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Monday Tour Mash: Fowler’s finish, aggregate playoffs and Tiger’s evaporation

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Rickie Fowler Earns Playoff Victory Over Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia

There was one winner on Sunday at Sawgrass: Golf. Three members of the field played well enough to win the tournament on Sunday, but only one of them walked away from the course with the title and its trappings. Think for a moment about this list of “What the heck happened” over the final holes in round four:

  • Fowler played the final six holes in six-under par.
  • Garcia birdied 16 and 17, the latter with a putt nearly as wide as the green.
  • Kisner also birdied those holes and darned near won the thing in regulation.

When Johnny Miller is doing the seated Tarantella behind the 18th green, you know that these guys are beyond good and great; they’re other-worldly. On this day, in this town, Dick Fowler, Private Eye, solved the case.

Related: Rickie Fowler’s Winning WITB.

Aggregate Playoff A Winner At Players

FowlerPlayoffGarcia

There is no more dynamic finish (thank you, Alice Dye!) to any golf tournament, anywhere, than the closing triumvirate at TPC-Sawgrass. It was as if the clouds parted, the sun shone through and the Powers That Be(man) cried, “Egads, It’s Time For aggregate!” There are no breather holes over the final 1100 yards of this golf course, so no lead is ever safe. Let’s hope that two things transpire over the next decade: the format remains and we have oodles of playoffs.

George Coetzee Hammers Thor In Playoff

Coetzee

George Coetzee (pronounced coat-SEE-uh) might make a name for himself outside of his native South Africa. The 29-year old pro claimed his second European Tour victory of 2015 this weekend with a second-hole playoff win over Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen. The two professionals tied at thirteen-under par, with Coetzee making birdie at the last to catch the two-time tour winner. The playoff was contested over the same closing hole and Coetzee’s form held true. He birdied it twice in extra holes, a pace that Olesen was unable to match.

Smith and White Win Inaugural USGA Men’s Four-Ball Amateur

USGAwhitesmith

As easy as it is to misunderstand the concept of four-ball competition, it was THAT easy to recognize the winners. Teammates on the 2013 USA Walker Cup side, Nathan Smith of Pittsburgh and Todd White of Spartanburg threw everything they had at their final-round opponents (Sherrill Britt and Greg Earnhardt) and got home early after a decisive, 7 & 5 victory.

Contested at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, it was uncertain whether the college-age amateurs or the wily veterans would fare better in this better-ball event. Judging by the three mid-am and one college-am pairs to reach the semifinals, it was the latter. The Four-Ball Amateur replaces the USGA Women’s and Men’s Public Links Championships on the slate of national events this year. This week, at Pacific Dunes (Oregon), the women take center stage in their four-ball championship.

Tiger Woods Has Evaporated!

TigerWoods

Or so you’d think, if you read the headlines of the major online golf news sources. He is anywhere from the illusory “entirely lost” to the identifiable “worst score ever” at The Players. Well, let me tell you this: if there is any course on the tour that punishes a player whose game is a bit off, it is TPC Sawgrass. And, let’s not forget the weekend breakup with significant-other Lindsey Vonn. Hopefully, Tiger will recover emotionally and spiritually in the coming weeks. Let’s reserve judgement on his game and his future until after the four 2015 majors have played out.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. don davis

    May 13, 2015 at 3:34 am

    I miss the tiger buzz when he is moving up the leaderboard. Unfortunately he cannot keep it in play off the tee. Why is he not playing this week at the wells fargo? I wonder if he really has the will to put in the effort to regain his old form. He is really showing his age . Time to turn the page and start looking at some of the other players. Tiger and Phil are riding off in the sunset despite what all the media hype is trying to tell us.

    • Ronald Montesano

      May 13, 2015 at 9:10 am

      These are very astute points, don davis. Phil has more on his mind (I suspect it is family concerns) than Tiger, but Tiger has less in his life (again, family) than Phil.

      • Glorious

        May 13, 2015 at 9:37 am

        Yeah, but with all the physical ailments that Phil has, you don’t see him cringing and bending over and blaming it on a fake hurt like Eldrick does, do you? No. Phil just takes his pill and gets on with it. When he plays poorly, he says it as much. When he feels the course is tough, he says it much. Unlike Eldrick, who doesn’t know humility from his next glory hole.

        • Pat M

          Jun 1, 2015 at 8:02 am

          Phil does not do the silly and childish acting that Tiger engages in.

  2. Yaknowit

    May 12, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Man, was that the most over-rated tournament ever, or what, huh?

    The Players is so totally overrated. Yea.

  3. cody

    May 12, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    the aggregate is the way to go. Way better than a single hole sudden death were one bad shot and its over. I do see the merits of both but prefer the aggregate.

    Tiger is toast. Thanks.

  4. 1 up

    May 12, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Way to be (not) consistent on the Tour and to keep the non-golfing sports fans totally confused as to what the big deal is with a tourney like The Players to have a silly play-off finish in an aggregate way. It really is asinine that the Tour treats its own game this way, to drum with useless and meaningless play-off formats that ends up being sudden death, anyways!
    As a regular golfer, I HATE the aggregate. In fact, I hate the fact that there are any differences in stroke-play format play-offs at all. It should be kept consistent, where certain holes at all the courses are played, and not jumbled up from course to course. Monotonous? Sure – but the game is about consistency and doing the same thing correctly and better than anybody else by scoring the lowest score possible in stroke play. Otherwise, we already have stable fords and match-play, so we don’t need the Tour to go around confusing the world with its varied play-off formats and choice of different holes at different courses!
    What doesn’t the Tour get? The players themselves don’t honestly care whether it appears to be exciting on TV, or not! They make so much money now, win or lose. The TV coverage is there solely for the money. But the game would still be played without the TV coverage, as it used to be, and the game would be just fine, actually. The Tour needs to buck up and become transparent, and accept that it doesn’t have to be exciting, it needs to be respectful and show what that sort of behavior means, and not this ogling of the young players for the sake of entertainment.
    The Players is a circus, and not really very exciting. It really isn’t. Nor does it need to be.

    • Ronald Montesano

      May 12, 2015 at 9:45 am

      I disagree with everything you wrote. Please continue to comment, though. This site needs your perspective.

      RM

      • Captain Oblivious

        May 12, 2015 at 10:32 am

        And I must disagree with you. He needs to crawl back under his rock. The Tour doesn’t need to be exciting? Really?!!

        The “ogling of the young players for the sake of entertainment.” Uh, hello. They were showing the young players because they were the ones in the PLAYOFF. (Which, by-the-way, was awesome, IMO.)

        This clown doesn’t realize that TV exists mainly for the purpose of entertainment. This site needs informed and well-reasoned perspectives, not this drivel.

  5. dapadre

    May 12, 2015 at 5:34 am

    Shane Foley said it best, Tiger spoiled us. He was so out of this world that when he plays better than a PGA pro we say he is done. The young phenom, Spieth muts be going down hill, he didnt make the cut and he is nr 2 in the world ( Im being sarcastic btw).

    This is the same guy that has played few tournaments, changed coaches, has a break up, had surgery, re injured came back didnt play much decides to play the Masters when everyone said he would make a fool of himself and makes the cut and played well actually. When Chamblee gives him credit, then he must have played well.

    Agreed he is not at the top of his game, but his C game seems to be doing ok. I wonder what will be said if he is able to get to his B+ game not even A. Those that hail Rory (Im a fan btw, great player/person), compare the cuts made percentage with Tiger.

    • Ronald Montesano

      May 12, 2015 at 9:48 am

      I concur. For years, we had the almost-next Nicklaus in Trevino and Watson and Seve and Norman, but not quite, Then he arrived, warts and all. Just as we cannot compare Tiger with Jack (see Jack’s 2nd and 3rd-place record in major championships v. Tiger’s), we cannot compare Rory’s cuts-made % to Tiger’s.

  6. Tony

    May 11, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Nike can’t make a driver for Tiger for him to keep it in play? 4 of 14 fairways hit at the players? Phil?, too busy to work on his game, corporate stuff, design…

    • Ronald Montesano

      May 13, 2015 at 9:13 am

      It’s so hard to say with Tiger. Which swing is in his head or his hands or his heart during any given week? Is he 100% healthy?

  7. Pat M

    May 11, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Tiger is done. He is a journeyman player now fighting to make the cut. He is being whipped by little guys like Rory and Rickie. Tiger was no where at The Masters. Phil almost caught Spieth and Phil has a serious form of arthritis.

    • ChristianR

      May 11, 2015 at 5:07 pm

      Did you change channel when Phil and Spieth were already at home on friday evening? ’cause Tiger played also the wekeend.
      Where’s the fun to be an hater I really don’t understand, there are another things in life man, check behind you keyboard.

      • cb

        May 11, 2015 at 8:32 pm

        +1 ChristianR. its crazy people call tiger a “journeyman.” No true journeyman would be able to take as much time off as tiger did, without swinging a club, and then come back and play the way he is playing. He is a living legend, just like arnold and jack. and if a legend is teeing it up that week then you should talk about them. you owe it to them to talk about them.

      • Ronald Montesano

        May 13, 2015 at 9:14 am

        +2 Haters will hate hate hate…that should be a song.

      • Pat M

        Jun 1, 2015 at 8:01 am

        Tiger is over. Stick a fork in him. He cannot keep up with the younger players and he looks really old now.

  8. ross

    May 11, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Don’t you guys ever get tired of talking about tiger? He’s washed up, no more majors for him!

    • Ronald Montesano

      May 12, 2015 at 5:20 am

      No, but it has to be the correct time and topic. Notice that I referenced the hyperbole surrounding Tiger, not his placement at the tournament. He can’t ever be the young superstar again, but he can evolve into something different. It all seems to depend on his physical stamina.

  9. Ronald Montesano

    May 11, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Thank you, Mike and Joachim.

    Did you see the latest about Rickie being part of “Golf’s New Power Couple”? Please take away my keyboard when I’m that needy for a headline.

    • adam

      May 11, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      You can make up a combined name for them too, how about Rorkie?
      Rickie and Jordan are good but I don’t know if they’re quite on Rory’s level yet to make any combination of the three the “power couple,” but definitely heading that way. (based on wins, at least)

  10. Mike

    May 11, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    The Tiger stuff is insane. Although champions like Woods should not be measured by making cuts, that had to have been a realistic goal for him coming into The Players. He will win big again it’s just a matter of when… In the mean time, it’s nice to have Rory, Rickie and Jordan around.

    • Pat M

      Jun 1, 2015 at 8:04 am

      Looks like Tiger is already writing off 2015. Maybe 2016. He is a journeyman golfer now. There are a lot of guys on the web.com tour who are better golfers than Tiger now.

  11. Joakim

    May 11, 2015 at 11:36 am

    Nice job fowler well deserve now you the must underestimate player on tour. And i must agree about tiger. He made the cut. Speith mickelson kuther didnt!.

    sry for my english

    /J

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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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