Gearing Up For All That Gear

By Adam BarrJanuary 19, 2005, 5:00 pm
Short of making them choose between Masters tickets and a free ride to college for the kids, I find the best way to get golfers to screw up their faces in indecision is to pose this one:
Would you rather birdie a big par 5 to win a match, or get into the PGA Merchandise Show?
Quite a few hardened competitors would rather push the birdie putt and grab the ducats to the Show, which is open only to members of the golf trades. (I never ask the Masters-tix-or-PGA-Show question anymore. I feel so cruel when smoke comes out of peoples ears and they start convulsing.)
Fact is, the Show, at age 52, is still Macys, Bloomies and the North Pole (as seen in The Polar Express) all wrapped into one for golfers. A staggering amount of gear, clothing, accessories, vehicles, books, paintings, and more combines to create a Nirvana atmosphere for golfers, so much so that the old candy-store metaphor no longer cuts it.
But what can golfers who tune into TGCs first-ever live coverage of the Show (2 p.m.-4 p.m. ET January 27, 28 and 29) expect to see this year? Same-old, lame-old? Lots of titanium shine, but not much substance?
Bite the tongue of your golf shoes. Real gearheads will see delights of all kinds. Herewith, a sample of what will be on display:
Beeeeeg drivers
Now that the head-size limit is 460 cc, many companies are beginning to experiment with this cant-miss dimension. The designers lament used to be that such a big head used up all their available grams of moveable weight. But with new titanium alloys and the ability to cast thinner, stronger faces and walls, big is no longer a big problem. Cleveland Golf will have its Launcher 460 Comp at the Show (composite material combinations are another way around the weight problem), and Callaway will have its new Big Bertha 454. Theyll be in the vanguard of a sturdy trend toward offering big drivers for those who prefer them.
Hybrid heaven
Hybrid irons, no longer a novelty but in many bags a necessity, will continue to be offered as easier-to-hit replacements for 2-, 3-, and 4-irons. But now that so many companies have developed hybrids, the focus will switch to how to make a choice. Surely shaft options will increase as players at all levels make sure their new hybrids swing pretty much like the rest of the set. Hardly any company worth its salt wont have a hybrid on display. Look for Sonartec to come out strong (Todd Hamilton used one to win last year's British Open), as well as more established labels such as Hogan, Callaway, and Nike.
Hot cores
Initial velocity is all the rage in golf balls. Look for big, fat, powerful rubber cores, and not just in the modern two-piece recreational models. Callaways new HX Hot is a three-piece thats relying on a super-fast core for extra yardage, the company says. Top-Flite is so nuts about speed that it has hired NASCAR Busch Series driver Jamie McMurray to enhance the super-fast image of its new Strata TL Tour and other balls, which have what the company calls an enriched energy core. (Hank Kuehne is playing the TL Tour, and hes a well-known buster off the tee.)
Out there
And one of the best things about the Show is that its not possible to predict everything youll see. From golf shirts with zippable side vents to insect-repellent-impregnated hats to all manner of video games, instruction methods, even jewelryyou never know what you may find.
Oh, you can be sure of one thing youll findpeople trying to get tickets.
Email your thoughts to Adam Barr
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Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.

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Playoff streaks in jeopardy for Garcia, Haas

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:12 pm

Since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007, only 13 players have managed to make the playoffs each and every year. But two of the PGA Tour's stalwarts head into the regular-season finale with work to do in order to remain a part of that select fraternity.

Sergio Garcia has rarely had to sweat the top-125 bubble, but the Spaniard enters this week's Wyndham Championship 131st in the current standings. Left with even more work to do is former FedExCup winner Bill Haas, who starts the week in Greensboro 150th.

Garcia got off to a strong start in the spring, sandwiching a pair of top-10 finishes in WGC events around a fourth-place showing at the Valspar Championship. But quality results largely dried up after Garcia missed the cut at the Masters; he has made only two cuts in 10 Tour starts since April, including early exits in all four majors.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Garcia has some history at Sedgefield Country Club, having won this event in 2012 to break a lengthy U.S. victory drought. He also finished fourth in 2009 but hasn't played the Donald Ross layout since a T-29 finish as the defending champ in 2013.

It's been a difficult year for Haas both on and off the course, as the veteran was involved as a passenger in a car accident on the eve of the Genesis Open that killed the driver. He returned to action three weeks later in Tampa, and he tied for seventh at the RBC Heritage in April. But that remains his lone top-10 finish of the season. Haas has missed 11 cuts including three in a row.

While the bubble will be a fluid target this week at Sedgefield, Garcia likely needs at least a top-20 finish to move into the top 125 while Haas will likely need to finish inside the top 5.

One of the 13 playoff streaks is assured of ending next week, as Luke Donald has missed most of the year with a back injury. Other players to qualify for every Tour postseason include Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore.

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Airlines lose two sets of Olesen's clubs in 10 days

By Grill Room TeamAugust 15, 2018, 7:50 pm

Commercial airlines losing the golf clubs of a professional golfer is not exactly a groundbreaking story. It happens.

But European Tour pro Thorbjorn Olesen is on quite the roll, losing two sets of clubs and five suitcases in the span of 10 days.

Olesen, the reigning Italian Open champ, claimed his primary set of golf clubs were lost last week. Having little faith they'd be found before this week's Nordea Masters, he decided to bring his backup set for the event in Sweden.

A veteran move by the 28-year-old, unless, of course, those clubs were lost too. And wouldn't you know it:

After pestering the airlines with some A+ GIFs, Olesen was reunited with at least one of his sets and was back in action on Wednesday.

He also still plans on giving his golf bag away to some lucky follower, provided it's not lost again in transit. Something he's no longer taking for granted.

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Podcast: Brandel compares Tiger and Hogan's comebacks

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 15, 2018, 6:48 pm

Tiger Woods on Sunday at Bellerive recorded his seventh runner-up finish in a major and his first in nine years.

A favorite guest of the Golf Channel Podcast, Brandel Chamblee joins host Will Gray to compare and contrast Tiger's return to competitive golf with that of Ben Hogan and Babe Didrikson Zaharias in the 1950s.

Chamblee also discusses Brooks Koepka's major dominance, Bellerive as a major venue, Tiger and Phil as Ryder Cup locks, and who else might be in line to receive Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn's remaining captain's picks.

Finally, Brandel shares what it was it was like to qualify for the Senior Open Championship and compete for a major title on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Listen here: