vowed to make "drastic changes" in his life because of the federal and state taxes he is paying, and he confirmed that his decision to not buy an interest in the San Diego Padres was directly related to his financial situation.

Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports:

"I'll probably talk more in depth next week (at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines). I'm not going to jump the gun," Mickelson said. "There are going to be some drastic changes. I happen to be in the (tax) zone that is targeted both federally and by the state, and it doesn’t work for me right now."

Mickelson, 42, was responding to a question about why, in a conference call last Monday, he referred to “what’s gone on the last couple of months, politically,” when talking about the semi-retirement of fellow tour pro Steve Stricker.

"I think we're all going to have to find things that work for us," Mickelson said on the call. "I think we're all going to have our own kind of way of handling things, handling time in our career, handling what's gone on the last couple of months politically. I think we're all going to have to find things that work for us."

Asked if there was a correlation between his views and his withdrawal from interest in the Padres, Mickelson said, "Yeah, absolutely."

So what prompted Mickelson's comments?

In November, California voters approved Proposition 30, which imposed a 13.3 percent tax rate for incomes of more than $1 million -- a percentage increase of 29.13 percent over the previous "millionaires" tax of 10.3 percent.

As of June 2012, Forbes Magazine ranked Mickelson as the seventh-highest paid athlete in sports, with on-course earnings and endorsements totaling $47.8 million.

"If you add up all of the federal and you look at disibility and unemployment and the social security and the state, my tax rate is 62, 63 percent," Mickelson said Sunday. "So I've got to make some decisions about what I'm going to do."

The options for Mickelson would seem to be to move to a state with lower taxes or go into some form of retirement.

Time will tell, but it would seem fans will have little sympathy for Mickelson.

To read Leonard's entire report, click here.

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

January 21, 2013 - 12:49am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Jamie Donaldson, Brian Gay and John Cook
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Jamie Donaldson, Brian Gay and John Cook all had to come form behind to win on Sunday.

Wow, what a Sunday – on the golf course and the football field. Unless, of course, you started the day in the lead.

First off, world No. 5 Justin Rose teed off in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship with a three-shot lead over unheralded Jamie Donaldson. Rose had led all week in commanding fashion, hitting greens and making putts. But his mastery never materialized on Sunday, as he was forced to scramble far too often while Donaldson – who only had one win in almost 300 career European Tour starts – was steady from the start.

Donaldson and Rose battled down the back nine, but it was Rose who blinked with a bogey on the 16th hole and a missed birdie try on the 17th. Donaldson, playing in the group ahead of Rose, three-putted the 18th hole for bogey, opening the door again for Rose. But Rose couldn't take advantage – his eight-footer for a birdie and a tie rimmed out, giving the title to Donaldson.

A few hours later, the Atlanta Falcons took the field in the Georgia Dome, and quckly jumped out to a 17-0 lead over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. But the visitors rallied, held the Falcons scoreless in the second half and advanced to the Super Bowl by a 28-24 score. I'd elaborate more, but I don't want to cause any further pain to all my colleagues back in the PGA.com home office in Atlanta. (Being a Dallas Cowboys fan, I know all about pain.)

Next up was the Humana Challenge, where Scott Stallings teed off in the final round with a whopping five-shot advantage that gave very few of his pursuers much realistic hope. However, Stallings struggled to a 70 on a perfect day for scoring – three players shot 62s – and, to make things worse, he bogeyed the final hole to miss out on the playoff among Brian Gay (who shot a 63), Charles Howell III (who shot a 64) and rookie David Lingmerth (who had one of the 62s). Lingmerth fell out on the first extra hole, and Gay birdied the second one to win his fourth career title.

After that came the AFC Championship Game, where the homestanding New England Patriots stood as 9-point favorites – an almost unheard-of number at this point in the playoffs. Like the Falcons, the Patriots started well, and owned a 13-7 lead over the Baltimore Ravens at the half. But the Ravens held the Patriots scoreless in the second half – just as the 49sers had done to the Falcons – and advanced to the Super Bowl by a 28-13 score.

The last event in our poor-performer pentathlon was the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the Champions Tour. David Frost led by one after the first round and two after the second round, and held on for much of the day on Sunday. But John Cook birdied the 18th hole, Frost couldn't match him and the two went to a playoff, where Cook won with a 25-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole.

So, to sum up the day for our favorites and front-runners: Ugh. But at least the golfers who grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory on Sunday can go right back out and try again. The Falcons and Patriots, meanwhile, get to go home and stew about their losses for six months.

January 19, 2013 - 5:00pm
Posted by:
John Kim
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Callaway X-bombs
Photo: Callaway Golf
Callaway's innovative x-bomb campaign ties in college football passion to the golf world.

 

Golf has come such a long way in the last couple of years in terms of social media, fan engagement and better branding ideas.  This is no small thing - industry insiders know that golf hasn't always been at the forefront of change nor communication with consumers. But I'm happy to say - I think those days are long gone.
 
Some of my favorite people on Facebook and/or Twitter happen to work in golf - and that's not coincidence or even industry driven.  The major equipment companies have made it a priority to hire and recruit people who have a keen sense of consumers, a sharp wit and an eye for a good picture or the tone of a good story. As the world of media and communication changes, they are in good shape to adapt and now - lead. It's no longer just telling a story - it's finding innovative ways to share it. 
 
One group who has been particulary active on social media fronts is the team from Callaway Golf.  Golfers will no doubt enjoy reading about their often hilarious brainstorms and campaigns or just following the crew as they engage in often hilarious back and forth on Twitter. From Callaway executives to Tour players to golf fans who are trying a new RAZR Fit Xtreme driver - they all get in on the conversation and the fun. And anytime you make it fun to learn, you're going to learn more, right?
 
 
But friends at TaylorMade, Titleist and Nike aren't taking a back seat to anyone. Nike Golf has long been a leader in engagement with fans - something their dominant numbers in the social space reflect. Cleveland, PING and Adams are also actively engaging with thier consumers. It's a new golf world - one that is better for all of us who work and play in this space.  
 
The technology says that there's never been a better time to buy golf equipment. But before I spend significant money - I want to know why I should.  It's no longer about the fun 30 second ad or the Tour player who's playing it - why is it good for my game?  Now, because of the efforts of some superstar marketing groups - you have avenues for answers you've never had before. 
January 19, 2013 - 4:38pm
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January 19, 2013 - 1:22pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Carl Pettersson
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PGA Tour player Carl Pettersson is among the vocal minority of players who has spoken out against the proposed ban.

Are you for the proposed ban on anchoring the putting stroke, or are you opposed?

Since the USGA and R&A announced their plans for the anchoring ban in late November, we've heard every possible opinion from every type of golfer. But with so many competing arguments flying through the air, it's been difficult to get a handle on whether the golfing public as a whole is for or against the proposal.

Now, however, the Golf Datatech research firm has some numbers. Golf Datatech surveyed 1,766 golfers at random from its exclusive Serious Golfer Database, which is made of up golfers who play an average of 68 rounds per year with an average handicap of 14.3. And their finding is:

--almost two-thirds of the golfers surveyed feel the rule change won't impact their game, while only a third of the golfers who use a long putter will continue to play regardless of the ruling.

''This is such an explosive topic in golf that we felt the industry needed a benchmark for evaluating the opinion of the game's most avid players,'' said Golf Datatech Partner John Krzynowek. ''On a practical level, the proposed ruling on anchoring putters has minimal impact on most amateur golfers, as only 5 percent use a long putter, and the majority of serious golfers don't believe long putters aid in the putting process.

''Overall, however, the debate over long putters has far more to do with a few elite professional players and less to do with the game as played by the average golfer.''

The key findings in the Golf Datatech study include:

--Among the respondents who had an opinion on anchoring the putter, 45 percent believe that anchoring makes it easier to putt, while 55 percent believe that anchoring doesn't make it easier.

--60 percent of the respondents believe that golf's governing bodies should ban the anchoring of clubs, while 40 percent believe they shouldn't.

--62 percent of the golfers surveyed don't believe the anchoring ban would cause some amateur golfers to enjoy the game less.

--And if the proposed rule is enforced in 2016 as planned, 31 percent of current long putter users will continue to anchor their putter. Another 31 percent won't anchor their putter and the final 38 percent would switch to a conventional putter.

 

January 18, 2013 - 5:22pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Rory McIlroy
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The photo on the left shows the putter Rory McIlroy used Friday (the three circles indicate it's a Scotty Cameron), while the photo on the right shows McIlroy with his Nike putter on Thursday (you can see the Swoosh on the heel).

Is the honeymoon over already?

On Friday, Rory McIlroy reverted back to his old Scotty Cameron putter for the second round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship – after playing only one competitive round with his new Nike flat stick.

McIlroy, who was unveiled as Nike's newest brand ambassador in a big news conference on Monday, took 31 putts with his new Nike Method 006 putter on Thursday. On Friday, he went back to his trusty Titleist Scotty Cameron Studio Select Newport GSS – even though he kept it under a Nike putter cover.

The two putters are fairly similar in size and shape, and the switch didn't help much. McIlroy, who used the Cameron putter to win both of his majors and a plethora of other titles, took 30 putts on Friday as he carded his second straight 75 to miss the cut.

After his round, he downplayed the quick change.

''I felt the greens were pretty slow out there,'' he told the Golf Channel. ''The Nike putter that I used is a little light and it was just a weight issue more than anything else.  I feel like the one I used today was a little heavier and I was able to get the ball to the hole.''

He also gave no indication of his future putter plans.

''It's the first week out. I wouldn't look too much into (the new equipment),'' he said. ''If anything, it's more the Indian than the arrow at this point.''

McIlroy isn't scheduled to play again for a month, at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. No doubt all eyes will be on what's in his bag.