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."