The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for the the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance 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. Steve Stricker||Two former Memorial champs have struggled recently|
|Dustin Johnson vs. Bubba Watson||Two bombers set to return; Johnson's first start since March|
|Phil Mickelson vs. Vijay Singh||Two fellow World Golf Hall of Famers teeing it up this week|
|Justin Rose vs. Rickie Fowler||Rose won here in 2010, Fowler was second that year|
|Ben Curtis vs. Jim Furyk||Both veterans enter Muirfield Village on a hot streak|
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Who could have imagined at the start of the season that the flagship Titleist staff player at the end of May would be … Jason Dufner?
With his win at the HP Byron Nelson Championship on top of last month’s breakthrough at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Dufner became the second two-time winner this season. The first, Hunter Mahan, is a Ping staff player.
Which company has had the better year on the PGA TOUR? Every equipment manufacturer uses different criteria to determine supremacy, from boasting the most balls used on TOUR (Titleist) to the most drivers (TaylorMade). But not every player who has a Titleist ball is a full Titleist endorser, and so on.
My unscientific formula involves counting hats. If a player is wearing a logo on his hat, he’s basically that company’s guy (the logo isn’t always prominent; Rickie Fowler’s hats have Cobra on the back). By that count, Titleist has seven wins so far this season and Ping has five. If you want to give Ping extra points for Bubba Watson at the Masters, that’s your call.
Here’s my chart for the season’s first 22 events; we’ll revisit it again in a few months.
2012 PGA TOUR wins by hat
|Titleist||7||Jason Dufner (2), Steve Stricker, Kyle Stanley, Bill Haas, Rory McIlroy, Ben Curtis|
|Ping||5||Hunter Mahan (2), Mark Wilson, Bubba Watson, John Huh|
|Bridgestone||2||Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar|
|Nike||2||Tiger Woods, Carl Pettersson|
|TaylorMade||2||Johnson Wagner, Justin Rose|
NEW APP ON TAP: Nike Golf today announced on Tuesday a new, free app called NG360 to help golfers track their rounds, improve their swings with coaches’ input and find golf-specific workouts.
“It’s about knowing your game to better your performance,” Nike Golf marketing director Nate Randle said. “The NG360 App lets golfers look at their game through a 360-degree lens. This is only the beginning of amazing things to come from Nike Golf as it relates to digital sport and the experience on and off the course.”
Golfers can track rounds including stats with the “My Game” function and get personal coaching from Nike staff members that are PGA professionals through video uploaded with the “My Swing” tool. The “My Body” section helps golfers get into shape through Nike Golf’s partnership with the Gray Institute, a leader in applied functional science.
Of course, the app also allows browsing through Nike Golf products, with recommendations available from Nike staff PGA pros. The NG360 app is free from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch. View a video about it here.
BITS: Vijay Singh will have a Yes! Sally belly-length putter in the bag at Colonial … TaylorMade is sending an adjustable belly-putter fitting tool to its suppliers to better help fit golfers for the bellies.
WINNER’S BAG: Dufner at the HP Byron Nelson
Driver: Titleist 910D2 (Mitsubishi Diamana ‘ahina 60X shaft, 9.5 degrees)
Fairway woods: Titleist 910F (13.5 degrees) and 906 F2 (18 degrees)
Hybrids: Titleist 910H (19 degrees)
Irons: Titleist AP2 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM4 (54, 60 degrees)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Two of the three active players from the top 15 in total PGA TOUR wins will be playing in Las Colinas next month, as Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh have committed to compete in the 2012 HP Byron Nelson Championship.
"Having Phil and Vijay here to help us celebrate the 100th anniversary of Byron's birth makes it even more special," 2012 Tournament Chairman Robert Smith said. "Phil and Byron had such a special relationship, and both of these champions have had a tremendous influence on the game."
This will be the fourteenth year that Phil has played the Nelson, with his last appearance in 2007. Mickelson is currently third on the TOUR Money List, and is coming off a third place finish at the Masters Tournament. Phil is a former champion at the Nelson, winning in 1996 by two strokes.
Singh returns to TPC Four Seasons for the 12th time in his career. He has placed in the top-20 at the Nelson five times, including his 2004 victory. Vijay has started the year on a high note, posting three top-25 finishes.
Keegan Bradley, 2011 HP Byron Nelson Championship winner and currently No. 13 on the money list, will return to defend his title. After his first career victory at the Nelson, Keegan went on to win the PGA Championship in a three-hole playoff and post two other top-10 finishes. He was voted 2011 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year.
Including Mickelson and Bradley, The HPBNC will also play host to seven of the top 25 on the money list, including No. 6 Carl Pettersson, No. 8 Johnson Wagner, No. 12 Brandt Snedeker, No. 21 John Huh and No. 25 Matt Kuchar. Kuchar is coming off a tie for third at the Masters and Pettersson won this past weekend at the RBC Heritage.
The he field will be final Friday, May 18 at 5 p.m. ET.
The 2012 HP Byron Nelson Championship will be played May 14-20 at the TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas in Irving.
By Larry Dorman, PGATOUR.COM
ORLANDO, Fla. – After a second-round 68 put Vijay Singh into reasonable position for a weekend run at the Arnold Palmer Invitational sponsored by MasterCard, the 49-year-old veteran wasn’t exactly giddy.
But, after years of battling a variety of injuries and aches and pains, slipping to 79th in the Official World Golf Ranking and enduring four seasons without a victory, Singh did burst out laughing when he thought about how good it is to finally be relatively pain-free.
“Well, I'm not hurting,” he said, smiling broadly as he stood on the range at the Bay Hill Golf Club and Lodge. “Yeah, I can swing the club a lot more freely and without much pain, so it's nice. I can go out there and start being aggressive again, you know.”
Singh really hasn’t been able to do that since 2008. After wining three times in a little over one month to end with a flourish, he has dealt with knee and back injuries that make 2008 seem like a distant memory.
That’s when he won a World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Championship in mid-August and added victories at two consecutive FedExCup Playoff events – The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship – in late August and early September to win the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus.
At the 2009 season opener for winners only at the Kapalua Resort on Maui, Singh was limping on what turned out to be a torn cartilage in his right knee. He had arthroscopic knee surgery three days after the tournament.
In his return just three weeks later, he shot 75-72-75 to miss the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, missed the next week at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club and was eliminated in the second round of World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.
He did not finish in the top three in 32 over his next two seasons, but began trending up last year with a runner-up finish to Aaron Baddeley at the Northern Trust Open and ties for third at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and The Barclays. Without a top-10 finish in seven starts this season, Singh is back on friendly turf for his 20th Arnold Palmer Invitational. He won here in 2007, has four seconds and just one missed cut.
“I always come back here,” Singh said. “I know the golf course has changed through the years, but I love this place.”
Singh still has some reservations. He’s hitting 67 percent of the fairways but hasn’t yet found the confidence to cut loose with his driver during the round, averaging just over 286 yards through two rounds.
“I'm still a little hesitant about my driver,” he said. “I should start letting it go. I can let it go on the range, I have to trust it on the golf course. Besides that, I'm playing well, putting well and hitting my irons good. So everything’s coming along.”
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.
|1||Dustin Johnson||19||Picked a great time to get his first win since last year's Playoffs|
|2||Matt Kuchar||12||Another strong Barclays makes Kuchar a FedExCup threat again|
|3||Nick Watney||1||Didn't hurt himself with a Sunday 64 and a T10 finish.|
|4||Webb Simpson||3||Carried momentum from Wyndham win to T10 at Plainfield|
|5||Luke Donald||4||Started slowly but good weekend moved him ahead of Stricker|
EDISON, N.J. – Matt Kuchar has a chance to successfully defend his title at The Barclays on Saturday.
And depending on the whims of the weather, Kuchar may have already won the first event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup for the second straight time.
Kuchar fired a 65 on Friday to move to 14 under, one stroke ahead of Dustin Johnson and Vijay Singh. Johnson matched the low round of the tournament with a bogey-free 63 while Singh., who has won The Barclays three times previously, came in with a 64.
With Hurricane Irene fast approaching, tournament officials decided to shorten The Barclays to 54 holes. There is a 90 percent chance of rain on Saturday, though, and with the bulk of the storm expected to pummel the area on Sunday there is no wiggle room.
The 72 players who made the cut will be grouped in threesomes and sent off Nos. 1 and 10 from 7-9 a.m. on Saturday in hopes of finishing before the worst of the weather begins to arrive around 2 p.m. If everyone finishes 54 holes, the man at the top of the leaderboard wins.
If not, the tournament will revert to 36 holes and the FedExCup points will be distributed. That means Kuchar would get the unofficial victory and rise to No. 1 in the standings.
Jonathan Byrd will start the final round within three strokes of Kuchar at 11 under. Justin Rose, Aaron Baddeley, Padraig Harrington and Charley Hoffman are also in double digits and four strokes off the pace.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
EDISON, N.J. -- When Vijay Singh teed off on Friday, Matt Kuchar had already shot 65 and moved to 14 under through 36 holes at The Barclays.
So Singh was still trailing by eight shots. That was motivation enough for the big Fijian, who had also learned Friday was essentially "moving day" after the tournament was shortened to 54 holes.
"I didn't think of it that way," Singh said. "But if you know it's only going to be one more day to go, and starting off, I was, what, eight shots back, and so you play a lot more aggressive than you normally would.
"And that's what I tried to do, and limit my mistakes as much as possible."
Singh did just what he needed to in the second round, firing a 64 that included eight birdies and just one shot dropped to par. He's tied with Dustin Johnson at 13 under, now just a shot behind the leader and defending champ.
With Plainfield Country club sodden from more than 15 inches of rain over the last 10 days, Singh was able to be the aggressor, and that played right into his hands on Friday.
"You know there is a lot of birdie holes out there,' Singh said. "You can attack the pin from anywhere on the golf course. It doesn't matter what club. So that's all you try to do is go at the flags and see if you can rack up as much birdies as you can. ...
"But it's an interesting way of playing golf. You know you can go at it from anywhere and it's going to stop. So would have loved to see this golf course play firm."
On Saturday, weather-permitting, it will be more of the same as Singh tries to win for the first time on TOUR since he won the 2008 Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship back-to-back on the way to the FedExCup. The 48-year-old is rejuvenated after having a treatment on his ailing back in Germany and hoping to win The Barclays for the fourth time overall.
"I'm playing well here, because I'm feeling good," Singh said. "I can be more aggressive and not really worry about how I'm going to wake up the next morning, and if I can play or not. So I've been struggling with this for two years, so it's the first time I feel really comfortable to go out and there."