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Masters Moments

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By Pete Pappas

GolfWRX Staff Writer

“We want to make the bogies easy if frankly sought, pars readily obtainable by standard good play, and birdies, except on the Par 5s, dearly bought.”

— Bobby Jones, Augusta National Golf Club and The Masters co-founder

2010

Phil Mickelson won the 74th Masters for the third time in his career in 2010 (only Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tiger Woods have more victories).

Lefty pulls away from Lee Westwood on Championship Sunday with a bogey-free 67.  But it’s his dramatic eagle-eagle-birdie streak on moving day at No. 13, No. 14, and No. 15 that ultimately puts him in contention for a third green jacket.

Westwood finished runner-up, three strokes behind Mickelson, continuing his heartbreaking chase for that elusive first major championship.

Mark Zuckerberg is Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” and Prince Charles admits to being baffled by modern technology, saying, “I am not part of the PlayStation generation.”

2005

The 2005 Masters saw Woods defeat Chris DiMarco with a birdie on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.  The win was the (then) 29 year-old Woods’ fourth Masters victory (tying him for second all-time with “The King” Arnold Palmer).

Tiger wins despite “coughing up” a four-stroke final round lead (which he later describes as “thowing up” on himself).

The 69th Masters preserves for posterity one of sports’ all-time greatest broadcasting moments, when CBS commentator Verne Lundquist’s makes his famous call on Tiger’s chip in at No. 16, “In your life! Have you ever seen anything like that?”

Ted Koppel retires from “Nightline” after 25 years, the Chicago White Sox win their third World Series title, and Tom Cruise punches his own express ticket on the crazy train with a lighthearted stroll through Oprah Winfrey’s couch.

1997

A 155-pound 21-year-old “Urkel” (as he’s known to his Stanford teammates) wasn’t yet a household name in 1997.  But Eldrick “Tiger” Woods changed golf completely and forever with his performance in the 61st Masters.

“Tigermania” flips the game on its head as Woods becomes the youngest player ever to win at Augusta.  He demoralizes the field and steamrolls runner-up Tom Kite by 12 strokes (a winning margin three strokes better than the previous record held by five-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus).

Hitting ridiculous shots from ridiculous angles, with even more ridiculous touch and precision, Woods makes everything look easy and establishes the new tournament record for lowest winning score (270) and lowest 72-hole score (18-under).

Tiger becomes the first Asian-African player to win The Masters (his victory comes seven years after Augusta National finally admits its first black member in 1990).  The significance of this historical moment isn’t lost on Woods’ father Earl, overheard telling Tiger as he slips on his first prestigious green jacket, “Green and black go well together don’t they?”

Tiger’s victory triggers the beginning of “Tiger-Proofing” (lengthening courses so Woods’ dominating distance is neutralized).  The PGA Tour hasn’t seen “wedge into par 5” before and decides lengthening the courses will nullify Tiger’s power (ironically this decision plays into Woods favor and gives him an even greater comparative advantage over his already shorter hitting competitors).

By the end of the 1997 season Woods owns the single-season record for earnings with more than $2 million.

Disgraced NBC sportscaster Marv Albert goes on trial for felony charges which involve the alleged repeated biting of an unnamed female sex partner, Michael Jordan wins his fifth NBA Championship ring with the Chicago Bulls, and the merry minds at Comedy Central debut the socially animated (gratuitously offensive) satire “South Park”.  “Oh my God! They killed Kenny!”

1986

In what’s widely considered the greatest Masters of all time, Nicklaus won his fabled and final green jacket at Augusta National in 1986.

Entering the tournament, Jack hadn’t triumphed on Tour since 1984, and supposedly his spirit was broken from Tom Watson’s birdie chip on No. 17 at Pebble Beach in 1982 (which snatched away what would have been Nicklaus’ fifth U.S. Open title).

Jack’s drought without a major is six years and running, and after opening the 50th Masters with a first-day 74 followed by a second round 71, it appears the 46-year-old Nicklaus’ run as the greatest golfer in history will quietly come to an end.

But like the enduring tradition of spring Jack finds new life on Sunday when he birdies No. 9, No. 10, and No. 11. And his eagle-birdie-birdie streak on No. 15, No. 16 and No. 17 (which leads to a back nine record low score of 30) ultimately gives “The Golden Bear” a one stroke victory over runner-up Tom Kite (and his 18th and final major championship).

Few images in golf are as memorable as Jack’s “golden” moment at Augusta in 1986, left arm raised triumphantly with putter in hand, watching his putt drop for birdie on No. 17, tongue out, and of course wearing his Sunday “Yellow Shirt.”

The Space Shuttle Challenger blows up one minute and thirteen seconds after take-off killing all seven crew members, the Soviet Union Chernobyl disaster is the worlds worst nuclear power accident in history, and “Platoon” wins the Academy Award for best film.

1975

It’s sometimes said that The Masters doesn’t begin until the back nine on Sunday. And that was never more true than during the final spellbinding round of the 39th Masters.

Jack won his fifth green jacket and 13th major championship in 1975, outlasting the pestering pursuers Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf in one of the most exciting final days in Augusta National’s storied history.

Nicklaus was paired with rising star and imminent rival Tom Watson on this Sunday, and right behind them were Miller and Weiskopf.  Only two shots separated Nicklaus, Weiskopf, and Miller heading into the howling demon winds at “Amen Corner.”

The players traded strokes to start the back nine, but it was at the amphitheatre par-5, 530 yard 15th hole and par-3, 170 yard 16th hole where Nicklaus delivers two of the most famous shots in Masters’ history (and ultimately secures his fourth Masters victory in an 11-year span).

On No. 15 Nicklaus sent a blistering 240-foot one iron screaming over the “Firethorn” water and onto the green. A stroll across Sarazen Bridge gave Jack an easy two-putt birdie.

Nicklaus’ iron shot on No. 16 wasn’t nearly as good, leaving a considerably longer putt for birdie.  But with Miller and Weiskopf watching from the tee, Jack curled in a 40-foot birdie bomb, leaped in the air, and bear charged “right” into the history books.

Nicklaus said afterwards, “To be out there in the middle of something like that, is fun.”

The Ford F-150 truck is introduced, sex symbol Farrah Fawcett is discovered in a 1975 Mercury Cougar commercial (a few months later her iconic red bathing suit poster begins to chaperon hordes of hormonal young men through their bumbling rite of passage into manhood), and Mick Jagger (age 33) says, “I’d rather be dead than still be singing “Satisfaction”when I’m 45.”

1962

In the first three-way playoff in Masters history Palmer wins the 26th Masters (avenging  his double-bogey final hole meltdown which cost him the title in 1961).

Arnie defeats his arch-rival from South Africa, “The Black Knight” Gary Player (1961 Masters defending champion) and 1958 PGA Championship winner Dow Finsterwald in an 18-hole playoff shooting (4-under) 68, while Player shot (one-under) 71, and Finsterwald (six-over) 78.

Palmer earns $20,000 for his third career Masters victory, but it’s far from easy money.

It took two late birdies at No. 16 and No. 17 on Sunday to sneak Palmer into a playoff after it appeared he’d again throw away The Masters (like he did in 1961) to Player.  And when the playoffs began on Monday his struggles continued.  He fell three-shots behind Player with a (one-over) 37.

But to the delight of  40,000 spectators looking on (many of whom are “Arnie’s Army”), “The King” showed he had a charge left in him, and fired back with a five-under 31 on the back 9, including a 30-foot putt on No. 10, where Player missed his short putt for par.

Palmer birdied the last two legs of “Amen Corner” before also carding birdies on the par 4, No. 14, and par 3, No. 16.  And when all was said and done, in the span of five holes, Arnie went from three strokes down to four strokes up.

When asked about arguably playing both the best and worst golf of the tournament, “The King” replied, “You always think you’re getting smarter at this game, but every now and then you have a relapse and realize you’re not as smart as you thought you were.”

Marilyn Monroe’s death is caused by an overdose of sleeping pills (conspiracy theories involve the mob, President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy), and the first James Bond film is released, “Dr. No” (starring Sean Connery).  “Bond, James Bond.”

1953

Ben Hogan wins the 17th Masters in 1953 (his second and final Masters victory) by five strokes over runner-up Ed “Porky” Oliver.

Hogan’s 274 (14-under) is a record that stands for 12 years.

1953 is a bittersweet year for Hogan.  He plays in seven tour events and wins five of them, including the first three legs of the “Grand Slam” (The Masters, the U.S. Open, and the British Open). But after 1952 Hogan never again wins another major.

“I Love Lucy” is the most popular show on television, the Wiffle Ball is invented, and the Montreal Canadians are Stanley Cup champions.

The 76th Masters Broadcast Coverage

Television Coverage

Thursday and Friday: ESPN 3:00-7:30 pm ET

Saturday: CBS 3:30-7:00 pm ET

Sunday: CBS 2:00-7:00 pm ET

Radio Coverage

Thursday through Sunday: SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio channel 12:00 -7:00 pm ET

 

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum. 

Follow Pete on twitter @TheGreekGrind

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Pete is a journalist, commentator, and interviewer covering the PGA Tour, new equipment releases, and the latest golf fashions. Pete's also a radio and television personality who's appeared multiple times on ESPN radio, and Fox Sports All Bets Are Off. And when he's not running down a story, he's at the range working on his game. Above all else, Pete's the proud son of a courageous mom who battled pancreatic cancer much longer than anyone expected. You can follow Pete on twitter @PGAPappas

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the 2020 Players Championship

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

The field this week featured the best golfers in the world, including Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, and more.

Rory McIlroy enters the tournament as the defending champion, looking hoist the crystal again.

Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from TPC Sawgrass.

General Galleries

Special Galleries

Bettinardi’s St. Patrick’s Day covers  

Brand-new Srixon 745 in Keegan’s bag

Roger Sloan’s custom Cameron

Mizuno JPX 919 Hot Metal irons spotted in Nick Watney’s bag 

Joel Dahmen with a battle-worn hybrid

Fresh eggs for Patrick Reed…

Justin Rose continues to tweak his equipment

Carlos Ortiz looks to be picking up some supplies to mark the end of his driveway…

Jordan Spieth with a Vokey WedgeWorks Proto 60T in the bag

Kiradech Aphibarnrat with lead tape and stamping on cavity-back irons. Solid! 

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Tour News

GolfWRX Spotted: Justin Rose with mixed bag at Arnold Palmer Invitational

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It’s not very often we get breaking equipment news this time of year on the PGA Tour schedule, but this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, one of the highest-profile players on tour, Justin Rose, was spotted testing multiple brands of clubs throughout his entire bag.

It started last week at the Honda Classic when Rose put a TaylorMade SIM driver with Mitsubishi Kuro Kage in play. As of today’s first round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rose has a mixed set including TaylorMade, Cobra, and Titleist clubs, along with an Axis1 putter.

Here are the details of Rose’s equipment:

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (10.5 degrees @ 8.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Max (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 80 TX

5-wood: Cobra SpeedZone Tour (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 X

Irons: TaylorMade P730 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (52, 56 degrees), Titleist Vokey Design Prototype K Grind (60 degrees)
Shafts: Project X 6.5 (52, 56), Proto Hi-Rev 135X (60)

Putter: Axis1 Rose
Grip: Flat Cat Svelte

Ball: TaylorMade TP5 ‘19 (No. 1)

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Equipment

Inside look: Callaway Jaws MD5 wedges on tour…6 months after launch

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Callaway Jaws MD5 wedges hit professional golf tours months ago. We reported on the launch extensively (see our videos later in the article) with deep coverage on the PGA Tour and at retail. As with any new offering, and especially for the gearheads on GolfWRX, it’s the tour chatter that drives us. What the pros do, play, and think is always a driving force.

However…

Personally, I have always been fascinated by the aftermath of a launch. What are the reactions and tweaks that are made once the shine has worn off?  It’s not uncommon for players to need to warm up to a new product before it ultimately finds its way into the bag permanently.

When Jaws hit the scene, it integrated quite quickly, and that is saying a lot. The MD4 was a very successful wedge line on tour and at retail. It was a huge initial launch and one Callaway was happy with as a solid portion of its staff put Jaws in play straight away.

In my conversations with tour staff and techs, spin and lower ball flight has been a recurring theme. In the case of the Tour, being able to flight a wedge down and not have it float, while maintaining maximum spin, is a weapon. Imagine being at Honda last week and knowing you can hit a knee-high fastball with a 58-degree wedge and trust the ball will stay down, not skip, and will stop dead in its tracks. On tour, its the speed of the stop that is valuable, not ripping it backward—that is typically only fun for TV. Golf these days is more like darts and less like billiards.

As to be expected, the grinds on all Callaway wedges are tour favorites. It’s pretty simple to fall in love with something that comes ought of the mind of Roger Cleveland, who has been the driving force in putting Callaway consistently at the No. 2 most-played wedge on Tour.

But how has the MD5  really done thus far?

Let’s be clear, most guys don’t make switches late-summer or fall (when MD5 was launched on tour). The season is too far down the river and the coming winter gives them quiet time to really test. Also, when you work through the California swing, a good portion of the higher-ranked staff only poke their heads out once or twice. This doesn’t mean the guys on the truck aren’t building new products, but a good portion of it is for winter testing, emergency backups, etc.

But now we hit the Florida swing. The Masters is a month away. The world’s best start to show up consistently, the playing surfaces change from the West Coast to the East Coast, and all of these guys are in full attack mode. Any real testing or guesswork is pretty much done, and it’s time to get going. This is the time when you can actually see if a product has staying power.

The question is since Jaws hit the scene, what have the pros learned, what adjustments have been made to dial them in, and ultimately, is this wedge line a success? I wanted to tackle this question from two different perspectives: from the reps on tour and two young staff players that have them in play.

In this case, there is the guy on the Callaway tour trailer who is in charge of wedges, Simon Wood, and young tour staffers Akshay Bhatia and Min Woo Lee.

Three unique perspectives—and also perspectives that give us an honest look at the performance and popularity of a “new” wedge on Tour.

I talk with Simon Wood quite a bit. He’s a good as they get in this category, having worked for years in Europe and on the U.S. tour. His knowledge is extensive and even more importantly, he is ridiculously honest. If the product is solid and he believes in it, he will tell you. If he goes quiet, there’s that too.

I caught up with him on a day off and this was the update he gave:

Wunder: It seems MD5 came out of the gates quickly and never really slowed down, are you surprised at the response?

Wood: Not at all. Truth is, these players are very particular about what makes it in or out of the bag. A new club has to do something better than the old one and do all the things they liked about the old one. The Jaws really spins. This is a unique groove system, and I’ve noticed the players like it for two main reasons 1) They can keep the trajectory down on the high lofts 2) they can be a bit more aggressive because of the amount of spin these wedges offer. Out on tour that’s a big deal.

Wunder: What percentage of staff (25+players on U.S. Tours) are in the MD5 across the board?

Wood: I’d say close to 50 percent, which is a good number considering how many good options are out there.

Wunder: Now that we are in the Florida swing, are you having to do anything special to adjust to the new grass and conditions?

Wood: No its the opposite actually. I think with the grooves being as good as they are and the number of options we have grind wise, we on the truck are doing less tweaking and grinding to wedges. That’s a sign one the R&D team did a great job with this design and two that our players trust our product enough to let their creativity take over.

Wunder: Any surprise grinds that are popping up more often?

Wood: It’s not a surprise because we knew it was good, but the low bounce W has been a hit thus far. Lots of guys testing and gaming that one.

I then went on to chat with Callaway staffers Min Woo Lee (winning WITB, podcast link below) and Akshay Bhatia on their experience with Jaws. This perspective was interesting because Akshay is young, he’s fighting for a place to play this summer, and he’s still learning the nuances of playing as a professional. Min just recently won in Australia and has enough time under his belt now to understand a real asset over something he’s still trying to make work.

Point is: pressure is high on both of these kids, and the last thing either wants to struggle with is their wedges.

Wunder: You were an early adopter of the MD5 last fall, have you noticed any significant improvement over your previous gamers?

Bhatia: Trust is the biggest one. I love the shape of these wedges and just knowing that Roger and Phil have an influence on the wedges you are playing gives me so much confidence. From a performance standpoint, I like the variety in grinds the MD5 offers. Anywhere I play I have an option, whether it be X in soft conditions or C for the firmer turf.

Wunder: With the aggressive grooves of the MD5, what shots have you gained that you didn’t have before?

Bhatia: Definitely the off-speed/three-quarter shots with some spin. These wedges really keep the ball down and it’s a bonus when I know I can take something off of a shot and the ball will stay down and hold its line into the wind.

Wunder: And your current set up is?

Bhatia: Currently, I’m in the Jaws MD5 50S, 54S bent to 55, and the 60C or X depending on the conditions (KBS $Taper 130X shafts in black with Iomic grips) with some heel and toe relief in the X. I also like to mess around wit the PM Grind 60 if I’m looking for a different look.

Young Callaway staffer Min Woo Lee, who recently triumphed at the European Tour’s Vic Open, has this to say

Wunder: What ball flight differences do you see in Jaws over the past wedge set?

MWL: Overall the same. I like to pick my trajectory. So if I didn’t like it,  I wouldn’t have put it in my bag…need to have every shot at my disposal.

Wunder: Do you do any extra grinding to your S?

MWL: Just in the 60, there is a little leading edge relief ground in. Prevents it from digging and gives me a bit more ability to be aggressive into it.

Wunder: Are there any other grinds you tried?

MWL: I tried the low bounce W and really liked, but the S grind has been my go-to for a long time, I know how to play with that one.

Wunder: As far as full shot turf interaction, why do you prefer the S?

MWL: The S is always what I’ve been into looks-wise, nothing else really caught my eye like that grind did. I do pretty good chipping around with it around the greens and we have some history so why mess with a good thing.

Overall, I think the MD5 wedge line has been a success on tour. Let’s be honest, wedges arent drivers, but identifying a popular line over another is quite interesting. These guys can get a TV remote ground into something useable, so when there is a shift across the staff to a new model, it validates that the ideas in it are sound and the wedge performs like it says it will. For larger tour staffs like Callaway has, operating a 50 percent clip for full line use is a really solid number.

Let’s be clear here, Callaway hasn’t made a bad wedge…like ever. From X Forged to the MD line and now into Jaws, Roger and the team know what they are doing. In my experience with these wedges, I will say that the grooves are ridiculously aggressive, and as Bhatia mentioned, there is a grind to satisfy any conditions.

Do most OEMs make solid wedges? The answer is of course they do; they all do. But the advantage that Callaway has over the rest in this category is Roger Cleveland. Having the man who inspired some of the most iconic wedge shapes ever coupled with a superb R&D team yields a combination that will deliver quality and performance time after time.

Here are some pics from the forums of MD5 out on tour now.

Akshay BhatiaFrancesco Molinari
Brendan GraceIsaiah SalindaJ.J. SpaunAlex Noren
Chun An YunHenrik Stenson Matt Wallace 

Si Woo Kim

Check out the videos below to see me and one of our forum members put Jaws MD5 to the test!

 

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