This week marks the first full-field PGA Tour event of 2012 – the Sony Open in Hawaii at Honolulu’s Waialae Country Club. It’s always a pleasure to start the season off at one of the most amazing places on Tour.
This year, Cleveland Golf and Srixon have a tremendous staff of professionals competing on the PGA Tour. It’s a great mix of accomplished veterans, some youngsters that have already more than proven themselves, and an extremely talented group of young rookies eager to show what they can do.
It’s always a blast to see rookies prepare for their debut as PGA Tour members, and this week is no different. I dare say this class has the potential to do some amazing things – even right out of the gate during the West Coast Swing. This is an important time for rookies to do well since the first “reshuffle” occurs right after the West Coast events, meaning enough prize money before the reshuffle gives them better entry status into tournaments as the year progresses.
Keep an eye on these rookies representing Cleveland Golf/Srixon inside the ropes:
Charlie Beljan: The 28-year-old resident of Mesa, Ariz., first made headlines by winning the 2002 U.S. Junior Amateur, and after dominating the Gateway Tour in Arizona the last few seasons, he gained PGA Tour exempt status by tying for 13th at Qualifying School. The University of New Mexico graduate hits it forever and has great touch around the greens. Look for Charlie playing the Srixon Z-STAR Tour Yellow golf ball. He’s a tremendous believer in its benefits.
Russell Knox: A 25-year-old native of Inverness, Scotland, Knox is a phenomenal ball striker who finished 12th on the 2011 Nationwide Tour money list to earn his card. Russell, now a resident of Jacksonville, Fla., won last year’s Chiquita Classic and ranked inside the top 10 for the year in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation. Waialae sets up great for Russell’s precision game, so don’t be surprised to see him get off to a great start here.
Jason Kokrak: Expect the 25-year-old Kokrak to contend for the PGA Tour’s driving distance title. The Charlotte, N.C., resident powered his way to a fourth-place finish on the 2011 Nationwide money list with victories at the Albertsons Boise Open and Miccosukee Championship. There just aren’t many people that will ever hit it by Jason, who had a Nationwide-leading driving average of 318.9 yards. He simply overpowers most golf courses and combines that with some great putting.
Ted Potter, Jr.: When Ted gets in his groove, he’s a lot of fun to watch. The 28-year-old Ocala, Fla., native nearly won the 2011 Nationwide Tour money title, winning the South Georgia Classic and Soboba Golf Classic to finish second. The left-hander might be the most aggressive player you’ll ever see – there’s rarely a pin he won’t shoot at. And, get this – Russell Knox says Potter is the best he’s seen play in person.
It’s hard to believe that at this time last year, Keegan Bradley was in the exact same position as the above foursome. Now, Bradley is a star, joining David Toms and Vijay Singh as Cleveland Golf/Srixon major champions on the PGA Tour.
Keegan and Toms began their years at Kapalua last week for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. A closing 65 and an impressive week of ball striking netted Bradley a 16th-place finish, and he’s excited for what’s to come. “Ball-striking wise, it was one of the best four days combined I’ve had in my professional career,” he said.
D.T. is a little down after his LSU Tigers laid an egg in Monday night’s BCS National Championship Game, but playing two events in Hawaii is always good medicine. He won the Sony Open back in 2006 and always feels he has a chance to win at Waialae.
Vijay says he’s healthier than he’s been in quite a few years and is really excited about this season. He switched up his practice routine a little bit this offseason, incorporating more time playing golf on the golf course – something he’s never done very much of. He was in great spirits this week and looking forward to playing a course where he won in 2005.
Singh is one of many Cleveland/Srixon players gaming the new Classic driver at Sony. Players are raving about the look, feel, and performance of our latest offering. We’ve been blown away by some of the numbers we’ve seen in testing, and the guys are seeing similar results on the course.
The new 588 Forged wedges and irons have been phenomenal as well. Almost every staffer has already switched into the irons, and the wedges have been adopted by more players in a shorter amount of time than any wedge we have ever introduced.
Needless to say, the word “feel” has been uttered a lot lately. While most players have some experience with forged irons, our guys have been blown away by the difference our Precision Forging process can make in the feel of a wedge. The equipment lineup for 2012 is simply phenomenal, and our players’ early adoption of the products is proof.
Check out some pics below of our players’ new equipment and their 2012 staff bags, and check back next week for another Tour Report.
–Michael Jolly, Cleveland Golf/Srixon Tour Representative
Til Next Week…
Charlie Beljan’s Bag:
Jerry Kelly’s Bag:
Jeff Overton and Ted Potter, Jr.’s Bags: