WELCOME TO THE NEW SEASON. JANUARY AND FEBRUARY 2019
JANUARY 2019 IN THE BUNKER WITH MICK THE GRIP
FOUR-TIME MAJOR winner Rory McIlroy says the PGA Tour offers him a lot more incentives than the EuropeanTour.
“I enjoy America more, the weather, the convenience,” he told reporters. “Iwant to play against the strongest fields week in and week out, for the most part of the season that is in America.”
The European Tour’s CEO Keith Pelley held crisis talks with McIlroy last month, trying to persuade him to commit to four events, the minimum required to retain European Tour membership, but by the look of the picture Rory is saying he will only play in two events. At least I think that’s what he’s saying.
THE TIMES has cast doubts on the financial stability of the European Tour, which made an operating loss of £9.5 million after tax in 2017. The working capital was also down to £424,000 (after 15 million in 2015.) Keith Pelley’s £2,75 million salary in 2017 also raised a few eyebrows, though judging by his schedule-juggling for this year he does do his best to earn it.
“TWIST FACE” and “FLASH FACE” sound like Batman’s latest rival, but actually represent the technology for Taylor Made and Callaway’s latest drivers.
With “Speed Injected Twist Face” TaylorMade can now produce the thinnest face to start above the legal limit of COR, before dialling it back by injecting a specific amount of resin into two 'tuning' slots on the driver face to get to within 2-3% of the legal limit and give golfers an extra 2mph of ball speed.
In addition, TaylorMade’s M5 and M6 irons have the “Speed Bridge.” A single beam of steel that connects the sole to the crown of the iron, it is designed to stabilize the head at impact. Positioned exactly at the point that vibrates most, it works with the Speed Pocket to improve sound and feel, creating, you guessed it, more ball speed. TaylorMade claims its design is revolutionary, but it sounds suspiciously like Jailbreak Technology.
Callaway’s ‘Flash’ technology consists of computer-designed ridges behind the driver face which optimise ball speed all across the face, and the thinnest part of the face is now in the centre (unlike previous Callaway drivers.) The face is forged on the inside then milled on the front in order to get the thickness down so that it is consistently closer to the limit. And, of course, Jailbreak technology.
UNFORTUNATELY FOR TAYLORMADE, Justin Rose won’t be showing off their latest gear in 2019 as he has defected to Honma Golf. In December the premium Japanese brand, famous for 60 years for artisan-style craftsmanship and eye watering prices, signed the FedEx Cup winner to play a minimum of 10 Honma clubs and sport their cap and staff tour bag, but could not announce the deal until the completion of Rose’s contract with TaylorMade.
Rose is expected to play Honma’s TW747 driver, forged irons and wedges, giving them their first outing at the PGA Tour’s Desert Classic in Palm Springs on January 17.
TESTING THE NEW RULES at Kapalua, Justin Thomas said he couldn’t take himself seriously if he left the stick in. Bryson DeChambeau did the Okey Cokey by alternating between leaving it in and taking it out. Marc Leishman tapped in his eagle from three-inches with the stick in and laughed at himself. Winner Xander Shauffele’s caddie took the flag out, but his boss’s stunning final round of 2 eagles and 8 birdies for an 11-under 62 showed Xander wasn’t bothered either way.
Advice from Bob Hope: “Arnold Palmer told me how I could cut eight strokes off my score – skip one of the par threes.”
And finally a tip from Dan Marino: “Swing hard in case you hit it.”
IN THE BUNKER WITH MICK THE GRIP
NOISIEST HOLE IN GOLF, the 16that TPC Scottsdale. The suites and boxes sell out for up to $110,000. The Waste Management Open, formerly the Phoenix Open, is a main fundraising event and Thunderbirds Charities, started in 1932, have raised over $100 million for local causes and distressed people in Arizona. After Rickie Fowler struggled round the soggy course from bunker to lake before finally taking the trophy the most distressed people looked like the players. American golfers really don’t like being rained on.
IN 1993 A YOUNG GOLFER gave a clinic in front of a devoted crowd at Jackson Park, a municipal course on Chicago’s South Side where he learned the game. 25 years later, Tiger Woods is back at Jackson Park, and looking to leave his mark.
Woods, whowon his 80th PGA Tour title at the season-ending Tour Championship, giving him his first victory in over 5 years, is leading the proposed renovation of 18-hole Jackson Park and nine-hole South Shore, two municipal courses at the western edge of Lake Michigan, with views of the Chicago skyline. Under the plans laid out by TGR Design (Woods’s design firm) the two courses will incorporate a 7,341-yard 18-hole championship course and a shorter family course, and include teaching facilities for youngsters. Just one problem, they may have to put a roof on it. Chicago was under 3 feet of snow last week.
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU WON his first European Tour title with an 8-under 64 victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. England's Matt Wallace finished second with back-to-back birdies.Dechambeau mixed 7 birdies and an eagle to post the lowest 72-hole total in the tournament's history, finishing at 24 under.
In 2018 Dechambeau took three PGA Tour titles in four months, winning the Northern Trust, Dell Technologies Championship and Shriners Hospitals Open. However, he reckons it will take another five years to reach his full potential. His 66 on the Friday in Dubai worried him: “I just didn’t have the right proprioception over shots.” (Proprioception, as we all know, is your awareness of the position and movement of your body)“It’s a lot of hard work with my caddie trying to take account of all the variables: air pressure, firmness values, mph on the speed, putts and ball speed, and spin rates.” Good grief! You wouldn’t want to be the Mad Scientist’s caddie, even for the $100,000 tip.
THE MYGOLFSPY REVIEW of Callaway’s new Apex irons says they have clean, stylish looks while still offering a bit of help and forgiveness. “The regular Apex 19 iron is easy to hit but has a lovely forged, blade-like feel at impact.”
Callaway say both Apex models are players distance irons with premium craftsmanship. The soft feel comes from a mild carbon steel body while the ‘urethane microsphere technology’ incorporates more than one million tiny air pockets that absorb unwanted vibration. The Callaway 360 Face Cup design promotes high ball speeds across the face, while the tungsten-infused, multi-material construction allows precise location of the CG position in each iron.
Better players (the ones who worry about propriowhatsit) might want to fork out for the Pro model.
WORLD NUMBER ONE Justin Rose (38) held off the challenge of Australia’s Adam Scott to win the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines by two shots, with his new Honma equipment. With three bogeys in his opening five holes he recovered to card a three-under 69 and win on 21 under. Spain’s Jon Rahm, charging up the fairways like an Andalusian bull, fell away to finish in 5thplace.
"I haven't won a January tournament for a long time, so this feels great," said Justin. All right for him. Some of us would just like to win something, never mind what month it’s in.
WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS has presented the ultimate accolade to Las Colinas Golf: World’s Leading Golf and Villa Resort, 2018. What can they aspire to next? There’s only the Universe to go now.