Uh ' dont look now, but he just won a tournament. Again.
Bob Estes came from five back to take the Invensys at Las Vegas Classic. To win on those three Las Vegas courses would require just a ton of birdies, youre probably thinking. And Estes did ' he shot a 9-under-par 63 Sunday, the fifth day of this hole-out binge. That makes 17 straight rounds in the 60s for him. The Air Canada, the Bell Canadian Open, the Texas Open and now Las Vegas ' you have to go back to the PGA Championship to find a score in the 70s.
And he won the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June. Somebody better do something quickly before things get out of hand here. While we were out napping, someone came in and cleaned up.
Im finding my game, Estes said simply. And the golf world is finding him, at the rather advanced age of 35.
Actually, Estes was on the verge of breaking through in 1994, when he was 14th on the money list. He suddenly found he couldnt drive it in the same county as the golf course, however, and sank as low as No. 149 in 1997. Maybe, he surmises, it was the new technology that finally caught up with him. Titanium was the culprit, unlikely as that may seem to you and me.
Like everybody else ' they came out with these graphite shafts, big titanium heads, he said. He also was playing a 44-inch driver, while he now is playing one almost an inch shorter, at 43- inches.
Theres guys that I think have been knocked off the Tour because of that one club, he said at the FedEx. All of these titanium drivers are designed for higher-handicapped players. They are not designed for the good player and the professional. I think some of them are finally beginning to realize that.
But going shorter and heavier is just ' you feel like you cant miss a fairway.
Estes also threatens to make a move that is REAL heresy ' going back to persimmon heads. They dont look too good, but they sure do hit good, he says.
He mentioned Mike Hulbert, whose problems with an erratic driver finally cost him his Tour card. One club can do it to you, he said. Thats the one youre going to spend the most time with as far as the full swing ' the driver.
Estes decided to use one more throwback to get his game untracked ' the 10-finger baseball grip. In his time of desperation, he finally had to consider it. He had tried everything else ' everything. Couldnt he try one thing more?
I just hit the ball so much more solidly that way, Estes said. He resisted, but finally he just did it. He had to wait until he got the driver dilemma straightened out. When he got the war club solved, though, he made the change. One thing he had to do to compensate is to use larger grips. But he found he made a much better swing at the ball than he had using the overlap.
Without going into too much detail, it (the overlap) just didnt work as well for me, he said. I can get into a better setup position and make a better golf swing with the 10-finger grip.
What has followed has been an unending string of scores in the 60s. He finished in a tie for eighth at Air Canada, tied for second in the Canadian Open and tied for fourth in the Texas Open before winning at Las Vegas. Thats $1,358,425 in those last four starts, an average of almost $340,000 a start, and he has ever-so-quietly moved into the ninth spot on the money list.
Tiger hasnt played since the PGA. David Duval hasnt won since the British Open, Phil Mickelson since Hartford. Meanwhile, Estes has grabbed a bundle in the last month, playing a very old-style game ' new head, new grip, new length.
Whats new with him? Nothing. Simply nothing.