Hunter or Hunted? Mahan Defends in the Desert
By Scott MacLeod, via www.flagstick.com
It seems obvious that a lot of people turn to the defending champion each week on the PGA with high hopes and expectations. I mean, if a guy can win on a course once why can’t he follow it up the very next year?
It is not that simple so as nice as it is to drag Hunter Mahan into the media room at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, is it really fair to expect he will repeat last year’s exploits? Not really, but based on his play last week, why not?
Admittedly a slow starter each year Mahan said Tuesday that he thinks he is really ahead of pace on last year, his finest season to date with two wins and more than $3.5 million in earnings. “…actually, to already be in contention last group on Sunday and to finish 6th already is kind of ahead of the game, and my game doesn't feel far off,” said Mahan when asked to compare this year to last. “I don't feel like I need to search for a couple weeks for my technique and everything. So actually, it's not far off. I just need reps and I just need to keep going and keep swinging and get some rounds underneath me.”
While most players would look at a top ten in just their second start of the year as a sign of things really coming together Mahan says that under the hood, his engine is not really running as smoothly as he would like. As time wore on last week, even though his scoring was solid (except for the final day 73) he really felt the best part of his skill set was not as refined as it could be, leaving room to think he might be peaking just in time for his title defense. “I was hitting it worse as the days went on, which was surprising, which is pretty rare for me. I'm a pretty good ball striker.
Mahan says his inability to hit the ball the way he wanted did put pressure on others parts of his game but that happily his driving, wedge play, and putting exceed his expectations. “I was in the tournament for most of Sunday (at the Farmers Insurance Open), which was actually kind of nice.”
What should not be lost in this conversation is the fact that Mahan won with a game of similar sorts in Scottsdale in 2010. With 68 on day one and a front nine 38 to follow the next day Mahan thought he was headed to a miss cut late on Friday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. That all changed when he birdied four of this last eight holes for a back nine 32 – creating momentum that he carried into the weekend. A nicely matched set of 65’s allowed him to catch and pass rookie Rickie Fowler to win by a stroke at sixteen under par.
Fowler will be among those looking for revenge this week but he may have to pull it off in temperatures he is not accustomed to, being a Southern California native. Low temperatures will hover just above freezing this week with highs escalating only into the low 60’s, unusual for the tournament but something that had to be expected when it was repositioned on the schedule to a slightly earlier slot.
That being the case, look for the guys who can really bust it to be in the hunt as they will be the ones with length to burn even if the cold takes down their averages drives by a notch or two. Dustin Johnson, hot off a 3rd place tie at the Farmers Insurance Open, has to be considered a threat as does super-rookie Jhonnatan Vegas.
The sleepers have to be a trio of players with hot hands and lots of yardage to take on the seven par fours over 420 yards in length at the TPC of Scottsdale – last week’s winner Bubba Watson, along with Bob Hope playoff victim Gary Woodland, and Nick Watney – fresh off a Sunday 63 in La Jolla.
Waste Management Phoenix Open Summary
Dates: February 3-6, 2011
Where: TPC Scottsdale (71/7,216), Scottsdale, Arizona
FedExCup Points: 500
Format: 72-hole stroke play
Purse: $6,100,000; Winner’s Share: $1,098,000
This report provided by Canada's Flagstick Golf Magazine (www.flagstick.com)
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Tour Photo Galleries
Photos from the 2023 Valero Texas Open
Ah, the Valero Texas Open — a tournament as rich in history as it is in Texan charm. The event has been around since 1922, making it one of the oldest on the PGA Tour calendar.
Over the years, it’s been held at a variety of courses across the Lone Star State, but it’s found its home at TPC San Antonio in recent years. Some of the biggest names in golf have taken home the title here, including Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino, and Ben Crenshaw. But the real star of the show? That would have to be the legendary Texan wind, which can turn a benign par-4 into a 500-yard monster faster than you can say “y’all.”
Per usual, GolfWRX was on site to check out what the pros are playing with the Masters just a week away.
Check out links to all our galleries, below.
- 2023 Valero Texas Open – Monday #1
- 2023 Valero Texas Open – Monday #2
- 2023 Valero Texas Open – Tuesday #1
- 2023 Valero Texas Open – Wednesday #1
- 2023 Valero Texas Open – Wednesday #2
- Chandler Phillips – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Hayden Buckley – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Brandon Wu – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Rickie Fowler – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Paul Haley II – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Kevin Chappell – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Austin Truslow – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Peter Lansburgh – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Peter Kuest – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Trevor Werbylo – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Doc Redman – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Padraig Harrington – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Ryan Fox – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Ricky Barnes WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Hayden Buckley’s custom Cameron putters – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- S H Kim’s custom Cameron putter – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Beau Hossler’s custom Cameron putter – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- New Garsen grip – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Brent Grant’s custom Cameron putter – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Odyssey Tri-Hot 5K Three – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Luke Donald’s new Odyssey Twelve putter (w/ SuperStroke grip) – 2023 Valero Texas Open
Join the discussion in the GolfWRX forums.
Spotted: Odyssey Tri-Hot 5K Three “anti-right” prototype putter
Odyssey Tri-Hot 5K putters have really taken off on tour, and we have seen a handful of models in tour player’s bags. The latest version we spotted out on tour is a very unique design.
Odyssey makes this putter head with a standard flow neck that offers plenty of toe hang for golfers who prefer or need that weighting. This prototype has a long slant neck installed more near the center of the putter head that lets the toe sit slightly up in the air when held horizontally. This is pretty different since most putters sit with the toe hanging down towards the ground or are face balanced (face sits parallel to the ground). A full shaft offset looks to be achieved with the slant neck and the look at address is definitely different.
We spoke to Callaway PGA Tour manager Joe Toulon about the putter and he had the following to say
“On course [we had a player who] had a little push bias that didn’t necessarily show up in practice but it is something that he felt on course. So we wanted to build something that was a little easier to release and maybe not necessarily open the toe as much in the back stroke and not have to work as hard to release it in the through stroke. That was kind of designed to give a little offset and when you rested it on your finger it would rest toe up a little bit. We thought for that player it would help him square the putter face at impact rather than leave it open a little bit.
“It was more of a concept we had and will continue to work on it. When we had it on the truck and we were hitting some putts with it we noticed that you had to work really hard to push this putter. We wanted to make an anti-right putter. Just a fun little concept that we have an idea and work with our tour department to test things out.
“It isn’t something that ended up in a player’s bag but we learned some things in that process and will keep in mind for future builds and projects.”
The finish also looks to be a little different than the standard Tri-Hot 5K putter’s black and silver motif. The face and neck are finished in silver and the rear done in more of a blueish-gray tone. The White Hot insert looks to be standard and the sole still contains two interchangeable weights.
The shaft looks to be painted in the same metallic red as their standard Stroke Lab shaft, but we don’t see a steel tip section. Not sure if this putter has a full graphite shaft or painted steel.
Check out more photos of the Odyssey Tri-Hot 5K Three Putter.
More “Spotted” pieces
- Spotted: S.H. Kim’s Custom Scotty Cameron Circle T Newport putter
- Spotted: Brent Grant’s Scotty Cameron Circle T T5W putter
- Spotted: Beau Hossler’s custom Scotty Cameron Circle T TG6 putter
- Spotted: Tom Kim’s 2 new Scotty Cameron Circle T putters
- Spotted: Bettinardi BB41 Flow 25th anniversary putter
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