Golf Buzz

December 21, 2012 - 2:56pm
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John Holmes
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Garrett Sapp
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OneAsia Tour veteran Garrett Sapp could have some company next year if some of his fellow Americans succeed in the circuit's California Q-School.

The OneAsia Tour will hold not one but two final-stage Q-School tournaments early next year – with one in the United States and the other in Malaysia.

The U.S. Q-School will take place at the Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms, in Industry Hills, Calif., on Jan. 29-Feb. 1. The Malaysian event will return to Sutera Harbour Golf Club in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, on Feb. 5-8.

The winner of each Q-School is s guaranteed starts in all 2013 OneAsia's tournaments, while those who finish second and third will likely get starts in most events. Positions then will be awarded alternately between the Malaysian and U.S. Q-Schools.

"As we enter our fifth season, there has been phenomenal interest in OneAsia from around the world and we feel that holding one of our Q-School tournaments in the United States will satisfy that demand and also help promote the tour there," said OneAsia Chairman and Commissioner Sang Y. Chun.

An increasing number of Asia-Pacific players are basing themselves on the West Coast of the United States to go to college or take advantage of playing and coaching facilities not available in Korea or northern China during winter.

The OneAsia circuit was founded four years ago by the China Golf Association, the Korea Golf Tour, the Korea Golf Association and the PGA of Australasia as an alternative to the Asian Tour. It now includes the national Opens of Australia, China, Korea and Thailand among other events.

And speaking of Asians and Americans and golf, Jack Newton has two words of advice for international golfers eager to seek their fortune on the PGA Tour: Slow down!

Young golfers would be best served cutting their teeth in Asia and Europe before heading for the riches of the PGA Tour, Newton, one of Australia’s most prominent golfers in the 1970s and early ‘80s and more recently a big advocate for junior golf. He also urged his fellow Australians not to expect too much too soon from their junior stars.

"A lot of people want to put tags on people ... this player's going to be the best that ever lived and so on. And they stub their toe somewhere and disappear," said Newton in The Australian, Australia's national newspaper, citing the struggles of junior star Won Joon Lee, who now has returned to Australia after flaming out on the Web.com Tour. "A lot of these kids are rushing to America too early and then get their arse kicked.

Lee "lost his card in America. He's got a place in Las Vegas and he's flying back to shut all that down to come back to Sydney and start again," Newton said. "That's the way it can go."

Newton spoke out after comments from Jake Higginbottom, the 19-year-old who recently won the New Zealand Open as an amateur, then immediately turned pro and later said he hopes to come to the United States for Q-School next year.

"I just wish a lot of these kids wouldn't rush to America because you'll get killed with the numbers," Newton told the newspaper. "It's not that they're better, but there's someone shooting the lights out every week and it gets to you mentally in the end."

December 20, 2012 - 7:06pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Bubba Watson
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Bubba Watson's pink driver doesn't just stand out because of its color; it stands out for the good it's doing for Phoenix-area charities.

We all watched Bubba Watson swing his bubble-gum pink Ping driver for much of the year – including at the Masters, where he earned his first major victory and became not just a golf superstar but a pop culture favorite.

Watson wielded that unmistakable driver as part of his ''Bubba & Friends Drive to a Million'' effort in partnership with Ping's ''Bubba Long in Pink. Driven by Ping'' campaign. To help raise funds for Phoenix-area charities, Ping has donated $50 for each of the 5,000 pink drivers sold.

And on Thursday came the payoff. Watson and Ping presented $250,000 to the Phoenix Children's Hospital. The money will be used to create the Bubba Watson and Ping Golf Gait Lab, which will serve pediatric patients with neuromuscular diseases and disabilities.

Here's a cute photo from the check presentation ceremony that Ping Golf tweeted out. That's Ping Golf CEO John Solheim in the middle, and I suspect you can pick Bubba out of the crowd.

December 20, 2012 - 2:54pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Callaway Golf X Hot and X Hot Pro irons
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
In both the X Hot (left) and X Hot Pro irons, Callaway incorporated a Deep Undercut Cavity Design and its powerful Speed Frame Face Technology to strike a balance of high ball speed and great feel.

Callaway Golf set out to deliver measurable distance gains with its two new, aggressive iron sets, the X Hot and X Hot Pro.

"The X Hot Irons have been meticulously engineered – both in terms of physical characteristics and club configuration – to increase ball speed and promote overall distance optimization," said Callaway’s Senior Vice President, Research and Development Alan Hocknell. "And in doing so, I think we have raised the bar and created the standard in distance for the irons category."

In both of the new sets of irons, Callaway incorporated a Deep Undercut Cavity Design and its powerful Speed Frame Face Technology to strike a balance of high ball speed and great feel. The deep undercut design allowed Callaway to precisely position the Center of Gravity and move the hottest – and most compliant – part of the face lower, where more golfers make contact with the ball.

And for the first time, Callaway has incorporated Speed Frame Face Technology from such drivers as the RAZR Fit and RAZR X into the X Hot Irons. Doing so optimizes stiffness across the face – essentially creating a larger sweet spot – for more efficient energy transfer. This produces more ball speed and consistent distance, even on off-center contact, and saves weight that can be redistributed to the perimeter of the clubhead for more stability.

Rounding out the X Hot Irons is Feel Management Technology, a dual material medallion that fine-tunes sound by promoting a crisp, dynamic feel at higher ball speeds. The stock shaft offering is a True Temper Speed Step 85 Lightweight Steel Shaft.

The X Hot Pro Irons feature Callaway's 20-degree Close Spaced V Grooves, which are typically reserved for forged irons. They're included in the X Hot Pro Irons to offer up to 1000 rpm more backspin out of the rough (in comparison to their predecessor). These are Callaway’s most precise grooves, improving performance in an iron for better players.

The new irons will be available at retail on Jan. 25, 2013. The X Hot set will carry a new product introduction price of $699 with steel shafts and $899 with graphite shafts, while the X Hot Pro clubs will have a new product introduction price of $799 with steel shafts and $999 with graphite shafts.

For more information, visit www.callawaygolf.com

 

December 20, 2012 - 11:08am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Gleneagles
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Gleneagles is the site of the 2014 Ryder Cup.

Early this morning, while most of us were still sleeping, the European Tour sent out a press release announcing that the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles will not be a part of the European Tour's 2014 international schedule, "due to the venue's staging of The Ryder Cup that year, but will return in the summer of 2015."

"With regret we have accepted that we have no option but to postpone the Johnnie Walker Championship for a year," Graeme Marchbank, Johnnie Walker Championship Director, said. "The Johnnie Walker Championship is a major highlight in the calendar for Diageo and a key commercial platform for the promotion of the world’s number one Scotch whisky, so we are naturally disappointed to miss a year.

"However, as the owner of Gleneagles and as an Official Partner of The 2014 Ryder Cup, Diageo is also working closely with our partners at The European Tour to help deliver a fantastic event. We are also working closely with the Scottish Government on maximising the wider benefit of The Ryder Cup to Scotland. Over the next two years we will be focusing all of our efforts on the goal of delivering the best possible Ryder Cup in 2014.

"We are delighted that in 2015 the Johnnie Walker Championship will return to Gleneagles in partnership with The European Tour."

The move makes sense, seeing as most venues that host big events close down in the year leading up to that event. However, it's a punch in the gut to any potential U.S. team members who were hoping to go on a scouting trip and see Gleneagles in tournament condition.

In case you were thinking, "that's OK. A potential U.S. team member can go play the Gleneagles event in 2013," well, they probably won't do that either.

The 2013 Johnnie Walker Championship is scheduled for Aug. 22-25 -- the same week as the opening event of the PGA Tour FedExCup Playoffs, The Barclays at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J.

Richard Hills, European Ryder Cup Director, said: "We are very grateful to the management of both Diageo, the owners of Johnnie Walker, and The Gleneagles Hotel for agreeing to postpone the Johnnie Walker Championship so that preparations for The Ryder Cup can begin as planned in July 2014. The magnitude of The Ryder Cup is such that trying to host the Johnnie Walker Championship in the same season would have compromised both events."

December 19, 2012 - 5:10pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Rory McIlroy
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If it weren't for a ride to the course by a state trooper, Rory McIlroy may have cost Europe the Ryder Cup.

It's easy for Rory McIlroy to laugh about it now, but when he nearly missed his tee time for the Sunday singles matches in the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah, the two-time major champion and No. 1 player in the world admits that he thought he may have cost Europe a shot at winning.

Europe entered the final day of the Ryder Cup trailing the U.S., 10-6. But, miraculously, Europe stormed back on the final day for an incredible come-from-behind victory -- including a win for McIlroy in his match against Keegan Bradley, where he showed up to the tee just in time.

In an exclusive interview with RTÉ’s Greg Allen, McIlroy said he would not have made it to the course on time if it were not for state trooper Pat Rollins, who got him to the course with just minutes to spare.

Here's what McIlroy told Allen:

"On the Saturday night, before I went to bed, I was watching the Golf Channel and they posted the tee-times (for Sunday). But they posted them in Eastern time and we were in Central time in Chicago, so 12:35 Eastern is 11:35 in Chicago.

"Next morning I get up and get out of the shower at 11am. I get a phone call from Conor, my manager, and he says 'Are you at the golf course?', and I tell him that I'm not.

"He says 'You should be, you've got half an hour to your tee-time'. "And I say 'No, I've got an hour and a half, I'm off at 12:35. He says 'You're not. You are off at 11:35'.

"I have never been so scared going to a golf course. It was such a mad rush. Luckily there was a state trooper waiting for me and if it was not for him, if I was not in that car, I would not have made my tee-time.

"I actually played my best golf of the whole week on that Sunday!"

December 19, 2012 - 5:00pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bill Haas
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Count Bill Haas as one of the many players who have benefited from an anchored putter.

Bleacher Report featured columnist Mike Dudurich explains that there are many misconceptions that come along with the proposed ruling by the USGA and R&A to ban the anchoring of putters beginning in 2016.

So, what exactly are those misconceptions?

Click here to see Dudurich's report.