Callaway Ping Introduce New Clubs
CALLAWAY, PING OFFER NEW CLUBS In a refreshing break from all the recent golf ball introductions, two of the Big Five equipment makers have new clubs for us to look at. Callaway Golf has introduced the Hawk Eye VFT Tungsten Injected Titanium irons, and Ping has brought out its TiSI Tec driver.
In keeping with Callaways commitment to pleasing-to-hit, game improvement clubs, the VFT irons promote higher ball flight in the long irons (for more distance and ease of getting the ball airborne) and a lower trajectory in the short irons (for greater control), the company said. VFT stands for variable face thickness, and Callaway says the variability allows it to adjust the face thickness architecture of each club to tailor the ball flight to the type of iron selected.
Another key feature, said Callaway, is an internal weight pocket in the sole of each club. That pocket was part of the original Hawk Eye irons, but its longer in the VFTs, which allows it to be filled with even more tungsten balls and molten metal. Translation: More oomph and rise in the ball flight.
The VFT is also characteristically Callaway in another way: Its premium-priced. A set of eight irons with graphite shafts carries a manufacturers suggested retail price of $1,640. With steel shafts, the MSRP is $1,400.
And by the way: Word is the golf world wont have to wait too long for the next driver from Callaway.
Pings new TiSI Tec driver looks a lot like the companys large and popular regular TiSI, but Ping claims the new club was designed to be even longer. Over the years, Ping has made a habit of tweaking existing products to improve them rather than introducing completely new clubs, and that appears to have been the plan with the Tec. The weight in the new club has been moved lower and further forward, resulting in more boring ball flight that could lead to more roll, said John Solheim, Pings chairman and CEO.
That ET on the sole of the clubhead stands for effective trajectory, or the effective loft of the club at impact. That means that a 10-degree Tec driver will have the same loft at impact as a 10-degree old TiSI, even though a Tec standing still has a somewhat higher loft than its predecessor. That feature lends itself to the boring flight Solheim mentioned.
Ping also has a variable face thickness technology, which it says is patented and dates back to the early 1990s.
The Tec will begin shipping this fall. MSRP will be $550.
Used to be that the major golf equipment companies used the Las Vegas and Orlando golf exhibitions as the stages for product introductions. But independent debuts such as Callaways and Pings have become the norm over the past few years for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that at a trade show, you have to share the media attention with everyone else.
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.
When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.
The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.
The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.