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Show Buzz and Busts

ORLANDO, Fla. ' The Bird's Nest zealots took the time to learn the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College fight song only to find out the institution's most decorated son ' Boo Weekley, who, for the record, attended ABAC for 1 years ' was not playing this week's FBR Open. And Phil Mickelson begins 2009 looking more like a 10 handicap than a Tiger-tamer.
Yet, Scottsdale storylines aside, the real 'Cut Line' action was unfolding back east at the Orange County Convention Center. Welcome to the PGA Merchandise Show edition of the 'Cut Line.'

  • TaylorMade's r9 driver: There was a lot of buzz around the show floor regarding the state of the economy ' although we can honestly say we didn't hear the words 'toxic assets' or 'bailout' uttered once ' there seems to be no shortage of technological leaps and TaylorMade's new r9 driver topped most folk's list.
    Two of our favorite Tour reps lauded the r9 for its versatility and ease of use and it must be pointed out that neither rep works for the Southern California manufacturer. High praise in an ultra-competitive market.
    Last Monday at the Bob Hope Classic Pat Perez was the first player in the TaylorMade truck and received the first r9 on Tour; 90 holes later he was hoisting his first Tour title.
    The 420cc head allows eight different face angle settings and three adjustable weights allow for optimal ball flight. It is, as one Tour rep said, a tinkerer's dream. We would, however, suggest a warning: 'Not for the indecisive.'
  • Boo: The man from Abraham Baldwin has reached one-name status, and just to prove the point Weekley unleashed his own clothing line. 'Boo by Firethorn' features a colorful assortment of greens, oranges and blues splashed with 'duck blind' camo print.
    The line features golf shirts and outerwear. No word yet on if Weekley is going to coordinate something to match those matching tartan jackets he has won the past two years at in Hilton Head.

  • Annika: No, not the recently married Swede who brought grace and power to the LPGA, but the fragrance the recently retired trailblazer is about to unveil. While we claim no expertise in this area, the sample Sorenstam had, well . . . didn't smell.
    Word is Sorenstam sent all the fragrances from her collection for analysis and the chemist concocted an eau de parfum to match her tastes. 'Ms. 59' did offer plenty of tweaks before she went with the final scent.
    'The first one, wow. It was like a teen-ager's apple smell or something,' Sorenstam said complete with yuck face. 'It took a couple of times.'
  • Swing String: There are never any shortages of gizmos on display at the Show and most look like a prop from 'Tin Cup,' but Booth No. 4305 featured the Swing String that was billed as 'your personal driving range.'
    At least that's what the sign said above the Swing String's booth. There was a crowd five deep around the Swing String booth, which means it must be a winner. Of course, the horde may have had something to do with Kara Monaco, the 2006 Playmate of the Year who was in the booth signing autographs.

  • Widgets: Our high school economics teacher told us to find our widgets, but some Show products defy explanation.
    * Teach-n-Towel: Golf towels with footprints for proper putting, chipping, driving and iron shots. When they produce a towel with the proper foot placement for the Chi Chi Rodriguez sword dance, then they will have something.
    * Reinventing the wheel: In the Show guide there are a number golf tee companies listed. One offering claimed to add 10 yards to a player's drive, while another guaranteed straighter shots. We're all for technological advancements, but sometimes it's neither the hammer nor the nail.
  • Phil Mickelson: Rounds of 76-73 are hardly reason to ring the alarm at Camp Phil and he still has plenty of time to find his putting touch before the Masters, but the bigger concern is Lefty's place on the marquee.
    Mickelson has slipped to fourth in the Official World Ranking and is quickly coming up on the one-year anniversary of his Northern Trust Open victory, which will further erode his ranking total. Golf needs an on-form Mickelson almost as much as it needs a healthy Tiger Woods.
    One word ' Bethpage.
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