Archive for Wednesday, October 18, 2000

Titleist goes to top

New solid ball No. 1 on PGA Tour

October 18, 2000


Phil Mickelson had been raving about Titleist's new solid-construction ball since he first tested it in July. When the ball finally made its debut, he wasn't alone.

Nearly one-third of the field at Las Vegas used the Pro V1 392 ball, which features an unusually large core and extra thin cover. That made Titleist not only the No. 1 solid ball (47 players) on the PGA Tour last week, but also tops in wound ball (41).

"It goes to show you that we can take appropriate action to respond to changes in product performance warranted by the best players in the game," Titleist chief Wally Uihlein said.

It also was a response to Nike, Callaway and Spalding, which have touted trends away from the wound ball, of which Titleist has always been the leader.

Uihlein points out that 55 percent of Titleist's sales are non-wound balls, so the company is hardly a newcomer to solid- construction technology.

He also said the patent on the technology for the new ball was issued in 1997, after two years of research.

So what took so long to bring it to market?

Uihlein cited an old IBM strategy let everyone take their best shot, then answer.

"In a competitive environment, it's better to know what you're shooting at than shooting in the dark," he said. "We watched everyone launch their ships, then we responded."

Greg Norman practiced with the new ball Tuesday at the Presidents Cup, and as many as half of the 24 players at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club are expected to use it.

Uihlein said he expects at least 50 players to switch at the Tampa Bay Classic.

LPGA Q-School: U.S. Amateur champion Marcy Newton, NCAA champion Jenna Daniels and European Solheim Cup member Patricia Meunier-Lebouc are among the 129 players trying to get 14 available exempt spots on the LPGA Tour.

The four-round qualifying tournament started Tuesday at LPGA International.

The 14 open slots is the lowest number of exempt cards available since the LPGA began an annual qualifying system in 1984.

Jack's Last Stand: When Jack Nicklaus suggested that 2000 would be the right year for him to play all four majors for the last time, television producer Terry Jastrow figured it would be the right time to capture the occasion on video.

On Sunday after The Presidents Cup, CBS Sports will broadcast "Nicklaus: A Final March Through the Majors," with Jim Nantz and Jim McKay as the hosts.

Finchem Award: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem will receive the 2001 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, based in Lawrence, Kan., for lifetime contributions to the game.

Along with being a four-time British Open champion, Old Tom Morris was greenskeeper at the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.

Money Race: The best money race in golf for the moment is on the LPGA Tour, for career earnings. Juli Inkster and Karrie Webb became the third and fourth players to go over $6 million for their careers last week at the Samsung World Championship.

Inkster earned $152,000 for winning and now has $6,034,776 for her career. Webb, who finished fourth, now has $6,029,095.

The career leader is Betsy King, with just over $6.8 million, while Annika Sorenstam is at $6,129,096.

Divots: Fred Couples and Mark O'Meara were the two "Tiger picks" for the Williams World Challenge, the $3.5 million tournament at Sherwood Country Club after Thanksgiving. The Tiger Woods Foundation is in charge of the two sponsor's exemptions. The 12-man field features 10 of the top 20 in the world ranking. ... Phil Mickelson's younger brother, Tim, will make his professional debut at the first stage of Q-school next week. He finished his college career at Oregon State, placing second in the Pac-10 Championship. ... The Wendy's Three-Tour Challenge will be played Oct. 24 at Reflection Bay Golf Club outside Las Vegas.

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