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News & Tours

The most frustrating lipouts in golf history

By Sam Weinman

Given the stage, the number at stake, and the player, Phil Mickelson's how-did-that-not-go-in missed birdie putt for 59 at the Waste Management Open was another prominent example of a player missing a big putt by the cruelest of margins. But does it rank as one of golf's most memorable lipouts? We can think of some bigger ones.

masl02_kraft_kim.jpgPhil's miss for 59 was tough. But it doesn't compare to this one.
Photo by Darren Carroll


Nick Price, 1986 Masters: Price had a birdie putt for a Masters- and major-championship record 62 on Saturday at Augusta National, but the ball rimmed out at the last moment. After settling for 63 (and a fifth-place finish behind winner Jack Nicklaus), Price said fate played a part. "I think Bobby Jones' hand came up and popped it out the hole and said, 'That's enough,'" he said.

Related: The worst missed short putts in history

Scott Hoch, 1989 Masters: Was it indeed a lipout that prevented Hoch from winning the green jacket? Careful investigation of the video reveals that it was. Needing only to sink a 2-footer to win his first major, Hoch's putt on the first hole of a playoff with Nick Faldo caught the edge of the cup and skirted right. Faldo went on to win the playoff while Hoch inherited a most unfortunate nickname.

Joe Daley, 2000 Q School: Never mind missing a putt for a major. How about lipping out for your livelihood? That was the case when Daley at the 2000 Q School finals missed a double bogey putt in the most bizarre fashion, with his putt from five feet hitting the back of the cup, seeming to drop in, only to pop back out. "It was the damnedest thing I've ever seen," Daley said that day. High on the leader board for most of the week, Daley missed qualifying for the PGA Tour by a stroke and never regained his card. He did, however, earn status on the Champions Tour and won the 2012 Senior Players Championship.



Sergio Garcia, 2007 British Open: A fraction of the inch to the right and Garcia's is no longer a tale of unfulfilled promise. But given a chance to win his first major at the Open at Carnoustie, his clinching 8-foot par putt on the 72nd hole caught the left edge, and he ended up losing in a playoff to Padraig Harrington. This led to Garcia's infamous claim that the golf gods were conspiring against him. The golf gods were unavailable for comment (Missed putt at 6:30 mark).



Tiger Woods, 2007 PGA Championship: Like Price more than 20 years earlier, Woods had a chance to post the first 62 in major championship history with a 15-foot birdie putt on 18. As the ball tracked toward the hole, Woods raised his putter, but then watched it catch the left edge of the hole and spin away. Don't feel too bad for him: His 63 (or "62 1/2," as Woods called it) was still good enough to propel Woods to his fourth PGA title.

I.K. Kim, 2012 Nabisco Championship: Kim's putt from a little more than a foot on the 72nd hole to win last spring's Nabisco was so simple you'd be excused for already turning off the TV. But the South Korean's putt rimmed out and that led to a playoff she'd end up losing, a horror story for any player thinking they merely "need to tap in."







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News & Tours

What's right about Hossler's decision to skip spring

By Ryan Herrington

The subject of Beau Hossler and when his playing career would begin at Texas seems to have come to a resolution as Longhorn coach John Fields confirmed two days ago that the 17-year-old blue-chip recruit who enrolled in school earlier this month would stick to his "original plan" and pass on playing during the spring semester, waiting until the fall to tee it up.

Hossler for Golf World.JPGLast month Fields and Hossler both told Golf World how they wanted Hossler—who causal golf fans might remember as the 17-year-old high schooler who briefly held the outright lead in the second round of last summer's U.S. Open—to settle into school for a semester before trying to balance academics and athletics. When I posted a story explaining this, I got a fair number of guffaws from readers who suggested I was being led astray. Most had the same basis for their opinion: What coach would rightfully let one of the top talents in the country sit out during the championship portion of his schedule when the golfer would otherwise be eligible to play and contribute to the team?

The idea seemed even harder to believe when you consider the curveball that came later that month. After failing to advance out of the second stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School, UT sophomore Jordan Spieth announced on Dec. 14 he still would be turning pro and not be returning to Austin for the spring, hoping that money earned playing in PGA and Web.com Tour events via sponsor's exemptions in 2013 might help be earn the tour card he missed out on a Q school.

Of course, the loss of a star player such as Spieth, a key member of the Longhorn team that won the NCAA championship in June, would certainly cause both Hossler and Fields to reevaluate Hossler's playing plans. With a void in the UT lineup, the luxury of sitting out Hossler seemed less … well luxurious.

I circled back to Fields last week to find out if the "original plan" to sit Hossler still held or whether there might be a change due to Spieth's departure. Fields told me that indeed they were rethinking what to do and that a decision would be forthcoming prior to the team flying to Hawaii in early February to begin its spring season. Fields said he was leaving it up to Hossler and that the decision might be made as late as just prior to the team heading to the airport.

I wrote an article for this week's Golf World Monday stating the potential for Hossler to now play in the spring, outlining the new circumstances that went into the equation. I have to admit, my personal gut had changed on this matter; I now sided with the readers who thought I was gullible back in December for writing about the "original plan." I figured Hossler would be wearing burnt orange in the near future.

I mention all this now because of the brief but thoughtful conversation I had with Fields last Tuesday when he called me to tell me that Hossler had made the final decision and that he was not going to play this spring. First off, Fields called me back in the first place, something he assured me he would do the week before. That doesn't always happen in this day and age, so I appreciated how Fields stuck to his word.

I also appreciated how Fields and Hossler stuck to their guns and decided against changing their plans. It would have been understandable for Fields to have twisted Hossler's arm with the loss of Spieth potentially hurting his team's chance of repeating at nationals this June. But ultimately this factor never really changed the tangible reason why Hossler was initially holding off on playing this spring semester. Hossler wants to get a degree at Texas, Fields explained, and a way to help achieve that goal is to get a good start academically so that they later part of his career isn't quite as challenging as he balances school and golf.

Cynics will say Hossler will never make it all four years in Austin, that the lure of pro golf will snatch him like it did Spieth. Maybe. Maybe not. But unlike cynics, I have a responsibility to believe what people are telling me when I question them as a reporter, on the record, to be the truth. Call me naive, but my job doesn't, and shouldn't, require I carry around a lie detector.*

*However, if that on-the-record truth turns out not happening, I can and will freely make it clear in a follow up story what I was told in good faith and how it did not actually happen. #letthesourcehurthimself
I genuinely believe that Texas, the No. 2 ranked team in the last fall Golf World/Nike Golf men's coaches' poll, has a shot at repeating at nationals without Hossler in the lineup. Returning starters Julio Vegas, Cody Gribble and Toni Hakula aren't chopped liver and freshman Brandon Stone looks like a star in the making.

I also believe that Hossler would have added depth that would have helped the cause.

In the end, I'm glad to see that short-term interests didn't outweigh long-term plans here. It renews my faith about the sincerity of the people I write about when covering college golf.
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News & Tours

Trending: Quadruple amputee, and Tiger Woods fan, to leave hospital after successful double-arm transplant

By Derek Evers

tiger-woods-brendan-marrocco.jpg
Brendan Marrocco (left) sits with Tiger Woods and Jon Bon Jovi at the 2010 AT&T National preview day. (Photos by: Getty Images)

If Tiger Woods' victory at Torrey Pines wasn't your feel good story of the week, this one should do the trick. In fact, if it doesn't, you better check your ticker.

As the Daily News (and multiple other outlets) reported yesterday, 26-year-old Iraq War veteran Brendan Marrocco is preparing to leave Johns Hopkins Hospital after receiving the hospital's first successful bilateral arm transplant.

Marrocco lost all four limbs on Easter Sunday, 2009 in an Iraq bombing that killed one soldier and wounded another, becoming the first veteran of the war to survive such a catastrophe. While he has been living with the help of a prosthetic (photo above), Marocco underwent the 13-hour procedure to replace both of his arms on December 18.

"I feel amazing," Marrocco said during a 90-minute news conference. "It's something that I was waiting for a long time."

tiger-woods-brendan-marrocco-2.jpgIn 2009 Marrocco became a celebrity in the golf world when Tiger Woods handed his golf ball to the young veteran (left) after sinking his final winning putt at the AT&T National. Despite his unenviable predicament, the 26-year-old has remained extremely positive, even referring to himself as "fortunate" when discussing the explosion that left him without any limbs.

That positivity was rewarded by a surgical team led by Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee. "Six weeks ago today, a team of physicians and nurses helped restore the physical and psychological well-being of Brendan Marrocco, who lost both arms and legs serving our country nearly four years ago," Lee said. "Only six other [U.S. double hand or arm transplant] patients have been successful and Brendan's was the most extensive and complicated."

"It's given me a lot of hope for the future. I feel like I'm getting a second chance," Marrocco happily added. "When people say you can't do it, be stubborn. Do it anyway. Work your ass off and do it."

That's sound advice.

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News & Tours

27 players make Ben Hogan Award watch list

By Ryan Herrington

To say all eyes are on the 27 golfers below on the Ben Hogan Award watch list is a little misleading. You don't have to be included here to be eligible for the honor when it's awarded May 20 in a black-tie banquet at Colonial CC in Fort Worth.

Still, those among this esteemed group make up the leading contenders for the award, given to top collegiate golfer taking into account record in both college and amateur competitions, as the spring season gets under way. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of the selection committee for the award and participated in selecting the watch list.)

Four schools had multiple players on the list: California with four, Washington with three and Alabama and Washington with two each.

One non-Division I golfers were also included: Nova Southeastern's Ben Taylor.

A list of the 10 semifinalists will be named April 18 and the three finalists will be announced May 3.

The award is presented by the Friends of Golf, Colonial CC and the GCAA.


Ben Hogan Award watch list
Daniel Berger, Florida State
Julien Brun, TCU**
Albin Choi, N.C. State
Corey Conners, Kent State
Scott Fernandez, Iowa State
Steven Fox, Chattanooga
Ben Geyer, St. Mary's (Calif.)
Talor Gooch, Oklahoma State
Brandon Hagy, California
Max Homa, California
Michael Kim, California
Jace Long, Missouri*
Tyler McCumber, Florida
Cheng-Tsung Pan, Washington**
Kevin Penner, UNLV
Thomas Pieters, Illinois*
Patrick Rodgers, Stanford**
Trevor Simsby, Washington
Brandon Stone, Texas
Julian Suri, Duke
Ben Taylor, Nova Southeastern
Justin Thomas, Alabama**
T.J. Vogel, Florida*
Michael Weaver, California
Pontus Widegren, UCLA
Chris Williams, Washington**
Bobby Wyatt, Alabama

* Made 2012 Hogan Award watch list
** Made 2012 Hogan Award semifinalists



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News & Tours

Was Vijay Singh's biggest crime ignorance?

If Vijay Singh is disciplined by the PGA Tour for his admission of using a banned substance, it may be because he failed to follow the lead of Mark Calcavecchia.

vijay-singh-470.jpgSingh admitted to using deer antler spray, but said he didn't know it was banned.
Photo by Getty Images

Like Singh, who in a Sports Illustrated report this week admitted to using deer antler spray, Calcavecchia also experimented with products made by Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.), even endorsing them in a testimonial on the S.W.A.T.S. website. But in 2011, Calcavecchia was informed by the Champions Tour that the spray was a banned product because it was found to contain growth hormone. At that point, Calcavecchia acted swiftly, discontinuing his use immediately and asking that S.W.A.T.S. remove his endorsement from the company website.

"They told me to stop taking it and that was that," Calcavecchia told Golf World's Tim Rosaforte when reached Tuesday. "As soon as I found out it wasn't good and didn't conform to the rules, I quit taking it."

Calcavecchia's decision to stop using the spray wasn't a difficult one given that he noticed little difference in the two months he did take it. When first approached, he was told the spray would help address aches in his wrist, shoulders and back. He said he thought the spray helped his wrist "a little bit," but it had no impact elsewhere.

"It didn't help my back in the least," Calcavecchia said.

Though Calcavecchia's history with the spray was widely reported at the time, Singh said in a statement released Wednesday he didn't think there was anything wrong with using it.

"While I have used deer antler spray, at no time was I aware that it may contain a substance that is banned under the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Policy. In fact, when I first received the product, I reviewed the list of ingredients and did not see any prohibited substances. I am absolutely shocked that deer antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position."

According to Sports Illustrated, Singh paid S.W.A.T.S $9,000 for a variety of products and acknowledged using the banned spray "every couple of hours."

"I'm looking forward to some change in my body," Singh told the magazine. "It's really hard to feel the difference if you're only doing it for a couple of months."

The PGA Tour said it would be reviewing the Singh matter further. Singh said he would cooperate with the investigation.

-- Reporting from Tim Rosaforte and Sam Weinman
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News & Tours

The Grind: Tiger's Torrey triumph, a Super Bowl dilemma & Phoenix Open picks

Editor's note: GolfDigest.com's new weekly column looks back at the week in golf (and beyond), and ahead to the next event.

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Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we feel bad for Tiger Woods. And before you say "Give me a break," let's examine: The guy triumphs in a PGA Tour event by FOUR shots and most people focus on either his shaky finish; or the fact that he always plays well on that course so it's no big deal; or that it's still not a major championship; or that he didn't win while simultaneously solving the world's energy crisis. Oh, wait, he made a million bucks to play good golf a week after he made $3 million to play some bad golf? OK, we don't feel too bad for him anymore. . .

WE'RE BUYING

Tiger Woods. Sure, he hit the ball all over La Jolla during the final round, but there were still plenty of signs of vintage Tiger. Like in years past, he pulled away from the field (at least at one point) and he also dominated the par 5s. On Torrey Pines' longest holes, he made an eagle each of the first two days (he only made four on the PGA Tour during all of 2012), and he finished at 12-under par for the week. Last year, he came up short on our prediction of four wins and a major, but to make up for that, we're saying he'll win five and two in 2013. In other words (again), yes (for the 227th time in the past three years), he's back (we think).

The PGA Show. Easy on the eyes, nice figures and dressed to impressed -- and those are just the booth girls pitching the products! One of these days, I'm going to have to get down to Orlando to see, the um, sights. In the meantime, I'll have to settle for former colleague Matt Ginella's collection of photos from last year's show.

Rickie Fowler. What makes a T-6 at a PGA Tour event even better? When you do it after shooting a 77 in the opening round. Fowler displayed a lot of grit (not always his strong suit) in not mailing it in after Thursday and winded up having a week that could really get his 2013 season going. Perhaps even more importantly, his second-round 65 proved that he can play better than a six-handicapper when paired with Tiger Woods. And definitely more importantly, his efforts were appreciated by fantasy owners who forgot to check their lineups and left him in after Day 1. . .

WE'RE SELLING

PGA Tour's Shot Link. Even for people fortunate enough to work at a golf magazine and have a giant TV above their heads in the office, there is a lot of tournament action that isn't televised. During those times, those people need the PGA Tour's system of tracking players to feed their need for golf. On Thursday and Friday, this system was down for a second-straight week. UNACCEPTABLE!

blog-lindsey-vonn.jpgTiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn. No sooner do we joke about the incredible lack of Tiger relationship news do rumors of him and the Olympic skier surface. Still, we need more evidence before we start with the "Tiger and Lindsey sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G" -- especially since there is a record of Vonn taking a jab at Woods' sex addiction a few years ago. Last time we checked, Tiger isn't one to forgive even the slightest of slights. If Lindsey is in the gallery at Augusta National in April, then we'll talk.

Brandt Snedeker changing his putting stroke. The reigning FedEx Cup champ kept on rolling with a T-2 at Torrey, but he looked unusually shaky on the greens after Thursday, including a three-putt from about four feet during Friday's 75. During Sunday's telecast, Ian Baker-Finch noted that for some strange reason Snedeker had made a change in his technique, going with a quicker backstroke to give his putts a little more pop. Pssst, Brandt, you're the best putter in the world. . .

ON TAP

The PGA Tour heads to TPC Scottsdale for the annual fan boozefest known as the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Last year, Spencer Levin looked a little woozy himself after blowing a seven-shot lead on Sunday.

Random tournament fact: Andrew Magee made the only known hole-in-one on a par 4 in PGA Tour history here on the 332-yard 17th in 2001. Wait, Andrew Magee hit a ball 332 yards? Was he using a conforming driver?

WEEKLY YAHOO! FANTASY LINEUP

Big week last week, with Tiger Woods, Nick Watney and Rickie Fowler all finishing in the top six, and our other selection, Hunter Mahan, finishing a respectable T-15. Let's keep the momentum going with this motley crew:

Starters -- (A-List): Bubba Watson. After a rough start to the season with the flu, Watson will be chomping at the bit to get out there and play. He finished T-5 last year at TPC Scottsdale, a course known for being friendly to bombers off the tee.

(B-List): J.B. Holmes. One of our sleepers to watch in 2013, this has been the best tournament to watch the Kentuckian at for his entire career. Holmes' two career PGA Tour titles both came at TPC Scottsdale.

(B-List): Bo Van Pelt. If you looked up "due for a win" in the dictionary, BVP's picture would be right there. He's our pick to take home the trophy.

(C-List): Rickie Fowler. As mentioned, we loved the fight Fowler showed at Torrey Pines. No reason he won't carry it over this week at a place he finished runner-up in 2010.

Bench -- Brandt Snedeker, Ben Crane, Hunter Mahan, and Robert Garrigus.

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

-- If John Harbaugh's Ravens win the Super Bowl, he'll give younger brother Jim a wedgie after the game: 50-to-1 odds

Related: Mickelson's history of unexpected rants

-- An inebriated fan will come out of the stands on TPC Scottsdale's famous 16th hole and hit a shot: 10-to-1 odds

-- Phil Mickelson will make an actual Super Bowl prop bet: LOCK.

FREE SUPER BOWL PREDICTION

I've gone back and forth a lot on this one, not just on which team I think will win, but which team I will root for. Jim Harbaugh seems like a jerk. John Harbaugh seems cool. I'm sick of Ray Lewis, but I love Ray Rice, who I had the pleasure of covering while he was in high school. On the other hand, I'm not a big Joe Flacco guy, but he's impressed me a lot during the playoffs. Tough call. What do you do with a tough call? Take Baltimore and the points (3.5) and root for a tight game. San Francisco wins 23-20.

PHOTO(S) OF THE WEEK

blog-natalie-gulbis-0129.jpgNatalie Gulbis tweeting photos of her yoga routine? Yes, please. There are a lot of people who I often wonder why I bother following on Twitter. Gulbis is one of those people. But from time to time, she provides self photos like these and I remember why I began following her in the first place.

CELEBRITY/ATHLETE WE'D LIKE TO PLAY GOLF WITH

Jim Nantz. I'm not the biggest Nantz fan around, but I've warmed up to him a little in recent years with his guest appearance on "How I Met Your Mother" and that commercial where he makes fun of the guy being stuck at a department store with his girlfriend. I'd like to ask the man who goes from covering the Super Bowl, to March Madness, to the Masters, what it's like to be the luckiest man in the world. Oh yeah, he's a member at some pretty swanky clubs, so we'd probably play somewhere decent.

VIRAL VIDEO(S) OF THE WEEK

Is this 17-month-old left-handed prodigy the next Bubba Watson?

That's some pretty freaky hand-eye-coordination. And why didn't that dude sitting on the stairs move? Talk about being in the line of fire. Upon further inspection, we realize this video was uploaded three years ago, leading to the obvious question: where is this kid now?!

And in honor of the fact that a lot of adult beverages will be consumed this week at TPC Scottsdale, check out this video involving the combination of alcohol and golf:

THIS AND THAT

Winged Foot will get the 2020 U.S. Open. It's probably the last place Phil Mickelson would want to celebrate his 50th birthday that week. . . . blog-golf-balls.jpgChris Wood won his first European Tour title by making eagle on the final hole of regulation at the Qatar Masters. This will not be the last time in 2013 that Sergio Garcia, who finished runner-up, will curse the golf gods. . . . The NBA's New Orleans Hornets announced they will officially change their team name to the Pelicans in 2014. For a guy who went to perhaps the only high school (Pelham, N.Y.) in the country with that mascot, the news brought me a lot of pride. . . . Speaking of Pelham, while my former high school teachers toiled in freezing temperatures, I was in Orlando helping to test golf balls (above). They must be so proud of their former student. . .

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

What's the oldest you can be while still being considered a prodigy?

If Tiger could have played 36 holes on Sunday, would he have changed into a red shirt for the final 18? And would he have done it in Clark Kent-like fashion, perhaps transforming in an on-course port-o-potty?

Does Natalie Gulbis offer private yoga classes?

-- Alex Myers is a contributing editor for GolfDigest.com. Feel free to email him and please follow him on Twitter since he has self-esteem issues.

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Gear & Equipment

Michael Phelps signs equipment deal with Ping

By E. Michael Johnson

When you've conquered one sport (as in winning 22 Olympic medals in swimming -- 18 of them gold) you might decide not to take on another sport. Not so with Michael Phelps. An avid golfer, Phelps has decided to make a concerted effort to get better at the game. And Phelps has chosen to play Ping golf equipment to do so. Ping announced Tuesday that Phelps has reached an agreement to play a full set of the company's clubs.

Related: Phelps one of Golf Digest's "Golfers Who Give Back"

The bats Phelps will swing in pro-ams (he is slated to play with Bubba Watson at the Waste Management Phoenix Open pro-am) and on the Golf Channel's "Haney Project" highlight Ping's commitment to custom fitting. Standing 6-feet-4 with long arms and large hands, Phelps' Ping G25 irons were made one inch longer than standard and 3 degrees upright. His grips are 1/32-inch over standard size. Phelps also will play the company's G25 driver (9.5 degrees), 3-wood (15 degrees) and hybrid (20 degrees). Ping Tour Gorge wedges and a Ping Scottsdale TR Senita mallet putter round out the bag.

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Ping added some custom touches to the 27-year-old Phelps' clubs, including red, white and blue paint fill on the irons as well as "Phelps22" on the irons, wedges and putter with the number 22 in gold paint. Gold highlights also are on Phelps' metalwoods. Here Phelps speaks with GolfDigest.com on the fitting experience as well as his thoughts on taking on his next sports challenge.

How did the relationship with Ping come about?

As soon as I picked up the Ping clubs -- I was able to get into a set of G25s --there were no other clubs I was able to get as comfortable with. The other thing that struck me is that they are a very family-oriented company and that is very important to me and I wanted to be a part of that. Other sponsors I have had have felt like a family away from home and I like that. When I walked into the headquarters here in Phoenix you could feel it the moment you walked in.

Plus they have the putter vault with all those gold putters from champions using Ping putters in their wins.

I just found out about that today [Jan. 29]. There's a lot of gold here so it seemed like a perfect fit.

Have you ever been fitted for clubs before and what was the fitting process like for you?

I've never been fit for equipment before like this. When I first got the clubs they sent me I was able to play with them for a week or two and get a feel for them but that was really it. But during that time I was able to pick up on a few things that needed some changing. And Hank [Haney] and I were able to see how that affected the ball flight, so when I got here for the fitting I had an idea of some things that we wanted to do, such as stiffer shafts, different grips that didn't feel like sandpaper, etc. We both felt the ball flight was super high. So we wanted stiffer shafts to bring that down. With the driver and 3-wood the shaft felt like a U, it felt like it was bending so much. So the Ping guys put me through a very thorough fitting. I never realized it was so technical. I never knew that there were 50-plus shafts to choose from or that a fitting was so technical.

How does that compare to swimming? Did you get fit for your suit, cap and goggles?

When I was in the pool you got a swimsuit, a cap and a pair of goggles and that was it. The last four years we had one kind of suit we swam in. With the cap it was small, medium or large and that's all. The suit goes up in waist size from 22 to 24 to 26 to 28 to however big you need it. There are about 15 types of goggles to choose from but we all have to follow the same guidelines. It's nothing like getting fit for golf clubs. It will be fun to become more educated about things such as the shaft in the driver and the loft gap in the wedges. I'm really looking forward to that. I want to be more knowledgeable about this.

What kind of improvement did you see?

As soon as we changed the grips and the shafts the improvement was noticeable. I'd hit one good one, one bad one. Then after some changes I hit three consecutive 7-irons from 170 yards to 180 yards and they were pretty much dead straight. At that point I knew what kind of improvement was possible. A lot of it is simply being comfortable with the club. Having confidence in it. When we added the length and some weight in the shaft it felt more comfortable. It didn't seem like I was swinging a wiffle ball bat like it did before. It's something I noticed just from holding the club and I liked the feeling.

Describe yourself as a golfer.

I'm learning. I think it is the same as in everything I do. I don't like to put limits on anything. This is a passion that I have and I'm going to do everything I can to improve and get to where I want to be. I have friends that are single-digit and scratch golfers that I would love to be able to compete with. I know it is a very challenging sport. It's the most humbling sport I've ever played in my life. And I know the small things can make a big difference. Eliminating three-putts and working on the short game are important. To get in a rhythm and be consistent is key. I know the more time I put into it the better I'll get.

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You're a competitive guy. Does the challenge of the game appeal to you?

There were times that I've been really frustrated and didn't want to pick up the clubs anymore. But now it is hard to get them out of my hands. I know it's not going to happen overnight and I have to put in the time. There are ways to move forward and improve, but it has to be something you want. And this is definitely something that I want. I cannot stand to lose and I can't stand the thought of being beat every time I go out there with my friends. I don't want them giving me 15 strokes or even more than that sometimes. It's annoying for me. I'd like to play at the same level as them or even someday pass them.

Related: Watch Michael Phelps make one of the longest putts ever

Not to mention the golf course is a little more interesting than a pool I would think.

The playing grounds are much prettier than a pool. It is something that is very different from swimming. There we have the same pool. It's the same length, the same temperature and not much is different from one pool to the next. But being able to travel all over the world and see the courses, well, it's wild. At the Dunhill Links event I think I figured out I never want to go back to Carnoustie. That is the hardest golf course I have ever played. I was stuck in the rough so much and couldn't get out. It was so frustrating. There were times I wanted to just pick the ball up and move to the next hole. It was driving me insane! The greens at the Old Course were cool, though. They were the biggest I'd ever seen. So it's neat to play different courses with the weather changes and the different layouts. The different lengths of course. It's interesting to see how every course is different. I have a little board of all the top 100 courses and so far I don't have a lot on there but at some point I'd like to say I've played them all.

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Gear & Equipment

Pros like Hunter Mahan realize swing changes may require adjustments to their sticks

By E. Michael Johnson

gwar01-golf-equipment-johnson-0204.jpgA few weeks ago during a commercial shoot in California, Hunter Mahan was admiring Bubba Watson's new Ping Tour Gorge wedges. At the Farmers Insurance Open, Mahan had a pair of the clubs in play. The reason, however, had little to do with his look into Watson's bag.

It turns out that Mahan recently changed the angle of attack on his short chip and pitch shots to a steeper swing with more of a "hinged" motion. Ping tour rep Matt Rollins suggested to Mahan that the Tour Gorge wide-sole model would be perfect because it was designed for those with a steep move into the ball. Mahan used a 54-degree (bent to 53 degrees) and a 60-degree (bent to 59 degrees) in finishing T-15 at Torrey Pines.

Mahan discovered what many tour players have come to realize -- when they make an adjustment to their swing, their equipment likely needs to be altered as well to accommodate the change.

Players changing or tweaking their equipment after adjusting their motion is a recent phenomenon, due mostly to launch monitors and other high-tech fitting systems spelling out exactly what a player needs from an equipment perspective. Until recently, it was more the other way around -- players would change equipment and then realize they needed to adapt their swing.

Related: 2013 Hot List Drivers

The latter certainly applied to Byron Nelson, who made a significant swing change after realizing his old move didn't work with his new steel shafts. Tiger Woods also discovered that he needed a higher launch angle to take advantage of the modern, lower-spinning golf ball. But now, the swing change comes first.

Take Jhonattan Vegas. A recent adjustment to his setup position that had him standing closer to the ball made him uncomfortable with his woods. As a result Vegas made the following tweaks at Torrey Pines: He changed his Nike VR_S Covert Tour driver from an open setting to a neutral setting; he also increased its loft from 8.5 degrees to 10.5 degrees and had his 3- and 5-woods shortened by 1/4-inch.

Players changing their putting strokes also need to be aware that their flat sticks might no longer suit their needs. As noted in the Jan. 28 edition of Golf World, Phil Mickelson reduced the amount of forward press in his stroke and employed a claw grip. To accommodate those measures he reduced the loft in his putter to 2 degrees.

Getting the proper lie angle also can be critical. Jerry Kelly tells of how a few years ago he changed his swing and then hit a rough stretch. He finally determined he needed to have his irons bent 1.5 degrees upright to accommodate his new swing.

Related: Best of the 2013 PGA Show

"You get to a point where you start wondering if it's the swing or the equipment," said Kelly. "But for me it was just a matter of getting everything right in the bag and then trusting it."

Although Kelly was speaking about himself, it is a lesson average players would do well to heed. Think about it: Many players spend small fortunes on lessons without so much as considering that the changes they are implementing might be making their equipment ill-fitted.

So the next time you're taking a lesson, have your pro check your equipment as well. Your swing might not be the only thing in need of fine-tuning.

NEW STUFF


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Titleist's new Pro V1 and Pro V1x feature an improved manufacturing process that provides greater consistency from ball to ball. The new balls have seven professional wins to date.

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The wedges boast a new milled groove with 11 laser-etched lines between each groove to enhance spin on full as well as partial shots.

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BAG ROOM


When TaylorMade debuted its Rocketbladez irons last year at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Sean O'Hair had a set in play that featured a camouflage badge in the cavity to keep the name secret. Since then O'Hair has continued to play the camo irons, but when he showed up with them at the Farmers Insurance Open, TaylorMade's tour reps changed the badges to the standard version. ... Adidas' new adizero Tour shoe -- which weighs only 10.6 ounces -- debuted on tour at the Farmers Insurance Open. Among those wearing the shoes the first week out were Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III and Mike Weir. ... Adams had more than double the number of hybrids in play as the next company at the FIO. Among those switching to the new white-headed hybrids were Casey Wittenberg and Steve Marino, who each used a 19-degree Adams Idea Super LS. ... To assist with his alignment, Tag Ridings switched to Odyssey's Versa #1 Wide model with white/black/white striping. Ridings finished T-15 at Torrey Pines ranking 34th in strokes gained/putting. ... Billy Horschel overhauled his woods for 2013 and in La Jolla had Ping's new G25 driver, 3- and 5-woods in play. ... J.B. Holmes went with a 7.5-degree version of Callaway's X Hot Pro driver in La Jolla. The lower-lofted head with a square face angle upped Holmes' ball speed and helped reduce the hook he had been fighting. Holmes ranked first in driving distance (317.5 yards) before missing the cut at Torrey Pines. Holmes also switched to Callaway's new X Forged irons, citing the improved turf interaction due to the sole design. Normally Holmes has the leading edges ground to soften them, but only one iron required that work with this set.


... Read
News & Tours

Bullish on Tiger? How Woods' career eerily mirrors the stock market

By Sam Weinman

We've heard how golf's financial well-being rises and falls with Tiger Woods. But what if it was the entire American economy that hinged on the state of Woods' game?

You laugh. Yet a closer look at the fluctuations in the Nasdaq Composite Index over the last 17 years show a remarkably similar pattern to Woods' own ups and downs as a professional.

Related: Jaime Diaz on what's next for Tiger Woods

Consider: When Woods turned pro in August 1996, the Nasdaq bounced around in the 1,100 range. A little more than a year later, with Tigermania in full swing following Woods' landmark win in the 1997 Masters, the Nasdaq had eclipsed 1,700. The upward progression continued as Woods overhauled his swing under Butch Harmon and then embarked on the most dominant golf stretch of golf in the game's history. In May 2000, when Woods was busy winning five of six majors, the Nasdaq famously surpassed 5,000 points.


Tiger vs. Nasdaq 1.jpgThe trajectory of Woods' career has mostly resembled that of the Nasdaq market.
Graphic illustration by Lance Hertzbach


A coincidence? Probably. But as Gary Kaminsky, the Capital Markets Editor for CNBC, said, "If you want to draw some conclusions, stock market participants who are avid golf fans become more aggressive and optimistic in thinking about their investments when Tiger wins a tournament."

tiger-woods-nasdaq-300.jpgOf course, as Kaminsky noted, the Nasdaq's rapid rise was more attributable to enthusiasm around tech stocks than it was Woods' superior ball-striking and clutch putting. But what's interesting is that the pattern has continued into this more unpredictable phase of Woods' career.

Related: Ron Sirak says Tiger Woods has nothing left to prove

For instance, the two low points for the Nasdaq in the last decade came when it dipped below 1,200 in October 2002 (when Woods just split with Harmon and wound up going 10 majors without a win) and again in March 2009 (when Woods was coming off reconstructive knee surgery and was just months away from the sex scandal that sent his game into a tailspin). And just as Woods has rediscovered his footing in the last year, so has the Nasdaq. In Septemer 2012, after a resurgent Woods won three times on tour and was the top qualifier for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, the Nasdaq inched back to just shy of 3,200 for the first time in a dozen years. And its highest point this year? That came Monday, the day Woods was wrapping up his 75th career win.

So that poses the next question: based on what we know about the Nasdaq, what kind of year can Tiger expect to have? Well, just as one can't reasonably expect Woods to win four-straight majors again, the Nasdaq isn't what it once was, either (many of the companies that fueled the 2000 tech bubble don't even exist anymore).  And yet Kaminsky is still bullish on both.

"Based on projections, one could come to the conclusion that both Nasdaq and Tiger are going to have a very good 2013," he said.



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News & Tours

Tiger's erratic victory lap provides no answers

By John Strege

The mystery that Tiger Woods' career has become remains unsolved, the enigma burnished by a quizzical performance even on a course where the outcome seems never in doubt.

Woods won the Farmers Insurance Open by four, an impressive margin were it not for the fact that he led by eight and inexplicably (inexcusably?) began spraying the ball to all fields, one of them unplayable. He shot 39 on the back nine Monday, a scattershot finish that extended a trend of them in recent months, even years.

Related: How Tiger's swing has changed

Yes, he won for the 75th time in his PGA Tour career, second only to Sam Snead's 82, and he now has four victories in his last 10 months. But each of them has come on a course with which he is comfortable and has been successful: Bay Hill, where he has won the Arnold Palmer Invitational seven times, Muirfield Village, where he has won the Memorial Tournament five times, Congressional Country Club, where he has won the AT&T National twice, and now Torrey Pines, where he's now won the Farmers Insurance Open seven times, as well as a U.S. Open and Junior World Championship.

blog-tiger-woods-0128.jpg

Photo by Getty Images

His dominance on the coastal San Diego courses and the inevitability of this victory, notwithstanding his Monday hijinks, prompted Graeme McDowell to post this on Twitter: "Was thinking of adding @FarmersInsOpen to my schedule next year. Maybe need to reconsider. Tiger owns the place....#tigerwoodsshow."

He does hold the mortgage on Torrey, but to what extent the Tiger Woods Show will travel beyond friendly confines is the mystery that survived his victory at Torrey Pines.

There was a time when every course was within his comfort zone, but he has developed an on-again, off-again relationship with his game, an inconsistent streak at odds with his history.

His history, too, has included a pair of hallmarks that were on display at Torrey Pines, neither of which he was able to sustain:

-- The landslide victory once was part of his repertoire and contributed to his aura: he won the Masters by 12, the U.S. Open by 15, the British Open at eight.

Related: Tiger remains golf's top earner

En route to a similar outcome, he stumbled, playing the back nine in 39, including a double-bogey at the 15th hole, when his tee shot went left and into an ice plant, leaving him an unplayable lie.

-- He was spraying the ball on Sunday afternoon and early on Monday, too, but kept extending his lead by showcasing the other hallmark of his career, his remarkable ability to get the ball in the hole from the unlikeliest of places. He frequently bent his ball around trouble, saving par and even making birdie.

"It's always fun watching Tiger in and around the lead and more fun when he scores well from everywhere isn't it?" Brad Faxon wrote on Twitter. Yet the scoring element abandoned him on Monday, turning what ought to have been an encouraging victory into one that failed to exorcise the doubts.

It accomplished this much, at least: It snapped golf from its early-season lethargy (or apathy) and provided a reason to begin to look forward to April and possibly a showdown with his new Nike stablemate Rory McIlroy.

It was not necessarily a convincing reason, but it's a start.

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