5 Things: TaylorMade's whiteout

Inside the new TaylorMade tour van.

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The all-white TaylorMade tour van pays homage to its newest club line.

White is in for TaylorMade.

All the major golf equipment companies bring their tour vans to PGA Tour events. TaylorMade, in sync with its introduction of white-headed drivers, fairway woods and hybrids, was set to launch a new all-white tour van at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego.

The busiest day of the week is Tuesday, when Tour players flock to the tour vans to try new clubs or fix old clubs. The big topic at the Bob Hope Classic: drivers.

At the Hope, Ryan Palmer sat in the TaylorMade tour van with a new Burner SuperFast 2.0 driver (9.5 degree), touting more distance with the club.

A three-time Tour winner, Palmer’s driving average at Hope was 303.2 yards. He averaged 295.8 yards all of last season.

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Jhonattan Vegas reacts after after winning on the second playoff hole on the Palmer Private course at PGA West during the final round of the Bob Hope Classic in La Quinta, Calif., Jan. 23, 2011.

Jhonattan Vegas not only is the toast of Venezuela but also the rest of Latin America.

With his victory at the Bob Hope Classic, the 26-year old rookie joins Paraguay’s Carlos Franco, Colombia’s Camilo Villegas and Argentina’s Angel Cabrera, Andrés Romero and José Cóceres in a group of six Latin American players who have claimed a total of 13 PGA Tour victories since 1999.

It also marks the fifth consecutive year that a Latin American player has won on Tour.

Tour de las Americas commissioner Henrique Lavie said it’s proof that the region is making substantial progress.

“This is huge,” said Lavie, also a Venezuela native. “For me and the TLA, this is just another example of the great potential our players have. I believe there are many other young players out there ready to follow on the footsteps of Jhonattan, Camilo Villegas, Andrés Romero and Angel Cabrera.

And he isn’t shy to take some of the credit for Vegas’ milestone win on behalf of the TLA.

“Things happen when we join efforts and support them, as we have done over the past 10 years on the TLA by strengthening our ties with the region’s federations and PGAs,” Lavie said.

Carlos Whaite, executive director of Venezuela’s golf federation, concurs.

“This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to Venezuelan golf beyond our borders,” Whaite told Reuters.

Whaite watched Vegas’ victory on TV with exuberant fans after a children’s tournament in Caracas.

“I’ve never heard such commotion,” he said.

With a record of six Latin American players holding Tour cards – Cabrera, Fabián Gómez, Alexandre Rocha, Romero, Vegas and Villegas – be on the look out for more commotion.

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Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler, the 2010 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year makes his 2011 debut at this week’s Farmers Insurance Open. He’d better pack plenty of orange, which he wears head-to-toe on Sundays.

That’s because the third round at Torrey Pines will be “University Day.” The PGA Tour has requested that players wear their school colors that day.

Torrey Pines is where Fowler’s final-round tradition of wearing orange first gained national attention. Fowler was an amateur when he made the cut at the 2008 U.S. Open. On the final day, he sported a pair of orange pants that he had bought at a thrift store.

Many fans know that Tiger Woods went to Stanford and Fowler went to Oklahoma State. But the casual fan may not know the alma maters of lesser-known players. A Tennessee Tech fan watching on Saturday would get a thrill seeing TTU alum Scott Stallings sporting the school colors and might become a bigger golf fan because of it.

The low scorer Saturday will earn $15,000 for his alma mater’s golf team.

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Lydia Ko, 13, lives in New Zealand and is a future LPGA star, no doubt.

Swedish rookie Caroline Hedwall won her professional debut at the Women’s New South Wales Open on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour over the weekend.

But she nearly lost to a 13-year-old.

It appeared like history would be made in women’s professional golf when New Zealand teenager Lydia Ko took a one-shot lead heading to the final hole.

But Ko’s three-putt at the par-3 18th gave the title to Hedwall after the Swede sunk a 14-foot birdie putt.

“It’s kind of disappointing that I missed the short putt, but I’m thinking about the positives – when I have that short putt in the future, I will get it in,” Ko told the Australian.

Ko, who immigrated from South Korea to New Zealand at age 7, is expected to be a presence in golf for a long time.

“In years to come, there are going to be plenty of checks handed over to this girl,” said ALPG chief executive Warren Sevil.

“She would have become the youngest to win a tournament on any of the five major tours in history, by about three years.”

Amy Yang, now on the LPGA, became the youngest winner on any tour when she won the 2006 Australian Ladies Masters at 16.

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Royal Golf Club in Bahrain has plenty of sand but no traditional bunkers at Volvo Golf Champions.

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No one in Bahrain this week will have a similar Dustin Johnson moment.

Organizers of the Volvo Golf Champions at the Royal Golf Club in Bahrain have made sure there will be no repeat of the mistake Dustin Johnson made at last year’s PGA Championship.

Despite being in the middle of the desert, all sand areas on the Colin Montgomerie-designed course have been designated waste areas, meaning competitors can ground their clubs.

“It will lead to some odd-looking situations but that is infinitely preferable to players incurring penalties,” said European Tour chief referee Andy McFee. “As we know, television viewers are quick to call or write in when they see something wrong, but on this occasion we are alerting them, in advance, that this course is different.”

Johnson missed out on a playoff at the PGA when he grounded his club in a bunker on the 72nd hole at Whistling Straits.

There is no truth to the rumor that Johnson was a late entry to the Bahrain event.

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