Hybrids the rage at U.S. Open

>> Hybrids were in the equipment spotlight at the U.S. Open. Players added hybrids to deal with the thick rough at Bethpage.

Vijay Singh, for example, decided to challenge Bethpage Black with three hybrids, four wedges and no iron longer than a 6-iron.

The day before the start of the Open, Singh asked clubmakers in the Adams tour van to make 22- and 25-degree Idea A3 hybrids to go with the 19-degree A3 hybrid already in his bag. The 19 had an Aldila VS Proto X graphite shaft, but Singh went with True Temper Rifle 7.5 steel shafts in the others.

Phil Mickelson used a 23-degree Callaway prototype hybrid that he helped design.

“This is a special club I actually made, taking the back part of the hybrid out so that I can open it way up and get through that thick rough,” Mickelson said.

Meanwhile, TaylorMade took the wraps off a hybrid with a famous name – the Raylor. In the early days of TaylorMade, the Raylor was an extremely popular fairway wood. Now, it’s coming back as a hybrid.

Kenny Perry and Fred Funk played practice rounds with the prototype club, Perry hitting 19- and 22-degree hybrids and Funk experimenting with the 22.

Neither player used the Raylor in the tournament. There was no word of when these clubs will be available to consumers.

>> The Darrell Survey, the official equipment tracker on professional tours in the United States, revealed substantial hybrid use at this U.S. Open.

In the 2002 Open at Bethpage, players carried an average of 2.63 drivers/woods/hybrids (410 total). This year, the average was up to 3.27 (510 total).

The total number of hybrids in play in this year’s Open was 130 (the category was not tallied in 2002).

Statistics that indicate the disappearance of long irons: In 2002, 37 players used 2-iron through 9-iron and 91 used 3 through 9. This year, the corresponding totals were 2 and 69.

More iron stats for the 2009 Open: 59 players carried 4- through 9-irons and 15 carried 5- through 9.

In 2002, only five players carried four wedges. This year, 20 players (including Singh) had four wedges.

>> Todd Hamilton’s strategy for any golf course is to play his first practice round from the tips. He did at Bethpage Black and immediately changed his driver and golf ball to combat the extraordinary length of the course.

Hamilton replaced his TaylorMade R7 driver with an R9 460 (10.5 degree) with an Aldila VooDoo shaft.

He normally plays the Titleist Pro V1 ball, but decided to seek “a few extra yards off the tee” with the Pro V1x. The tradeoff was sacrificing the slightly softer feel of the Pro V1.

>> The rain at Bethpage brought requests for extra gloves. TaylorMade normally provides each of its staff players with four gloves per tournament. At the Open, players got eight gloves apiece.

>> Here’s a look at the bag of winner Lucas Glover: SQ Sumo Squared Tour driver (9.5 degree), Nike SQ Squared fairway woods (13 and 19 degree), Nike CCi Forged irons (3-PW), Nike SV wedges (54 and 59 degree), Nike prototype putter and Nike One Tour D ball.

>> Here’s runner-up David Duval’s bag: Nike SQ Dymo Driver, Tour Edge Exotics fairway wood (15 degree), Nike SQ Dymo fairway wood (17 degree), Nike Victory Red Forged Blades (3-PW), Nike Prototype wedges (53 and 58 degree), Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter and Nike One Tour D ball.

>> Here’s runner-up Phil Mickelson’s bag: Callaway FT-9 Tour Authentic Draw driver (7.5 degree), Callaway Big Bertha Diablo 3-wood (15-degree Neutral), Callaway prototype hybrid (18 degree), Callaway X-Prototype irons (5-PW), Callaway X-Forged wedges (52, 56, 60, 64 degree), Odyssey White Hot XG No. 9 putter and Callaway Tour iX ball.

>> Here’s runner-up Ricky Barnes’ bag: Callaway FT-9 driver (8.5 degree), Callaway X fairway woods (3 and 5 wood), Wilson FG Prototype forged cavity back irons (3-PW), Callaway X-Forged wedges (56 and 60 degree), Odyssey White Hot XG No. 9 putter and Callaway Tour i ball.

>> In November 2008, after finishing 25th on the Nationwide Tour money list and earning his PGA Tour card, Ricky Barnes signed a two-year contract with Wilson.

He is Wilson’s No. 2 staff member, behind three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, who has been with Wilson for 12 years.

Barnes replaced D.J. Trahan on the Wilson staff. Trahan, who has two victories on the PGA Tour, switched to Titleist for 2009.

The Wilson FG Prototype forged cavity back irons played by Barnes will be launched in Europe in July and the United States in the fall.

>> TaylorMade once again made U.S. Open commemorative bags for its staff players. The bags have become popular with TaylorMade players. Rod Pampling, for example, confirmed he had inquired if the “cool bags” would be made because of the economic climate. No problem.

>> Hunter Mahan, a Ping staff player, uses a Ping Eye2 LW wedge (lob wedge) that was invented 25 years ago when he was 2 years old.

Shaft corner:

>> Aldila won the wood and hybrid shaft counts at the U.S. Open, giving the company back-to-back majors in which it has won both counts.

The wood count was close. Aldila totaled 112 to Fujikura’s 97, Mitsubishi Rayon’s 90 and True Temper’s 81. UST Mamiya was fifth with 62.

>> In driver shafts, Mitsubishi Rayon was No. 1 with 37. Aldila had 27, Fujikura 26, UST Mamiya 22 and True Temper 20.

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