New grooves, new wedge combos

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Among Titleist players at the SBS Championship, a popular wedge combination emerged with the new smaller grooves: a 60-degree lob wedge paired with a 54-degree sand wedge.

Those who went with the 60-54 combo in their Vokey Design wedges included Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Nick Watney, Michael Bradley and Troy Matteson. Winner Geoff Ogilvy was close to the same configuration, choosing 60-55 for his two wedges.

U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, a Nike staff member, followed the same 60-54 strategy with his Nike VR wedges.

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Putting woes of pros: Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen characterized his strokes with a conventional-length putter as 100 percent bad. That prompted an overhaul, which included switching to a Yes! C-Groove II belly putter – and even changing his grip, going left-hand low. He said that led to a marginal improvement, joking: “I can’t say that every putt I’m hitting (is) a bad stroke.”

And how about Kenny Perry, whose old faithful Ping Craz-E putter broke before the first round, forcing him to use his backup Craz-E.

“I did make a couple of nice putts with it (the backup),” Perry said, “but I put a line on my ball, and (with the broken putter) it looks like it’s rolling like one continuous line. This thing (using the backup) looks like a snake going up to the hole every time. It looks like I’m cutting across it. I don’t think the lie is the same.”

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Light or heavy shafts?: It was a big week for Aldila’s RIP wood shaft, which was found in the drivers of Ogilvy and runner-up Rory Sabbatini. Ogilvy played the 80-gram version, and Sabbatini went lighter with the 60-gram RIP.

The shaft was introduced to Tour players in 2009 but is not expected to be available at retail until later this year.

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Ogilvy’s gear: The SBS Championship was Ogilvy’s first appearance as a member of the Titleist staff. Previously, he was on the touring staff of Cobra, which is Titleist’s sister company. Both brands are owned by the Acushnet Co.

Here’s what was in Ogilvy’s bag: Titleist 909D3 driver (9.5 degree), Cobra S9-1 fairway woods (15 and 18 degree), Titleist MB irons (3-9), Titleist Vokey wedges (50, 55, 60 degree), Titleist Scotty Cameron prototype putter and Titleist Pro V1 ball.

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Short shots: Nike staffers Paul Casey and Stewart Cink switched to the VR Tour driver, while Cink and Glover changed from CCI forged to the VR Forged Split Cavity irons. . . . Five players used TaylorMade’s Penta TP ball at the SBS Championship: Goosen, Y.E. Yang, Sean O’Hair, Pat Perez and Dustin Johnson. Perez is new to the ball this year. Almost all of the TaylorMade staff players are using the new R9 irons. Martin Laird and Nathan Green played with them for the first time. Green came directly from Australia to Hawaii and put the R9s in play immediately. . . . Winner Jason Norris played a Titleist Pro V1 ball to win the Victorian Open in Melbourne. Fifteen of the top 17 finishers at the Victorian Open used either the Pro V1 or Pro V1x.

Correction: Diamana ’ilima is an enhanced version of Diamana Red Board, with a stiffer tip and butt section than Red Board (Toy Box, Jan. 1).

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