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[by Guy Smith, Acushnet Company European Tour Rep]
With the Race To Dubai really heating up, the two highest placed FootJoy shoe wearers, Rory McIlroy and Ross Fisher, positions 3 & 4 respectively, are sitting out the French Open this week in preparation for the Open Championship at Turnberry in two weeks time. This will open the door to the other 10 FootJoy shoe wearers currently in the Race To Dubai top 20 to catch up to them.
Last year's winner, Pablo Larrazabal is really looking forward to defending the title he won last year. It is turning into a very special week for the Larrazabal family, as Pablo's brother, Alex, has joined him in the French Open field after qualifying for the tournament last week. This is exactly what Pablo did last year before storming to an emphatic victory over the Golf National course to claim his first European Tour title and helped him to become the Sir Henry Cotton, Rookie of the Year. Can lightning strike twice!?
Another player who loves this tournament is FootJoy wearer Soren Hansen, he finished in third place last year. He was in fine form this week and looking to improve on last years finish.
The big story of the week has been the launch of the FJ ICON shoes to the European Tour. Players came to visit the Titleist Tour Support Vehicle to collect their new shoes, and only positive responses were heard. The majority of comments included how light the shoes felt and how comfortable they were. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these on the players this week and the next few weeks. More styles will be released to the players at The Open Championship.
One player already wearing the FJ ICON shoe is Ian Poulter. It was good to see him again in Europe after a long spell across the Pond on the USPGA Tour. Ian will certainly fancy his chances this week as he has been showing some great form and can't be too far away from a win. He is joined in the field by Angel Cabrera, who will be looking to add to his Masters crown earlier in the season and SYNR-G and FootJoy PureTouch wearer, Padraig Harrington.
Padraig Harrington (SYNR-G style #53918, PureTouch Limited glove) opened with a bogey-free 6-under 64 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to lead by one after the first round. Click on the video below to hear about some of the key shots of the round as well as some insight into how a major champion approaches the final few holes when he knows he's working on a solid round.
One week after Heath Slocum (SYNR-G style #53925, StaSof glove) wondered if he would even make it to the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, he finished off a compelling afternoon at Liberty National by making a 20-foot par putt on the 18th hole to win The Barclays by one shot. "That putt was magical," Slocum said. "I'll remember that the rest of my life."Slocum was tied for the lead with fellow SYNR-G loyalist Steve Stricker (SYNR-G style #53883, PureTouch Limited glove) going to the final hole. Both hit into fairway bunkers off the tee and neither could reach the green. With several of the world's top players waiting in the wings for a playoff should neither make par, Slocum raised both arms in the air when his par putt broke gently back to the left and disappeared into the cup.Stricker had a 10-foot par putt to force a playoff with Slocum but cringed when it caught the left lip. He closed with a 69 and finished in a four-way tie for second.Slocum qualified for these Playoffs with two points to spare -- he was No. 124 out of 125 players who advanced to this postseason bonanza. His victory assures him a spot in THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola and a shot at the $10 million prize."That's what it's all about," Slocum said. "I was sweating it out last week. I didn't even know if I'd be here. I came in here with the attitude that I had nothing to lose."He turned into a huge winner.Slocum, who came into The Barclays at No. 197 in the Official World Golf Ranking, finished at 9-under 275 and earned $1.35 million for his third career PGA TOUR victory, and first in four years. He vaults from 124th in the FedEx Cup rankings to number three.
Following a disappointing finish at The Barclays where he missed a putt on the 18th hole to force a playoff, Steve Stricker (SYNR-G, PureTouch Limited) rebounded in a huge way Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship. With fellow FootJoy players Jason Dufner (FJ ICON) and Scott Verplank (ReelFit) waiting on the tee for a possible playoff, Stricker drained a 15-footer for birdie on the 17th hole then slammed the door with a clutch up-and-down for birdie from just off the 18th green to win by one. The victory was Stricker's third of the season, moved him up to a career-high No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking and gave him sole possession of the lead in the FedExCup standings heading to Chicago for the third of four playoff events.