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Phil In Focus – Farmers Insurance Open

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With the current absence of the game's greatest current star, there is no question who will be garner most of the attention this week at the Farmers Insurance Open.  Certainly Phil Mickelson is used to getting plenty of attention when he plays in San Diego, it is his hometown after-all, but this year will most likely be a little different.  The weight of the PGA Tour's profile rests on him with Tiger Woods out of action.

Not only are fans excited because Phil is making his season debut, he will be THE highlight of the field being that he is not only a 3-time winner at this tournament but he will also be the only top-ten player from the Official World Rankings competing. The only players close to him in the rankings that will tee it up at Torrey Pines will be top-20 golfers Robert Allenby and Phil Mickelson.  Both will be considered threats but Mickelson is the odds-on favorite.

Lefty is coming off a 3-win season in 2009 where he did a fine job of dealing with family health issues off the course while still getting his work done on the fairways.  His last appearance was a win at the World Championships HSBC Champions tournament in early November that he won with a score of 17 under par. It has been reported that he has been working hard on his game since then.

Among the 156 players scheduled to play this week will be Nick Watney, the defending champion.  In 2009 Watney beat out John Rollins for the title.  He had rallied from 5 shots back to win his 2nd PGA Tour title.

On top of not having Tiger Woods in the field for the 2nd year in a row this event has another big change, the name itself.  Intended to be the San Diego Open this year after sponsor Buick declared bankruptcy in 2009, Farmers Exchanges stepped up just a week ago to sign a sponsor deal with the PGA Tour that includes a long term option.  Buick had been the sponsor since 1992 and their deal was intended to run through 2010.

"Farmers Insurance has a proud 82-year history of strong leadership and charitable giving," said F. Robert Woudstra, Chief Executive Officer of Farmers. "Leaders step up and step in when opportunities arise and when needs are great. We clearly see this sponsorship as an extension of our ongoing commitment to Southern California, the San Diego area and all the communities across the United States in which we serve our customers."

"Although this has been finalized on such short notice, it represents a substantial investment on Farmers' part to help in the tournament's success," said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. "We look forward to continuing our discussions with Farmers officials following the Farmers Insurance Open in regard to the possibility of a longer-term partnership."

Back on the golf course the players will have little interest in who is the event's actual sponsor but most will be relieved that this well-established event is still being played.  For 2010 the winner will receive a check for (USD) $972,000 out of a $5.4 Million dollar purse.

Golf Channel will handle Television coverage for rounds 1 and 2 while they will share duties on the weekend with CBS.

This report provided to GolfWRX.com by Flagstick Golf Magazine (www.flagstick.com)

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Everything former Nike rep Ben Giunta said about working with Tiger Woods

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Ben Giunta, a former Nike Tour Rep and now owner of the TheTourVan.com, joined host Johnny Wunder and TXG’s Ian Fraser for the most recent installment of the Gear Dive podcast.

While you’ll want to hear everything Giunta has to say, his remarks about working with Tiger Woods are particularly notable, and we wanted to present them here for those of you who may be more textually inclined.

On Tiger Woods’ preferences for club testing

“He always does his testing at home. 99 percent of the time. Whenever Tiger showed up to an event he was ready to go. There was no tinkering with equipment at Tour events. All of the work we did with him, we would do a week prior.”

“Rick Nichols, who was my boss when I was at Nike…he was Tiger’s right-hand guy. He worked with him on pretty much everything. We would prep everything. Rick would go and work with him at home…at that time it was in Orlando. They would tweak and do everything they needed there. Then when he showed up to the tournaments, I could probably count on one hand the number of times he came into the trailer to get work done.”

“He was built different. He came to do his homework on the golf course and prepare for the tournament. He was not tinkering around with equipment when it came to tournament time.”

“Any time he would test anything during the week…it was for a backup. He was constantly searching for backup drivers and…woods. So if something happened…he already had done all of his work.”

On Tiger’s driver preferences

“We were always tinkering with different CGs. Obviously, there was a lot of special stuff made for him. He didn’t use an adjustable driver…until Nike got out of the equipment business. We were always making sure the center of gravity was perfect. He was very specific on face angles and how much loft he wanted to look at. And he always wanted the face angle to be pretty much the same.”

“We had to have different iterations with different lofts based on where his golf swing was…obviously, his golf swing changes a lot based on all of his injuries and swing changes…There were certainly times where he was swinging a driver that spec’d out at a true eight-degree head, then he’d be all the way up to 11 or 12 degrees sometimes.”

On Tiger’s consistency in iron preferences

“The only thing that ever really changed with Tiger’s irons…was the lie angle. But lofts…they have been the same since he played golf…It’s been the same specs for his entire professional and amateur career. Those specs haven’t changed but the lie angles have. As far as I know, he has never experimented with different iron shafts [True Temper Dynamic Gold X100]. They’ve always been the same…with wooden dowels down in the tips of the shafts.”

“He always had the mindset that he was going to manipulate the club to get the ball to do what he wanted it to do.

On the consistency of Woods’ wedge setup

“He’s evolved with different grinds depending on his delivery or what he’s trying to do technique-wise, he’s modified his soles a little bit over time…but he’s always kind of reverted back to your traditional dual sole.”

In addition to talking Tiger, Giunta discusses how he got a job on Tour, working with Rory McIlroy, tinkerers vs non-tinkerers, and what he’s doing now (and more) in the rest of the podcast.

You can listen below.

RELATED: Tiger Woods WITB 2018

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Tour News

WATCH: Tiger Woods on Facebook Live with Bridgestone Golf

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Tiger Woods just appeared in a Bridgestone Golf Facebook Live video. While the audio isn’t the greatest (sounds like there’s some mowers rolling by), we’ve got to pass it along.

Check out the video below.

Woods initially discusses his wedges, before moving on to sharing some insights about how he hits his patented stinger–covering the ball, starting it farther right, and keeping his follow through short.

On his ball, the Bridgestone Tour B XS, which he presents as a softer ball well-suited to his swing, Woods says

“I need spin. I don’t spin the ball a lot. My swing has never produced a lot of spin. I’ve always been able to take spin off the golf ball–I grew up in an era where we played balata. What separated a lot of guys was the ability to take spin off the golf ball…to keep it below the tree line. There was a lot more movement in the golf ball.”

“My swing has naturally evolved. I’ve had different swings throughout the years, but each swing didn’t spin the ball a lot. So, when I get up to my long irons with a harder ball that most people would launch…I don’t. It falls out of the sky because it has so little spin.”

Woods mentioned that he hasn’t played Shinnecock since the course’s pre-U.S. Open makeover, but that he expects the course will be particularly difficult: an old-school U.S. Open with minimal graduated rough where it will be difficult to shoot under par.

Responding to comments, Woods sings Hazeltine’s praises and mentions he’d love to be able to wear shorts during PGA Tour events

“We play some of the hottest places on the planets and it would be nice to wear shorts…even with my little chicken legs,” Woods says.

Woods tells amateurs looking for more spin around the greens that they need a soft golf ball, mentioning that solid contact, maintaining loft, and allowing to club to do its job are key. Woods mentions that he has “a couple extra shots around the greens” thanks to the softness of his golf ball.”

We’ll next see the 14-time major champion in action at next week’s Memorial Tournament (which he discusses to wrap up the video).

 

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Popular Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from Tuesday at the Fort Worth Invitational

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GolfWRX is on the ground at Marvin Leonard’s famed pet project, Colonial Country Club, peeking into players bags and taking in the action on the driving range.

While you’ll want to take a trip through the buffet line, we’ve made you a plate of some of the tastiest morsels.

Absolutely savage new putter cover for Jon “Rahmbo” Rahm. Just killer.

Prettier than a new penny.

Spotted: Aldila Rogue Silver 130 MSI

Everything here is excellent. Just excellent.

More like Garsen Murray. Am I right?

If you were Aaron Wise standing over the winning putt at last week’s Byron Nelson, this is what it’d have looked like (of course, you’d have had a ball and the putter would be soled on the green, but you get the point…)

Abraham Ancer’s new Artisan wedges are simply incredible… All of this: Artisan star stellar stuff.

Rickie Fowler has gone grape.

You can’t fool me. You’re not Adam Hadwin, you’re a golf bag.

Is Patrick Cantlay considering a switch to a Cameron Napa?

Check out all our photos from the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational below.

Tuesday’s Photos

Special Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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