By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Brad Faxon says he has a recurring dream about playing with longtime friend Jeff Sluman for 54 holes and not helping him on a single one.
He can sleep easy on Friday night.
Faxon contributed seven birdies midway through the first round at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf while Sluman cleaned up the start and finish, and the end product was a 10-under 62 in the team format, good for a one-shot lead at The Club at Savannah Harbor.
Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman, winners of the last three Schwab Cups and the 2009 Liberty Mutual champions, are one shot back at 9 under. Tom Watson and Andy North, the 2008 champions, are two shots back along with the teams of Craig Stadler/Kirk Triplett and Tom Kite/Gil Morgan.
"We did a good job today of getting both balls in play, and a lot of holes we had two putts for birdie on," Faxon said. "The back nine got pretty windy and out of a different direction than I think we're used to seeing the course play and we capitalized (for) 6 under on the back, which we thought was a pretty good score."
Faxon's putter was key, as it always is when he plays well. Sluman found himself talking on a loop.
"All I kept saying was good putt, great putt. Another one, another one goes in the dead center," Sluman said. "For me, it's actually a great thing to watch, it looked like every putt's got a chance.
Faxon and Sluman finished tied for third a year ago at 27 under, two shots behind the winning duo of Michael Allen and David Frost.
PGA TOUR pro Brad Faxon, who was raised in Rhode Island, was a consultant to Gil Hanse when TPC Boston was redesigned in 2007.
1. I think one of the first keys, one of the most important things at TPC Boston, is getting off to a fast start. The first four holes are very scoreable. You start with a short par 4, then a reachable par 5, a drivable par 4, and then you have a not-too-long par 3. Getting off to a quick start is important.
2. Just as important as a fast start is a fast finish. Like the first four holes, the last four holes are shorter holes. No. 15 is a short par 4, No. 16 is a short par 3, No. 17 is a very short par 4 and then No. 18 is a reachable par 5 with a new green this year. Really, I think the first four holes and the last four holes are keys to a good round there.
3. The meat of the golf course is in the middle of the round. Those holes are very long and it’s very important to be in the fairways on the longest holes out there because the hole locations will be very difficult to get close to if you are hitting it out of the rough on those long par 4s.
4. The best part about the TPC Boston and the Deutsche Bank Championship is the variety of winners they’ve had. Most of the credit for that should go to the architect. All kinds of styles have won there.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sam Snead often practiced full shots while barefoot, to better feel his connection with the ground and maintain balance.
Golf shoe manufacturers aren’t going to endorse that anytime soon, but they’re fighting each other to create the closest things to barefoot. Like the hot drivers and clothing fabrics on the floor at the PGA Merchandise Show, lighter is better.
Adidas Golf showed off its new Crossflex, weighing in at a scant 10.6 ounces. Most golf shoes come in closer to a pound or more.
“It’s a supernova-rising category,” said adidas Golf product manager Grant Knudson of the light-shoe segment.
Several startup companies are trying to, um, get a foothold in that segment with shoes that look closer to Crocs with spikes or surf shoes. Barefoot B.E.R.B.S. (standing for better energy recovery balance stability, of course) showed off their product at Wednesday’s Demo Day and invited customers to try on a pair and smash drivers.
But all is not lost for golfers still looking for anchors. FootJoy’s XPS1 has a sole that flares out at points around the bottom of the shoe, adding stability. Gary Woodland, the kind of player who would need maximum stability with his fierce swing speed, wears the XPS1 on the PGA TOUR.
SIGHTINGS: Jack Nicklaus spoke at a Golf 2.0 program for the PGA of America. … Davis Love III signed autographs at Bridgestone’s booth … Brad Faxon drew a crowd while giving putting tips for a synthetic green company … CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz, the longtime voice of Titleist on commercials, emceed a Thursday morning gathering for the company’s PGA professionals. … Dave Stockton and his sons were on hand to offer putting tips and sign Stockton’s new book, “Unconscious Putting.”
PUTTING PROWESS: Ping reps stayed busy on a putting green running a contest using the company’s iPhone putting app. Attendees were fit for a Ping putter with the company’s new “Fit for Stroke” system, which measures golfers onto one of three swing paths – strong arc, slight arc or straight. Golfers then hit five putts with a correctly fit putter, and those putts’ data were measure with the iPhone clipped to the putter.
The 32 players with the most consistency from their set are invited back Friday for a competition, and the four left standing after that will compete Saturday morning in a $5,000 skins game.
The Ping putting app has had more than 100,000 downloads since its release last summer, and when the company pushed its iPhone cradle (the device attaching the iPhone to the putter) as a stocking stuffer, that proved to be a hit too. More than 3,000 downloads were recorded on Christmas morning.
AROUND THE FLOOR: TaylorMade’s area (along with sister companies adidas and Ashworth) filled the east end of the convention hall, and Thursday night featured a concert with George Thorogood. His song, “Who Do You Love?” is used in the company’s commercials for the new R11s driver. … Cobra Puma Golf’s two-story booth featured a slide into a pit of plastic orange balls. The weight limit to ride it? Under 195 pounds. … An indoor testing range is expected to have some 250,000 balls hit over the three days of the Show. … For more pictures from the show, click here .
SMART STUFF: Golf Buddy has a new GPS device called “The Voice” which is beeper-sized and tells you the distance to the hole with a push of a button. … A new company called iWanamaker is offering free scoring software for smartphones that allows golfers in outings to keep tabs on each others’ scores, creating a live leaderboard. … There’s no shortage of companies offering golf simulators, either for recreation or instruction, but Guru Training Systems offers a twist – a 3D trainer that is a “markerless motion capture system” according to the company. It works with a depth-sensing camera mounted atop a TV, meaning it could be used in one’s living room without moving the furniture.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- Last year at the Greenbrier, Gary Woodland and Brad Faxon made for interesting practice partners. Woodland of course hits it as long as anybody in the game, while Faxon has long been considered one of the great putters of all time.
“He came up to me on the 15th hole and said, ‘Do you always hit it like this? Why haven’t you won?’,” Woodland said Tuesday at the AT&T National.
The two have practiced together ever since and over Christmas Woodland went down to Florida to work on his short game with Faxon, who is a longtime friend of Woodland’s coach Randy Smith.
It wasn’t long before Woodland got that win with his victory at this year’s Transitions Championship. Woodland was fifth in the field in putting that week.
Faxon didn’t do much with Woodland’s stroke -- it was more his mental approach that he focused on -- but he clearly had an impact. The two play together whenever possible and last week teamed at the CVS Caremark Charity Classic in Rhode Island before spending Monday at nearby Pine Valley.
“There's nobody as good as he is at putting,” said Woodland, who has five top-10s in his rookie season. “It’s just phenomenal to see. His mental approach to it is second to none. I think that's really where he's helped me out.”
Faxon, meanwhile, was happy to oblige.
“One of problems with golf instructors sometimes is they don’t ask players what they feel like or what they like to feel like when they play well,” Faxon said. “I’m big believer in that guys out here have to be pretty good to be out here. He didn’t get out here just because he could hit it a long way. Sometimes just having a conversation helps them get that feel back or that thought back.
“I’m not a guy who has a method; I’m more about the complete picture. There are certain things I like to see in a guy’s stroke, and he has a lot of those things.”
Brad Faxon won’t be back in the broadcast booth this season after NBC chose to not renew his contract for 2011. Faxon, who had a one-year deal and worked seven events for the network last year, will instead focus on his playing career.
“Technically I was never fired so that’s the good news,” Faxon joked when reached at his home in Rhode Island. “I was disappointed because I really enjoyed it and was more surprised than anything because I kind of expected to do it again.
“It seems to be more of an economics thing than a talent thing.”
Instead, NBC will use Peter Jacobsen in an increased role. Jacobsen will be on hand at eight events -- the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, THE PLAYERS, the U.S. Open, and three PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup events.
Last year, Faxon and Jacobsen overlapped in covering a few events for the network.
Faxon doesn’t have any ill feelings toward Jacobsen over the decision.
“He does a great job and is a great friend,” Faxon said.
Faxon, who will turn 50 on Aug. 1, has only past champion status on the PGA TOUR this season and will have to rely on sponsor exemptions. He has eight career wins with the last coming at the 2005 Buick Championship.
“I think the plan will be to play much as I can on TOUR and then on Aug. 1 it’s going to be an easy decision -- if I’ve played well I’ll stay out there and finish up on the regular TOUR, if I’m playing poorly then I’ll go straight to the Champions Tour.”
As for returning to the booth in the future, Faxon isn’t ruling it out.
“Yeah, I think [I’d like to],” Faxon said. “I don’t know if it will end up being a career or not, but I think I could do a good job. I felt like I improved as time went on.
“The hardest part was when everybody found out and they started calling me.” -- Brian Wacker
Hunter Mahan had scored in the 60s in 15 of his last 19 rounds at TPC River Highlands – until shooting 71-72 in the first two rounds this year to miss the cut. Mahan had finished in the top 4 in his last four starts at the Travelers Championship (T2-2006, 1st-2007, T2-2008, T4-2009).
Also doing a little trunk-slamming is Brad Faxon, who won the Travelers Championship in 2005 but will be going home after rounds of 75-73. This was his 26th appearance at the event, passing Mark Brooks and Mark Calcavecchia for the most in tournament history. Faxon will miss this year’s cut for just the eighth time of those 26 starts.
Brad Faxon hasn't found himself in contention very much this season. He's also rarely been in contention in 11 previous starts at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
But the resumption of play after Thursday's weather delay certainly seems to have jump-started him.
Thanks to three consecutive birdies, Faxon briefly tied for the early lead before suffering a bogey at the par-4 12th.
Faxon had birdied hole Nos. 9, 10 and 11, needed only two putts in the process, as he holed out from just off the green at the par-4 9th.
He was 4 under through 11 holes before he found the bunker with his tee shot on the 12th, which kept him for reaching the green in regulation.
Faxon, who a couple of months ago added NBC broadcasting duties to his workload, has missed the cut eight times in his 11 starts this year. His best finish is a tie for 48th at the Quail Hollow Championship, his last start.
His best finish in Dallas a tie for 11th in 2001. He's missed the cut in his last three starts here.
You can follow the rest of Faxon's round on Shot Tracker by clicking here. -- Mike McAllister