By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
A switch to some new equipment at the start of the season is continuing to pay off big for Steve Stricker.
The Wisconsin native and Titleist player picked up 710 AP2 irons and the new-generation ProV1x ball months ago, and now has two Midwest-based wins to show for it – the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance in June and last week’s John Deere Classic.
That’s also all the more reason not to make another switch, to the new 712 AP2 irons, as some other Titleist TOUR pros have. Nick Watney picked up the clubs and almost immediately won at the AT&T National two weeks ago.
But the way he’s playing now, and on the eve of the season’s third major, Stricker’s bag at the moment is on lockdown.
“I hit them and I really liked them,” said Stricker of the new irons, “but I want to hit them some more at home, so probably after the British I'll give them some more time to hit.
“I changed earlier this year to a different set of irons, different shaft, different ball early in the year. So yeah, I'm open for change, but I want to make sure and have the repetitions in with them before I make the change.”
BLANKS SHOOTING: Kris Blanks came to the John Deere Classic near the bottom of the TOUR’s putting stats but finished T10 in putts per GIR for the week after going back to an old Scotty Cameron Del Mar model with a custom slant neck.
“That makes it hang a little more towards the sky. Most putters will hang at a quarter,” said Blanks, who led after the first round at TPC Deere Run and finished T12. “This one’s a little more face-down so it doesn’t rotate as much through the hitting zone.”
Ironically, Blanks made the switch after using Ping’s iPhone putting app, Golf World Monday reports.
CRACKING THE CODE: Since 2003, TaylorMade has designed special logos for each of the major
Can you figure out all the details? We’ll give you one – the “V” and “6” in the weathervane (since British Opens always have wind) stand for Harry Vardon and his record six titles.
Read about the rest of the logo here.
CLARKE’S CLASSIC: Scotty Cameron putter junkies will enjoy the saga about Darren Clarke’s old friend, a 1997 Titleist Teryllium Santa Fe that the Northern Irishman used for a while, then parked for years, then exhumed in May to win in Spain.
Clarke brought the putter to Royal St. George’s this week to hand off to Titleist reps, who will take it back to the home office in California to restore. The putter was one of Cameron’s first with an insert made of Teryllium, a copper-colored metal that is soft but expensive.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jimmie Johnson is bidding for an unprecedented sixth consecutive Sprint Cup championship. His goals at Quail Hollow on Wednesday are much more modest, though.
"I just hope to keep it between the galleries tomorrow and just keep it out there," Johnson said. "It doesn't have to be in the short stuff but just somewhere between would be nice."
Johnson is playing in the Wells Fargo Championship pro-am for the fifth time on Wednesday. Another NASCAR driver, Denny Hamlin, was on the winning team in Monday's festivites so Johnson needs a good day to regain bragging rights -- at least on the golf course.
The race track, where Johnson has won 54 times, is another story. His first challenge, though? "I turn left for a living, and for some reason my golf ball goes right all the time," Johnson said with a chuckle.
Johnson said he carries a 21 handicap right now -- "I had to swallow before I said it," he said with a grin. But the birth of his first child, a daughter named Genevieve, last July has curtailed Johnson's usual Monday rounds of golf with his buddies.
"For me, things have changed so much since becoming a father, and I hate to admit it, but tomorrow will be my second round of golf this year," Johnson said. "I think I sent out a Tweet a week or so ago about wearing headgear and shin guards, and I wasn't lying. There's a chance I could spray it a little bit.
"I played the one round, and it went well, better than I expected. I'll have fun with it tomorrow. I don't play as much as I would like to, and with our busy race schedule as you know, and then being a father, to sneak out for four or five hours of golf, it's just tough to find that time anymore."
Johnson won the pro-am several years ago when he played with Anthony Kim -- "It's the only golfing trophy I have and probably the only one I'll ever have," he said. Even so, Johnson, who now lives in Charlotte, not far from Quail Hollow, knows he'll be nervous on the first tee.
"I've found that the first three or four holes are really the most difficult," he said. "And then you kind of start breathing again and relax and get into the swing of things. But that first tee box is as fearful as anyone has ever mentioned; all the people standing around, your friends remind you of bad shots people have made there.
"My first year with Darren Clarke and Casey Mears, luckily Casey's was so much worse than mine, mine was 80 yards, his went like 20 yards that people really forgot about my shot. It is nerve-wracking on that first tee box."
Fear, though, isn't always such a bad thing. At least, when Johnson settles in behind the wheel of the Lowe's Chevrolet.
"Within racing I find that I'm really motivated by fear inside the car, and if you lose a respect for how fast we're going at the tracks and what we're doing, not only can you put yourself in harm's way but I think you start over driving the vehicle and not doing things that will lead to race wins and championships," he said.
"So fear is something I think most professional athletes have to deal with and learn to live with. I know there are a lot of sports psychologists that try to push it out of your mind, but when I've done that I've ignored important steps along the way, and I've let fear and even failure be a big part of my mindset as I race to help me stay out of trouble and do the right things."
After five Sprint Cup championships, Johnson is certainly doing something right.
ORLANDO, Fla. – The Tavistock Cup, which since 2004 has been an interclub match between Isleworth’s and Lake Nona’s golf professional members, will have a different look this week.
For the first time, four clubs will compete for the Tavistock Cup, with 24 players involved in the competition. The first round of the two-day tournament at Isleworth Golf & Country Club begins in less than an hour (10:50 a.m. ET).
Monday’s format will consist of six matches of four-ball ( see schedule below). Tuesday’s competition will be singles matches.
Isleworth and Lake Nona will be two of the clubs in the competition, along with Albany and Queenwood. Albany is a new luxury resort community in The Bahamas and Queenwood is an exclusive private members’ club in the Surrey countryside near London.
Tiger Woods, fresh off his final-round 66 that bumped him up to 10th place at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship on Sunday, will compete for Team Albany. Reigning U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell leads Team Lake Nona ( team rosters below).
Tavistock Cup contestants play for prize money, team hole-in-one prizes and the title of World Golf And Country Club Champion.
The two-tournament will be broadcast live on the Golf Channel starting at Noon ET.
|TEAM ALBANY||TEAM ISLEWORTH||TEAM LAKE NONA||TEAM QUEENWOOD|
|Arjun Atwal||Robert Allenby||Ross Fisher||Thomas Bjorn|
|Ernie Els||Stuart Appleby||Retief Goosen||Darren Clarke|
|Trevor Immelman||Brian Davis||Peter Hanson||David Howell|
|Ian Poulter||J.B. Holmes||Graeme McDowell||Soren Kjeldsen|
|Justin Rose||Sean O’Hair||Henrik Stenson||Paul McGinley|
|Tiger Woods||Lee Janzen||Oliver Wilson||Adam Scott|
MONDAY’S FOUR-BALL MATCHES
|1||Arjun Atwal-Tiger Woods (Albany)||Thomas Bjorn-Adam Scott (Queenwood)|
|2||Robert Allenby-Stuart Appleby (Isleworth)||Peter Hanson-Henrik Stenson (Lake Nona)|
|3||Ian Poulter-Justin Rose (Albany)||Retief Goosen-Graeme McDowell (Lake Nona)|
|4||Brian Davis-J.B. Holmes (Isleworth)||Soren Kjeldsen-Paul McGinley (Queenwood)|
|5||Lee Janzen-Sean O’Hair (Isleworth)||Ross Fisher-Oliver Wilson (Lake Nona)|
|6||Ernie Els-Trevor Immelman (Albany)||Darren Clarke-David Howell (Queenwood)|
DORAL, Fla. -- Luke Donald, winner of this year’s World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, could join a group of five players who have won more than one official World Golf Championships in their careers:
-- Tiger Woods (7-Bridgestone Invitational; 6-Cadillac Championship; 3-Accenture Match Play Championship)
-- Geoff Ogilvy (2-Accenture Match Play Championship; 1-Cadillac Championship)
-- Darren Clarke (1-Accenture Match Play Championship, 1-Bridgestone Invitational)
-- Phil Mickelson (1-Cadillac Championship, 1-HSBC Champions)
-- Ernie Els (2-Cadillac Championship). He would be the second European (Clarke) with multiple wins.
Donald is also seeking to join Tiger Woods as the only players to win back-to-back World Golf Championships events, with Woods performing the feat multiple times (1999, 2002-‘03, ‘03-‘04, ‘05, ‘06, ‘07-‘08).
A win by a European this week would mark the first time in World Golf Championships history that back-to-back events were won by Europeans. The 2010 season was the first and only time that Europeans won more than one World Golf Championships event (Ian Poulter -- Accenture Match Play Championship; Edoardo Molinari -- HSBC Champions).
Don’t look now, but only five players on the Old Course right now are under par for the day. And none of those are more than 1 under, either.
Alejandro Canizares birdied his second hole and is 1 under through four and 6 under for the tournament. Korean amateur Jin Jeong continues to impress at 1 under through six holes, Darren Clarke is through four, Ian Poulter is making the turn and Matt Kuchar is through five holes.