Golf Buzz

April 7, 2013 - 5:13pm
Posted by:
John Kim's picture
Condoleezza Rice
From Doug Ferguson's Twitter
Former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice walks the grounds of Augusta National with two fellow club members.


For the most part, Augusta National Golf Club members - though very involved in the operations of the Masters - typically aren't the story as Masters week commences. Oh sure there will be a couple of press conferences involving the chairman (Billy Payne) and you'll see the regal green jackets manning various important posts, but patrons, media and other members are there to see the players this week - right?  Well....
Probably the most anticipated sighting of the week happened on Sunday, the day before the crowds enter the grounds. Former Secretary of State and one of the first two female members of Augusta National - Condoleezza Rice - played a practice round with none other than Phil Mickelson and then walked the grounds with a couple of fellow members.
A short blurb then moved on the wires by the AP's Doug Ferguson (who also tweeted the photo above)
AUGUSTA, Georgia (AP) -- Phil Mickelson has won three green jackets, and he was the one asking all the questions Sunday at Augusta National.
That's because Mickelson played a practice round with Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State and one of the newest club members. Rice made history in Augusta when she and South Carolina financier Darla Moore were the first women invited to join Augusta.
Rice later donned her green jacket to meet with other members on the practice range.
She slipped away without taking questions. Members typically don't give interviews during the week of the Masters. Mickelson couldn't stop talking about her -- especially her 40-foot par putt on the 18th hole. He says Rice asked him about courses, and he asked her about countries.
For more on Rice's day at Augusta National, click here. 
You can follow John on Twitter at @johnkim_10
April 7, 2013 - 4:06pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
New York Times Magzine Meh List
Annmarie Dodd via Twitter
Tiger Woods is on the "Meh List," but at least he's No. 1.

Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are done – at least according to the New York Times Sunday magazine.

Each week, the magazine has a little feature called ''The Meh List.'' It describes itself as a list of things that are ''not hot, not not, just meh.'' 

And topping the list this week, as we can see in the image above, is golf's No. 1 power couple. 

Also on the list this week are things like ''you had me at …'' ''Whole Foods sushi'' and ''the acoustic version.'' 

I can't mount a big argument that Tiger and Lindsey don't belong on the list – and hey, at least they're No. 1. But I will say this: If Tiger wins the Masters, he and Lindsey won't belong on anybody's ''Meh List.''

And now I can't wait to see how long it'll take for ''Dufnering'' to make the list.

Golf clap to fashion expert Annmarie Dodd for spotting this first.

April 6, 2013 - 6:52pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Titleist 712U utility irons
Courtesy of Titleist
The heads of the Titleist 712U utility irons are chrome plated with a satin finish, and are slightly larger than the standard 2-irons, 3-irons and 4-irons in the Titleist MB 712 and CB 712 series.

Last fall, Titleist quietly seeded some of its prototype 712U utility irons among its staff players, and said that their reaction would help the company determine whether the clubs would be released to the public. Not quite six months later, we know what that determination is – they'll be available to the public by custom order starting May 15.

Three irons will be available – an 18-degree 2-iron, a 21-degree 3-iron and a 24-degree 4-iron.

All three clubs are forged from 1025 steel and include a high-speed 455 steel face insert. They have a traditional profile with a rounded back design that many better players prefer over cavity back long irons with more offset. 

''During the development of 712U, we worked closely with our tour players to design a utility iron that delivers a great combination of consistency and control,'' said Titleist Golf Clubs General Manager Steve Pelisek. ''The deeper CG (Center of Gravity) results in a higher MOI (Moment of Inertia) that increases stability at impact, helping players achieve more consistent distance and trajectory control, whether hitting shots high or low.''

The heads are chrome plated with a satin finish, and are slightly larger than the standard 2-irons, 3-irons and 4-irons in the Titleist MB 712 and CB 712 series. They have a wider, camber-sole design than traditional long irons, which promotes clean turf interaction and is more effective for a variety of attack angles. They also utilize a tapered-tip iron shaft for additional trajectory control.

Each iron carries a suggested retail price of $235 with a steel shaft and $259 with a graphite shaft. Custom up-charges may apply.

After their introduction to Titleist staffers last fall, 712U clubs are currently in the bags of such players as Adam Scott (2-iron), Tim Clark (4-iron) and Geoff Ogilvy (2-iron), who prefer a utility iron over a hybrid as an alternative to traditional long irons. In fact, Titleist says, the 712U already has become the most-played utility iron model on the PGA Tour this season.

''I don't like the look of hybrids, but the 712U (2-iron) looks great at address,'' said Ogilvy. ''It is a bit stronger than a 2-iron, it goes farther than a 2-iron and it's easy to hit. It feels great, performs how I need it to, and I like having it in my bag.''


April 5, 2013 - 5:55pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Jim Furyk at the Valero Texas Open
Getty Images
Jim Furyk, at the Valero Texas Open, is finding his 9.5-degree Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver to be longer and the 10.5-degree model a little more accurate.

Jim Furyk has two drivers in play this week at the Valero Texas Open, and he's thinking he might use them both at the Masters, too. After all, Phil Mickelson won the 2006 Masters with a pair of Callaway Fusion FT-3 drivers.

Furyk is working with a pair of Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme drivers, one with 9.5 degrees of loft and the other with 10.5 degrees of loft. He's alternating them, more or less, and has ended two rounds at 5-under 139, high up on the scoreboard – and that's despite not getting in a full practice round. (He arrived in San Antonio on Tuesday, then only got in four holes of his pro-am round on Wednesday before it was washed out, so he played a video game to see where to hit the ball on the various holes.)

''I wanted to give it a practice run,'' he told about employing the dual driver strategy in Texas before heading to Augusta National. He added that it might take him until next Wednesday before he's completely settled on which clubs will be in his Masters bag.

So far, Furyk said, he's finding the 9.5-degree driver to be longer and the 10.5-degree model a little more accurate, which is what you'd expect. 

Adding the second driver to his bag caused him to remove his gap wedge, and that's what he said he'd do again next week – he's learned over the years that he seldom hits a gap wedge at Augusta National.


April 5, 2013 - 1:59pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Alvaro Quiros
Getty Images
The political instability on the Korean peninsula is affecting Alvaro Quiros' travel plans.

No tour hopscotches the globe like the European Tour, and most of its players have embraced the circuit's worldwide reach.

That doesn't mean every player is happy to go to every tournament, however.

It would be "a stupid idea" to play at the Ballantine's Championship in Incheon, South Korea, later this month, says Spanish star Alvaro Quiros, because of the growing political tension on the Korean peninsula.

The first five editions of the Ballantine's Championship have been well received, despite the relative remoteness of host venue Blackstone Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of Seoul. But the big-hitting Spaniard definitely won't be around for the sixth, which is set for April 25-28. 

"I'm not going to play in Korea," the six-time European Tour winner told Reuters. "I don't think it's a good moment to go there – it would be a stupid idea with the way things are. I don't want to mess with my life just to play in a golf tournament."

Asia has been rattled in recent weeks by warnings from North Korea that a military conflict was inevitable because of sanctions the United Nations has imposed because of its nuclear activities. North Korea has declared war on South Korea and even threatened to strike targets in the United States.

While Quiros will sit this one out, the tournament won't be short on stars. Already committed are PGA Tour stars Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson, along with former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. Dustin Johnson also played at Incheon in 2011 but missed last year with a back injury. Zach Johnson will be playing his first pro event in Asia.

The ASICS Gel-Ace Pro retails for $185.


Asics, long recognized as the makers of some of the best, most comfortable running shoes on the market also happen to be in the golf business these days.
I stumbled upon the shoes at a recent trip to the local Golfsmith and was intrigued, seeing as I love my Asics running shoes.
As I learned more, it turns out Asics has been making golf shoes for three years now. Not sure how I missed that.
Here's more information from a press release about the company's GEL-Ace Pro model, endorsed by Japan's Shingo Katayama, who finished fourth at the 2009 Masters:
Best known for performance oriented running shoes, ASICS has translated key technical features and craftsmanship into a golf shoe that enhances athletic performance. Most notably, an extended trusstic that contours the heel and provides a solid base of support under the heel and arch, leading to a reduction in fatigue while also enhancing foot stability during the golf swing.  
Additional features include waterproof inner lining that keeps the foot dry while maintaining breathability; a sockliner that is reinforced for additional arch support; hidden lacing system that allows for a snugger fit and slimmer profile, and replaceable Scorpion Stinger Spikes.  
“We are thrilled to enter the golf category and bring ASICS technology to today's golfer,” says Matt Donnelly, Footwear Manager for ASICS America Corporation. “Based on the excitement and interest Katayama generated wearing the shoes at the Masters, we feel confident consumers are interested in a functional yet stylish golf shoe.” 
ASICS Corporation, with more than 50 years of footwear manufacturing experience, offers a full line of performance-driven athletic shoes and technical active sports apparel and accessories. 
The GEL-Ace Pro is just one of several models offered by Asics. It retails for $185.
Asics also offers sneaker-looking golf shoes like the Match-Play Classic ($95) and the MatchPlay33 ($80), among others.
For more information, click here to check out all of the Asics golf offerings.
You can also visit Asics on Facebook, or via the Asics Twitter page, @ASICSamerica.