The tee times for the first round of this week’s The Transitions Championships have been released. CLICK HERE for the tee times. Use the space below to comment about the pairings at the Copperhead Course.
Here’s a look at some of the notable groups in the first two rounds:
Zach Johnson/Geoff Ogilvy/Padraig Harrington, 8:27 a.m.,
How strong is the field this week? This three major champions are among 17 that showed up.
John Huh/David Toms/Jonathan Byrd, 8:37 a.m., No. 1
Rookie John Huh finds himself in an "A" pairing after his win last month at the Mayakoba Classic.
Luke Donald/Justin Rose/K.J. Choi, 1:33 p.m, No. 1
The world No. 2 (Donald) tees it up with last week's winner (Rose) and a two-time winner here (Choi).
Bud Cauley/Ryo Ishikawa/Tom Lewis, 2:04 p.m., No. 1
The oldest player in this group, Cauley, is all of 21 years old (in all fairness, he turns 22 on Friday). Lewis, who turned pro after last year's British Open, makes his U.S. debut.
Gary Woodland/Webb Simpson/Scott Stallings, 1:22 p.m., No.
This trio finished 1-2-3 last year at Copperhead. Stallings is making his return to the TOUR after missing four weeks with an injury.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- The toughest part wasn’t physical. Then again it never is for Gary Woodland, who earlier this year hired Butch Harmon and has since undergone a major swing change.
“I showed up in San Diego this year and I didn’t know how I was going to play,” Woodland said. “The big deal for me is I’m not making changes at home, I’m making changes on the golf course.”
It’s shown in the results. Since hiring Harmon as his coach, Woodland has yet to finish in the top 25 in five starts.
But to look at only the finishes would be short-sighted.
Even though Woodland won the Transitions Championship a year ago and was one of the longest hitters on the PGA TOUR, he was also one of its least accurate. He ranked 137th in driving accuracy and this year is 165th.
He also didn’t have much variety in his game, which was mostly all about power.
“It’s been been an adjustment, but it’s definitely come along quickly,” Woodland said.
The record of Harmon’s players -- past and present -- in majors was also part of the appeal for Woodland, who knows his length, when used properly, can be a huge advantage at Augusta National.
“He obviously knows the advantage, he’s won a million majors there with Tiger and Phil,” Woodland said of Harmon, who helped coach Woods and Mickelson to a combined four Green Jackets. “He knows the ins and outs and which shots you need to compete there, and I think I was lacking a couple of those last year.”
Even though Woodland’s results have been lacking this year, he hasn’t missed a cut.
Part of that speaks to the competitiveness he’s had ever since he was a multi-sport star as a teenager.
“I think the biggest thing I learned with that, in baseball and basketball you have to learn to win when you’re not playing well,” said Woodland, who played basketball at the Division II level in college before transferring to Kansas and focusing on golf. “I didn’t have my best stuff Sunday [at Transitions] last year, but I found a way to get it in the hole.”
And that’s given Woodland plenty of confidence despite the swing changes.
“We’ll be ready by Augusta,” Woodland said. “And I think we’ll be ready before then.”
Got a question for Gary Woodland? 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 John Swantek might use it when he chats this week with the 2011 winner of the Transitions Championship.
Woodland's surprise win over Webb Simpson last year at Copperhead thrust him into the spotlight as one of the game's rising young stars. His raw potential led new swing coach Butch Harmon to comment, "He has a big swing and a tremendous amount of talent, and is an awful lot of fun to be around."
To send your question for Woodland, just fill out the form below and you might get an answer.
Direct Connect video will be posted each Wednesday afternoon on PGATOUR.COM.
The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for the Transitions 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.
THIS WEEK’S MATCHUPS
|Gary Woodland vs. Webb Simpson||Woodland handed Simpson a tough loss at Copperhead last year|
|Justin Rose vs. Luke Donald||Rose working on a season like the one Donald authored in 2011|
|Brandt Snedeker vs. Jhonattan Vegas||It's Vanderbilt (Snedeker) against Texas (Vegas) at Copperhead|
|Ryo Ishikawa vs. K.J. Choi||Asia's top young player takes on Asia's best over-40 player|
|Angel Cabrera vs. Zach Johnson||Two former Masters champions on road to Augusta National|
All interviews will be streamed live on PGATOUR.COM.
Tuesday, March 13
1:15 p.m. ET: Gary Woodland
2:30 p.m. ET: Lucas Glover
3 p.m. ET: Tom Lewis
Wednesday, March 14
11 a.m. ET: Harris English
12:30 p.m. ET: George McNeill
1 p.m. ET: Webb Simpson
TBD: Justin Rose
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
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sam Snead often practiced full shots while barefoot, to better feel his connection with the ground and maintain balance.
Golf shoe manufacturers aren’t going to endorse that anytime soon, but they’re fighting each other to create the closest things to barefoot. Like the hot drivers and clothing fabrics on the floor at the PGA Merchandise Show, lighter is better.
Adidas Golf showed off its new Crossflex, weighing in at a scant 10.6 ounces. Most golf shoes come in closer to a pound or more.
“It’s a supernova-rising category,” said adidas Golf product manager Grant Knudson of the light-shoe segment.
Several startup companies are trying to, um, get a foothold in that segment with shoes that look closer to Crocs with spikes or surf shoes. Barefoot B.E.R.B.S. (standing for better energy recovery balance stability, of course) showed off their product at Wednesday’s Demo Day and invited customers to try on a pair and smash drivers.
But all is not lost for golfers still looking for anchors. FootJoy’s XPS1 has a sole that flares out at points around the bottom of the shoe, adding stability. Gary Woodland, the kind of player who would need maximum stability with his fierce swing speed, wears the XPS1 on the PGA TOUR.
SIGHTINGS: Jack Nicklaus spoke at a Golf 2.0 program for the PGA of America. … Davis Love III signed autographs at Bridgestone’s booth … Brad Faxon drew a crowd while giving putting tips for a synthetic green company … CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz, the longtime voice of Titleist on commercials, emceed a Thursday morning gathering for the company’s PGA professionals. … Dave Stockton and his sons were on hand to offer putting tips and sign Stockton’s new book, “Unconscious Putting.”
PUTTING PROWESS: Ping reps stayed busy on a putting green running a contest using the company’s iPhone putting app. Attendees were fit for a Ping putter with the company’s new “Fit for Stroke” system, which measures golfers onto one of three swing paths – strong arc, slight arc or straight. Golfers then hit five putts with a correctly fit putter, and those putts’ data were measure with the iPhone clipped to the putter.
The 32 players with the most consistency from their set are invited back Friday for a competition, and the four left standing after that will compete Saturday morning in a $5,000 skins game.
The Ping putting app has had more than 100,000 downloads since its release last summer, and when the company pushed its iPhone cradle (the device attaching the iPhone to the putter) as a stocking stuffer, that proved to be a hit too. More than 3,000 downloads were recorded on Christmas morning.
AROUND THE FLOOR: TaylorMade’s area (along with sister companies adidas and Ashworth) filled the east end of the convention hall, and Thursday night featured a concert with George Thorogood. His song, “Who Do You Love?” is used in the company’s commercials for the new R11s driver. … Cobra Puma Golf’s two-story booth featured a slide into a pit of plastic orange balls. The weight limit to ride it? Under 195 pounds. … An indoor testing range is expected to have some 250,000 balls hit over the three days of the Show. … For more pictures from the show, click here .
SMART STUFF: Golf Buddy has a new GPS device called “The Voice” which is beeper-sized and tells you the distance to the hole with a push of a button. … A new company called iWanamaker is offering free scoring software for smartphones that allows golfers in outings to keep tabs on each others’ scores, creating a live leaderboard. … There’s no shortage of companies offering golf simulators, either for recreation or instruction, but Guru Training Systems offers a twist – a 3D trainer that is a “markerless motion capture system” according to the company. It works with a depth-sensing camera mounted atop a TV, meaning it could be used in one’s living room without moving the furniture.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
There was a good reason Butch Harmon didn’t return the phone call right away. He was in the midst of a 5 1/2-hour range session Tuesday with his newest pupil, Gary Woodland , in Las Vegas.
“I spent all day with him,” Harmon said via cell phone. “He is incredibly athletic and what I really like about him is his work ethic and desire to get better. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Among the things they worked on was Woodland’s path and knowledge of his swing.
“He’s got a lot of golf savvy for a guy who hasn’t played for that long,” Harmon said of the 27-year-old who won twice in 2011 and ranked fifth on the PGA TOUR in driving distance. “He just needs a better understanding of his golf swing and why certain shots happen when they do. But he’s excited about the relationship.”
Last week, Woodland and longtime coach Randy Smith split after Woodland left Randy’s son Blake Smith of Hambric Sports Management to be represented by Mark Steinberg of Excel Sports Management.
Woodland played in the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, where he finished 24th, and said he expected to make a decision on a new coach within a couple of weeks. It didn’t take that long. Woodland flew straight from the tournament to see Harmon in Las Vegas.
“He called me and asked if I would have any interest in working with him,” Harmon said.
Harmon was interested and called his other clients, starting with Phil Mickelson, to make sure they were OK with it. Harmon also works with Dustin Johnson and Nick Watney.
“[Gary] fits into the profile of the guys I work with,” said Harmon, who has also worked with Tiger Woods and Greg Norman, among others. “He has a big swing and a tremendous amount of talent and is an awful lot of fun to be around.”
Woodland had worked with Smith since 2005 when he was a junior at Kansas.
Last year, Woodland got his first career victory with a one-shot win at the Transitions Championship, then teamed with Matt Kuchar to give the U.S. its first victory in the OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup in a decade.
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- To no one's surprise, Gary Woodland has the longest drive of the first two days of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, a 450-yarder at the 18th hole in the first round.
But perhaps a bit surprising is that he entered Sunday's third round ranked just 12th in driving distance, averaging 270.3 yards. That's 30 yards behind fellow basher Bubba Watson, who ranks first in that category.
While the Plantation Course's wide fairways would seem ideal for Woodland's power game, he has held himself in check on some holes in order to manage the slopes and contours of this hilly course.
A perfect example is the opening hole. Woodland just teed off Sunday and opted for a 3-wood off the tee. He hit a perfect shot that found the right-to-left slope and went 365 yards. Others are using the same strategy. In fact, playing partner Nick Watney also used 3-wood and cranked it 366 yards.
Woodland is 2 under for the tournament, 13 shots off the lead at a course that he’s playing for the first time as a pro. Unfortunately, his putting has not been his friend this week -- he has needed 63 putts in the first two rounds and has made just three putts outside 7-1/2 feet.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
After six years together, Gary Woodland and his swing coach Randy Smith have parted ways.
“I was very fortunate to work with Randy for six years,” Woodland said Wednesday from the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, a day after Smith dropped him. Earlier in the week Woodland announced that he’d left Hambric Sports Management, where he was represented by Smith’s son Blake, for Excel Sports Management. “He's been a big influence on my life. I wish him nothing but the best."
On Tuesday, Woodland told the Topeka Capital-Journal, “It’s a decision he felt like was best for him and his family, for us to part ways right now. I respect his decision and I look forward to the opportunities I have that are coming up.’’
Woodland and Randy Smith had worked together since 2005 when Woodland was a junior at Kansas.
The long-hitting Woodland, who won the Transitions Championship last year and ranked fifth on the PGA TOUR in driving distance, said he could name a new coach as early as two weeks.
"We have some people in mind,” Woodland said. “I want to sit down after this week. I want to play this week and get the year kicked off right and we'll sit after that."