Bubba Watson Wins with PING at the 2012 Masters
By John Fritz of 2nd Swing Golf
Clubmaker PING appears to be riding a wave of interest and publicity after Bubba Watson, a PING Tour staff player, won the 2012 Masters Tournament Sunday in scintillating fashion over fellow PING-er Louis Oosthuizen. The buzz around the company is evidenced by slowdowns that have plagued PING’s website all week, presumably as shoppers try to get their first look at the limited-edition, all-pink PING G20 driver slated to be released in honor of the new major champion Watson. Watson used his own pink-crowned G20 driver to devastating effect at Augusta National, spanking drives down the pine-laden fairways with precision and incredible distance en route to his 74th-hole victory.
Only 5,000 of the all-pink G20 drivers will be produced, which will make them as likely to end up on a collector’s shelf as in someone’s bag. The driver will feature a pink TFC 169D shaft, crown and sole lettering, as well as a matching pink head cover. Customers will be able to purchase the club in lofts of 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees for right-handers and 10.5 degrees for lefties, with stiff, regular and ladies shaft flexes available. Five percent of the proceeds from the clubs’ sales will go to the charity, “Bubba Long in Pink. Driven by PING.”2
Although PING had fewer players in the field than other top companies, a disproportionate number of those were at or near the top of the leaderboard Sunday, including Watson, Oosthuizen and former World No. 1 Lee Westwood. Comprising less than 10 percent of the field, PING players accounted for 22 percent of the red numbers still on the board at the end of the tournament.1 PING clubs also were responsible for The Masters’ two most memorable shots: Oosthuizen used a PING S56 4-iron to pull off his historic, 252-yard double eagle at the par-5 2nd, while Watson had a 52° PING Tour-W gap wedge in his hands as he made his physics-defying approach to what turned out to be the final hole.
Watson, whose Scottsdale, Ariz., residence is a stone’s throw from the facilities of Phoenix-based PING, has been a PING player since his amateur days and carries only PING clubs: 7.5° G20 driver, 16.5° G20 4-wood, S59 3-PW, 52° & 56° Tour-W wedges, 64° Tour-S Rustique wedge, Redwood Anser putter. Oosthuizen plays TaylorMade RocketBallZ fairways, the only deviation from PING in his bag, which includes: 9° Rapture V2 driver, 16.5° & 19° RBZ woods, S56 3-9 irons, 47°, 54° & 60° Tour-S wedges, Scottsdale ZB S putter.1 Even the duo’s failures turned up roses for PING. Sunday’s highest-profile miss came from Oosthuizen, who on the final playoff hole watched Watson slice badly into the pines right of the 10th fairway. Oosthuizen needed only to land his tee shot in the fairway to really put the pressure on. He went to his bag and pulled out a white-crowned fairway wood, a telltale sign of a TaylorMade RocketBallZ – the only deviation from PING that Oosthuizen plays. The South African, whose calm, controlled swing seemed imperturbable all day, proceeded with a flailing pull into the left rough, the disgraced RBZ hung limply from his one-handed follow through.
PING’s success at The Masters came as no surprise to company chairman and CEO John Solheim, who had previously called PING’s 2012 club offerings “one of our strongest, most comprehensive product lines in our history.” The industry insiders at Golf Digest also seem to have seen this coming, as earlier this year they gave 11 2012 Golf Digest Gold Medal club awards to PING, more than any other manufacturer. The G20s alone swept Gold Medals in every category for which they were produced.3
If PING can continue to hitch its fortunes to rising stars like Watson, the story of who’s playing what clubs could look very different when golf’s annual pilgrimage to Georgia comes around next year.
John Fritz is a staff writer for the 2nd Swing Golf Blog, where you can read more!