By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Brian Harman is one of the success stories of the FedExCup Playoffs so far, turning in the best finish of his PGA TOUR career at The Barclays to shoot from 97th in points to 41st.
He was near the bubble at the start of the week at the Bethpage State Park Black Course; now he’s in a pretty good spot to play through this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship and into next week’s BMW Championship.
And maybe one degree did it.
The lefthander doesn’t carry a 3-iron in his TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC set, and found himself pressing on approach shots to long par 4s in an early-week practice round – his first ever on the intimidating Black Course.
So he brought his irons to the TaylorMade van Monday night and had all of them (4-iron through PW) bent one degree strong. Come Thursday, in the first round of The Barclays, he shot 65. He ended the week tied for fifth, showing an impressive aversion to Playoffs pressure.
“It has to creep in, but you let those thoughts come and just let them pass,” Harman said. “You know the best way to assure a spot next week is focus on hitting the 4‑iron, 6‑iron, whatever it is.”
In his case, one degree stronger.
HEAVY METAL: Titleist’s new 913D3 prototype driver has won two of the last three events on TOUR, with Nick Watney’s win at The Barclays coming on the heels of Rory McIlroy’s dominant win at the PGA Championship.
Titleist also debuted its 913 fairway and hybrid prototypes at Bethpage. Graham DeLaet, the biggest mover of all last week with his T5 finish at The Barclays (from No. 106 to No. 44 in the FedExCup), used a 913F fairway.
TWO GLOVES MOVES ON: Tommy Gainey played himself from outside the top 100 in FedExCup points into a spot this week at TPC Boston after a T38 at The Barclays. He made adjustments to his Callaway Razr Fit driver to find some more spin, specifically by changing his upright hosel stting and adding more weight in the toe of the driver while taking it out of the heel.
The result? Gainey could still hit a hard cut but with more than 100 RPMs of spin.
GOLF WITH ZACH: GolfLogix, makers of the game’s best-selling golf app and a leader in GPS technology, is having a sweepstakes where four winners will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to play golf with nine-time PGA TOUR winner Zach Johnson at his home course in St. Simons Island, Ga.
Existing GolfLogix “Champion” members and those who join or upgrade memberships by Sept. 3 are automatically entered. For more information and to enter without purchase, visit here.
WINNER’S BAG: Nick Watney at The Barclays:
Driver: Titleist 913D3 (10.5 degrees)
Fairway woods: Titleist 910F (15, 19 degrees)
Irons: Titleist AP2 (3-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM4 (54, 60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson – the top three players in FedExCup points at The Barclays -- are about to hit the course for Friday’s second round.
Woods, ranked first in FedExCup points, shot a 3-under 68 in the first round. McIlroy, ranked first in the world rankings, shot a 69. Johnson, ranked 4th in points, shot a 68.
How will Woods and McIlroy – who are playing together for the first time at a PGA TOUR event this week – fare in the second round?
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FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson played together in the first round of The Barclays on Thursday at Bethpage Black State Park Black Course. PGATOUR.COM had hole-by-hole coverage of the threesome, who come into the first FedExCup Playoffs event ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3 respectively.
HOLE BY HOLE: ROUND 1
No. 10 – Woods and Johnson found the fairway while McIlroy was just in the left rough. The Northern Irishman was the only player to find the green in regulation, leaving himself a 14-foot birdie putt. Johnson, who was over the green, chipped to 5 feet and Woods, who came up short, put his third shot within 4. McIlroy came within 5 inches of his first birdie and tapped in for par. Woods converted his par save while Johnson made bogey. Woods: Even. McIlroy: Even. Johnson: 1 over.
No. 11 -- Woods found the fairway off the tee but put his second shot on the collar of the green, 10 yards from the green. He chipped to 3 feet and made the putt for par. McIlroy was in the intermediate rough to the left of the fairway but had no problems with his second shot, setting up a 2-footer for a successful birdie. After finding a second fairway and green in regulation, Johnson missed a 9-footer for birdie and settled for par. McIlroy: 1 under. Woods: Even. Johnson: 1 over.
No. 12 -- All three players find the fairway on the dogleg-left, 501-yard par 4. Woods, who had 221 yards to the hole, put his second shot on the green but left himself a 34-footer for birdie. Johnson's second shot from 177 settled 22 feet from the pin while McIlroy, who had left himself 159 yards to the green, put his approach within 11 feet. All three miss their birdie putts. McIlroy and Johnson made tap-in pars but Woods has to hole a 4-footer. McIlroy: 1 under. Woods: Even. Johnson: 1 over.
No. 13 -- The 13th hole is a 608-yard par 5. McIlroy hits the longest drive there of 307 yards but all three players are safely in the fairway. Johnson hits first and lays up to 96 yards while Woods is 20 yards closer and McIlroy will have 104 yards for his third. The world No. 1 leaves himself a 20-footer for birdie, then Johnson hits to 2 feet and Woods is 7 feet away. McIlroy and Johnson convert but Woods put his birdie putt 2 feet by. McIlroy: 2 under. Johnson: Even. Woods: Even.
No. 14 -- Three more birdie putts for the featured group at the 170-yard par 3. Woods is the only one who converts, from 16 feet, while Johnson two-putts from 27 feet and McIlroy from 20. McIlroy: 2 under. Woods: 1 under. Johnson: Even.
No. 15 -- McIlroy is the only player who found the fairway at the 15th hole. Woods and Johnson were both in the right rough. Johnson's second shot from 213 yards went over the green while Woods came up on the putting surface but 53 yards short. McIlroy, meanwhile, sets up a 14-footer for birdie with another pinpoint iron. Johnson chips to 3 feet and ends up making par while Woods misses his long birdie by less than a foot. McIlroy climbs into a tie for the lead with his third birdie in six holes. McIlroy: 3 under. Woods: 1 under. Johnson: Even.
No. 16 -- Woods is the only player to find the fairway and the green on the 16th hole, a 474-yard par 4. Johnson drives into the left rough, McIlroy the right, but both players find the same greenside bunker. Johnson leaves himself the longest par putt at 18 feet while McIlroy barely gets out of the sand, then blasts to 4 feet and makes bogey. Woods misses his birdie putt while Johnson joins him in making par. McIlroy: 2 under. Woods: 1 under. Johnson: Even.
No. 17 -- Woods has the longest birdie putt of 45 feet at this 207-yard par 3. Johnson is 11 feet from the pin and McIlroy 12 inches closer. The 23-year-old Northern Irishman is the only one to convert -- which gets him into a seven-way tie for the lead -- with Johnson and Woods two-putting for pars. McIlroy: 3 under. Woods: 1 under. Johnson: Even.
No. 18 -- Three more balls in the fairway. Johnson, who has 182 yards to the green, puts his approach 31 feet from the pin. McIlroy, from 172 yards, leaves himself a 28-foot birdie putt while Woods, from the same distance, comes up a foot closer. All three get two-putt pars. McIlroy: 3 under. Woods: 1 under. Johnson: Even.
No. 1 -- Woods hits his tee shot into the left rough. Johnson is in the right intermediate rough while McIlroy is the only one to find the fairway. Woods misses the green to the left and chips to 3 feet for par. Johnson two-putts from 19 feet for another par while McIlroy does the same from 14. McIlroy: 3 under. Woods: 1 under. Johnson: Even.
No. 2-- McIlroy found the left rough off the tee, the other two the fairway. Johnson's approach was the closest at 17 feet while Woods left himself a 21-footer and McIlroy a putt of 32. Woods is the only one to make his birdie putt. McIlroy: 3 under. Woods: 2 under. Johnson: Even.
No. 3 -- Tiger must have been fired up after that last birdie. He staked his approach at the 239-yard, par-3 third hole to 8 feet. McIlroy and Johnson both found the back left greenside bunker, blasting out to 11 and 5 feet, respectively. McIlroy couldn't save par but Johnson did. Woods missed his birdie putt. Woods: 2 under. McIlroy: 2 under. Johnson: Even.
No. 4 -- McIlroy hit the longest drive at the 510-yard par 5, his 312-yard poke clipping Woods by 8 yards. Johnson, after a 274-yard drive, put his second shot in the front bunker and then blasted to 10 feet. McIlroy put his second shot over the green and chipped back to 7 feet while Woods did the same and chipped to 8 feet. Johnson and Woods made their birdie putts but McIlroy two-putted for par. Woods: 3 under. McIlroy: 2 under. Johnson: 1 under.
No. 5 -- Woods drove 327 yards into the right rough while McIlroy found the left intermediate rough 319 yards out. Johnson put his second shot on the green but left himself 53 feet from the pin. Woods’ approach landed in the front left bunker and McIlroy gave himself a 31-footer for birdie. Johnson comes within 5 inches on his long birdie attempt while McIlroy misses by 7. All three go on to make par. Woods: 3 under. McIlroy: 2 under. Johnson: 1 under.
No. 6 -- Wow. Zach Johnson nearly holed his approach from 161 yards and he'll tap-in from 16 inches for birdie. Woods, on the other hand, put his approach in the right greenside bunker after finding the right rough off the tee. He blasted out to 8 feet and missed the par putt. McIlroy was short of the green in two and couldn't get up and down so he made bogey, as well. Woods: 2 under. Johnson: 2 under. McIlroy: 1 under.
No. 7 -- All three drives land in the fairway with Woods and McIlroy about 30 yards farther than Johnson. Johnson's approach finds the left bunker, as does that of McIlroy, while Woods is over the green in two. McIlroy nearly holes his bunker shot and taps in from 3 inches for his first birdie on his back nine. Woods chips to 9 feet and Johnson blasts to 5 -- and both make their birdie putts as well. Woods: 3 under. Johnson: 3 under. McIlroy: 2 under.
No. 8 -- The 197-yard eighth hole featured a trio of two-putt pars. Woods' came from 34 feet and Johnson’s from 31 while McIlroy was the closest at 17 feet. Woods: 3 under. Johnson: 3 under. McIlroy: 2 under.
No. 9 -- Three fairways hit and three greens in regulation on the Featured Group's last hole, a 463-yard par 4. Woods has a 30-footer while McIlroy is 26 feet away and Johnson is the closest at 14. No one can convert, though, so Woods and Johnson finish four strokes off Padraig Harrington’s pace while McIlroy trails by five.. Woods: 3 under. Johnson: 3 under. McIlroy: 2 under.
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- Bubba Watson said his wife Angie was hoping to get the call.
The reigning Masters champ had just gotten a text from his manager, Jens Beck, on Monday telling him that Augusta National was going to announce the addition of its first two female members.
"So I told my wife ... and my wife said, 'Do you think it'll be me? Do you think they'll announce me as a member?'" Watson recalled. "So it was funny. ... But obviously, she didn't make the cut. Maybe she's the third lady."
All joking aside, though, Watson said the addition of Condoleezza Rice, who was Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, and South Carolina financier Darla Moore as the first two female members was "good to see.
"It's always in their time," Watson said. "They want to do it the right way, they want to get the right membership in there what they're looking for, and obviously it's great. It's great for golf, it's great for the game."
Zach Johnson, who won the 2007 Masters, said he thought the move was "fantastic." He also knew that the Augusta National membership would make the decision in its own time.
"In my opinion, or based on what I've read and what I've seen,
the timing is right to have a couple women members so far and hats
off to them,” Johnson said. “If that's their
prerogative and that's the direction they want to go, that's
fantastic. I don't know the specifics. I know this time of year is
when they start inviting new members, so I know there's a longer
list than just two women.
"Knowing some of the members there, they're always very gracious to have new members come in, and I don't foresee that being any different. It seems like Chairman Payne ... well, I think he's great. I think he certainly has always had a pretty open mind about things, and that's why you've seen some tweaks and changes at Augusta and the Masters."
The two-time winner in 2012 got a surprise pairing for the FedExCup Playoffs opener.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- This week at The Barclays, as is the custom at all four events in the FedExCup Playoffs, the pairings for the first two rounds will be based on a player's point total.
So Zach Johnson finds himself in what is sure to be the most watched group at Bethpage State Park on Thursday and Friday -- playing with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who rank Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the FedExCup.
Johnson clocks in at fourth but he gets the marquee pairing because No. 3 Jason Dufner has decided to take a break after playing the last three weeks straight.
Johnson has played with both players before, although never in the same group. He's experienced the energy of the partisan crowds Woods and McIlroy attract. And the nine-time PGA TOUR champ understands the fascination.
"I guess if I wasn't playing with them and I was working out or in my hotel, I'd probably be watching them on TV, so now I've got a first-hand watch," Johnson said. "I know the crowd will be pushing them quite heavily, and it'll be fun."
At the same time, Johnson, a two-time winner in 2012, knows he'll need all the extra focus he can muster when he joins Woods and McIlroy on the first tee. He’ll need to play his own game, not marvel at theirs, to prosper at Bethpage Black.
"Two guys that you certainly can get caught up watching just because of the shots they can hit, shots they can hit that I can't hit," Johnson said with a smile. "I'm just hoping my boring golf kind of gets in the way, and that's really what it boils down to. I like boring golf. That's kind of what butters my bread, so to speak."
Johnson knows his fairways-and-greens style of play doesn't garner as much attention as his two playing partners. But he hopes Zach Johnson fans will come out and support him -- and maybe by the weekend, he'll be able to hear them, too.
"Knowing what I've read and seen and experienced with Tiger and
Rory, their fans are probably a bit more abundant and probably a
little more loud than mine," the former Masters champ said. "So I
don't know how many Zach Johnson fans will be out there, but I'll
be hopefully embracing them and hopefully hitting some quality
"Anyway, it doesn't matter. It's fantastic for our sport. New York fans are sports fans and New England fans are sports fans, and it's always nice coming back here, because they're not afraid to speak loud, they're not afraid to cheer, they're not afraid to applaud a good shot and encourage you when you're down."
The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational below, or on the PGA TOUR’s Facebook page.
Participants have until 6 a.m. ET Thursday to make their picks. Log on to the PGA TOUR Facebook page and click the Matchups link to make your picks for this week, or to sign up.
|Tiger Woods vs. Adam Scott||The seven-time Firestone champ takes on last year's winner|
|Ernie Els vs. Keegan Bradley||Two major champs; Bradley tied for 15th in Firestone debut in 2011|
|Jason Dufner vs. Zach Johnson||These two technicians are sitting in third and second in FedExCup points|
|Justin Rose vs. Hunter Mahan||Mahan won here in 2010; Rose scored first WGC win this year at Doral|
|Rickie Fowler vs. Luke Donald||Donald seeks second WGC title; won Accenture Match Play in 2011|
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
At an average of 305.1 yards per drive for the week, runner-up Troy Matteson had the highest driving distance among the top 15 finishers at the John Deere Classic.
It took a little work to get there from an equipment standpoint.
Matteson, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, came to TPC Deere Run telling TaylorMade reps he was ‘killing’ his RBZ fairway wood but was not able to hit a power draw on command with his driver. Instead, he was hitting pulls.
Matteson’s original driver, an 8-degree TaylorMade R11S, had been tuned to a lower position while the ASP sole plate was in the closed setting – in short, a low-lofted driver with a open face, setting up closed. To help fix, TaylorMade reps gave him a higher-lofted driver with a closed clubface that appeared square, shortened by an inch to get the club more vertical and promote the draw.
In the end, going from a 7.5-degree/2-degree open face to an 8.5 degree/1-degree closed/1-inch shorter club immediately promoted more ball speed, higher launch and a higher spin rate, allowing the ball to stay in the air and turn right-to-left.
How much the switch pay off? In the first round at the John Deere, Matteson made 10 birdies in a round of 61 and ultimately lost in a playoff to Zach Johnson.
ANSER MEN: At the other end of driver spectrum was Ping, a holdout in the adjustable driver craze – until earlier this month. Ping’s new Anser driver is its first entry into the adjustable market, with lofts able to be tuned a half-degree up or down.
Louis Oosthuizen (pictured at right) put a Anser driver in the bag at last week’s Scottish Open and brought it to the British Open, where he’s the defending champion. Former Masters champion Angel Cabrera has been working with an Anser 3-wood.
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Callaway’s X Utility Prototype irons have been hot on TOUR and will continue to be this week at the British Open, where accuracy is far more important than distance. The company has been frantically shipping clubheads from its PGA TOUR trailer overseas; clubmaker Roger Cleveland even traveled to England with five 18-degree X Utility Prototype heads in his baggage.
BAG BITS: K.J. Choi won the 2011 PLAYERS with Miura irons; last week he finished T13 at John Deere with Callaway RAZR Musclebacks. … Blake Adams switched from steel shafts in his TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC irons to Aldila-prototype graphites at the John Deere. Most PGA TOUR pros prefer steel in irons. … Chez Reavie first began working with a TaylorMade Ghost Spider belly putter at the AT&T National, finally putting it into play at TPC Deere Run and finishing T68.
SCRIPT: You know you’re important when your apparel supplier dresses you. Check out how Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose are scripted by TaylorMade-adidas.
WINNER’S BAG: Johnson at the John Deere
Driver: Titleist 910D2 (Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board, 9.5 degrees)
Fairway woods: Titleist 910F (15.0 degrees) and 909 F2 (18.5 degrees)
Hybrid: Titleist 909H (21 degrees)
Irons: Titleist AP1 (4) and AP2 (5-9)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design (48, 54, 60 degrees)
Putter: SeeMore FGP
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, PGA TOUR Academy
Well, Zach Johnson finally got that hometown win at the John Deere Classic after defeating Troy Matteson in a two-hole playoff. This is Johnson’s second win in 2012, which moves him up to second place in the FedExCup standings, just behind Tiger Woods.
After a bunch of birdies from all over the TPC Deere Run golf course over four rounds, Johnson was forced to make one more birdie from the fairway bunker -- just like Steve Stricker did in 2011. After hitting his fairway bunker shot in the water during the first playoff hole, Johnson got a second chance to redeem himself during the second playoff hole with a very similar shot that he pulled off to near-perfection.
Fairway bunkers are usually not a golfer’s best friend. Although professionals make these shots look easy most of the time, they too can struggle with the precision needed to hit these shots successfully. The key to a good fairway bunker shot like Johnson’s late on Sunday is to make ball contact first. Although this is the case with most every shot in golf, it holds especially true in a fairway bunker.
Here are three tips the next time you face this difficult fairway bunker shot:
1. Grip down and stand a bit closer to the ball at address. This setup adjustment will help control the swing. However, be sure to take enough club to offset its effect on distance.
2. Place your sternum over the ball with weight slightly left at address. It is very helpful to approach this shot like a short game shot. Make sure the sternum is not too far behind the ball but rather more over it, with the weight slightly preset to the forward foot.
3. Conservative swing. I tell my students that when thinking of a fairway bunker shot, less is more. Think three-quarters in this situation, as this will allow you to keep the body more stable with less moving parts. This will help promote that the sternum returns back over the ball with the weight on the lead foot at impact.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, click here.
RELATED VIDEO: The top 10 fairway bunker shots on the PGA TOUR
Check out the top five shots of the week from the John Deere Classic and Utah Championship featuring highlights from Zach Johnson, Troy Matteson, Sam Saunders, John Senden, and Steve Stricker.