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Tour Rundown: Potter earns second win, Aphibarnrat wins Down Under

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Golf knows the Olympic Games, but since these are the winter version, no amount of creativity could develop a golf competition in Pyeongchang. Better to schedule events in Colombia, California, Australia and Florida, where the snow didn’t fall and short sleeves were the norm. There were no playoffs, which had become commonplace in 2018. Enough anticipation, let’s run down the week’s events.

Ted Potter Jr. earns second Tour win at AT&T Pro-Am

Potter, unexpectedly, established himself as one of the top closers in the PGA Tour’s first two months of 2018. The world’s number 1 and 2, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm, were unable to put together a Sunday round to challenge the Florida native. Potter wrote a different story. He had moved into a tie with Johnson on Saturday thanks to a 9-under 62 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, the low round of the week. Given Johnson’s track record around Pebble Beach, lesser competitors might have played a lesser game. Not Potter. The 34-year-old journeyman endured slow play from the groups ahead and a fresh wind that featured on the final four holes. Potter’s 68 was two back of the low round of the day, so the star-studded foursome of Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day and Chez Reavie ended in a tie for second at 14-under, three shots behind Potter.

See the clubs Potter used to win at Pebble

Aphibarnrat claims European Tour’s World Super 6 Perth

The Super 6 should be on every tour, no questions asked. Not every week, but every year. After medal qualifying on site, eight golfers receive a bye in to the second round of match play, while 16 others battle for the right to advance. Since golfers have only six holes to decide the match, things happen early and quickly. Kiradech Aphibarnrat was not one of the top eight seeds; in fact, he was the last golfer to qualify on to match play. He gained momentum with each match triumph, defeating Ben Eccles, Yusaku Miyazato, Sean Crocker and Lucas Herbert. In the final match, Aphibarnrat faced off against Australia’s Jamies Nitties for the title. Aphibarnrat secured his position with a stunning tee ball to 3 feet on the short, par-four 14th hole. One hole later, the title was his.

Jiyai Shin claims Ladies European Tour Canberra Classic

In 2014, in the prime of her career, Jiyai Shin left the LPGA Tour to return to Korea. Since then, she has played the majority of her golf on the Japan LPGA Tour. From time to time, Shin mixes it up with her rivals from a past time, and this weekend, she came out on top of the LET’s Canberra Classic. Shin was in second place, behind last week’s winner, Australian Minjee Lee, when Round 3 began. Both golfers birdied the first hole, but Shin began to chip away at the lead, or perhaps Lee proceeded to chip away at her own lead. Lee bogeyed the 4th, 5th and 8th holes, allowing Shin to take the lead. After going out in 31, Shin came home in 33 for 64 and a six-stroke win.

England’s Ben Taylor wins Web.Com Tour’s Club Colombia Championship by 6

The Club Colombia championship was one of Ben Taylor’s top finishes on the 2017 Web.Com tour. In 2018, Taylor improved by 20 spots, claiming his first professional victory in impressive fashion. Keeping with the theme of the week, where the favorites fall away and an unheralded champion emerges, Taylor was the only competitor to play four rounds in the 60s. He took the lead for good after Round 2, and held off a quartet of runners-up to move from 50th to third position in the order of merit. Kyoung-Hoon Lee lit the back nine on fire, with an eagle and four birdies for 30, but Taylor’s outward nine of 32 allowed him to coast home for the victory.

Calcavecchia bags PGA Tour Champions’ Boca Raton Championship

Mark Calcavecchia reviewed his first two rounds, in which he made 17 birdies, and concluded that low was the way to go on Sunday. After all, Bernhard Langer was on his heels, along with a host of challengers. When Calc birdied his first three holes of Round 3, he was headed in the right direction. Langer had four birdies of his own through the first 12 holes to keep pace. Calcavecchia bogeyed holes 14 and 16, the latter after dunking his tee shot on the par three. Although the two were tied at the top, it was short-lived. Langer bogeyed the two closing holes, in unlikely fashion. Long known as the steely eyed closer, Langer’s collapse was still in keeping with an odd week of professional golf. The victory was Calcavecchia’s fourth on the senior circuit, and first since 2015.

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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.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sam

    Feb 12, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Ted Potter’s win is thus far the best of the season. The fact that he was able to patiently wait out all of the slow and boring play in front of him (not to mention having to suffer through watching it) without falling into a coma speaks volumes of his history and experience. Well done Ted! Well done!

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Equipment

U.S. Open Tour Truck Report: #7woodSZN, mini drivers, fresh grooves, and tinkering

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A nearly 7,700-yard, par-71 track featuring penal rough off the fairway and green, Torrey Pines’ South Course presents a difficult, demanding examination for players at this week’s U.S. Open. From every television, computer, and mobile device screen this truth is being conveyed to the point that, as is often the case in the leadup to U.S. Opens, a certain fatigue sets in.

However, it’s worth pointing to the obvious in order to highlight the fact that some players are making changes to their setups to accommodate the long approaches into par-4s and the need to maximize descent angle into — what are expected to be — thoroughly baked out greens.

Additionally, we’re hearing a ton of players are putting 7-woods in play primarily for the purpose of advancing the ball from the rough — not exactly “a get out of jail free” card, but hopefully a key to slip out of one’s cell.

Let’s get into the specifics.

Titleist

Jordan Spieth is testing a 21-degree TSi2 fairway wood, which is a game-time decision to add to the lineup in place of his 818 H2 hybrid.

Both Lanto Griffin and Matt Jones are adding TSi2 (21-degree) fairway woods in place of their utility irons.

Adam Scott is going with four woods this week. He’s adding a 13.5-degree TSi2 fairway wood. The Australian is also putting a Vokey 60A wedge in play (switching from a 60-06K). With four degrees of bounce, the wedge works well on tight lies.

Titleist Tour Rep J.J. Van Wezenbeeck: “The rough is really, really difficult this week. And the greens are starting to firm up. So we have a lot of players evaluating TSi fairway wood options. The TSi 21-degree 7-wood has been very popular. Players are really liking what it does out of the rough and then into the greens – really high launch angle and landing very softly has been really effective.”

Max Homa put a new Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5, which is a similar profile to the 11.5 model he played earlier in the year. Homa likes the feel, forgiveness, and ease of alignment in the smaller profile.

Vokey

Not surprisingly, the majority of players asking for fresh grooves this week.

Vokey Tour Rep Aaron Dill on wedges this week: “This golf course is a beast. As you would imagine, rough is long and thick, but it’s a really cool different style of golf course where you’ve got a couple different types of grasses and just the way they put it together, it makes it extremely challenging. Because of this rough, because of the fairways, because of the greens, you would think that you’d want a little bit more bounce because of just how juicy and thick and healthy this rough is. But the reality is the more bounce you get, the slower it moves through that tall grass.”

“And so we see a lot of guys gravitate to something with less bounce: T grinds, A Grinds, L Grinds, Low-bounce K’s. Adam Scott switched to a 60A this week. He dabbled a little bit with it at Augusta National this year, but this is that week where it really fits the conditions. He wants that speed. He wants that comfort. He wants to be aggressive, so it’s great fit for him. Guys like Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth are bringing in fresh 60’s this week. So these guys are prepared. They’re ready to go. But again, very difficult golf course. You’ve got to have fresh grooves and you’ve got to have a little bit less bounced to maneuver through this tall grass.”

(Photo via Titleist)

Callaway

Phil Mickelson was spotted with a TaylorMade 300 Mini Driver (Fujikura Ventus Black shaft) in practice rounds. He’s also reportedly testing a 5-wood with a Fujikura Ventus Red 9 X shaft.

Akshay Bhatia is testing a Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X shaft in an Epic Max LS driver.

Patrick Rodgers is testing a Callaway Epic Speed 7-wood (Graphite Design Tour AD DI 9 TX).

Henrik Stenson has new Jaws MD5 Slate wedges in the bag (52-10S, 58-08C).

(Photo via Callaway’s Johnny Wunder)

TaylorMade

Dustin Johnson looks to be returning to a TaylorMade TP Bandon putter (now outfitted with an LA Golf shaft) after rolling it with his Spider IB Limited at the Palmetto Championship. He’s sticking with the prototype LA Golf shaft in his driver, which makes sense, considering he now owns part of the company.

Ping

Reportedly “half of the tour staff” are putting 7-woods in play, according to our source at Ping. Bubba Watson and Mackenzie Hughes included.

Watson’s 7-wood specs: Ping G425 Max (23.5 degrees). 40.5-inch Fujikura Black 9 X shaft in custom pink (tipped 2 inches, D2+).

Cole Hammer is testing a Graphite Design Tour AD HD 7 TX shaft in his driver.

Others, free agents

Hideki Matsuyama is testing a Graphite Design Tour AD UB 9 X shaft in a SIM2 Max 3-wood.

Rikuya Hoshino is testing Graphite Design Tour AD UB 9 X in a Srixon ZX5 driver.

Shane Lowry has a new Cleveland RTX Full-Face 58-degree wedge in play.

Zack Sucher is putting a 16-degree Srixon ZX hybrid in play.

The king of stout shafts, Jhonny Vegas is testing a Fujikura Ventus Black 100 X shaft in his 5-wood.

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2021 Palmetto Championship at Congaree

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GolfWRX is live from Congaree Golf Club for the Palmetto Championship. This one-time replacement for the RBC Canadian Open is the third PGA Tour event contested in South Carolina this season.

Palmetto State native Dustin Johnson headlines the field (and has been doing plenty of putter testing). Brooks Koepka and Jason Dufner will be teeing it up as well. John Pak and Davis Thompson will both be making their professional debuts.

General galleries

Tuesday

Wednesday

Special galleries

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Tour News

John Pak, college golf’s top player, signs with TaylorMade

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Editor’s note: We filed this piece for PGATour.com’s Equipment Report.

With a buddy on the bag and fresh off receiving the Jack Nicklaus Award in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday, celebrated amateur and Florida State standout John Pak is making his professional debut at this week’s Palmetto Championship at Congaree — and he’ll do so as a TaylorMade staffer, the company announced today.

College golf’s top player, Pak has played TaylorMade gear and a Titleist ball since his amateur days. And as we found out from Ryan Ressa, TaylorMade’s player development manager, who has worked with Pak since he was in his early teens, it’s not surprising Pak will continue with the same bag setup and ball combination as he joins the professional ranks.

The Scotch Plains, New Jersey, native is an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of guy when it comes to his equipment, which is a trait Ressa sees among many of the game’s best. (Another TaylorMade staffer Tiger Woods, for one, comes to mind).

Ressa and TaylorMade have had a relationship with Pak for nearly a decade, and it’s Ressa’s job to not only make sure Pak is in the right equipment for his game but is also navigating the matrix of amateur competitions, college, and the decision to turn pro successfully.

According to Ressa, Pak, and other junior standouts, need new equipment, or at least a fitting, roughly every six months as their bodies and swings change.

Even so, while he’s transitioned into new fairway wood models as they’ve become available, the DNA of Pak’s bag has stayed largely the same.

“Jon is a very simple guy when it comes to equipment, and he doesn’t do a lot of tinkering outside of driver shafts,” Ressa said. “Deep down, he’s a great competitor. He just loves to compete and is focused on getting the ball in the hole. He’s stayed really, really consistent with the look of his irons, the loft of his wedges, and his bag setup. He’s been easy to work with and only needs one or two visits per year to get squared away.”

Read the full piece here.

Check out the full WITB here. 

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