Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Lucas Leads.

Lucas Glover leads the Zurich Classic of New Orleans after the completion of the second round at TPC Louisiana.

Round 2 highlights

Lucas Glover / Graythen / Getty Images

Lucas shot a second round of -5 under par 67, to lead the Zurich Classic tournament by just one shot at -12 under par, from Boo Weekley.

After his round Lucas emphasized the importance of good putting;

I’ve been hitting it good for a couple months and finally started making some putts. I mean I was hitting it as good as I can hit it, but at the same time, if you putt poorly!”

Boo Weekley kept in touch with the leader with a total of -11 under par, carding a second round of  -4 under par 68. Boo successfully holed out with a wedge from 105 yards for an Eagle on the par-4 10th, and that was his first hole of the round. He could not see the bottom of the flagstick, so had no idea that it had gone in;

“I couldn’t tell it went in because it’s got a little bit of an upper lip in the front of it. I saw it bounce, and then I didn’t see it no more. Then the people in the background started hollering and whooping, I was like, `Wow, that really went in.’ I didn’t believe it.”

In third place alone is D.A. Points, at -10 under par, Darren also had a second round of -4 under par 68, to stay within sight of the leaders.

Morgan Hoffman occupies fourth spot at -9 under par, with Ernie Els close behind him at -8 under par. Big Ernie was the runner-up here last year, losing out to Jason Duffner in a play-off. Jason is a little off the pace this year with a modest tournament total of -3 under par.

Ernie said he really likes the TPC Louisiana course lay-out, and is expecting to challenge again this year;

“I like the course, I obviously played well here last year and I’m just trying to set that same game plan and really wait for the course to come to me.”

Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old Chinese amateur has completed the second round with a score of -3 under par 69,to go with his even par opening round, and has made the cut once again.  Two weeks ago in the Masters he became the youngest player to ever make the cut at Augusta National, and said Thursday that he will play in a U.S. Open qualifier in two weeks in Dallas. He reported that he played well;

” I think I played a very good round today. I made a lot of birdies and a couple of good up and downs.”

The 2011 winner here, Bubba Watson recovered well from his opening round of +1 over par 73, with a second round -7 under par 65 and tournament total of -6 under par. Bubba said that yesterday he was scared of the course;

” It was good, yesterday, I played really scared. I’m trying to play good. When you do that you don’t hit quality shots and you just struggle.”

 

The Masters. Phil’s Secret New Weapon. Callaway Phrankenwood.

Phil Mickelson has announced he has a new secret weapon, the Callaway Phrankenwood, for extra fairway distance off the tee, which he will use in the Masters.

Phil Mickelson during a Tuesday practice round for the 2013 Masters in Augusta, Ga.

Phil Mickelson, during practice at Augusta National / AP

Three time winner Phil is nervous about this tournament, because he does not usually take the week off just before the Masters.

” I love this tournament so much and I’m nervous because I haven’t been in competition since the Sunday of the Houston Open. It will be 10, 11 days as opposed to three, and that’s what I’m nervous about, just those opening five or six holes, being mentally tuned in. Now, because I’m aware of it, I’m going to work hard on it to make sure that I am, but it’s always a challenge those first five or six holes when you haven’t been in competition to be really mentally focused and sharp. It comes from knowing I don’t have to play perfectly to play well here, I don’t have to hit perfect shots to make pars. There are a lot of holes here where I can make mistakes off the tee and my short game, I know I can recover. It’s not like the U.S. Open where if you make one little mistake, it’s costing you one or two shots because you don’t have the ability to recover. I think that’s what’s exciting about Augusta National is the recovery shot.”

To reduce the nervous tension Phil has been practicing with a new secret weapon which gives him extra distance and control of the tee. What is this marvelous new club ? Officially it has been named the Callaway X Hot Phrankenwood.  It is not a driver but a supercharged 8.5 degrees of loft 2 wood,  masquerading as a driver. Phil  Mickelson divulged the information on Tuesday during a press conference.

The Callaway X Hot Phrankenwood

The Callaway X Hot Phrankenwood / Callaway

” It knocks the spin off the ball, my tee shots on nine are getting down to the bottom of the hill, and I haven’t been able to do that in years. My tee shots on 10 are going another 15 to 20 yards, giving me a club or two less than I’ve had in years. My tee shots on fifteen are getting down to where I have one or two clubs less.  The ball comes off  the club face fast, as well as low spin. It’s running, which is exactly what I wanted here. It’s a driver, but it just looks like a 3-wood, because our drivers are so big now, this one is smaller. It’s an enhanced 3-wood. It’s hot like our 3 wood, we had to put Hot in the name, it’s so hot.”

This is the same thinking as our White Dragon Putter, getting the ball to roll off the club face with top spin, producing a better forward roll of the ball, check it out here.  http://www.whitedragongolf.com/

 

 

Putting Updates, Ernie and Phil making Changes

 

 

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Ernie Els, The Open Champion, is going to use his Belly Putter for the last time at a Major, during the Masters at Augusta National next week. He intends to  phase out the controversial Belly Putter ahead of a proposed ban by the R&A, and USGA.

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Ernie Els / getty Images

The Big Easy used a conventional putter for his first three rounds at the Chiangmai Golf Classic in Thailand before taking 29 putts with his belly putter on Sunday in a closing two-under-par 70 to finish tied 14th in the Asian Tour event. Ernie explained about that last round use of the Belly Putter, and also said he went to Thailand to get his swing under control;

“I just wanted to play with the belly putter since it was my last competitive round before the Masters. Mentally, I was going to do the long putter at the Masters. I wanted to feel what it is like under a little bit of pressure. So far this year I’ve played some decent golf in parts, but I’m not quite there on the consistency front. All you can do is keep working hard, though. As we saw last year, your fortunes can change quickly in this game. I came here to get my swing under control, which I think it did. The short game is not too bad, everything is kind of there, it’s just the confidence search now. I’m hitting it nice again, I’m really glad I came here. I’ve had a great experience in Chiangmai,  I just wished I made more birdies.”

If you are still searching for a new putter Ernie, take a look at our website, and contact me.

Phil Mickelson has changed to a jumbo grip on his putter, but intends to keep using the claw grip, he explained;

” I’ll go back and forth because, again the claw grip, what it does is gets me in a better address position where I get rid of too much forward press.  I want a little bit but not as much as I’ve been getting.”

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Phil Mickelson and jumbo grip / Scott Halleran / Getty Images

Looking at Phil in the picture above, I think he is a little too bent over, he needs to stand taller, looking straight down at the ball, this will free up the arms to get a nice pendulum motion. He looks to be reaching for the ball, standing taller will get his feet closer to the ball.

 

Shell Houston Open. Wheatcroft Weaves Magic

The Shell Houston Open has a qualifier, Steve Wheatcroft, at the top of the leaderboard after the second round at the Redstone Golf Club, on the Tournament Course in Texas.

More than qualified

Steve Wheatcroft / Halleran / Getty Images

Steve Wheatcroft only just qualified for the Shell Houston Open carded another round of -5 under par 67 to lead the tournament at -10 under par. Unfortunately for Steve he has no status on the PGA Tour, and only conditional status on the Web.com Tour, so Monday qualifiers are the only way to get into tournaments, and he hates them;

” Monday qualifiers are terrible. They’re just not fun, plain and simple. I was on the PGA TOUR in ’07, played terribly. I had no status, so I had to be back to Monday qualifiers and pre-qualifiers the next year. I hate them. If I can be on top of the leaderboard at this point, I know I can keep playing well, there’s no reason to think I can’t. I’ve never won on the PGA TOUR. I’ve won on the Web.com Tour, I’ve won by 12. I know I can keep going forward. Who knows? I could shoot 61 tomorrow. I could shoot 81 tomorrow. I really don’t know. I’m not going to sit here and think about it too much. I’m going to think about the first tee ball and we’ll go from there.”

D.A. Points is still there in the mix, tied in second place with Jason Kokrak at -9 under par, Darren had a -1 under par second round, making only one birdie as his putter went suddenly cold;

“I made everything yesterday and made nothing today. To be one shot back and be right in the mix is huge.”

Jason Kokrak had a second round -3 under par 69, and said he was happy for Steve, but would like to overtake him on Sunday;

“I’m happy for him, I’m happy he’s doing well. Hopefully, I can go out there and overtake the lead. Hopefully, I overtake him late Sunday.”

Two big name players who just made the cut on the number, -1 under par, were Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson.

Rory was happy to be playing the week-end, not with any hopes of contending, he is just seeking confidence. He will now get even more rounds in before the Masters, because he feels he needs more rounds to get ready for the Masters, Rory has decided to enter the Valero Texas Open next week;

“It’s a weekend where I can have a couple more rounds and try and get confidence in what I’m doing. The game is fickle, you make a couple of birdies, a few good shots, and your confidence goes up. A few bad ones, and it goes down a bit. I hit a couple of drives, and 17 is a good example, when I let it go and it’s fine. It gets out there.”

Phil decided to play Redstone on Friday with two 3-woods in the bag, though one of them is so strong it acts like a driver, and he is still up-beat about his chances;

“If I can play like I did the back nine, I’m going to give myself a lot of birdie chances.”

 

 

Honda Classic, Camilo Villegas,Surprise Leader,

Back on track

Camilo Villegas / Chris Condon / Getty Images

Camilo Villegas is the surprising first round leader of the Honda Classic at the PGA National Champion Course,Palm Beach Gardens, with a round of -6 under par 64. It is  four years now since his back-to-back wins in the FedEx Cup Playoffs events, when he  rose to as high as No. 7 in the world. The  31-year-old Colombian then plunged  into a slump that  was so bad that over the last 18 months he lost his card last year. Camilo won The Honda Classic in 2010 at PGA National, so he at least has that to build on. But despite the good start, he wasn’t afraid to risk ruining the day on the last hole. Even his caddie asked what he was thinking of when he was addressing a shot on the last hole;

“My caddie said, where are you going to go with this one,. And I said, I’m looking straight at that flag. And I hit a great shot.”

Tiger Woods saved his round with a shot from out of the water on the par 4, sixth hole, taking his shoes off to enter the hazard, he finished the day at even par;

“I was 1 over at the time, and if that ball is not playable from where it’s at, where I crossed was pretty far back, looking at six, three over and all of a sudden I flip it, make par there and birdie the next.”

Charles Howell 111, Chucky three-sticks,  opened with a -3 under par, 67. He has just until the end of the month to go from No. 64 to the top 50 in the World Ranking to qualify for the Masters in his hometown of Augusta.

Branden Grace,  Rickie Fowler, Graham DeLaet  and Robert Streb, are all tied in second place at -5 under par for the opening round of this tournament.

 

Sony Open, Rookie Russell Rips Up the Record Books.

Smashing debut

Winning Rookie Russell Henley / Petersen/Getty Images

The Sony Open was won by rookie Russell Henley on his Tour debut, and doing so he ripped up the standing records for just about everything.

Russell  finished at -24 under par and a total score of 256, breaking by four shots the Sony Open in Hawaii scoring record, last set by Brad Faxon in 2001. Russell relegated Tim Clark into second place by three shots, Tim was himself on fire, he birdied seven of his last eleven holes and actually only made up one shot on Russell, the rookie from the University of Georgia.

Russell is now tied at the top the FedEx Cup standings in the company of Dustin Johnson on 500 points. The win was the second-lowest score for a 72-hole tournament in PGA TOUR history, two shots behind Tommy Armour III in 2003 at the Valero Texas Open. He also  set tournament records for the low 36-hole score after his 63-63 start, he shared the 54-hole record with Scott Langley and also set another tournament record with the lowest final round by a Champion.

Add to that he became the first PGA TOUR rookie to win his debut since Garrett Willis did at Tucson in 2001, and he will be going to the Masters in April, a local tournament for the boy from Macon, Georgia.

He said of his record breaking day that he had never been so nervous, you would not have imagined that watching him coming down the stretch on Sunday. He played the last nine holes superbly.

“I don’t really know what happened, honestly, this is the most nervous I’ve ever been. That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s been my goal to make it to the Masters my whole life. I’m kind of speechless right now.”

With the results  of his Web.com Tour season last year and this win Russell Henley has already made it into the world rankings inside the top fifty.  That ranking will get him into the Accenture-Match Play Championship for the top 64 in the world, the qualifying date is only a month away, and he should also be in line for the other WGC at the Cadillac Championship, and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, not forgetting the PGA Championship. All in all quite a PGA TOUR debut, I look forward to watching Russell this season, it will be interesting to see how far he can go, he obviously has the talent.

 

“Hard Luck” Tony Sheehan

 

A good post from a friend of mine, David Owen. “My Usual Game” makes interesting reading, enjoy and follow David

Eighth green, Augusta National, 1930. Photo by Tony Sheehan.

Eighth green, Augusta National, 1930s. Photo by Tony Sheehan.

My Golf Digest colleague Ron Whitten and I recently spent a couple of days in Orlando with the video-game designers at Electronic Arts, the creators of Tiger Woods PGA TOUR. The game’s next edition will include a recreation of the Augusta National course as it was in 1934, the year of the first Masters, and Ron and I had been asked to help the game’s “environment modelers” make the virtual course as historically accurate as possible. We offered suggestions about everything from green contours to mowing patterns to the size and placement of individual trees—an experience we’ll both be writing about for the April issue of Golf Digest.

Among the many historical resources the game’s designers consulted were photographs of the course taken in the 1930s by Tony Sheehan, who was Augusta National’s unofficial official photographer. (The picture at the top of this post, which also appears in my book The Making of the Masters, is one of his.) Sheehan’s nickname was “Hard Luck.” Clifford Roberts, the club’s co-founder and first chairman, wrote about Sheehan in his book The Story of Augusta National Golf Club, which was published in 1976:

Tony was an oddball in appearance and dress, and he made comments at times that were just as unusual and unexpected. Neither he nor his battered old camera looked to be qualified to make even a passport photo, but he was a remarkably capable photographer . . . .

Many of us experience accidents as we go through life, but I doubt that any man endured bad luck so often and so continuously for so many years as Tony Sheehan. Every time an epidemic of any kind came to town, Tony was the first to catch it.

Tony tripped over something and broke one or more bones so often that it almost appeared to be a habit. On one occasion, while he was waving to friends, his car plowed into a large stone marker on Walton Way in Augusta, which cost him a number of teeth but gave him some distinctive battle scars on his face. . . .

Tony survived a half-dozen major operations, plus numerous patching-up jobs. His one lucky day was when he was married to the nurse, Eva Smith, who had looked after him in the hospital so many times that she felt lonesome between his visits.

Tony finally got himself into really serious trouble—his car was hit by a train. Over a year’s period the hospital lost track of the number of jobs that had to be done on Tony. Finally, the great day arrived when he could leave. His wife picked him up in her car and headed for home. When they arrived at the railroad track, the same one where Tony was wrecked, he asked her to stop the car. He then walked ahead and looked in both directions to make sure no train was approaching. As he was about to signal her that all was clear, her foot slipped off the clutch and she knocked Tony down. Whereupon she picked him up and took him back to the hospital for another stay.

Believe it or not, our friend Tony Sheehan lived to be eighty years of age, and died in 1974 of natural causes.

In 1931,Sheehan took this photograph of Ty Cobb receiving a golf lesson from Glenna Collett Vare, who won the U.S. Women's Amateur six times. Cobb was from Augusta, and this photograph was taken there--possibly at Augusta National.

In 1931,”Hard Luck” Tony Sheehan took this photograph of Ty Cobb receiving a golf lesson from Glenna Collett Vare, who won the U.S. Women’s Amateur six times. Cobb was from Augusta, and this photograph was taken there, possibly at Augusta National, although more likely at Augusta Country Club, next door, where Cobb was a member.

Roberts himself knew something about hard luck. He grew up poor in a succession of small towns, accidentally burned down his family’s house when he was sixteen, lost his mother to suicide when he was nineteen, earned a modest fortune and then lost it in the stock-market crash of 1929, and presided over Augusta National’s bankruptcy in 1935, a few months after the second Masters. Like Tony Sheehan, though, he persevered, and because he did we have the Masters, now just over three months away.