The 2012 PGA Tour season opened in familiar fashion this weekend, with Titleist Brand Ambassador Steve Stricker leading a 1-through-8 finish for Titleist golf ball players at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Trusting a Pro V1x golf ball and bag of Titleist equipment, Stricker closed in 4-under 69 for a 23-under 269 total and three-shot victory in Hawaii, the 12th of his PGA Tour career and eighth in last 50 starts.
Stricker's victory also capped a three-win weekend sweep by Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf ball players across the worldwide professional tours, including wins by Louis Oosthuizen (Pro V1x) and Scott Arnold (Pro V1). Last year, Titleist players combined for 175 wins around the world, nearly 150 more than the nearest competitor with 27 and more than all competitors combined.
Once again, Stricker's success was largely the result of staying nice and steady. Off the tee, he sent his Pro V1x sailing long and straight down the fairways at Kapalua's Plantation Course. Around the green, he chipped and pitched and putted his way to 26 total birdies, many of those coming during his bogey-free 10-under 63 (eight birdies, one eagle) in Round 2.
"My caddie, says, 'Do what you do,' and I think that sums it up the best. We just go about and do our thing. It may not be the flashiest thing at times, but I do other things well," said Stricker, the only player to have won won multiple times the last three seasons (2009, 2010, 2011).
"I chip and putt well, I'm driving the ball well. … Everybody has got a little bit different game, and that's the way I just kind of look at mine and do the things that we know how to do the best."
Such results have led to 43 consecutive made cuts, currently the longest streak on the PGA Tour. (He hasn't missed a weekend since 2009.)
Stricker, who last season won The Memorial and John Deere Classic, topped a leader board that included a Titleist golf ball loyalist in each of the top eight positions and 10 of the top 11.
Pro V1x loyalist Martin Laird finished alone in second, while Titleist Brand Ambassador Webb Simpson and defending champion Jonathan Byrd (Pro V1x) tied for third. For Simpson, it was his seventh top-10 finish in his last eight PGA Tour events.
Titleist was the overwhelming golf ball of choice at the event with 23 of the 27 players trusting the #1 ball in golf in the winners-only field. The nearest competitor had two. In fact, Titleist was the top choice across every major equipment category, including drivers (13); fairway metals (12); hybrids (9); irons (14); sand, lob and approach wedges (38); and putters (14).
Here's a closer look at Steve Stricker's Titleist equipment:
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Titleist 909D3 8.5º, (UST Mamiya Proforce V2 86)
3-wood: Titleist 906F2 13º, (UST Mamiya Proforce V2 96)
Hybrid: Titleist 909H 19º (UST Mamiya Proforce V2 Hybrid 104)
Irons: AP2 3-P (KBS Prototype)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled 253•09º, 259•11º (True Temper Dynamic Gold w/Sensicore)
• EUROPEAN TOUR: Pro V1x loyalist Louis Oosthuizen opened 2012 with four rounds in the 60's to successfully defend his Africa Open title at East London Golf Club in South Africa.
The former British Open champion won on home soil for the second consecutive year, closing with a 6-under 67 for a 27-under 265 total and two-shot victory over countryman Tjaart Van der Walt (Pro V1). He won last year's event in a three-way playoff.
Oosthuizen has now placed inside the top eight in his last six European Tour starts, dating back to the 2011 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Titleist was the golf ball of choice at the event with 156 players, more than five times the nearest competitor with 21 and more than all competitors combined.
• AUSTRALIAN: It was a 1-2-3 finish for Pro V1 players at the Victorian Open as Scott Arnold earned his first professional victory with some last-minute fireworks.
Faced with a plugged lie in a bunker on the final hole, Arnold slammed his wedge into the sand and watched as Pro V1 flew toward the flagstick, spun and stopped a couple feet from the hole.
Arnold tapped in for a 3-under 68 and 12-under 272 total, one stroke clear of Kurt Barnes (Pro V1), who closed in 5-under 66. Pro V1x loyalist Mike Hendry rounded out the Top 3.
Among the top-10 finishers at the Victorian Open, seven relied on a Titleist golf ball for their success. Titleist was the golf ball of choice at the event with 110 players, more than five times the nearest competitor with 20 and more than all other golf balls combined.