Golf Buzz

November 14, 2012 - 9:13am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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The most historic and prestigious event in senior golf -- the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid -- is set to tee off at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis for the first time May 21-26, 2013.

The PGA of America has announced that tickets for the 74th playing of the championship are on sale now. And, if you choose to buy tickets now, there's an added bonus.

"Ticket purchasers will have the added value of priority to purchase tickets for the Centennial PGA Championship when golf comes to Bellerive in 2018," said General Chairman Bob Cox in a press release. "Championship golf in St. Louis is back and now is the best time to act -- prior to the holiday rush."

With the 2013 Senior PGA Championship, Bellerive will become only the third club in the United States to host all four traveling men's professional major championships: PGA Championship (1992), Senior PGA Championship (2013), U.S. Open (1965) and the U.S. Senior Open (2004).

Tickets for the 74th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid can be purchased for as little as $15.

To check out all the ticket packages now available, click here. 

To buy your tickets now, click here. 

November 14, 2012 - 3:02am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Graeme McDowell
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Some golf officials believe that the long putter "takes one extraneous movement out of the putting stroke," says Graeme McDowell.
Do golf’s governing bodies believe they’ve made a mistake by not banning long putters that can be anchored to the body? They do, according to Graeme McDowell.

U.S. Golf Association Chief Executive Mike Davis told him that their research indicated that putters anchored to the belly, chest or chin give golfers an edge in pressure situations, McDowell told the Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper on Tuesday as he prepared to play in this week’s Australian Masters.

"They're convinced the research has shown that under pressure on a Sunday afternoon the long putter just kind of takes one extraneous movement out of the putting stroke," McDowell told the paper. "It just makes it physically easier to stroke the putter when the nerves are there (and) I think we should be levelling the playing field (by banning it).

"I think it's probably something they're disappointed in themselves that it's got to this point," he added. "They probably should have nipped it in the bud many, many years ago."

November 13, 2012 - 10:42pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
The OptiFit Hosel adjusts the face angle to Open, Square or Closed positions, while the OptiFit Weights shift the clubhead's Center of Gravity to promote noticeable Draw or Neutral ball flights.

Callaway Golf debuted its RAZR Fit Xtreme Driver on Tuesday, billing it as the longest fully adjustable driver the company has ever measured. The Xtreme is the second adjustable driver Callaway has developed in the past year or so, following the original RAZR Fit Driver, and company officials say this one advances distance and overall performance over its predecessor.

"The RAZR Fit Xtreme Driver is worthy of its extreme designation," said Callaway Senior Vice President of Research & Development Alan Hocknell. "We worked tirelessly to improve on the best distance characteristics of our longest drivers, and the result is incredibly fast ball speed off the Speed Frame Face, plus the lowest CG of any adjustable driver in golf. This driver is very long and consistent. It will not be matched."

Speed Frame Face Technology is the headliner of the technological advances in the RAZR Fit Xtreme. It combines Callaway's Variable Face Technology and Hyperbolic Face Technology to enhance the stress distribution across the club’s titanium face for more efficient energy transfer from clubhead to ball. It also makes for a larger, more consistent sweet spot and increased ball speed, even on off-center contact.

The Speed Frame Face also saves weight that is then redistributed in the clubhead to improve the Center of Gravity and maximize Moment of Inertia, which leads to improved ball flight, stability and forgiveness. In addition, the face features a tighter bulge radius than the original RAZR Fit Driver for a more preferred look at address, along with more consistent sidespin and dispersion.

The driver’s crown features Forged Composite -- an advanced carbon fiber material that Callaway has been working with for more than four years. Using this patented, lightweight material, which weighs only 12.1 grams -- and gives the RAZR Fit Xtreme the lightest crown in golf -- allows Callaway engineers to precisely position saved weight to achieve the lowest Center of Gravity in any fully adjustable driver. This promotes higher ball speed and less spin off the tee for more distance.

Two OptiFit Technology elements make up the RAZR Fit Xtreme's improved adjustability: the OptiFit Hosel and OptiFit Weights. The hosel adjusts the face angle to Open, Square or Closed positions to improve accuracy and trajectory while allowing golfers to dial in their preferred look at address. The 13- and 1-gram OptiFit Weights shift the clubhead's Center of Gravity to promote noticeable Draw or Neutral ball flights. The higher lofts have more draw bias than lower lofts.

And speaking of lofts, the RAZR Fit Xtreme comes in more lofts that incorporate a greater range of face angle options, CG bias options and CG height differences than the RAZR Fit Driver. Callaway has optimized the performance in each loft to suit the needs of the players that will use it. For example, they said, the 8.5-, 9.5- and 10.5-degree clubheads are 440cc (versus 460cc for other lofts) and feature a more open face angle.

The RAZR Fit Xtreme will feature two tour-grade shafts as stock offerings. The primary shaft, the Aldila Trinity, combines Aldila's three patented design technologies (RIP, S-Core, Micro Laminate) into a single shaft design. A secondary offering, the Matrix 7M3 Black Tie, is a heavier, lower launching, lower spinning option for players who generate higher head speed and higher spin.

And for golfers wanting to personalize their clubs, Callaway’s udesign will be expanded for the RAZR Fit Xtreme. Both the crown and the sole of the clubhead are now separately customizable with eight different color options. And for the first time, custom laser engraving will also be available on the sole.

The RAZR Fit Xtreme Driver will be available at retail on Jan. 18, 2013, and will carry a new product introduction retail price of $399.99.

Callaway has had great fun teasing the introduction of his new driver on social media over the past couple of days before officially unveiling it late Tuesday. To check out their tweets and see promotional videos of the RAZR Fit Xtreme Driver, click here.

November 13, 2012 - 3:34pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Matt Kuchar at the UBS Hong Kong Open
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Matt Kuchar launched a ball out over the Hong Kong skyline as part of his warm-up for the UBS Hong Kong Open.

The PGA Tour closed up its official ship for the year on Sunday at the Children’s Miracle Network Hopsitals Classic at Disney World. Charlie Beljan struck a blow for all of us anxiety-ridden golfers by winning the trophy despite suffering from severe symptoms of what he called a panic attack for the final three rounds. And Tim "Lumpy" Herron struck a blow for all of us not-so-svelte-anymore golfers by rallying to secure his playing privileges for 2013 by squeaking into the top 125 on the final money list.

Seriously, I cannot imagine how Beljan actually won. If he was feeling anywhere near as shaken-up as he looked on Friday – and judging from his comments afterward, he was – his second-round 64 has to be one of the greatest displays of mental golf I’ve ever seen.

Beljan’s amazing victory would be an appropriate way to close out the year in golf – except that the year is nowhere near being finished. In fact, this is one of the busiest weeks on the global golf calendar.

--On Monday, Justin Rose and Peter Hanson held off their Ryder Cup rivals Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley to win the Tyco Golf Skills Challenge at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla. That event will be televised Dec. 29-30 on NBC.

--Today, three-member teams from the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and Champions Tour are battling it out in the Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge at Rio Secco Golf Club out near Las Vegas. That event will be televised Dec. 10 on the Golf Channel.

--Also, today is the beginning of the Champions Tour Q-School finals at TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Fla. The four-day event concludes Friday, and the field of 78 includes one major champion – 1996 U.S. Open winner Steve Jones – and a bunch of familiar names, including Bobby Clampett, Bruce Vaughan, David Peoples, Esteban Toledo, Anders Forsbrand, Jeff Brehaut and John Inman. Also competing are putting guru Stan Utley and longtime loopers Damon Green (Zach Johnson’s caddie) and Lance Ten Broeck (Jesper Parnevik’s caddie).

PGA Club Professionals are also well-represented in the field, with 2008 PGA Professional Player of the Year Sonny Skinner of Georgia, two-time Senior PGA Professional National Championship winner Kirk Hanefeld of Massachusetts, and three-time PGA Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year Chris Starkjohann of California leading the charge.

Speaking of PGA Club Professionals, Tim Thelen of Texas is carving out quite a career for himself on the European Senior Tour. Last weekend, Thelen won the Fubon Senior Open in Taiwan by five strokes for his third victory of the season. That ensured him a top-four finish on the money list and a spot in the 2013 U.S. Senior Open, and made him the first American to win three times in a season since John Grace in 2000.

Thelen was a college teammate of Colin Montgomerie at Houston Baptist, then spent a couple decades establishing himself among his fellow club professionals. He twice won the PGA Professional National Championship, then qualified for the 2011 European Senior Tour by winning Q-School. He finished 24th on the money list to retain his card for this season. What a tremendous "second career" for a well-deserving guy.

Also on tap this week are:

--The CME Group Titleholders in Naples, Fla., which is the season-ending event on the LPGA Tour. This is the second year for the curtain-dropper, and its first at the TwinEagles Club. Stacy Lewis locked up the Player of the Year award last week at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, but she and Inbee Park are in an almost dead heat for the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. Park has a big lead in the money race, but Lewis could catch her if she wins and Park finishes poorly.

--The UBS Hong Kong Open is the next-to-last event on the European Tour schedule, with only the season-ending DP World Championship in Dubai remaining. Rory McIlroy clinched the money title last week at the Barclays Singapore Open, but the field is still very strong. McIlroy is playing, and will be joined by the likes of Matt Kuchar, John Daly, Padraig Harrington, Y.E. Yang, Paul Lawrie, Paul Casey, Jose Maria Olazabal and last week’s winner, Matteo Manassero. 

--The Australian Masters kicks off the southern hemisphere’s summer season at spectacular Kingston Heath in Melbourne. Ian Poulter, Europe’s catalyst at the Ryder Cup and who also recently won the WGC-HSBC Champions, is the defending champion. He’s joined in the field by Graeme McDowell and an Australian contingent that includes Adam Scott, Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby. Kingston Heath, one of Australia’s great Sandbelt courses, is widely considered among the top 20 or 30 courses in the world.

--The South African Open is the world’s second-oldest national championship, behind only the British Open, and is by far the biggest event on southern Africa’s Sunshine Tour. The 102nd edition will include Charl Schwartzel, Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson, Branden Grace and two-time champion Tim Clark, among others. Veteran Hennie Otto is the defending champion, and the event will be staged at Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate for the second straight year.

All four of these events will be televised on the Golf Channel, and you can see the TV schedule here. And, of course, PGA.com will provide coverage of all of them as well.

 

November 12, 2012 - 4:16pm
Posted by:
Steve Eubanks
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Hugh Robertson
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UK Minister of Sport Hugh Robertson weighed in on the public-private debate regarding women members in the R&A and clubs that host major championships.

 

In a country that has a minister of everything, it’s no surprise that the UK Minister of Sport – yes, they have a Sports Czar in Jolly Ole England – has weighed in on the private/public debate when it comes to golf and major championships.  

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Minister Hugh Robertson said, “It is increasingly anachronistic not to allow women to be members. The defence (SIC) of the Royal and Ancient is that it is a private club and so has the right to do what it wants. That is legally correct and I have no quarrel when it is acting as a private club. However, I believe that when a private club fulfills a public function, such as staging a major event, then there is a different slant…I think this issue should be addressed. Let's get on with providing equality of opportunity across all sports.”  

Not only is the R&A a male-only club, the host course for the Open next year, Muirfield, is famously men-only. And while pressure might force the R&A to act, no amount of political bluster will budge the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.  

“It's not our decision where the Open is,” Muirfield secretary Alastair Brown told Press Association Sport on Monday after the Times story ran. “It's the decision of the R&A. It's their competition and they ask us. Augusta (National) is a totally different situation. They own their event (the Masters). We are fully compliant with the Equality Act. Women have played here since 1891. I've given this reply several times and that is our stance.”  

He didn’t have to say, “Don’t ask again.”  

 
November 12, 2012 - 12:29pm
Posted by:
Steve Eubanks
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Kris Tschetter
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Kris Tschetter returned to the LPGA Legends Tour in Innisbrook, Fla., after struggling with a serious infection from a cat bite.

 

Charlie Beljan wasn’t the only player to overcome serious illness or injury to compete last week.

Kris Tschetter made her return to the LPGA Legends Tour at the ISPS Handa Legends Tour Open at Innisbrook. And while she didn’t play great – 4-over and a tie for 18th, nine shots behind winner Laura Davies – Tschetter was happy to be playing at all.

Over the summer Tschetter suffered a serious infection after being bitten on the finger by a cat. She underwent two surgeries and a long stint of intravenous antibiotic therapy. Had that treatment not worked, she could have lost her hand.

“It was my cat,” he said. “We’d gotten a new dog, and I was the holding the cat when the dog came up and scared him.

“It turns out that 85% of cat bites result in infection, but only five percent of dogs bites do,” she said. “It never got to the point where I thought I was going to lose my hand, but that was certainly one of the possibilities if the surgeries and antibiotics hadn’t worked.”