Toy Box: McIlroy wins with Titleist gear
After completing his seemingly inevitable march to World No. 1 with a victory at the Honda Classic, Rory McIlroy credited his short game for clinching his third PGA Tour title. Tournament statistics validate his claim: He converted 20 of 24 up-and-down opportunities, relying upon his Titleist Vokey Design SM4 wedges (46, 54 and 60 degree). That performance translates to an 83.3 percent save rate, which led the field in scrambling.
The rest of McIlroy’s bag was filled with Titleist gear: 910D2 driver (8.5 degree), 906F2 3-wood and 5-wood (13 and 18 degree), MB irons (3-9), Scotty Cameron GSS Newport prototype putter and a Pro V1x ball.
It was a big week for Fujikura shafts as well. The company equipped all of McIlroy’s metalwoods: His driver had the Rombax 7V05 X, and he used the ZCom 95 X, often called the Pro 95, in his 3- and 5-woods. Five PGA Tour winners have used Fujikura driver shafts thus far in 2012.
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How about the Honda Classic equipment saga of Y.E. Yang?
Yang brought his RocketBallz driver to the TaylorMade tour van, saying he was hitting too many drives off the toe. Technicians adjusted the driver more upright (the actual setting on the adjustable driver went from STD-Higher to STD-Upright, accomplished with a 1-degree rotation of the sleeve).
Yang was happy with that, but he still had putter issues. He requested a radical change – using a steel extender to take his Ghost Manta from 35 inches to 38 inches. Also, Yang wanted an exceptionally heavy putter (650 grams overall). This was done with a 130-gram Super Stroke long putter grip, plus 40 grams of lead tape on the putter sole and 30 grams of lead tape under the grip. The finished lie angle was 78 degrees, with 3 degrees of loft. Yang tied for 30th.
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A pair of 3-irons for Woods
Tiger Woods carried a Nike VR_S 3-iron at Honda, although the loft was bent stronger so he could effectively use it as a 2-iron. The rest of the irons in his bag were Nike Pro Blades (3-PW). Woods often carries a 5-wood, but at the Honda he elected to use the strong 3-iron and leave out the 5-wood.
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Kim makes changes
Anthony Kim, in a slump and looking for answers, made some significant equipment changes at Honda.
He used a new Nike VR_S driver (10.5 degree) with a Fujikura Motore Speeder 7.2 Tour Spec shaft. Representatives in the Nike tour van said Kim gained 16 yards of carry distance with the new head/shaft combo. Previously, Kim had used a Nike VR Pro Ltd. Edition (8.5 degree).
Kim also put a new VR_S Forged 3-iron in his bag, replacing his VR Pro Combo 3-iron. He said the Forged trajectory was higher. Finally, he made a putter change, using a custom Nike Method putter. It has the shape of Nike’s MC-2i, but with a normal milled Method insert instead of the Core insert.
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Short shots: Sang-moon Bae, seeking a higher trajectory with less spin, is now using KBS Tour Stiff steel shafts. Bae, who plays Callaway Razr X Muscleback irons, said he also could draw the ball more easily. . . . Callaway has teamed with the PGA Tour and Birdies for the Brave to fit three Wounded Warriors on the practice range at 12 PGA Tour events this year. The first was the Honda Classic, where Kyle Evans, Daniel Robinson and Ben Baar (all injured in the Middle East) were fit for a new set of Callaway clubs by tour reps. Callaway staff pro Derek Lamely spent 45 minutes with the men, offering swing tips and encouragement. . . . Defending Honda champion Rory Sabbatini switched to a new TaylorMade RocketBallz Tour driver (10.5 degree). . . . Meanwhile, John Mallinger is still using an old TaylorMade SuperTri black driver head. He has been testing the new R11S, but has yet to use it in competition. A total of 61 TaylorMade drivers and 89 TaylorMade fairway woods were in play at Honda. . . . The most accurate driver on the PGA Tour? So far this year it’s Heath Slocum, who uses a Ping G20 driver (9.5 degree) with Aldila’s new RIP Phenom shaft. Slocum has hit 74.58 percent of the fairways, compared to the Tour average of 58.97 percent.