By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
Kenny Perry turned pro the year Sean O'Hair was born.
That age difference means nothing on the golf course, though, and the two men proved it last year when they teammed to win the Franklin Templeton Shootout.
"I think it was probably my best memory of last year," O'Hair said. "We ham-and-egged it pretty good. Kenny was just rock solid and I was hitting it pretty long at the time."
"You're still hitting it long, aren't you?" Perry was quick to ask.
The difference in Sunday's scramble format last year? Well, Perry remembers the 13th hole at Tiburon, in particular. Had they used his drive on the par 5, they'd be hitting 3-woods to the green. Instead, O'Hair's drive left a 5-iron approach.
"So to me it's awesome because I'm a pretty straight driver and if I can just get it in the fairway and turn him loose, we're going to have a great week no matter what," Perry said. "Win, lose, whatever, it doesn't matter. We both like old cars, we talk hot rods and we just have a great time. We compliment each other very well and it's just fun, whatever.
"We're going to stick the needle in all these other young teams and smile at them and hopefully we can beat them."
The field for this year's Franklin Templeton Shootout features six major champions among the 24 participants. Combined, the field has won 140 PGA TOUR events, including 14 by Perry -- the recently named Champions Tour Player of the Year -- and four by O'Hair.
"I'm going to ride the stallion here," O'Hair said. "He's obviously playing pretty well and just see how it goes. I'm just looking forward to having a fun week."
While O'Hair has been dodging snowstorms at home in Philadelphia, Perry has been in Vero Beach working on his game at Bent Pine Golf Club, where he worked for five years before getting on the PGA TOUR in 1986.
"I came in last Monday and I was playing 36 a day with all the boys and put a lot of rounds in and lost a lot of money," Perry said. "I had to give way too many shots down there. But I played a lot of competition so I liked it. I was hoping to put the pressure on me to try to see if it will carry over and get me better and sharper for this week."
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
LAS VEGAS -- Sean O'Hair describes the 2013 season as a "dark year." The four-time TOUR winner had to return to the Web.com Tour Finals to regain his card after just two top-25s in 22 starts. The new season is off to a good start, though.
O'Hair is at 12-under 201 (66-72-63) after three rounds at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. His 63 matched his career-low round on TOUR. He also shot 63 in the third round of the 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. He played his final five holes Saturday in 5 under, including an eagle at the par-4 15th. He drove the green with a 3-wood and holed a 44-foot putt. It was his second eagle on that hole. He finished 26th at last week's Frys.com Open, where his 276 was his low 72-hole score of the calendar year.
O'Hair finished 170th in the 2013 FedExCup; he made just seven of 22 cuts in 2013. He never finished better than 16th. Three top-20 finishes in the four Web.com Tour Finals events got him back on TOUR, though.
"It was a tough time this year, especially late, because I was realizing I was going to lose my card," O'Hair said. "I had to get my mind right going into those Web.com Tour events. I knew I had a good opportunity to get my card back, but I had to be in the right spot mentally.
"I almost felt like I had an identity crisis this year. I was going out on the golf course and trying this and trying that. I didn't know who I was as a player."
He called the Web.com Tour Finals "humbling" and an "eye-opener."
"I was dis appointed going into those events and I think if I kept that attitude, I wouldn't have gotten my card back," O'Hair said.
His father-in-law, Steve Lucas, returned to his bag during the Web.com Tour Finals. He also started working with a new swing coach, John Dunigan, this year. "I'm seeing some light at the end of the tunnel," O'Hair said. "I really feel like I might be playing some of the best golf life right now. I really feel good."
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Following the smashing debut of its RocketBallz metalwoods last year, it was only a matter of time before TaylorMade put some of the same technology – and part of that name – into irons.
On Tuesday the company introduced "RocketBladez” irons, featuring a slot cut in the sole of the iron similar to the slot on the RBZ fairway woods and hybrids. The slot flexes and rebounds at impact, increasing the speed of the face and creating faster ball speed, higher launch angles and higher ball flight, according to TaylorMade.
TaylorMade calls the slot the “speed pocket,” and it is found on the 3- through 7-irons. The two-millimeter slot is protected from the elements by a polyurethane strip. The irons also have a large cavity behind the stainless-steel face to lower the center of gravity and pull it farther away from the face to promote forgiveness and higher launch.
Two editions of the irons are coming to market, the Rocketbladez (arriving at retail on Dec. 3; $799/steel, $899/graphite) and RocketBladez Tour (arriving Feb. 1; $899/steel). The Tour irons have smaller heads, less offset and a less-pronounced cavity.
“We created RocketBladez irons for amateurs, but when our TOUR Staff pros tried it, they wanted it,” said TaylorMade president and CEO Mark King. “We created a Tour version, and they love it. It’s the first distance-oriented iron to be played on TOUR. The genius of the Speed Pocket is that not only does it deliver more speed for more distance, it delivers consistent speed, so shots fly a consistent distance. That combination of speed and consistent distance is what made the eyes of our tour pros light up.”
Sean O’Hair put a set of prototype RocketBladez in play earlier this month at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, the first of probably many sets on TOUR if the RocketBladez prove as popular as the RocketBallz metalwoods.
STROKES-GAINEY PUTTING: Until last week, the book on Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey was that he was a serviceable putter, not the best on TOUR but not the worst. In 2011 he was 78th in strokes-gained putting, and coming into last week was 86th.
And then the fourth round at The McGladrey Classic got under way.
Gainey, of course, shot the low round of the year on TOUR, a 10-under 60 that vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard. Nearly three hours later, he was a first-time champion. He was plus-5.119 in strokes-gained putting for the round, an amazing figure for an amazing round. (He’s now 66th in strokes-gained.)
He did it with an Odyssey Backstryke Blade, one of the more unusual putters on TOUR from a mainstream manufacturer. The putter has a T-shaped head with a shaft that connects to the rear of the putterhead.
Gainey put the putter in play in 2010 on the Web.com Tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am and finished second, and since then has stuck with it. His model is 34 inches in length with four degrees of loft and an XG insert.
BITS: Davis Love III finished T4 at his hometown McGladrey, using a belly putter for the first time. He did not anchor it. … Odyssey presented Brandt Snedeker with a gold putter as congratulations for his FedExCup title. Odyssey has only made two gold putters for non-major titles; the other was for Stuart Appleby’s final-round 59 in winning the 2010 Greenbrier Classic.
WINNER’S BAG: Tommy Gainey at The McGladrey
Driver: Callaway Razr Fit (Aldila RIP shaft, 10.5 degrees)
Fairway wood: Callaway FT-I Tour (15 degrees)
Hybrid: Adams Idea Pro a12 (20 degrees)
Irons: Callaway Razr-X Forged (4-PW)
Wedges: Callaway Forged (50, 54, 60 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey Backstryke Blade
Ball: Callaway Hex Tour Black
Sean O’Hair is the defending champion at this week’s RBC Canadian Open (he’ll tee off at 1:20 p.m. ET), but this year’s tournament isn’t at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club in Vancouver. It’s a couple thousand miles east at Hamilton G&CC in Ancaster.
The good news for O’Hair? He played pretty well the last time it was played there, too, finishing third behind Bart Bryant and Jim Furyk in 2006.
That year, O’Hair led the field in par- scoring by outperforming the field by five strokes (3 under, compared to the field average of 2 over on the 6,966-yard par-70 layout. To put that in perspective, Hamilton had the third-most difficult par-3 scoring average on the PGA TOUR that season.
Last year, Shaughnessy was the third-most difficult course on TOUR. He was one of only 11 players to go all four rounds without making a double bogey. A big part of the reason why: O’Hair was third in total driving and eighth in ball-striking. He was also the only player for the week under par on the par 4s -- especially impressive when you consider the field average was 8 over on the par 4s.
This season, O’Hair is still looking for his first win. He was a runner-up at the Sony Open in Hawaii and has two top 10s and five top 25s. Since that victory in Honolulu, however, O’Hair has just one top 10 (The Greenbrier Classic, where he tied for seventh).
Will O’Hair repeat, or even contend, this week? Share your thoughts below.
Here's who is appearing in the media center at Hamilton Golf and C.C. this week. All interviews will be streamed live on PGATOUR.COM.
Wednesday, July 25
Ernie Els, 2 p.m. ET
Hunter Mahan, 3 p.m. ET
Jim Furyk, after pro-am
Sean O'Hair, after pro-am
Mike Weir, after pro-am
FORT WORTH, Texas – Sean O’Hair withdrew on Thursday morning prior to his 8:43 a.m. (ET) first-round tee time at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
He was replaced in the field by alternate Sung Kang of South Korea.
O’Hair cited an issue with his neck in deciding to withdraw.
Kang is playing in the threesome that also includes Ben Crane and Jim Furyk.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
There are only two weeks left for players outside the top 64 in the Official World Golf Ranking to qualify for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship Feb 22-26 in Marana, Ariz. In other words, Vijay Singh and Padraig Harrington, among others, have some work to do.
Singh and Harrington are 69th and 90th, respectively, and in need of strong performances in one or more likely both of the next two weeks. Singh is in the field for this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, while Harrington has the week off.
Last year, Singh also failed to qualify.
Other notables on the outside looking in include Sean O’Hair (68th), Sony Open in Hawaii winner Johnson Wagner (70th) and last year’s Wells Fargo Championship winner Lucas Glover, who is 77th in the world and has yet to play this year after withdrawing from the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions with a knee injury.
The player currently on the bubble at No. 64 is the Netherlands’ Joost Luiten. However with Phil Mickelson having already said that he plans to take that week off, the field would then extend to the 65th player in the world -- currently Rory Sabbatini.
Also among those outside the top 64: Kyle Stanley. The hard-luck loser of the Farmers Insurance Open is 87th in the world. Had he won at Torrey Pines, he would have moved up to 64th.
Others in more dire circumstances include Branden Grace, a two-time winner on the European Tour this year who has only climbed to 93rd; Camilo Villegas (99th); Anthony Kim (102nd); and Stewart Cink (138th).
Only once in Cink’s career has he failed to qualify for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Champisonhip, a tournament he’s been dominant in with six trips to at least the quarterfinals. On four of those occasions Cink reached at least the semifinals, including from 2008 to 2010 when he finished second, third and tied for fifth.
|Year||No. 125 points pre-Week 30||No. 125 points before Playoffs||Difference|
If this year’s change is similar, anyone inside the top 105 in the standings is in good position to secure a tee time at The Barclays for the start of the Playoffs. In 2009, 10 players ranked inside the top 125 prior to Week 30 fell out of the Playoffs with the highest being No. 110. Last year, only six players -- all ranked between Nos. 118 and 125 -- lost their spots in the Playoffs in the Regular Season’s final four weeks. AUSTIN’S CHANCE? Woody Austin, currently 99 points outside the top 125, picked up his first top-10 finish of the season last week with a T6 at the RBC Canadian Open. A top-6 finish this week at The Greenbrier Classic, an event he tied for fourth in last year, could put him inside the top 125 and in position to make his fifth consecutive Playoffs appearance. Check out our bubble watch for more on players close to the cut line. WHO’S UP, WHO’S DOWN: Sean O’Hair, Kris Blanks and Andres Romero each assured themselves of a spot in the Playoffs, and possibly the Deusche Bank Championship, as they moved from outside the top 100 and into the top 70 last week. Two players -- Michael Putnam and Tim Clark -- fell outside the top 125 as O’Hair and David Hearn moved in. MORE ON LAST WEEK’S WINNER: Another player who has made the Playoffs in each of the last four seasons, O’Hair locked up his fifth appearance by moving from 147th to 43rd after winning the RBC Canadian Open. O’Hair’s last top 10 in an official TOUR event came at last year’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. A 2011 season that had featured 10 missed cuts in 17 starts prior to last week, as well as splits with his caddie and swing coach, may finally be turning around for O’Hair.