Notes New Ball Test Underway

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The Royal & Ancient and U.S. Golf Association will start using a new ball test Wednesday, which will include a higher swing speed, a titanium driver and a distinct line in the sand when it comes to distance.
 
'With the adoption of the updated test conditions, we will be testing balls like today's PGA Tour players are hitting balls,' said Dick Rugge, the senior technical director for the USGA. 'It's more accurate than the old test, and more relevant to today's golf.'
 
Just about any change would have made the golf ball test more relevant.
 
The old system had been in place since 1976, the year after Lou Graham won the U.S. Open. It used a wooden club swung at 109 mph, and the overall distance standard had a limit of 296.8 yards.
 
The new test will use a titanium club at 120 mph, and the overall distance standard has been increased to 320 yards.
 
Rugge said every ball on the market will conform to the new standards. But he says the new test does not allow for huge gains in golf ball construction like the market has seen over the last five years.
 
Rugge said a titanium driver and the increased swing speed is worth about 30 extra yards. But the ODS limit only increased about 23 yards.
 
'It's definitely a line in the sand,' Rugge said. 'There's no room for the balls to get any longer.'
 
Passion for Jones
Tim Petrovic is a big fan of Bobby Jones, which made his first trip to the Masters so special. It figures he would have seen the movie on Jones, 'A Stroke of Genius,' enough times to memorize it.
 
Not so.
 
Petrovic also wants to see 'The Passion of the Christ.' Adding to his dilemma is that he recently met Jim Caviezel, who played Jones in one movie and Jesus in the other.
 
'I wasn't sure which movie to see first,' Petrovic said. 'Because if I go to 'The Passion' first, it might ruin Bobby for me. I just won't be able to look at that guy as Bobby Jones.'
 
U.S. Open Bubble:
This is the last chance for players not already eligible to qualify for the U.S. Open, and most eyes are on John Daly and Colin Montgomerie. Both need to move into the top 50 this week after the St. Jude Classic on the PGA Tour (Daly) and the Volvo PGA Championship in Europe (Monty).
 
The best estimates are that Montgomerie (No. 56) needs to finish in the top three at Wentworth. Daly (No. 54) probably needs the same result, because Memphis will not have as many world ranking points as the Volvo PGA.
 
Meanwhile, Stephen Ames finished third at Colonial last week to move to No. 41, clinching a U.S. Open berth.
 
Divots:
South Carolina senior Adrienne Gautreaux has won the 2004 Dinah Shore Trophy, given to the top female college player who does well in academics and on the golf course. Gautreaux graduated with a degree in psychology and had a 74.67 scoring average. ... Barry Lane, Graeme McDowell and Joakim Haeggman have earned spots in the British Open by being among the top three players on the European tour money list not already eligible.
 
Stat of the Week:
Padraig Harrington's runner-up finish at the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Germany was the 22nd time in his career he finished second. The leader among full-time PGA Tour players is Davis Love III at 26.
 
Final Word:
'Valium, probably.' -- Steve Flesch, on what it would take for him not to be so hard on himself.
 
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