Johnson delivers win for new TaylorMade, Fujikura products
It took longer than expected, considering winds caused havoc at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, but Dustin Johnson earned a win for himself and for new products from TaylorMade and Fujikura.
By using the new TaylorMade R1 driver, he notched the club’s first PGA Tour victory. The adjustable driver was equipped with Fujikura’s new Fuel shaft, which recorded its second worldwide win. South African Branden Grace also used it to claim the Dunhill Links Championship in October 2012. Johnson was No. 2 in driving distance at windy Kapalua at 279.5 yards.
Johnson, a TaylorMade tour staff member, used the new RocketBladez irons as well.
Johnson’s complete bag (all TaylorMade except putter): R1 driver (11 degree, with Fujikura Fuel 2.0 X shaft), R11S 3-wood (15.5 degree, with Aldila RIP Series X shaft), R9 5-wood (19 degree, with Aldila RIP Series X shaft), RocketBladez Tour (3-PW, with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts), TP xFT wedges (54 and 60 degree); Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2 Prototype putter. He played a TaylorMade Penta TP5 ball.
• • •
Webb Simpson debuts new Titleist gear
Titleist staff member Webb Simpson is not known as a club switcher. From his win at the Wyndham Championship in August 2011 to his victory 10 months later in the U.S. Open, Simpson changed only one club, going to a 910F 3-wood (15 degree).
Regardless, Simpson has changed most of his bag for 2013, going to updated Titleist products – ball (2013 Pro V1x), driver (913D3, 10.5 degree), irons (AP2), fairway woods (913Fd, 15 and 18 degree) and hybrid (913H, bent to 20 degree).
Titleist tour rep Chris Tuten, along with Titleist fitting specialist Fordie Pitts, spent a day with Simpson in December. The biggest change for Simpson was his irons. He had played a set of 680 MBs since college.
“The more I used these (AP2) irons, I realized it’s a better iron for me,” Simpson said. “Mis-hits go farther. There’s more club there.”
Added Tuten: “Webb was looking for a little higher trajectory, and we found it.”
• • •
Watson adds Ping G25s
Bubba Watson is playing Ping’s new G25 driver and G25 4-wood. As a player who curves the ball as much as anyone on Tour, Watson is still able to shape shots as he wishes, but says the new driver goes straighter for him.
He also says less spin off the 4-wood gives him a more consistent ball flight, and he carries it 270 yards. “It doesn’t balloon in the air,” he said.
• • •
Changing lineups for Tour players
Here’s a look at some new equipment affiliations for 2013:
• Nick Watney, Kyle Stanley and Thorbjorn Olesen with Nike. Also back in the Nike fold is David Duval. All are using Nike’s new VR_S Covert red-headed driver.
• Ryan Moore, Stewart Cink, John Huh and J.J. Henry have signed with TaylorMade.
• Callaway signees include Gary Woodland, Chris Kirk, Bobby Gates, James Hahn, Andres Gonzales and Ryder Cupper Nicolas Colsaerts.
• Adams has added Jeff Overton, Lee Williams, Paul Haley II, Donald Constable and Eric Meierdierks.
• • •
TaylorMade staffers showcase latest clubs
Besides Johnson, TaylorMade staffer Johnson Wagner showed up in Hawaii with new R1 drivers and new RocketBladez Tour irons. Wagner also played a new RocketBallz Stage 2 3-wood. John Huh also used the R1 driver.
• • •
Zach Johnson switches to next-generation Pro V1x
Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner added 913D2 drivers to their bags in 2013. Johnson also switched from the 2007 Pro V1x to the 2013 version. Said Johnson: “I’ve learned I’ve got to find a ball that fits my irons, meaning distance control, trajectory control, that sort of thing, spin, and then from there I’ll find the driver and the head and the loft and all that.”
Twenty players were using Titleist golf balls at Hyundai, 10 of them playing the new 2013 model of either the Pro V1 or Pro V1x.
• • •
Tommy Gainey is playing Callaway’s new X-Hot driver and 3-wood, each with an Aldila RIP NV 65 shaft. . . . Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson are wearing Oakley apparel this season. . . . Webb Simpson and Scott Piercy have new deals with Izod. Chris Kirk has joined the Travis Matthew team.
• • •
Ramos, 58, served as clubmaker to golf’s stars
At the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, Titleist staff players wore gold ribbons on their hats in memory of master club builder Jaime Ramos, who died Dec. 30.
Ramos, 58, was working at his home in San Diego when he was stricken with a heart attack during the holiday break.
Ramos was a clubmaker for 35 years. At Cobra Golf, he built clubs for Greg Norman, Hale Irwin, the late Seve Ballesteros and many other touring professionals. When Acushnet Co., which includes Titleist and FootJoy, bought Cobra in 1996, Ramos joined the Titleist tour department and constructed clubs for the likes of Mark O’Meara, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
“Jamie’s talents were exceptional,” said Larry Bobka, vice president of Titleist tour promotions. “He knew how to build, grind, change offsets and satisfy the players’ needs. He provided his thoughts and ideas on our iron models for years.”
Veteran Titleist clubmaker Bob Vokey was another southern California craftsman who worked closely with Ramos.
“I will miss him dearly,” Vokey said. “When I was down, he always had this thing about him that helped pick me up. I have never heard a negative word said about him. I am still in shock.”
– Alex Miceli and Jeff Babineau contributed to this report