Spieth's putter switch drawing some attention

By Ryan Reiterman May 19, 2017, 12:05 am

IRVING, Texas – On Jordan Spieth’s website, there is a telling quote from 2015 about his equipment.

"I'm very picky with my driver and my putter,” he said. “They have to look and feel right, so that when I'm in a big tournament and everything is on the line, all I have to do is hit the shot.”

Spieth is one of the rare golfers who has been in a committed relationship with his putter. He’s used the same Scotty Cameron 009 prototype since he was 15 years old. The trusty club has been there for all 12 of his professional wins, including Spieth’s blockbuster 2015 season when he made a run at the Grand Slam.

During an appearance on the “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” last year, Spieth even joked he’s cozied up to his putter in bed.

"It's a putter I've been using for some seven-eight years now,” he told Fallon. “It used to be black but now it's all rusted, chipped up and there's like rust on the inside of it. I still use it. There's been a couple nights I've been happy enough I've slept with it."

Hey, if you won $28.7 million by the age of 23, you’d give your putter some extra TLC, too.

But this week, Spieth’s 009 is not in his golf bag and it’s definitely not in his bed.

He decided after a missed cut at TPC Sawgrass it was time to try a new putter. Spieth started thinking about it before The Players, and he made the switch this week.

“It's nothing crazy new, but obviously, I've got a putter I've worn out for a number of years and it helps me lineup a bit better, this one right now, and that's kind of been my struggle is lining the putter up where I want to,” he said. “I'm falling into a nice line and a nice setup, which has left me more comfortable. I just haven't quite dialed in the speed yet, and I wasn't sure what that would be like today. A little off on the speed. So, hopefully I can make the adjustments.”

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Spieth shot a 2-under 68 and took 27 putts Thursday with a Scotty Cameron T5W mallet. He’s used a similar putter before in the final two rounds of the 2014 Open Championship and at the Bridgestone Invitational. Those are the only times he’s flirted with a new flatstick.

Spieth wasn’t thrilled after multiple questions about his putter change.

“I haven't been comfortable standing over it for a little while, and so I just wanted something that's a new look, and the bigger a deal that's made out of it the more bothersome that is for me,” he said. “It's not really that big of a deal, and every guy switches putters every single week. It's nothing new. Just a new look for me for the time being.”

He’s right. It’s not a huge deal. Spieth could put the 009 back in the bag at any time. He could also go on to win 10 majors with his new wand. Who knows?

But when one of the best putters on Tour makes a switch, it’s bound to draw some attention. He has only dropped to 39th in strokes-gained putting, and Spieth won his ninth PGA Tour title in February at Pebble Beach. He’s so good at putting, Spieth’s fellow pros stopped to watch him practice at Riviera after his impressive performance on the bumpy poa annua greens.

It’s a reminder of how quickly a player can fall out of love with a putter. It’s the club that requires the simplest stroke, but the relationships are the most complicated.

Danny Willett won the Masters last year and then broke his winning putter at the U.S. Open.

"The putter has been bad all week,'' Willett said. "Unfortunately, it's now in two pieces.”

Mark Calcavecchia, who has tried every putter and putting style imaginable, told USA Today in 2015, “I have 40 putters … and I hate every one of them.”

In the same article, Colin Montgomerie said he used seven different putters in eight rounds, which included a win at the Senior PGA Championship.

"I change with the weather," he said.

Like Tiger Woods, Spieth has done the exact opposite.

Woods famously won 13 of his 14 majors with a Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS. He used an older Newport to win the Masters in 1997.

Woods benched his Scotty in 2010 and fiddled with several Nike putters. When Nike exited the equipment business last year, Woods immediately put his magical wand back in the bag.

Even when his Nike putter was in play, Woods kept a close eye on his Cameron putters. He told his kids those were “daddy only” clubs.

It’s proof that no matter what happens, Spieth can always return to what has worked before.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

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

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

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.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

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.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.