By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Twice this season Keegan Bradley has been in contention on a Sunday, which is to say that he hasn’t exactly suffered a sophomore slump following a whirlwind season that culminated in his playoff victory at the PGA Championship.
In other words, Bradley is proving to be a fast learner.
The 25-year-old spent part of Monday playing in a pro-am at his home club, the nearby Bear’s Club, where he got to see Jack Nicklaus hit a few shots. It wasn’t long before Bradley was trying to pick his brain.
“He’s a really approachable guy,” Bradley said Tuesday from The Honda Classic. “I’m hopefully going to go to dinner with him this week and talk to him about Augusta.”
It certainly worked for Charl Schwartzel. Last year, the South African talked to the six-time Masters champion and got a cheat sheet of sorts for Augusta National prior to the tournament. Schwartzel went on to birdie is final four holes to win his first career Green Jacket.
Bradley says he’ll do the same, and that he’ll bring a notepad. “I’ll listen to anything he’s got to say for sure,” Bradley said.
He won’t stop there, however. Bradley also has a few rounds planned with Phil Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion.
“He’ll want to beat me and we’ll play a little match,” Bradley said. “But he’ll tell me to aim at this branch or this little thing over here.”
The biggest lesson Bradley has learned since winning the PGA, however, is patience. That’s the same thing that helped Schwartzel at Augusta National in last year’s wild final round, and it’s what has helped Bradley avoid a letdown this season.
“Sometimes in the final round you can make a bogey and freak out a little bit and try to make it back and maybe compound the problem,” Bradley said. “The PGA I was 4 down with three to play and I was very patient. Same with the Byron Nelson. Weird stuff happens on Sunday, so I’ve tried to really stay level and calm.”
All interviews will be streamed live on PGATOUR.COM. You can also check Twitter @PGATOUR.
Tuesday, Feb. 28
Rory Sabbatini: 8:30 a.m.
Davis Love III: 1:30 p.m.
Lee Westwood: 5:00 p.m.
Jack Nicklaus: 5:30 p.m.
Keegan Bradley: TBD
Wednesday, Feb. 29
Hank Kuehne: 9:30 a.m.
Tiger Woods: Following 6:45 a.m. Pro-Am
Mark Wilson: Following 8:35 a.m. Pro-Am
Rory McIlroy: Following 8:45 a.m. Pro-Am
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sam Snead often practiced full shots while barefoot, to better feel his connection with the ground and maintain balance.
Golf shoe manufacturers aren’t going to endorse that anytime soon, but they’re fighting each other to create the closest things to barefoot. Like the hot drivers and clothing fabrics on the floor at the PGA Merchandise Show, lighter is better.
Adidas Golf showed off its new Crossflex, weighing in at a scant 10.6 ounces. Most golf shoes come in closer to a pound or more.
“It’s a supernova-rising category,” said adidas Golf product manager Grant Knudson of the light-shoe segment.
Several startup companies are trying to, um, get a foothold in that segment with shoes that look closer to Crocs with spikes or surf shoes. Barefoot B.E.R.B.S. (standing for better energy recovery balance stability, of course) showed off their product at Wednesday’s Demo Day and invited customers to try on a pair and smash drivers.
But all is not lost for golfers still looking for anchors. FootJoy’s XPS1 has a sole that flares out at points around the bottom of the shoe, adding stability. Gary Woodland, the kind of player who would need maximum stability with his fierce swing speed, wears the XPS1 on the PGA TOUR.
SIGHTINGS: Jack Nicklaus spoke at a Golf 2.0 program for the PGA of America. … Davis Love III signed autographs at Bridgestone’s booth … Brad Faxon drew a crowd while giving putting tips for a synthetic green company … CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz, the longtime voice of Titleist on commercials, emceed a Thursday morning gathering for the company’s PGA professionals. … Dave Stockton and his sons were on hand to offer putting tips and sign Stockton’s new book, “Unconscious Putting.”
PUTTING PROWESS: Ping reps stayed busy on a putting green running a contest using the company’s iPhone putting app. Attendees were fit for a Ping putter with the company’s new “Fit for Stroke” system, which measures golfers onto one of three swing paths – strong arc, slight arc or straight. Golfers then hit five putts with a correctly fit putter, and those putts’ data were measure with the iPhone clipped to the putter.
The 32 players with the most consistency from their set are invited back Friday for a competition, and the four left standing after that will compete Saturday morning in a $5,000 skins game.
The Ping putting app has had more than 100,000 downloads since its release last summer, and when the company pushed its iPhone cradle (the device attaching the iPhone to the putter) as a stocking stuffer, that proved to be a hit too. More than 3,000 downloads were recorded on Christmas morning.
AROUND THE FLOOR: TaylorMade’s area (along with sister companies adidas and Ashworth) filled the east end of the convention hall, and Thursday night featured a concert with George Thorogood. His song, “Who Do You Love?” is used in the company’s commercials for the new R11s driver. … Cobra Puma Golf’s two-story booth featured a slide into a pit of plastic orange balls. The weight limit to ride it? Under 195 pounds. … An indoor testing range is expected to have some 250,000 balls hit over the three days of the Show. … For more pictures from the show, click here .
SMART STUFF: Golf Buddy has a new GPS device called “The Voice” which is beeper-sized and tells you the distance to the hole with a push of a button. … A new company called iWanamaker is offering free scoring software for smartphones that allows golfers in outings to keep tabs on each others’ scores, creating a live leaderboard. … There’s no shortage of companies offering golf simulators, either for recreation or instruction, but Guru Training Systems offers a twist – a 3D trainer that is a “markerless motion capture system” according to the company. It works with a depth-sensing camera mounted atop a TV, meaning it could be used in one’s living room without moving the furniture.
MELBOURNE, Australia -- The last time The Presidents Cup was played at Royal Melbourne, an ill-prepared United States team suffered its only defeat.
The matches were in December in 1998 and many of the Americans hadn't stayed competitively fresh in the months since the season-ending TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. It showed, too, in the lopsided 20 1/2-11 1/2 score.
Jack Nicklaus was the U.S. Captain that year, but despite the disappointment, the Golden Bear came back to serve three more stints at the helm. He's remained a staunch supporter of the Presidents Cup, and Nicklaus took the time to send a note of encouragement delivered to the current American team on Monday.
"That was nice," Matt Kuchar said. "Any time you hear any sort of comment from Jack Nicklaus, you're pretty excited, so that was a nice gesture. ... He sad, you guys have a great team. We weren't very prepared last year, or last time it was here, and got it handed to us but if you do a good job of preparing I'm sure it will be a great competition."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Just when you think you know everything about Jack Nicklaus, you learn something else.
He's a competitor. That's a given. He's the ultimate family man. Absolutely. He has designed some of the best golf courses in the world. Just look at the rankings. And his charitable efforts are second to none.
But did you know Jack Nicklaus can dunk?
The Golden Bear revealed the little-known fact to a handful of reporters in an impromptu interview session prior to the start of the final round of the Memorial Tournament.
One of the similarly high-challenged reporters had the moxie to ask Nicklaus how high the basket was. Nicklaus indicated it was regulation, but added with a smile that "I'm better with a volleyball."
Nicklaus actually played basketball in a recreation league in Florida for about two decades. His teammates were guys he worked with, as well as his secretary's husband who was 6-foot-8 -- "so he was a staple," Nicklaus said.
"It was really kind of funny," he said. "The guys (on my team) would say, 'You take him out and you've got us to deal with.'"
Even those who had written about Nicklaus for a long time were surprised to know that he had played in the league until he was 40. Nicklaus, for his part, was surprised it was such a topic of conversation.
"I always played basketball," he said with a shrug. "I wouldn't call it a real serious situation. I just played. I'd go to the gym on Sunday nights and played, too."
"But it's a big deal to us," one of the reporters said.
"That a little shrimp played basketball?" Nicklaus asked with surprise.
Nicklaus said he played all sports when he was growing up, as well as intramural volleyball, basketball and football while a student at Ohio State. His sport of choice these days is tennis.
"It's just like anybody else," Nicklaus said. "People like to go to the gym and be a gym rat. I'm a sport rat. I like to go and do all the sports and do all kinds of things."
Nicklaus also coached his four sons in Little League, often throwing batting practice. And what was his go-to pitch? "My best pitch was getting it to the catcher," he said.
Nicklaus thinks young kids should play lots of different sports as they are growing up. Some of his 21 grandchildren play lacrosse eight or nine months each year, and he's always encouraging them to branch out.
"When you're 9, 10, 11 years old go play other sports," Nicklaus said. "Round your body out. That's why I played. I thought it was good for your body; round out your body, use different muscles and so forth.
"I've always felt that. I felt specializing is not a thing you should do at a young age."
These days the 71-year-old Nicklaus likes to spend his free time in a boat fishing. " I've always said the fish don't know how old I am," he said with a smile.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Although much of central Ohio was under a severe thunderstorm warning until 2 a.m. Sunday morning, Murifield Village was basically spared.
Only three-tenths of an inch of rain fell overnight, so expect Jack Nicklaus' signature creation to still be firm and fast for the final round of the Memorial Tournament.
Granted, there are some low scores in the early going. Vijay Singh shot 7 under – the low round of the tournament -- and first-round co-leader Chris Riley has rebounded nicely from Saturday's 77 by playing his first 17 holes in 5 under.
But come on. This is Sunday at the Memorial Tournament and features one of the best fields of the year. Don't expect it to be easy as the pressure mounts this afternoon.
"They will have their hands full with today's pin placements," Nicklaus said Sunday morning.
The three finishing holes should be particularly challenging. The re-designed 16th -- which is a part of PGATOUR.COM's LIVE@ broadcast today -- has ranked as the toughest through the first two rounds. The 17th is second and the 18th is fourth.
Nicklaus is pleased with the redesign of the par 3 16th, where a pond was added down the left side of the hole. The change was made, in part, to add to the drama when the 2013 Presidents Cup is played at Muirfield Village.
"I think it's an exciting hole," Nicklaus said.
Sunday's pin at No. 16 is in the back left, which allows a player to feed the ball down to the hole. But it's playing to a formidable 200 yards -- which is about 12 and 5 yards longer than in the second and third rounds, respectively, but 6 shorter than in the first.
"They came back to me today and said we might want to go forward today and I said, 'Guys, I'd prefer you didn't,'" Nicklaus said. "You had the opportunity in the second and third rounds and that's where you should have. ... And now the last day when you want to have the golf course play its best and you want to go forward -- that doesn't make any sense."
Obviously, Nicklaus’ opinion was weighed carefully in the decision.
Nicklaus was on hand, as always, to present the Jack Nicklaus Award to the players selected by the Golf Coach Association of America.
UCLA freshman Patrick Cantlay won the Division I award while Abilene Christian Alex Carpenter was honored in Division II, Centre's Chris Morris for Division III, Oklahoma Christian's Oscar Stark for NAIA and Meridian Community College's Brandt Garon for the NJCAA.
Twelve of the previous 20 Division I recipients competed this week at Muirfield Village.
DUBLIN, Ohio – Scott Stallings has bounced back well on Saturday.
The PGA TOUR rookie followed his opening 68 with a 76 but he’s back on track in the third round. He’s 2 under through 12 holes after five birdies, a bogey and a double bogey.
Regardless of what happens this weekend, though, Stallings’ Memorial debut has been a memorable one. That’s because he got to have lunch with the tournament host, Jack Nicklaus, on Monday.
Stallings had nearly finished eating with his friend Kenny Perry when Nicklaus asked if he could join them. When the Golden Bear discovered Stallings had never played at Muirfield Villagel, he was only too happy to impart some knowledge – not unlike Nicklaus did when he took Charl Schwartzel through his thought process at Augusta National.
Stallings has already written about the encounter in his blog. Here’s an excerpt: “He then proceeded to tell me about all the ins and the outs of the course — he was the one who designed it. He told me where he likes to hit and the spots I should try to stay away from. I literally hung on every word.”
Schwartzel, you will remember, went on to win the Masters. Stallings is currently seven strokes off the pace with the leaders still awaiting their third round tee times.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Tiger Woods wanted to play in the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance this week. He really did.
After all, Woods is a four-time champion of the event hosted by the man whose records he so doggedly has pursued. Finally, though, Woods knew he had to make the call -- literally as well as figuratively.
The damage to his left knee and Achilles tendon -- which caused Woods to withdraw after nine holes of THE PLAYERS Championship -- still wasn't healed. So Woods picked up the phone on Friday and called Jack Nicklaus.
"He said, 'I tried up until today to see if I'm going to be able to come and play, but I can't,'" Nicklaus recalled. "He said, I'm still hobbling, and he said, I don't know whether I'm going to make the U.S. Open or not."
Nicklaus said he doesn't know the extent of Woods' injuries. But his gut tells him that Woods will play in the U.S. Open at Congressional in two weeks as he tries to get within three of Nicklaus’ record of 18 professional majors.
"I told Tiger when I was on the phone with him, which is the same thing I've said to him a thousand times, Tiger, nobody ever wants records to be broken," Nicklaus said. "That's obvious. I mean, I don't care who it is.
"But I certainly don't want you not to be healthy and not have the opportunity to play to break records. I want you to get yourself healthy, do what you have to do to go play, get your golf game back in shape, and I wish you well, wish you good luck, which I would say that to any athlete and anybody, because I think that's the way it should be."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Jack Nicklaus had thought about it for five years. And with the Presidents Cup slated for his beloved Muirfield Village in 2013, he finally decided to go ahead and act.
The 16th hole, what was once an innocuous par 3, has now been made more dramatic with the addition of a pond to guard the re-positioned green to the left. Nicklaus made the change to strengthen the hole, which now plays about 14 yards shorter at 200, with the biennial matches in mind.
"I think that one of the things that really sort of pushed 16 was probably The Presidents Cup to some degree," Nicklaus said. "The reason for that is that when you go to match play, many matches finish around the 16th, 17th hole, and that area right there is obviously where things come together, and I didn't like to see those matches finish on a weakish hole."
Nicklaus thinks the new 16th -- which will be featured, along with the par-5 11th on PGATOUR.COM's LIVE@ the Memorial coverage this week -- could produce a lot more birdies, as well as a few double bogeys. In short, "there's going to be a lot more excitement," he said with a sense of satisfaction.
"It's a kind of hole that I think will probably play easier with a good shot under the prevailing wind," Nicklaus explained. "The prevailing wind is a westerly wind, southwesterly wind, that usually when we hit the ball before the green was sitting sort of this way, and I think a lot of shots hit in there went through the green very easily or into the back bunker, and I never really cared for the way the ball went into that green.
"So what I did is I took the green and put it more this way, which sort of lines up with the prevailing wind. And with the prevailing wind you have the ability to feed the ball back into the green so you don't have to worry about having to stop the ball as easily if you play a smart shot.
"And if the wind turns the other way, if there's no wind, then stopping the ball on the green is not an issue."
Justin Rose, who closed with a 66 to make up a four-stroke deficit, made the final birdie in his victory march last year at the 16th hole. He remembers hearing cheers for someone in the last group -- Rickie Fowler and Ricky Barnes -- and knew he needed to make something happen.
"When I made my birdie I figured I was maybe one ahead, so 16 was a pivotal hole for me and it could be even more so this year," Rose said. "It could be for other reasons. I think 5 is more of an option now than it ever has been in the past with that hole.
"It's going to be tricky. That's the one green being new, it's a little firmer than the rest, despite the rain, and there's going to be a little bit to think about on that tee, for sure."