News Notes from the Business World

By Casey BiererAugust 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: Casey Bierer is The Golf Channel's new Business Reporter. He will file regular Business Edge columns so be sure to check back for his latest offerings.
 
FIDRA Moves to Cleveland
In a move related to the acquisition of Cleveland Golf by Quiksilver, its golf apparel brand, FIDRA, has joined Cleveland Golf in its new Huntington Beach office. The move, which was completed on August 1st, will give FIDRA additional office support while allowing it to remain a distinct and individual company. It will continue to operate with its own marketing, design, and sales force, while much of its support operations, such as accounting, I.S. and shipping, will be shared with Cleveland Golf.
 
Also, Greg Hopkins, President/CEO of Cleveland Golf, will assume the role of President/CEO of FIDRA. Partnering with FIDRA is a great move for us, and I am eager to start working together, said Hopkins. The FIDRA brand represents the true spirit of the core golfer, and we think the match is going to be very popular with our customer base.
 
CHAMP
Business is strong, says Harris MacNeill, President of Massachusetts based MacNeill Engineering Worldwide. The privately owned company was founded by the MacNeill family in 1931. CHAMP designs and manufactures golf spikes as well as cleats and spikes in every athletic venue and distributes those products worldwide.
 
MacNeill said, Its a two-horse raceCHAMP and SoftSpikes. And our tour exposure, with the highly identifiable color nature of the Scorpion spike, is creating tremendous visibility for us. Harris also told me that the USGA and PGA have for years been toying with a soft spike only policy on tour. Naturally, the best players in the world have widely differing views on the subject. Some players have been playing their whole careers in metal spikes, and unless forced to do so, have no desire to change.
 
Enter CHAMPS Pro-Scorpion solution. MacNeill says, Weve taken our extremely successful Scorpion technology and added a metal tip. Its kind of a hybrid spike. Its something professional golfers may be willing to go to as a stop-gap measure before completely getting out of metal spikes. Clearly, its not intended for general consumersits a tour product.
 
Golf Galaxy
Golf Galaxy has gone public and now trades under ticker symbol GGXY. Golf Galaxy opened its first store in Bloomington, Minn., in April of 1997. The company founders combine over 70 years of retail experience with a passion for golf. There are currently 45 Golf Galaxy stores. According to Ron Hornbaker, Sr. VP of Sales and Operations, Were in the perfect position to grow smartly and aggressively. This fall and towards the end of the year well see more exciting new store openings as well as store re-modeling. I really like what the direction Golf Galaxy is headed in. When you walk in our stores you can feel the difference. There is serious attention being paid to the little detailsand the little details make the difference.
 
True Temper
Chad Hall heads up Tour operations for True Temper and Graffaloy. He wants you to know Retief Goosen switched from his Mitsubishi shaft and won last weeks PGA Tour event, The INTERNATIONAL, playing a prototype Grafalloy Blue shaft that was originally made for John Daly (extremely stiff). Over the past month Grafalloy composites have captured 7 wins: 1 PGA Tour, 3 Champions Tour (including 2 majors) and 3 Nationwide Tour titles.
 
Wally Uihlein Honored
For those of you who didnt hear earlier in the week, its worth repeating. Acushnet Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Wally Uihlein, long-time senior executive of one of the worlds foremost sports equipment companies and a respected industry statesman, has been named recipient of the 2005 PGA Distinguished Service Award. Besides providing honored leadership to Acushnet Company, Mr. Uihlein has been very closely involved, professionally and personally, with junior golf through his significant and long-term involvement with the American Junior Golf Association. For more than 25 years, Mr. Uihlein has helped lead the charge to grow golf around the world through the AJGA.
 
The PGA Distinguished Service Award, inaugurated in 1988, honors outstanding Americans who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf. It is The PGA of Americas highest honor.
 
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McIlroy gets back on track

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

He is well ahead of schedule.

Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

Everything in his life is lined up.

Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.