See what was in Hunter Mahan’s golf bag when he won the Shell Houston Open.
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Woods’ final-round 2-under-par 70 and 13-under total was good enough for a 5-shot win. With his 72nd victory, Tiger is now just one win short of matching Jack Nicklaus’ 73 for second all-time on the PGA Tour wins list and 10 shy of Sam Snead’s mark of 82 wins.
On one of the biggest sports days of the year, Titleist Brand Ambassador Kyle Stanley charged to a victory more than worthy of Super Bowl-sized acclaim.
One week after finishing runner-up in a playoff at the Farmers Insurance Open, Stanley, 24, came from eight shots back Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open to earn his first PGA Tour victory, authoring a story of perseverance that golf won’t soon forget.
“I just tried to focus on playing golf,” said Stanley, who combined with Titleist Brand Ambassador Kieran Pratt and Pro V1x loyalist Paul Lawrie to sweep the three events played last weekend across the worldwide professional tours.
“I knew I was playing well coming into this week,” Stanley said. “I think the biggest challenge was seeing if I could put last week behind me. I think I did.”
Trusting a Pro V1x golf ball and bag full of Titleist equipment, including a new set of Titleist MB (712 Series) irons, Stanley closed with a bogey-free 6-under 65 for a 15-under 269 total and one-shot victory, leading a 1-through-7 finish for Titleist golf ball players.
Fellow Titleist Brand Ambassador Ben Crane (Pro V1x) finished runner-up after a final-round 5-under 66. He was followed by Spencer Levin (3rd, Pro V1x) and Titleist Brand Ambassadors D.J. Trahan (4th, Pro V1x), Brendan Steele (5th, Pro V1x) and Kevin Na (5th, Pro V1x), and Pro V1x loyalist Bubba Watson (5th).
A total of 92 players in the field at TPC Scottsdale relied Titleist golf balls for their success, more than eight times the nearest competitor with 11 and more than all competitors combined. Titleist was also first in irons sets (39); sand, lob and approach wedges (128); and putters (59).
Stanley’s victory in the desert was highlighted by both power and precision, not to mention some grit and determination.
At the par-5 13th, Stanley ripped a 376-yard tee shot with his 910 driver and hit his Titleist MB 9-iron to 20 feet to set up an eventual two-putt birdie. On the par-4 14th, he drove his Pro V1x golf ball 325 yards down the middle of the fairway, pitched to 12 feet and rolled in the birdie putt with his Scotty Cameron Timeless GSS.
On the par-4 17th, Stanley used his Vokey Design Spin Milled 56•14º wedge to hit a highlight-reel recovery shot from beneath a cactus (see video below), and two-putted for par. Stanley, who hit 89 percent of his greens in regulation Sunday, sent his approach shot on the par-4 18th to 12 feet above the hole. He two-putted for the one-shot victory.
“You know… this week I just kind of tried to just let it happen, not think about it, and just focus on things that I could control,” said Stanley.
Two weeks ago, Stanley paid a visit to the Titleist Performance Institute in Oceanside, Calif., a short drive from Torrey Pines and the Farmers Insurance Open. There, he worked with Dr. Greg Rose on his alignment, getting himself squared up from what had become an open stance.
As a result of the realignment, Stanley lost some backspin with his Titleist 910D3 7.5º driver. Enter: Senior Club Fitting Analyst Dino Antenucci, who changed Stanley’s driver head from 7.5º to 8.5º, keeping the SureFit Tour hosel in the A•1 position (standard loft, standard lie).
Immediately, Stanley had a better ball flight, more shot-shaping control and about 2,400 rpm of backspin.
The Old Tiger Is Gone Forever
Tiger Woods will likely win again. He will probably even win at least one more major, if only for old time’s sake. But despite what his recent resurgence may indicate, the Tiger we once knew is gone and is not coming back.
After winning his own “tournament” in dramatic fashion late last year and leading a European Tour event into the final round before finishing third, the golf media, desperate for their golden goose to return to his past glory, quickly heralded his rebirth. However, as a long-time Tiger watcher, it seems pretty clear to me that this is little more than wishful (almost desperate) thinking.
Before the scandal, I used to literally be Tiger’s biggest fan (back when there was fierce competition for that honor). I still consider myself lucky to have been living in the first part of the last decade when we saw what was clearly the best golf ever played in the history of homo sapiens. There was even a time when I wondered if Tiger even technically qualified as a mere human being.
But with this version of Tiger Woods, the thrill is gone and not just because we now know that as a person he is nothing remotely special. In fact, from purely a golf perspective, Tiger Woods “3.0” is usually downright boring and, even at his best, not particularly spectacular.
In his prime, even the casual fan could instantly see that Tiger was fundamentally different/better than anyone else on tour. He hit the ball farther than almost anyone and (especially in 2000-2001) his swing was both incredibly powerful and almost perfectly symmetrical. At his best, his follow through looked exactly like the mirror image of the top of his swing. While he didn’t hit every fairway, his recovery skills were so Seve-like you almost looked forward to him making the rare mistake just to see the magic which would inevitably ensue.
Today, when everything is clicking for him, he morphs into a poor man’s Nick Faldo with a little more distance. He is no longer a highlight machine waiting to be turned on, but rather just a steady contender who hits fairways and greens and makes the occasional putt. Tiger is certainly one of the best players in the world, but not significantly better than anyone else in that group and nothing really to write home about.
His swing, once a feast for the eyes, no longer inspires awe. While seemingly becoming more efficient, his swing now finishes either with the shaft pointing straight towards the sky or, when he is playing a fade, across his no longer geometrically ideal stance.
Tiger still hits it far, but isn’t close to the longest player on tour. Perhaps more disappointing, it seems as if this Sean Foley version has sapped most of the magic out of Tiger’s swing and stripped him of his prodigious powers of recovery. Even his short game doesn’t seem to create nearly the fireworks it used to and his putting is no longer the definition of clutch.
In short, as sleep inducing as golf can be to watch on television without Tiger, it is almost as dull even with him now. The biggest reason it isn’t is simply the great memories we associate with Tiger and his incredible career. Without those reminiscences, watching him would be pretty much the same as anyone else, which, in some ways, might be the most damning indictment of what he has become.
My personal view as to why this has happened is that it is mostly tied to those couple of months after the scandal broke when Tiger was in hiding. It seems pretty clear that he underwent some sort of significant mental therapy, which probably included a rather harsh tearing down of many of the belief systems which helped make him so great to begin with. In a sense, his internal hard drive was fried and then partially restored. Obviously not all of the files (including the ones labeled “magic” and “intimidation) made it through the rebooting process.
While this is all very sad and somewhat tragic, there is a bright side to it. While we will never again get to see Superman in action, we still have the fascinating spectacle of finding out what Clark Kent is capable of achieving while armed with little more than the distant memories of what he once was.
So the Tiger Woods saga will still be “interesting,” just don’t expect it to be “amazing.”
John Ziegler has played in three national amateur championships and won four private club championships in three different states, including the last two at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale. He is currently a member at Spanish Hills Country Club in Camarillo.
Meet Jim Flick at our West Los Angeles Roger Dunn Store, 1801 So. Bundy Drive, LA 90025 on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 from 5 – 7 pm PT.
ABOUT JIM FLICK
Some people are natural-born teachers, and Jim Flick is certainly one of them. He has spent a lifetime dedicated to helping golfers become better players – from novices to some of the greatest champions of our time. Jim has been motivated and driven by his enthusiasm and love for the game of golf. His 31 years of experience with over 200 touring professionals has earned him the uncontested title of America’s Master Golf Teacher.
Jim feels that the teaching of golf has become much too complex and mechanical. The resulting confusion and tension lead to the deterioration of the player’s athleticism and ability to score. He also knows that golfers want help on a more personal basis, more short game training and more time on the golf course. While there are many ways to teach and play, time has shown that simplicity is best for most. Jim believes that the true art of teaching golf is in helping each student to better understand their challenges and to become their own coach thereby enabling the self-confidence and self-reliance to continue learning and improving long after the formal lessons.
Golf is a game of constantly making adjustments which requires a deep understanding of tendencies and habits. Even the best of players need another set of eyes from time to time. Jim provides that invaluable extra set of eyes through customized group instruction, individual instruction and corporate golf outings.
TEACHING BACKGROUND OF 50 YEARS:
• Club professional, 1954-1974
• Golf Digest Schools, 1972-1990
• Director of Instruction, 1976-1990
• Co-Founder Nicklaus/Flick Schools, 1991-2001
• Jim Flick Premier Schools, 2002
• ESPN Golf Schools, 2003
CONGRATULATIONS to Brandt Snedeker and the NEW Tour B330 for their first victories in 2012! In the same week the NEW Tour B330 series were unveiled in Orlando, FL, Brandt shot a -16 under with a -5 under 65 Sunday in La Jolla, CA to capture the Farmers Insurance Open title.
The Tour B330 has a NEW 6% softer Urethane cover for increased Spin Control to help Brandt stop his approach on 18 to within a foot for a crucial birdie forcing a playoff. The unique Dual Dimple technology enhances wind performance for longer distance and higher initial ball velocity.