Golf Buzz

January 15, 2014 - 3:18pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy
Getty Images
Just when you think this picture couldn't be topped, wait until you see the video.

See that picture above of Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy having a grand old time twirling golf clubs like batons from a promotional event in Abu Dhabi ahead of this week's European Tour event?

A little awkward, right? Well, not as awkward as the video that's surfaced today taken by writer Bernie McGuire (h/t Geoff Shackelford).

Check it out:

Kudos to Mickelson and McIlroy for being good sports about this whole exhibition. Everything about it is hilarious -- Phil and Rory trying to find some rhythm with the foot tapping, the weird music in the background, the girls waving their heads back and forth like they're in a trance, etc.

If the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is even 1/4 as entertaining as this video, it's going to be a fantastic week.

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

 

January 15, 2014 - 1:15pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Keegan Bradley
Getty Images
After a nice long break from the PGA Tour, Keegan Bradley resumes his 2014 season this week at the Humana Challenge.

The PGA Tour is on the U.S. mainland for the first time this calendar year for this week's Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif.

As we've often seen in the California desert, it's like playing golf in a dome. What do we mean by that? Typically, conditions are absolutely perfect. Couple that with the best players in the world attacking the courses and that means one thing -- you're going to see birdies and eagles in bunches.

Since this tournament is a pro-am for the first three days, the cut doesn't come until after 54 holes, when each competitor has played each of the three courses: PGA West Palmer, PGA West Nicklaus, and La Quinta Country Club.

SCORES: Follow the Humana Challenge all week with PGA.com's leaderboard

Brian Gay is the defending champion. He defeated Charles Howell III and David Lingmerth in a playoff after the trio all recorded 72-hole totals of 25-under 263.

We can't state this enough -- birdies are a must in this tournament. With that, here are five players you'll want to keep an eye on:

5. Charley Hoffman
Best finish in 2013:
Tie for third in the Valero Texas Open
Reason to watch: Why do I like Hoffman? He's gotten it done here before, winning the tournament in 2007, along with top-10 showings in 2008 and 2010. In 2013, Hoffman was ranked 11th in the Tour's birdie average stat at 3.92. Birdies are going to drop for Hoffman, especially in ideal scoring situations.

4. Keegan Bradley
Best finish in 2013:
Second at the HP Byron Nelson Championship & WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
Reason to watch: This will be Bradley's first start on the PGA Tour since the beginning of November when he tied for 11th at the WGC-HSBC Champions. Sure, he might have a little rust that needs to be shaken off, but at the same time, Bradley is one of those players who's always itching for competition. He can make buckets full of birdies and that will serve him well at PGA West.

3. Brian Gay
Best finish in 2013:
Won the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation
Reason to watch: Well, for starters, how about a little respect for the defending champ? Plus, I'm not sure there's a player on Tour who has played more in this new wraparound season than Gay thus far. There have been eight events played in the new season and Gay has played in seven of them. Unlike a lot of guys, there's not much rust for him to scrape off. Over those seven starts, Gay's lone missed cut came in the first event he played -- the Frys.com Open in October.

2. Harris English
Best finish in 2013:
Won the FedEx St. Jude Classic (also won the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, part of the 2014 schedule)
Reason to watch: English has made six starts in the new season. Three of those were top 10s, highlighted by his win in Mexico and last week's fourth-place finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii. I'm riding the hot hand here.

1. Brandt Snedeker
Best finish in 2013:
Won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the RBC-Canadian Open
Reason to watch: It feels strange to write this about a guy who is a six-time PGA Tour winner, won the 2012 FedExCup and finished third in the 2013 FedExCup, but I'm going to write it here about Snedeker -- I'm still waiting for him to have a monster year. A monster year is defined by winning a major. This guy contends almost every time he tees it up. I think 2014 -- if he can stay injury-free -- is going to be huge for Snedeker (yes, bigger than a FedExCup victory). That starts this week at PGA West.

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

 

January 15, 2014 - 11:28am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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FootJoy D.N.A.
FootJoy
FootJoy has announced its latest footwear category for 2014 -- the D.N.A.

FootJoy has announced its newest footwear category -- the D.N.A., or "DryJoys Next Advancement."

"To create the most feature-laden golf shoe in our storied history, we needed to explore the anatomy, or DNA, of our premium footwear products and then scrutinize every aspect throughout the design and development process," said Doug Robinson, Vice President of Design and Development Worldwide. "Every material ad every component was carefully considered in order to deliver a shoe with lightweight stability, a precise fit, superior feel and ultimate performance."

RELATED: PGA.com's Equipment Buzz | Equipment photos | Week's worth of tweets

Here are some of the key features of the new D.N.A. from FootJoy:

- The SnugFit tongue is designed with materials and varying densities to conform to the top of your foot, providing better fit, comfort, and protection. MicroVent technology provides enhanced breathability.

- The 3D foam collar molds to your ankle for ideal comfort, fit, and support. Locking your ankle in place eliminates any movement of the foot -- a situation that can lead to discomfort and power-reduction during the swing.

- The all new ChromoSkin Leather System by Pittards features full grain leather that is supple, lightweight, thin-yet-durable, and completely waterproof. The result is tremendous breathability and an upper that will conform to the foot for an incredible custom fit.

- A new proprietary cushioning material, called FTF (Fine-Tuned Foam), is used throughout the interior midsole of the shoe, also known as the FitBed. Two densities of FTF were used -- a firmer density around the perimeter of the FitBed for stability and a softer density in the heel and forefoot for industry-leading cushioning and comfort.

- The new NitroThin TPU (thermoplastic urethane) outsole is the culmination of several years of research and development, resulting in a thinner outsole that delivers lightweight stability and performance without sacrificing flexibility and feel.

Masters champion Adam Scott has worn D.N.A. golf shoes exclusively since September, including while competing in the 2013 Presidents Cup and during his three recent wins in Australia.

"D.N.A. is the most technologically advanced shoe FJ has ever produced and it embodies everything I am looking for in a golf shoe," Scott said. "They actually activate my feet, giving me great balance throughout my swing."

The D.N.A. is available beginning Feb. 15 (MSRP $220 for standard laces, $240 for FootJoy's BOA lace style, which tightens from the back of the shoe).

To learn more about the D.N.A., click here.

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

 

January 14, 2014 - 7:09pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Callaway Big Bertha Alpha driver
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
Phil Mickelson's Big Bertha Alpha driver from Callaway Golf has a ''gravity core'' that fits in a carbon tube in the head that connects the crown and sole and allows golfers to adjust the center of gravity location.
Phil Mickelson opens his 2014 campaign this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship after a nice, long break. But instead of kicking back and putting his feet up, Mickelson spent a lot of time doing what he does better than perhaps anyone else on tour – tinkering with his clubs.
 
Mickelson, well known for his creative use of various drivers and fairway woods over the years, has a brand-new driver in his bag, and he was raving about it in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
 
"As I look back on 2013, I played some of my best golf and had some huge breakthroughs, but I did most of it without a driver," he said. "This year I have the best driver I've ever hit that lowers my spin rate just like my 3-wood. I drive it longer and straighter with my driver than I did with my 3-wood."
 
The object of Phil's affection is the brand-new Callaway Big Bertha Alpha, one of two Big Bertha versions that Callaway has recently introduced. The Alpha model that Mickelson is using contains a ''gravity core'' that fits in a carbon tube in the head that connects the crown and sole. It has a glass fiber-reinforced body that weighs in at 1.5 grams connected to a tungsten end weighing 10.5 grams. 
 
Either end of the core can be inserted into the clubhead, allowing golfers to raise or lower the center of gravity and thereby alter their spin rate. When the heavy tungsten end is closest to the sole, it lowers the center of gravity and reduces backspin; when the tungsten end is closest to the crown, it raises the center of gravity and increases spin.
 
 
Mickelson has positioned the gravity core in the low center of gravity position, according to Callaway.
 
Generally speaking, players with above-average head speeds or those trying to prevent excessive spin will benefit from that lower center of gravity, which a creates a flatter, more penetrating trajectory accompanied by more rollout, Callaway explains. Golfers looking for a more controlled and workable ball flight and less roll, they add, might be better served by using the higher center of gravity.
 
How much difference can the center of gravity placement make? Player testing has shown as much as a 600 rpm spin differential between the two settings without a change in loft, Callaway said.
 
The Big Bertha Alpha also enables golfers to adjust its center of gravity bias, which helps influence shot shape. The driver has screw ports in the heel and toe, and comes with four interchangeable weights of 1, 3, 5, and 7 grams that provide a lot of flexibility in controlling both shot shape and overall head weight. The 1g and 7g screws are installed as standard and deliver a D3 swingweight, but the swingweight can be adjusted from D0 to D5.
 
"It's a whole different weapon in my arsenal now," Mickelson said in Abu Dhabi. "And if I drive the ball well, like I have been in practice and in the off-season, heading into this 2014 season it could be the best year of my career for that simple reason."
 
January 14, 2014 - 5:35pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Matthew Fitzpatrick
Getty Images
Matthew Fitzpatrick has opted to "dedicate 100 percent of my time to the game and have decided to withdraw from university in the U.S," according to a statement released by Northwestern.
Top-ranked amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick, widely regarded as British golf's hottest prospect, has dropped out of college in the United States to pursue his career back in his native England. 
 
Fitzpatrick, 19, followed the path taken by compatriot Luke Donald by attending Northwestern University in Chicago last year, after a successful summer in which he won the U.S. Amateur and the silver medal in the British Open for being the top amateur. 
 
Fitzpatrick has opted to "dedicate 100 percent of my time to the game and have decided to withdraw from university in the U.S," according to a statement released by Northwestern.  
 
Fitzpatrick's plans "are to remain as an amateur golfer for the foreseeable future" rather than turn professional, England Golf (the governing body for amateur golf in England) said on Tuesday.
 
Fitzpatrick has qualified to play in this year's Masters, U.S. Open and the British Open. 
 
The Associated Press contributed to this report
 
January 14, 2014 - 4:00pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
PUMA Golf
PUMA Golf
PUMA Golf's new BIOFUSION golf shoe will be available Feb. 1.

Today, PUMA Golf introduced the BIOFUSION, the latest Tour shoe from the brand's Pro Collection and part of the PUMA Golf LiteStyle platform. Designed to provide golfers with the ultimate performance, lightweight comfort and style, BIOFUSION combines PUMA Golf's most innovative footwear technologies—developed and tested by Tour players—into one sleek and eye-catching silhouette, while offering a two-year waterproof guarantee.

"The BIOFUSION literally fuses our most advanced and top performing technologies into a system that works together to create a revolutionary golf shoe," said Grant Knudson, footwear manager, PUMA Golf. "Our goal here is to provide golfers with the best of what PUMA Golf has to offer, merging function and fashion to improve their game and increase confidence on the course."

RELATED: PUMA introduces Monolite shoe for on and off the golf course

BIOFUSION is the most recent addition to PUMA Golf's new vision for golf footwear: LiteStyle. PUMA says that after hearing consumers' demand for more options offering lightweight comfort, the average weight of the entire 2014 PUMA Golf footwear line is only 10.4 oz. and the line's lightest shoe -- also the lightest shoe in golf -- is a staggering 6.5 oz. The lightweight nature of the footwear line delivers extreme comfort without sacrificing stability, support or performance.

"Every shoe we have developed for our 2014 collection, including BIOFUSION, began with the LiteStyle vision: lightweight comfort, performance and style," said Tom Manthe, global marketing manager, PUMA Golf. "As the driving force behind the PUMA Golf footwear line, LiteStyle fits perfectly into PUMA Golf’s mantra, 'Look Better. Feel Better. Play Better.' The styles of footwear within the platform can be identified with a LiteStyle stamp; so if you see the stamp, its LiteStyle approved."

Available in four fresh color options, Vibrant Orange/White, Black/White/PUMA Silver, White/Tradewinds/Fluo Yellow and White/Black, each shoe comes with two sets of laces, allowing golfers to customize their look as often as they want.

The BIOFUSION ($170) and BIOFUSION Womens ($110) will be available at golf retailers starting Feb. 1, 2014. Along with the BIOFUSION, PUMA Golf is launching the BIOFUSION Lite, which has the same performance features found in the Tour level shoe, boasts a similar silhouette, and is available at retailers starting March 1, 2014 in three colorways―Black/White/Fluo Yellow, White/Black and White/Vibrant orange―at a MSRP of $120, making it a true performer for players of all levels.

For more information on PUMA Golf's entire collection of products, visit http://www.cobragolf.com/pumagolf/. You can also find PUMA Golf on Facebook and on Twitter, @pumagolf.

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