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.”


AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


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.

Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018

By Will GrayNovember 22, 2017, 12:53 pm

He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.

Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:

3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

5/2: Rory McIlroy

7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

9/2: Justin Rose

5/1: Brooks Koepka

15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

10/1: Adam Scott

12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed

15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson

20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer

25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman

30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.