By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
CROMWELL, Conn. -- A visit last week from his old physio from Sweden seemed to pay immediate dividends for Fredrik Jacobson, who tied for 15th at the U.S. Open.
The Swede, who battled a sore back early in the season, is hoping to carry that momentum to this week’s Travelers Championship, where he’s the defending champion.
With TPC River Highlands considerably easier than The Olympic Club, you’d think that wouldn’t be much of a problem. Maybe. Maybe not.
”You give a lot during a major and put a lot into it,” Jacobson said Wednesday. “It just takes a little more out of you. You kind of decompress a little bit afterwards for a day or two and that kind of builds into the next week, which feels normally a little bit more relaxed.”
Jacobson was one of the few players to describe The Olympic Club as “fun” -- a term that certainly suits this course with an abundance of birdies and drivable par-4 15th.
”I thought [Olympic Club] suited me pretty good because I have a tough time sometimes to repeat the same swing 10 times in a row anyway,” Jacobson said. “You have to see the shots and you have to hit shots that you normally don't hit. So I actually enjoyed that and thought it was maybe a little bit of an advantage for me because I do like to hit some different shots.”
Last year, Jacobson didn’t need a lot of shots at TPC River Highlands. He made 21 birdies and just one bogey all week, which included a third-round 63.
“I've got a lot of good memories from last year,” said Jacobson, who joined a long list of past champions who got their first PGA TOUR victory here. “It's always going to be a special place every time I come here.”
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO -- Fredrik Jacobson did exactly what he had hoped to do on Saturday. Now he has to take advantage in today's final round of the U.S. Open.
Jacobson went out and fired a 68 in the third round that could have been even better to give himself a chance to win his first major championship. At one point Saturday, the Swede reeled off three straight birdies -- and he narrowly missed two more from inside 15 feet to extend the streak as he made the turn.
As a result, Jacobson will play in the penultimate group Lee Westwood, teeing off at 6 p.m. ET. He owns sole possession of third place at 1 over, two strokes off the lead.
"I knew before the round that if I could put a good number up
today that I most likely could give myself a chance for (Sunday),"
Jacobson said. "It was a big day out there today to try to close
the gap a little bit and get into contention.
"So the first few holes I didn't hit the fairways and they're tough as it is, even if you are in the fairways. So I had to work really hard the first six holes to play those 1 over, and I think that was key. So I hit a good shot on 7 to get myself back to even and then played really solid from there."
Jacobson's best finish in a major is a tie for fifth at the 2003 U.S. Open -- interestingly, the one won by Jim Furyk, who starts the final round tied for the lead with Graeme McDowell. He also tied for sixth that year at the British Open but has yet to post another top-10 in one of golf's crown jewels.
That's not to say Jacobson, who will defend his first PGA TOUR title at the Travelers Championship next week, hasn't played well in majors of late. He's finished in the top 20 in three of the last four he's played, including last year's U.S. Open where he started the final round in sixth place.
Jacobson feels the experience on golf’s biggest stage will help Sunday.
"Any time you can draw from good memories it helps," Jacobson said. "Obviously it's a new situation, it's a new tournament, so we're always starting from scratch; but I think last year being in contention here in the U.S. Open and also playing pretty well in the Masters this year -- at least being around it a little bit and also getting to play the majors over the last two years or year and a half -- helps.
"So I have some consistency going."
Fredrik Jacobson makes a 27-foot putt for a birdie on the par-4 first hole.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Of all the corners of the golf world that exhaled with Tiger Woods winning an official PGA TOUR event for the first time in 30 months at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, perhaps the biggest exhale came from Nike headquarters.
Woods, of course, is the frontman for Nike Golf, having worn the swoosh on his clothes since joining the TOUR in 1996. He originally played Titleist golf balls in his early years as a pro, then picked up Nike’s new balls in 2000 and its clubs in 2002. Two years ago he shelved the last non-Nike product in his bag – his longtime trusty Scotty Cameron putter – for a Nike Method.
By winning at Bay Hill, Nike got a boost for its new VR Pro Blades, which feature a more precise forging process and Nike’s proprietary high-frequency grooves. What the company didn’t get as much of a boost for was its 20XI ball.
Though Woods’ hat has a 20XI logo on the side, his bag doesn’t have any of the company’s new resin-core balls. He’s still playing the ONE Tour D.
Whereas most TOUR players are quick to put the newest balls in play, Woods’ model is three years old. It’s the oldest item in his bag.
Nike ball design guru Rock Ishii told me at January’s PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando that he leans on Tiger every time he sees him to put a 20XI ball in play on TOUR, and that Tiger has had success with the ball in testing. But the ONE Tour D is still his choice.
Tough to argue after watching him win by five shots at the Arnold Palmer.
NEW NOME: Ping introduced the first USGA-approved adjustable-length belly putter shaft this week. Used on its Nome 405 putter, it allows a player to adjust the length within a 9-inch range (from 37.5 inches to 46.5 inches) to create his or her own custom fit.
“With the popularity of belly putters we saw a unique fitting opportunity because shaft length is so critical to performance,” Ping CEO John Solheim said. “Adjustability is key because the standard 42-inch belly putter fits a narrow range of people.”
To adjust the putter, Ping provides a tool that threads into a locking stainless-steel ring on the shaft, and when the ring is loosened, the shaft slides telescopically. Tightening the ring gets the putter ready for play again. (Like other adjustable clubs such as drivers, adjustable putters may not be changed during a round of golf, per USGA rules.) The shaft is available in Ping’s three different bends for a straight, slight arc and strong arc stroke types.
NEXT TO HEX: Callaway staff players Fredrik Jacobson and J.B. Holmes put Callaway’s new Hex Black Tour ball in play at Bay Hill for the first time, switching from the company’s older Tour i(z) model.
Jacobson also picked up fresh wedges for the upcoming Masters, moving away from the stock-soled wedges he prefers into grinds with bounces reduced and moved more toward the center of the sole. With the closely mown surfaces at Augusta National, less bounce is preferred by most players.
IMITATION: Reigning PLAYERS champion K.J. Choi visited Odyssey’s putter rep and asked for a duplicate of the White Hot XG #7H used by Luke Donald in winning the Transitions Championship. According to Callaway, he said there was something about the rails protruding off the back of the putterhead that made it far easier to swing on plane. The only modification Choi made to the putter was to add his usual Super Stroke Fatso grip.
WINNER’S BAG: Tiger Woods at the Arnold
Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard:
Driver: Nike VR Tour (8.5 degree, Graphite Design DI 6X shaft)
Fairway wood: Nike VR Pro Limited Edition 3-wood (15 degrees); Nike SQ II 5-wood (19 degrees)
Irons: Nike VR Pro Blades (3-PW)
Wedges: Nike VR Pro (56, 60 degrees)
Putter: Nike Method 001
Ball: Nike ONE Tour D
Martin Kaymer takes the outright lead at Sheshan with this birdie on the par-3 17th.
Adam Scott spins a wedge into the cup from 105 yards out on the par-5 18th to complete a furious finish at Sheshan.