By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
A belly putter won last week on the PGA TOUR. That hasn’t been said as often as people might have thought, coming into 2012.
Carl Pettersson is one of the game’s longtime users, and won at the RBC Heritage with a Nike Method Prototype that has been in and out of his bag for a while. He used it to finish second at the Shell Houston Open earlier in the month, then went one spot better on the small greens at Harbour Town.
His win marks only the second for long putters this season. Bill Haas won the Northern Trust Open in February with a belly putter, the only other such win in 17 TOUR events so far. That keeps 2012 behind last year’s pace, when nine were recorded including Haas’ FedExCup clincher at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola and Keegan Bradley’s major triumph at the PGA Championship.
Regardless of where you stand on the putters, Pettersson’s prowess has to be respected. He’s 17th on the season in Strokes Gained-Putting, picking up an average of .607 strokes on the field per round, and is the only player in the top 20 of the stat who swings a long putter.
“I putted well all week,” said Pettersson after putting on the winner’s tartan jacket at Harbour Town. “But I've used a long putter for 14 years. I'll be back to the short one next year when they ban it.”
That last quip was tongue-in-cheek from the game’s best swinger of the long wand.
FURYK RISING: 2010 FedExCup champion Jim Furyk is continuing to erase the memories of a down 2011 season. At Harbour Town he was T8, his fifth finish of T11 or better this season. He had five finishes of T11 all of last season.
His success is coming with a full bag of Callaway equipment. At Harbour Town he used a Razr Fit driver, Razr X Forged irons, X-Forged wedges, an Odyssey White Hot XG #7 putter and Callaway’s Hex Black Tour ball.
MORE CHARITY $$: After Bubba Watson’s Masters victory, Ping announced a limited-edition sale of 5,000 all-pink G20 drivers. The drivers go on sale June 1, at a retail price of $430, and Ping at first said it would donate 5 percent of the club’s proceeds to Watson’s chosen charities.
Reaction online to the size of the donation was not all positive, perhaps given the high retail price. One might also consider that unfair, considering how Ping is also donating $300 for every 300-yard drive Watson hits in 2012 – which adds up fast when you’re backing the biggest hitter on TOUR.
At any rate, two days after its original announcement, Ping upped its pledge to $50 per pink G20 sold.
“We looked back … and realized that with all the tremendous energy Bubba has created with his win at the Masters and for our brand, we needed to do more with this opportunity to give back to those in need,” said John A. Solheim, Ping chairman and CEO. “The response to the pink G20s has exceeded expectations at this point, so we’re increasing our commitment to help bring Bubba closer to his goal of raising $1 million for charity this year.”
TRUCE: Last Friday it was announced that Acushnet (Titleist’s parent company) and Callaway Golf reached a joint settlement of all pending litigation and disputes. No money was exchanged but the agreement allows each company to make golf balls and other products under patents owned by the other. Other details remain confidential.
The legal squabbles between the companies date to February 2006, when Callaway claimed Titleist infringed on Callaway patents in its Pro V1 ball. A 2007 verdict went in Callaway’s favor but was later tossed out, followed by years of further infringement suits and countersuits.
WINNER’S BAG: Pettersson at the RBC
Driver: Nike VR Pro STR8-FIT 11.5 degree (Fubuki a 50 X shaft)
Fairway wood: TaylorMade Burner, 14.5 degree
Hybrid: Nike VR Pro, 21 degree
Irons: Nike VR S Forged (4-iron), VR Pro Combo (5-PW)
Wedges: Nike VR Pro (49, 55, 60 degrees)
Putter: Nike Method Prototype (belly length)
Ball: Nike 20XI S