Amanda Balionis interviews Johnson Wagner, 2012 Sony Open in Hawaii winner and PGA TOUR Player of the Month presented by Avis for January, and asks him a variety of questions supplied by PGA TOUR fans.
Got a question for Johnson Wagner? Send us your questions for Direct Connect — PGATOUR.COM’s video franchise that gets you closer to a PGA TOUR pro each week — and host Amanda Balionis might use it when she chats this week with the 2012 winner of the Sony Open.
Wagner has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2012 season, and his red-hot January earned him PGA TOUR Player of the Month presented by Avis. It was the first time the monthly winner has been chosen by fans.
Wagner, who has six made cuts in six starts, including three top-10s (and the win), is teeing it up this week at The Honda Classic, one of the toughest events on the schedule. Got a question for Wagner? This week is your shot to ask it.
To send your question for Wagner, just fill out the form below and you might get an answer.
Direct Connect video will be posted each Wednesday afternoon on PGATOUR.COM.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Gary Woodland needs a few more yards like a Corvette needs more horsepower, but he got them last week at TPC Scottsdale with a move from the Titleist ProV1 to the ProV1x.
Woodland, who has been working through swing tweaks with acclaimed teacher Butch Harmon, noticed some increased spin off his irons and wanted to make sure he had the right ball for his updated swing. He had already adjusted some of his clubs, adding one degree of effective loft by moving his Titleist 910 adjustable driver from its C•1 setting (6.75º loft, 57.75º lie) to A•1 (standard; 7.5º loft, 58.5º lie) and making the same move with his Titleist 910Fd 13.5º fairway wood.
He sought out Titleist golf ball R&D specialist Fordie Pitts, who put Woodland through paces on a TrackMan launch monitor with the company’s slightly harder, less-spinning ProV1x. With his short- and mid-irons, the monitor showed a reduction of some 150-200 rpm in spin and an increase of 1-1.5 mph in ball speed. With his driver, Woodland’s ball speed increased some 4 mph with similar spin.
(As PGA TOUR ShotLink radar stats show, Woodland isn’t exactly slacking in ball speed as it is.)
Woodland took the ProV1x to the course for further testing, and found the iron performance he was looking for. With the driver, his carry yardage increased some 14 yards – no joke.
The end of the story? Woodland finished T26 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, closing with 66 on Sunday. He was T4 for the week in Greens in Regulation.
LONG AND SHORT: Tiger Woods held court Tuesday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and explained his disdain for long putters , also proposing a solution. He said he had told Peter Dawson of the R&A that the putter should be no longer than the shortest club in one’s bag – essentially 35 to 36 inches, the length of most players’ wedges.
One side note to that – with a such a rule you wouldn’t see players use a long putter for measuring clublengths for penalties (as someone with a full broomstick putter could conceivably do), nor moments like last week at TPC Scottsdale where Spencer Levin used his belly putter to slap-shot a ball out of a bush.
RUSH TO MARKET: Bridgestone Golf is moving its new B330 ball line into the marketplace ahead of its original March 1 release, citing buzz from the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show and Brandt Snedeker’s come-from-behind win at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Its four new models – the Tour B330, Tour B330-S, Tour B330-RX and Tour B330-RXS – are on sale now in sunbelt states and will be available nationwide soon.
Speaking of Snedeker, he added a Callaway RAZR X Black 3-wood in his bag at the WM Phoenix Open, replacing a TaylorMade Burner 2.0.
DUSTED OFF: Ryan Palmer shot 64 in the opening round at TPC Scottsdale, thanks in part to an old Odyssey Rossie II putter that’s been in and out of his bag since college.
“I've used the exact same putter the last two years, and of course had two of the best years of my career,” said Palmer, who won for the third time on the PGA TOUR at the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii. “But towards the end of the year last year, around the BMW, I just got frustrated with not making anything, so I thought I'd try something different, put a similar style head in play and actually had some success. Had a seventh-place finish at Malaysia with it, 20th place finish at Disney with it, so I knew it was a good putter.
“But my first two weeks out here I could tell I wasn't comfortable when I'd get over the short putts. When I got home from Bob Hope, I pulled it out of the garage and was putting in my living room, then went outside in the backyard on my putting green, and I knew it was time to bring it back out. So it showed today.”
Alas, that 64 would be his only round in the 60s as he faded to T55 on Sunday.
AMBUSHED: TaylorMade’s RocketBallz campaign continued at at PGA TOUR Superstore in Scottsdale, where Johnson Wagner and Pat Perez handed out cash for yards gained with the company’s new RBZ 3-wood. Check out the video to see happy golfers after they got stacks of $10 bills. We’d be happy too.
WINNER’S BAG: Kyle Stanley at the Waste
Management Phoenix Open:
Driver: Titleist 910D3 driver, 8.5 degrees
3-wood: Titleist 910Fd, 13.5 degrees
Irons: Titleist 503i 2-iron, MB irons 4-PW
Wedges: Vokey Design Spin Milled 52, 56, 60 degrees
Putter: Scotty Cameron Timeless GSS
Ball: Titleist ProV1x
Fueled by his win at the the Sony Open in Hawaii, Johnson Wagner has been named PGA TOUR Player of the Month presented by Avis based on PGATOUR.COM fan voting.
Johnson Wagner is the first player to be honored with the PGA TOUR Player of the Month presented by Avis. It's the first time the monthly winner has been chosen by fans.
Want to congratulate Wagner? Send a note below and we’ll pass it along.
Johnson Wagner and Pat Perez made some unsuspecting customers at a Scottsdale, Ariz., PGA TOUR Superstore very happy Friday evening.
After their second rounds at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the two TaylorMade staff players showed up at the golf store with a suitcase full of $10,000, ready to hand out to anyone who tested the new TaylorMade RocketBallz 3-wood.
Customers were paid $10 per yard, up to $100, for every yard gained with the RocketBallz compared to their current fairway wood. TaylorMade claims the RocketBallz 3-wood, which went on sale this week, can provide up to 17 extra yards.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Johnson Wagner is the only player on TOUR who has posted top-10 finishes in his first three starts of the 2012 season.
He's well on his way to another -- and maybe more -- after a 69 on Friday moved him to 5 under at the midway point of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Wagner leads the FedExCup standings after a win at the Sony Open in Hawaii and a tie for second in his last start at the Humana Challenge. He also tied for ninth at the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
So what's it like to be in that kind of a zone?
"It's good," Wagner said. "I'm really hoping this is kind of the norm from now on. I'm making a lot of mistakes but when I'm putting as good as I am right now it makes a lot of things easier because I can rely on making a lot of 10-, 15-footers for birdie. I know I am never really out of the hole if I can chip it close.
"Putting has been huge key for the first month of the season."
Wagner played with two good friends in Mark Wilson and Brandt Snedeker, his junior golf foe, and called it "probably one of the best pairings I could ask for." Wilson, who won the Humana Challenge, is 3 under for the tournament while Snedeker, last week’s champ, is 1 under.
Wagner has already posted more rounds in the 60s this week than in four previous appearances here. He has three missed cuts and a tie for 60th in Phoenix two years ago. His lone sub-70 round at TPC Scottsdale, a 67, came that week in 2010.
"I always liked it and always thought I could play well here," said Wagner, who appears to be proving himself right. "I'm just making a lot of birdies and I've got to minimize the mistakes this weekend."
Check out the January nominees for PGA TOUR Player of the Month presented by Avis.
Avis Rent A Car and the PGA TOUR have redesigned the PGA TOUR’s Player of the Month award program for 2012. The monthly honor will now be determined by a fan vote via PGATOUR.COM.
On the first Tuesday of each month, fans can vote online at PGATOUR.COM for one of four players nominated for their outstanding play the previous month by a panel of national media.
Stricker won the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Wagner won the Sony Open in Hawaii. Wilson won the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. And Snedeker won last week’s Farmers Insurance Open.
The voting ends on the following Sunday, and the player with the most votes will be named the PGA TOUR Player of the Month. In addition, Avis, the “Official Rental Car Company” of the PGA TOUR, will present the winner with a $50,000 check payable to his charity of choice.
Results will be posted next Tuesday on PGATOUR.COM
And if you want to state your case for why your favorite player should win the January award, just fill out the form below and let us know.