Just the Facts and a Little Analysis on the Weeks New Golf Products
It was a relatively slow spring for new products, but things are looking up golf gearheads as summer begins. Heres the skinny:
WHAT: Spalding Ben Hogan Apex Tour golf ball
WHEN: Shipping July 1
HOW MUCH: Suggested retail is $58 per dozen, but the street price will probably settle in at just above $40.
WHATS UP: Ben Hogan golf balls rivaled Titleist for PGA Tour dominance in the 1970s, but the brand declined in the early 90s after the Hogan Co. endured a number of ownership changes. Spalding took over in 1997 and concentrated on clubs first. Now Spalding is ready to extend the brand again to golf balls with a better-player entry to compliment its Strata and Top-Flite sub-brands.
The construction is four-piece: A soft inner core about the size of a pea transfers energy, Spalding says. A slightly harder rubber core material surrounds that. Then comes a hard inner cover to add distance, all wrapped in a soft and very thin urethane outer cover, which is supposed to add spin for greenside control. As many manufacturers have done in recent years, Spalding claims this ball marries distance and feel, properties once thought to be mutually exclusive in golf balls.
Spalding, which has been struggling in the market the past couple of years, is pinning a lot of hopes on this new ball ' and a lot of money. Now that Spaldings debt is restructured, the company is free to launch a $20 million marketing and advertising effort to support the new product.
Len Mattiace, Bernhard Langer, Hal Sutton, Dennis Paulson and Mark Brooks are among the tour players who have already put the new Hogan ball into play.
WHAT: FootJoy GelFusion golf shoes
HOW MUCH: Suggested retail is $185.
WHATS UP: FootJoy calls its new outsole independent suspension for your feet. The iSuspension mechanism ties a titanium midsole stability bridge to a plastic key that in turn links to the forefoot, so the foot can move medially and laterally as well as fore and aft, FootJoy says. Theres also a special flexibility channel across the bend point under the ball of the foot.
Gel in the heel and the ankle collar help the fit, FootJoy claims, and a special in-shoe foam controls foot temperature and moisture.
FootJoys market dominance is solid, but its premium shoe ($100+) market share of 55.3 percent is flat versus last year. No. 2 Nike is far away at 18 percent, but gained 5 percent last year. On top of all this, the world shoe market is down about 6 percent in the United States, Europe and the Pacific Basin.
The GelFusion is the first new premium model for FootJoy since the Dry I.C.E in 1999. The GelFusion is $15 cheaper than Dry I.C.E. was.
In other shoe segments, FootJoy is replacing its Fit Dogs 2-year waterproof guarantee product with the new X-Dimension, which features an X-shaped stability bridge in the outsole. That shoe will cost $120, versus the old $130 asking price for the Fit Dogs.
In between X-Dimension and the top lines are FootJoys bedrock DryJoys product. In its 13-year history, DryJoys have been through eight design iterations, and they have been consistently popular: If DryJoys were its own company, it would be the No. 3 shoe brand all by itself. To keep the retail price from inflating, FootJoy reengineered some features (without affecting quality, the company promises) and dropped the price from $160 to $145.
FootJoys eComfort entry-level brand will replace the Sierra Treks; retail will be $85 versus the Sierra price of $100. And at the very top remain FootJoy Classics, the leather-soled standby, which is $300 in the Dry Premiere waterproof line and $250 in the simpler water resistant model.
WHAT: Adams Golf GT 363R high-COR driver
WHEN: Shipping July 1
HOW MUCH: Suggested retail price not yet released
WHATS UP: This driver carries the .860 coefficient of restitution that will be legal for recreational players from Jan. 1, 2003 through Dec. 31, 2007. It has a 363 cc titanium face, with a strong, flexible SP-700 beta titanium face, Adams says. Special heel weighting helps the club get square at impact.
Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.
Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.
“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”
It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.
Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.
“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”
It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.
Tweets by GCTigerTracker
McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.
McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.
But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.
“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.
“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.
“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”
McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.
“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”
McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.
How The Open cut line is determined
Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.
The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:
• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.
• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.
• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.
The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.