Woods, Ames win with smaller grooves

Tiger Woods plays out of a bunker during the third round of the Australian Masters.

Tiger Woods plays out of a bunker during the third round of the Australian Masters.

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The scramble is on.

Touring pros, looking ahead to 2010 groove regulations, have begun integrating smaller-groove wedges into their equipment arsenal.

Stephen Ames won the Children’s Miracle Network Classic Nov. 15 at Walt Disney World with smaller 2010 grooves in his 54- and 60-degree Nike VR wedges.

Likewise, Tiger Woods captured the JBWere Masters in Australia Nov. 15 with smaller grooves in his 56- and 60-degree Nike VR wedges. Contrary to a rumor, Woods did use the larger grooves in his two wedges during the 2009 PGA Tour season (although his irons had smaller grooves).

Many PGA Tour pros were postponing any wedge switchover until the conclusion of the 2009 season, but a report from the Titleist PGA Tour trailer at Walt Disney World indicated that Zach Johnson, Steve Elkington, Corey Pavin, Scott Piercy, Leif Olson and Ryan Palmer all were experimenting with the new smaller grooves.

At the Dunlop Phoenix Nov. 22 in Japan, Robert Karlsson lost a playoff to Edoardo Molinari. In the process, Karlsson revealed the biggest groove concern for many pros.

For the first time, Karlsson played with Titleist 50- and 56-degree Vokey Design Spin Milled C-C wedges. The C-C indicates 2010 grooves. But Karlsson didn’t part with his 2009 Vokey Design 60-degree lob wedge. The 60-degree wedge has become a staple for many touring pros, and they have come to rely on its pronounced spin on greenside pitch shots.

On Nov. 23, Hunter Mahan flew to Ping headquarters in Phoenix, to work with tour rep Matt Rollins on new wedges and a new set of S57 irons.

Mahan is so attached to his Eye2 lob wedge that Ping made him an Eye2 L wedge with 2010 grooves. This L wedge, when introduced in 1984, was such a revolutionary club that most golfers didn’t even know what the L stood for. Many figured the L was in honor of Louise Solheim, the wife of Ping founder Karsten Solheim.

It’s a sentimental thought, but the L always was for Lob.

• Karlsson has switched to a set of 2010 Titleist MB irons, which recently have been introduced to retail shops in the United States.

Geoff Ogilvy is still playing a Cobra driver, fairway woods and irons.

When his Cobra contract expires at the end of 2009, he will switch to Titleist. His three wedges (50, 55 and 60 degrees) already are Vokey Design from Titleist. His putter is a Titleist Scotty Cameron prototype. His ball is a Titleist Pro V1.

At the Dubai World Championship, the top five finishers used Titleist balls. Ogilvy was the only one with the Pro V1, as the other four (winner Lee Westwood, Ross McGowan, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington) played the Pro V1x.

• Lee Westwood, a Ping loyalist, added a Ping i15 3-wood (15.5 degree) to his bag for Dubai.

Reflected Ogilvy on 3-woods in general: “The 3-wood is by far the hardest club to fit. I see many players who are unhappy with their 3-woods.”

photo

Lee Westwood celebrates after winning the Dubai World Championship.

The current trend among 3-woods is for touring pros to use more loft. Westwood’s 15.5-degree club is an example. Even Woods, the world No. 1, uses a 15-degree Nike SQ II 3-wood (when a 13-degree model is available).

Why more loft? Higher loft means a higher trajectory, and the top players want to stop these shots on or near the green.

• At Dubai, Westwood made several birdie bombs.

His putter? A Ping Redwood Anser.

• One player who hasn’t yet switched to any 2010 grooves is recent LPGA winner, Michelle Wie.

Wie and Stephen Ames have one thing in common with major championship winners Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink: All used new Nike Method putters.

Wie, though, favors a C-Thru putter grip with a hula girl underneath.

The Irish Times reports that Harrington will bring instructor Bob Torrance with him for a California visit. The focal point of the trip will be the annual Chevron World Challenge, Dec. 3-6 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Harrington confirmed he would stop at the Titleist Performance Institute in Oceanside, Calif., for physiological testing. He said he is mapping out a physical and mental game plan for the 2010 majors.

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