Notebook: Ping comes out on top in Masters results
By Jennifer Gardner
One of the biggest winners at this year's Masters: Ping. The company had three golfers in the top three and ties - winner Bubba Watson, runner-up Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood, who finished T3.
Watson used a distinctive pink Ping G20 driver to finish first, as well as stay atop the driving distance category. He has averaged 313.1 yards off the tee in 2012.
Oosthuizen had a particularly memorable shot with his Ping S56 4-iron - his 253-yard second shot on the second hole at Augusta found the cup for a rare double eagle, the first on the hole in tournament history.
"Now (Watson has won) his first major and is ranked fourth in the world. He will be a very popular champion, and very deserving," said John A. Solheim, Ping chairman and CEO. "Louis and Lee can be proud of their performances, and Louis' double eagle was truly amazing, a rare moment in history that will always have a connection to Ping."
For his major win with a Ping putter, Watson will get a solid-gold replica of his Redwood Anser putter head, as well as one of two gold-plated versions (the second stays in a special vault at Ping). It is the 54th time a Ping putter has been used to win a major, more than any other brand of putter.
"We spent the weeks leading up to Augusta helping our players in every way possible get totally ready for the Masters, particularly as it relates to their equipment - a lie angle bend here, a loft tweak there, so on and so forth," said Charlie Kautz, PGA Tour correspondent for TaylorMade-Adidas Golf, in an email.
So, the biggest issue for many manufacturers was making sure their guys were wearing and using bright new hats and bags that reflected the 2012 Masters.
"(We) again provided our staff players competing in the Masters with special edition 'Season Opener' staff bags, hats and headcovers for use during play at Augusta," Kautz said. "The theme was primarily a white color scheme this year, with green trimming adorning the bags and some very unique details helping to make up our Season Opener logo."
(For more on the Season Opener logo and what it means, see this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioULF8axyBA).
CEREMONIAL FIRST SHOT: Perhaps the most famous trio in golf - Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player - participated in the Masters tradition of hitting the ceremonial first tee shot Thursday morning. While Nicklaus, not surprisingly, used a Nicklaus driver, both Palmer and Player had Callaway Razr fit drivers for their shots.
Player worked with Callaway tour van staffers early in the week to get the perfect setup for his driver. He picked a higher-lofted clubhead and made some tweaks to the cog in the adjustable driver head so he could hit a little higher and draw the ball a touch.
"Player's caddy came to the truck Wednesday to confirm that the Black Knight was getting longer distance and wanted to get a Razr Fit 3-wood to match the driver," said a Callaway spokesperson.
ADDING A WEDGE: Stewart Cink opened his Masters with a 1-under 71 to sit near the top of the leaderboard. The 38-year-old Cink has struggled with his game for a couple of years, but made some progress early on at Augusta.
"I had a lot of really good shots today," he said on Thursday. "There's not a lot of guys in the field that hit better than I did today. I played real well. I didn't take advantage of some opportunities out there, but overall I was pleased with today."
Cink prepared for the week with some changes to his bag of Nike equipment. He added a new Nike VR Pro 60-degree wedge that Nike tour van staff built for him the previous week at the Shell Houston Open. He already was carrying three Nike VR Pro wedges - 48, 52 and 56 degrees. In order to make room for the 60-degree wedge in his bag, Cink asked Nike staffers to bend his VR_S Forged 3-iron 2 degrees weaker. That let him remove his 4-iron in favor of the additional wedge.
After the good first round, Cink went on to shoot a third-round 81, but finished well with a 69 on Sunday. He finished T50 for the week.
WINNING COUNTS: Fifty-three players in the 95-man field at the Masters used Titleist golf balls. The next closest competitor had 11 balls in play.
Titleist was also first in iron sets (26), wedges (91) and putters (29). TaylorMade was first in drivers (32), fairway woods (42) and hybrids (28).
ODDS AND ENDS: Most golfers keep their equipment the same for the year's first major, but Martin Kaymer switched to an Odyssey Protype 2-Ball putter and Alvaro Quiros switched into an Odyssey Black Series i #1 putter to challenge the greens at Augusta. ... Patrick Cantlay, the low amateur at the Masters, used a 20-degree Adams Idea Pro a12 hybrid. ... Christopher DeForest leads the longest drives category on the Nationwide Tour playing Aldila's RIP 70 shaft in his 8.5-degree Cleveland Launcher TL 310 driver. His average of 327.5 yards is well beyond the 291.3 tour average. ... Australian Scott Hend used Titleist equipment (910D driver, 910F fairway wood, 910H hybrid, MB irons, Scotty Cameron Studio Select Newport 2 Putter and Pro V1x golf ball) to capture the weather-shortened ISPS Handa Singapore Classic for his second title on the Asian Tour.