Golf Buzz

November 30, 2012 - 1:00pm
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John Holmes
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Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods might be third in the world ranking, but he remains No. 1 when it comes to sponsorship value, according to a new study.

Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship, captured the money titles on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, and stretched out his lead as the world's top-ranked golfer.

About the only thing he didn't do was knock Tiger Woods off the top of the golf sponsorship heap.

Woods generated $18.9 million in media value for his sponsors, Nike Golf and Fuse Science, during U.S. golf telecasts this year, the most of any golfer, according to Forbes. The bulk of that value -- $18.1 million -- belonged to Nike, based on a Repucom formula that quantifies the time a logo spends on-screen as well as its clarity and the cost to reach that audience.

The reason for that, of course, is that Nike essentially has a clean sponsorship deal with Woods – meaning that Nike commands virtually all of Woods' advertising space. The Fuse Science logo appears only on his golf bag.

"Tiger's generally strong, consistent play, combined with him simply getting coverage because he is Tiger Woods, generated tremendous value for his sponsors," Repucom executive Peter Laatz told Forbes.

McIlroy finished a distant second in the sponsorship derby, generating $12.9 million worth of value for his backers, which include Jumeirah Golf Estates, Oakley, Titleist, FootJoy and Audemars Piguet. He seems very likely to move closer to Woods in value generation next year, Forbes believes, if – as is widely speculated – McIlroy signs an equipment deal worth more than $200 million over 10 years.

Rounding out the top five in the Repucom survey are Phil Mickelson ($11.8 million), Jim Furyk ($8.5 million) and Louis Oosthuizen ($8.2 million).

One other interesting note in Forbes' report: Repucom found that Woods remains the game's most popular player, with 45 percent of people in a survey putting him at the top of their list. Mickelson is a close second at 42 percent, with Bubba Watson third at 23 percent, Fred Couples fourth at 19 percent and McIlroy fifth at 16 percent.

"McIlroy is an interesting case because he has not caught on as much as one might think with the American public. But he is certainly trending upward," Laatz told Forbes.

November 29, 2012 - 3:17pm
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John Holmes
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Bernhard Langer
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If there is anything illegal about long putters, Bernhard Langer wonders, why did golf's governng bodies not stop their spread right away?

As the golf world began to digest Wednesday's announcement of a proposed rule to ban anchoring, prominent long putter users like Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley seemed to be accepting the decision.

Half a world away, however, Bernhard Langer doesn't sound like he's going to surrender so quietly.

On Thursday in South Africa, Langer launched a strong defense of the long putter he has used so successfully for 15 years, saying that the proposal to change the rule was not "the end of it" and hinting at a legal response from users.

"It has been out for" about 35 years, said Langer, who is playing in the Nedbank Champions Challenge at the Sun City Resort, about the long putter. "If there is anything illegal about it, why did they not stop it right away? If it is that easy with a long putter, a belly putter, why aren't 90 percent of the pros and 100 percent of the amateurs using it?

"There are pros that are on tour that grew up with that putter," he added. "They have invested 15-20 years in practicing, maybe 30 years practicing with a long putter or belly putter, and now they have to switch and they make a living doing that."

"I do not think it is the end of it," he said.

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.

November 29, 2012 - 2:53pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Old Tom Morris
Old Tom Morris knocked some golf balls into Lough Salt in Ireland 121 years ago, starting a tradition that's lived on ever since -- and made finding those original balls etremely difficult.

What's stuck in the muck at the bottom of Lough Salt in County Donegal, Ireland? It could be that 20 of Old Tom Morris' golf balls are down there.

A team of divers has begun searching one of Donegal's deepest lakes for 20 gutta percha balls that the legendary golf pioneer and four-time British Open champion is said to have knocked in there as part of an exhibition while he was designing the nearby Rosapenna Golf Course in 1891.

"We've carried out some research and spoke to local people whose parents were around when Tom Morris was here and they told us how he stood up on the hill overlooking Lough Salt and drove the balls into the lake," dive leader Gus O'Driscoll told BBC News.

"It soon became a tradition after that for golfers on their way home from the Rosapenna to stop off and drive balls into the lake," he added. "That checks out because we've seen thousands of balls on the bottom of the lake and we have recovered some which date back to the 1940s and '50s."

Because there are so many balls at the bottom of the lake, locating Morris' models is an even more difficult task than scouring the bottom of a deep, dark lake would be otherwise. But the reward could be great.

The gutta percha balls that Morris used in his heyday sold for a shilling (about 8 cents) apiece at the time. Now, however, these "little pieces of sporting history" are worth about $25,000 each, or more than $500,000 if all 20 are found, according to the Independent newspaper in Ireland.

"The balls we are looking for were designed by Morris himself and he used them when he won the Open four times in the 1860s," O'Driscoll told the Independent. "It would be fantastic to get one of them."

Despite the balls' potential value, however, the divers aren't looking solely to cash in. If they do manage to salvage some of the spheres, they plan to make a donation the Rosapenna Golf Club.

"There's a statue of Old Tom Morris at the entrance to the course he designed," said O'Driscoll, "and it would be lovely to give the club one of his original golf balls to put on display n the clubhouse."

 

November 28, 2012 - 11:11pm
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John Holmes
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Nike Golf VR_S Covert irons
Courtesy of Nike Golf
The cavityback in Nike Golf's VR_S Covert irons is hidden "covertly," giving each iron a sleeker look at address while offering the performance advantages of a highly forgiving distance iron.

Hot on the heels of its new VR_S Covert drivers, Nike Golf is rolling out a high-speed cavityback iron designed to maximize distance, control and forgiveness.

"Distance, control and consistency are the keys to successful golf shots," said Nike Golf Director of Club Creation Tom Stites. "We combined a high-speed cavityback, NexCOR technology, and a dual bevel sole to maximize distance for every club in the bag. Golfers will notice positive improvements not only on crisp shots, but on off-center shots as well."

The cavityback is hidden "covertly," Nike Golf said, giving each iron a sleeker look at address while offering the performance advantages of a highly forgiving distance iron. The VR_S Covert irons are the company's most versatile irons to date, and will appeal to a wide range of players.

The hidden cavityback allowed Nike Golf engineers to move much of the club's weight to the corners, raising Moment of Inertia (MOI) to increase forgiveness and add even more distance to off-center shots. And a new variable to maximum distance is the incredibly thin 1.6 millimeter sole, which heats up the face.

NexCOR technology is designed to deliver faster ball speed and longer shots from a wider area of the face. NexCOR creates more speed at impact by employing variable face thickness that focuses on increasing the sweet spot not only in the center of the face, but also to the lower portion and towars the toe, where most golfers are likely to make impact.

For the VR_S Covert irons, engineers have created a dual bevel sole, which allows the club to sit low to the ball and prevent digging. The sole makes a clean cut through the grass, making interaction with the turf less disturbing to the shot.

These new irons are part of the VR_S Covert family that also includes drivers, fairway woods and hybrids. All will be available in golf stores across North America and Europe on Feb. 8, 2013 and in the rest of the world starting Feb. 15.

They will come in right- and left-handed models with either True Temper Dynalite 90 or Nike Kuro Kage Black 70 shafts. The steel-shafted models will carry a street price of $699.99 per set, while the graphite-shafted clubs will carry a street price of $799.99 per set.

 

November 28, 2012 - 12:04pm
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John Holmes
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Michael Jordan
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Michael Jordan loves golf, but one golf club wasn't so happy with Michael Jordan recently.

We've been focused on the announcement of the proposed ban on anchoring this morning, but one other item caught my eye: Apparently Michael Jordan caused a ruckus at the exclusive La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach recently because he wore cargo pants.

"Jordan's multipocketed pants were apparently against the dress code that, sources say, dictates that members and guests must be attired in a collared shirt and Bermuda shorts," said the Page Six column in today's New York Post. Jordan was offered a chance to change outfits, the paper said, but he declined.

"He was given the chance to change but he didn't want to," a source told the newspaper.

Members complained about Jordan breaking the rules, and the Page Six source said, "He won't be invited back."

Jordan has "been there many times before and had worn cargo pants previously, and had never been made aware that he was violating any dress code," a Jordan spokesman told the Post. "This time, he was made aware of the violation on the 12th hole, and at that point … he did refuse to interrupt his game, and return to the clubhouse and change. We were not aware that he is not allowed to return to La Gorce. I guess it's their loss."

La Gorce CC didn't respond to the paper's request for comment.

November 28, 2012 - 2:01am
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John Holmes
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Bobby Horschel
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Billy Horschel is trying to play his way back onto the PGA Tour at Q-School.

Just a reminder that the final stages of Q-School for both the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour start on Wednesday. PGA Tour Q-School is out at PGA West in LaQuinta, Calif., where the 174-player field will play six rounds. At the end of the final round next Monday, the top 25 players and ties will receive a 2013 PGA Tour card. The next 50 players plus ties will earn Web.com Tour cards, and everyone else will receive conditional status on the 2013 Web.com Tour.

This year, of course, is the last time that players will graduate from Q-School directly to the PGA Tour. Starting next year, the top Q-School performers will only get spots on the Web.com Tour. You can see PGATour.com's complete coverage of Q-School here.

On the LPGA Tour, Q-School lasts five rounds and ends on Sunday. The top 20 players at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., will earn their 2013 cards, while those finishing 21st to 45th will earn conditional status. Unlike the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour doesn't reward ties -- in the event of a tie for 20th place, the players will have a playoff for the final spot. All other ties are broken on the basis of low score in the final round.

You can see LPGA.com's complete coverage here.

Finally, the European Tour will wrap up its six-round Q-School on Thursday in Girona, Spain. There, the 156-man field played four rounds before being cut down to the top 70 and ties for the final two rounds. The top 25 finishers after all six rounds will receive 2013 European Tour cards, and you can follow the coverage of all the Q-Schools on our News and Events page.