Golf Reverses Hot Driver Plan
The modified policy means Americans cannot use the thin-faced drivers in club tournaments or to post a score for their handicap index.
The plan that was to take effect Jan. 1 would have allowed average U.S. players to use the hot drivers until 2008. The decision Tuesday does not affect players in the rest of the world, who already were told they can use the drivers until then.
While Tuesday's change was meant to avoid confusion, the new policy by the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club could lead to chaos in the equipment market, already geared up to sell the new drivers.
A large display window at the New York Golf Center in Manhattan was devoted entirely to an exhibit of Taylor Made's R500 series of thin-faced drivers.
'I just lost a customer because of the ruling,'' salesman Frank Cole said. 'I had been telling people, 'Buy the Taylor Made now. Get used to it. And in January, when you're comfortable with it, it will be legal.' Now I'm going to have guys coming in, bringing their clubs back for a refund. The next week is going to be a nightmare.''
The change also brought an angry response from Callaway Golf, the first U.S. company to promote drivers that make the ball spring off the club more quickly.
'We're not going to be able to sell our best technology to golfers that I know will help them enjoy the game,'' Callaway CEO Ron Drapeau said. 'That's sad for the 25 million golfers in the United States under this jurisdiction.''
Taylor Made declined comment until it could talk to its retailers.
The R&A makes the rules of golf for everywhere in the world except the United States and Mexico, which fall under the jurisdiction of the USGA.
The two rules makers had different equipment standards for drivers. The USGA set a limit of 0.83 coefficient of restitution (how quickly the ball springs from the clubface), while the R&A did not impose any limits.
That meant players could use the thin-faced drivers at the British Open or World Golf Championships held overseas, but not on the PGA Tour or the three American majors.
A compromise proposed in May would have allowed recreational players to use drivers with a COR of 0.86 for a five-year period, starting next year. Beginning in 2008, the worldwide limit would revert to 0.83.
It did not affect touring pros. The organizations recommended that 'highly skilled players'' use drivers that did not exceed 0.83.
Why the turnabout?
USGA officials said two months of feedback ' customary when they propose rules changes ' indicated the compromise was confusing to players and manufacturers. Drivers would be illegal until Jan. 1, legal for five years, then illegal again.
R&A secretary Peter Dawson said several Japanese companies complained about the quick implementation of the new limit (0.86), since they previously had no limits.
'The R&A didn't like the 0.86 (limit), and we didn't like 0.86 in the first place. We only agreed to it as a step toward getting a compromise,'' USGA executive director David Fay said. 'When the R&A said to forget about 0.86, we said there was no need for us to have it.''
In the meantime, stores like the New York Golf Center are stuck with the drivers, which sell for $500-$700 each.
'We're real upset,'' store president Jay Shin said. 'A couple of months ago, the USGA said it was going to change the rule, and we sent out 10,000 e-mails to our customers announcing a promotion with Callaway.''
He told customers they could use the ERC II and the Taylor Made R500 in club competitions starting in January, and Shin ordered 1,000 drivers from the companies.
'In the last two months, since the USGA's original ruling, we sold 400 to 500 of them,'' he said. 'Now, if a customer comes back and says, 'I don't want to use an illegal driver,' what am I going to do?''
Fay was hardly sympathetic toward companies that already had geared up for the proposed policy change in January.
'They knew it was a proposal and not final,'' he said. 'If they marketed clubs based on the proposal of May 9, then they jumped the gun.''
Drapeau said Callaway has sold 300,000 ERC II drivers, more than 100,000 of those in the United States. He said anyone who bought an ERC II through a recent promotion would be allowed to exchange it for any other Callaway driver.
The R&A has said it doesn't believe thin-faced drivers alone are a threat to the game, and Dawson said he only agreed to a limit in 2008 for the sake of compromise.
'We never thought much of COR questions. I don't suppose it matters where the limit falls,'' he said. 'But uniformity is clearly very important. Golf deserves one set of rules.''
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.