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News & Tours

McIlroy on opening 70: 'Not was OK'

By Dave Shedloski

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Rory McIlroy took four ingloriously indifferent shots from 105 yards on the 18th hole at PGA National Thursday afternoon and surrendered a chance to not only shoot under par but also conjure some decent vibes amid the slow start to his season.

blog-rory-mcilroy-0228.jpgThe No. 1 player in the world and the defending champion, McIlroy opened the Honda Classic with an even-par 70 on the Champion Course he sliced up a year ago and trailed 2010 winner Camilo Villegas by six strokes. The effort, though marred by a sloppy bogey on the par-5 home hole, had him disappointed but not disillusioned with the direction of his game.

Related: A side-by-side comparison of Rory's and Tiger's swings

"[It] wasn't the nicest way to finish, [but] I saw enough pretty good golf out there to be positive going into the next few days," said McIlroy, who missed the cut at Abu Dhabi and then was bounced from the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in the first round. "Felt OK out there. Not great, but, I mean, it was OK."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement. And on a calm day in South Florida when nearly half the field broke par, the 23-year-old Ulsterman, who recently decided to make this area his home base, knew he'd missed an opportunity.

"I think if I've been playing well, or playing the way I know I can, there's something in the mid 60s out there," said McIlroy, who shot four rounds in the 60s last year and shot 12-under-par 268 for the first of his four PGA Tour wins. "Hopefully, the weather is OK tomorrow and I can go out and try to shoot a good score and put myself in position for the weekend."

McIlroy finds himself in good company heading into the second round. His new neighbor and best friend, world No. 2 Tiger Woods, also failed to take advantage of the rain-softened and relatively benign conditions.

It says something about the day Woods endured that the highlight of his round was escaping with a par after pulling a drive into the water on the par-4 sixth. Woods, who rebounded from a pair of early bogeys to shoot 70, had to remove his shoes and socks and his beige sweater, put on rainpants, and splash a 9-iron recovery back into the fairway from where he got up and down.

"I was one over at the time," Woods said, "and if that ball is not playable from where it's at ... looking at a [double-bogey] six, three over, [but] all of a sudden I flip it, make par there and birdie the next."

Related: McIlroy off to a slow start to 2013

The remainder of his day wasn't much to talk about as Woods hit nine fairways and 14 greens but needed 32 whacks with the putter. "It was pretty much a boring day on the greens, and I hit a lot of good shots," he said.

Winner in his first PGA Tour start of the year at the Farmer's Insurance Open, Woods is making his second appearance in the Honda Classic, having finished runner-up to McIlroy last year despite a closing 62.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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Gear & Equipment

Need a John Daly Fathead for your living room?

John Daly Fathead.jpg

By John Strege

Who wouldn't want this, a bigger than life-size John Daly wall cling from Fathead for a wall in your living room or family room?

Yes, Fathead has a golf section, offering wall clings of Daly, Steve Stricker, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Natalie Gulbis, Morgan Pressel, Paula Creamer and Camilo Villegas. Each is $100 and is removable, reusable and safe for walls.

The John Daly Fathead shown above is six feet, five inches tall (Daly himself is listed as 5-11) and is 3 1/2-feet wide.

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Gear & Equipment

Equipment Sneducation

By Mike Stachura.

Brandt Snedeker has been doing a lot right lately. Here are three things average golfers can learn from the game's hottest player:

Snedeker style: He's not looking for "the usual." Photo by: Justin Stephens

1. His Odyssey White Hot XG Rossie putter is 34 inches, an inch shorter than standard. Don't assume standard is right for you. "If the putter is too long, your posture will be too tall, your elbows will be jammed into your body, the toe of the putter will be off the ground and your eyes will be too far from the ball," says Todd Sones, one of Golf Digest's 50 Best Teachers and founder of Coutour Golf.

2. Snedeker's 2010 TaylorMade Burner SuperFast driver, at 45 inches, is an inch shorter than a lot of drivers on the market and an inch shorter than the SuperFast sold at retail. A shorter driver can make it easier for average golfers to strike the ball in the center of the face. And more center hits means more distance, says Steve Ball of Ball Golf Center in Oklahoma City, one of America's 100 Best Clubfitters.

3. You don't have to wear a ball cap when playing golf. Snedeker's customary visor "is cool, and that What, me worry? haircut fits nicely under that headwear," says Marty Hackel, Golf Digest's Mr. Style.

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News & Tours

Inside Golf World Podcast: The Florida Swing and its proximity to home

By Ryan Herrington

inside-gw-podcast-jupiter-florida.jpgYou don't need an anthropology degree to appreciate why tour pros might be keen on living in Florida.

Nice weather, no state income tax and the overall laid-back feel make it a logical place for golfers such as Keegan Bradley (right) to call home.

In particular, the 30-mile stretch along the southeast coast in and around Jupiter, Fla., has become a magnet for players of all ages, tours and places on the World Ranking.

Golf World senior writer Tim Rosaforte is intimately familiar with the scene, having lived there since the 1980s.

"Golf's Hot Spot," our March 4 cover story, is Rosaforte's personal look at why the area has become increasingly popular among pro golfers.

In this week's Inside Golf World podcast, Rosaforte provides more details on the player migration to Jupiter and explains how clubs such as Old Palm, The Bear's Club, Medalist GC and The Dye Preserve have welcomed them with open arms.

Listen to the podcast
Subscribe to the Inside Golf World series in iTunes

(Photo by Guido Vitti) ... Read
News & Tours

Cal men remain golden in coaches' poll


So much for looking mortal. When California finished third at the Arizona Intercollegiate, the first time the team hadn't claimed at least a share of a title during the 2012-13 season, many wondered if this would cause the team to sputter with the momentum from the fall semester gone.

Yet with a third-straight victory at the John Burns Intercollegiate last week, and by a whopping 27 strokes, the Golden Bears easily managed to retain their spot atop the first Golf World/Nike Golf Division I men's coaches' poll. Steve Desimone's squad earned 21 of the 23 available first-place votes.

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News & Tours

Golf World Preview: Beware the Bear Trap

By Ron Sirak

From the February 28 issue of Golf World Preview:

blog-jack-nicklaus-0228.jpgOkay, so about the time of the third snowstorm at the Accenture Match Play Championship your bracket in the office pool resembled exit polls from the 2004 Presidential election -- not much was correct. Time to recoup your losses this week by making a wager on how many times holes 15 through 17 on the Champions course at PGA National will be referred to as the Bear Trap during the Golf Channel/NBC broadcast of the Honda Classic. If the over/under is "too many," take the over.

Related: 10 players we'd love to hear as announcers

Let's face it, we love to give names to things. I have a tree in my backyard I call Ed. Ever since those dudes were found bugging the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel the word "Gate" has been tacked on the end of any scandal. Football had the Steel Curtain, baseball the Big Red Machine and college basketball the Fab Five. The sad thing about such shorthand is that sometimes it short-changes the subject matter by making the hype newsier than the happening.

That's the dilemma of the Bear Trap. While some may argue about the quality of holes 15-17 from a design standpoint, the difficulty of that stretch is beyond dispute, especially when the wind is up. Since the Honda Classic moved to PGA National in 2007, the Bear Trap has accounted for 24 percent of all bogeys in the tournament, 56 of the double bogeys and an astonishing 74 percent of the triple bogeys. Remarkably, 97 percent of annoyed TV viewers are watching the Bear Trap.

What makes that stretch so difficult? Wind. Water. Sand. Contour. Hole location. You know; golf. No. 15 is a 179-yard par-3 that usually plays into the wind with sand left and water right. No. 16 is a 434-yard par-4 that doglegs to the right and slopes toward the water on the right. Bail out left and you have a 220-yard shot over water. No. 17 is another par-3, this one 190 yards. With a bunker long and left and water right, the green is the only place to put the ball, and when the pin is middle-left there is only a 30-foot landing area.

In tournament golf, good things seem to come in threes. Augusta National has Amen Corner, Nos. 11-13 in the Masters. The Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow concludes with the Green Mile. And the Horrible Horseshoe at Colonial in the Crowne Plaza Invitational comes early -- Nos. 3-5. None are more difficult than the Bear Trap, which gets its name from the course's architect, Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear. Get it?

Related: How will Tiger & Rory fare at PGA National?

Grab a snack and a beverage and settle in to watch the Honda Classic on TV. And brace yourself for this inevitability: Slow pan of the bear statue (above) at No. 15. Zoom in on the plaque proclaiming the next three holes will kick the stuffing out of you. The announcer's voice takes on a tone both ominous and excited. Then sit back and enjoy as the Bear Trap mauls the field. Cutesy name, annoyingly overused, but great entertainment.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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News & Tours

Tiger not budging on anchor ban stance

By Dave Shedloski

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Commissioner Tim Finchem may have expressed his opposition on behalf of the PGA Tour to the anchoring ban proposed by the USGA and the R&A, but he doesn't speak for Tiger Woods, who is sticking to his guns that golf's governing bodies should adopt the rule change.

blog-tiger-woods-0227.jpg"My position hasn't changed," Woods said Wednesday at PGA National Resort as he prepares for the start of this week's Honda Classic. "I still think that it should be swung, it shouldn't be anchored, and that hasn't changed at all. . . . Hopefully, we don't have to bifurcate or adapt a local rule like we do sometimes out here on tour with the stones and bunkers and things of that nature. Hopefully we won't have to do that with our putter."

Related: Five things we should be discussing instead of anchoring

The No. 2 player in the world, Woods said he understood where Finchem was coming from. But that doesn't change his mind. "Yeah, I get it. I mean, the guys that play our tour, all three of them play our tour full⿿time (who) have won major championships with an anchored putter. I understand his position, but I still feel that all 14 clubs should be swung."

Woods, who won his 75th tour title last month at the Farmer's Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, is making his second start at PGA National's Champion Course after moving to nearby Jupiter. With a career-best final round effort, an 8-under 62, Woods surged up the leader board, but ended up T-2 behind Rory McIlroy. That effort served as a springboard to breaking a three-year victory drought three weeks later at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

"I made a run, and I thought it might get me into a situation where I might have a chance at a playoff," Woods said. "But Rory made a couple birdies down the stretch and basically iced it."

Both Woods and McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, are coming off first-round losses in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. That circumstance afforded the friendly rivals a chance to play 36 holes together Sunday at Medalist Golf Club.

"We thought we would play our own match⿿play final except it was over 36," joked McIlroy, who recently moved to Jupiter.

Related: Keegan Bradley dealing with belly putter backlash

Woods won the first 18 holes, McIlroy the second.

"We figured, let's get a game sometime. We were kind of hoping that it wouldn't be that Sunday, but we were both free and went out and played," Woods said. "(We) played a quick 36, and he headed off to do whatever he needed to do, and I went back home and did some more training."

McIlroy, 23, and Woods appear to have struck up a friendship in recent months, and McIlroy in December joined Woods in the endorsement game by switching to Nike golf equipment. They trade text messages, and McIlroy has picked the brain of the 14-time major champion on occasion, but Woods said he doesn't consider himself a mentor to the youngster from Northern Ireland.

Related: What can we expect from Tiger & Rory at the Honda Classic?

"I don't think it's quite the same level as I was with Mark [O'Meara] and Cookie [John Cook]. Back in those days, those guys really took me under their wing," Woods said. "Went out to dinner all the time and basically traveled together on tour, went fishing all the time . . . they were like my big brothers at the time. They basically still are. It's a different type of relationship.

"He's a friend of mine, who just happens to be the No. 1 player in the world. That's about it."

(Photo by Getty Images)

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News & Tours

USC women 'fight on' in coaches' polls

BY Ryan Herrington

Do the the voters in the Golf World/WGCA women's Division I coaches poll have a crystal ball?

While ballots had to be turned in last Friday for the first spring poll of the 2012-13 season, five days before the end of the rain-shortened Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate would conclude, the 80 percent of the coaches seemed to know that USC was going to be victorious at English Turn G&CC, winning a playoff over crosstown rival UCLA.

Twenty of the 25 voters selected the Trojans No. 1, allowing the Pac-12 power to remain atop the Golf World poll even before recording arguably their most impressive victory of the season.

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Gear & Equipment

A highly personalized wedge

By E. Michael Johnson

Wedge issue: Vokey's TVD-K has many, many options.

Want to look like a tour player but lack a PGA Tour card? Titleist's new Vokey Design TVD-K wedges ($160 and up) let you add a variety of personal touches. The wedge comes in three loft/bounce combinations (56/12, 58/10 and 60/10) as well as two new finishes: California Chrome and Graphite Ion (pictured). The coolest feature of the TVD-K is the sole.

The design is based on Bob Vokey's work with Adam Scott, Jason Dufner and Ben Crane. The 56-degree has a wider, more cambered sole (better for use in the sand) than any wedge in Vokey's SM4 line. The 58- and 60-degree models have more bounce to help those who tend to dig into the turf. Everything from the aesthetic (toe engraving, personalized stamping, paint fill, shafts, ferrules and shaft bands) to the practical (grip, shaft and length/lie options) can be customized, leaving your inner tour player completely satisfied. More info.

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Gear & Equipment

SkyGolf introduces SkyPro golf swing analyzer


By John Strege

The quest for better golf through technology has been undertaken by SkyGolf, maker of the SkyCaddie rangefinder, with the introduction of SkyPro.

A swing analyzer and training tool, SkyPro features a small, lightweight device (under an ounce) that attaches to a golf club just below the grip and provides a variety of swing feedback, via bluetooth, to a smartphone app.

The SkyPro captures as many as 100,000 data points from address to impact, the company said, including clubhead speed, swing path, club rotation, face angle, swing plane, impact position and tempo. It does this automatically, too, without the golfer having even to push a button. You can see your swing in 3D, from virtually any angle, at any speed.

It also features groove and practice sessions that identify faults in less than perfect swings and provides alerts for common swing miscues for club rotation, shaft angle and swing plane. Practice tips are provided by renowned instructors Hank Haney and Michael Breed.

It has a sleep mode to save power, but can accommodate eight hours of swinging on a single charge. Morever, in the event you can't use a cell phone on the course or range, the swing information is stored in the device and transfered to your smartphone afterward.

The SkyPro retails for $200

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