When it comes to knowing the keys to success at Waialae Country Club, home of the Sony Open in Hawaii, not many of this week’s participants can provide more insight than defending champion and Titleist Brand Ambassador Jimmy Walker.

Last year, Jimmy fired a bogey-free 7-under-par 63 in his final round to cap off a 17-under-par 263 victory total - marking the second of his three wins last season. And to put an exclamation point on the win, Walker mounted a closing charge that featured four birdies over the final five holes to secure the title. 

Even though he is one of the longest drivers on the PGA TOUR, Walker placed putting and proximity to hole as his top keys for success at this event when Team Titleist caught up with him in Honolulu.

“My strategy on this course has always been to hit the ball as far as I can down the fairway to give me the best chance of getting my approach shot as close to the hole as possible,” said Walker. “The player who is among the best in putting for the week will be in the hunt on Sunday, and having more short putts will help accomplish that.”

Walker, who has played this event every year since 2008, has shot in the 60’s in 17 of his last 19 rounds, including each of the last nine. In addition to his win last year, he finished solo 4th in 2011. Walker is coming off a 2nd place finish at last week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

“The Plantation Course had wide fairways, a lot of undulation, and shifting winds,” said Walker, who has no intention of changing his game plan despite the tighter layout and doglegs. “It sounds cliché, but I really do just take it one shot at a time. For me, that means having the confidence to hit driver as accurately and as far as I can off the tee, so I have the shortest club hitting the ball into the green. That gives me the best chance to get close to the hole and make more birdies. I putted well in the win last year and I felt I putted well last week, so I am looking forward to contending once again.”

EQUIPMENT NOTES AND QUOTES FROM JIMMY WALKER

 FOUR ROUNDS, FOUR GOLF BALLS:  Jimmy Walker played a new Titleist Pro V1x prototype golf ball in competition for the first time at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, finishing 2nd. When asked if he played the golf ball all four rounds after switching from the previous generation Pro V1, Walker said: “Not only did I play it all four rounds, I only played four balls. One each day. I loved the performance. It has the perfect ball flight that I am seeking – nice and tight off the driver, fairways and long irons and very controllable off the wedges. In fact, I put some new Vokey Design SM5 wedges in the bag last week, and I kept looking at my ball to see if it needed to be switched out, but it never did. The ball has great feel and is extremely durable. The best I’ve ever played.”

WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN:  Like many other Scotty Cameron putter enthusiasts, Jimmy Walker had one of his favorite putters restored to its original state with a twist, and it is now back in the bag as his gamer. In October, Walker sent an 11-year old Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter that he won twice with and topped the money list on the 2004 Nationwide Tour, to the Scotty Cameron Custom Shop to be refurbished. In addition to having it restored and refurbished to its original condition, he had tungsten added to the sole to give the putter some additional weight.

“I had won a couple of times with the putter in 2004, but switched to a little heavier putter as my stroke changed over the years and kind of put that one away for a while. I’ve always loved the look of it and asked (Cameron Putter Rep) Kelley Moser to see what could be done to restore it, but also get it to a similar weight to the Scotty I was currently using. I got it back last month and put it back in the bag as soon as I saw it. I have total confidence in it and don’t foresee taking it out any time soon.”

Some of the best players in the world are looking to claim victory at the first official event of the New Year, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The winners only, limited field event will be contested on the beautiful Plantation course at Kapalua Resort, a place known for it's scenic views and low scores.

The 34 players in the field will be looking to get off to a fast start in 2015, setting them up for a successful season much like defending champion and Titleist Brand Ambassador Zach Johnson did last year. Zach used his victory to kick start a 2014 campaign that included 11 Top-25 finishes in 26 starts earning him a trip to Atlanta for the Tour Championship. The win was certainly a highlight of Zach's impressive season.

“My best moment of the year was the Hyundai Tournament of Champions...it was special, especially with my family there," said Johnson.

2014 FedExCup Champion and Titleist Pro V1x Loyalist Billy Horschel also appreciates the chance to play in this prestigious event.

"Every tour player wants to win so they have the chance to come here. There's no place more beautiful than Maui to start the year," said Horschel.

With beautiful views and low scores abound, 2015 is sure to get of to an exciting start.

#TeamTitleist

BY THE NUMBERS: 2015 HYUNDAI TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

 This week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Titleist is the top golf ball choice with 21 players in the limited field of 34 trusting a Pro V1 or Pro V1x golf ball for their success. 

Titleist was also the top choice in the driver (11), hybrid (7), iron (11) and approach, sand and lob wedge (28) categories.




Nobody in this week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions field knows more about winning on Kapalua's Plantation Course than Titleist Brand Ambassador Geoff Ogilvy. The 37-year old Australian won this event in 2009 and 2010, never shooting above 69 in eight rounds on the 7,452 yard track, the Tour's only par 73. .

"The first time I saw it, I said 'why are we playing at a place like this?," said Ogilvy. "It takes a bit of getting used to, especially trying to figure what to hit when the winds are blowing. I could be hitting a 5-iron from 140 yards or a wedge from 200 depending on the hole and the direction of the wind. So, yes, it took some getting used to."

The learning curve was quick for Ogilvy as he went on to win the event in his third trip back to Kapulua in 2009 and successfully defended his title in 2010. As a result, it’s always an event Ogilivy is eager to play.

 "As soon as I tapped in that last putt at Reno, I was excited about returning to Kapalua," said Ogilvy referring to his victory at Barracuda Championship in August which earned him a return trip to this winners-only event. "I feel so comfortable and have obviously had success here, so it is always special to be able to come back."

So what are the keys to winning?

"Because of the length on the scorecard, many people think it is a bombers' paradise and only the longest hitters have the advantage, but that is not necessarily true," said Ogilvy, who pointed to the winning success of fellow Titleist Brand Ambassador Zach Johnson's a year ago. "You are going to hit a lot of fairways because they are among the widest on Tour. However, executing with your wedges on the short par 4's and into the par 5's is essential. A lot of these greens are big and undulating and three putts are a possibility even if you get on in regulation. The key is to hit your short irons close to the pin and make your putts.  The players that do that best this week are the one's that are going to be in contention."

Good luck to Geoff and all of #TeamTitleist this week!

We have reached the end of our countdown, and coming in at #1 on our list of the top posts of 2014 is a behind-the-scenes look at the Titleist Player Research Team.

We catch up with Product Testing Manager Rich Daprato, Player Research Supervisor Karen Gray and other members of the Player Testing Team to get a better sense of the important role that live player testing plays in the development of Titleist golf balls. 

Check out the original post below from October, 7 2014.


How Do You Test a Golf Ball? Meet the Titleist Player Research Team.

“How do you test a golf ball?”

It’s a fairly straightforward question but as you can imagine, when your focus is designing and developing the #1 ball in golf there are countless paths and roads that the journey to finding the answer will take. However, the one constant is that this journey always starts with the golfer.

And our player research team is on the front lines of this mission each and every day. From traveling around the globe to test prototypes with golfers of every skill level to hitting thousands of golf balls to record launch conditions, this team plays a critical role in the golf ball R&D process.

Collecting the launch condition data and working with golfers to understand how they are approaching impact is essential to developing the tests that will help guide product development.

“Whatever launch condition we achieved with the players we want to try and replicate that with a robot,” said Product Testing Manager Rich Daprato.

“Because of the repeatability of the robot we can test large amounts of samples and get real tight data groups.”

Armed with the data, the robots get to work on specific tests but then the journey comes back full circle as product validation is only achieved after extensive player testing.

“We want to know who you are and why you love the game and how we can make products that perform best for you,” said Player Research Supervisor Karen Gray.

So how do you a test a golf ball?

It’s a long process that involves a lot of people and best-in-class technology but most importantly, it begins and ends with the golfer.

#TeamTitleist

Coming in at #2 on our countdown is a look back at the launch of the new Titleist 915 family of metals. Featuring the new Active Recoil Channel, Radial Speed Face and enhanced MOI, the 915 line of metals offer all golfers distance without compromise.

Be sure to check out the original post from November, 14 2014. 


Launch Time: New Titleist 915 Family of Metals Hit Golf Shops Today

Launch day is here and we’re excited to see the Titleist 915 family of metals land in golf shops today. So visit your local golf shop or fitter to experience distance without compromise first-hand.

And check out the posts below for more exclusive content on the 915 family and get an inside look at the new features and benefits.

 

#TeamTitleist

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