Golf Buzz

January 27, 2014 - 12:46pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Scott Stallings
Getty Images
With his win in the Farmers Insurance Open, Scott Stallings moved from No. 104 to No. 11 in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings.

Surprisingly, despite all the stars that teed it up last week in the Farmers Insurance Open, there was no movement in the top 10 of the latest U.S. Ryder Cup points standings.

Notably, Tiger Woods -- making his first start of the 2014 season -- tied for 80th and dropped two spots from No. 23 to No. 25. Woods did not play on Sunday, missing the secondary, 54-hole cut after a 7-over 79 in the third round. It was the first time in his career that Woods had an "MDF" -- made cut, did not finish.

2014 RYDER CUP: U.S. points standings | How U.S. Points are earned | Team USA | Team Europe

Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, withdrew from the tournament on Saturday morning before the third round, citing a back pain. Even so, he remained No. 2 in this week's standings.

Here's a look at the current top 12 (remember, the top 9 after the PGA Championship in August automatically qualify, while U.S. Captain Tom Watson fills out the team with three captain's picks)

1. Jimmy Walker
2. Phil Mickelson
3. Jason Dufner
4. Zach Johnson
5. Dustin Johnson
6. Harris English
7. Webb Simpson
8. Chris Kirk
9. Ryan Moore
----------------------

10. Brian Stuard
11. Scott Stallings
12. Patrick Reed

While there was no movement in the current top 10, Farmers Insurance Open champion Scott Stallings made a massive move up the points list, rocketing from No. 104 to start the week, to No. 11 after winning Sunday.

The only other mover of significance in this week's top 20 was Charley Hoffman. He jumped nine spots from No. 29 to No. 20 thanks to a tie for seventh.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

 

January 27, 2014 - 10:53am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
Getty Images
For the first time in his career Saturday, Tiger Woods finished with an MDF -- missed cut, did not finish.

If you were confused as to why Tiger Woods played in the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open on Saturday, but not in Sunday's final round, here's why:

For the first time in his career, Woods was a victim of the PGA Tour's "MDF" or "made cut, did not finish" rule.

In 2008, the PGA Tour instituted a rule known as, "Rule 78." Basically, the top 70 players and ties made the 36-hole cut. That is until the rule change in 2008, where the top 70 and ties made the cut unless that number was higher than 78 players (to this day, that only includes regular PGA Tour events and does not include majors, World Golf Championships or other short-field events).

If the number of players making the 36-hole cut was higher than 78, then the cut was made with the next bunch of players closest to 70. The players who were among the top-70 ties were then sent packing for the weekend with the designation "MDF."

Players were unhappy with the new rule and -- one month after it was put in place in 2008 -- the Tour made a change so that rather than a 36-hole cut when more than 78 players were tied among the top 70, there would instead be a 54-hole cut with the same rule: top 70 and ties, unless there are more than 78 players.

When Woods shot a shocking 7-over 79 on Saturday at Torrey Pines, where he's won eight times as a professional and was the defending champion, he was tied for 80th -- one spot out of last place of the players who advanced after 36 holes.

As a result, Woods, along with eight others, missed the 54-hole "secondary cut," for the first time in his career. The 79 matched Woods's third-highest score in his career on the PGA Tour. His highest round was an 81 at the 2002 Open Championship at Muirfield in a brutal third round.

Woods also shot a 79 at the Memorial last year.

Players who "MDF" still receive official money and FedExCup points. Woods, despite missing out on the final round, banked $10,919.00 and one FedExCup point. Woods is 1,232 points behind leader Jimmy Walker.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

 

January 26, 2014 - 7:12pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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The Game camera from iON America
Courtesy of iON America
The compact Game camera from iON can be used to easily record, play back and upload golf swings.
The 2014 PGA Merchandise Show, held Jan. 22-24 in Orlando, showcased thousands of new products great and small from hundreds of vendors. After walking the 10 miles of aisles in the Orange County Convention Center for two days, I've come up with a list of 10 products that caught my eye, and I'm rolling them out over a 10-day period. Here is the second one:
 
By now, we're probably all familiar with the kind of wearable POV (point-of-view) cameras popularized by companies like GoPro. At Demo Day before the PGA Merchandise Show, I ran across what seems like a perfect match for golfers – The Game camera, by a company called iON America.
 
iON already has a big presence in action sports like BMX, surfing and snowboarding, thanks to its Air Pro, a small, cylindrical camera that easily mounts on a helmet or bike handlebars or even goggles. By contrast, The Game is a small rectangle that golfers set on the ground in front or behind them or off to the side (though it also can be mounted to various things). It captures video in 1080p HD, can take still photos and has time-lapse and slow-motion options.
 
 
Built into it is a 2.4-inch LCD color screen, so you can film your swing and instantly play it back. And via its built-in Shoot/Share Wi-Fi capability, The Game camera easily transmits to iON's iOS and Android apps to allow golfers to upload their swings to their phones or other devices.
 
Golfers also can take advantage of iON's recent purchase of PowerChalk, which specializes in web-based analysis software for motion sports such as golf, tennis and baseball. iON now bundles The Game camera with its PowerChalk online service, creating what the company says is the industry's first camera-software solution that includes a coaching marketplace (they say they're looking to grow their roster of golf instructors). 
 
In golf, a player would shoot his swing from various angles and upload it to the service, where an instructor could analyze it and provide feedback by voiceover or actually annotating the video – what iON calls its "chalk talk." The PowerChalk service already has a large user base of amateur coaches and players, and also hosts private video analysis servers for professional baseball teams and sports organizations.
 
The Game camera carries a suggested retail price of $299.99 and is available at select retailers like Best Buy and at www.ioncamera.com/e-shop/ .
 
Previously:
 
 
 
 
 
January 25, 2014 - 9:24pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Cure Rx2 putter
Courtesy of Veritas Golf
The Cure Rx2 putter from Veritas Golf features large weights on either end of the lightweight head and big silver buttons that form a triangle with the ball to aid in alignment.
The 2014 PGA Merchandise Show, held Jan. 22-24 in Orlando, showcased thousands of new products great and small from hundreds of vendors. After walking the 10 miles of aisles in the Orange County Convention Center for two days, I've come up with a list of 10 products that caught my eye, and I'll roll them out over a 10-day period. Here is the first one:
 
There are always a lot of golf-world celebrities on the Show floor at the PGA Merchandise Show, but I still stopped in my tracks when I saw former PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman in the booth of a small company called Veritas Golf. I went over to say hello, and discovered that he had recently gotten involved with Veritas, which has come out with what can truthfully be called a one-of-a-kind putter.
 
As you can see in the photo above, the center-shafted Cure Putter – there are two models, the Rx1 and Rx2 (as in the prescription for your putting ills) – looks like nothing else on the market. For one thing, its lightweight aircraft aluminum head is huge, yet no heavier than a standard putter head. 
 
For another, both the heel and toe can be outfitted with large weights. These aluminum and stainless steel weights can be easily switched in and out to give the head a weight anywhere from 350 grams to 600 grams – and with so much of the head's heft on the far ends, the putter feels extremely stable through the stroke. That extreme perimeter weighting also means the head will deliver solid blow even when the golfer hits the ball off-center – which, Beman says, most of us do a lot of the time – and keep the head from twisting.
 
 
The original Rx1 came with those weights on the end. The Rx2 features Beman's innovation – those two bright silver buttons on either end of the dark head in the photo above. These buttons create a ''triangulation alignment'' – they form a triangle with the ball that, Beman explains, makes it easier than ever to aim properly. 
 
The lie of the Core putter also can be adjusted from 10 degrees all the way to 24 degrees, and every head can be easily configured for either a left-handed or right-handed golfer. In addition, the Center of Gravity is positioned right at the golf ball's equator – much higher than on most standard putters – to give the putter zero loft and reduce the backspin that so many putters impart on the ball at impact.
 
Veritas was founded by PGA Professional Jeff Ryan and Steve Davis, an architect with a scratch handicap. And now Beman – a two-time U.S. Amateur champion and five-time PGA Tour winner renowned for his putting – has come aboard as vice president. It'll be fun to see what kind of impact the company can make with its putters like no other.
 
The Rx1 retails for $199. The Rx2 goes for $269. Both are available at select golf shops and online at CurePutters.com.
 
January 25, 2014 - 3:45pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Martha Richards and 2013-14 Texas women's golf team
University of Texas Athletics
Martha Richards (top row, far left) says this season with her women's golf team at the University of Texas will be her last.
University of Texas Women's Golf Coach Martha Richards said Friday that she will resign at the end of the 2013-14 season, her seventh with the program.
 
Her story is unusual in that she is a two-time cancer survivor, and she said is stepping down to maintain her health. Richards, 44, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 25 and thyroid cancer at 33.  
 
She described herself as ''the poster child for going to the doctor'' in a story in The Austin American-Statesman, and told writer Suzanne Halliburton that ''the good news is I'm leaving with great health.''
 
However, Richards said, the stress of coaching a high-profile NCAA Division I team – and all the travel involved – was wearing her down. She told Halliburton that she spent 90 days on the road last year and began ''soul searching'' over the holidays while she was home with her family in Wisconsin.
 
 
''We appreciate the difficulty of Martha's decision,'' said UT Women's Athletic Director Chris Plonsky in a statement. ''She's been involved in intercollegiate athletics since she was 18 years old and has coached since age 25. That's a long-term connection not easily cut away, but she's appropriately weighed and prioritized the importance of being able to perform at the highest level when you're feeling your very best.''
 
Richards graduated from Stanford in 1993, played the LPGA Tour in 1995 and 1996, and became the women's head coach at Boise State in 1997. She took over as assistant coach at Texas in 1998, then served as head coach at Vanderbilt from 2000 through 2007, when she returned to UT as women's head coach.
 
She led the Longhorns to the 2011 Big 12 Confererence title, and her Texas teams made the NCAA tournament five times. At Vanderbilt in 2004, her squad won the SEC Championship and she was named the 2003 and 2004 SEC Coach of the Year. And as a player at Stanford, she made the All-PAC 10 Conference team in 1003 and was named to the PAC 10 all-decade team for the 1990s.
 
She made no indication of her future plans. Plonsky said UT would begin a nationwide search for a replacement ''at an appropriate time.'' 
 
January 24, 2014 - 12:56pm
Posted by:
John Kim
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2014 PGA Show
PGA.com
Some great reasons to be excited about the year ahead in golf.

Another January, another PGA Merchandise Show, another gathering of the golf industry's movers, shakers, giants, start-ups, titans and dreamers. The layout is similar but the vibe changes every year (this is my 8th, making me a virtual rookie compared to many who've been coming for many decades.)

"My first show was at Disney World in the basement of a hotel," recalls Leigh Bader, co-owner of Pine Oaks Golf Course in South Easton, Mass. and president of the PGA Trade-In Network and 3balls.com. "They didn't have a convention center. It was more like a flea market under a roof. Now we're talking a million square feet of golf toys."

But even in my "brief" tenure at this convention, I've seen a lot of change and learned a lot of lessons. I've attended through years of explosive growth for golf, I've been here through recession-led down years where the feeling in each booth was palatably desperate. The "boom" years are more fun, trust me.

So what was this year? Well, let's look at what we learned.

1.) Technology is thriving: Yes, rocket scientists, physicists and brilliant engineers are taking part in creating these incredible golf clubs. But from having body mapping motion sensors to improve your swing to having the latest in moisture wicking fabric on your clothes, everything about golf is getting more high tech. Trackman and similar software can tell you virtually infinite amounts of data about your swing and the flight of your golf ball. The PGA of America recently announced a partnership with Game Golf, a method, using GPS, to track each shot of a golfer throughout the round. The information available to golfers now is so refined and immediate, you'd think you were launching a shuttle mission, not trying to hit three more fairways per round. You can't argue physics or facts. And the numbers don't lie.

Watch: Improve your putting with the Putter Wheel

2.) Fitness is more important than ever before: For years, the Titlest Performance Institute seemed to be the dominant purveyor of fitness and golf here at the Show. And they are certainly still the biggest, but from apps for your phone, to new lightweight carry bags to encourage walking to new training aids designed for nothing other than strengthening or increasing flexibility in the core golf muscles, getting fit now means more than having your clubs at the right lie and loft.

3.) Golf is getting more social: There were several seminars and panels (one led by ...me) that showed how golf companies, golf courses and the golf community were using social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to connect the entire golf world. The overarching message was that the information exchanged in these networks will only do more to empower and enhance the enjoyment of the everyday golfer. Says Callaway's Senior Vice President of Marketing Harry Arnett, "Just by simply opting in, the golfer has instant access to every facet of the game, many of which had previously been the purview of insiders. This truly is the most dynamic and powerful force available to today to link together golfers everywhere."

Watch: Best new products

4.) There's as much activity off the show floor as on it: We've already mentioned the social media seminar(s), there are actually dozens of educational opportunities for all manners of golf professionals while here at the show. It seems those offerings are expanding. Even more, the innovation needed in golf isn't restricted to merchandise, but also to ideas that will help the game in future years. From the Hackgolf.org announcement to several roundtables and panels - the best and brightest minds in golf continued to pour over thoughts on how to sustain and grow this great sport. Oh, and there were dozens of parties after hours. (All I'm saying about that.)

5.) Golf is Fun: Playing golf is great. But so is talking golf. And shopping golf. And trying on new clothes, or testing new putters, or finding the perfect pair of sunglasses. COBRA PUMA Golf always has a party of a booth. (Booth is a loose term here, some companies have huge real estate on the floor). Travis Matthew had a truck. Donald Trump was here. Golf Channel was filming live. Callaway Golf had a tank! (yes, an actual tank). One of the things that this year re-emphasized in my mind was that smiling, laughter, pictures, hugs - they are a critical part of the golf industry. This game is about having fun and this convention promotes that fun.