By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- So much for Friday the 13th being a bad omen, at least for Bob Estes.
Playing the 183-yard par-3 fourth at Harbour Town, Estes made the fourth hole-in-one of his career. He used a 6-iron and it was the 22nd ace on the PGA TOUR this season.
The other holes-in-one for Estes came in the 1991 Buick Classic, the 2002 FedEx St. Jude Classic and the 2007 AT&T Classic.
The ace was also the second to come out of his group. Thursday, Billy Mayfair made a hole-in-one with a 5-iron from 202 yards on the par-3 seventh hole. It was the sixth ace of Mayfair’s career with the others coming at the 1989 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, 1992 BellSouth Classic, 2005 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, 2007 Wyndham Championship and 2010 FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Since 1971, only nine players have more aces than Mayfair, led by Hal Sutton’s 10.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Q-school has plenty of pressure all on its own. Add in winds consistently in the 20-25 mph range -- with gusts as high as 50 -- and scoring has taken on a whole new meaning here in the second round. Case in point: As of this moment, only nine players have recorded rounds in the 60s. Seven more players failed to break 80, including Brendan Pappas, who shot 86 -- currently the highest score in the books Thursday.
As for the leaderboard, there’s still a long way to go here in the second of six rounds at PGA West. Matt Jones, however, was one of those players to break 70, carding a 68 on the Stadium Course to earn a share of the lead at 9 under. Harris English and Will Claxton are also 9 under, but they are still on the golf course.
Some other notable names in the top 25 on the leaderboard: Billy Hurley III, Vaughn Taylor, Jeff Maggert, Dean Wilson, Bob Estes, Troy Merritt, Adam Hadwin and Sam Saunders.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
As anyone who has ever read a golf magazine or shopped at a golf store can attest to, equipment manufacturers are quick to tout their products alongside a champion.
Imagine seeing Luke Donald’s name tied to four different companies. That’s how many can stake a claim to the bag of the man who topped the 2011 PGA TOUR money list by virtue of his win at the Fall Series finale, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
Donald is most closely associated with Mizuno, wearing the company name on his visor and playing their MP-62 irons, plus MP T-11 wedges and a Hi Fli CLK 17-degree hybrid.
But off the tee, he uses a TaylorMade R11 driver, the familiar white model that took the TOUR by storm at the start of the year. He also swings a TaylorMade R9 13-degree 3-wood.
Donald finished No. 1 in Strokes Gained-Putting this year, beating Steve Stricker by a wide margin (.844 to .769). He did that with an Odyssey White Hot XG No. 7, one of the company’s more unusual looking models with its weighted alignment wings extending off the rear of the clubhead. Odyssey is under the Callaway Golf umbrella.
And to top it all off, Donald plays the Titleist ProV1x ball, which puts him in the majority of TOUR pros.
BIG CHANGE: Bob Estes, who finished the season 135th on the money list, made a swing plane change and, as Golf World Monday reported, had to make a wholesale change to his TaylorMade clubs. Technicians reviewed Estes’ divot patterns and found he needed clubs that were two degrees more upright.
That’s a significant change, but it was the right one. Estes finished T28 at Disney, his second-best finish in 12 starts this season.
TWEAKS: Scott Gutschewski and Derek Lamely came to the season finale tied for 35th in driving distance. They both finished in the top 20 at Disney after making adjustments to their Callaway RAZR-Fit drivers, with Gutschewski getting the edge (293.5) over Lamely (290.4) and breaking the tie.
Gutschewski also changed the shafts in his driver and fairway woods to the Nventix Nunchuk GH 2660. As the company explains, the shaft actually resembles the martial arts device of the same name by having two rigid ends and a softer midsection.
By John Schwarb and Zak Kozuchowski, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods’ sartorial trademark has always been the Sunday red shirt. This week at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, the attire attention has shifted south – to his shoes.
Normally golf shoes aren’t a focal point unless they have a standout color (such as Kris Blanks’ red dogs at the RBC Canadian Open), but for a 71-time PGA TOUR winner recovering from leg and Achilles issues, they’re a point of emphasis.
Woods’ Nike Free prototype shoes, the product of nearly a year of design work between Woods and Nike, are described by the company as boasting “a ‘natural motion’ technology that is designed to mimic and conform to the natural motion of the foot, coupled with the protection and traction of a lightweight performance shoe.”
“It was nice to try and get something that I felt comfortable in,” Woods said Tuesday during his pre-tournament press conference at Firestone. “The Free technology is something that I wear every day, and some of the things, some of the aspects, I love training in it, I love running in it, lifting in it, so why can't I play golf in it.
“So eventually we got together and created this shoe, and walking out there on the golf course, it felt good to feel my foot activated, something that I hadn't felt in a long time. That felt very good, so the whole chain was activated, something that I'd always felt off the golf course but not on the golf course.”
There’s no metal on the bottom of the shoe, just rubber and soft cleats, which is a change for Woods. Metal cleats have been fading away on TOUR but Woods is a spike loyalist – or at least he was until this week.
Nike has not said when or if Woods’ shoe would be available to the public, though a big week at Firestone or next week at the PGA Championship would likely answer that.
MORE TIGER: A lot is new for Woods this week. In addition to the new caddie and shoes, he’s got a new putter in the bag.
Woods has been spotted playing his practice rounds with a Nike Method 001, a PING-Anser style putter that he first debuted at the 2010 British Open. That was the first time Woods benched his Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS, a putter that he used to win 13 of his 14 career major championships.
Woods cited the Method’s firmer face for the switch, saying it would help him get putts to the hole on St. Andrews’ slower greens. By Sunday, however, he returned to his trusty Cameron.
Since then, Woods had been using a toe-down Nike Method mid mallet putter (similar to the Method 005), which has a radically different design from the Newport 2 and the Method 001 that is currently in the bag.
So, while Woods is making a putter change this week, it’s actually a return to the style of putter that has brought him his most success in his career.
VERY OLD SCHOOL: Bob Estes, last a winner on the PGA TOUR in 2002, nearly broke the drought Sunday at The Greenbrier Classic only to lose in a playoff. Had he won it would have been the first title in quite a while for a Titleist Bulls Eye blade (pictured).
There are far more Bulls Eye-shaped putters at miniature golf courses than at TOUR events nowadays. The more preferred sticks from the Titleist arsenal, of course, are Scotty Camerons – like the Del Mar prototype used by Bill Haas (the other Greenbrier playoff runner-up) and the 009 wielded by Scott Stallings (the winner).
OOPS: Golf World shared the story about Stuart Appleby’s Callaway logo balls, which ended up on sale at The Greenbrier instead of in the Aussie’s bag. The company made 112 dozen balls with the player’s usual apple-bee logo, but Appleby thought the logo was too big.
Bob Estes, Bill Haas and Scott Stallings are in a playoff at The Old White TPC, where the first playoff hole will be the par-3 18th, followed by the par-5 17th (if needed) and then back to the 18th (if needed).
18TH HOLE (5:58 p.m.): Bill Haas led off the playoff -- and hit a nearly identical shot as he did in regulation with his ball just getting onto the back shelf at the par-3 hole. Haas used 9-iron. Estes, meanwhile, hit an 8-iron inside of Haas hole high maybe 15 feet right of the hole. Stallings was the last to go and he hit almost the same shot he hit in regulation when he made birdie, hitting it just outside 5 feet. All three will now have almost identical putts to what they faced in regulation.
(6:03 p.m.): Haas and Estes each missed their birdie putts, while Stallings, who had a nearly identical putt to what he had in regulation when he made birdie rolled his in for the win.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – A year ago, it took a 59 to win The Greenbrier Classic. The excitement has continued on Sunday as Bob Estes, Scott Stallings and Bill Haas embark on a playoff to decide the champion.
The playoff will begin on the par-3 18th, then move to the par-5 17th and back to No. 18, if necessary.
Estes, who has battled wrist injuries and missed the cut in five of his six starts this year, finished at 10 under first. He shot a bogey-free 65 in the final round and rolled in birdie putts of 4 and 15 feet on his last two holes.
Estes is a three-time PGA TOUR winner. His last victory came at the 2002 Kemper Open, which was 223 starts ago.
Haas, who picked up his first two PGA TOUR victories last year, closed with a 67. He bogeyed the 15th hole but came back with a clutch 10-footer for birdie at the 17th hole to tie with Estes.
Stallings was at 10 under, as well, until he hit his tee shot in the hazard at the 17th hole and went on to make bogey. But the rookie came up with a pressure-packed 5-footer for a birdie at the 18th to rejoin the fray.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Brendon de Jonge called it a "terrible" effort.
He was looking at a birdie putt on the 72nd hole. A mere 5 feet, 7 inches stood between the big man from Zimbabwe and a share of the lead at The Greenbrier Classic.
But de Jonge missed. And another chance at his first PGA TOUR victory disappeared, as well.
"I had it straight up the hill ... and barely touched the hole and just had a bad putt," de Jonge said.
Still, the former Virginia Tech standout couldn't be too disappointed. He held a share of the 36-hole lead, lost it with a frustrating 72 on Saturday but rallied and gave himself a chance on Sunday.
De Jonge bogeyed his first hole of the final round, but made the turn in 31 after closing out the front nine with a string of three straight birdies. He went on to make a 5-footer at the par-5 17th to move to 9 under and within one stroke of Bob Estes, who was waiting in the clubhouse.
And then he missed that birdie putt.
"I didn't get off to a great start, obviously, bogeying the first but made a couple of birdies around the turn which got me back in the tournament and gave me a chance on the back nine," de Jonge said. "Just didn't make any putts when I needed to."
Even so, de Jonge, who had two top-10s entering The Greenbrier Classic, continues his love affair with The Old White TPC. He finished solo third a year ago.
"It was fun,” de Jonge said. "It was exciting. Obviously, it would have been nice to make that last one or a couple more coming in, but , no, that was fun."
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Bob Estes is trying to pull a Sean O'Hair Sunday at The Greenbrier Classic.
Estes has just finished off a bogey-free round of 64 that moved him into a tie for first at 10 under with Bill Haas. Minutes later, though, Haas made bogey at the 15th hole and Estes now has the lead alone.
Should Estes win, he would move from 254th in the FedExCup to 82nd. A win would also end a nine-year victory drought for the 45-year-old Texan, who has played sparingly this year after finishing outside the top 125 on the money list for just the second time in his career.
When O'Hair won the RBC Canadian Open last week, he moved from 147th in the FedExCup to 43rd.
Prior to this week, Estes had only played in six PGA TOUR events. He’d only cashed one check – in his first start at the Valero Texas Open back in April.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COm
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- The Old White TPC is being a little more generous in the early going on Saturday.
Not only did Jimmy Walker threaten the magic 59 before settling for a career-low 62, four other rounds of 65 or better have been posted before the leaders of The Greenbrier Classic tee off at 1:50 p.m.
Chris DiMarco got one of those with a bogey-free 64 that moved him back into red numbers at 5 under. Andres Romero, Bob Estes and Kyle Stanley, who played with Walker, all shot 65s – the Argentine moving to 5 under and the other two vaulting to 4 under.
"It's benign out there," DiMarco said. "Didn't get much wind until the back nine. Obviously being the third off the tee the greens were pretty good all day, too. So I was able to keep control of it, hit the ball in the fairway a lot and gave myself some chances. Made a couple good ones; actually left a couple out there."
DiMarco said he missed a 4-footer for birdie on the first hole and another at No. 13. "Other than that, it was a very solid round," the Floridian said. The winds hadn't started swirling Saturday morning, either -- " Yesterday afternoon was probably the toughest wind I played in in a long time," DiMarco said.
"It would never make up its mind. It wasn't like it would go just a quarter one way or the other. It was straight in or straight down on most holes. It was really difficult. You never knew when you were going to get it."
DiMarco finished with a flourish on Saturday as he two-putted for birdie from 36 feet at the par-5 17th and holed an 8-footer at No. 18. He expects the immature greens – all 18 were reseeded with bentgrass over the last 12 months – to be a factor as the afternoon progresses.
"They're tough to reason," DiMarco said. "And then later in the day, I mean, the leaders that go out in probably another two hours, they're going to feel the 75 guys putting out there. It'll make a difference. There's no doubt about it. It was nice to be the third group off and not see any spike marks and kind of have smooth greens."
Even so, DiMarco expects to see some more good scores as the day progresses.
"It's out there right now," he said.
Bob Estes is not one of those who entered this week on the outside looking in for the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. Ranked 120th, he’s safely in the field for next week’s Barclays. A strong finish here, though, obviously goes a long way to securing a spot in the remaining Playoff events and he’s certainly in good position after an opening 66 that included four birdies in his first five holes.
”That usually pertains to everybody in the group playing well and Robert Gamez got off to a really slow start,” Estes said. “He wasn't playing well early but he did on the back-9 for the most part.
“Sometimes that can make a difference. But I've been playing better lately so it was more of the fact that I was just more comfortable with what I was doing and I'm starting to play better.”
That he has. Estes has finished in the top 33 – including a tie for fourth in Canada – in four of his last five starts after at one point missing five of seven cuts. And in his last three starts, Estes is a combined 32 under. -- Brian Wacker