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
PGATOUR.COM’s countdown of the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2012 begins today.
Each day, we’ll also post a note in TOUR Report with the latest list of players.
That will give you an opportunity to weigh in on how you think those players will perform next year – and whether you think we have them ranked too low or too high. After all, just like snowflakes, no two lists will be the same.
So for the debut of this year’s list, here are Nos. 91-100. Click on each player’s link for his preview page, including this year’s new addition of the Three Wise Men – Chris DiMarco, Arron Oberholser and Craig Perks, who offer their takes on each of the players on the list .
Don’t forget to let us know what you think.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Justin Leonard broke into one of those cat-caught-the-canary grins.
Someone had just asked what he felt had been the strength of his game on Saturday. But Leonard didn't go for one of the standard answers like putting or ball-striking or putting the driver in the fairway.
"The strength of my round was definitely from off the green," grinned the Texan who chipped in three times for birdie on the front nine. "... The one at 5 was going pretty fast, and the one at 9 was trying to give myself a decent putt at par. And the one at 8 was a little more realistic, but to hole it three times from off the green was pretty good."
To say the least. And thanks to a scrappy 70 that included six birdies and four bogeys, Leonard is tied for the lead in the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at 14 under with Kevin Chappell. They're one stroke ahead of rookie Bio Kim and two up on Nick O'Hern and Henrik Stenson.
Leonard played with Kim and Stenson on Saturday, and the Swede tried to steal some of his thunder. Minutes after Leonard chipped in from 69 feet at the fifth hole, Stenson holed a shot for birdie at the sixth.
"Henrik and I have played a lot of golf together," Leonard said.
"We've played in some Ryder Cup matches against each other. We've
played at the Accenture Match Play a couple of times, and I still
think he's probably up on me as far as chipping in.
"He's a good guy, and we're friends, and I think we both look forward to playing with each other. When I holed it on 5, then he holed it on 6, he kind of gave me the little, you know, bang. And then 8, and then 9, of course he dropped his putter and started coming over, and I was telling my caddie, just keep him away from me, just keep him away from me.
"But you know, we're just having fun. He's a little goofy, I'm a little goofy, so we have a good time together."
Justin Leonard, seeking his first win since 2008, just holed out off the fringe on the 500-yard, par-4 ninth to take over the outright lead.
Leonard is 14 under but being chased by 52-year-old Tom Pernice Jr., who is trying to become the second-oldest player to win on the PGA TOUR (Sam Snead, 52 years, 10 months).
Pernice has yet to make a bogey this week.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Henrik Stenson has yet to make a birdie on Saturday during the third round of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
Even so, the Swede has broken out of a three-way tie for the lead and now is alone at the top of the leaderboard at 12 under. His playing partners, Justin Leonard and Bio Kim, have both dropped one shot to par and trail by one.
James Driscoll, who entered the week ranked No. 125 on the money list, has joined the group at 11 under after making birdie on three of his first four holes.
Luke Donald, who must finish in a two-way tie for second or better to have a chance to win the money title, is headed in the right direction early Saturday. He made a 5-footer for birdie at the third hole to move to 8 under and into a tie for 11th.
The man Donald is trying to unseat, Webb Simpson, started off with a 12-footer for birdie on No. 1. But he missed a 6-footer for par at the fourth hole and couldn't get up and down from left of the green at the par-3 sixth so Simpson is now tied for 28th at 6 under.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Justin Leonard joked that he hasn't gotten an invoice from either one. Yet.
But if Leonard keeps playing the way he did on Friday at the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, Dr. Morris Pickens and Dave Stockton Jr. will surely be sending their bills to his Texas home.
Leonard fired a 63 on the Palm Course, which was his low round of the season, to seize a share of the lead in the final event of the PGA TOUR's Fall Series. He's tied at 12 under with Bio Kim and Henrik Stenson, two strokes ahead of Nick O'Hern.
Leonard has won 12 times on the PGA TOUR, including the 1997 British Open, but he has yet to finish in the top 10 in a decidedly sub-par 20111 season. He even missed the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup for the first time in his career.
“It hasn't been a good year,” Leonard acknowledged. “I'm looking forward to the year being over. But it's nice to have a chance this week to finish it off on a good note.”
Leonard credits the turnaround to some chances he made in the last few months. He sought the advice of Pickens, a sports psychologist based in Sea Island, Ga., and Stockton, a putting whiz, as well as putting in the hours with his long-time swing coach Randy Smith.
Leonard first met with Pickens on Sunday at the British Open, then the two continued their work at Greensboro and spent a day together in Dallas about a month ago. Under his guidance, Leonard has changed the way he practices to include more targeted drills rather than randomly ramming putts into the hole.
“I'm kind of moving around and each one kind of has a finish, whether it's making 90 percent in order to be done,” Leonard said.
As far as the invoice is concerned, "I haven't gotten it yet," Leonard said. "We were supposed to chat about it last week, and he was very sympathetic to how I played (Leonard missed the cut). So I think he's waiting for a good week and then it's going to come."
This certainly appears like it could be the week.
Complementing Leonard’s new practice strategy is Stockton. The two hooked up after the Frys.com Open and spent several hours together in San Diego 10 days ago.
Leonard, who used just 26 putts on Friday, felt the time has paid dividends as well. He made seven birdies and holed a wedge from 114 yards at the 14th hole for eagle in the 63.
"The things we talked about really resonated with me," Leonard said. "I mean, getting back to being more natural and getting my hands a little more forward and really speeding up my routine, which has been great, because I'm kind of getting out of my own way a little bit. So it's good.
“Haven't gotten that bill yet either, but hoping for another phone call on Monday or Tuesday."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Justin Leonard came to the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic ranked 144th on the money list. Although there was some confusion during his press conference after Leonard grabbed a share of the lead, his card for the 2012 PGA TOUR season is secure, though, and here's why.
It all started when Leonard received a 10-year exemption for winning the 1997 British Open.
A player who earns a multiple-year exemption for winning a major, the PLAYERS Championship, the TOUR Championship or an official World Golf Championships event will have that extended by one year for each official victory in subsequent years. But in no case shall it be extended beyond five years from the current calendar year.
So in 2003, Leonard's victories began adding an extra year to the original exemption. He won The Honda Classic in 2003 which took the exemption to 2008, the 2005 Bob Hope Classic (2009), the 2005 FedEx St. Jude Classic (2010), the 2007 Valero Texas Open (2011) and the 2008 Stanford St. Jude Classic (2012).
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The hot hand in the afternoon wave is an unlikely one – Jeff Maggert.
The 47-year-old has made just five cuts in 17 starts this year on TOUR, most recently in early May at the Zurich Classic. But you wouldn’t know it from his play Friday on the Magnolia Course, where he’s 5 under through 10 holes (he started on No. 10) and 8 under for the tournament.
Justin Leonard and Bio Kim continue to lead at 12 under after shooting 63 and 65 in the morning and are the only players at double-digits under par.
In the afternoon’s marquee matchup, Webb Simpson is turning the tables a bit on Luke Donald. Donald, hoping to overtake Simpson atop the money list, played better by two shots Thursday but is 1 over on his second round with all pars and one bogey through eight holes. Simpson is 2 under for his round and has overtaken Donald on the leaderboard.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
When Bill Haas won the FedExCup and TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola Sunday at East Lake, it was only appropriate given the 2011 season that he did it with a belly putter in the bag.
But it was a wedge, not the putter, that was the story of the day.
Haas’ amazing water shot (watch it again here) was a priceless endorsement for Titleist Vokey wedges. With his 60-degree Vokey Design Spin Milled 60-E wedge (the “E” refers to the type of grind; this one was bent to 59 degrees per his preference, with seven degrees of bounce), Haas pulled off a shot that instantly became part of PGA TOUR lore.
“The full sole of the Vokey 60-E helped Bill pull off the shot," Vokey said on the Titleist Tour blog. "He was able to open up the face and still have enough bounce to play it like a bunker shot. The grooves of the wedge along with a descending blow allowed him to spin the ball, even out of the shallow water.
"It was an amazing shot, one of the best I've seen in all my years of watching TOUR players."
RENEWED: Dustin Johnson is in the market for a new caddie, but won’t be hunting for a new equipment or clothing deal anytime soon. Johnson, most recently a winner at The Barclays, signed a contract extension through the 2015 season with TaylorMade-adidas.
"Dustin tops the charts in terms of talent, potential and charisma," said Bob Maggiore, TaylorMade-adidas vice president of global brand marketing. "He has the ability and determination to win anytime, anywhere, and the way he’s handled both victory and adversity during his first few years on tour has won him a huge fan following, and rightly so. He’s the real deal.”
SWOOSH: If there was an equipment scoreboard in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, Titleist would be the big winner with Haas and Webb Simpson (the Deutsche Bank Championship winner and pre-TOUR Championship No. 1 in points), while TaylorMade (Johnson, BMW champion Justin Rose) would come in second.
Nike Golf wouldn’t have been on the board.
None of its staff players qualified for the 30-man TOUR Championship. Charl Schwartzel, Lucas Glover and Jhonattan Vegas played at the BMW but failed to advance to the Playoffs finale.
Nike’s stable of players figure to have an enhanced presence in the Fall Series, however. Justin Leonard is fighting for a spot inside the all-important top 125, and of course Tiger Woods is teeing it up at the Frys.com Open.
RORY’S GIFT: Rory McIlroy’s relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki is clearly healthy and happy – because what says true love like a hand-stamped wedge?
Wozniacki tweeted a picture earlier this week of a custom Titleist wedge McIlroy had made, featuring “WOZZILROY” stamped along the side of the clubhead.
No word on whether McIlroy has a similar wedge stamped “MCNIACKI.”
Justin Leonard entered the week 142nd in FedExCup points -- and he nearly played his way in. But a bogey on the 72nd hole ended his chances of playing The Barclays next week.
Leonard shot 69 and is currently in a tie for 17th, good for 50 FedExCup points. But it's not enough. Rookie William McGirt looks like he is going to hang onto the 125th and final spot.
"You know, I got a few weeks off now and I'll work on it," Leonard said. "I kind of figured I had to make, make another birdie in the last three holes and, you know, had good looks at it 16, 17, I hit two good putts."
For Leonard, the Fall Series awaits. He played three Fall events last year, and he said Sunday he will likely play in three more in 2011.