Golf Buzz

January 29, 2014 - 11:41am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Bubba Watson
Getty Images
The crowds at TPC Scottsdale can get a little crazy. As we saw at the 2012 Ryder Cup, Bubba Watson digs that kind of thing.

It's going to be the rowdiest of weeks on the PGA Tour schedule this week, as the PGA Tour heads to Arizona for its annual stop at the frat party that is TPC Scottsdale and the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Scenes like the one below, where Tiger Woods "raised the roof" after a hole-in-one on the famous par-3 16th hole:

Tiger won't be in the field this week, but a stellar field that includes defending champ Phil Mickelson (pending the condition of a sore back) will be.

SCORES: Follow the Waste Management Phoenix Open all week with PGA.com's leaderboard

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is about the most fun you can have on a golf course. Whichever players can embrace the enthusiasm of the crowd and harness their emotions (and make tons of birdies) will contend.

Here are five players to keep an eye on:

5. Charley Hoffman
Best finish in 2013:
T3 at Valero Texas Open
Reason to watch: For starters, he's sponsored by Waste Management, so that's got to count for something, right? Well, not really. But this does count for something: Hoffman is 6-for-6 in cuts made for the 2014 season. On three occasions -- including the last two weeks -- he's finished inside the top 10 (T9 at Humana Challenge and T7 at the Farmers Insurance Open). Hoffman's only real solid finish at TPC Scottsdale was in 2009 when he lost in a playoff. But, he's playing great now and I expect that trend to continue this week.

4. Bubba Watson
Best finish in 2013:
4th at Travelers Championship
Reason to watch: Remember that point about players who embrace the crowd's enthusiasm? That fits Bubba to a T. This is the same guy who wound up the crowd on the first tee at Medinah in the 2012 Ryder Cup. As if that wasn't enough of a pressure cooker with dead silence, Watson encouraged the fans to "get loud" while he was hitting his opening tee shot. They'll have no problem getting loud at TPC Scottsdale. Watson has two top 10s at TPC Scottsdale in the past. He finished 15th there a year ago.

3. Ryan Moore
Best finish in 2013:
4th at Waste Management Phoenix Open
Reason to watch: Moore's fourth-place showing at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last year was his best of the season. So far, 2014 has been far better. Moore already has a win in the bank -- the CIMB Classic back in December -- and comes in fresh having not played since the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, where he finished alone in 10th. The good form and the nice break should serve Moore well this week.

2. Ryan Palmer
Best finish in 2013:
4th at FedEx St. Jude Classic
Reason to watch: It's been a mixed bag for Palmer in Phoenix. He tied for second in 2006, finished fifth in 2013 and had some missed cuts in between. This week, he arrives at Phoenix riding high on confidence. His last two starts -- Sony Open and Humana Challenge -- yielded a tie for eighth and a runner-up finish, respectively. Palmer can be a birdie machine -- see last year's final round at TPC Scottsdale, a 9-under 62.

1. Keegan Bradley
Best finish in 2013:
2nd at HP Byron Nelson Championship
Reason to watch: Hard to believe, but Bradley hasn't won since the 2012 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. He's always around the first page of leaderboards. And, like Watson, he gets fired up easily -- a great way to get the crowd behind you at TPC Scottsdale. So far in the 2014 season, Bradley has made four starts. His best finish? Tenth at the CIMB Classic. His worst finish? A T18 at the Humana Challenge. As you can see, Bradley's worst was still pretty darned good. He's a win waiting to happen.

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

 

January 28, 2014 - 8:39pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Wilson Staff FG Tour M3 driver and irons
Courtesy of Wilson Golf
The distinctive black Wilson Staff FG Tour M3 drivers, fairway woods, hybrids and irons are designed for feel players.
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 fourth one:
 
For much of the 20th century, Wilson Staff one of the dominant brands in both clubs and balls. Players like Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen helped bring golf into the mainstream in the United States with Wilson Staff equipment, and the company's pedigree runs through Sam Snead and Armold Palmer, Payne Stewart and Ben Crenshaw, John Daly and Vijay Singh.
 
And though Padraig Harrington has won three majors sporting the Wilson Staff shield in recent years, the brand has slipped down out of the ranks of the top clubmakers over the past decade or two – at least in the United States (it's maintained a bigger presence in Europe).
 
There have been signs of life lately, though. Sales in the United States were up about 20 percent last year, and the company is poised to make even more gains as it rolls out an impressive club line this spring to mark Wilson's 100 years in golf. Getting back into the ranks of elite clubmakers is an incredibly tall task, but its new FG Tour M3 family of clubs is a solid start. 
 
These new drivers, fairway woods, hybrids and irons are designed for better players, and all but the irons feature what Wilson calls its Multi Fit System. Golfers can use the six adjustable hosel settings and three interchangeable sole weights to maximize their clubhead and ball speeds, while selecting the proper launch angle and spin rate to enhance their distance.
 
The FG Tour M3 driver is Wilson Staff's first adjustable driver – the head comes set at an initial loft of 9.5 degrees, but can be adjusted in half-degree increments from 8.5 to 11.5 degrees. Along with its adjustability features, the 460cc head contains a variable thickness face that maximizes the sweet spot. A light, chemically-etched crown helps create a favorable sound and allows for weight to be redistributed around the perimeter of the head, while the deep face and pear shape make the head appear more compact at address.
 
 
The fairway woods feature the same adjustability options and similar variable face thickness and perimeter weighting. The three head options come standard at initial lofts of 13.5, 15 and 17 degrees, and can be adjusted from 12.5 to 19 degrees in half-degree increments, depending on the respective head. 
 
The hybrids offer three loft settings in each head and the same three lofts at 2-degree upright lie angles – along with three sole weight options – for optimized trajectory and increased clubhead speeds. The loft changes allow feel players to optimize their distance and trajectory, the company says, while the lie changes improve control and turf interaction. 
 
The four head options come standard at initial lofts of 17, 19, 21 and 23 degrees. The lofts can be adjusted from 16 to 24 degrees in half-degree increments with upright options, depending on the respective head. 
 
The FG Tour M3 irons were built with the goal of providing the feel and workability of a forged players' iron while also delivering a significant level of forgiveness. The topline is thin on all the irons for a better look and to help lower the Center of Gravity to get the ball up in the air more easily.
 
The heads also feature a progressive cavity design to optimize the weight placement from club to club. Much of the weight is moved to the heel and toe in the long irons for more stability and forgiveness, transitioning to a more uniform thickness in the short irons for consistency and repeatability. 
 
All the FG Tour M3 clubs are finished with a distinctive black coating, making them stand out in every bag. The driver retails for $349.99, while the fairway woods go for $219.99 per club, the hybrids for $199.99 per club, and the irons for $899.99 per set with graphite shafts and $799.99 per set with steel shafts. They will be available this spring at select golf shops and online at www.Wilson.com.
 
Previously:
 
January 28, 2014 - 2:21pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Nike Golf, VRS Covert 2.0 Irons
Nike Golf
Nike Golf's latest irons -- the VRS Covert 2.0.

Nike's latest line of irons -- the VRS Covert 2.0 -- will be available for purchase beginning Friday, Jan. 31.

A larger cavity in the VRS Covert 2.0 irons moves more metal to the perimeter of the club head and allows for a larger face, which amplifies the 'trampoline effect’ and produces more ball speed at impact. Coupled with a larger cavity, Nike's proprietary NexCOR variable face thickness technology allows for greater ball speed off the face, resulting in more distance.

A new leading-edge bevel provides more sole area to hit through the turf. The design delivers an additional, effective bounce to the golf club, which is a crucial benefit especially in soft conditions.

The VRS Covert 2.0 irons feature Dynalite 105 steel and Kuro Kage graphite shafts with Golf Pride 2G wrap grips.

"What's impressive about the VRS Covert 2.0 set is that golfers can be aggressive and confident with these irons," says Chris Savage, Nike Golf Irons Innovation Engineer. "This set utilizes our largest cavity and thinnest perimeter to deliver higher ball speed and greater distance. We have also refined our leading edge bevel to make it easier for these irons to go through the turf. Throughout development, these irons have proven to be the best distance irons we have created to date."

Specifications: 4-AW, SW, Dynalite 105: S/R (RH/LH); Kuro Kage Graphite: S/R (RH/LH).

Street price: Steel: $700; Graphite: $800.

For more information, visit www.nikegolf.com.

WATCH: Ken Griffey Jr. tests out the Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Driver

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

January 28, 2014 - 12:20pm
Posted by:
John Kim
john.kim's picture
The 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale
Getty Images
Fans will be loud, rambunctious and creative at the Waste Management Phoenix Open for sure.

Question on my mind. And (for once), it's kind of a serious question.

What's the better fan experience this coming Sunday? The 16th hole at the TPC Scottsdale during the Waste Management Phoenix Open (raucous, over-the-top, a controlled chaos and on Sunday - dramatic and intense) or being at MetLife Stadium at the Super Bowl?

Here are a few points to consider.

Fans: TPC Scottsdale will be full of college aged fanatics who will - well, be well-lubed by the time the leaders get to 16. The Super Bowl is price prohibitive for many fans of the teams. Will be lots of older, well-to-do executives filling the seats.

Weather: The weather in Arizona this time of year is pretty much ideal. There will be short sleeves, sundresses and probably a few shirtless fans wandering around the course. The Super Bowl forecast is cloudy, a breeze and temps in the low 30s.

Drama: If history is any indicator, there is a 50% chance that the Super Bowl will not be close. (I kinda made that number up). However, there is a 100% chance that the leaders will be playing together when they come through 16 on Sunday.

Music: You get the most creative and tone deaf songs from the gallery as they greet each golfer when they are announced on the tee box. At the Super Bowl, you get Bruno Mars. (Calling this one a tie.)

Gifts: Golfers often throw out balls, hats, ball markers, etc to fans along the 16th. Each fan at the Super Bowl will get a goodie bag filled with hats, earmuffs, towels, handwarmers, etc. Probably an edge to the Super Bowl, but not by much.

Traffic: Getting in and out of each venue.....going with the golf.

There are a host of other considerations, I'm not even advocating there is a right answer. That said, if you're headed to the Waste Management Open, I can assure you that your time is not taking a backseat to what is typically considered the premier event in sports. So see, golf = fun. Lots of it. Especially this coming Sunday.

You can tweet your thoughts to John at @johnkim 

January 28, 2014 - 10:45am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
Michael.Benzie's picture
U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson
Courtesy The PGA of America
Tom Watson is on the mend after injuring his pinkie finger.

U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson made news on SiriusXM's PGA Tour Radio Network show "Fairways of Life with Matt Adams" on Tuesday morning.

The eight-time major champion explained to Adams that he's currently unable to hit golf balls as the result of a mishap that caused him to jam, or dislocate his pinkie finger.

CURRENT TEAM USA POINTS STANDINGS

"I had a little accident yesterday," Watson told Adams."We were walking and I dislocated my little pinkie finger. I'm going up now to see the doc and get it X-rayed. I popped it back into place, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem. It's a little stiff right now. It'll probably prevent me from hitting balls for a week or two, but other than that everything is good."

Nothing serious, it seems, but we'll keep a watchful eye.

Watson also talked to Adams about following PGA Tour events closer these days as the Ryder Cup gets closer and closer.

"It's been very interesting being a part of this process," Watson said. "You look at Scott Stallings winning on Sunday and he jumped from way, way back to 11th or 12th on the Ryder Cup points list just with that one victory. That's what's going to happen early on in the season. But the usual suspects are there. You've got the Johnson boys -- Zach and Dustin -- Dufner and Phil Mickelson are right up there. Jimmy Walker has one twice -- once at the end of last year and once this year. He's right at the top of the list right now. It's starting to gell out. The process from my standpoint, is to watch these players as they play, see how they deal with the pressure. That's the most important thing to me -- how these players deal with the pressure."

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

January 27, 2014 - 8:00pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Smart Body Golf
Courtesy of Smart Body Golf
The equipment in Smart Body Golf's Performance Pack helps golfers increase rotational power, flexibility, balance and stability.
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 third one:
 
I get older and stiffer every year – heck, every day – so I'm more interested in the fitness aspect of golf than ever, especially in the winter. There were tons of fitness-related products at the PGA Show, but I was intrigued by the Performance Pack from Smart Body Golf.
 
Smart Body Golf is committed to ''innovation in golf performance and instruction to help golfers of all ages and levels live well and play better,'' says company spokesman Randy Myers, the director of fitness at Sea Island. Specifically, its gear is designed to help golfers improve their core, stability and overall strength.
 
The Performance Pack includes four pieces of equipment:
 
--the Swing Ball Pro is a six-pound medicine ball-like orb outfitted with handles to use in building core strength and rotational strength. The slots and handles allow golfers to hold the ball lightly and swing it without tension, while the alternating grips can help promote either draw or fade motions. The ball's two colors represent both sides of your body, the company says, to help balance the force generated from the left and right sides through the swing.
 
--the Inside 80 is a vest that promotes resistance training and helps improve stretching, synchronization and distance control. It is made with elastic tubing to allow arm extension while adding resistance to engage the core, and it synchronizes the upper body and core for better swing control. Its cross-handle system allows one handle to pull on the opposite shoulder to create maximum shoulder turn for increased torque.
 
--the Leverage Discs are big air-filled doughnuts designed to improve stability, leverage and rotational movements. You stand on them, and the hole in their middle helps to optimize the swing sequence and stability as well as develop the toe- and heel-based movements unique to the golf swing. The discs can help prevent swaying and improve weight transfer while enhancing stability.
 
--the Smart Toner is a resistance tube designed to help develop consistent, explosive movement. It comes with a foam door anchor and is available in three different resistance levels. The tube itself is covered by a sleeve to protect both it and its users, and the company says it will last far longer than traditional tubing.
 
As you can see in the photos above, you use this equipment to help increase your rotational power, your flexibility, your balance and stability, and your overall body awareness throughout your swing. Exercising with this equipment also can help improve your overall fitness level and help prevent injury.
 
You can use these pieces individually or use some of them in combination with each other – like the standing on the Leverage discs while swinging the Swing Ball Pro or using the Smart Toner. 
 
The individual pieces can be purchased separately, but the best deal is to buy everything in the Performance Pack at once. The Pack retails for $199.95 and is available at SmartBodyGolf.com.
 
Previously: