Golf Buzz

January 23, 2013 - 6:05pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Luke Donald and caddie John McLaren
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Luke Donald and caddie John McLaren will continue to handle Mizuno irons and wedges for the next several seasons.

Last week, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy made the season’s biggest equipment switch, as he officially moved over from Titleist to Nike. On Wednesday, world No. 3 Luke Donald did exactly the opposite.

Donald has re-upped his endorsement agreement with Mizuno, signing a multi-year agreement with the Japanese clubmaker whose equipment he has played for many years. Donald doesn't play an entire bag of Mizuno clubs, but he does use the company’s irons and wedges, and those clubs are the backbone of his steady short game.

In fact, Donald provided feedback throughout the development of Mizuno's new MP-64 irons and MP-T4 wedges, to the point that Mizuno describes those clubs as being designed hand-in-hand with Donald. Donald even visited the the plant in Hiroshima, Japan, where the clubs are forged, last November, and spent a little time with the man who grinds his clubs.

Donald signed on with Mizuno back in 2003, and has earned 13 professional wins with that gear. He also played those Mizuno clubs during his red-hot 2011 and 2012 seasons, in which he held the world No. 1 position for a total of 56 weeks and topped the money lists on both the PGA Tour and European Tour in 2011.

"I feel as if I am playing as well as ever at this stage in my career. Over the next few years I want to be in a position to win major championships and to continue to improve," Donald said. "We've refined my Mizuno equipment in the last couple of seasons and I'm really happy with what I have in the bag right now, so it gives me great pleasure to extend this relationship. Mizuno is the most precise, incredible clubmaker out there, and I'm honored to represent this quality brand."

While he was in Japan last fall, Donald won the Dunlop Phoenix, one of the biggest tournaments on the Japan Tour. He used those Mizuno MP-64 irons and MP-T4 wedges in that victory, along with a TaylorMade RocketBallz driver and 3-wood, a 17-degree Mizuno CLK FliHi hybrid and an Odyssey White Hot XG #7 putter.

January 23, 2013 - 3:39pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Johnny Miller and Dan Hicks
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Johnny Miller and Dan Hicks will headline NBC's live coverage of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open this summer.

The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is always a big event on the European Tour because it's played the week before the British Open and therefore features several top Americans along with the Europe's best. And for the next two seasons, the final two rounds will air live on NBC.

That will mark the first time a regular European Tour event will be televised live on American broadcast television. The broadcast is possible because Comcast NBCUniversal is the parent company of both NBC and the Golf Channel, which will carry the first two rounds as usual, and no doubt Aberdeen Asset Management and the Scottish government played a role as well.

"The U.S. is one of our most important markets and therefore we are very supportive of this new agreement," said Aberdeen Asset Management Chief Executive Martin Gilbert. "It's a very effective way for us to reach a mass audience and showcase not only our commitment to golf and to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, but also raise our profile as a leading global financial institution."

The 2013 edition will be played at Castle Stuart – with NBC’s weekend coverage set for July 13 and 14 – while the 2014 tournament is set for Royal Aberdeen Golf Club.


January 22, 2013 - 3:04pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bubba Watson
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Bubba Watson was among the top-20 earners in golf in 2012.

Have you ever wondered how much money your favorite golfer makes each year? With such a huge emphasis put on the money list -- or Order of Merit -- among the various tours, chances are you know what your favorite player is making on the course.

But, what are they making off it when it comes to endorsement deals, bonuses, appearance fees and more?

Ron Sirak, the executive editor for Golf World Magazine and a senior writer for Golf Digest, has compiled a list of 50 of the game's biggest stars. Interestingly, off-course deals alone accounted for more than $400 million amongst these 50 players.

Here's how Sirak introduces the piece:

How we did it: On-course income for 2012 includes all money earned on the PGA Tour and the five international tours (Japan PGA, PGA European, Australasian, Southern Africa, Asian) and the Champions Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and the Japan LPGA. It also includes unofficial money won in nontour events.

Off-course income includes estimates of all money earned from endorsements, bonuses, appearance fees, corporate outings, speaking engagements, licensing fees (video games, trading cards, etc.), course architecture, books, instructional videos and businesses that capitalize on a person's status as a player, such as product lines including clothing, wine and turfgrass.

Investment income is not included.

To view the slideshow with each player's 2012 rank, on-course and off-course earnings, click here.

For a bit of an idea of the unbelievable amounts of money these players are making, Tom Lehman -- last on Sirak's list -- raked in $4,856,231 in 2012.

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

January 22, 2013 - 9:42am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
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Phil Mickelson apologized for comments involving money and taxes that he made on Sunday in a statement to Fox News late Monday night.

As a follow up to the story we brought you Monday morning about Phil Mickelson being prepared to make "drastic changes" in his life because of the federal and state taxes he is paying, the star golfer -- in a statement to Fox News late Monday -- apologized to anyone he may have, "upset or insulted," with his comments.

Mickelson made his comments to the media on Sunday following the final round of the Humana Challenge. He said his high tax bracket was causing him to consider drastic changes in his life, possibly moving his family out of state and even retiring from golf.

Here's what Mickelson said in the statement:

"Finances and taxes are a personal matter and I should not have made my opinions on them public," Mickelson said.
"I certainly don't have a definitive plan at this time, but like everyone else I want to make decisions that are best for my future and my family."

Sunday certainly wasn't the first time that Mickelson has gone off on an unexpected rant.

Golf Digest Web Editor Sam Weinman took an entertaining look at a number of Mickelson's unexpected rants over the years, including but not limited to Oakmont's "dangerous" rough and, as Weinman writes, "objects to a loophole by exploiting loophole."

It's a fun read and you should check it out here.

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

January 22, 2013 - 2:35am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Mobile Warming Gear golf outerwear
Courtesy of Mobile Warming Gear
The golf-specific vests and jackets from Mobile Warming Gear contain micro-alloy heating elements built into the back and chest area, which completely eliminate the need for extra layers of clothing while keeping muscles loose in all conditions.

Playing golf at this time of the year can be a challenge because keeping warm can be as tough as a 200-yard carry over water. If you live in the three-quarters of the country that are freezing right now, you know what I mean.

One great way to seriously lessen the challenge of cold-weather golf, however, comes from a company called Mobile Warming Gear. Its Mobile Warming system is based on concepts pioneered by NASA during early days of the U.S. space program, and use a small, rechargeable lithium-ion battery to provide hours of heat – sort of like electric blankets that you wear.

"While some golfers put their clubs away when the weather turns cold, those with a true passion for the game want to get in as many rounds as possible," said Mobile Warming Golf General Manager Keith Apple. "We're making that a comfortable reality, rain or shine, with a unique system that ensures a player's core stays warm for up to 10 hours."

Mobile Warming has launched its first collection of heated, waterproof jackets made just for golfers – in  fact, the company worked with a number of PGA Professionals to make sure the clothes are as swing-friendly as they are warm.

Each seam-sealed garment is crafted from ultra-lightweight and breathable technical polyester. Featuring four-way stretch, the jackets and vests provide significant freedom of movement throughout the golf swing – and, thanks to the placement of the heating units, they also conform to USGA regulations.

They're further enhanced by the system of micro-alloy heating elements built into the back and chest area, which completely eliminate the need for extra layers of clothing while keeping muscles loose in all conditions. At the touch of a button, this breakthrough technology provides heating and warmth, for an entire day, that exceeds the heat transmitted by any other form of insulation available in outerwear today.

Both the softshell golf vest and golf jacket and rain jacket are made of lightweight, stretchy Windshark fabric with elastic underarm panels for extra flexibility. They feature three heating panels to keep upper body muscles warm and loose, and include a rechargeable battery and charger. There is also a line of vests and jackets designed specifically for women golfers, as well as other non-golf-specific garments suitable for a variety of outdoor activities from snowboarding to motorsports.

The garments aren't cheap – they range from $159.99 for the vest to $219.99 for the rain jacket. But compared to what you'd pay for a parka or other cold-weather outerwear, they're certainly not overpriced, either – especially when it means the difference between enjoying some bonus golf in cold conditions versus being miserable all day or, worse, being stuck at home wishing you could play.

For more about Mobile Warming Gear, click here.

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.