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Sunday, July 20, 2014

What's In The Winner's Golf Bag: Rory McIlroy at The 2014 Open Championship - Great Golf Blog

HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Walking off the 18th green as the British Open champion, Rory McIlroy kept gazing at all the greats on golf's oldest trophy.

On the claret jug, his name is etched in silver below Phil Mickelson.

In the record book, he is listed behind Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the youngest to get three legs of the career Grand Slam.

And over four days at Royal Liverpool, he had no equal.

"I'm immensely proud of myself," McIlroy said after his two-shot victory Sunday that was never really in doubt. "To sit here, 25 years of age, and win my third major championship and be three-quarters of the way to a career Grand Slam ... yeah, I never dreamed of being at this point in my career so quickly."

He had to work a little harder than he wanted for this one.

Staked to a six-shot lead going into the final round, McIlroy turned back every challenge. He made two key birdies around the turn, and delivered a majestic drive at just the right moment to close with a 1-under 71 and complete his wire-to-wire victory.

In another major lacking tension over the final hour, what brought The Open to life was the potential of its champion.

After nearly two years of turmoil, McIlroy looked like the kid who shattered scoring records to win the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, and who won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island by a record eight shots a year later.

Boy Wonder is back. Or maybe he's just getting started again.

McIlroy won by two shots over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler to become the first start-to-finish winner since Woods at St. Andrews in 2005. Even with one major left this year, the Northern Irishman already is looking ahead to Augusta National next April for a shot at the slam.

"I've really found my passion again for golf," McIlroy said. "Not that it ever dwindled, but it's what I think about when I get up in the morning. It's what I think about when I go to bed. I just want to be the best golfer that I can be. And I know if I can do that, then trophies like this are within my capability."

McIlroy put an end to this major with a powerful drive down the fairway at the par-5 16th, setting up a two-putt birdie to restore his lead to three shots. He finished with two pars, tapping in for par on the 18th green.

The hard part was trying not to cry when his mother, Rosie, came onto the green with tears streaming down her face. She was not at the other two majors. Before leaving, McIlroy turned and applauded the fans in the horseshoe arena who were witness to another masterpiece.

This could have been another romp except for a shaky stretch early for McIlroy, and solid efforts from Garcia and Fowler.

Garcia pulled within two shots with four holes to play until he put his tee shot in a pot bunker just right of the 15th green. His first shot failed to get over the 4-foot sodden wall and rolled back into the sand. He made bogey, and two birdies over the final three holes were not enough. Garcia shot 66 and was runner-up in a major for the fourth time.

"I think that we gave it a good effort," Garcia said. "And there was someone a little bit better."

Fowler, playing in the final group for the second straight major, didn't do anything wrong. He just didn't do enough right to make up a six-shot deficit. Fowler played without a bogey, made three birdies on the last four holes and shot 67.

"He played awesome," Fowler said. "And it was just kind of fun to throw a few shots at him coming. To see him win was pretty cool."

It was the first time two straight majors were won wire to wire. Martin Kaymer did it last month at Pinehurst No. 2, taking the U.S. Open by eight shots.

McIlroy, who finished at 17-under 271, wasn't the only big winner Sunday. Ten years ago, his father and three of his friends each put up 100 pounds ($170) at 500-1 odds that McIlroy would win the British Open before he turned 26.

The kid made good on the best with a brand of golf that had him marked early as golf's next great player.

McIlroy moved up to No. 2 in the world, perhaps on his way to regaining the No. 1 ranking that once looked as if it would be his for years. He ended the 2012 season by winning his second major and capturing the money title on the PGA Tour and European Tour.

Since then, the road has been bumpier than some of the dunes at Hoylake.

McIlroy signed a megadeal with Nike and switched out all his equipment. He changed management for the second time, leading to lawsuits that are still to be decided. And after getting engaged to Caroline Wozniacki on New Year's Eve, he abruptly broke off the engagement in May with a telephone call.

His path to victory in The Open was much smoother.

McIlroy made back-to-back bogeys on the front nine and had to save par from a pot bunker to avoid a third. But he steadied himself with a birdie on the par-3ninth, and when Garcia made a 10-foot eagle ahead of him on the 10th to cut the lead to two, McIlroy answered with a two-putt birdie.

Garcia blinked when he could least afford it, leaving a shot in the bunker at No. 15 as McIlroy watched from the tee.

Jim Furyk was among four players who tied the course record with a 65 to finish fourth. Tiger Woods was long gone. He finished his 75 as McIlroy was still on the practice range. Woods finished 69th — his worst finish over 72 holes in any major — and wound up 23 shots behind, his largest deficit ever in a major.

What's In Rory's Bag?

Driver: Nike Covert Tour 2.0 (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Kuro Kage Silver TiNi 70TX

3 Wood: Nike VR_S Covert Prototype (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Rombax Pro 95 (X-Flex)

Driving Iron: Nike MM Prototype 2 Iron
Shaft: Royal Precision Project X 7.0

Irons: Nike VR Pro Blades (3-9)
Shafts: Royal Precision Project X 7.0

Wedges: Nike VR Forged (47, 54 and 59)
Shafts: Royal Precision Project X 7.0

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What's In The Winner's Golf Bag: Brian Harman at The 2014 John Deere Classic - Great Golf Blog

After missing the cut the last two weeks Brian Harman had a extraordinary week which included a substitute caddie, his first PGA Tour win and a spot in next weeks Open Championship.  

Harman's regular caddie suffered an illness during Thursday's first round and subsequently could not continue  after 6 holes.  A random fan volunteered to step in for the sick caddie and did a great job as Harman shot 6 under the for the last 12 holes and ended up in a 1st place tie after after the first round.

The victory qualified Harman for the British Open at Royal Liverpool, which starts Thursday in Hoylake, England.

"I brought my passport and a couple of jackets," Harman said. "I can't wait to get on that plane."

Harman eagled the par-5 second after putting his approach four feet from the cup, took a bogey at the fifth but responded with a 30-foot birdie putt at the ninth and added a 16-foot birdie putt at the par-5 10th.

Johnson kept the pressure on Harman with a bogey-free round of 64 that included birdies at 13, 14 and 17 to stay on the leader's heels.

But Harman answered the challenge with three birdies in a row starting with an eight-foot birdie putt at the 14th followed by a 15-foot birdie putt at 15 and a six-footer at the par-3 16th.

That allowed Harman to par the 17th and bogey 18 for the victory.

What's In Brian's Bag?

Driver: TaylorMade JetSpeed (9.5 Degrees)
Shaft: Accra Tour Z

3 Wood: TaylorMade JetSpeed (15 Degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Motore Speeder 6.1 Tour Spec (X-Flex)

5 Wood: TaylorMade Burner TP (17.5 Degrees)
Shaft: Fukijura Motore F1 85X

Irons: TaylorMade Tour Preferred CB (4-PW)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue

Wedges: TaylorMade xFT (52-09, 56-12, 60-08)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue

Putter: TaylorMade Ghost Spider S (Belly)

Ball: TaylorMade Lethal

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What's In The Winner's Golf Bag: Angel Cabrera at The 2014 Greenbrier Classic - Great Golf Blog

Angel Cabrera won the Greenbrier Classic on Sunday for his first non-major victory on the PGA Tour, closing with his second straight six-under-par 64 for a two-stroke victory over George McNeill at the Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Cabrera, the Argentine whose only other PGA Tour victories came in the 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters, built a three-shot lead before making things interesting with a pair of late bogeys. He finished at 16-under 264.

McNeill shot a season-best 61 for his fourth top-10 finish of the season and first since mid-March.

Webb Simpson had a 63 to finish third at 10 under.

Third-round leader Billy Hurley III bogeyed four of the first six holes to fall out of contention. He shot a 73 and finished in a seven-way tie for fourth at 9 under.

What's In Angel's Bag?

Driver: Ping G30 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue 80X
Length: 45.25″ (tipped 1 inch)
Swingweight: D4

3 Wood: Ping G30 (14.5 degrees with 13.5 degrees of actual loft)
Shaft: Aldila RIP Alpha 80X
Length: 43″ (tipped 1.5 inches)
Swingweight: D4

Irons: Ping i25 (2 iron), Ping S55 (3-PW)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 Tour Issue
Length: +1/4″
Swingweight: D3

Wedge: Ping Anser (54 degrees), Ping Gorge Tour (60/TS)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue

Putter: Ping Scottsdale TR Anser 2B
Length: 37″
Lie Angle: 21 degrees
Loft: 3 degrees

Ball: Titleist Pro V1X

Sunday, June 29, 2014

What's In The Winner's Golf Bag: Justin Rose at The 2014 Quicken Loans National - Great Golf Blog

BETHESDA, Md. -- Justin Rose got his mistake out of the way one hole early and won the Quicken Loans National in a playoff Sunday over Shawn Stefani.

Tied for the lead as he played the 18th hole at Congressional, Rose tried to hit through two trees left of the fairway and overturned the shot. It ran down a bank and into the water, and he had to hole a 15-foot bogey putt just to stay in the game.
That proved to be the biggest shot he hit all day.
Behind him, Stefani made bogey on the 17th and narrowly missed a birdie putt on the 18th to set up the first playoff in the eight-year history of this event.
And then it was Stefani who essentially repeated Rose's mistake on the first extra hole at No. 18.
After taking a drop because the grandstands blocked his view of the green, he wanted to play his low punch to the right side of the green. His shot also had too much turn and bounded into the water. Rose hit the middle of the green from the fairway and two-putted for par. Stefani made double bogey.
It was Rose's first win since the U.S. Open last summer at Merion, and it felt like he won another U.S. Open as tough as Congressional played. With putting surfaces that had a brown tinge to them even before the leaders teed off, and thick rough all week, it was a far stronger test than when the Open was held in soggy conditions in 2011.
"Congressional got its reputation back after the U.S. Open," Rose said. "I really enjoy this type of golf and this type of test. I think it tested all of us. I'm delighted."
Rose and Stefani each closed with a 1-under 70 -- only six players broke par in the final round -- and finished at 4-under 280.
It was only the second time this year that the winning score was higher than the 36-hole lead (6 under). That also happened at Torrey Pines, which also hosted a U.S. Open.
Despite his blunder on the 18th, Rose earned his second chance.
He went 14 straight holes without making a bogey. Along with the 15-foot bogey putt he made on the 18th, he saved par on the 17th with an 8-foot putt.
Patrick Reed could have used some of that gritty play.
Reed, who started the final round with a two-shot lead, didn't even finish in the top 10. He still had a two-shot lead at the turn, only to start the back nine with consecutive double bogeys on his way to a 41. He closed with a 77 and tied for 11th.
Seven players had a share of the lead at one point in the final round, and once Reed began his meltdown, Rose took over. He made birdie on No. 11, the toughest hole all week at Congressional, and used a fairway metal to gouge out of deep rough and onto the 14th green to avoid dropping a shot.
Stefani, whose only major was at Merion last year, plodded along like a U.S. Open veteran with one par after another, he joined Rose in the lead with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th. But he couldn't hold on, and was in trouble right away in the playoff by pulling his tee shot into the trees.
So many others fell back.
Brendon Todd was tied for the lead until a double bogey in the water on the 10th. Marc Leishman three-putted for bogey on No. 7 and made bogey on the easiest par 4 at Congressional. Brendan Steele made a late rally, only to take on too much from the rough on the 18th and find the water for double bogey.
Much like Rose, Steele also got a reprieve, though the stakes were different.
This was the first British Open qualifier on the PGA Tour -- the leading four players not already exempt from the top 12 at Congressional get into Royal Liverpool next month.
Stefani earned one spot as the runner-up. Charley Hoffman (69) and Ben Martin (71) each birdied two of the last three holes to tie for third. Even with a double bogey, Steele got the last spot with a 71 that put him in a three-way tie for third with Andres Romero and Todd, who already is exempt. Steele earned the spot over Romero because he has a higher world ranking. Romero closed with a 68, the low score in a final round when the scoring average was 73.7.
Rose goes to No. 7 with the victory, his second in the tournament hosted by Tiger Woods, who missed the cut. Rose won in 2010 when it was played at Aronimink.

Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press

What's In Justin's Bag?

Driver: TaylorMade SLDR 430 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Matrix Ozik Black Tie 6M3
Setting: SLDR weight two clicks to fade

3 Wood: TaylorMade JetSpeed Prototype (14.5 degrees)
Shaft: Matrix Ozik Black Tie 7M3

Irons: TaylorMade UDI (#3, 20 degrees), TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC (4-6), TaylorMade Tour Preferred MB (7-PW)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper S+ Flex, Swing Weight: D3.5-4

Wedges: TaylorMade Tour Preferred (53, 58 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue

Putter: TaylorMade White Smoke DA-62 Prototype

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Can Tiger and Michelle Turn The Tides of The Golf Industry? - Great Golf Deals Blog

Golf needs a shot in the arm and Tiger and Michelle may just be what's needed to start the turn-around.

Everywhere you turn you hear horror stories on how the golf industry is on a decline.  Here are some stats that show the industry is in challenging times:

  • The US golfer base has been declining at a rate of roughly 2%/yr since 2002. We’ve lost over 7M golfers from the apex when we threatened 30M US golfers.  
  • In 2013 golf lost 1M golfers net versus 2012
  • Annual rounds demand at the national level has also been declining roughly 1.5%/yr since 2000
  • Equipment sales in the US are 9% below the 2007 benchmark and the compounded annual growth rate for this period is -2% 
  • The golf industry is estimated at $70B  but that is down from a high of $76B in 2000
  • Masters 2014 TV ratings were the lowest since 1957
  • Final round US Open TV ratings were down 46% from last year
Now before we start preparing the death-bed for golf, lets put into perspective that golf during the heydays was a huge bubble.  Like most bubbles, they grow and eventually burst and usually level off to more realistic levels. That is where we are today - in a correction period.  There will always be core group of golfers that will play the game no matter what but what we are missing is the new golfers that take up the game.

What moved new golfers into the game in the past was the excitement generated while watching dominant players like Tiger play on TV.  Just last week at the Women's US Open, the TV ratings for Michelle Wie's victory were up 92% from last year's numbers.  

Tiger's announcement that he would play in this week's PGA Tournament made headline news and his first round coverage on Thursday drew just as much interest as the USA vs Germany World Cup game.

I am not saying that Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie alone will save the game of golf.  It is just one component of an entire mix that will make the game more interesting and hopefully draw more people to the game. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

What's In The Winner's Golf Bag: Kevin Streelman at The 2014 Travelers Championship - Great Golf Blog


With what was probably the best finish in a PGA golf tournament that nobody saw, Kevin Streelman shot a 28 on the back nine which included birdies on his last seven holes to win the 2014 Travelers Championship.  

While everyone else was watching the US play Portugal to a 2-2 tie in the FIFA World Cup and Michelle Wie hold on to win the Women's US Open, all Kevin Streelman did was shoot a 28 on the back nine including birdies on his last 7 holes.  

The seven birdies in the last seven holes to win a PGA Tournament breaks a record of six in a row held since 1965.  Even more impressive he also had 10 consecutive one putts in a row including all 9 holes on the back nine!!  Not bad for a guy that had missed the cut in four of the last tournaments he competed in.

The win was Streelman's second on Tour as he shot consecutive 64's on the weekend to beat KJ Choi and Sergio Garcia by 1 stroke.  

When he was offered congratulations by one observer, all he could do was shake his head and answer, “I don’t even know what just happened.”

What's In Kevin's Bag?

Driver: Ping G20 (9.5 Degrees)
Shaft: Oban Kiyoshi Purple 65X

3 Wood: TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 (14.5 Degrees)
Shaft: Oban Kiyoshi Purple 85X

Hybrid: Adams Idea Super 9031 (20 Degrees)
Shaft: Oban Kiyoshi Purple 100X

Irons: Wilson FG V2 Tour Irons (3-9)
Shaft: True Temper Project X 6.5

Wedges: Wilson FG Tour (48 and 54), Titleist Vokey TVD-K (58-06)
Shaft: True temper Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue

Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 303 Stainless


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