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.
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.
Forget the mustache. The real story with Johnson Wagner isn't his facial hair -- it's the regulation-length putter he uses. It's alive and well, and flourishing in the hands of Wagner, who has holed putts from every corner of the green in 2012.
Whether or not Wagner can keep up his torrid pace likely hinges on how well he can keep beating the world's best. In short, he's putting like Luke Donald, and the ShotLink stats argue that he'd putting even better than the world No. 1 did in 2011.
Coming into the 2012 season, Wagner had just seven top-10s in five full seasons. His entry in the PGA TOUR media guide noted that two of the seven top-10s were victories, which meant one thing: Wagner would get hot about once a year and threaten to win.
Already in 2012, he's threatened to win in each of the three weeks, mainly because he has putted better than anyone else:
|2012 Tournament||Wagner's Strokes Gained-Putting|
|Hyundai Tournament of Champions||plus-5.9 (ranked 2nd)|
|Sony Open in Hawaii||plus-6.4 (ranked 3rd)|
|Humana Challenge||plus-5.2 (ranked 1st)|
After Wagner won the Sony Open, it was easy to assume he'd miss the cut at the Humana Challenge, as he'd done for most of his career. Like a lot of places, he'd never had a top-10 at the desert event.
And Wagner didn't hit the ball great last week, but his performance on the greens was striking: He led the field in Strokes Gained-Putting (see above), picking up 5.2 shots on the field to lead the event in that category. He averaged a mere 25 putts per round, and his bogey-free 65 on Sunday vaulted him all the way into a tie for second. It was the first time in his career that he'd had two weeks in a row that remotely approached what he'd done on TOUR.
His trio of top-10s have him in the FedExCup points lead , and he's so far ahead in point that he'd assured to have the points lead after the Farmers Insurance Open even though he's not entered this week at Torrey Pines.
Wagner said on Sunday that he hoped to crack the top 64 in the Official World Golf Ranking, which would get him into the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship for the first time in his career. His tie for second vaulted him to 68th, and he's gained more World Golf Ranking points this year than anyone in the world:
|Player||World Golf Ranking||Points gained in 2012|
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
The talk of the golf equipment world last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii was that thing in Matt Every’s hands on the greens of Waialae. It worked very well as a putter but depending on who you watched on TV or followed on Twitter or read on equipment blogs, it was an ashtray, shoebox, VHS tape, dustpan or radar detector – to cite a few of the many nicknames.
It was a mystery then, and in many ways it still is now.
Every’s putter is called Black Hawk, by a company named Orion Golf. Not that you’d know that from looking at it; the black clubhead has no identifiers. Nor would you learn anything else about it by visiting a major golf retailer or 99.99 percent of the country’s pro shops. They won’t have the Black Hawk.
The club is for sale, but serious legwork is required to buy one.
Josh Anderson, PGA Professional at Magnolia Point Golf and Country Club outside Jacksonville, Fla., has fielded calls in the last few days from around the United States and as far away as Germany. Golfers want to buy one, yet he won’t sell them one.
The club’s founder, David Kargetta of Daytona Beach, Fla., has asked Anderson and a select few other pro shops in Florida – the only places where the putter can be found – to not make any sales by mail.
For starters, it’s a putter that must be custom-fit to be used properly. The putter, with its wide and heavy clubhead, can stand by itself and is meant to be held parallel to the ground by a player. But to use it properly it must be fit so the heel or toe is not raised.
“The fact is if you get fit for it, it guarantees your hands are in the exact same spot every time. It takes out that variable,” Anderson said. “The putter has no loft on it, so it takes that bias out of the equation. And the sweet spot is three balls wide – you can’t mis-hit it.”
Kargetta is a mechanical engineer and has all the data behind his invention, plus holds a patent on it, but has been reluctant to talk about it even as golf writers have clamored for more information. Instead, he has sold a few PGA pros like Anderson on the product’s merits, and has earned their loyalty by reimbursing for the time it takes them to fit the clubs to consumers.
The Black Hawk costs $259 while its sister Black Swan, featuring a cutout semicircle in the rear of the clubhead for alignment aid, costs $299. Neither model comes with a headcover.
Had Every held on to win the Sony, word is a website for the company would have launched that night. But he didn’t, so the Black Hawk is still largely under wraps. Orion Golf also won’t have a booth at next week’s PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, where the golf industry gathers to see what’s new in the game.
Instead, the putter will be on display at a few nearby courses, still largely a mystery.
STANDING PAT: With breakout 2011 that included two wins and second-place finishes in the FedExCup and money race, Webb Simpson could have shopped his bag over the offseason and cashed in big. But it never crossed his mind.
“I'm old school in my thoughts of switching equipment; as long as I'm feeling good with what I'm using and its ability to perform well, then I won't switch,” Simpson said last week at the Sony. “I've used the same irons now for ten years, the same ones or I've got newer sets but the same exact model and driver I've used for three years.
“I don't want to change. I've seen players do it over and over again, and they struggle the next year; it takes them a few years to figure it out again. I would rather go win $2 million on the course and make nothing off than win half a million on the course and make 4 off. The way we are wired, we want to play good golf and it doesn't matter the other way.”
CUTTING EDGE: TaylorMade got the last laugh from a golf blogger who was unmoved by the company’s claims of significant yardage gains from its new RocketBallz 3-wood.
The writer said if he gained the 17 or more yards advertised by TaylorMade, he’d shave the company’s logo “T” into his head and dye it green.
The company, not one to miss a marketing opportunity or an offer to back up its products, flew the blogger from upstate New York to its Carlsbad, Calif., headquarters. The blogger picked up some 40 yards Tuesday in a comparison test of the RocketBallz to his old 3-wood, and a hired barber was on hand to help the blogger pay off his bet.
NEW WINNER: Johnson Wagner won at Waialae with TaylorMade’s new R11S driver. The company touts the driver’s “3D Tuning” capability, where golfers can adjust loft up to 1.5 degrees, face angles in five different configurations and tune the club’s center of gravity toward the heel or toe.
Greg Norman, playing at this week’s Humana Challenge, had an R11S built in the TaylorMade truck this week with eight degrees of loft.
COOK’S UTENSILS: John Cook, a winner three times last season on the Champions Tour, revealed last week on the Tour’s Facebook page that his longtime Nike allegiances are over. He’s playing the TaylorMade R11S driver, a Titleist ball and "everything else is whatever I feel I need to have in my bag.” He also said he’ll be wearing clothing from Leisure Society.
ETC: Brian Gay, T6 at the Sony, has a new driver, hybrid and 3-wood and said he’s hitting it farther . … Justin Leonard, previously with Nike is the newest face in the TaylorMade stable. He was among nine players at the Sony with the company’s new Penta TP5 ball. … Ross Fisher signed with Nike Golf for a club and clothing deal, the company announced Wednesday.
QUOTABLE: Bridgestone signed TV personality and former touring pro David Feherty to a multi-year deal. In the company’s press release, Feherty provided his own material:
"Not a lot of people know this, but I am a huge ball expert. In fact, over the years I played for a living, my balls took a lot of punishment in the form of tops, shanks, cuts, scrapes, and I've even lost a couple. As it turns out, I was playing with balls that should have been hit by someone else in the first place! Well, you live and learn.”
WINNER’S BAG: Johnson Wagner at the Sony
Open in Hawaii:
Driver: TaylorMade R11S, 8 degrees (Aldila RIP NV shaft)
3-wood: TaylorMade Burner SuperFast 2.0, 13.5 degrees
Hybrid: Adams Idea Pro a12, 18 degrees
Irons: Titleist CB 3-9
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Spin Milled PW, 54, 60 degrees
Putter: Scotty Cameron Prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
> WHEN HE FELT LIKE HE HAD TAKEN CONTROL OF THE TOURNAMENT: “When I birdied 9 and 10, really when I birdied 9, I made a really nice up‑and‑down out of the bunker and pretty much a tap‑in. But I guess on Sundays, nothing is really a tap‑in and the nerves get out there. But I birdied 9. Knew I was tied for the lead and I just figured I had played the back nine so well, and I kind of figured it was at least mine and Charles Howell's too lose because we were pretty neck‑and‑neck there on the front, and I felt like it was going to come down to us.”
> WHY HE WAS SO SUCCESSFUL ON THE BACK NINE THIS WEEK: “The tee shots set up a little better for me on the back nine. I don't think in five Sony Opens, I can honestly say, I don't think I've ever hit the first fairway. So I just can't find the fairways on the front nine like I can on the back. And I drove it really well all week on the back nine and left myself a lot of birdie putts, and really I didn't have too many opportunities to even make birdie.”
> WHY HE THOUGHT HE WOULD WIN EARLY THIS YEAR: “I worked hard. I'm not saying I worked harder than anybody because guys work incredibly hard out here. But I worked harder this off‑season, me personally than I've ever even dreamed of. I was working out three days a week at home, made three trips to Florida to go see my coach and we just had incredible weather in Charlotte. I love golf, I love playing, I golf competing and trying to win tournaments. So I worked really hard this off‑season. “
Johnson Wagner won for the third time on the PGA TOUR Sunday, taking the Sony Open in Hawaii by two shots. Want to send your congratulations? Type in the box below and we’ll send it along to Wagner.
HONOLULU -- With the leaders having faded and others unable to go really low in Sunday's final round of the Sony Open in Hawaii, Johnson Wagner did what he's done all week -- rely on his productivity on the back nine.
That was enough to win the third PGA TOUR event of his career, as Wagner pulled away for a two-stroke lead to win the TOUR's first full-field event of the year.
Wagner picked up 500 FedExCup points and is now the FedExCup leader after the first two weeks of the season.
Wagner finished at 13 under, with Carl Pettersson, Sean O'Hair, Charles Howell III and Harrison Frazar tied for second at 11 under.
Third-round co-leaders Matt Every and Jeff Maggert each struggled and were not in the mix for most of the day. Every shot a 2-over 72 to finish at 10 under while Maggert shot a 74.
No player in the field this week has played the back nine better than Johnson. He played it in a collective 14 under and did not suffer a bogey all week on the backside.
On Sunday, he actually heated up a little earlier.
After a bogey at the par-4 sixth, Wagner bounced back with a terrific tee shot at the par-3 eighth. He rolled in the 8-1/2 foot birdie putt. He then birdied the par-5 ninth for the fourth consecutive day to get back into contention.
At that point, however, there were a host of players in the mix. When Harrison Frazar and Keegan Bradley walked off the ninth green, they looked at the leaderboard.
“We think there was 11 people within one shot,” Frazar said. “My caddie and I both laughed. We said, ‘Game on.’ “
“But I guess it didn’t take long for Johnson to make a couple of birdies.”