2020: A Banner Year for PING

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2020: A Banner Year for PING

Michael Thompson tugged at everyone’s heart strings on Sunday with his emotional post-victory interview after his birdie putt fell on 18 to clinch his 2nd tour win, first since 2013. Being known as a 2-time tour winner is much better than being referred to as “Lexi’s brother” (his sister is LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson). With the waterworks flowing, Michael talked about the feeling of securing his card for the next 2 years and getting into all 4 of the majors, including this week’s WGC event in Memphis. His win was also a major headline for one of his sponsors, Ping. It is the brand’s 10th driver win on tour this year in 29 events. But the most interesting club in Thompson’s bag is his putter. He has a Ping Anser 4 blade that he got when he was 16 years old – almost 20 years ago. It’s the same putter he used in his first win at the 2013 Honda Classic. He said he likes how light the putter feels, especially on fast greens. Putters from that era weigh about 10-15% less than today’s models. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

Michael Thompson’s bag is a bit unusual compared to his tour peers. The theme doesn’t end at his flatstick. He actually plays a majority of Ping’s older models that have been phased out and are no longer available to the public. He uses a 7-wood in lieu of a hybrid, because he launches it higher. Because he felt that his ball-striking was never on the same level of the world’s best players, he plays Ping’s Blueprint irons. They are a modern version of a muscle-back but with a much larger profile and some perimeter-weighting. Well it all worked beautifully. He led the field in strokes gained putting for the week, finished 3rd in greens in regulation, and 4th in strokes gained approach. He missed just 2 greens on Sunday. 

WITB – Michael Thompson, 2020 3M Championship winner

Driver – Ping G400 LST 10°, Fujikura Ventus Black 6X shaft – SHOP PING DRIVERS >
3-Wood – Ping G400 14.5° – SHOP PING FAIRWAY WOODS >
7-Wood – Ping G410 20.5° – SHOP PING G410 FAIRWAY WOODS >
Irons – Ping Blueprint 4-PW – SHOP PING IRONS >
Wedges – Ping Glide 2.0 Stealth 52° 56° 60° – SHOP PING WEDGES >
Putter – Ping Anser 4 blade – SHOP PING PUTTERS >
Ball – Titleist Pro V1 – SHOP TITLEIST PRO v1 GOLF BALLS >

Is Tony Finau the next Charles Howell III? It’s extremely hard to believe Tony Finau only has one PGA Tour win under his belt, and it was an opposite field event at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open. He’s a leaderboard darling every week and has played on the last few U.S. Ryder and Presidents’ Cup teams. Last week he set a tour record with his 30th top-10 finish since 2016. That’s the most by a player without a win in a 4-year span in history. I’m not sure I would say what Tony does on Sundays is choking, yet the numbers may say otherwise. His scoring average on Thursday – Saturday is 68. His Sunday scoring average on Sunday is almost 4 shots higher at just a shade under 72. He’s not making doubles and triples, but it seems that he makes all the putts the first 3 days and during the final round they come up just a roll short but right in the heart of the cup. However, making par on the par 5 13th with his length isn’t exactly “going out and getting it.” He was just one stroke back at the time. Finau is as talented as any Rory, DJ, JT, or Rahm out there. But is he content playing the game he loves for a living and making millions of dollars in the process and not filling a room in his house with trophies? Who could blame him if he is? I sure wouldn’t. But that’s what makes a once in a lifetime player just that…once in a lifetime. The killer instinct to win at all costs and be not only the best you can be, but one of the best ever. Charles Howell III turned pro in 2000 and won the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year award in 2001. After a tremendous college and amateur career, Chuckie 3-sticks was golf’s next big thing. 20 years on tour and he only has 3 wins to his credit, going 11 years between wins #2 and #3. Yet Howell is 19th on the PGA Tour’s all-time career money list with $40 million in on-course earnings. Finau is 88th on that list at $19 million in just 5 full seasons with a tour card. For both that is a lot of close calls, a lot of top-10’s, a lot of consistency, and a whole lot of heartbreak. 

Like Michael Thompson, Tony Finau has 10 clubs by Ping in his bag. Let’s take a look at the sticks he uses to keep knocking on the door of tour victory number deuce.

Driver – Ping G410 Plus 9.5°, Accra Tour TZ6 75 X shaft
3-Wood – Ping G410 13.7°
3-iron – Nike Vapor Fly Pro 18.5°
Irons – Ping Blueprint Prototype 4-PW
Wedges – Ping Glide Forged 50°, Titleist Vokey SM8 56° & 60°
Putter – Peretti Elite
Ball – Titleist Pro V1

Fantasy picks The tour does double duty this week as we have a World Golf Championship event at the St. Jude and an opposite field event at the Barracuda Championship in California. That means twice the fun and twice the winnings. Barracuda Winner Brendan Steele He was great tee to green 2 weeks in a row at Muirfield and he has 4 top 10’s in 6 starts at Barracuda. Barracuda Will Contend Richie Werenski He’s made every cut since the tour restarted. Playing well is an understatement. Barracuda Sleeper Bill Haas Injuries and tragedy has made the last few seasons tough for the former FedEx Cup champ. Good week to right the ship and get back in a good frame of mind. WGC Winner Webb Simpson Perfect course for him and he was runner-up last year. WGC Will Contend Tony Finau Keep knocking on the door Tony! WGC Sleeper Daniel Berger The dude is good. Plain and simple. Already a winner this year at Colonial. 

Enjoy the game and each other,

Written by Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional
Design and Published by Craig Walton

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