Golf Buzz

January 9, 2013 - 4:04pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Colin Montgomerie
PGA of America
Could Colin Montgomerie be the surprise captain for Europe at the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland?

Listen to anyone and they'll tell you: the European Ryder Cup captaincy for 2014 at Gleneagles is a two-horse race between Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke and Ireland's Paul McGinley.

In fact, some have suggested that when the announcement is made by the European Tour in the coming weeks, it will make its selection for both 2014 and 2016, with Clarke and McGinley captaining one or the other.

But, as college football analyst Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast, my friend!"

Colin Montgomerie, captain of the winning European side at Celtic Manor in 2010, has said that if he were ever asked to take the reigns for Europe again, he wouldn't turn it down... especially in 2014, in Scotland, where he's from.

Will Gray from GolfChannel.com reports:

The leading candidates for the 2014 job have long been Irishman Paul McGinley and former British Open champion Darren Clarke. It wasn't until recently that Montgomerie's name re-entered the discussion.

"I thought it was between Darren and Paul until Darren said something, then my name was mentioned," the Scot explained to reporters. "I've never canvassed, as I didn't last time. I've not spoken to anybody about this. But I've always felt that if I was asked I would do it, and that's still the case."

In what could be an awkward meeting of the minds, the 15-man tournament committee – of which Montgomerie, Clarke and McGinley are all members – will meet next Tuesday in Abu Dhabi, after which a captain for 2014 (and possibly 2016) is expected to be announced. The timing of Montgomerie's sudden surge in consideration is eerily similar to 2010, when his name was put forth by Henrik Stenson and the Scot was confirmed as captain shortly thereafter.

"We were asked to keep quiet, but the rumor mill spread and I became 1/50 from 50/1," he recalled. "Nothing to do with me – I don't know how to place a bet."

Montgomerie's name gained traction after comments last month from Darren Clarke, who noted following the U.S. announcement of Tom Watson as its leading man that the European counterpart would need a "huge presence."

Will that huge presence be Monty? If it is, it would surprise a lot of people.

To read the rest of Gray's report, click here.

You can follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair. 

January 9, 2013 - 11:22am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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True Temper shafts
Courtesy of True Temper
Shaftmaker True Temper CEO Scott Hennessy says people tend to buy more drivers and putters because they're always looking for "some magic in their hands."

If you really want to know what's going on in the car business, you can ask the carmakers – or you can get a broader perspective by asking companies that supply them with parts and pieces.  The same goes in golf.

In that spirit, Terry McAndrew over at GolfBiz.net got a very interesting outlook on 2013 from Scott Hennessy, the CEO of True Temper, which holds a dominant position in the golf shaft business. As such, True Temper has benefited in recent years, first from the USGA's groove ruling prompting more sales of wedges in 2010 and, more recently, the sudden popularity of long putters juicing the sales of flat sticks.

"We don't anticipate that [kind of a boost generated by a specific club type] happening again in 2013," Hennessy told McAndrew. Even so, he doesn't expect the putter business to dip much this year.

"I don't think the category will be adversely affected even if the market softens," he predicted. "The two clubs out of the 14 in players' bags that have the most turnover are drivers and putters. Everyone is looking for some magic in their hands. Due to the price point and offerings in putters coming, I don't think the overall unit volume will change."

All in all, golf is "no longer a high-growth industry" and is "in a low churn towards upward growth," Hennessy said, adding that he's optimistic that the golf industry has seen the worst of its drop in course closures, equipment sales and rounds. Equipment makers must innovate to grow in this economic climate, he stressed, and offered some thoughts on what we'll see up ahead.

"I think you will see in 2013 and 2014 that no new product will be heavier. The move continues to be towards lighter as golf caters to aging baby boomers," he told McAndrew. "You will also see iron set make-ups evolve. The days of 3-PW [pitching wedge] are long gone, replaced by hybrids. … you will also see the number of wedges players carry increase."

McAndrew is one of the consistently best in his coverage of the golf industry. For more from him, visit www.GolfBiz.net.

January 8, 2013 - 4:35pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Nike Golf silhouettes
Courtesy of Nike Golf
Since Nike Golf tweeted this teaser on Dec. 31, Nike Golf has announced the signings of Kyle Stanley (far left), Nick Watney (second left), Seung-yul Noh (second from right) and Thorbjorn Olesen (far right). The middle spot likely belongs to Rory McIlroy.

The Jumeirah Group isn't renewing its five-year sponsorship with top-ranked Rory McIlroy, the luxury hotel chain has announced, which seemingly paves the way for the world's top-ranked golfer to finalize his much-rumored endorsement deal with Nike Golf.

Jumeirah was McIlroy's first corporate sponsor upon turning pro, and has had its logo on his cap for the past five seasons. McIlroy previously cut ties with Oakley, which has had its logo on his shirt, and with Titleist, whose clubs he has played.

These moves appear to clear the path for a “clean” Nike deal in which the Swoosh would be the only logo visible on McIlroy's clothing. Rumors abound that a Nike arrangement in which he wears Nike apparel and plays Nike gear, would be worth as much as $20 million a year. Such an agreement would give Nike both of golf's two biggest stars in McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who has been with the company since he turned pro in 1996.

McIlroy's deal, which likely will be announced next week as he begins his 2013 season at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, would be the climax of an active signing season for Nike Golf. In recent days, the company has announced new endorsement deals with 2011 FedExCup champion Nick Watney as well as rising stars Kyle Stanley of the United States, Seung-yul Noh of South Korea and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark.

On Dec. 31, Nike tweeted out a mock-up of an ad showing five silhouettes. With Watney, Stanley, Noh and Olesen in place, that fifth and final spot – right there in the middle – likely will belong to McIlroy.

January 8, 2013 - 3:34pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Annika Sorenstam
PGA of America
Annika Sorenstam is on the mend after her finger got in the way of a kitchen knife.

Usually professional golfers only slice it when they want to slice it. This time, however, Annika Sorenstam sure wishes she had control over a slice.

The former No. 1 player in the world on the ladies side, a winner of 72 events on the LPGA Tour including 10 majors, cut off the tip of her left, index finger while cutting up some chicken, cooking for friends on Jan. 3.

Sorenstam tweeted a gruesome picture of the finger, which required five stitches, today.

We can't stomach looking at the picture again, but if you feel the need to see it for yourself, click here (you've been warned. It ain't pretty).

Sorenstam is doing just fine though. The next day she was skiing.

You can follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter @tj_auclair.

January 8, 2013 - 10:24am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
David Duval
David Duval, the former No. 1 golfer in the world, sent out this tweet moments after official word came down that he would not be given an exemption into next week's Humana Challenge. In 1999, he won the tournament formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic thanks to a final-round 59.

Former world No. 1 golfer David Duval has taken a liking to Twitter lately. Since joining the twittersphere several weeks ago, Duval has already fired off over 1,000 tweets and has picked up over 8,000 followers at last check.

Before being "verified" by Twitter with that little, blue, check mark, a follower asked Duval how we all knew it was the real Duval and not some imposter. Duval responded by tweeting out a photo of his trophy case, which included a Claret Jug from his victory at the 2001 Open Championship -- his lone major title. Well played.

During his heyday in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Duval was a dominating figure on the course, but very reserved when it came to all other aspects. That's why it's refreshing to see the man behind the wraparound Oakley shades loosening up a bit on Twitter.

However, Duval may have sent out a tweet on Monday night that he'd like to take a mulligan on. It's been a struggle for Duval since winning the '01 Open, which was also his last victory. Over the years since his five-year exemption for winning that Open ran out, Duval has had to rely on a lot of sponsor's exemptions.

He was hoping to get one for next week's Humana Challenge (formerly the Bob Hope Classic, where he had a 10-year exemption for his 1999 win). Duval won the event in stunning fashion in 1999, firing an amazing 59 in the final round.

A disappointed Duval tweeted Monday night: "So it's official. I will not get a spot at the Humana."

It's the follow up tweet, though, that is getting some attention.

Here's what Duval wrote: "I guess having the defining moment in the history of the event doesn't matter."

It was a shot at Humana, but also a point well taken. Not only is Duval a former No. 1 player, but -- aside from the Open in 2001 -- the defining moment of his career happened in that event.

John Cook, also a former Hope winner (1997), wondered on Twitter if he could, "give Duval my lifetime exemption."

All winners of the Hope prior to 1999 -- the year Duval won -- received a lifetime exemption into the event. Since 1999, winners receive a 10-year exemption into the event.

Duval probably deserves a spot based on his place in the tournament's history. But, his angry tweet probably didn't help his cause for the years ahead.

You can follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter @tj_auclair.

January 7, 2013 - 10:49pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Odyssey Versa putters
Courtesy of Odyssey Golf
Thick black and white stripes run laterally down the heads of the new Odyssey Versa putters to make alignment easier.

Plenty of putters come with alignment aids. The new Versa putters from Odyssey Golf are alignment aids.

Specifically, the heads on these new flat sticks are covered in bold black and white stripes that run perpendicular to the putting line to accentuate the face angle at address, through the stroke and at impact. This contrast, says Odyssey, prompts golfers to better align their putts, which is critical since a mis-aim of just one degree can cause a golfer to miss a 12-foot putt.

"We set out to design a distinctive and highly effective alignment system for a blade putter," said Odyssey Golf Principal Designer Austie Rollinson. "The human visual system is both sensitive to contrast and very good at complex tasks such as edge detection. We utilized both of these skills to create a very effective alignment aid that helps golfers putt more consistently, and sink more putts, too."

The new Versa models contain an improved White Hot insert, which has been meticulously engineered for more dependable feel and performance across the striking surface. A new laser milling cutting process allows Odyssey to better match its insert shapes to the various head shapes, resulting in more consistency, as each insert is designed and cut specifically for a specific putter model.

The Versa line comes in a variety of Tour-proven head shapes, from Odyssey’s progressive style and mallet putters to conventional blade styles. The #1, #2, #7 and #9 models are available in black/white/black and white/black/white combinations, while the #7 90 models are also available in both color options with a front-to-back alignment visual. The 2-Ball model, Odyssey’s best-selling putter, is available only in white/black/white, and all models come with a 33-, 34- or 35-inch shaft as well as a host of custom options.

The Versa putters will be available at retail on Jan. 18 at an introduction price starting at $169.99.

For more information on Odyssey putters, visit www.odysseygolf.com.