By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Rory McIlroy romped to an eight-shot win at the PGA Championship thanks to some game-sharpening in the last few months with swing coach Michael Bannon and putting advisor Dave Stockton. A swing that had gotten just loose enough was tightened, and we saw the results.
The results were also helped by some key tweaks in his Titleist arsenal.
McIlroy led the field in driving distance at Kiawah Island with an impressive 311.5-yard average, all with a Titleist 913D3 prototype driver. McIlroy was first fit for the new driver last month at home in Ireland before the Irish Open, using his two-year-old 910D2 as a base point.
“This one just performs so much better,” McIlroy said at the Irish Open. “I’m getting less spin, which is great in the wind, and it carries 15 yards further in calm conditions.”
Think he knew with that quote that he was ready for The Ocean Course?
McIlroy’s other new additions include a 17-degree Titleist 910F 5-wood (with a Fujikura ZCom Pro 95 graphite shaft), first put into play two weeks ago at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. That replaced a 503i 2-iron he played at the British Open and an 18-degree 906F 5-wood he had in the bag since turning pro. McIlroy also had his 712 MB irons replaced at Firestone after the grooves were getting worn.
Besides leading the field in driving distance, McIlroy led the field in birdies (20), was 10th in putting average (1.688) and 13th in greens in regulation (67 percent).
MAJOR WRAP: McIlroy also played a Titleist ProV1x ball, joining Bubba Watson (Masters) and Webb Simpson (U.S. Open) as major winners with the ProV1x. Ernie Els won the British Open with a Callaway Hex Black Tour. As far as winners’ full product lines, Titleist owned half the major count with McIlroy and Simpson, while Watson carries Ping and Els is with Callaway.
CRISIS AVERTED: Would you be nervous if your longtime putter broke during a Tuesday match before the year’s final major? That’s what happened to Keegan Bradley when his Odyssey belly putter, “The Tooth”, snapped while playing with Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.
During play, the “spud” broke, a piece that secures the putterhead to the shaft. Fortunately, an Odyssey rep at Kiawah came to the rescue and used the old shaft with a new White Hot XG Sabertooth head. Voila, the “Tooth 2.”
“No worries at all,” Bradley said last week. “It’s amazing, with my old shaft it looks the exact same, there’s no difference.
Bradley and the Tooth 2 finished T3 at the PGA.
MORE NEW STUFF: Pat Perez, in the picture at the PGA for the first two rounds before finishing T21, used a new TaylorMade Ghost Spider prototype putter. … Peter Hanson finished T7 with the same Ghost Spider prototype and a new 18-degree TaylorMade Rescue 11.
WINNER’S BAG: McIlroy at the PGA
Driver: Titleist 913D3 (Mitsubishi Diamana proto 70X, 8.5 degrees)
Fairway woods: Titleist 906F2 (13 degrees), Titleist 910F (17 degrees)
Irons: Titleist MB (3-9)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM4 (46, 54, 60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for the Wyndham Championship 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.
|Webb Simpson vs. Bill Haas||Wake Forest alums do battle in their home state|
|Carl Pettersson vs. Ryan Moore||Two past Wyndham champs ready for more at Sedgefield|
|Davis Love III vs. Jason Dufner||Ryder Cup Captain keeps close eye on Ryder Cup rookie|
|Sergio Garcia vs. Trevor Immelman||Two international stars are looking to kick-start their season|
|Jhonattan Vegas vs. Brendan Steele||Both need a big week to get into the FedExCup Playoffs|
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Can it be a major championship without Phil Mickelson possibly having a new club in his bag?
On the eve of the PGA Championship, at last week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, Mickelson put a new Odyssey Prototype putter in play prior to Round 2. It’s a “high-toe” version of an Odyssey No. 9-style putter, which Mickelson first saw in the Callaway/Odyssey trailer.
That version was made for Ryo Ishikawa, right-handed of course, but the Odyssey folks were able to design and build one for Mickelson in a week. Designer Austie Rollinson added offset to match Mickelson’s regular No. 9 putter, and Phil liked how the face was lower in the heel and higher in the toe, allowing him to release the head easier.
“It’s a takeoff on the No. 9, but it’s got a low profile heel and a raised toe that gives it kind of a hook roll,” the 2005 PGA winner said. “I probably should have gone to it (in Round 1) because it just rolls off the face like magic, and it has this great track. I was making a lot more 15- to 30-footers because it was holding such a tight roll.”
Mickelson shot 69 in his first round with the new stick before a 73-71 weekend left him tied for 43rd.
"I just didn’t want to change from my blade because that’s kind of been my identity, but I feel really good with this thing, and I’ll probably go back and forth,” Mickelson said. “This is something we’ve been working on for a while, and it just is fabulous.”
Stay tuned to see if the putter makes it to the first tee on Thursday at Kiawah Island, where the pros are saying the Paspalum greens are true but perhaps a touch slower than most PGA TOUR stops.
BELLY TALK: Webb Simpson discussed at the PGA how he’s practicing with two Scotty Cameron putters, adding a short one to his regular belly, just in case golf’s governing bodies make a move against anchoring. … Two players won on TOUR last week with Odyssey belly putters -- Keegan Bradley with a White Hot XG Sabertooth at Bridgestone and J.J. Henry with a White Hot XG No. 1.
INSIDE THE LOGO: TaylorMade’s design gurus create special logos for each major, full of little details unique to the tournament, the area and the course. This year’s version for Kiawah Island is on the right. Some of the special touches:
Orange and white trim at the top and bottom are colors often used in wind socks, and the Ocean Course gets plenty of wind.
Kiawah is hosting its first major, hence the “1” at the bottom, while its 1991 “War by the Shore” Ryder Cup heritage is also recognized with crosshairs in the center.
The triangle shape in the background is an arrowhead, signifying the Kiawah tribe that lived on the Island some 350 years ago, and the Indian theme continues with a teepee. Atop the teepee is a W – for the Wanamaker Trophy, the spoils given to the PGA winner.
A film reel is in the center of the logo since the course was used for the movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance” in 2000.
Here’s hoping this week’s PGA is better than that movie.
ETC.: Check out various apparel scripts for Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler and other select players this week. … Sergio Garcia tested a new TaylorMade RBZ 5-wood last week in preparation for the PGA, seeking a higher-lofted companion to a trusty RBZ 3-wood. … Ben Kohles, the talk of the Web.com Tour with two wins in two starts as a pro, hit 17 of 18 greens last Sunday at the Cox Classic in Omaha with a Titleist ProV1x ball.
WINNER’S BAGS: Keegan Bradley at the
Driver: Cleveland Classic 290 (Miyazaki Kusala Indigo 61X, 9 degrees)
Fairway wood: Cleveland Launcher Ultralite FL (14 degrees)
Hybrid: Cleveland Launcher DST (18 degrees), Cleveland Mashie TM3 (20.5 degrees)
Irons: Cleveland CG7 Tour (4-PW)
Wedges: Cleveland 588 Forged (54, 58 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey White Hot XG Sabertooth belly
Ball: Srixon Z-Star prototype
J.J. Henry at the Reno-Tahoe Open:
Driver: TaylorMade R11S (9 degrees)
Fairway wood: Callaway Big Bertha Fusion (15 degrees)
Utility: Callaway X Prototype (21 degrees)
Irons: Callaway Razr X Forged(4-9)
Wedges: Callaway Razr X Forged (48 degrees), TaylorMade ATV (52, 58, 64 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey White Hot XG No. 1 belly
Ball: Titleist ProV1
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- When Webb Simpson arrived at the 10th tee Sunday at The Old White TPC, he had a one-shot lead.
If the story sounds familiar, it should because Simpson was in the exact same situation a year ago at The Greenbrier Classic. The result was almost the same, too.
Simpson bogeyed four of five holes and shot 40 on the back nine to tumble out of contention and eventually into a tie for seventh, five shots back of eventual winner Ted Potter Jr.
“I don’t know,” said Simpson, who at one point had gone 59 straight holes without a bogey this week. “It’s just the nature of the game. You go from not making any mistakes all week to making them all on the back 9.”
The first one came inexplicably on the par-5 12th, where Simpson left his second shot short of the green, then ran his pitch shot 40 feet by the hole before three-putting.
The next shot he hit landed in a hazard left of the 13th fairway.
On the 14th, his fate was sealed when he failed to get up-and-down from the back of the green, missing a 6-footer to save par after getting relief from a tower next to the green.
Simpson’s final blow came on the par-4 16th, where he again missed a short par putt, this time from 4 feet. Not that it mattered at that point.
“I kind of made a couple bad swings and judged the wind wrong a bunch of times it seemed like,” said Simpson, who hit just eight fairways and eight greens on Sunday. He also took 29 putts. “It was just one of those unfortunate nine holes where all week everything had been going right and in nine holes everything couldn't have gone worse.”
Simpson will have plenty of time to digest what went wrong.
He is skipping the British Open because his wife is due with the couple’s second child in a couple of weeks. His next start won’t likely come until the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at the beginning of August.
“It's one of those things where I'm going to take the positives from this week and the things that let me down today,” Simpson said. “I'll take a look at that and try to go out and work on it. Every situation I've been in like this where I've had a tough Sunday or a tough finish, I've been able to learn from it and it's helped me down the road.”
After losing in similar fashion here a year ago when he bogeyed three of his first seven holes on the back nine, Simpson got his first career victory a month later. Since then, no one on the PGA TOUR has had more wins or more top 10s than Simpson.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- A year ago, Webb Simpson needed to play the back nine in even par to land in a playoff at The Greenbrier Classic.
This year, he entered the back nine with the lead -- until a bogey on the par-5 12th, where his second shot came up short of the green and he ran his pitch 40 feet past the hole. Simpson three-putted from there and fell a stroke behind Troy Kelly.
Things weren’t any better on the next hole, either, where Simpson drove it into a hazard and will likely make bogey at best.
Meanwhile, Kelly leads by himself thanks to a birdie on the par-3 11th.
Ken Duke has also pulled even with Simpson after an eagle on the 12th, where he hit his 230-yard second shot to 15 feet and made the putt.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Webb Simpson just made the turn here at The Old White TPC, where he’s right back where he started: In the lead.
Troy Kelly briefly took the lead earlier in the day, but he’s back to 14 under and a stroke back with Charlie Beljan after bogeying the ninth hole.
Beljan, by the way, has the day’s best round going between those three at 3 under through 10 holes, while Simpson and Kelly are 1 and 2 under, respectively.
Simpson hasn’t made a bogey in 57 holes, though he’s made just one birdie so far today.
He did the same thing in the third round, birdieing only the par-4 seventh, on the front nine. Simpson then birdied four of his last six holes on the day.
Ted Potter Jr., meanwhile, is another stroke back at 13 under. He’s also 3 under through 10 holes.
Martin Flores and Ken Duke are three off the lead, as is Daniel Summerhays, though he has just a couple of holes to play.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Over the last 52 weeks, no one on the PGA TOUR has had more top 10s than Webb Simpson.
That of course isn’t what’s on Simpson’s mind entering today’s final round at The Greenbrier Classic, where he leads by two and is looking for his second win of the season and fourth in the past 12 months.
Only Tiger Woods has as many victories on TOUR as Simpson during that span.
One other note about Simpson this week: He’s gone his last 48 holes without a bogey.
Will he get the win today? Leave your comments below.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- A year ago at The Greenbrier Classic, Webb Simpson needed to shoot even par on the back nine of the final round to reach a playoff.
He didn’t, however, and went on to tie for ninth.
This time, he’ll try playing from in front.
Simpson shot a 65 Saturday to get to 14 under and a two-shot lead heading into the final round at The Old White TPC.
Troy Kelly is in second, while three others, including J.B. Holmes, are another stroke back.
Simpson was the story Saturday, though, and has been ever since last year’s tournament. He has more top 10s than anyone on the PGA TOUR with a dozen over that span. Three of those were wins.
Now he’s in position for a fourth after birdieing four of his final six holes in the third round.
Simpson has gone 48 straight holes without a bogey here. His last came on his sixth hole (No. 15) of the opening round.
He’s sixth in the field in fairways hit, fifth in greens and 10th in total putts.
Simpson has plenty of company behind him, though. Twenty players are within six shots of his lead.