Golf Buzz

Callaway golf bag, Apex utility iron, Mack Daddy 2 Tour Grind wedges
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
Callaway staff players at the Open Championship are using special-edition golf bags as well as brand-new Apex utility irons and Mack Daddy 2 Tour Grind wedges.
For three reasons, Open Championship week is a big week for Callaway Golf – and not just because the company is gunning for a third straight claret jug after victories by Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els the last two years.
 
First, the company outfitted its staffers with Open-themed bags and headcovers, and Odyssey puttercovers. The red, white and blue bags are festooned with the Roman numeral XII in honor of this being the 12th Open staged at Royal Liverpool.  
 
The upper part of the bag features a Liver Bird – a mythical bird that has been a symbol of the city of Liverpool since medieval times. If you're lucky enough to have visited Liverpool, you might have noticed the two big Liver Bird statues atop the clock towers on the Royal Liver Building. The bottom of the bag carries the script "Respice et Prospice," which essentially means "remember the past but look to the future."
 
Inside several of the bags are prototype editions of Callaway's new Apex utility iron. Callaway hasn't said much about the new irons yet, but they're clearly the next generation of the X utility iron that the company developed in 2012. Those irons have a removable sole weight that allows golfers to precisely adjust the headweight, and these new models appear to have the same feature.
 
 
The bags won't be sold to the public and there's no word yet on the future availability of the utility irons. But the brand-new edition of the Mack Daddy 2 Tour Grind wedges are definitely out at retail – in fact, they hit the shelves in golf shops nationwide today.
 
The wedges are forged from 1020 Carbon steel, and come in two finishes – chrome and slate. They get their name from the custom grind on the sole, which gives them a straighter leading edge than the previous Mack Daddy 2 model for better turf interaction. They're also more rounded on the heel and toe.
 
These Tour Grind wedges also boast 30 percent larger grooves, which Callaway says provides 25 percent more spin out of the rough – the 58- and 60-degree wedges produce slightly more spin than the 52-, 54- and 56-degree models. In addition, Laser Milled Micro Grooves have been cut into the face to increase surface roughness for more spin and control, and extra roughness has been added to the face to maintain traction after the micro grooves wear off.
 
They're available with True Temper Dynamic Gold S300 steel shafts in several variations of stiffness and Golf Pride "Whiteout" grips. They carry a suggested retail price of $129.00 per club.
 
 
July 18, 2014 - 1:07pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
Tiger Woods made just one birdie in the second round of the Open Championship and it came on the final hole. It was a putt he needed desperately.

Tiger Woods waited until the final hole in his second round of the Open Championship on Friday to make his first birdie of the day.

Better late than never and it came just in the nick of time.

Woods needed a birdie -- in all likelihood -- to avoid missing the cut, which was projected to fall right at 2-over 164. He had just come off a triple-bogey 7 on the par-4 17th hole after hitting his tee shot out of bounds.

MORE: Open leaderboard | Friday's Open Championship photos | Complete coverage

Woods was just right of the green in two shots on the par-5 18th hole, but was faced with a tricky chip shot from behind a pot bunker. He hit a stellar third shot, but still had six feet left for birdie.

After giving the line a good look, Woods dropped the putt in for a 5-over 77 to avoid missing the cut in consecutive starts for the first time in his professional career in a round that also included a double bogey on his opening hole. Woods also avoided missing the cut for just the fourth time in a major.

Even though Woods has struggled this season -- before and after back surgery -- CBS analyst Peter Kostis put Tiger's remarkable career in perspective with this tweet:

That's incredible when you really think about it -- over a career that's 17 years strong, Woods has four more major wins than he does missed cuts. 

July 18, 2014 - 12:35pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Rickie Fowler
USA Today Sports Images
Rickie Fowler is proving himself to be a major-contending machine. He shot a second consecutive 3-under 69 on Friday at Royal Liverpool.

Rickie Fowler is the only player in the world with top-5 finishes in each of the season's first two majors.

If the 25-year-old keeps plugging along the way he is at Royal Liverpool this week, there's a very good chance he'll make it 3-for-3 at the Open Championship.

Fowler -- who tied for fifth at the Masters and tied for second at the U.S. Open -- is at 6-under 138 through two rounds at the Open Championship this week. At the time he signed his scorecard, that gave Fowler a share of the clubhouse lead (Rory McIlroy was still finishing up his second round, leading the tournament at 10 under through 15 holes).

MORE: Open leaderboard | Friday's Open Championship photos | Complete coverage

On Friday, Fowler matched the 3-under 69 he turned in on Thursday. 

With the way he's played in the majors, it's hard to believe that Fowler's lone win on the PGA Tour came in 2012.

In a way, it's also unfortunate for Fowler that he could be the victim of a runaway for the second time in two majors. Germany's Martin Kaymer ran away with the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 where Fowler had that tie for second with Erik Compton.

And this week at Royal Liverpool, it appears everyone will be chasing McIlroy on the weekend.

The most important point is that Fowler is putting himself in position... frequently. 

July 18, 2014 - 9:22am
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T.J. Auclair
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John Daly
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John Daly rallied in a big way at Royal Liverpool on Friday to shoot a 1-under 71 with an impressive back nine that will have him watching the cut line the rest of the day.

John Daly's choice of apparel -- which has included Sponge Bob Square Pants-themed trousers -- has been getting a lot of attention this week at Royal Liverpool.

On the back nine Friday, however, Daly's impressive play stood out more than his clothing.

MORE: Open leaderboard | Friday's Open Championship photos | Complete coverage

With rounds of 77-71, Daly is at 4-over 148 through 36 holes at the Open Championship and will be watching the cut line all afternoon. Whether he advances to the weekend or not, the 1995 Open Champ should be proud of his effort.

After a 3-over 38 on the front nine, which included three consecutive bogeys beginning at No. 7, Daly settled down and rallied for a bogey-free, four-birdie back nine to post his 1-under 71.

This is Daly's 20th Open Championship start. His lone top-10 finish remains that unlikely win at St. Andrews in 1995.

July 18, 2014 - 8:50am
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T.J. Auclair
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Sergio Garcia
USA Today Sports Images
Just like he did at Royal Liverpool in the 2006 Open Championship, Sergio Garcia holed out for eagle from the second fairway again today.

The start to Sergio Garcia's second round of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool was a bit of a roller coaster on Friday.

His opening tee shot went so far left, it nearly found the adjacent 18th fairway. He would bogey the hole.

MORE: Open leaderboard | Friday's Open Championship photos | Complete coverage

Garcia, however, got that stroke back and then some on the next hole when he made eagle from the fairway at the par-4 second with a 6-iron from 162 yards.

Watch it here:

That eagle got Garcia to 5 under and in a momentary share of the lead. He bogeyed the next hole.

Interestingly, Garcia also eagled the second hole at Royal Liverpool in the third round of the 2006 Open. He holed a 9-iron from 167 yards out. 

July 18, 2014 - 8:19am
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T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
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Disappointed with a 2-over 74 on Thursday, defending Open Champion Phil Mickelson was four shots better at Royal Liverpool on Friday and will enter the weekend at even par.

Listening to Phil Mickelson following an opening-round, 2-over 74 on Thursday in the first round of the Open Championship, you could tell he was a frustrated man.

That score, the defending Open Champion insisted, was not indicative of how well he struck the ball. He just couldn't get the putts to drop.

MORE: Open leaderboard | Friday's Open Championship photos | Complete coverage

In a difficult, stiff wind on Friday, Mickelson was four shots better with an impressive 2-under 70 that pulled him to even par for the tournament with 36 holes to go.

If the wind hangs around at Royal Liverpool the rest of the day -- and it looks like it will -- there's a chance Mickelson could be within a handful of the lead at day's end. South Africa's George Coetzee shot an early 69 and has the early clubhouse lead at 5 under.

Friday's round was a move in the right direction for Mickelson, who is still looking for his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this season.

Mickelson responded to an early bogey on No. 3 with a birdie at No. 4 and an eagle on No. 5. He bogeyed No. 8 and made the turn at 1-under 34.

His inward nine was made up of a string of eight consecutive pars before a closing birdie.