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Tour Mash: John Daly is a winner on the Champions Tour

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John Daly returned in a champagne supernova (or shower), the LPGA Match Play and the European Tour Golf Sixes crowned their first champions, and a Charlotte staple on the PGA Tour moved east to Wilmington for one year only. No majors, but tons of excitement. Let’s find out exactly what happened on the professional tours the first week of May 2K17.

PGA Tour Champions: Daly wins for the first time since 2004

It’s unheard of to close with three consecutive bogeys and win the tournament, but John Daly has made a career out of the “unheard of.” Fortunately for the big man from Arkansas, none of his pursuers could figure out the final three of holes at The Woodlands.

Tommy Armour III was neck and neck with Daly, but bogeyed his final two holes to finish tied with Kenny Perry at 13-under par. The 57-year-old was also in search of his first Champions Tour triumph, but he faltered when the heat rose. Perry is no stranger to the Champions Tour podium, and a spectacular eagle at No. 13 brought him to the chase. Zero birdies over the closing five holes relegated him to a tie for the runner-up spot with TA3.

PGA Tour: Harman wins No. 2 at Wells Fargo

Brian Harman simply got it done. His homeward half on Sunday saw a bit of everything: miraculous par saves, three-whacks, birdie bombs and a sprinkling of greens in regulation. No one anticipated that the Georgia native would stare down the PGA Tour’s hottest player (Dustin Johnson) and a resurgent champion (Pat Perez), but stare them down he did!

Johnson was returning to the PGA Tour after his freak back injury in Augusta last month, and he nearly claimed the Wilmington (N.C.) version of the celebrated Charlotte tournament. Johnson shot the low round on Sunday, matching his 5-under Saturday effort with an identical round on Sunday. Trouble for the big man was, he came up one birdie short. Perez also had his chance, making four birdies down the stretch to match Johnson at 9-under, one back of the champion. A double-bogey 6 on the 14th did the 2017 Mayakoba champion in.

Harman was simply unflappable down the stretch. A wee hiccup of a three-putt on the No. 15 muddied the waters, but closing birdies from 5 and 28 feet, respectively, on Nos. 17 and 18 cinched the win for the left-hander.

European Tour: Inaugural Golf Sixes goes Denmark

This weekend on the European Tour saw two-man teams representing 16 countries battling it out in six-hole matches. Throw in a shot clock to ensure no one plays slowly and you have the recipe for an attention-grabbing event. It was called the European Tour Golf Sixes, and it offered unprecedented pace and excitement on the table from start to finish at the Centurion Club in England

In the end, it was the Danish pairing of Lucas Bjerregaard and Thorbjorn Olesen who dispatched the Australian partnership of Sam Brazel and Scott Hend, 3 holes to 1. Earlier in the day’s semifinal matches, Denmark had sent off Italy, while the Aussies bid farewell to the host country.

Each of the holes of Golf Sixes took on a unique character. An array of ancillary contests and attractions added to the pressure and excitement of the uber-quick competitions. Get down early and you were certainly finished. Here’s to more events like this one!

LPGA Tour: Sei Young Kim wins Lorena Ochoa Match Play

The first rule of match play is that there are no guarantees. The hot hand wins the day, regardless of seeding and current form. Sei Young Kim of South Korea knows a thing about this format, though. She has competed in three playoffs on the LPGA Tour and triumphed in all. On Sunday, she made the Lorena Ochoa Match Play at the Club de Golf Mexico her sixth victory with a 1-up win over Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn.

The final paired a No. 2 seed with a No. 1, but it was the lower seed who jumped out to a 3-up lead after the first three holes. Jutanugarn fought back valiantly, narrowing the gap to one hole at the final tee. She was unable to secure one more birdie, and it was Kim who hoisted the victor’s trophy. With the win, Kim earned $250,000. Mi Jung Hur of Korea outlasted Michelle Wie in 22 holes to claim the third-place match.

Web.com Tour: PGA Tour LA grad Ashley earns first win

Nate Lashley picked up where he left off at the end of 2016. After three victories on PGA Tour Latinoamerica earned him the honor of Order of Merit winner, Lashley headed off to the Web.com Tour with full status. Returning to the comfortable environment of the Caribbean, Lashley played his final three rounds at Corales Puntacana in 18-under to leapfrog the rest of the competition and claim his first Web.com Tour victory.

Victory wasn’t easy for the 34-year-old University of Arizona alum. Rafael Campos, one of the hottest players on the tour, had the 54-hole lead and showed little evidence that he would falter. A 71st-hole bogey for the golfer from Puerto Rico, who tied for seventh last month at the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open, cleared the green for Lashley. He triumphed by one over Argentina’s Augusto Nuñez. Campos, Seth Reeves and Tyler Duncan finished in third, two behind the winner’s 20-under tally.

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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.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. chinchbugs

    May 8, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    It’s almost Tuesday and no John Daly WTB!?!?!?!?

  2. Dave R

    May 8, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    very poor interview and comments by a no mind.

  3. rebfan73

    May 8, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Love the commentator on the Senior Tour video. He wasn’t reading a script or anything was he? Zzzzz

  4. DrRob1963

    May 8, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Wild thing – You make my heart sing!
    You make golfing so groovy!
    Wild thing!

  5. kenny

    May 8, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Not even a clip of him swinging the VERTICAL GROOVE DRIVER!

    If you are interested in this beastly stick, click my name
    (PROS i have the stocking options for you, can hook you up with a demo and pricing)

  6. Joro

    May 8, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Anyone know what Irons he has, looked like maybe Mizuno?

  7. Jim

    May 8, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Well done John Daly!

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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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