USGA Pulls Zevo and Others Back from the Brink
USGA Amends its Stance on Clubhead Size
Im looking forward to a good nights sleep for the first time in weeks, said Michael Hoffee, president of Zevo Golf, within minutes of hearing the news Thursday afternoon. Zevos Compressor driver, which it plans to release at the PGA Merchandise Show, Jan. 24-27 in Orlando, Fla., has a head that displaces 410 cc.
That head would have run afoul of a regulation the USGA proposed Dec. 19, when the golf equipment industry was at its most quiet. Citing language from Appendix II(1)(a) of the Rules of Golf that requires club design to adhere generally to the traditional and customary form and make, the USGA surprised even the most wired-in industry observers by proposing that clubhead size be limited to 385 cc, and that the total length of the club be capped at 47 inches. (The Jan. 10 amendment does not change the length proposal.)
Even though the regulations were only proposed, many in the industry howled in protest. They saw the strictures as arbitrary and found the timing of the announcement suspect. The USGA offered a two-month comment period, but most manufacturers claimed they were too busy between Dec. 19 and Feb. 19 preparing for the PGA Show to adequately study the matter and comment. Zevo claimed to have lost a mass of orders that would have made it profitable.
The Jan. 10 modification pointed to the feedback the USGA had received as the reason for the change. Not only will 460 cc offer plenty of design headroom for most companies, said the USGA, but another 10 cc will be allowed as a margin for manufacturing or measuring error. The number is not arbitrary, but was chosen because the USGA has already approved some clubs that big, said Dick Rugge, USGA senior technical director. (Even if there had been no modification, previously approved clubs presumably would have been grandfathered in had the proposed regulation been adopted.)
Word from inside the USGA is that reaction ran the gamut from the aforementioned howling to calmer suggestions. But at least two companies, Zevo and Acushnet, sent letters with ultimatums and deadlines: Modify 385 or well sue. (Acushnets Cobra Golf has a 427 cc driver on the way.) The USGA says it was the totality of the response, not the threats, that led to the change.
The process shows that the USGA listens, Rugge said Jan. 11. Were not an organization that closes our ears or our minds.
That endorsement of the process pervades the USGA front office.
There are so many golf manufacturers in the universe now that if you try speaking [informally about regulation] to just a few, you run a real risk [of antitrust lawsuits], said David Fay, the USGAs executive director.
At Zevo headquarters in Temecula, Calif., Hoffee is glad to be back to business as usual. He believes hell recover all the orders lost because of retailer fear over the Dec. 19 proposal. But the experience left scars.
[The Dec. 19 announcement] did cost us, in a sort of less tangible way, by interrupting our business at a crucial launch time, Hoffee said Jan. 11. Instead of paying attention to product issues, we were busy meeting with counsel and preparing a response.
The USGA hopes the Jan. 10 modification will put the proposed club regulation issue to rest. Almost lost in all the club-related hoopla is the other Dec. 19 announcement, the one in which the USGA agreed that its proposed golf ball testing procedure, called optimization, in which the ball is launched from a machine under ideal launch conditions, wasnt the way to go. In response to manufacturer comment (and sometimes outrage), the USGA will incorporate a set of standards called Actual Launch Conditions into the process, including testing by a machine that hits the ball with a golf club.
The lack of kudos for that position may have to do with the fundamental fact that most manufacturers dont want the Overall Distance Standard for golf balls to change from its 1976 level. They say the USGA hasnt demonstrated a need.
But the USGA is unconcerned about the lack of praise.
Perhaps because of our role as a quasi-regulatory body, it goes with the territory, Fay said. People arent going to stand up and salute us.
Hoffees takeaway lesson is that manufacturers should work as a committee with the USGA, with longer lead times for proposals.
In this way, the USGA will have some forward-seeing information in evaluating rules and we as manufacturers can avoid repeating this type of exigency, Hoffee said.
Providing it could be done without antitrust problems ' who knows? Perhaps conflict will yield future concord. Or at least no need for calls from the governor.
Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1
Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.
So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.
Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.
Jordan Spieth: 7/4
Xander Schauffele: 5/1
Kevin Kisner: 11/2
Tiger Woods: 14/1
Francesco Molinari: 14/1
Rory McIlroy: 14/1
Kevin Chappell: 20/1
Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1
Alex Noren: 25/1
Zach Johnson: 30/1
Justin Rose: 30/1
Matt Kuchar: 40/1
Webb Simpson: 50/1
Adam Scott: 80/1
Tony Finau: 80/1
Charley Hoffman: 100/1
Austin Cook: 100/1
Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.
One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.
McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.
“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”
McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.
“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”
Kisner not expecting awkward night with Spieth
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It might get awkward in that star-studded rental house Saturday night.
Two of the three Open co-leaders, Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner, are sharing a house this week near Carnoustie. Though it’ll be late by the time they both get back to the house Saturday night, they’ll have plenty of time to kill Sunday morning, with their tee times not until nearly 3 p.m. local time.
“Everybody is probably going to get treatment and eating and trying to find a bed,” Kisner said. “I’m sure there’ll be some conversations. There always are. Everybody has a few horror stories or good laughs over something that happened out there. That will probably be the end of it.”
One thing they’re almost certain to discuss is the weather.
After three days of mostly benign conditions, Sunday’s forecast calls for warm temperatures and wind gusts up to 25 mph.
“When you watch any TV, that’s all they talk about – how Sunday’s coming,” Kisner said. “It’s going to be a true test, and we’ll get to see really who’s hitting it the best and playing the best.”
Zach Johnson is also in the house – along with Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner – and he rode to the course Saturday with Kisner, with whom he played in the final group, at 4 p.m. It’s unclear whether the co-leaders Sunday will have a similar arrangement.
This is the third year that Spieth and Co. have shared a house at The Open, though Kisner is a new addition to the group.
“It’s the end of the week,” Kisner said. “Everybody’s got a lot of stuff going on. Everybody’s going their separate ways tomorrow. Tomorrow morning we’ll all sit around and laugh on the couch and talk about why that guy’s making so many birdies.”
Final-round tee times for the 147th Open Championship
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth begins his quest for a second consecutive claret jug and fourth major overall at 9:45 a.m. ET Sunday at Carnoustie, playing alongside Xander Schauffele. This marks the first time Schauffele has ever held a 54-hole lead in his career.
The Kevins – Kisner and Chappell – are in the penultimate group, 10 minutes earlier at 9:35 a.m. Kisner is tied with Spieth and Schauffele at 9 under par. Chappell is two shots back at 7 under.
But it’s the next group that has people interested the most. Tiger Woods is paired with Francesco Molinari at 9:25 a.m. Woods, in search of his 15th major championship and first in 10 years, shot a third-round 66 to vault into a tie for sixth place, four shots behind the lead. He began the day six shots behind. Molinari has two wins and two second-place finishes in his last four events.
Rory McIlroy was within striking distance of the lead but bogeyed two of the last three holes to drop into a sixth-place tie. He is paired with 2017 Open runner-up Matt Kuchar at 9:05 a.m.
3:00AM ET: Beau Hossler
3:10AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Rafa Cabrera Bello
3:20AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Si-Woo Kim
3:30AM ET: Luke List, Keegan Bradley
3:40AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele
3:50AM ET: Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Dunne
4:00AM ET: Cameron Davis, Brooks Koepka
4:10AM ET: Brett Rumford, Kevin Na
4:20AM ET: Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey
4:30AM ET: Gavin Green, Ryan Fox
4:45AM ET: Shubhankar Sharma, Gary Woodland
4:55AM ET: Sam Locke (a), Masahiro Kawamura
5:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Rhys Enoch
5:15AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Jason Day
5:25AM ET: Adam Hadwin, Yuta Ikeda
5:35AM ET: Sung Kang, Brandon Stone
5:45AM ET: Thomas Pieters, Stewart Cink
5:55AM ET: Lee Westwood, Julian Suri
6:05AM ET: Tom Lewis, Marc Leishman
6:15AM ET: Ross Fisher, Jason Dufner
6:30AM ET: Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed
6:40AM ET: Phil Mickelson, Eddie Pepperell
6:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Bernhard Langer
7:00AM ET: Michael Kim, Patrick Cantlay
7:10AM ET: Shaun Norris, Lucas Herbert
7:20AM ET: Sean Crocker, Louis Oosthuizen
7:30AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Satoshi Kodaira
7:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Danny Willett
7:50AM ET: Haotong Li, Kyle Stanley
8:00AM ET: Chris Wood, Byeong Hun An
8:15AM ET: Erik Van Rooyen, Yusaku Miyazato
8:25AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau
8:35AM ET: Adam Scott, Charley Hoffman
8:45AM ET: Justin Rose, Austin Cook
8:55AM ET: Tommy Fleetwood, Zach Johnson
9:05AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy
9:15AM ET: Webb Simpson, Alex Noren
9:25AM ET: Francesco Molinari, Tiger Woods
9:35AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Kevin Chappell
9:45AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele