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Steve Stricker – Comeback Player of the Year

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Tuesday Steve Stricker was named the PGA Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year for the second straight year.

2007 was without a doubt Steve Stricker’s best year ever. With a PGA Tour victory and nine top ten finishes including a second place finish in the inaugural FedEx Cup race, Stricker found his way back to prominence among golfing’s elite. Stricker is currently fourth in the World Golf Rankings, and also finished the year fourth on the PGA Tour’s money list. Perhaps what made this season sweeter for Stricker was his victory at the Barclay’s during the FedEx Cup which ended his six year victory drought. After losing his Tour Card in 2005, Stricker recomitted himself and in 2006 earned his Tour Card back by his position on the money list. Stricker’s second Comeback Player of the Year award shows just how much his game has improved since then as he surpassed his 2006 performance.

Stricker’s nine top ten finishes showed how consistent his level of play remained throughout the year. He was in contention in both the U.S. Open and Open Championships thanks to some strong third round scoring. His third round scoring average of 68.56 was best on the PGA Tour and allowed him to face the world’s best with the greatest pressure. Although he admittedly struggled in the final rounds of majors, his duel with K.J. Choi at the Barclay’s showed just how far Stricker had come since his struggles in 2005. Stricker chose to play his own game relying on consistent ball striking and putting to create scoring opportunities. As to his goals for 2008, three time Comeback Player of the Year doesn’t seem likely according to Stricker, "I was thinking about what I would have to do to win this three years in a row, and usually you have to have a better year than last year. I don’t know if I’d be out of this ballot and maybe be on the Player of the Year ballot, which would be nice."

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  1. Andy Brown

    Dec 23, 2007 at 1:01 am

    It was definitely a brilliant year for Steve Stricker. Not only was it good in terms of a comeback he was right in the mix with a chance to win the inaugural FedEx Cup but then very few have figured out how to put one past Mr Tiger Eldrich Woods so we will not hold that one against Steve.

    This was his finest season on the PGA Tour after the one in 1996 when he had two victories to his name and seven top ten finishes. But he made three times as much money this time around, quite comfortably his best performance in the money stakes and the victory at the Barclays Championship with a strong field must have been special. The phenomenal season also allowed him to be a part of the U.S. Presidents Cup team. The only other time he was on that team was in 1996.

    But this time he has got a shot at the more prestigious Ryder Cup and it is definitely possible for him to make it to the Ryder Cup team. He just has to continue his consistent performance into next year and he will be right up there with a chance to make it to Valhalla. He has also struck it big in the golf rankings reaching a career high of 4th at one point and is now perched at the 5th spot one behind Big Easy. Of course now he would obviously like to add a major to his kitty which would require him to pull his game up another level.

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Equipment

GolfWRX member testing: Reviewing Cleveland CBX 4 ZipCore wedges

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Our forum faithful are well acquainted with the incredible giveaways and review opportunities in the realm of threads and comments, but we want to ensure front-page readers are involved as well.

Check out what GolfWRXers are saying about Cleveland’s new CBX 4 ZipCore wedges after putting them through their paces.

We have five GolfWRX members testing Cleveland’s CBX 4 ZipCore wedges.

Cleveland on CBX 4 ZipCore wedges

“New CBX 4 ZipCore wedges bring premium versatility and elite forgiveness together in a highly refined, sharp-looking design that blends perfectly in the bag with modern cavity back or hollow iron sets. And now, these CBX series wedges get all of Cleveland Golf’s latest tour caliber technologies to create our finest cavity back wedge yet.”

How we choose our testers

GolfWRX staff evaluates each entry against the criteria laid out in the testing thread to determine the best fit for each specific product — For example, if a game-improvement iron is being tested, game-improvement iron-playing golfers will be considered.

Member testers

  • @mikes919
  • @ALTSean
  • @awtryau89
  • @vsabre
  • @rbilramz

Review themes

  • Forgiveness
  • Ease of use out of bunkers
  • Easy to play from a square position
  • Surprisingly compact given the amount of cavity technology
  • Impressive spin

Member review highlights

@mikes919

“Initial impression is that these wedges are very clean and high quality in appearance. They have a durable-looking satin finish, and the cavity back insert blends nicely with the steel; you barely notice that it’s an insert. Shafts and ferrules are pristine. The stock Lamkin Crossline grips are more rubbery than the tour velvets I’m used to, but the tread pattern gives a nice locked-in feel. The face milling is very pronounced, and the grooves feel ridiculously sharp. They are quite chunky from the back. The soles are big and wide, with a lot of leading and trailing edge relief. If you’re a digger with wedges, you are going to love these things. Comparing the soles and overall profile to my Vokeys, the difference is most obvious on the 54*. The CBX4 sole is much wider than anything I’ve played in this loft range before. While they’re both S-grinds, the CBX4 grind is much more pronounced on both the leading and trailing edge.”

“Flip the wedges over to the normal address position and it’s a totally different story. You would never know there’s so much sole and tech behind this club! While the topline is slightly thicker on the CBX4, I was pleasantly surprised that the appearance is much more “player” oriented than I would have thought. They don’t feel nearly as big here. The only thing I notice at address is that the CBX4 leading edge sits a little higher, because of that leading edge relief…”

“The other thing you’ll notice at address is the milling and groove pattern of the wedges. The HydraZip face technology is really cool to see and feel. Just rubbing your fingers across the face of the wedge, you know these are going to shred some ball covers! Zooming in on the grooves themselves is even more impressive, with a slightly different pattern between the low and high lofts:

…”My practice areas are sandy and the balls are hard as a rock, but I haven’t noticed any wear whatsoever on the wedge faces yet. Still spinning great, they really grab the ball.

…”These wedges like to be played square. Just line it up, focus on making reasonably clean contact, and you’ll be rewarded with a consistent flight and great spin.”

…”Today I put the Cleveland’s back in the bag for a rainy round. It started off drizzling and was just absolutely pouring by about the 5th hole. I was extremely impressed with the amount of spin I was able to generate with the CBX4’s. I found myself needing to adjust and fire at the pin much more than with my Vokeys; I was getting one hop stops, even in a heavy downpour.”

@ALTSean

“I got the wedges out for another round this morning. It’s been raining and warm here in NOVA so the conditions are on the softer side at the moment and the forgiveness of the soles shines in these kind of conditions. We don’t ever really get super firm or fast conditions so the extra bounce and size of the soles probably will work well here year round.”

@awtryau89

“As you can see, these wedges have some serious grinds. The pre-worn leading edge is on the 54 & 60. Even though these are larger than my Vokeys, they can be manipulated to hit any shot you like.”

“Looks are subjective but these look great. No real offset and not too rounded. They are on the larger side but unless you put them next to a smaller wedge, you’d never know they are a bit on the large side.”

“Feel is really good for cast and cavity back. They have a sharp click and aren’t muted but feel solid. The shafts are KBS Hi Rev 2.0. I play KBS C Taper Lite 110s in my irons so these mesh very well. Overall the pairing of the shafts and heads work very well. You won’t mistake them for soft forgings but overall they are softer feeling than my SM 9 KBS Tour 130 wedges.”

“Spin is exceptional. My Vokeys aren’t old but these definitely have much more bite than the SM9s. The hydro treatment is real. We played very soggy fairways and the spin I saw was crazy. One hop and stop pitches from short distances were the norm. It will be interesting to see what they offer when our course drys out.”

“Forgiveness is what these wedges are all about. I didn’t have any bad misses today that the wedges saved me strokes but I did notice some shots that weren’t perfect ended up being a good bit closer to pin high than expected.”

“Played again today and basically learned these wedges are a cheat code out of bunkers. So easy to hit any shot. I hit it close 2-3 times green side but my best shot may have been from a fairway bunker 127 out, up against a lip, with the 50 degree. Hit it to about 12 feet and promptly 3 putted. Oh well.”

“These wedges have stayed in my bag. Having played Vokeys for so long, I had to convince myself to commit for a while and put the ego aside. One big thing that has stood out to me is full shots and the better results I have seen there. These wedges offer so much more forgiveness that I have to be careful. I’ve had to adjust my yardages since they just play longer. I even took them to have the lofts checked because I thought they were strong and they were spot on so its just helping the ball go farther on those slight misses around the face.”

“I’ve stated they are just so easy out of the sand. I have hit some great shots and even holed out a few times from bunkers. I have to be careful on wet sand with the larger surface area on the soles but overall they just make the game easier.”

“Chipping is also so easy. I go against the grain so many times playing on Bermuda and the pre-worn leading edge just helps the wedge from sticking. I work very hard on shaft lean and keeping the hands ahead while chipping. The leading edge helps me play square face shots this way but you can also open them up.”

“I’ve had playing partners comment on my short game a few times the last few weeks and then ask to look at my wedges. Every one of them are surprised. I play to a 7 but one of my buddies who is a 1 has had some chipping issues lately and he started playing out of my bag one round. He plays ZipCores and probably won’t let his ego buy some but he had to admit he hit some of his best chips and shots with them. Great wedges for the common man.”

@vsabre

“Wedges arrived well packaged and perfect to the requested spec…super clean look and very appealing over the ball.”

“Performance – Range 3/4 Swings…Our practice range turf is slightly sandy from continuous repair with tight lies that are not forgiving for either chunky or blade swings. A really good wedge test and the CBX4s did not disappoint. For not having touched a club for two weeks the CBX4s were incredibly easy to hit. Like cheat code easy to hit as someone else mentioned.”

“Over to the practice green and hit a variety of shots with each wedge and honestly it’s nearly impossible to chunk one (which I can do from time to time). Soft feel coming off the club and I had forgotten what great wedges Cleveland makes, and of course, having a consistent fit spec through the entire iron set makes a huge difference. I will say we’ll see how they fare on tighter, firmer lies around the greens as we approach summer.”

“They will be staying in the bag and I’m sure I’ll be adding a 60 in the next few weeks with the same specs.”

@rbilramz

“My first impression upon receiving the CBX4 was how much cleaner they looked than the previous version. The lack of black plastic badging really makes them look more like players’ irons. I don’t have the CBX3 to compare them with, but I think the footprint is smaller than the previous generation.”

“The comparison to my RTX6 is interesting as well. The CBX4 clearly has a much larger and more rounded sole and bounce. However, from the address, the size difference is pretty minimal. They both frame the ball nicely without looking oversized. I can also manipulate CBX4 in my hand really easily; the sole doesn’t cause any issues with the turf.”

“I am lucky to have a simulator in my basement (Foresight GCQuad) and a putting/chipping green in my backyard. This is where my first round of testing occurred. I started at the putting green, rotating between each club. I do 90% of my chipping with my 54, but I hit a few with all of them. There was an immediate improvement with the CBX4, as poor turf interaction was not punished as much. My putting green isn’t very large (not enough space for any pitches), so I quickly made my way to the basement.”

“After getting warmed up, I compared each club against my current gamer with 12 full-swing shots. I would throw away the worst 2 and then average the remaining. The results here kind of surprised me. Despite identical specs, the CBX4 was consistently 2-3 yards (or more) further than the RTX6. I was expecting more forgiveness and consistency but not additional distance. I should add that I am not looking for any additional distance either, I like my current gapping. I am guessing the distance is due to increased forgiveness as I rarely hit the ball in the exact center of the face.”

“Spin numbers were basically identical. There wasn’t enough difference between the two for any conclusion to be made. The lowest ones were around 8,000rpm with the 48 degree and consistently around 10,000rpm with the 54 and 60 degrees. The UtilZip grooves and face milling really work great. I wouldn’t have any problem stopping and even backing shots up with these wedges.”

“The dispersion of the CBX4s was a little tighter, but not drastically. On good strikes, they were probably identical. The only noticeable difference came on really bad strikes, where the additional stability of the CBX4 became obvious. It won’t save you from a bad strike, but the CBX4 stayed a little straighter and went farther when I put a bad swing on them. I was slightly surprised by this, as I expected the difference to be larger. I guess the shorter distances of wedges make the forgiveness less obvious.”

“Distance/spin/dispersion aside, it would be impossible to ignore the difference in feel between the RTX6 and CBX4. On good strikes, the RTX6 simply feels amazing. It’s very solid while equally soft. I think that’s the feeling that people love about traditional wedges. I don’t have a problem with the feeling of the CBX4, but it’s just not as pure. It is clearly a cavity-back feeling. Feel isn’t overly important to me, so I wouldn’t have a problem with that. I just want to point it out.”

“My next test was taking them to the course and getting real-world impressions. Before playing, I put the wedges through a pretty decent warm-up that included full swing, pitches, chips, and a bunch of sand shots. This is where the CBX4 shined for me. Off of imperfect lies and out of the sand, the more forgiving sole was impossible to ignore. I headed to the Par 3 course at Green Valley Ranch to put them both into action. I didn’t keep score because I wanted to hit basically every shot with both clubs, and putting shouldn’t matter. The par 3 course at GVR is short, but it is NOT easy. By starting every hole with two balls, and then hitting every subsequent shot with each wedge, I was able to get a pretty good comparison between the two. In the end, the CBX4 simply performed better for me. And by the last few holes, I was noticeably more confident over the ball with the CBX4. That may be the largest benefit for me. I simply approached tough angles or bad lies with less apprehension. I was less afraid of hitting it fat or blading a chip.”

“Long story short, I may be the ideal player for the CBX4 wedges. The 54 and 60 degree clubs are securely in my bag. I am going to stick with the ZX5 A wedge over the CBX4 48, but that’s mostly due to my preference to have my gap wedge match my irons. I almost always use it for full-swing shots, so I like them to match. The cavity back design adds some forgiveness (and distance?) on full-swing shots, but the real difference for me comes around the green. The sole design is simply easier to work with. No question about it. I truly recommend the CBX4 to anyone who struggles with their short game. At least for me, my biggest inclination to use them historically has been based on pride. The improved looks make that easier to get past, but the improved playability makes it impossible to ignore. I am deeply on team CBX for now.”

Bonus comment

“We played this afternoon after getting about 4 inches of rain yesterday and late night. It was soggy. These wedges are forgiving and the tagline “chunk a little less” is real. Today was a good day to have more forgiving wedges.” – @awtryau89

More about GolfWRX member testing

Member testing gives our forum members the opportunity to put the latest golf equipment through the paces. In exchange for getting a product to test (and keep), forum members are expected to provide in-depth product feedback in the forums, along with photos, and engage with the questions of other forum members.

For brands, the GolfWRX member feedback and direct engagement is a vital window into the perceptions of avid golfers.

You can find additional testing opportunities in the GolfWRX forums.

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2024 3M Open

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GolfWRX is on site this week at TPC Twin Cities for the 2024 3M Open for the penultimate event of the PGA Tour’s regular season.

The photos are flying in from Blaine, Minnesota. We’ve already assembled general galleries and a fresh Tony Finau WITB.

Check back throughout the week for more photos!

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums 

See what GolfWRXers are saying in the forums.

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Courses

The BEST hidden gem links courses in the UK & Ireland

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Another Open Championship has come and gone and links golf was once again in the spotlight at Royal Troon! For those who have never played a links course (like myself), it sparks a desire to fly across the pond to experience it for ourselves. While a golf trip to the UK or Ireland  is a bucket-list item, most people look to play the big-name courses (Old Course, Carnoustie, Lahinch, Royal Portrush,etc.), but don’t realize they can get a similar experience by traveling to some of the lesser known destinations where you will find some of the purest links courses in the world. With this in mind, here are our picks for the best hidden gem links courses you should play when you book a UK or Ireland trip:

IRELAND 

Ballyliffin 

We start our list off with a 36-hole club in the Northwest of Ireland, a remote area of the Emerald Isle that is known for its rugged terrain and spectacular scenery. Bordering the Wild Atlantic Way, Ballyliffin is relatively newer (est. 1947) but offers golfers one of the purest links golf experiences anywhere in the country. While not easy to get to, the two courses onsite (Old and Glashedy) are well worth the travel with large dunes shaping the fairways that overlook the North Atlantic Ocean and a myriad of pot bunkers everywhere you look. Even Rory McIlroy believes that “Ballyliffin’s two courses are a must play on any golf trip to Ireland.” and we tend to agree.

How to incorporate Ballyliffin in a golf trip:

Stay:Ballyliffin Lodge, Hotel & Spa 

Play: Old Links & Glashedy Links at Ballyliffin, and Old Tom Morris Links or Sandy Hills Course  at Rosapenna 

 

Enniscrone 

The next course on the list is in the Sligo area of the Northwest where we find Enniscrone, roughly 3 hours (by car) south of Ballyliffin. Like many links courses, Enniscrone was originally a 9-hole course when it was opened in 1918 before an additional 9 holes were added 12 years later. In 1970, Eddie Hackett was tasked with redesigning the course to help the two 9-hole courses flow effortlessly into one 18 hole layout. A big feature that can be seen throughout your round here are the towering dunes that shape the course and protect some holes from the ocean winds. Built right out of the landscape of the dunes bordering the sea, the course has a lot of undulation in the fairways and greens with some elevated tee boxes providing unreal views of the natural land.

How to incorporate Enniscrone in a golf trip:

Stay: The Glasshouse Hotel, Sligo 

Play: Enniscrone, County Sligo, and Donegal 

Additional Courses: Strandhill, Carne, and Narin & Portnoo 

 

St. Patrick’s Links 

Another fantastic gem on the Northwest coast of Ireland is the NEW (2020) St. Patricks Links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Links. The land was purchased back in 2012 which was already a 36-hole facility and Tom Doak was brought in to reimagine the property to the layout it currently is today. Large sand dunes shape the front 9 holes before heading back through some more subtle dunes back towards the clubhouse. The course offers elevation changes with some tee boxes sitting atop the dunes offering spectacular views of Sheephaven Bay and beyond. With two other courses and a fantastic hotel on property, this destination is all you could ever ask for.

How to incorporate St. Patricks in a golf trip:

Stay: Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Links 

Play: St. Patrick’s Links, Sandy Hills Course , and Old Tom Morris Links  (all at Rosapenna)

 

Island Club 

For our last hidden gem in Ireland, we head 30 minutes north of the country’s capital, Dublin, to The Island Club. Built along rugged terrain and the highest sand dunes on the east coast of Ireland, the Island Club is situated on a small peninsula surrounded by water on three sides providing a difficult challenge, especially with the winds. Founded in 1890, the Island Club continues to be ranked in the Top 10 courses in Ireland and has held some Amateur Championships and Open Championship Regional Qualifiers. 

How to incorporate The Island Club in a golf trip:

Stay: The Grand Hotel, Malahide 

Play: Island Club, Portmarnock Old, County Louth 

Additional Courses: Royal Dublin 

 

SCOTLAND 

Dunbar 

Located along “Scotland’s Golf Coast” of East Lothian is where we find the classic links of Dunbar. Opened in 1856 with only 15 holes, this is one of the many courses in Scotland that Old Tom Morris had a hand in crafting. Laid out along rocky and rocky terrain, the course is only 6500 yards long and while not long by modern standards, the course requires shot making and proper club selection to play well. The course has held many national and international tournaments including a few rounds of The Open Final Qualifying.

How to incorporate Dunbar in a golf trip:

Stay: No. 12 Hotel & Bistro 

Play: Dunbar, Gullane (No.1), North Berwick 

Additional Courses: Craigielaw, Kilspindie, Gullane (No.2, No. 3)

 

Cruden Bay 

The next course on our list brings us to the Scottish Highlands, one of the lesser traveled destinations in Scotland, but still home to some amazing links courses including Cruden Bay! Located 25 miles north of Aberdeen on the east coast of the Highlands, Cruden Bay was opened in 1899, although history would indicate golf has been played at the property since 1791. Another Old Tom Morris design, the course is consistently ranked in the Top 25 of courses in Scotland and it is easy to see why. At only 6600 yards, it is relatively short, but the natural lay of the land provides elevation changes, punchbowl greens, and some large, 3-story high dunes that offer spectacular views for a classic links experience.

How to incorporate Cruden Bay in a golf trip:

Stay: Leonardo Hotel Aberdeen 

Play: Cruden Bay, Trump International Links, Royal Aberdeen

Additional Courses: Murcar 

 

Brora 

We head back to the Highlands just north of Dornoch to where we find Brora Golf Club. Similar to a lot of links courses, Brora opened as only 9 holes in 1891, but that only lasted for 9 years before an additional 9 was added in 1900 before a James Braid redesign in 1924. At just over 6200 yards, this is one of those courses that will make you appreciate links golf in Scotland with cattle and sheep roaming freely around the property. The course is a typical links routing with the front 9 going out and the back 9 coming back to the clubhouse. The defense of the course is the wind (naturally), but the greens are relatively small with pot bunkers standing guard to catch errant approach shots. 

 How to incorporate Brora in a golf trip:

Stay: Royal Golf Hotel, Dornoch 

Play: Brora, Royal DornochStruie & Championship 

Additional Courses: Golspie, Tain 

 

Nairn 

Staying in the Scottish Highlands, the last Scotland links gem on the list is just outside of Inverness at The Nairn Golf Club. The narrow fairways are fast and firm leading to decent sized, tricky greens that roll true, but are guarded by devious pot bunkers. The first seven holes play right along the water and with not a ton of elevation changes, spectacular views across the Moray Firth can be seen throughout the course. With fantastic course conditions throughout the season, this fantastic links is an absolute must-play when visiting the Highlands.

How to incorporate Nairn in a golf trip:

Stay: Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness  

Play: Nairn, Castle Stuart (Cabot Highlands), Fortrose & Rosemarkie

Additional Courses: Nairn Dunbar, Moray

Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR  highly recommends you start planning your trip across the pond AT LEAST 12-18 months in advance in order to secure tee times and hotel rooms over the dates you desire. With more and more people taking up the game of golf, these bucket list trips have already become extremely popular and will continue to gain interest so make sure to start planning early!

RELATED: Open Championship courses you can play (and when the best time to book is)

Editor’s note: This article is presented in partnership with Golfbreaks. When you make a purchase through links in this article, GolfWRX may earn an affiliate commission.

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