We’re used to seeing new equipment at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, and indeed it’s the tournament at which Titleist has begun tour seeding for the next iteration of the Pro V1 golf ball in the past. This year, however, staffers apparently couldn’t wait until Vegas and “tour validation,” Titleist’s term for the process of tour seeding and feedback, actually began at last week’s Sanderson Farms Championship.
According to Titleist, Garrick Higgo, M.J. Daffue, and Gary Woodland, who had tested prototype versions of the 2023 Pro V1 and Pro V1x, were clamoring to put the balls in play. Higgo (Pro V1), Daffue (Pro V1x), and Woodland (Pro V1x) became the first three players to game the 2023 models in competition.
This week, Titleist Golf Ball R&D reps Fordie Pitts and Jeff Beyers will be fitting players at TPC Summerlin.
Jordan Spieth had this to say about the development process behind the new Pro V1.
“The Pro V1 and ProV1x, as a whole, are the best balls in golf so it’s hard to say, ‘How are you going to possibly make that ball better when it’s already the best?’” said Jordan Spieth. “I think when you think of anything being the best, you’re really going against yourself then. You’re trying to beat your former self versus worrying about the competition. And I think Titleist does that. They continue to push being the best and continuing to stay No. 1 – and that’s a really difficult thing to do.”
Reigning Masters champion, Scottie Scheffler, described the paces he’ll be putting the new Pro V1 through:
“First thing I’ll always do is take them to the short game area. For me, that’s always the most important. From there I’ll go to the range and just look at numbers, carry, stuff like that. From there, I’ll go out on the course and just start hitting shots. So same thing I do in the short game area, have a few of my ball, have a few of the new ball and just try and hit the same shot and see how the ball reacts, see what it does in the wind and just go from there.”
“One shot that I’m always practicing is when I take some off of it. I need to see that it’s still the same (distance) gaps between my full shot and when I’m taking some off of it. When I’m practicing on the driving range, if I have a little mishit or if a shot doesn’t feel right…I usually have a really good feel for how far it actually carried. If my stock wedge is 140 and I’m trying to hit at 135, and maybe I catch a little bit off and I’m like, ‘man that really feels like 132,’ if it goes that distance, that’s really important to me. And that gives me a lot of faith in what that golf ball’s going to do.”
Stay tuned to GolfWRX for more on the 2023 Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x.
Bettinardi unveils new 2023-2024 Queen B line of putters
Bettinardi Golf has today introduced its new Queen B Series of putters that includes four timeless models.
The 2023-2024 Queen B Series enhances the Queen B 6 & Queen B 11, while also introducing two brand-new models, the Queen B 14 and Queen B 15.
The entire series is crafted using 303 Stainless Steel and features an all-new Caramel Copper PVD finish, which aims to not only accentuates the classic beauty of each model but also optimize visual cues on the greens to give a confidence-inspiring appearance at every crucial putt.
In addition, the new Queen B line debuts Bettinardi Golf’s new Mini Honeycomb face milling. This newly developed face utilizes an 8% smaller machine tool in order to provide the softest Honeycomb face to date.
“By utilizing an even smaller machining tool during the milling process, we were able to remove more material from the face of the putter, creating a softer feel at impact. Since 1998, Bettinardi putters have been world-renowned for our Honeycomb face milling. Twenty-five years later, my patented face continues to evolve and produces one of the most recognizable looks and feels in golf.” – Bob Bettinardi, CEO/Founder of Bettinardi Golf
The 2023-2024 Queen B Series will be available for pre-order on Tuesday, November 22nd online at Bettinardi.com, and will be available for purchase at authorized Bettinardi dealers worldwide, starting January 17th.
Bettinardi adds BB28 putter to brand’s BB series
Bettinardi has today unveiled the addition of the BB28 to its BB series line.
The BB28 features Aggressive Flymill face milling designed to give the putter a responsive, yet soft feel off the putter head, and offers a full-flange design, which provides greater perimeter weighting and higher M.O.I.characteristics.
This latest addition uses a PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) finishing technology, which is a thin, yet resilient coating that shows off the mill marks in an artisan way.
Each BB Series putter is one-piece milled from 303 Stainless Steel, which is the same blend of material preferred by all Bettinardi Tour staffers, with the metal offering a more durable, responsive, and solid feeling putter for optimal performance.
Bettinardi have also launched the center shaft BB28 putter featuring a 1/4 toe-hang wide-body blade, as well as a BB28 Armlock containing a near-face-balanced wide-body blade.
The BB28 model is available for pre-order at Bettinardi.com ($430) from November 22nd and at retail on January 22nd.
2022 Joburg Open: Betting Tips & Selections
And that was the DP World Tour season over.
And here is the DP World Tour season beginning.
Just a few days after Jon Rahm produced an exhibition display to beat a stellar field in Dubai (and earn less ranking points than Adam Svensson did at the RSM), the tour starts its 2023 season with a co-sanctioned Joburg Open, a mixed field of the best of the Sunshine Tour, some European stalwarts, and others that might well not bother turning up.
Viewers will not have seen Houghton GC for many years, but in the years of hosting the Dunhill Championship (2000-2004) the names Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel and Justin Rose call for the halcyon days of the tour in South Africa. There are very few in this field that could reach that major-winning standard, and it will be of interest to see if the internationals can wrest away the title from the home contingent, something they could not do when that event turned to Leopard Creek, the Springboks winning seven from the last ten.
The Nicklaus course now hosts the Joburg Open, where in 14 runnings over various courses, home players have won nine and been out of the runner-up spot just twice.
Back to the Dunhill and it’s most recent winner, Christiaan Bezhuidenhout, easily the most likley victor this week.
Like many of the more promising youngsters in South Africa, Bez’s career starts with early victories on the Big Easy Tour and has progressed ever since.
Although with just four wins to his name at this level, the 28-year-old has built his reputation on a stellar short game, something that enabled him to win at tricky Valderrama by an incredible six shots, before going back-to-back at Leopard Creek and the Gary Player GC, to win two of his home country’s most prestigious events.
Having spent much of the last two years inside the world’s top 50, a series of acceptable rather than impressive results has seen him slip to number 72 but he will surely see this as a chance to get going in the right direction again.
Clearly Bez likes Gary Player designed tracks, and it may be no coincidence that his best recent effort was last time out at the Nedbank (held at the GPGC), but like Nicklaus, Player asks questions of the golfer, and with Bez having a short game at a level higher than the majority of these, it is easy to see him thrive here.
Stats on the recent PGA events are very mixed, but he was third in greens-in-reg and eighth in putting at the John Deere – a course that requires low scoring and a bogey-avoiding round – and he was again top-10 for the flat stick stats at Sedgefield and at the BMW, the penultimate FedEX Cup event.
The mention of that lucrative title certainly puts Bez in a different league to his rivals this week and, having relished the return home a couple of weeks ago, can continue that form and take a win into the 2023 PGA season.
Despite losing strokes off the tee at the Gary Player, Bez ranked 11th for tee-to-green, 4th for around-the-green and top 20 for putting. Add that to his figures when playing at home since 2020 – 1/15/1/1/6/5 – and anything bigger than 6/1 looks worth a pop.
Should Bez get beaten, both George Coetzee and Thriston Lawrence are clearly the biggest dangers, especially given their win records compared to Hennie Du Plessis, Oliver Bekker and Louis De Jager.
Coetzee loves it when dropped back from the DP World Tour and has already won twice when arriving back from either the Korn Ferry or European tours, but he seems happier in weaker fields where he is favourite and can dominate.
However, Lawrence, who, with a win last year finally lived up to some big early hype, won his first true DP World event at Crans after running-up at Kenya – both significant moves towards this event.
Off the boil for a while, he bounced back to form when sixth at potentially linkable Valderrama, before an eventual 15th at the Nedbank disguises that he was third going into Sunday.
19th off-the-tee for the season, the 25-year-old backs that up with top-30 for approaches, tee-to-green and greens-in-regulation, with 18th for putts-per-greens-in-reg.
This is, of course, a huge drop in class from the DP World Tour Championship last week and on overall stats, he looks an each-way play to nothing.
It would be surprising if one of the top lot were not to win, so I’ll take just one, far more unexposed, player to grab a place on the first couple of pages of the board.
Deon Germishuys was a tempter after an excellent Challenge Tour season, but perhaps he’s best left as a ‘follow’ throughout 2023. Instead, take a chance with Tom McKibbin, a name that should be on everyone’s list going into 2023, 2024, and beyond.
Coming from Holywood brings a sense of foreboding, as surely he will rarely escape the comparisons to that Northern Irish town’s most famous son, Rory McIlroy. The 19-year-old isn’t at all fussed, though, telling Irish Golfer, “I try not to read much about myself or anything like that. I’ve heard the comparison since I’ve been nine or 10 years old, so if anything, it’s got a little old now.”
Ignore that and we have one promising player, and one that has broadcasted his ability for a few years, despite his current age.
An outstanding junior and amateur, McKibbin had verbally agreed a move to the University of Florida before Covid ruined those plans and, it seemed, the 2021 Walker Cup, an event he was almost certain to be selected for.
Again, this is a cool head on young shoulders – “It meant I got off to a bit of a head-start in pro golf. I don’t think Walker Cup would’ve been much of a benefit and I haven’t really thought much about it since.”
So, let’s talk about the play.
In his first year with limited status and invites, the JMC-managed player recorded a 12th and 16th at Challenge Tour level before a 26th place at the higher level at Galgorm Castle (11th and 20th after the first two rounds).
That gave McKibbin entry into a few of the better Challenge Tour events, and he has taken advantage in style.
The beginning of the year saw the traditional exodus of trophy-seekers to South Africa, and McKibbin took a lead into the final day of the Cape Town Open before finishing in third place – “I played fine, did the same things I did the first three days, it just wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t tense up or anything like that. I thought I did the right things. It just didn’t pay off.”
A week later, he finished seventh after a level-par Sunday would never be enough to exploit an overnight position in the final group, but the experience would be yet another notch on the post.
The second half of the year was to be McKibbin’s highlight, with 14 events played from July onwards, rewarding him with six top-10s, including an almost repeat effort at Glagorm Castle, and three top-20 finishes.
Latterly, sixth place at the Challenge Tour Grand Final would leave him in 10th place on the CT rankings and a full DP World Tour card, something he can exploit before the bigger events next year.
Mentored by Rory, with Chris Selfridge – ex-professional and ex-caddy of Ryan Fox – on the bag – “It obviously costs money getting a top caddie like him but I think you’ve got to do it right if you want to get something really good out of it in the end. No point not investing in yourself and ending up in the same spot in five, 10 years’ time,” and with one stats line that reads ‘overall stats leader’ at Galgorm, McKibbin is something special.
It may take a few years, as it did Thriston Lawrence, to make a real mark, but it will come. Why not this week?
Other to note for big performances are Oliver Hundeboll, winner in this part of the world on the Challenge Tour last year and fifth at Fairmont at the Hero Open, and Casey Jarvis, a multi-decorated junior who in a short professional career has proven too good for lesser grade and has improved in contention throughout the year, finishing runner-up to Coetzee at the South African PGA at the beginning of the month.
I’m expecting the trophy to be lifted by one of the more obvious types, but eyes down the board to see how some of the youngsters get on, for they will be winning soon enough.
- Christiaan Bezhuidenhout – Win
- Thriston Lawrence – Each Way
- Tom McKibbin – Top-20
- Oliver Hundeboll – Top-20
- Casey Jarvis – Top-20
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