Golf Buzz

February 4, 2013 - 2:50pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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David Duval
Getty Images
Nike Golf has re-signed David Duval, who used Nike gear during the most successful portion of his career.

Around the first of the year, Nike Golf made a big marketing splash by unveiling a series of new signings – first, Nick Watney and Kyle Stanley, then Thorbjorn Olesen and Seung-yul Noh, and finally Rory McIlroy.

Almost a month later, the Swoosh has announced that it has re-signed David Duval. This is noteworthy in that Duval and Tiger Woods were Nike Golf's first big stars – and, in fact, Duval was the first player to win a major using Nike clubs at the 2001 British Open. His original deal with Nike ran out many years ago, though, and he recently has been endorsing clubs from boutique clubmaker Scratch Golf.

Now 41, Duval was on top of the world – even ranked No. 1 for a while – with 13 PGA Tour titles, three Ryder Cup teams and three Presidents Cup teams, but in recent years he has struggled to stay on the PGA Tour. He's been back to Q-School a couple of times – a broken toe kept him out of yet another trip to Q-School last fall. He apparently took a big hit when the housing market crashed, and couldn't even get an exemption into the Humana Challenge last month despite giving that tournament its defining moment by shooting a 59 there several years ago.

He had a miserable 2012 campaign, making only three cuts in 17 starts, and earning only about $32,000. As the new season dawned, though, Duval expressed excitement over his chances for 2013, but it's taken him this long to even get a PGA Tour start – he'll make his season debut this week at Pebble Beach. He has said he'll play anywhere, anytime – even the Web.com Tour if that's what it takes. And he said on Twitter at the beginning of the year that he was returning to the Nike stable, but stressed that, at the time, he hadn't signed anything with the Swoosh.

Well, the Swoosh just made it official, and that's got to give Duval some kind of a boost, even if the financial terms are nowhere near those of some of Nike's other big offseason signings. Tiger and Phil have dominated the PGA Tour headlines the last two weeks. It'd be nice to see Duval make a headline or two of his own this year.

Here's the gear he will play:

Driver: Nike VR_S Covert (8.5 degrees, Mitsubishi Diamana White Board 73X shaft)
3-Wood: Nike VR Pro Limited Edition (15 degrees)
2-9 Irons: Nike VR Pro Blades
48-Degree Wedge: Nike VR Pro Blade
53-Degree Wedge: Nike VR Pro
58-Degree Wedge: Nike VR Pro
Putter: Nike Method 006 prototype
Ball: Nike 20XI X
Footwear:  Nike Lunar Control

February 4, 2013 - 10:38am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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James Hahn
PGA Tour/YouTube
PGA Tour rookie James Hahn breaks out into the, 'Gangnam Style,' dance after holing a birdie putt at the par-3 16th during the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Sunday.

In case you live under a rock -- which isn't likely the case if you're reading this -- you know that there's no bigger party in professional golf than on the par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale. The atmosphere is that of a frat party. If you think a good shot is going to be greeted with a slow, "golf-clap," here, you're going to be extremely disappointed. This is the PGA Tour's version of Animal House.

Players that simply hit the green are given the loudest standing ovation they'll hear all year. Players that miss the green... well, they get rained upon with boos.

Over the years, No. 16 has gone from hectic to downright chaos -- the good, fun kind. Players have embraced it, endearing themselves to fans with various antics, whether it be handing out free hats, sunglasses (which Hunter Mahan did on Saturday), or actually getting on a microphone and singing like half of the golf, boy-band, "The Golf Boys" Bubba Watson and Ben Crane did after hitting their respective tee shots in 2012. The fans eat it up.

Sunday was no exception. And, if you didn't know who James Hahn was before Sunday, chances are you do now.

Hahn, a 31-year-old rookie on the PGA Tour, shot a magnificent round of 9-under 62 in the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Sunday to jump from a tie for 42nd after 54 holes to a tie for 16th. Remarkably, it was Hahn's second, final-round 62 of the season, matching the mark he had at the Humana Challenge a few weeks back, where he tied for fourth.

On Sunday, Hahn made five birdies over his final six holes to leapfrog loads of players. But, it was one birdie in particular that will live in Phoenix Open lore for years to come.

With a revved up crowd packed into the totally enclosed par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale, Hahn electrified the spectators by holing a 19-foot birdie putt. To celebrate, Hahn -- who was born in South Korea -- paid tribute to South Korean rapper Psy, who became famous worldwide in 2012 for his smash hit and accompanying dance, "Gangnam Style."

As soon as Hahn's putt dropped, he put the putter down and did the 'Gangnam Style' dance. Whether you like the song/dance or not, you have to admit -- Hahn did a darned good job!

Check out the funny video for yourself here.

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

February 4, 2013 - 10:15am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
Getty Images
Should Phil Mickelson have won more to this point in his PGA Tour career? Probably. But if he did, would he have been as fun to watch? Probably not.

It sounds like a cruel question, but it's one posed by BleacherReport.com's Fred Altvater: has Phil Mickelson underachieved in his PGA Tour career?

Let's take a brief look at the resume...

With his win on Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Mickelson earned his 41st career PGA Tour victory. The last time he went an entire season without a PGA Tour "W" was 2003 (his best finish that year was third at the Masters). Lefty is a four-time major winner with three Masters triumphs and one PGA Championship. He's been a runner up at the U.S. Open five times and has five, top-3 finishes at the Masters -- not including the three wins.

Mickelson has played on a record nine consecutive U.S. Ryder Cup teams. He's arguably the most exciting player in golf to watch given his risk-reward nature. His incredible game coupled with his appreciation of the fans have him labeled by many as a modern-day Arnold Palmer.

Yet, still, harsh as it seems, a debate could be had about whether or not he has underachieved. Imagine being the second-best of your generation at something (which Mickelson was to Tiger Woods through the late 90s and most of the 2000s), but still be called an underachiever? That's either the biggest slap in the face, or the biggest compliment a person could get.

Altvater makes his case:

Is it fair to compare Mickelson's career to Woods'?

While Woods is respected among golf fans Mickelson is beloved for his go-for-broke style and aw-shucks smile.

He will turn 43 in June and was diagnosed with a form of arthritis three years ago, which has certainly affected his play.

Another bump in the road has been the highly publicized battles with cancer for both his wife, Amy, and his mother.

By any standard, Phil Mickelson has had a marvelous, Hall-of-Fame career, but somehow the putt that executed the severe 360 degree lip-out to prevent him from posting a 59 on Thursday could be a metaphor to his golfing career.

To read all of Altvater's piece, click here.

Based on what he wrote, it seems Altvater answered his own question with a resounding, "No!"

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

February 3, 2013 - 1:53pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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TaylorMade Ghost Spider S
Courtesy of TaylorMade

The Ghost Spider S putter from TaylorMade is big – and big on stability.

The oversized mallet delivers a Moment of Inertia (MOI) measurement of 6,030, dramatically higher than previous TaylorMade mallets like the Ghost Manta (4,900) and Corza Ghost (3,830). This high MOI makes the Ghost Spider S extremely stable, even on off-center hits, and makes it easier to control the head and square the face to the ball at impact. That's a key benefit, as articulated by the tour pros who have put it in play.

"Ghost Spider S isn't an evolution in mallet performance, it's a revolution," said Michael Fox, TaylorMade's product line manager for putters and wedges. "To create it, we started with the DNA of our most successful putter franchise and applied more than a year of obsessive feedback from our toughest customers, our Tour Staff professionals. In terms of the two most critical aspects of putting -- alignment and stability -- Ghost Spider S is the complete package."

The putter's multi-material head (aluminum and steel) combines a white-colored steel frame perimeter and top line with a new, non-transition black crown. The contrast between the white leading edge and black crown makes it easier to focus your eyes on the top line, TaylorMade says, making it easier to aim accurately.

In addition to the standard hosel, the Ghost Spider S is also available in a tour-inspired "short slant" hosel designed for the player who swings on an arc. Unlike the standard hosel, which promotes a straight back-straight through swing path, the short slant is toe-weighted to broaden the scope of players who can benefit from the Ghost Spider S.

"Mallet putter use on the PGA Tour has grown during the past decade to where, today, more than 30 percent of PGA Tour pros use a mallet," added Fox. "We're confident that tour pros and amateurs who favor a mallet will want to explore Ghost Spider S because the performance benefits are impossible to ignore."

The standard Ghost Spider S carries a suggested retail price of $179, and $199 for a belly model.

Categories: Ghost Spider S
February 3, 2013 - 12:50am
Posted by:
John Kim
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Gail and Allen Wronowski
The PGA of America
Allen Wronowski (and wife Gail) enter the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Ryder Cup.

 

I got some news this weekend -- and it's so exciting I wanted to share it (maybe a bit early, but I don't care). However, before I do, please allow me to provide some background. 
 
One of the first tasks I ever had when I came to PGA.com in the fall of 2006 was cutting images and pasting bios of new officers. It's the less glamorous side of working in golf - but it's the painstaking type of duty that makes a website work. (Hey, we can't do reviews of Pebble Beach every week...can we?)
 
A few months later I found myself at Demo Day in Orlando, leading up to the 2007 PGA Merchandise Show. I was the new guy, had no idea what I was doing nor knew anyone amid the thousands of people there -- but determined to make an impression nonetheless. Armed with a giant audio recorder (laughable when compared to today's smaller digital recorders) I noticed a large, silver haired man ambling by with a big smile.  He knew everyone. Laughing, shaking hands, posing for photos -- he was obviously someone of note. I wanted to record something with him. Not knowing that the proper protocol was to arrange interviews with the PR & Communications department of the PGA, I just walked up to him and asked in my very elegant way -- "Hey, aren't you Allen Wronowski?"
 
It indeed was the new Secretary of the PGA of America and our first encounter was a clumsy new web producer trying not to look stupid in front of the man just elected to one day be president of the largest working organization in sports. That meeting was the first of many. But it never felt awkward again.  
 
Allen quickly became renowned in the golf community for his thoughtful answers to difficult golf questions, his always-present PGA pins he gave out liberally, the big bear hugs he greeted virtually everyone with and perhaps the biggest smile in golf. He's always been a special friend to me -- but there are at least a thousand other people who say that about him.  And it's all 100% sincere. 
 
There are far too many Allen stories to recount -- but here's a guy who, as president, was 'regular guy' enough to drive me around in his cart at the Ryder Cup ("If anyone asks, I don't know you or how you got in this cart,") but was composed enough to speak in front of tens of thousands (millions on TV) a few minutes later welcoming the world to the greatest event in golf. He's the same guy at Hillendale Country Club and its members (his home course since 1979) as he is at the PGA Championship amid Tiger, Phil and Rory. 
 
If you follow Allen on Twitter (and if you don't, you should: @AllenWronowski), you may have seen his announcement that he's been told he'll be inducted into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame (March 2013). I'm so NOT surprised, no one deserves it more. But I know I share the excitement of the entire golf world. 
 
I'll allow the official announcements and bio info to tell his story more when they come out -- they'll do a better job of it. This post is just from my perspective.
 
I used to kid Allen that everytime he went to give a speech to a PGM program or a PGA Section meeting, I'd notice dozens of new Facebook or Twitter profile pictures changed to that person's photo with him.  I bet he's posed for more photos than Justin Bieber. (Sings better too). But every person I've ever met thinks as highly of him as I do. No kidding.
 
So seven years later, I'm still the guy at the website and Allen has gone from newly-elected secretary to vice president to president to now enjoying a less stressful role as honorary president. And he's about to become a Hall-of-Famer.  However, I still have the ability to post things about him on this website. 
 
So while I still have the platform, I want to speak on behalf of thousands of golf professionals and milliions of golfers in saying to my friend..."Congratulations Allen! Proud of your legacy -- even prouder to call you friend!"  And I never told anyone about riding around with you at the Ryder Cup.  Until now. 
February 2, 2013 - 9:35pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Mizuno MP-T4 wedge
Courtesy of Mizuno Golf
The MP-T4 wedges were engineered to enhance playability and turf interaction, as is evident by their new sole design, which provides more toe and heel relief.

Designed with insight from short-game superstar Luke Donald, the MP-T4 wedges from Mizuno are among the most versatile high-spin wedges on the market. Created with Mizuno's patented Grain Flow Forging process and 1025E "Pure Select" mild carbon steel, these new wedges provide a soft yet solid feel.

The MP-T4 wedges were engineered to enhance playability and turf interaction, as is evident by their new sole design, which provides more toe and heel relief. These new wedges also feature a CNC milled face along with Mizuno's exclusive Quad Cut Groove technology, which enables precise control of the width, depth, draft angle and shoulder radius of each groove to enhance spin control and ball-stopping ability in all playing conditions.

These new wedges are available in two exotic finishes – White Satin and Black Nickel. And combined with a True Temper DG Spinner shaft, they deliver increased spin and a lower launch at impact with an average of 250+ RPM as compared to True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts.

"Nobody knows how a wedge should perform better than Luke Donald, and he was instrumental in the design of this wedge," said Dick Lyons, vice president and general manager of the Golf Division, Mizuno USA. "With Luke's help, we have designed the MP-T4 to optimize every facet of wedge play. From feel to spin to shot versatility, no wedge can do more for your short game than the MP-T4."

The MP-T4s come in right-handed models with lofts of 50, 52, 54, 56, 58 and 60 degrees, as well as left-handed models in lofts of 52, 56 and 60 degrees. And for the first time, Mizuno is offering golfers the ability to personalize their MP-T4 and MP-R12 wedges with up to six characters, letters and/or numbers, in 12 different colors. This customization is free, and requires only a two-week wait after an order is placed.

They carry a suggested retail price of $129.99 per club.