TaylorMade claims 6-shot victory at Industry Cup

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – The Industry Cup is an annual tournament showdown among golf’s biggest companies. The competition is so intense that Callaway Golf, after scoring a dramatic one-stroke victory in 2010, celebrated by running a photo of its winning team in numerous publications.

Major manufacturers often bring several four-person teams to the event. Callaway’s No. 1 team was back to defend its title in 2011, although the company entered five other teams, as well.

Callaway’s victim in 2010 was TaylorMade’s No. 1 team, and TaylorMade returned in 2011 with four teams - including the No. 1 team that remained intact from the year before.

“I’ll put it this way,” said team member Greg Cesario of TaylorMade No. 1. “We felt we had a good chance to get a little revenge this year.”

On Nov. 13, after TaylorMade’s Tom Kroll finished torching the competition at Pelican Hill Golf Club, TaylorMade No. 1 had scored a six-stroke victory over Ping’s No. 1 team. Meanwhile, Callaway’s No. 1 team finished far off the pace.

The 36-hole event included four nine-hole formats. The first three were shamble, better-ball (four-ball) and Pinehurst. For the crucial final nine, each team added its three best nine-hole gross scores.

That’s where Kroll took over. His title at TaylorMade is global product line manager for metalwoods, but for one day he could have been called Mr. Birdie Maker.

While players all around him were struggling with the back nine on Pelican Hill’s South Course, Kroll birdied Nos. 12, 16 and 17 and stood 3 under as he played the final hole. He three-putted from the front fringe for bogey, but his score of 2 under par lifted TaylorMade No. 1 to a comfortable victory.

Joe Ryon was even par for TaylorMade No. 1, and Cesario’s 4-over 39 counted as the third score. The fourth player was Pete Roberts, who led TaylorMade in 2010 but ended up 6 over in the final segment this year.

No matter. TaylorMade No. 1 finished with an 11-under total for the four nine-hole segments. Ping No. 1 was 5 under, and no other team broke par.

Ping No. 2 was third at 2 over, followed by Callaway No. 3 at 4 over. Callaway No. 1 tied for 10th at 19 over.

Professionals are eligible for the Industry Cup, and Kroll, like several of the entrants, has played professionally.

Coming into the 2011 event, Ping No. 1 generally was considered the favorite. The team included former PGA Tour winner Mike Nicolette, former Japan Tour winner Christian Pena and Marty Jertson, who played in the 2011 PGA Championship and was undefeated in the PGA Cup in which the U.S. defeated Great Britain and Ireland.

The fourth member of Ping No. 1 was Sean Free, but the four Ping players fell two strokes behind TaylorMade No. 1 on the first day and faltered down the stretch on the second day.

Though Ping CEO John Solheim had given his players a pep talk of sorts, Ping’s two teams finished second and third but didn’t win. Ping has never finished outside the top 3 in the event, but has never taken the title.

“I guess we’ll just have to repeat next year,” said Ryon, accepting the implied challenge for the other manufacturers. “It’s amazing how serious everybody is about this event.”

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