Nike has a new top-of-the-line golf ball that has appeared on the PGA Tour and should be available for consumers later in the spring. This ball, called the 20XI Prototype, will become the 20XI when it hits retail shelves. At Kapalua, it was used by Anthony Kim, Francesco Molinari and Carl Pettersson. The real question is: Will Tiger Woods put the ball in play?
The ball is unique because it has a core made of lightweight resin. This allowed Nike engineers to reposition a small amount of weight nearer the outside of the ball, although calling it a perimeter-weighted ball might be a stretch. Players in Hawaii used the S (spin) version. Eventually, an X (distance) version will be available.
Drivers dressed in white: It wasn’t quite the debut that TaylorMade had in mind because staff member Robert Garrigus lost in a playoff, but six new white TaylorMade drivers were in play at Kapalua.
Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Matt Bettencourt and Garrigus used the new R11 driver. Camilo Villegas and Jason Day played the new Burner SuperFast 2.0 driver.
Byrd bits: TOC winner Jonathan Byrd, a Mizuno staffer, used MP-62 irons, an MX-700 3-wood and MP-CLK hybrid. His contract, however, allows him to use a non-Mizuno driver. His choice at the Hyundai: an original TaylorMade SuperFast (10.5), equipped with a UST Mamiya ProForce V2 86X shaft.
Byrd also has switched golf balls this year, going from the 2009 Titleist Pro V1x
to the 2009 Pro V1. The reason: It gives him a softer feel with the wedges.
Appleby’s Odyssey: You might think Stuart Appleby would be more careful. After all, he used his trusty Odyssey White XG 330 Mallet putter in shooting a 59 last year at The Greenbrier.
But, no, Appleby left his putter near the practice green after Wednesday’s pro-am. Furthermore, he wasn’t aware he misplaced it until an hour before his Thursday tee time.
“Just go get me an Odyssey, and I’ll know what to do,” he said to caddie Scott Sajtinac. Appleby ended up with an Odyssey Black Series i 2-Ball, although he had never putted with any of the Odyssey 2-Ball models.
No matter. He made eight birdies in the opening round and continued to use the new putter throughout the tournament. (The 330 was located after Thursday’s round.)
Garrigus’ short stick: Robert Garrigus on his 28.5-inch Scotty Cameron Newport Squareback putter: “The first time I put it in my hands . . . I got to Q-School, I wasn’t missing those short 3-, 4-footers anymore. I was rolling them all in . . . I just felt like that was a fit for me. I went to 29 1/2 before Memphis last year . . . but then before Vegas I cut it back down to 28 1/2 and it was like an old pair of shoes.
“I was like, ‘Oh, this feels good.’ I was getting too up and too elbowy, just because my wrists were not locked in, and once I got my wrist locked in and I started rolling it at Disney, it felt great.
“I gave one to Tiger at Quail Hollow two years ago because he was making fun of me on the putting green. He was like, ‘You putt with that?’
“I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m sponsored by U.S. Kids Golf. You didn’t know that? It’s all about the kids.’ I was like, ‘I’ll give you one for Sam’ (Tiger’s daughter) . . . I put one in his locker. He took it.”
Els tries out new putter, driver: Ernie Els putted with a new Odyssey ProType PT 10 putter at Kapalua. It was 36 inches with a swingweight of D5.
The Odyssey ProType customized putters have been made for many touring pros. The only one that has come to market so far is the PT 82.
Els tied for 17th, but three of the top five finishers also carried Odyssey putters – Graeme McDowell (White Hot No. 7), Steve Stricker (White Hot No. 2) and Carl Pettersson (White Hot XG No. 7).
Els switched drivers as well, using a new Callaway Razr Hawk (8.5 degree). He switched despite winning two recent tournaments with a Callaway Diablo Octane Tour driver.
Short shots: So what’s new in the distance measuring arena? Bushnell has a device that is both a laser rangefinder and a satellite-based GPS rangefinder. Called the Bushnell Hybrid, it will debut Jan. 27-29 in Orlando, Fla., at the PGA Merchandise Show. Retail price is $499. The Hybrid is interesting because it combines the speed of a GPS unit (instantaneous yardages) with the pinpoint precision (accurate within approximately half a yard) of a laser unit. . . .
Bill Haas is using a steel shaft in his Titleist 910 fairway wood, and he carries a 2-iron, choosing to carry only two wedges. . . .
Two-time RE/MAX World Long Drive champion Jamie Sadlowski used a 45-inch Adams Speedline 9064 LD driver (6.5 degree, House of Forged graphite shaft) to eclipse the 400-yard barrier and beat Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Garrigus in a long-drive contest at Kapalua.