Got a question for John Cook? Send us your questions for Direct Connect — PGATOUR.COM’s video franchise that gets you closer to a PGA TOUR pro each week — and host John Swantek might use it when he chats this week with Cook, who is playing in the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship.
Cook is trying to score one better in the 2012 SENIOR PLAYERS, where he lost last year in a playoff to Fred Couples. Cook also finished second in a Champions Tour major this year, finishing second to Roger Chapman in the Senior PGA Championship.
Direct Connect video will be posted each Wednesday afternoon on PGATOUR.COM.
Check out the top five shots of the week from the Valero Texas Open and Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf, featuring highlights from Bobby Clampett, John Cook, Ben Curtis, Bill Lunde and Cameron Tringale.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
The talk of the golf equipment world last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii was that thing in Matt Every’s hands on the greens of Waialae. It worked very well as a putter but depending on who you watched on TV or followed on Twitter or read on equipment blogs, it was an ashtray, shoebox, VHS tape, dustpan or radar detector – to cite a few of the many nicknames.
It was a mystery then, and in many ways it still is now.
Every’s putter is called Black Hawk, by a company named Orion Golf. Not that you’d know that from looking at it; the black clubhead has no identifiers. Nor would you learn anything else about it by visiting a major golf retailer or 99.99 percent of the country’s pro shops. They won’t have the Black Hawk.
The club is for sale, but serious legwork is required to buy one.
Josh Anderson, PGA Professional at Magnolia Point Golf and Country Club outside Jacksonville, Fla., has fielded calls in the last few days from around the United States and as far away as Germany. Golfers want to buy one, yet he won’t sell them one.
The club’s founder, David Kargetta of Daytona Beach, Fla., has asked Anderson and a select few other pro shops in Florida – the only places where the putter can be found – to not make any sales by mail.
For starters, it’s a putter that must be custom-fit to be used properly. The putter, with its wide and heavy clubhead, can stand by itself and is meant to be held parallel to the ground by a player. But to use it properly it must be fit so the heel or toe is not raised.
“The fact is if you get fit for it, it guarantees your hands are in the exact same spot every time. It takes out that variable,” Anderson said. “The putter has no loft on it, so it takes that bias out of the equation. And the sweet spot is three balls wide – you can’t mis-hit it.”
Kargetta is a mechanical engineer and has all the data behind his invention, plus holds a patent on it, but has been reluctant to talk about it even as golf writers have clamored for more information. Instead, he has sold a few PGA pros like Anderson on the product’s merits, and has earned their loyalty by reimbursing for the time it takes them to fit the clubs to consumers.
The Black Hawk costs $259 while its sister Black Swan, featuring a cutout semicircle in the rear of the clubhead for alignment aid, costs $299. Neither model comes with a headcover.
Had Every held on to win the Sony, word is a website for the company would have launched that night. But he didn’t, so the Black Hawk is still largely under wraps. Orion Golf also won’t have a booth at next week’s PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, where the golf industry gathers to see what’s new in the game.
Instead, the putter will be on display at a few nearby courses, still largely a mystery.
STANDING PAT: With breakout 2011 that included two wins and second-place finishes in the FedExCup and money race, Webb Simpson could have shopped his bag over the offseason and cashed in big. But it never crossed his mind.
“I'm old school in my thoughts of switching equipment; as long as I'm feeling good with what I'm using and its ability to perform well, then I won't switch,” Simpson said last week at the Sony. “I've used the same irons now for ten years, the same ones or I've got newer sets but the same exact model and driver I've used for three years.
“I don't want to change. I've seen players do it over and over again, and they struggle the next year; it takes them a few years to figure it out again. I would rather go win $2 million on the course and make nothing off than win half a million on the course and make 4 off. The way we are wired, we want to play good golf and it doesn't matter the other way.”
CUTTING EDGE: TaylorMade got the last laugh from a golf blogger who was unmoved by the company’s claims of significant yardage gains from its new RocketBallz 3-wood.
The writer said if he gained the 17 or more yards advertised by TaylorMade, he’d shave the company’s logo “T” into his head and dye it green.
The company, not one to miss a marketing opportunity or an offer to back up its products, flew the blogger from upstate New York to its Carlsbad, Calif., headquarters. The blogger picked up some 40 yards Tuesday in a comparison test of the RocketBallz to his old 3-wood, and a hired barber was on hand to help the blogger pay off his bet.
NEW WINNER: Johnson Wagner won at Waialae with TaylorMade’s new R11S driver. The company touts the driver’s “3D Tuning” capability, where golfers can adjust loft up to 1.5 degrees, face angles in five different configurations and tune the club’s center of gravity toward the heel or toe.
Greg Norman, playing at this week’s Humana Challenge, had an R11S built in the TaylorMade truck this week with eight degrees of loft.
COOK’S UTENSILS: John Cook, a winner three times last season on the Champions Tour, revealed last week on the Tour’s Facebook page that his longtime Nike allegiances are over. He’s playing the TaylorMade R11S driver, a Titleist ball and "everything else is whatever I feel I need to have in my bag.” He also said he’ll be wearing clothing from Leisure Society.
ETC: Brian Gay, T6 at the Sony, has a new driver, hybrid and 3-wood and said he’s hitting it farther . … Justin Leonard, previously with Nike is the newest face in the TaylorMade stable. He was among nine players at the Sony with the company’s new Penta TP5 ball. … Ross Fisher signed with Nike Golf for a club and clothing deal, the company announced Wednesday.
QUOTABLE: Bridgestone signed TV personality and former touring pro David Feherty to a multi-year deal. In the company’s press release, Feherty provided his own material:
"Not a lot of people know this, but I am a huge ball expert. In fact, over the years I played for a living, my balls took a lot of punishment in the form of tops, shanks, cuts, scrapes, and I've even lost a couple. As it turns out, I was playing with balls that should have been hit by someone else in the first place! Well, you live and learn.”
WINNER’S BAG: Johnson Wagner at the Sony
Open in Hawaii:
Driver: TaylorMade R11S, 8 degrees (Aldila RIP NV shaft)
3-wood: TaylorMade Burner SuperFast 2.0, 13.5 degrees
Hybrid: Adams Idea Pro a12, 18 degrees
Irons: Titleist CB 3-9
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Spin Milled PW, 54, 60 degrees
Putter: Scotty Cameron Prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Never before had a player won such honors on all three Tours operated by the PGA TOUR. Lehman, who won the award on the then-Hogan Tour (now Nationwide Tour) in 1991 and the PGA TOUR in 1996, knew he was fortunate to be in such a position by age as much as accomplishment. No other former Hogan/Nationwide Tour Player of the Year is toiling regularly on the 50-and-over circuit.
But Wednesday, upon officially being named Champions Tour Player of the Year, thus completing the triple play, Lehman could fully appreciate the accomplishment and come clean a little bit about just how much he wanted it.
“I think it's every bit as significant simply because it's a goal that I set,” Lehman said. “I think anytime you set a goal that's a lofty goal, and this one was lofty because no one had done it before. I was aware of that.
“Because of that reason, it's significant. It's the culmination of a journey. It's a journey that's been a lot of fun. There's no guarantees. There were no promises that I could achieve that. It took a lot of good playing and also some good fortune for me to win.”
Lehman was strong all year on the Champions Tour, having won three times including a major title. He took over the Schwab Cup points lead after the season’s second event and never looked back, though the points race did tighten up at the season finale as Mark Calcavecchia bid to win the Charles Schwab Cup Championship and take the $1 million season prize. Calc came up short, and Lehman had the Schwab Cup.
“There's a lot of things happened this past year that went in my favor. John Cook lost in two playoffs. Calc almost came back and won the Schwab Cup,” Lehman said. “Those guys had great years, played great golf, but things kind of tipped my way.
“When you work so hard and you want it so badly, you chase that dream, then the dream does come true, it's significant. I was very, very aware over the last couple years I had a chance to do something that no one's done before, at least to this point.”
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MELBOURNE, Australia -- The streaky Tiger Woods who tied for 30th last month at the Frys.com Open only had one bad round and contended last week at the Australian Open.
Woods' third-place finish at The Lakes in Sydney on Sunday certainly appeared to justify Fred Couples' faith in making the former world No. 1 one of his Captain's Picks for this week's Presidents Cup -- even though the announcement was seen in some quarters as decidedly premature.
Woods felt he played "reasonably well" in California, which was his first event since the PGA Championship. Last week, he felt like he was back in the "flow of competitive golf again" and those 36- and 54-hole days of practice back home in Florida were paying dividends.
That new swing the healthy Woods has so carefully crafted under the guidance of Sean Foley is starting to feel like his own. The two talk and text frequently, and Woods says he now understands the errant shot and how to fix it in competition.
"Last week was a good test for it," Woods said. "It felt great on the weekend when I needed it."
John Cook, who was a late addition to the U.S. Presidents Cup team as an assistant captain, is one of Woods' oldest and closest friends on TOUR. Cook played at the Australian Open, too, finishing in a tie for 23rd, and he likes the direction Woods is heading.
"What I've seen lately is, trust in what he's doing, trust in
what he's doing with Sean," Cook said. "He realizes that what he's
doing is so much easier on his body that he really has a confidence
in what his body can do now. It's not hurting. To play hurt like he
did for that many years and to do as well as he did is just a
testament to himself.
"But when you have a healthy, confident Tiger that believes in what he's doing, I think that bodes pretty well for the state of the game. ... We saw it last week. ... In a relaxed state, he's fantastic, the same. You couldn't tell if it was 2000 or 2011. But getting into those tense, kind of anxious moments to see how it does, and for three rounds out of four last week, he was that guy.
"So you know, it's just a confidence-building, each step is more and more confident."
Woods said he was "grateful" to be part of the U.S. Team for the seventh time. "Fred could have picked anybody, and I'm thankful that he had faith in me to be part of the team," Woods said. Cook thinks Woods has extra motivation for that very reason, just as he's striving to resurrect his game.
"I've never given up on Tiger Woods as a golfer, as a person," Cook said. "He's gone through his things, obviously. I'm always willing to give him a chance to believe in what he's doing and then taking it to that next level. He knows his place in history. He wants to get better. And to see someone like that that has been so, so very high at the top of the mountain and then, you know, struck down, and then battling back; his will to win is exceptional, better than probably anybody that's ever lived playing any sport. This guy is very, very driven.
"... Anybody that's just jumped off that (band)wagon, they jumped off way too quick, because ... I have a feeling he's going to make people eat their words and I'll be the first one in line to congratulate him. Because I look forward to that moment when he does something that they figured he could never do again, and he's going to do it a lot more."
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO – John Cook’s bid to become the first three-peat winner of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship was essentially over before it started.
Cook had four bogeys total in his previous two wins, last year at TPC Harding Park and the year prior at Sonoma Golf Club. In Round 1, he had four bogeys in his first six holes.
“Just a tough start, the weather got bad and I didn’t really do much,” Cook said. “Next thing you knew, I was 4 over after six and I hadn’t really done anything wrong. It was just catch-up after that.”
He shot 73 that first day, tied for 17th, and was never a factor from that point. He duplicated the 73 in Round 2, a tough day for scoring, then shot 70-71 over the weekend. He was tied for 20th when he signed his scorecard Sunday.
Cook came to TPC Harding Park as a longshot contender for the Schwab Cup at fourth in points, but needed to win the event and hope Tom Lehman finished T5 or worse. His season had plenty of highs, including wins at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am and the Montreal Championship, but he lost in a playoff in a bid for his first major at the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship.
Cook also had two finishes of 50th or worse later in the season, when Schwab Cup points for top-10s was what he dearly needed.
“I had really, really good weeks, and some weeks that were very mediocre,” Cook said. “(Lehman) had tons of top-10s and wins and winning majors, and that’s what you have to do.”
SAN FRANCISCO – He may not do it in style, but Tom Lehman is closing in on the Schwab Cup.
Lehman is only tied for 16th in the 30-man Charles Schwab Cup Championship after a second straight 1-over 72 at TPC Harding Park. He’s 1 over for the event.
But as long as the four other players mathematically eligible for the Cup do not win this week (or in the case of Mark Calcavecchia, win or finish second), Lehman is safe. So far, that’s the case.
John Cook, the two-time defending event champion, is tied for 20th, 11 shots back of leader Jay Don Blake. Peter Senior is tied for 24th, one behind Cook.
Russ Cochran is tied for 12th, but at seven shots back is likely too far to contend on Sunday.
That leaves Calcavecchia, who shot 1 under Saturday but lost ground on a day that allowed lower scores. He’s tied for sixth at 4 under, four shots back. If he can make a Sunday rally, the Cup could still be his.
If not, it’s Lehman’s.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO – Tom Lehman is still projected to win the Schwab Cup, but Round 2 of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship showed it won’t be a walkover.
Mark Calcavecchia shot 68 at TPC Harding Park, tied for the low round of the day, to climb into a tie for fourth at 3 under behind Michael Allen, Fred Couples, David Frost.
Calcavecchia is second in Schwab Cup points and needs a combination of a win and a Lehman T2 or worse, or a runner-up with Lehman at T12 or worse.
Lehman is tied for 11th after a second-round 72. Calcavecchia said he’s not noticing – yet.
“He’s hanging around. He’ll be there at the end,” Calcavecchia said. “I’m not going to pay attention to him or David Frost or anybody else. There’s two rounds left. We’ll see what happens with the weather.”
Calcavecchia’s first two rounds have been an adventure. Thursday he shot a 71 that he said could have been a 75 or 76, were it not for a good putter. Friday’s 68, which included a holeout eagle, he said could have been a 65 had that same putter returned.
Friday he put a new Ping G20 driver in his bag, overnighted from the company after the first round. On the 10th tee Thursday he hit a bizarre drive that was heading deep into the parking lot before hitting a tree.
“I thought the head was loose, but it’s probably my head that’s loose,” Calcavecchia said to laughter in the media center. “Threw a new one in the bag and drove it great.”
The other three players who came into the week mathematically eligible to take the Schwab Cup with a win don’t appear likely to pull it off. Peter Senior (third in points) is tied for 24th at 5 over, John Cook (fourth) is tied for 21st at 4 over and Russ Cochran (fifth) is tied for 14th at 1 over.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO – Coming into the Champions Tour’s final event, it was going to take a minor miracle for Tom Lehman to be beat in the race for the Schwab Cup.
Through one round at TPC Harding Park, that looks unlikely.
Four pursuers have to essentially win the event and hope Lehman falters, and Thursday’s play showed that the points leader isn’t going anywhere. Lehman shot 1-under 70, one of just seven players in red numbers on a cold, windy and rainy Bay Area day. He’s two shots back of leaders Fred Couples and Jay Haas, who shot 68s.
Mark Calcavecchia and Peter Senior, second and third in the points race, shot even-par 71s. Russ Cochran, fifth in points, shot 74.
Perhaps most surprising, two-time defending champion John Cook (fourth in points) shot 73. In winning this event the previous two years, Cook shot eight straight rounds in the 60s. Over those two years he made four bogeys in all – he had four bogeys in his first six holes on Thursday.
Lehman came into the week leading by 382 points over Calcavecchia. His projected lead after Round 1 is 475 points over Calcavecchia.