LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Yes, Scott Stallings has the upper hand. But make no mistake, there are birdies to be had at the Palmer Private Course on Sunday.
You have to look no farther than Kevin Chappell, who started on the back nine. He has surged into a tie for second at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation after playing his first 12 holes in 8 under.
Chappell, who is from Fresno, made six birdies on the back nine and added another pair on Nos. 1 and 2. He's 20 under and tied with David Lingmerth, who is 5 under through seven holes on the front, and Brian Gay, who is 4 under through six.
Stallings, though, has made three straight birdies starting at the second hole. So his lead remains five strokes.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
CROMWELL, Conn. -- Thanks in part to a penalty assessed to Brian Gay on the 17th hole -- his eighth in the second round -- 18 more players made the cut at the Travelers Championship on Saturday than would have had he not been penalized.
Here was the scenario: Gay hit his approach shot from a fairway bunker into the hazard short and left of the green on the difficult par 4.
Gay stepped on the ball while looking for it in the thick rough within the hazard.
When they called for a rules official, their argument was that the ball was already embedded. However, Gay was assessed a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2, which states that there’s a one-shot penalty if a player or his caddie touches the ball or causes it to move.
By saying he’d come in contact with the ball, Gay was, in essence, saying just that, according to PGA TOUR VP of Rules and Competition Mark Russell -- though Gay and caddie Kip Henley tried to state their argument for the better part of an hour after the round that the ball was already embedded.
Gay tried to play the ball out of the hazard, but it went just a few feet before he pitched up short of the green and eventually onto it and two-putted for a quadruple-bogey.
With the penalty Gay shot a 2-over 72 to finish his first two rounds at even par -- and right on the cut line.
If not for the penalty, Gay would have been the 70th player to finished at 1 under, which would have been the cut. Instead, 69 players finished at that number meaning the 18 other players at even par ended up making the cut.
Gay didn’t any better with the 17th hole in third round, either.
He hit his tee shot into the same fairway bunker, then hit his approach into the water and had to take a drop before making bogey.
Check out the top five shots of the week from the 2012 PLAYERS Championship featuring highlights from Tim Clark, Brian Gay, Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, and Jhonattan Vegas.
Caddie Kip Henley earns his keep scaring off an alligator near Brian Gay’s ball on the par-5 15th hole.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Kip Henley: full-time caddie, part-time alligator chaser.
During the opening round of the RBC Heritage, Henley used a rake to shoo away a 10-foot alligator from the ball of his boss Brian Gay on the 15th hole at Harbour Town Golf Links.
“I didn’t see any other option,” Henley said Friday. “We had to get him out of there.”
It wasn’t the first time.
Just three weeks ago at the Transitions Championship, Henley grabbed one by the tail -- though that episode was not captured by television cameras, nor was the gator as large. Henley, who grew up in Tennessee and still lives there, estimates that he’s grabbed about five gators by the tail.
“I’m not afraid of them if they’re facing away from you,” he said. “They won’t snap back around at you. If they can get in the water they’ll take off. This was the most stubborn one I’ve ever seen. I thought it might be a bad time with the cameras on me for him to snap around and actually get me.”
Gay, who missed the cut, joked he might not have minded if it did.
“I didn’t want to see him get hurt, but I was hoping he would so he wouldn’t do it again,” Gay said. “What have you got to gain?”
In this case, not much. Gay went on to bogey the hole.
“I went down there to have a look,” said Tim Clark, who was playing alongside Gay. “But yea, it wasn’t my shot so I didn’t need to try to get rid of him.”
At least one member of the group wasn’t surprised by Henley’s exploits.
“I felt sorry for that gator,” said veteran caddie Keith Nolan. “I’ve seen him in action. I’m surprised he didn’t turn him into a belt or a pair of shoes.”
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- It looks like Bill Murray and D.A. Points likely won’t repeat as the winners of the celebrity competition here. Not unless something miraculous happens.
Points and Murray are a combined 9 under -- and a dozen shots off the pace of Padraig Harrington and European business mogul J.P. McManus, who are a half-dozen shots clear of Brian Gay and eBay president and CEO John Donahoe.
Harrington, by the way, is faring pretty well in the regular tournament, too. He’s 5 under through eight holes at Pebble Beach and 7 under overall.
Tiger Woods and Tony Romo, meanwhile, are a combined 11 under and tied for 20th at the moment.
For a complete celebrity leaderboard, click here .
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
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
HONOLULU -- During his two-month offseason, Brian Gay spent more time on the range and less time on the course, working on some mechanics in his swing to allow him to pick up more distance off the tee. He also fell sick, a cold he didn't shake until earlier this week.
Oh, and he changed out his driver, 3 wood and hybrid. He's not used to making those kind of significant equipment overhauls.
"Always got that question mark, a little bit of uncertainty," Gay said.
Not as much uncertainties now, though. Gay posted a bogey-free 5-under 65 early in Saturday's third round that moved him up the leaderboard. At 7 under for the tournament, he was three shots off the lead held by Matt Every, who had yet to tee off.
Obviously, he wasn't sure how far back he would be at the end of Saturday. But at least he has a chance going into the final round.
"It's early but I got myself in position to where if I get a low one tomorrow, I can get up there," Gay said.
In the past five years, Gay's highest ranking in driving distance was 183rd in 2009, but he's ranked in the top 10 in driving accuracy in four of those years.
But he worked on a different angle with his driver coming through the ball. Along with a change to a new TaylorMade driver, he's already felt a difference.
"I think I'm hitting it a little bit farther," he said.
Lee Westwood will have an opportunity to defend his title this week in Memphis after playing his first two rounds in 1 under -- though he’ll obviously have some work to do with the lead currently at 9 under.
Padraig Harrington, on the other hand, will have to hope the cut line moves a stroke after playing his first 36 holes in 2 over -- the current cut line is 1 over.
Others on the wrong side of the number include Brian Gay (1 over through seven holes, 2 over for the week), last year’s hard-luck loser Robert Garrigus (3 over through two rounds), two-time winner here David Toms (5 over through two rounds), Anthony Kim (even through eight holes, 5 over for the week) and Sergio Garcia (even through eight, 8 over on the week).
Kip Henley won't be carrying Brian Gay's bag this week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He'll be teeing it up himself in the $5.6 million PGA TOUR event at TPC Southwind.
The 50-year-old Henley earned his spot when he won the Tennessee PGA Section event last fall. He debated whether to take the automatic spot -- particularly given the fact that his boss is a former champ of the FedEx St. Jude Classic -- but finally decided to play and have fun.
Make no mistake. Henley knows what he is doing. He played collegiately at the UT-Chattanooga and won "The Big Break II" competition on the Golf Channel. He worked as a club pro and tried to pursue his own dream of playing on TOUR before opting to work as a caddy.
Henley joked that "low expectations" is the strength of his game right now, although he did say he was a pretty good putter. He admits to have a lot of "apprehension and nervousness" at being so far out of his element.
"I got all my friends around me which kind of helps and kind of hurts, too," Henley said. "I don’t want to embarrass myself and I don’t play much golf anymore."
Henley, whose daughter Stormi will caddy for him, said he'd call the week a success if he can make the cut. At the same time, though, he doesn't want to think too much about playing the weekend.
"Anything short of that and I'll be disappointed but you don't want to talk much about the cut," Henley said. "I tell Brian to talk about winning.
"If a caddy sits there who doesn’t play golf any more and talks about winning, everybody will laugh at me. But if you shoot for the cut then you find yourself falling on the cut number then you usually just miss by one or two if you play good.
"I’m going to try my best to do one shot at a time -- it's the old cliché -- and just try to stay in the now the best I can."
And as for his fellow loopers? Well, don't expect them to give Henley a free pass as he trades places for the week.
"They’re killing me," Henley said, laughing. "They’re relentless. You know the caddies. They’re like used car salesmen. They’re going to come at you 100 mph.
"They’re doing it but I like it. I give it to them, so I’m going to get it back."