Equipment game changers: Hybrids

By Matt AdamsJanuary 25, 2017, 12:30 pm

Was the most famous shot in golf history struck with a hybrid?

On the surface, the answer seems obvious: It’s well documented that Gene Sarazen made his “shot heard ’round the world” albatross at Augusta National with a 4-wood. Hybrids didn’t exist in 1935. They belong to the world of modern golf equipment – crosses between long irons and fairway woods that have become a seemingly permanent part of the golf landscape.

But let’s take a closer look at both the hybrid and the scenario that unfolded for Sarazen on the final day of the Augusta National Invitational, the tournament that would come to be known as the Masters.

First, consider the shape of many hybrids today – long, narrow clubheads, with a slightly more meaty depth just north of the epicenter of the club when viewed at address. This profile is almost identical to the first woods. In fact, at one time a couple of centuries back, irons as we know them didn’t even exist, for using iron to make a golf club instead of a sword or a plowshare would be looked upon as madness. Instead, golfers set out with bags full of wooden-headed clubs that looked very much like the hybrids of today.

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Back to Sarazen. He trailed leader Craig Wood by two shots when he came to the 485-yard, par-5 15th hole. As he and playing partner Walter Hagen walked up to their drives, they heard a roar coming from the 18th green. They assumed, and soon it was confirmed, that Wood had birdied the 18th and Sarazen’s deficit now stood at three strokes.

Sarazen knew he had to go for the green in two. His ball lay behind a small crest in the hill in a slight depression, 235 yards from the hole. He chose his new Wilson 4-wood, which featured a scalloped back, toed the clubhead in for more distance, and lashed at the ball with a swing that distinguished him as a power-hitter, despite his 5'4" frame.

In 1935, the green complex had less banking and a smaller body of water in front of it than exists today. Sarazen’s ball narrowly cleared the water, bounced onto the putting surface, then rolled from right to left toward the pin before diving into the hole. Among the witnesses was Bobby Jones, who had made his way down from the clubhouse to watch his friends finish.

Now tied for the lead, Sarazen parred the 16th and 17th holes. After an uncharacteristically weak drive on No. 18, he again called on the services of his 4-wood to reach the green. He two-putted for par and a place in a playoff. The next day, in the only 36-hole playoff in Masters history, Sarazen defeated Wood by five shots, 144 to 149.

Sarazen’s 4-wood was the bridge between his long irons and his other woods, just as a hybrid is today, when few Tour players carry 4-woods. Typically, 4-woods had lofts between 15 and 19 degrees – the same as many modern hybrids.

Hybrids are still primarily the province of amateurs, who often struggle with long irons. But they’re seen on Tour, too, with players including Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Martin Kaymer having carried them.

And if the late Gene Sarazen could have been transported to 2017, we might have added him to the list.

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Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.

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Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters: