By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Callaway Golf debuted two new products at the Frys.com Open, a new driver in its RAZR line and a new ball.
The company hasn’t been in the adjustable-driver marketplace, but with the RAZRFit Callaway hopes to compete with similar offerings from TaylorMade and Titleist.
As Zak Kozuchowski of GolfWRX wrote earlier this week, the RAZRFit includes an interchangeable shaft connection like other manufacturers’ offerings, as well as an adjustable hosel that allows golfers to set the face angle as either open, square or closed. It also features two moveable weight ports that can be changed to either neutral and draw settings.
Ernie Els put a 9.5-degree model in play at CordeValle and finished T4, hitting 60.7 percent of his fairways for the week, in line with his season average. Other players using the club included Trevor Immelman, Cameron Beckman and Scott Gutschewski.
The club is not expected to be on sale to the public until 2012.
Callaway also had a prototype HEX Black ball in competition at Frys.com, a five-piece model with a dual core and dual-mantle layer, plus a redesigned hexagonal pattern on the cover. Els and Derek Lamely used the ball in California.
TRY, TRY AGAIN: Sun Mountain is providing outerwear for the United States team at next month’s Presidents Cup. Hopefully this won’t be a storyline once competition begins.
That wasn’t the case at last year’s Ryder Cup in Wales, where persistent rains penetrated the Americans’ Sun Mountain gear to the point that players bought new rain suits by other manufacturers at merchandise tents. The company took plenty of criticism, and wasn’t helped by the fact that the U.S. lost the matches.
This year, Sun Mountain said it worked with the U.S. team to design jackets and pants that will better protect from the elements while staying breathable. The company said its new woven material stretches in four directions, is completely waterproof and has a water-repellant finish.
TIGER TALK: One day after Tiger Woods said he had “one of the worst putting rounds” of his career in his first-round 73 at the Frys.com Open, he returned with two pieces of lead tape on his Nike Method putter.
Turned out to be a good call, as Woods followed with three consecutive 68s and finished T9 for the week in putts per round -- his best putting effort all season.
Woods also carried two new clubs in his bag, VR Pro Limited 3- and 5-woods (15 and 19 degrees).
ON THE SHELVES: Rushing to meet demand for the biggest trend on the PGA TOUR this year, TaylorMade is ramping up production to get the Corza Ghost and Ghost Spider long putters into stores. The company projects it will sell five times as many belly and long putters in 2011 compared to last year.
Retail price for both models is $199.
WINNER’S BAG: Bryce Molder at the Frys.com Open:
Driver: Titleist 909D3 9.5º (Mitsubishi Diamana Prototype)
3-wood: Titleist 909F2 13.5º (Mitsubishi Diamana White 83)
Hybrid: Titleist 910H 20º (Fujikura Speeder 904)
Irons: Titleist CB (712 Series) 3-9 (True Temper Dynamic Gold)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled 48º, TVD54º, TVD60º (True Temper Dynamic Gold)
Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2.7 SS
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
NORTON, Mass. – Trevor Immelman withdrew from the Deutsche Bank Championship on Friday after shooting 78 in the first round due to a death in the family.
Since he will not earn any FedExCup points this week, the South African has been eliminated from the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. He started the week ranked 79th and only the top 70 when the tournament concludes on Monday advance to next week’s BMW Championship.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Trevor Immelman was headed straight to the putting green after he finished off a round of 70 Friday that left him one shot off the lead held by Brendon de Jonge and Webb Simpson.
The South African had played solidly tee to green, but the flat stick simply wasn't as cooperative as it was during the first round when it produced seven birdies. He needed 31 putts Friday and several short misses early -- two which were for birdie and another came in a three-putt bogey at the fifth -- set the wrong tone for the overnight leader.
"(I) had a funny switch there and kind of took some momentum away from me with the putter there," Immelman said. He thought he found something in his grip, though, that could turn things around on Saturday.
"I think my tendency is to get my grip a little too far down in the fingers on the left hand and then the putter blade doesn't swing back and come through really," he explained. "So I was really just trying to get my grip comfortable and a nice roll between the finish.”
The 2008 Masters champion said the breezes that swirled through the tree-lined course nestled in the scenic mountains of West Virginia made club selection difficult, as well. " The biggest swirling breeze I've ever played on a golf course, even more than Augusta," Immelman said. "The wind really moves around a lot here. That's probably why you see some players coming up 30 feet long, 30 feet short."
Immelman didn't let frustration set in during the second round,
though. After a bogey at the eighth hole dropped him two shots off
the lead, he reeled off eight straight pars before making a
4-footer at No. 17 to get back to even par.
"It was great," Immelman said. "I was grinding it out and made a good up and down there on 17. Like I said, anything that's par or under around here in the afternoon is really good with the way the wind.
"I'm looking forward to (the weekend). Probably the closest I've been to the lead in a little while. It's exciting for me. It's going to be great to have an opportunity."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- It was hard to tell what made Webb Simpson happier on Friday afternoon.
Was it the fact that he was tied for the lead at The Greenbrier Classic or the fact that he played well enough his wife Dowd would likely make the drive up I-77 from Charlotte, N.C., with their baby James to watch him play the last two rounds?
"I told my wife that I'm going to go out and be in the lead so you've got to come for the weekend," a grinning Simpson told reporters just minutes after jokingly asking a Golf Channel reporter if he could say hello to his family on the air.
Mission, as they say, accomplished. And make no mistake, this weekend could be a life-changer for Simpson, who could rise as high as second in the FedExCup with his first PGA TOUR victory.
He will play in the final group on Saturday with Brendon de Jonge, also seeking his breakthrough win. The two are tied at 7 under, one stroke ahead of Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters champ on the comeback trail after wrist surgery.
Simpson made his move Friday on the back nine. He hit a wedge from 85 yards to 6 feet for birdie at the 10th hole, then answered a bogey at the 11th by getting up-and-down from behind the green at the par-5 12th. He added a 12-footer for birdie at the 14th hole and finished it off the 68 with a 7-footer on No. 18 that he called "icing on the cake."
"Starting out I didn't hit very many good shots," Simpson said. "But I tried to keep the ball in front of me and started dialing it in more on the back."
Depending on what happens this weekend, Simpson could play his way into his first World Golf Championships. He currently stands 53rd in the Official World Golf Ranking and anyone who stands inside the top 50 on Monday gets to play in next week's Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
Not to mention, the young man who ranks 15th in the U.S. Presidents Cup roster could threaten the automatic top 10, as well.
Even with everything at stake, though, the low-key Simpson is working hard to keep things in perspective.
"It's all a good feeling knowing I have a chance to win going into the weekend," Simpson said. "But it was just another couple of solid rounds. And this afternoon was trickier with the wind. But I was able to get a couple of coming in, which is always nice."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- When he was growing up in Zimbabwe, Brendon de Jonge played in some junior golf tournaments against Trevor Immelman, who hails from South Africa.
Asked Friday who was the better player back in those days, de Jonge didn't hesitate. "He was," the 31-year-old said. "Very much so."
Interestingly, Immelman, who won the 2008 Masters, held the first round lead at The Greenbrier Classic after a 64. But de Jonge seized sole possession of the top spot on Friday morning after a 67 that left him 7 under and ended the afternoon tied with Webb Simpson.
Meanwhile, Immelman ended up shooting an even-par 70 and stands in solo third, one stroke behind the leaders.
To see de Jonge leading the Greenbrier Classic is hardly a surprise, though. He finished a career-best solo third a year ago, and the 2003 Virginia Tech graduate has always felt comfortable on the recently-restored and revitalized C.B. Macdonald/Seth Raynor creation. He draws an extra dose of adrenaline from the Hokie Nation fans in his gallery, too.
"I love the changes," de Jonge said. "The changes obviously made the golf course a lot more difficult, but I think they're great. It's a comfortable place for me. A lot of Virginia Tech support, which it's nice. ... It's always a little pick me up if you're struggling a little bit. It's fun. It's nice to hear, 'Go Hokies' on every tee.
"Any time you play sport there, it's a pretty close-knit community, so it's good fun."
Speaking of close-knit. carrying de Jonge's bag this week is his friend Chris McDonald, whom his boss calls a "very, very good player" from Zimbabwe. McDonald, who played at the College of Charleston, was pressed into service when de Jonge's regular looper, Phil Lowe, opted to take a few weeks off back home in England.
"We see a lot of the same things out there, which helps," de Jonge said. "It's nice to have that a little bit of reassurance."
Golf was a family affair for de Jonge back home in Zimbabwe. His father, who is retired from the banking business, once was a 2 handicap while de Jonges's brother played to scratch.
"I played a lot of other sports growing up," said de Jonge, who was recruited by the Hokies while playing junior golf in South Florida. "I actually had to make a choice between cricket and golf when I was 16 or 17."
Judging by his results, de Jonge made the right decision. He was the Nationwide Tour Player of the Year in 2008 and has been a member of the PGA TOUR the last three years. He came close to picking up his first win earlier this season at the Transitions Championship where he went into the final round trailing by one, played in the final group and ended up tying for fifth.
De Jonge came to West Virginia with momentum, too, on the heels of a tie for seventh at the John Deere Classic and a tie for 13th at the Viking Classic. A year ago, although the tournaments were different, he had identical finishes in his two starts prior to The Greenbrier Classic.
"The last couple years I've had a couple stretches where I've played well for an extended period of time," de Jonge acknowledged. "I'm playing nicely coming in this week, so, yeah, hopefully keep it going."
And what would it take to get over the hump this weekend and finally pocket that first PGA TOUR title?
"I think the biggest thing is just getting out of my own way," de Jonge said. "It's very, very difficult to win out here; it's difficult to win anywhere.
"So just sort of staying in what you do, keep going at the same speed you had been the first three rounds if it's the final round. Staying in your own routine I guess is the best way to put it."
When overnight leader Trevor Immelman tees off halfway through the hour at 12:30 p.m. ET, he’ll do having lost his lead. He’ll also do trying to build toward his first top-10 in nearly three years -- Immelman’s last top-10 was a tie for 10th at the 2008 TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola.
Still, as well as Immelman played Thursday, this season has been a struggle at times as he continues to work his way back from wrist surgery in 2008.
”I've just been working on those old feels and trying to get some consistency back,” said Immelman, whose best finish this year was a tie for 12th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. “I've seen some signs of good play and some good shots at the right time. I'm just trying to stay patient with it.”
Immelman’s needed that patience of late with four consecutive missed cuts in his last six starts.
The other thing working against Immelman? A first-round leader has hung on for the victory just five times this season (most recently being Rory McIlroy at the U.S. Open).
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – Trevor Immelman doesn’t tee off until 12:30 p.m. ET but there’s already been a change at the top of the leaderboard.
Brendon de Jonge, who went to school at nearby Virginia Tech, has just birdied the fourth and fifth holes to move to 7 under. The big man from Zimbabwe made a a 10-footer at No. 4 and a 4-footer at the next to take sole possession of the lead.
The former Hokies standout started on the back nine and recovered from an early bogey with consecutive birdies at Nos. 16 and 17 to turn 1 under for the day. He finished third in last year’s Greenbrier Classic.
Meanwhile, Gary Woodland has moved into a tie with Immelman at 6 under. The big-hitting Woodland bogeyed No. 10, which was his first hole, but two-putted the par-5 17th for birdie and added another birdie at the first hole.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SUPLHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- The road back for Trevor Immelman has been a long one.
About 18 months after he won the 2008 Masters, the talented South African had surgery to repair the remnants of a debilitating case of tendinitis in his left wrist. Immelman couldn't even putt for five months and it was another 30 days before he was able to start hitting balls.
Immelman eventually returned to the PGA TOUR in February, 2010 but he is still looking for his first top-10 finish. In fact, his last one came at the 2008 TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola -- 48 starts ago.
Judging by the way he played Thursday in the first round of The Greenbrier Classic, though, Immelman's fortunes might be ready to change. He made seven birdies and just one bogey in shooting a 64 that earned him the lead.
"Any time you shoot a number like that it's exciting," Immelman said. "That's why you put all the hard work in."
And for Immelman, that work has been significant and the 2011 season is the first where he has really been completely healed. He has had to repair his game and resurrect his confidence in the wake of the extended recovery.
"Number one is the pain and discomfort," Immelman said. " So
that's the roughest part, because no matter what profession you're
in, whether it be indoors or outdoors, pain is not great.
"And then from an athlete's standpoint, because of the pain, number one, before the surgery I was compensating. All you do at that point is get into bad habits and start playing worse. ...
"So it's just frustration because I know that I got better golf in me. I've proved it to myself. So when you're out there shooting mediocre scores and struggling to make cuts and stuff like that, mentally it's not ideal."
Thursday's round had to be a confidence boost. While he missed five fairways, he still hit 17 of 18 greens. And Immelman had eight one-putt greens among the 28 strokes he took with the flat stick.
Immelman, who missed the cut a year ago, is a big fan of the restoration of The Old White TPC. He thinks the character of the C.B. Macdonald/Seth Raynor design has been maintained while the course has been made more challenging.
"I hit a lot more drivers now than what I did last year, and that's nice," Immelman said. "A lot more medium iron into the par-4s; whereas last year the fairways were really firm and it felt like every hole was a wedge or sand wedge.
"Consequently you really felt the need to make a lot of birdies; whereas this year, I definitely don't see as many birdies out there. You got to hit some good straight drives. … So I think the course is playing fantastically right now."
Immelman, who birdied three of his first six holes on Thursday, feels similarly good about his game. He's made 11 of 16 cuts this year and stands 108th in the FedExCup. Those "old feels" are returning with more regularity and he's more confortable with every round.
"I hope I'm close," Immelman said. "You never know with this
game. It's been a frustrating couple years not being able to
swing the way I want to swing and practice the way I want to
"I've definitely seen signs of improvement. Albeit slow progress, there's been progress. So I just keep trying to remind myself that I'm 31 and I got a long way ahead of me. Just trying to stay patient and keep things going."