Much-Maligned Masters Champion

As always, the brainchild of Bobby Jones is always full of thrills and jam-packed story lines. The 2018 Masters Tournament was no different. So instead of writing a bunch of rhetoric let’s jump right into it.

I think a suitable place to begin is with the story of Doug Whim who finished as the Low Amateur at the 2018 Masters Tournament. Ghim found his way to Augusta by finishing as the runner-up at the 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship. The product of the University of Texas (Senior) has developed quite the playing resume and his finish this weekend was just another feather in the proverbial cap. His play on Thursday alone was impressive as he had Eagle’s on 13 and 18 respectively en route to an even Par 72. Ghim would be the only Amateur to make the cut (+4) and would finish at +8 for the weekend. A weekend which he ended with an exclamation mark as he holed-out for birdie on his 72nd hole. All of this with his dad carrying his golf bag. Well done young man!

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Photo Credit: augusta.com

 

As Sunday mid-day turned to early afternoon leaders of the tournament were set to tee off. All of them were chasing 54-hole leader Patrick Reed. Names like Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy to name a few. The latter engaging in some “fun” gamesmanship between himself and Reed. The pairing was hyped after their wild Ryder Cup match and the golf world was waiting for some fireworks. Rarely however, does such hype happen in the final pairing during Stroke Play or in particular on a Major Championship Sunday. even those fireworks failed to light there was plenty of fireworks elsewhere around Augusta National.

It just seems like the tournament isn’t really played until the 64th hole. This is the point in time where the roars of Augusta are most often heard. Jordan Spieth had some of the loudest roars on the golf course. Entering the final round he started 9 shots back of Reed. In a comfortable pairing with Justin Thomas Sunday would see Spieth go low. Spieth fired a 64 that electrified the patrons on the grounds and television viewers alike. His second shot on Azalea (Par 5) was astounding. Watching the coverage it was interesting hearing the conversation between him and caddie Michael Greller. Spieth was sitting in the pine straw and initially pulled an iron. Calmly, Greller talked him out of the shot and put a hybrid into his hands. The shot was caught a little heavy from 234 yards out but as it just cleared Rae’s Creek it settled onto the green for a great look at Eagle but he’d settle for Birdie which catapulted a string of 5 consecutive Birdie’s,  Spieth was right there until an errant tee shot on 18. As he approached his golf ball he simply exclaimed “Oh my God”. He was on pace to be the first in history to fire a 63 in the final round of The Masters.

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Photo Credit: golfchannel.com

Also of much intrigue in the final round of the 2018 Masters was the play of Paul Casey who carded a -7  and Rickie Fowler who hung around and made things interesting right to the end. Fowler carded a 67 and had the patrons buzzing that were taking in the action as it unfolded. After hitting a scintillating drive down 18 his approach shot was even better as a Birdie found the bottom of the cup that got him to -14. Fowler started the final round 5 strokes back which is a testament to how he played the final round.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

In the end  the day belonged to Patrick Reed. Forever his name will be etched in golf lore and Masters history. Reed won his first Major on this 8th day of April 2018 and that can never be taken away. He posted a total of -15 and his final round 71 was just enough to get the victory. For a while it looked as though he would make more Masters history by being the first in history to post 4 sub-70 rounds in The Masters. As good as Reed played that record remains standing. Reed was very steady and leading up to this Masters Tournament I predicted that he’d win.

So my pick to win The Masters out of the above picks. My pick to win the 2018 Masters Tournament is none other than Patrick Reed. His name is just jumping out at me and his game is trending in the right direction. Patrick, just don’t win the Par 3 Contest.

Reed  may not be the most popular winner to ever have donned a Green Jacket Masters Sunday. As a matter of fact there were far more detractors than supporters all over social media. I imagine there might be a number of reasons why golf fans haven’t warmed up to Reed. People going as far to suggest that he should wear red on Sunday’s (because of Tiger). do golf fans simply not like his swagger or ominpresent confidence? Reed made waves a few years ago when he brashly said he was a Top 5 player without having the resume to back it up. I suppose with his Green Jacket that changes things a little bit. Whether the stories are true or not I have no idea. While attending and playing for the University of Georgia he was dismissed from the golf team after allegations of him stealing and cheating arose. He would later transfer to Augusta State (his hometown) and win a National Championship with the Jaguars. Then there were also the gay slurs and then there was the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational where he was heard and recorded saying “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys” after not being granted free relief. It might have been in jest. At the end of the day only a few things matter. As long as his wife, friends and family loves him that’s all that matters. for the rest of us… what does he care really?

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Photo Credit; The Telegraph

 

Like it or not folks Patrick Reed is your 2018 Master Champion and he will be defending in 2019. Until then see you next year Augusta National (hopefully in the literal sense).

Until The Next Tee!!

 

 

The 2018 Masters Tournament

Well… here we are. Masters Week is here and players in the field have started playing practice rounds with several having been through the course in previous weeks. With the ever entertaining Par 3 Contest coming up Wednesday I thought that it might be fun to prognosticate the tournament. Before continuing, I just wanted to take a few seconds to talk about the annual Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals.

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Photo Credit: thestar.com

 

The Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals are held at Augusta National and features boys and Girls in 4 different age categories. These junior golfers ranging in ages 7-15 are good and can make golfers many years their elder look silly in these three major aspects of the golf game. I just wanted to wave my flag (Canadian) real fast and congratulate the winner of the Girls 10-11 age group. The winner was Vanessa Borovilos of Toronto, Ontario Canada. Congratulations Vanessa!!!

So The Masters. I’m still waiting to walk these hallowed grounds. It’s something that I really feel that I’ll be able to experience one day… preferably while I’m relatively young still and able-bodied. I just want to see if it smells like I’ve always imagined it to. I remember when I first had that thought. It was 2002, and I was in the hospital recovering from a serious illness where doctor’s thought I had Spinal Meningitis. But, as I recovered in the hospital I was watching The Masters (won by Tiger Woods) I was taken aback by the sheer beauty of the course. Those fully bloomed dogwood and azaleas. The pine straw nestled amongst the base of the towering pines. I thought that I could smell the golf course. At this point, I wasn’t even interested in golf but the rest is history.

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So the other day my dear friend in Ireland (Teresa) was asking for tips about The Masters. Someone asked what kind of tips she was looking for and she said that she wanted to place a few bets. So I made a suggestion as did several others. Which brings me to this piece. i thought it would be fun breaking down the field based on the Vegas odds. I’ll take my picks from the following categories and out of them… pick a winner and a darkhorse. Below are the odds breakdowns.

  • 10/1 to 20/1
  • 21/1 to 50/1
  • 51/1 to 99/1
  • 100/1 to 150/1
  • 175/1 to 250/1
  • 300/1 to 500/1
  • 600/1 to 1000/1

10/1 to 20/1 – The favorites! For any fans or gamblers placing wagers these are the “sure bets”. In a group that consists of the “new” Tiger, Spieth, Thomas and Dustin Johnson I like Bubba Watson. He already owns two titles at Augusta National but I’ve said all over social media that he’s a confident Bubba and not to mention that he’s putting real well, he’s long and more importantly has a wild imagination. I pick Bubba here but I see Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar hanging around.

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21/1 to 50/1 – In a group that features Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and defending champion Sergio Garcia there’s a name at 50/1 that is real intriguing. Also, for those betting it may be worthwhile to place a buck or two here. That guy… Patrick Reed. It’s a matter of time before the unflappable Reed breaks through for a Major title. It could happen this week.

51/1 to 99/1 – Well it would be “en vogue” to pick Ian Poulter out of this group. But I think he’s played his heart out to get to Magnolia Lane. Does he run out of gas after this miraculous run that he’s been on. He’ll make the cut but won’t be there at the end.  There are plenty of intriguing names here and I really would like to see a Bryson DeChambeau jacket presentation come Sunday. His approach to the game is as interesting as his 66/1 odds. At 70/1 I pick Australian Marc Leishman. The Aussie is grossly underrated.

100/1 to 150/1 – Kevin Kisner leads this group of golfers and sits at 100/1. but when I look up and down this category the man from Thailand grabs my attention. Kiradech Aphibarnrat at 125/1. He doesn’t play much in North America but has garnered more attention after his play during the WGC Dell Match Play.  wonder what his “Champions Dinner” would be like.

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175/1 to 250/1 – Now we’re really starting to get into the longshots although many would contend that any one after 50/1 is a longshot. Shubhankar Sharma is another one of those international players that introduced himself to North America earlier this year. He did so after playing extremely well at the WGC Mexico event which consequently got him his Masters invite. The emerging European Tour star has played some tremendous golf this year so on a whim I’ll take Sharma at 175/1 over Patton Kizzire and Si Woo Kim.

300/1 to 500/1 – Not exactly a ton of names in the last two groups to choose from. But these are names that would be fun for placing a $20 bet. Oh the golf clubs I could but or the upgrades to my website. Sure there are the household bills that could be paid… but what fun is that? Fred Couples always excites at The Masters but at 400/1 I’ll pick Wesley Bryan.

600/1 to 1000/1 – The longest of longshots. Here we see a few guys that are amateurs or a bit “long in the tooth”. Steely eyed, grizzled veteran Bernhard Langer is bold. He plays pretty good golf however I’ll pick another Champions Tour player here. Vijay Singh has won this season on the “senior circuit” and I can see the native of Fiji playing golf this weekend.

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So my pick to win The Masters out of the above picks. My pick to win the 2018 Masters Tournament is none other than Patrick Reed. His name is just jumping out at me and his game is trending in the right direction. Patrick, just don’t win the Par 3 Contest.

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Until The Next Tee!!

First Look – Cobra Golf KING F8/F8+ Driver Review

In my opinion there have been two companies in particular that have been the biggest “movers and shakers” in the golf industry over the last several years. Because I haven’t had the opportunity to have any long-term demo and testing opportunities with many products most of my evaluation takes place at the PGA Merchandise Show every January in Orlando, Florida. Honestly, it’s my main reason for attending the show for the last 5 or 6 years. While the one company took a step backwards Cobra Golf has continued to move the needle on the golf industry.

Cobra Golf long-known for its affiliation with Greg Norman is also known for a number of other things. Among them, they can be looked upon as a brand for the young or young-at-heart because they’re trendy. Trendy? Sure, look at the colour schemes of their previous products. Remember the television spots when it was “Go Time” where Rickie Fowler was in the room with all of the oranges on the floor? That was in 2012 when Cobra Golf introduced orange-crowned drivers (The Fowler Edition AMP). Following on the heels of that driver other colours were introduced (blue, red, silver, white, pink, a Masters Edition green, and the aqua known as the colour choice of Lexi Thompson). The AMP Cell, BiO Cell and Fly-Z followed with the latter leading to a fun booth at the PGA Show where Cobra actually had a functioning teeter-totter in place. It was clearly to demonstrate the ability of the Fly-Z and it’s ability to move weight back and forth. Over the last several shows Cobra Golf in my opinion has had the best performing metalwoods. Queue the fast forward to the present.

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For 2018, Cobra Golf introduced the F8/F8+ range of products. Personally speaking, the F7 range of 2017 didn’t wow me so I was pretty excited to see what the F8 was going to be about. As pictures and content slowly showed up over social media the more intrigued I became. First up was the face. With the F8 range the face of the driver is a milled face. Next was the finish(es) that would be offered with my eye very keen on the finish known as “Nardo”. An eye-catcher without being a bright orange or blue. Then there was the addition of Cobra Connect powered by Arccos introduced by Cobra in 2017. Clearly there was a combination of many things from aesthetics to technology that made me curious. Below is a rundown of some of the features of the F8/F8+ driver.

  • The KING F8+ Driver introduces COBRA’s first CNC milled driver face paired with 360° Aero™ Technology, bringing you COBRA’s smartest, fastest, most precise driver ever. Tour preferred shape for maximum workability.

  • Golf’s first CNC precision milled forged titanium driver face with E9 Technology™ is thinner, hotter, and more precise.

  • Featuring COBRA’s thinnest and hottest face, the KING® F8+ driver delivers the perfect blend of speed and workability with precision face milling, aero and adjustable weight technology.

While in Orlando at the PGA Show Demo Day held at Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge I had the pleasure and opportunity to meet with Tom Olsavsky who is the VP of Research and Development for Cobra Puma Golf. Many thanks go out to Communications Manager Rachel Rees for arranging my time on Demo Day. During my time with Mr. Olsavsky I learned a lot more of what separates the F8 range apart from others. most notably is the face. As mentioned, the F8 is precision-milled as opposed to the usual hand-polished common in the industry. Not only does CNC machining mean more precision when it comes to face thickness… think of it in another way.

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Picture yourself working in a foundry somewhere… anywhere. It’s a real dirty and dark environment. Perhaps it isn’t the healthiest of places to be. Now picture it when it’s 100*F outside. You work what seems endless days. Maybe the quality of your work deteriorates a little bit. Now on the flip side of the coin. You’re working on a CNC lathe. The room is clean and air-conditioned. The work environment is cleaner, safer and the quality of work does not suffer. Which would yield the happier workers? 

The face of the F8 range isn’t just about aesthetics… the face is about a lot more than looks. The thinner face also creates more ballspeed and potential length. The body of the F8 features 8-1-1 Titanium while the face is forged saving weight to be placed elsewhere in the head to enhance launch conditions. Cobra Golf spent a lot of time in researching golf swings… impact in particular. What R&D found was most golfers (99%) have an array of areas on the face where the make impact. From low heel to high toe. So instead of remaining in the mold of other manufacturers where the sweet spot is a circular in nature Cobra Golf expanded the sweet spot to be elliptical allowing for more forgiveness and ballspeed across the face on misses. Cobra Golf uses “Dual Roll Technology” where the curve of the face is more pronounced on the top than the bottom the face. The purpose for this is to optimize launch and spin on shots low or high on the face. Incorporated into the F8 range is the “MyFly 8 With Smart Pad” which allows for further adjustment options to further optimize your launch and spin conditions. Three stock shafts including the Aldila NV 2KXV Blue 60, Aldila NV 2KXV Green 65 and the Project X Hazrdus Yellow 75. The crown is ultralight carbon fiber which features “360 Aero Technology”. Instead of using titanium strips on the crown Cobra Golf researchers decided on polymer strips instead which is lighter aiding the aerodynamics while use on the sole makes it more durable. Cobra Golf did everything they could to reduce the weight while improving aerodynamics and speed.

Lot’s of interesting tech talk… but how did it perform for this mere mortal? First off, I will preface this by saying that there is a reason why it won the first ever Teezy Award.

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Aesthetics – Upon looking at this driver in the address position it just looks like a serious weapon. I love the Nardo finish which comes from the automotive industry. When the light hits the paint at a certain angle metallic flake noticeable. The carbon fiber crown is evident while the polymer strips give the F8/F8+ a sleek, stealthy look. Flipping over the F8+ the first thing that my eyes went to were the dual pentagon-shaped weight screws. On the F8+ Cobra Golf also allowed for further adjustments. By switching the weights back and forth you can optimize your launch and characteristics even more by changing the center of gravity from front to back while the F8 the ability to change the center of gravity back and heel is an option. The F8+ really does suits my needs the best of the two. The graphics meld seamlessly together. The face! Oh the face! I love the intricate CNC-milling of the face and in particular I really thought that the “disc” looked smart! Such a fresh change and escape from the usual and mundane. The F8 has a slightly larger footprint than the F8+.

Performance – Right from the acoustics of my first pass I knew that Cobra Golf got this one right. I think they missed in this department with the F7. With the F7 the sound and feel translated into a feel that wasn’t inspiring bordering on “ho-hum”. The F8/F8+ is a massive improvement over 2017. When you make impact the sound is solid, authoritative and has the best sound of any driver I made passes with during the 2018 PGA Show. The ballflight offered a penetrating trajectory and I felt that the F8+ was an “easy swinger” regardless of the recommended handicap rating for players wanting to game the F8+ (Tour to 15 Handicap). But don’t get trapped into thinking if you’re a 20 handicap that you can’t use one. Try both and go with the one with the better results of the two. I used a stock set-up where the shaft was the Project X HZRDUS Yellow 75 X. Every swing yielded the same repeatable aggressive ballflight. Long into a quartering hurting wind (from the right) and I have no doubt that it was the longest of the show for me. The F8 was more of the same although I did find the flight higher… as might be expected by the weight configuration. I really feel that the F8+ would make golf holes shorter for me and definitely would put me in better position for setting up better Par 5 scoring. Shaping shots was a breeze and I always felt like I was in control at all times on the tee with the F8/F8+ in my hands. Confidence inspiring!!

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Cobra Golf introduced the addition of Cobra Connect powered by Arccos in 2017. For those out there unfamiliar with Cobra Connect and Arccos the premise here is that it “allows golfers to track their driving distance and accuracy using detailed stats and analysis to improve their game”. Through the use of a sensor in the end of the grip golfers can collect over the course of several rounds. At this point, Cobra Connect (Arccos) can actually give you club recommendations based on your yardages and tendencies. This data can really help golfers improve.

Like I said, the Cobra Golf F8/F8+ stole the spotlight at the 2018 PGA Merchandise. It won the Top Driver category quite handily and I knew it by the time the show moved to the Orange County Convention Center on Wednesday. I tried to tell Tom Olsavsky about my conclusion in person but never found him. Cobra Golf… you did it again! If you need to purchase a new driver have the Cobra Golf F8 range on your “to try” list.

Until The Next Tee!!