Nike Golf notched two wins this past weekend with Francesco Molinari’s wire-to-wire victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China, and John Cook’s successful defense of his Charles Schwab Cup Championship title at Harding Park. Both were sporting new 2011 Nike Golf equipment in their bags as well as new Nike footwear and apparel.
Francesco had the lead of the HSBC Champions at the end of the first round, a lead he would not relinquish over the next three days. This was significant because right on his heels all four days was the new World #1 Lee Westwood. Even more impressive was that by the back nine on Sunday, Molinari and Westwood were the only two players in double-digits under par. Key to Molinari’s victory was a smart play on the short par 4 16th hole — when Westwood tried to drive the green, Molinari took an iron and played for the fairway (ending up just in the left rough), then put a spectacular wedge shot four feet from the flag. Westwood’s drive ended up in a tough spot just left of the green, and it took him two more shots to reach the putting surface. Westwood’s par putt found the bottom of the cup, but so did Molinari’s birdie putt, extending his lead to two shots. The tournament was still not over, as Westwood had an eagle putt on 18 to force a playoff, but when that missed the mark, the tournament was officially Molinari’s. Francesco had the new VR Pro Combos in his bag last week, as well as the new Nike Lunar Control footwear and some great new Nike apparel.
John Cook was looking to defend his 2009 Charles Schwab Cup Championship title at Harding Park this weekend, and put his first win in the books for 2010 in the last event of the season. Cook had the lead after the first round, but by the end of play Saturday it was a hard-charging Michael Allen in front, whose third round 61 put him ahead of Cook by one shot. With birdies on three of the first six holes of a rainy final round, John Cook took the lead back from Allen for good, although Allen did not give up without a fight. Allen stayed within a shot of Cook’s lead until the 16th hole, when a birdie by Cook extended his lead to two shots. Allen gave himself a birdie opportunity on 18, and Cook needed to sink his 15-foot par putt to secure the outright win, which he did with his trusty METHOD putter.
John Cook had the new VR Pro Blades in his bag, as well as a VR Pro Combo pocket cavity 3-iron. He was also sporting the new Nike Lunar Control footwear, as well as stylish Nike apparel. He was also wearing a hat with the new 20XI logo, the first time I’ve seen a Nike athlete wear this hat in tournament play.
It was a successful weekend for Nike Golf, and we got a nice preview of Nike’s new equipment, apparel and footwear. I can’t wait to see more of Nike’s new 2011 product line, and we’ll be keeping a sharp eye on the end-of-season events for more. Of course we’ll let you know what we see right here on NG Nation.