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.
Tour Rundown: Viktor Hovland wins the U.S. Amateur at Pebble, the drama of the first 25 PGA Tour cards
In the final week before the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Webb Simpson gave notice that he will not be a liability as an automatic qualifier to the U.S. Ryder Cup squad. The European Tour welcomed a first-time winner, while the LPGA Tour recognized a veteran winner. The U.S. Amateur crowned a king from Norway, and the Web.Com Tour handed out its first 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-2019 campaign. Pretty good haul for a non-playoff week, wouldn’t you say? Let’s run it all down right not.
Snedeker follows 59 with second Wyndham Championship
In 2007, Brandt Snedeker made the Wyndham Championship his first PGA Tour victory. Eleven years later, he won his ninth title and second in Greensboro. This one was easily as difficult as the first one, thanks to the burden of 59. Unless you’ve been under the fabled rock, you know that Sneds began Thursday with a bogey, then made 1o birdies and an eagle to shoot 59. Guess how difficult it is to stay in contention, let alone win, with the weight of 59 on your shoulders? Yup, that difficult. Somehow, Snedeker did it. He had a challenge on day four from C.T. Pan, coming to 18 tied with the young Taiwanese golfer. As he did on Thursday, Snedeker made birdie at the par-four closer, finishing at 21-under on the week. Pan went OB off the 72nd tee, making double bogey and dropping into a tie for second with Webb Simpson, who had a chance to shoot 60 on the day. He also struggled at the last, making bogey for 62.
Back on top for @BrandtSnedeker.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 19, 2018
U.S. Mens Amateur trophy in Norwegian hands
This year’s final match was never dull; 19 of the 31 holes were won outright. By the time that Californian Devon Bling, rising junior from UCLA, and Viktor Hovland, same class at Oklahoma State (by way of Norway) shook hands on Pebble Beach’s 13th green, history had also been made. Before Hovland and Bling parred the 444-yard par four to seal the former’s 6 and 5 victory, only Arne Dokka (1965 USGA Public Links) had claimed victory for Norway in a U.S. national championship.
After qualifying 24th in stroke play, Hovland strengthened with each match. He was taken as far as the 17th hole only once in his first five matches, winning two matches on the 12th green. In the semifinals, Hovland dispatched the hottest amateur in the game, co-medalist Cole Hammer, 3 and 2. In the final, both golfers exhibited more nerves than excellent golf, with Hovland making fewer errors and winning the birdie battle, 6 to 4. With the triumph, Hovland will achieve another first next April, as the first Norwegian to play in the Masters Championship, at Augusta National golf club.
Lunch will definitely taste better for Viktor Hovland after this par save! Rocks, sand, and a halve. He's 4 up heading into the break.
— USGA (@USGA) August 19, 2018
Nordea Masters is Waring’s first European Tour victory
We do our best to find great action clips, but sometimes, words do better than 1000 pictures. Paul Waring is greyer than one expects from a 32-year old golfer. Until the Nordea Masters, he had yet to win a professional event. A shaky swing on the 72nd hole suggested he might have to wait even longer. Thomas Aiken of South Africa caught a good break and made a sandy for birdie on the par-five closer, to reach 14-under. Already at that figure, Waring drew a lousy stance in the same sand pit, and was fortunate to make par and go to a playoff with Aiken. As the tide looked headed in Aiken’s direction, it suddenly shifted as the South African golfer’s overtime tee ball found water, and his third ended in a bush. Waring striped one down the middle, made par to Aiken’s bogey, and he became the 7th Englishman to ascend victory’s podium in 2018. After all that, you’d think he might be ecstatic, or at least, ebullient. Have a look.
In case you were all wondering…
I still hate golf! ????????????
— Paul Waring (@PaulWaringGolf) August 19, 2018
LPGA Indy Women In Tech vaults Sung Hyun Park to No. 1 again
For most of the day, it looked like Lizette Salas would break through again, for a second LPGA victory. She had posted lightning rounds of 62 and 64 in the 1st and third rounds at the Brickyard Crossing golf course. On Sunday, however, Salas left the 60s for the first time all week, posting 70 with a bogey on her penultimate hole. That 5 dropped her into a tie with Sung Hyun Park, who filed a clean, four-birdie card in round 4. Equal at 23-under par, each had a chance to win on the last hole. Park missed from 8 feet, and Salas, from an excruciating 4. On the playoff hole, Salas erred on a birdie try from 20 feet. Park was deadly from 10 feet, cinching her fifth LPGA win and the world No. 1 ranking.
ICYMI: Final round highlights from @IWITChamp where Sung Hyun Park won on the first playoff hole for her 3rd win of the season.
Watch ==> pic.twitter.com/k7kYYWXbrf
— LPGA (@LPGA) August 20, 2018
Dick’s Sporting Goods Open to Bart Bryant a second time
He’s hoping it won’t take another 5 years for a 3rd PGA Tour Champions victory, but Bart Bryant certainly feels at home in Endicott, New York. The Texas-born golfer overcame Michael Bradley’s 36-hole lead with 7 birdies on day three, and eased on out of the Binghamton area with a one-shot victory. Bryant was the only golfer in the top four to play bogey-free golf on Sunday, and his clean card made the difference. Bradley had yet to win on the senior circuit, and 4 birdies through 14 holes had him even with Sheriff Bart. A wayward drive at the 15th found the deep rough, and Bradley could not reach the green with his second. His only bogey on the day dropped him one behind Bryant. The two matched birdies at the closing hole, with Bryant draining a long putt for the victory.
FOR THE WIN!!!!!!
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) August 19, 2018
Im bookends victories at Portland Open
Sungjae Im won his second victory of the year as the Web.Com regular season came to a close. Im was the first golfer to occupy the top spot on the race for the PGA Tour in the entire history of the Web.Com tour. This week, Im turned in a straight of sorts, posting 65-66-68-67 to win by 4 putts over John Chin. Chin’s two pair of 66s and 69s was 1 better than Erik Compton, the 3rd place finisher. Ben Taylor claimed the last of 25 PGA Tour cards by less than $1000 over No. 26, Wes Roach. Roach wasn’t the only near-miss of the week. For each tour-card recipient, so many others endured the frustration of almost and what if. Roach and others will have a second chance to earn a tour card during the 4 weeks of Web playoffs.
— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) August 20, 2018
GolfWRX Morning 9: Bubble boys’ unknown agony | Snedeker parlays 59 to trophy | Golfer’s finger bitten off (by golfer)
By Ben Alberstadt (firstname.lastname@example.org)
August 20, 2018
Good Monday morning, golf fans. Not all Mondays are created equal, but all Mondays are Mondays.
If you shoot 59 in one of the four rounds of a PGA Tour event, you should ultimately win the event, no? Fortunately, Brandt Snedeker parlayed his record score into his first win since 2016.
2. A Norwegian takes the U.S. Am
AP Report on the 20-year-old’s win…”Viktor Hovland’s week at the U.S. Amateur went so well that even when he made rare mistakes with drives into hazards, it didn’t end up hurting him at all.”
Really cool, indeed.
3. Bryant’s first W since wife’s death
Cheers to Bart Bryant for his first victory since his wife’s death from cancer in April of 2017. Hard to imagine the ordeal he and his wife went through as she endured treatment for brain cancer while he tried to keep doing his job on the PGA Tour Champions.
4. Getting out of Park at the Brickyard
Soft greens + preferred lies = time to step on the gas. That’s exactly what Sung Hyun Park did, which is fitting, considering the venue
5. The merciless Wyndham
Shane Ryan penned a piece on the under-the-radar drama of the regular season’s final event for the (often unknowing) bubble boys.
6. And the analytics suggest…
Rich Hunt is back with his always excellent look at who the U.S. Ryder Cup captain–in this case one Jim Furyk–ought to choose to round out his roster.
Some of Hunt’s Secret Sauce
“There are some simple statistical rules to follow for optimal picks:
Who does this formula point to? Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, and Tony Finau.
7. Ms. Thompson afoul of the rules again
In case you missed it, Lexi Thompson tried to lift and clean her tee ball after it landed in the opposite fairway at the Women in Tech, Saturday. A rules official stepped in and had her replace the ball in its original position–which saved Thompson another penalty stroke for playing her ball out of position.
8. Golfer has finger bitten off…by another golfer
Honestly, I wasn’t sure where to position this story in today’s M9. In a sense, a golfer biting off another golfer’s finger ought to top all other stories…Anyway, details are scarce, but here’s what Dan Kilbridge from Golfweek wrote.
9. Broken club, busted head
From one bizarre golf injury to another. In case you missed this story in the weekend shuffle, Kevin Stadler smashed his club into the turf at the WinCo Portland Open, and the club head smashed a spectator in the head.
Former TaylorMade CEO Mark King “is taking over” at Honma
Mark King is coming back to the golf equipment business. The former TaylorMade CEO, who was with the company in various capacities for 30 years, told Golf Digest he’ll be working with Honma Golf as a consultant.
The title doesn’t capture the scope of King’s role, however, as he’ll reportedly be at the helm of company strategy and direct and expansion into North America.
“He’s in charge,” a former Honma employee told Golf Digest anonymously. “It’s been in the works for awhile. Mark’s taking over everything.”
King announced he was stepping down from his role as president of Adidas North America in April, telling Digest he didn’t intend to return to the equipment business, but he was so impressed with Honma’s operation, he was eager to be involved.
“Listen, I was ready to retire, I wasn’t really looking to do anything,” King said. “But as this was presented to me by Chairman Liu, I could see he has big plans and a big vision. I really found it exciting because it is not TaylorMade or Callaway or Cobra or Titleist or Ping. This is a much different brand with very different price points and a fascinating story when it comes to technology and craftsmanship. This is a totally different experience.”
High-end Honma has a minimal footprint in North America, but it seems King and company intend to change that. King, who oversaw impressive growth, experimentation, innovation, ever-shrinking product cycles, and glittering launches at TaylorMade says Honma is planning a major launch for January and plans to have a strong tour presence.
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