Golf News for Wednesday, February 20, 2013 | Equipment

Titleist congratulates John Merrick on Northern Trust victory

FAIRHAVEN, Mass. -- Realizing a dream takes commitment and dedication - and most of all trust. At the Northern Trust Open, it all came together for Titleist Brand Ambassador John Merrick, who demonstrated complete confidence in his game and his equipment to earn his first career PGA Tour title at an event in which he dreamed of playing as a youngster.

Merrick led a sweep by Titleist golf ball loyalists of the five worldwide professional events that culminated on Sunday, including the European, LPGA, Champions and Australasia Tours. Five more wins brings the Titleist golf ball victory total in 2013 to 14, that is 10 more than the nearest competitor. Early momentum and continued trust around the world. Performance is Titleist.

PGA TOUR: Merrick became the second player on the 2013 PGA Tour to win with the new Pro V1x golf ball (Brian Gay/Humana Challenge) when he posted two consecutive pars in a sudden-death playoff, capturing the Northern Trust Open on the second extra hole. It was the first career PGA TOUR title for Merrick, who closed with a 2-under par 69 to finish at 11-under 273.

Merrick, who grew up in Long Beach, Calif., attended this event as a boy, and played his college golf at UCLA. He advanced to fourth position in the FedExCup standings and to No. 74 in the official World Golf Ranking following the victory.

In addition to the new golf ball, Merrick plays 14 Titleist golf clubs for his tee-to-green success: What's in John Merrick's Bag?: New 2013 Pro V1x golf ball, Titleist 913D2 driver (8.5), 913F fairway metal (13.5), 913H hybrid (19), MB irons (3-PW), Vokey Design SM4 sand (54) and lob (60) wedges, Scotty Cameron Newport Tour putter.

Fellow Titleist Brand Ambassador, defending champion, and overnight leader Bill Haas, played the New 2013 Pro V1x golf ball for the first time in competition, and finished in a three-way tie for third place, one shot out of the playoff. Haas decided to put the new ball in play after putting it to the test during a practice round on Tuesday. Haas also plays a full complement of Titleist golf clubs including the 910D2 driver (8.5), 913F fairway metal (13.5), 913Hd hybrid (18), CB irons (3-P), Vokey Design Spin Milled sand (54) and lob (60) wedges and Scotty Cameron Tour Rat putter.

Merrick and Haas led a group of eight Titleist golf ball loyalists among the 12 players who finished in the top 10 and ties this week, five of whom are full product line Titleist Brand Ambassadors. Joining Merrick and Haas on the front page of the leaderboard were: Webb Simpson (T6/New 2013 Pro V1x, 913D3 driver, 913F 3-wood, 913Fd 5-wood, 913Hd hybrid, AP2 irons, Vokey Design SM4 wedges), Josh Teater (T6/Pro V1x, 712U utility iron, AP2 irons, Vokey Design SM4 wedges, Scotty Cameron Tour Rat putter), Hunter Mahan (T8/New 2013 Pro V1x), Adam Scott (T10/New 2013 Pro V1, 910D3 driver, 910Fd fairway metal, 712U utility iron, MB irons, Vokey Design SM4 wedges, Scotty Cameron prototype long putter), Greg Chalmers (T10/New 2013 Pro V1x, 913D3 driver, 913F fairway metal, 913Hd hybrid, CB irons, Vokey Design SM4 wedges) and Ted Potter, Jr. (T10/Pro V1x).

Titleist Brand Ambassador Jimmy Walker continues to be one of the most consistent players on the 2013 PGA TOUR. Walker, who finished in a third place tie at last week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and T4 at the Farmers Insurance Open, has made the cut in all six full-field events to date this year. This week, he finished T16 while leading the field in Driving Distance with a 309.8 average playing the New 2013 Pro V1 golf ball and 913D2 (8.5) driver combination. He currently ranks 10th in the FedExCup standings and leads the tour in Birdies with 111 on the year.

Titleist was the most played golf ball with 92 players (64%) in the field of 144, nearly five times the nearest competitor with 19. Titleist was also first in wedges (135) and putters (53).

EUROPEAN TOUR: Darren Fichardt (New 2013 Pro V1x, CB/MB irons, Vokey Design SM4 sand and lob wedges) won the Africa Open by two shots over two players, including Titleist Brand Ambassador Gregory Bourdy (New 2013 Pro V1x, 910D3 driver, 910F fairway metal, 910H hybrid, 712U 3 and 4 prototype utility irons, MB irons, Vokey Design SM4 wedges, Scotty Cameron Concept 1 prototype putter), after closing with a one-under par 71 en route to a 16-under total and his fourth career European Tour title.

Titleist was the most played golf ball with 115 players (74%) in the field of 156, more than six times the nearest competitor with 18.

LPGA: South Korea's Jiyai Shin became the first LPGA Tour player to win with the New 2013 Pro V1 golf ball when she closed with a one-under par 72 to capture the season-opening ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open. Shin finished two shots clear of World No. 1 Yani Tseng (Pro V1x) who started the final round eight shots behind the leaders. Tseng fired a best-of-the-day seven-under par 66 to race up the leaderboard for her runner-up finish.

Shin's final round was highlighted by a spectacular pitch-in for birdie on the 14th hole en route to an 18-under par 274 victory total. It marked the 11th career LPGA Tour title for Shin, who is also a two-time Women's British Open winner and former World No. 1.

The 15-year old amateur with whom Shin held the overnight lead, posted a final round three-over 76 and 14-under 278 tournament total to finish solo third. The teenager was trying for back-to-back wins in professional tournaments after capturing last week's New Zealand Women's Open. Like Shin, she plays the New 2013 Pro V1 golf ball, as well as AP2 irons (6-P), Vokey Design SM4 sand (54) and lob (58) wedges and a Scotty Cameron Del Mar putter.

Titleist was the top choice in the golf ball category among the field of 157 with 105 players (67%), more than 10 times the nearest competitor with 10. Eighty-six players transitioned into the New 2013 Pro V1 (51) or Pro V1x (35) at the first event of the year.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Titleist golf ball loyalist Bernhard Langer (Pro V1, Vokey Design sand and lob wedges) captured his second ACE Group Classic title in three years. Langer two-putted for par from 50 feet on the 72nd hole to finish at 12-under 204, one stroke ahead of Jay Don Blake (New 2013 Pro V1x, 910F fairway metal, 910H hybrid, AP2 irons, Vokey Design Spin Milled wedges, Scotty Cameron Newport Tour putter). The winner in 2011 and the runner-up last year, Langer earned his 17th career victory on the Champions Tour.

Tom Pernice, Jr. (Pro V1x, 913D3 driver, 910F fairway metal, 910H hybrids, AP2 irons, Vokey Design SM4 wedges, Scotty Cameron Kombi putter) tied for third place, three shots behind Langer, while David Frost (Pro V1, 909H hybrid, Vokey Design Spin Milled wedges, Scotty Cameron prototype putter) and last week's winner Rocco Mediate (New 2013 Pro V1x, Vokey Design SM4 wedges, Scotty Cameron GoLo putter), tied for fifth, another shot back. Five of the six players who finished among the top five and ties all relied upon Titleist golf balls for their success.

Titleist accounted for a tournament-leading 59 golf ball players (73%) in the field of 81, nearly seven times the nearest competitor with 9. Titleist was also the top choice in the wedge (65) and putter (65) categories.

AUSTRALASIAN: Titleist Brand Ambassador Brad Kennedy (Pro V1x, 913D3 driver, 913F fairway metal, 910H hybrid, AP2 irons, Vokey Design wedges, Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter) captured the Queensland PGA Championship when he birdied the 72nd hole to top Mike Hendry (New 2013 Pro V1x, AP2 irons, Vokey Design wedges, Scotty Cameron putter) by two shots. Anthony Summers (New 2013 Pro V1x, 913D3 driver, CB irons, Vokey Design wedges) was a further two shots back as Titleist golf ball loyalists posted a 1-2-3 finish. In fact, eight of the 11 players who finished among the top 10 and ties relied upon Titleist golf balls for their success.

It marked the third career win on the PGA Tour of Australasia for Kennedy, including the first in his home state. He fired four consecutive rounds of 65 or under on the par 68 layout and finished with an 18-under 254 victory total.

"A birdie on the last is the perfect ending to a great week," said Kennedy. "I have been a pro for nearly 16 years now. I did my Traineeship, have been a Club Pro and done all that, so to win a QLD PGA is great."

Titleist was the top choice in the golf ball category among the field of 132, with 104 players (79%) relying upon a Pro V1 or Pro V1x model, compared to 19 players for the nearest competitor.