Tag Archives: Jason Day

Bazz mag spread

FORE Magazine: Meet TaylorMade’s Vice President of Product Creation Brian Bazzel

Bazz mag spread

Editor’s note: Here’s my profile of TaylorMade’s Brian Bazzel for the winter issue of FORE Magazine. I’ll post a digital link when one comes available.

How much further can you go? It’s the question on everyone’s mind at TaylorMade Golf. Whether it’s referring to such things as golf ball distance limits or other technology thresholds, Brian Bazzel has been hearing some version of the question ever since the first day he started in the research department of TaylorMade nearly 18 years ago.

And for that entire time, TaylorMade has had answers, sometimes coming from Bazzel himself as he’s worked his way through nearly every department of product creation. Now, with his recent promotion to vice president of product creation, he’ll expected to have more answers than ever.

“We hear that question every year. And it’s a great question,” says the man known as “Baz” to his co-workers. “But believe it or not there are always places you can go. There are always opportunities and doors that are open to improve upon our products despite the restrictions and regulations that are put upon us.

“Sometimes when you plow throw one door of innovation, it’s like one or two more open that you couldn’t see before. Something you thought that before was impossible now is possible and you set a new goal. I’ve seen a lot of that, especially the last two or three years.”

Recent breakthroughs have produced such category leaders as the multi-material M2 Driver and the Spider Putter made popular by Jason Day. As 2018 and a new equipment season dawns, Bazzel promises more game-changing breakthroughs to come – but he isn’t tipping his hand just yet.

“We have some incredible technologies coming out that I can’t wait to tell the world about,” he said. “It’s going to be a significant year.”

In a way, it has already begun. The new equipment has already been tried and tested by TaylorMade’s armada of Tour pros. Their feedback and input is a major source of inspiration for future TaylorMade product, so their buy-in and belief is critical, Bazzel said.

Thus presenting product to Tour pros being Bazzel’s most nervous moment of the year.

“It’s like your baby being born,” Bazzel said. “It’s the moment of truth.”

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That moment can be three to five or even more years in the making. That’s how far out TaylorMade’s product planning and R & D extends. In actually, though, a product’s life truly begins 2 years out when it’s put into a planning and production cycle.

Now more than ever, Bazzel, like an NFL general manager planning a draft, will be the one making those selections.

“We have several ideas that are 3-5 years out, but you only have so many people and so much time so you have to choose correctly,” he explained. “Some of those ideas will never see the light of day but you hope that most of them will.

“Two years to 18 months is when we get really serious about a product.”

Bazzel is uniquely positioned to make those decisions in that at one time or another, he’s worked in every equipment category at TaylorMade, but upon announcing Bazzel’s promotion, TaylorMade CEO David Abeles especially lauded Baz’s work in metalwoods.

“For five years, Brian has been the driving force behind our metalwoods product creation team, creating groundbreaking products that have invigorated the industry,” Abeles said. “His vision has helped position TaylorMade as the industry leader in metalwoods innovation and performance.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that under his guidance the TaylorMade brand will continue to see exceptional growth and forge a lasting position as an industry leader across all product categories.”

Bazzel developed his knack for product design after a stint of playing competitively and then caddying. Bazzel played high school golf in Rancho Bernardo before going on to play at Division III UC-San DiegoSD, where the team captured third in the NCAAs once during his playing days. Bazzel competed in SCGA amateurs and on the mini tours before taking a caddy gig at The Farms Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe.

A caddy client noted Bazzel’s knowledge and knack for the game and suggested a career in the industry. Armed with his playing experience and an electrical engineering degree, Bazzel embarked on a career with TaylorMade.

Bazzel’s love for the game was fostered by his step father, a scratch golfer. His influence has carried over to Bazzel’s design career in that he’s the audience Bazzel says he has in mind when he’s creating a product.

“When I think of an authentic golfer, I think of him,” he said.

Bazzel said his love for the equipment side of the game came later in his playing days, but he recalls clearly his first real set of clubs, which were TaylorMade irons he purchased at age 13 with money earned washing dishes.

“They were long irons, foam-filled, Tour-preferred,” he says with a smile. “I paid $300 and sold them for what I paid them. I wish I still had them.

“I was proud to have them and eager to hit them.”

That’s the emotion Bazzel seeks to conjure now each year from golfers.

Thanks to advances in technology, the process of product creation has changed drastically during Bazzel’s time at TaylorMade, but the process of gathering ideas remains largely the same, he said. He keeps his eyes and ears open at all times, he said, especially when talking to Tour players.

“You find inspiration everywhere,” he said. “The ideas we have implement can come from anywhere. You’re always listening for insights, especially when we’re talking to our PGA professionals from around the world.

“But we have to be within the game and close to the game at all times so we hear those things.”

The objective for the staff of 15 that Bazzel now oversees is clear, he said.

“We ultimately want to have the deepest understanding of what golfers want and then also have the deepest understanding of what our brightest minds have come up with it,” he said. “Then you want to align those two things and hopefully surprise them at times.

But for all the planning and research, Bazzel says it’s sometimes the staff who ends up getting surprised, as was the case with the Spider Red mallet putter that Jason Day rode to world No. 1 and has become popular on Tour.

Day requested a few design tweaks to the original model, Bazzel said, adding that the red color choice was Day’s entirely, a decision that he says initially drew skeptical glances from the staff.

“It looked a little different and a little funny,” Bazzel said. “But then he starts make every putt on the planet and suddenly we can’t make them fast enough.

“So for all the planning we do, there are still some things you can’t plan for.”

But Bazzel said the product was ultimately a triumph for the culture of TaylorMade, where each product category has a group leader, but Bazzel said that doesn’t limit the staff’s ability to contribute across other product lines.

“Everybody fits the culture of TaylorMade, but yet is each uniquely skilled. The talent in this building is incredible and there are no egos,” he said. “We want people to feel like they can contribute anywhere at any time.

“We’re always willing to help each other because we’re all ultimately going after the same thing, which is to create the best-performing, hottest golf products on the planet.”

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No. 5

Maderas: Maderas’ 2016 Farmers Insurance Open Preview W/Chris Mayson Pick and Predictions

No. 5

When the PGA Tour arrived at Torrey Pines a year ago, it was a Tour in transition. A year later, there’s raging debate about whether golf is being led by a Big Three or a full-fledged foursome.

Two of the players in golf’s most prestige pack – Rickie Fowler and Jason Day – are in the Farmers Insurance Open Field this week. Fowler is fresh off a win in Abu Dhabi over major winners Jordan Spieth and Rory McIroy. Day is the defending champion at Torrey, but reportedly battling the flu.

This is set to be Day’s 2016 Tour debut and first chance to make a statement against his peers. He ended the 2015 major season by capturing the title at the PGA Championship by shooting 25-under to set a major championship scoring record. He briefly thereafter vaulted to No. 1 in the world.

Day’s win a year ago at Torrey started to set the Tour on a new course during a week that began with Tiger Woods withdrawing with a back injury. This week Day and Fowler have a chance to contribute to golf’s great debate. Will they deliver? We’ll start finding out on Thurs.


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FIO 2016: Best of Jason Day at Media Day


Jason Day showed on Monday he’s a champion in the interview room as well as on the golf course. The defending Farmers Insurance Open champion, and 2015 PGA Championship winner, gave a great performance for the assembled local media in advance of next week’s FIO at Torrey Pines.

Day was alternately insightful, funny and enlightening during a 20-minute group Q & A. Here’s a bit of the best from a guy who seems incredibly easy to root for:

On Jordan Spieth:

“I never thought there’d be a player you can compare to Tiger Woods, but slowly people are doing that.”


On his wife being bowled over by LeBron James at a Cleveland Cavaliers game:

“Does anyone think they could’ve stopped LeBron?”

On the related risk of being a spectator in golf:

“People take a risk. Unfortunately I’ve hit lots of people.”

The North Course vs. the South at Torrey:

“The North is where you go to make up what you lost on the South.”

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On personally predicting his first major:

“I honestly thought it was going to come at the British Open – and I even told my agent that.”

On the key to winning a tournament:

“The biggest part of winning is wanting it more than anyone else in the field.”

On the one change he would make to golf in the Olympics in 2016:

When told the media was about to play a six-hour round on the North:

“Oh God.” (laughing)

Maderas: Masters Preview W/Chris Mayson Prediction


Photo courtesy of www.thegolfchannel.com

For the majority of the country who knows what it’s like to take a mandatory climatological break from the game, the Masters represents the annual rebirth of golf.

On the coast, where clubs never stopped swinging and multiple professional tournaments have passed through, the Masters doesn’t have quite the same significance, but it’s no less meaningful. This is the tournament that makes you fall in love with the game all over again, no matter what you shot in your last round.

For us golfers, this is the best week in sports, when the true competitive juices of the game at the professional level flow again. The scenery, the history, the pageantry (the Par 3 contest, honorary starters, etc.) – we watch for all of it.

And, as usual, there’s no lack of storylines at the Masters in 2015 and “major” history is in play, although likely not of the Tiger Woods variety. Making a run right now for Tiger is considered making the cut. And another blow-up round like what we saw in Phoenix might have people talking retirement.

But Tiger does make the cut for our top storylines going into Augusta.

1. Rory’s Run at History –
Golf history is teed high for Rory McIroy, but will be able to take advantage in a year where his game has yet to quite come together?

Besides giving him a third straight major win, a victory would earn McIlroy the rare and coveted career Grand Slam by age 25. He’s the favorite though he’s never won here. He’s most remembered at Augusta for squandering a four-shot lead on Sunday in 2011.

But McIlroy has come a long way since then and masters major moments now far more than shrinks from them. His game at its best is the best in the game, but will he be at his best at Augusta?

History is waiting to find out.

2. Bubba Has Mastered Augusta National – Having won two of the last three Masters, Bubba Watson’s game clearly sets up well for the course. It seems he should be in contention every year here as long as his putter shows up, and after the way he dominated last year, would it really surprise anybody if he eventually won four or five green jackets? Since the course changes, the layout is increasingly friendly to lefties, which brings us to …

3. Paging Mr. Mickelson – After his quietest year ever on Tour, some are pulling for Phil Mickelson’s game to come out of hibernation at Augusta, where the premium will always be on the short game, his forte. Mickelson’s game showed signs of life last week at the Houston Open, where he led early before settling into a 17th-place finish. Can Phil muster enough Masters’ magic for a fourth victory here? His putting, which has dogged him all year, will likely have something to say about it.

4. Has Tiger Tamed His Game? – Everyone will be watching when Tiger plays his first competitive round in nine weeks on Thursday to see he’s still fighting the short-game demons that have dragged his game to a career low. Even the most optimistic outlook has Tiger being more subplot than plot at Augusta. Him just making the cut is being touted as a major achievement. By the way, Tiger now hasn’t won here since 2005. The only history he’s guaranteed is his 20th Masters start.

5. Major Momentum – After a year when three of the four majors were runaways (only the PGA Championship was close), the Tour could use something akin to the Watson/Oosthuizen dual of three years ago to get the major season off to a competitive start and stir TV interest. TV rankings for most of the majors slumped a year ago.

Rory in contention would certainly turn on television sets as might a breakthrough win by someone such as Jordan Spieth. A Tiger scenario seems far-fetched, but Mickelson making another run isn’t out of the question. The tournament hasn’t truly had an outlier champion since Charl Schwartzl in 2011. In a Tour era where seemingly everyone can win, little truly surprises you anymore.

Chris Mayson prediction:

1. Jason Day: I picked him for the Farmers (he won) and I’m sticking with him. Day has always liked Augusta and played well there. He has prodigious length and hits the ball extremely high, which is very beneficial on the hard and fast greens. With the fairways playing soft after this week’s rain, his high ball flight and long carry should suit him even better. He already won at Torrey Pines this year, another very long and difficult course, and he has to be one of the favorites for this year.

2. Jordan Spieth: There is a saying on tour that if you want to find the winner of this week’s event, look no further than the top five of the previous week. Spieth finished second in Houston and also second last year at The Masters and has been playing very well all year. With a point to prove from last year, he won’t be far off the lead come the back nine on Sunday.

3. Dustin Johnson

Maderas: Farmers Preview and Predictions From Chris Mayson

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The last time we saw Tiger Woods’ winning aura was when he pulled into the parking lot at Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open a year ago.

As the reigning Player of the Year, it was anticipated Tiger would take another victory lap around Torrey Pines, a track where he’s won on eight times as a professional … and that’s so not what happened.

After getting thrashed on the North Course by Jordan Spieth on Friday, Woods managed to make the cut but miss the secondary cut on Saturday. We later learned of Tiger’s back issues, which led to him missing much of the season.

The tournament unfolded as a Sunday horse race where, at one point, it looked like an unprecedented six-man playoff seemed possible. Instead, Scott Stallings, a name many fans probably had to Google search, emerged as the winner by a stroke.

This year Tiger returns under what couldn’t be a more different set of circumstances. Here we preview this week’s event followed by picks from our Maderas Direction of Instruction Chris Mayson.

1. Bizarro Tiger – The golf world is wondering what to make of Tiger after his short-game yip-fest in Phoenix. Coming off a career-worst 82, and with football season over, you can bank on his Thursday round getting the full attention, and scrutiny, of a round at a major.

Can Woods piece it back together on one of the courses where’s most comfortable? No one knows, and Vegas is doubting it – posting him at 50-to-1 odds.

Instead of people asking if Tiger can win, they’re wondering if he can make it to the weekend. Quite a different set of a circumstances for a 14-time major winner, indeed.

2. A Tougher TP –
Favorable weather conditions, namely a mild winter, in 2014 allowed for a set up closer to a U.S. Open and Torrey Pines took advantage. A similar set-up seems likely this year.
That means a lower-scoring tournament, where it’s doubtful someone goes low and pulls away. That could leave us with a Sunday leaderboard more like last year.
Several media members panned last year’s set-up as being too tough for a February Tour event, saying it created “boring” scoring conditions. They might be hitting copy-and-paste on those columns this year. We’ll see.

3. Time for Spieth, Fowler? – After trouncing Tiger on Friday, Jordan Spieth was the story of the tournament last year until he ran out of gas on Sunday. It was later learned he played on an injured ankle.
Can Spieth come back and finish the job this week? Or will it be another 20-something – Rickie Fowler.
Fowler finished top-five in every major last year, a spectacular year only lacking a victory. Fowler’s visage is everywhere on the course this year. Will it be featured on next year’s winner’s poster at the course entrance? We’ll see.

4. A Favored Son, Anyone? – Pat Perez, a graduate of Torrey Pines High, finished a shot behind Stallings last year after being forced lay up on No. 18. It was Perez’s best finish in the event, but a shot short of the outcome he’s been dreaming of since he worked the range for this event as a youth. There’s no doubt he’ll have the crowd support. Will Perez finally raise the trophy on No. 18 on Sunday this time?

5. DJ’s back –
After a six-month leave for “personal reasons,” Dustin Johnson makes his 2014 Tour debut at Torrey. As the consensus most talented player on Tour for several years running now, will Johnson now have the discipline and focus to turn that potential into a major championship? He can gain some momentum this week with a strong showing. At a minimum, it’ll be fun watching him bomb it on the par 5s at Torrey.

Now to a few predictions and insight from Chris Mayson, who’s been working with Brendan Steele this week at Torrey.

Mayson: I would have to go with Jason Day. Day is a long hitter and an accurate driver of the ball, which is a huge advantage on the South Course. Day also finished second at Torrey last year so he knows how to play well around these courses.

My other favorite would be Dustin Johnson. DJ is very long off the tee, is fresh off a long layoff and probably has a chip on his shoulder and a point to prove. DJ won his first event of the year in 2013 and 2014 and is looking to complete that trifecta at Torrey.

JC Golf: Our Professionals Pick the Masters


         The Masters, the week that speaks to every golfer’s soul, is here.

The world’s No. 1 player, Tiger Woods, not being in the field due to back surgery has left the tournament without a clear favorite.

While a Tiger-less Masters is a buzz kill for some, true golf fans will tune in regardless to see who slips on the coveted green jacket this year.

Some of the professionals at JC Golf sized up the field this week and dared to predict a winner. You’ll find their picks and rationale below, but feel free to add your favorite in the comments.

Enjoy the Masters, and we look forward to you resuming your regularly scheduled golf season with us after.

Erik Johnson, General Manager, Encinitas Ranch

Pick: Harris English.

Why: “He’s my dark horse pick. He’s a Georgia boy. He’s been on a really good run over the last year and a half or so. He’s very confident. He changed every club in his bag going into this season and he hasn’t seen a fall off, which I think is amazing.

“He even changed his putter after he won two or three times with it. That just speaks to his confidence.”

Blake Dodson, Director of Golf, Rancho Bernardo Inn

Pick: Angel Cabrera

Why: “After losing the playoff to Adam Scott in 2013, it has been forgotten how clutch Cabrera was down the stretch.  Angel is in the middle of the 18th fairway when Adam Scott rolls in a 15-footer for birdie to take a one-stroke lead.  And the Augusta crowd erupts with a Sunday roar!

“Imagine watching that scene unfold in front of you.

“Cabrera, in the middle of the 18th fairway, once tied, is now watching Scott celebrate the lead.  After the green clears, in a heavy downpour, Cabrera stays in the moment and sticks his approach shot to two feet, forcing the playoff.   This type of clutch performance wins major championships and should not be overlooked.  Angel Cabrera is my 2014 Masters pick.”

Troy Ferguson, Head Professional, Twin Oaks

Pick: Graham DeLaet

Why: “Go Canada!” (Troy is from Alberta; Graham is from near Saskatchewan.)

Eric Jeska, Director of Golf, Twin Oaks

Pick: Pat Perez

Why: “He’s a San Diego boy, and nobody else will pick him. Then I can celebrate by myself after he wins.”

Paul Miernicki, Director of Instruction, Twin Oaks

Pick: Matt Kuchar

Why: “He’s the hot guy right now. He should’ve won the last two tournaments. He was just two bad swings away. He’s still won a million dollars more than me the past two weeks. My money’s on him.”

Note: Paul’s second choice is Jason Day.

Lloyd Porter, Head Professional, Oaks North & Reidy Creek

Pick: Charl Schwartzel

Why: “He has been in the hunt before, he has good experience at Augusta (2011 champion), and he’s a great putter.”

Curtis Rowe, Director of Golf, Temecula Creek Inn

Pick: Sergio Garcia

Why: “I think he’s due to win a major, and he’s a great player, good enough to a major. And everybody hates Sergio. I’ll go against the haters.”

Note: Curtis’ American pick is Ryan Moore.