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Open Season In The Bayou

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-Everybody In The Mix at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans-

After a few weeks where golf courses like Redstone, Augusta National, and Harbour Town Golf Links tend to cut into the field of potential winners at their respective professional events, the PGA Tour returns to a venue this week that opens up the possibilities to a greater degree. And don’t take that as a slight on the TPC of Louisiana, the host of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. In fact, it is a compliment of sorts.

Unlike many TPC courses that simply demand a certain line of play anybody who has played the Pete Dye bayou creation will tell you that it does not favor a single type of player. How you choose the tackle the course is up to the player but the layout itself does not eliminate any of the 156 players in the field. Take a look at last year’s tournament for example. Jerry Kelly, the winner, has a style of play much different than runner-ups Charles Howell III and Rory Sabbatini. Talk about three players who tackle the game in a different ways!

Avoiding trouble on the 7341-yard TPC of Louisiana is paramount to success, there is just a smattering of water in play (most notably on the last hole) but the bunkers can be troublesome and being on the right area of the green is very important. Jerry Kelly made just four bogeys in his 2009 win; many were avoided by a hot putter – a value-priced offering from his sponsor Cleveland Golf.

Kelly is in good shape for his title defense. His final round of 67 at The Masters earned him a tie for 12th. In nine appearances at Louisiana’s only PGA Tour event he has made the cut seven times.

Adding strength to the field this week will be the presence of two players among the top five in the Official World Golf Ranking. Steve Stricker (3) and Ian Poulter (5) (update – Poulter withdrew on April 21st citing a knee injury) are set to add to their 2010 PGA Tour win totals.

As if Poulter did not add enough flare Spain’s Sergio Garcia, a 7-time PGA TOUR winner and ranked No. 19 in the World, will make his first appearance at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Maybe the amazing bounty of food and off-course activities that New Orleans is known for will be the tonic Sergio needs to find the right attitude to address his progressively lacking golf game.

And don’t kid yourself, the trip to New Orleans is not just chance for PGA Tour guys to relax off-course and mail it in between the ropes. Not only will there be $1.152 Million on the line for the winner, it is also a significant week in another way. This is the last week for players to gain entry to THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP by way of the FedEx Cup list. David Toms had a 5th place finish in his native Louisiana last year to punch his ticket to Ponte Vedra.

With so many possibilities it is tough to pin down a favorite for this week but don’t ignore Charles Howell III. Even though his slender figure would not indicate a love of all things New Orleans, it appears he is comfortable in the Crescent City. In 7 appearances he is yet to miss a cut and has four top tens, including T2 in his last two appearances. With a personal low score of 63 at TPC of Louisiana he is a constant threat.

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

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

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