Few Players Have Drivers Tested
'I don't even know where to go do that,' he said at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
Through the first four tournaments of the year (including one on the Champions Tour), only about 15 percent of the players have had their driver measured by the new 'pendulum tester' that makes sure clubs are not over the USGA limit for springlike effect.
Just because the line to the PGA Tour rules office at every tournament is more of a trickle than a stream, don't get the idea the voluntary test is being ignored.
Equipment companies are going to great lengths to make sure their drivers are legal on tour.
Nike Golf was among the first to get blueprints of the pendulum tester, at the U.S. Open last June - about two weeks before the PGA Tour announced it was going to make the test available to players at the start of the 2004 season.
TaylorMade owns seven pendulum testers, some of them for its headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., the others for testing at tournaments.
'When you put out 5,000 to 10,000 (club) heads a year ... it's not a small challenge to measure these things,' TaylorMade spokesman John Steinbach said. 'We have five or six people doing the test.'
Callaway Golf and Titleist have a replica of the test, too, while Ping is borrowing one from the USGA while it decides whether to build its own.
The USGA has licensed 14 pendulum testers to equipment companies; the Royal & Ancient Golf Club has licensed about the same number.
All the companies have a similar goal: To make sure there are no surprises.
While players are responsible for their drivers conforming to the rules, the manufacturers have the most to lose.
No one wants to be labeled a cheater, and most people believe it is ultimately up to the manufacturers to make sure the clubs they make are legal.
'We just wanted to make sure we understood any possible way the USGA was evaluating springlike effect,' said Tom Stites, who builds clubs for Nike. 'It's like going to a doctor who doesn't have an EKG or an X-ray machine. You can't tell what's going on without the right instruments.'
Therein lies one of the concerns: Companies don't have the exact instrument built by the USGA and used on the PGA Tour.
Matt Pringle, senior research engineer for the USGA, developed the pendulum tester, which is a portable device that could fit into a large briefcase.
The driver is held in place by a vice, and a pendulum strikes the club face, causing a vibration. The test measures 'characteristic time,' which translates to how quickly a ball springs off the club.
The PGA Tour doesn't reveal numbers - 257 microseconds equates to the .83 limit for coefficient of restitution (COR) - only whether it passes or fails.
The USGA sold six of the pendulum testers to the PGA Tour, and licensed blueprints to the device for manufacturers to build their own.
Several companies went to USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J., to calibrate the machines.
Still, there are slight variances.
'That may result in setting the machine up, doing the test, breaking it down, setting it up again,' said Ron Drapeau, chairman and CEO of Callaway Golf.
Drapeau isn't convinced the pendulum tester is entirely accurate, and he points to the Sony Open as an example.
Kenny Perry and John Senden had their drivers tested by TaylorMade, which told them the clubs were close to the limit. Since the TaylorMade test is not identical to the PGA Tour test, the slightest difference could be all it takes for a club to be off limits.
Rather than take that chance, both players used different drivers.
Perry, who missed the cut by one shot at the Sony, had his old driver tested by the tour at the Bob Hope Classic, and it was approved. He tied for fifth.
'That concerns me,' Drapeau said. 'That would say the test is not reliable and repeatable. And if it's true, it's not something you want to have out there.'
He also said manufacturers could design the hot spot of the driver a quarter-inch right of center, where the PGA Tour tests, and 'the pros are good enough to hit it there.'
Once a driver is test by the PGA Tour, the results and the model number of the club are entered into a database and it is good for the rest of the year, provided the player doesn't alter the club.
Most manufacturers believe pendulum testers will become fixtures, even if the majority of players never find the office where the tour conducts its confidential tests.
There are other factors that contribute to the long ball - the golf ball, shafts, better technique, fitness and launch monitors.
'But this is the most emotional,' Stites said. 'It's the easiest to understand.'
Tiger Woods was the staunchest supporter among players for a driver test, claiming last year there were players using clubs that exceeded the limit.
John Solheim, chairman and CEO of Ping, said while the test is not mandatory, it will keep everyone from wondering if there are illegal drivers on tour.
'The test is needed,' Solheim said. 'Not everybody plays by the rules. And when you do, it bugs you that someone doesn't.'
The value of the test won't be determined until later in the season, when the tour can compare the average driving distance with last year's numbers.
Nine players averaged more than 300 yards off the tee in 2003. The year before, John Daly was the only player who averaged more than 300 yards.
'What will be interesting is what happens to the average driving distance,' Solheim said. 'It's not going to be a big change, but I don't think it will be the growth we've seen in the last few years.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1
They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.
McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.
Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.
On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.
Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:
10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm
12/1: Tony Finau
14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler
20/1: Francesco Molinari
25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner
30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka
40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day
50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar
60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate
80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na
100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman
Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience
Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.
It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.
Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.
A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.
“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.
“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”
Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.
At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.
Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.
“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.
“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”
Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.
“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”
After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.
“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”
Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.
“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.
“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”
On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.
Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.
“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”
Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.
At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.
At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.
Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.
“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”
Her overall assessment of her day?
“It was a great experience,” she said.
Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage
NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:
Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)
Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.
1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.
Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.
Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.
The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.
“Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”
Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.
But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.
“I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”
Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.
“It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”
There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.
It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.
“It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”