Nike Addresses Sumo2 Problems

By Adam BarrMarch 17, 2007, 4:00 pm
A small number of Nike Sumo2 drivers may not conform to the Rules of Golf because of a minor manufacturing problem, Nike announced Friday in a conference call with golf equipment writers.
 
The unauthorized manufacturing variance, as Nike called it, resulted in driver faces that had a coefficient of restitution higher than that allowed by the rules. The variance may result in a distance increase of perhaps a yard or two, Nike said.
 
Only the Sumo2 , known to many as Nikes square-head driver, was affected, Nike said. The company emphasized that no driver being used by a professional or college player has failed to conform to the rules; those clubs are tested at Nikes tour headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.
 
Nike discovered the problem in late February, said Bob Wood, president of Nike Golf, and the company immediately set about correcting the manufacturing problem. The U.S. Golf Association alerted Nike to the possibility that some of its Sumo2 driver heads might have failed the so-called Characteristic Time test, in which a pendulum drops a metal ball onto a clubface and measures the time during which the ball is in contact with the face. The limit under the Rules of Golf is 257 microseconds.
 
A competitor told the USGA that some Nike drivers might be non-compliant, Wood said. But he declined to name the competitor.
 
Nike believes a manufacturing mistake or variance at an overseas foundry (which it would not name) led to the problem, which Nike says affects a very small number of clubs. The foundry does work for as many as 20 club companies, Wood said, but he would not say whether that foundry also serves the company who told the USGA about the problems with the Nike drivers.
 
Nike has instituted an exchange program to accept Sumo2 drivers from consumers who want to return them for a new one. The driver they get back will bear a small circle stamp on the sole to show that it conforms with the Rules of Golf. Details of the program can be found on Nikes golf website, www.nikegolf.com. There will also be a program to handle inventory now in stores.
 
Also, Nike plans to begin 100 percent product inspection at its overseas manufacturing facility and at its Memphis distribution center.
 
Nike is starting these programs voluntarily, Wood said, and not because of any USGA mandate.
 
They cant mandate what we do, Wood said during the conference call. We are choosing out own path on this, and it so happens we choose to do what they would wish. Wood added that he hopes Nikes actions will become an industry standard when other such issues arise, and that he hopes other companies products will be inspected.
 
Dick Rugge, senior technical director for the USGA, quoted in a Nike press release, said, The USGA always places the golfer as its number one priority. We appreciate Nike Golfs cooperation in this process and its plan for exchanging product.
 
The program doesnt apply to regular Sumo drivers and Sasquatch drivers, both of which conform to the rules, Nike says. The Sumo2 driver used by PGA TOUR player and Nike staffer K.J. Choi to win the 2006 Chrysler Championship last fall was also conforming, Nike said.
 
Wood acknowledged that such hiccups can cause image problems in golfs highly competitive equipment market, but was quick to differentiate Nikes situation from that of other club manufacturers who have run afoul of the rules. Nikes variance was completely unintentional, Wood said, unlike Callaway Golf, whose ERC II driver was briefly marketed as a higher-COR alternative for golfers outside the jurisdiction of the USGA. The proactive solutions Nike plans to offer for consumers, retail partners and in its manufacturing process are the bigger story, Nike executives said.
 
[These programs], in our estimation, are the essence of putting the customers first,' said Cindy Davis, U.S. general manager for Nike Golf. And our customers are the people who use our clubs and who sell them at retail.
 
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Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


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“It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

“I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

“I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


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The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

“There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

“I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

“If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

“It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

“It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

“I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

“If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”