FOR THE AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP
"My favorite club is my 60° wedge because it's the club that saves the most shots for me. I do most of my chipping with it."
Pro V1x (number 7 only)
Rapture V2 (9°) Shaft Mitsubishi Diamana White 73 (X flex)
Scotty Cameron Studio Style Newport 2
Ping G10 (15.5°)
VS Proto 85 (X flex)
Ping G10 (18°)
AWT (X flex)
Tour W (52°, 56° and 60°)
Dynamic Gold Superlite (X flex)
Ping I10; (five through pitching wedge)
Dynamic Gold Superlite (X flex)
THIS WEEK'S MAIN EVENT
THE AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP
When the king of celebrity events is played this week in South Lake Tahoe, Nev., seven-time winner and defending champ Rick Rhoden will no doubt be the favorite. Still, at least one first-time participant could provide an unexpected challenge—after all, who wants to anger MMA fighter Chuck Liddell? Other newcomers include Shane Battier, Anfernee Hardaway, Matt Ryan and Ken Whisenhunt. After debuting with a tie for third last year, Tony Romo could provide a challenge, and Charles Barkley will be putting his new Hank Haney--built swing to the test. Don't sleep on John Elway, though. The Hall of Fame quarterback is one of only six participants to tee it up in all 19 playings of the event. He has finished as high as fifth, in 1998, and was 10th last year.
Since 1980 nine courses have played host to the British Open, and the scoring average at each venue is over par (chart, below). During that same time period 15 of the 29 Opens were won by Americans, and U.S. players have dominated the current decade, taking six of nine since 2000. This year's host course, Turnberry, has produced two of the non-American winners: Greg Norman in 1986 and Nick Price in '94.
[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]
ROYAL ST. GEORGE'S 73.83
ROYAL, TROON 73.80
ROYAL, BIRKDALE 73.47
ROYAL, LYTHAM 72.91
ST. ANDREWS 72.82
ROYAL LIVERPOOL 72.37
—Compiled by Sal Johnson
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1 V and You
Last week the PGA Tour announced that it would not delay implementation of the new USGA rule requiring that as of Jan. 1, 2010, professional golfers must begin using clubs with narrower, softer-edged V-shaped grooves instead of wide, sharp U-shaped grooves. The rule will apply to high-level amateur events beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, and to all golfers as of Jan. 1, 2024.
2 In a Groove
All golf clubs had V-shaped grooves until 1985, when Ping introduced its Eye2 irons, which had square-shaped grooves. By creating spaces that channel away grass and moisture, the square grooves allowed players to put more backspin on the ball and therefore to better control distance and trajectory, and to stop or back up the ball on the green. The biggest difference was from the rough, where shots that had been unpredictable became more certain. As a result there was less of a penalty for missing the fairway off the tee; not coincidentally, driving-accuracy statistics dropped. Of even more concern to golf's governing bodies was that the correlation between driving accuracy and success plummeted.
In an effort to reemphasize accuracy and overall skill, the USGA began testing various groove designs and in 2008 announced the new specs and the dates they would take effect. But in recent weeks some manufacturers asked the PGA Tour to move the deadline back one year because, they said, players had not had enough time to test the new equipment. (The USGA said it would follow the Tour's lead.) The manufacturers argued that the groove change was more complex than simply getting players a new set of their old clubs. To account for the reduced spin, players might want to use a softer ball that spins more or employ clubs, particularly wedges, with more loft, and figuring out the best fit would mean spending a lot of time experimenting with a variety of combinations.
The PGA Tour policy board considered the issue at its June 29-30 meeting but decided to stick with the original deadline.
3 Study Guide
[The following text appears within 3 charts. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual charts.]
PGA TOUR PLAYER TESTS
• A (U groove) fairway
• A (U groove) light rough
• A (V groove) light rough
One USGA study of Tour players hitting from light rough showed how much more spin U-grooves generate.
Another USGA chart lays out the declining correlation between driving accuracy and money won from 1980 to 2006.
A staggered view of the above chart shows two drops—one after U-grooves arrived and another following the advent of the solid, urethane-covered ball.
News that October's Kapalua Classic had been killed prompted about a dozen LPGA players to get together for dinner at the Jamie Farr last Thursday. Details of neither the conversation nor the menu were available, but some say the players asked for commissioner Carolyn Bivens's head on a platter.... Word from the June 16 IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, has it that of the seven sports vying to be part of the 2016 Summer Games, golf made one of the strongest presentations. In August the 15-member board is supposed to pick two sports to recommend to the Olympic Committee for an October vote, and ye olde Scottish game is now considered a front-runner.... Vandals on motorcycles tore up the 17th green at Brown Deer Park Golf Course in Milwaukee, the site of next week's U.S. Bank Championship. The grounds crew says the course will be playable, and in the meantime the Tour is probably trying to sell a Goodyear sponsorship.... Where can you go when you mix a hot putter with a short course? At the start of the Jamie Farr, Eunjung Yi (right), a 21-year-old in her second LPGA season, didn't have a single top 10 or a spot in the Women's British Open. Powered by a third-round 61, in which she took only 23 putts, Yi now has a win and a ticket to Royal Lytham & St. Annes.... Bucking the global downturn, this year's purse for the men's British Open will equal last year's at ¬£4.2 million, with ¬£750,000 going to the champ. Since the dollar has risen against the pound, a U.S.--based winner would bring home $282,236 less than last year. Is it even worth the trip?
FRED VUICH (ELWAY)
FRED VUICH (CLUBS)
FRED VUICH (BALL)
SLIM FILMS (CHART)
DWAYNE BERNARD (GROOVE ILLUSTRATIONS)
GREGORY SHAMUS/GETTY IMAGES (YI)