Jan 06, 2014 | 06:23 AM

Season Of The Switch

The new year is the time for new contracts between top players and equipment companies. It was almost exactly a year ago that Rory McIlroy became a member of the Nike family; then he spent the rest of 2013 being asked if the new clubs and ball were responsible for his inconsistent play. He finally got his first win of the year in early December at the Australian Open: It will be interesting to see if getting over that psychological hurdle—plus his recently announced engagement to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki—ignites another fantastic year like he had in 2012. Meanwhile, a number of other top golfers recently switched gear and may attract Rory-like scrutiny: Last year’s big winner, Henrik Stenson, has signed to play Callaway (that’s his Twitter photo above, taken at home in Sweden), as have Harris English and—reportedly but not yet confirmed—teenaged LPGA sensation Lydia Ko. Ernie Els is now playing clubs from Adams, while Trevor Immelman is in the TaylorMade stable. While The Buzz might not put all those changers under the microscope, we’re sure someone else will—and let us know just how well, or not, they do.

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Jan 03, 2014 | 10:45 AM

Arizona's Newest Course

Notah Begay may trail former Stanford teammate Tiger Woods in PGA Tour wins—79 to 4 actually—but he is 3-up when it comes to completed course designs, the latest being Arizona's newest course. His effort at Sewailo Golf Club, located 15 miles southwest of downtown Tucson, debuted recently as part of the three-year-old Casino Del Sol Resort owned by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Begay, who worked with Ty Butler (a former Robert Trent Jones II design associate who now works for JMP Golf Design Group) on the 7,400-yard Sewailo course, was previously a consultant to Robert Trent Jones II on the Sequoyah National Golf Course in North Carolina and designed Firekeeper Golf Course in Kansas with Jeff Brauer. Both courses were also built on Tribal land. At Sewailo, Begay and Butler spent an estimated $25 million to shape a flat desert landscape into a layout that includes 14 acres of water features. In a nod to his favorite layout in the world—the Old Course at St. Andrews—Begay incorporated a double green shared by the first and eighth holes. The Troon Golf-managed course, with green fees ranging from $99 to $179, will be the home to the University of Arizona golf teams. It’s also part of a Tucson Swing Golf package which includes rounds at Sewailo, The Gallery Golf Club and La Paloma Country Club for $299 plus tax (January 1 – April 15, 2014) or $199 plus tax (April 16 – June 1, 2014).

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Jan 02, 2014 | 11:31 AM

Great Scott!

Adam Scott edged Tiger Woods by five votes of the 220 cast in the Golf Writers Association of America Male Player of the Year award. While Woods won the PGA Tour POY, the GWAA goes global and Scott's year-end kick in his homeland Down Under apparently influenced a lot of writers to vote for him over Woods. Scott, who will take six weeks off after the opening two tournments in Hawaii, played 20 tournaments in 2013, won four, including the Masters, and was top three eight times, including in the Open Championship. He also finished T5 at the PGA. “It is an honor to be recognized as the most consistent male golfer of 2013 and it is appreciated to have the respect of the Golf Writers of America. Thank you,” said Scott from Maui where he’s preparing to kick off his 2013-14 PGA Tour season at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The GWAA named Inbee Park the Female POY and Kenny Perry the Senior POY. The winners will be honored at the GWAA Awards Dinner in Augusta on Aug. 9.

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Dec 30, 2013 | 06:20 AM

Our First Masters Story of the Year

Is it too soon to start talking about the Masters? We don’t think so, either. Because the way things are shaping up, the field for the 78th Masters, which tees off on Thursday, April 10, 2014, could be the largest ever. Thanks to the wrap-around schedule the PGA Tour adopted this year, plus a spate of first-time winners on the PGA and European Tours, there are already 90 players in the field, which jumped by 14 when the final World Rankings for 2013 were settled a few weeks back. (They are Hideki Matsuyama, Thomas Bjorn, Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, above, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Francesco Molinari, Rickie Fowler, Matteo Manassero, David Lynn, Thongchai Jaidee, Peter Hanson, Joost Luiten, and Branden Grace.) Masters officials want about 100 players; the largest field was 103 in 1966. But as it isn’t even January yet, don’t be surprised if the 2014 Masters sets a new record.

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