Toy Box: Watson uses old clubs, new grooves

Bubba Watson during the Farmers Insurance Open.

Bubba Watson won the Farmers Insurance Open with Ping S59 irons that were introduced in 2003. Over the years, Watson steadfastly has stuck with the S59. When PGA Tour players were forced to switch to less aggressive grooves for the 2010 season, Watson asked Ping to duplicate the old irons but substitute the new grooves.

No problem. Major club manufacturers often make customized clubs for their staff players. Why does Watson like the S59 so much? Because he enjoys working the ball, and he feels comfortable hitting fades and draws with these irons. Mike Nicolette, designer of Ping’s current S56 iron, was hoping Watson would switch. No such luck, although 15 titles worldwide already have been won by players using the S56.

Watson’s Ping clubs: S59 irons (3-PW), G15 4-wood (17 degree), G15 driver (7.5 degree), Tour-W wedges (52, 56, 60 degree) and Redwood Anser putter. He won without a 3-wood in his bag, which is unusual.

He became the first player to win on the PGA Tour with Titleist’s new Pro V1x golf ball. He wore FootJoy ICON shoes and a FootJoy SPIDR2 glove.

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Casey uses Mitsubishi shafts: Paul Casey won the Volvo Golf Champions in Bahrain with a Mitsubishi Diamana White Board 73X shaft in his Nike VR Tour driver (10.5 degree) and Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 103X shafts in his Nike SQ II 3-wood (15 degree) and SQ II 5-wood (19 degree). Among touring pros, the shaft weight variations of fairway woods can be astounding. Casey was playing with 103-gram Mitsubishi shafts, compared with the 80-gram shafts used by Peter Hanson, who tied for second. Hanson had TaylorMade R9 fairway woods (13 and 17 degree) with Mitsubishi Kai’li 80X shafts.

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Jacobson increase loft on driver: Fredrik Jacobson added 1 degree of loft to his Callaway Diablo Octane Tour driver (from 8.5 to 9.5 degrees) and tied for 13th in driving accuracy at the Farmers.

How narrow were the fairways at Torrey Pines? Jacobson hit only 53.6 percent of the fairways (30 of 56) and still was among the top 15 in driving accuracy.

His average driving distance of 284.3 yards ranked 51st.

During a pro-am round on Wednesday morning, Jacobson called Callaway tour reps from the course to inquire about a 7-wood. He was seeking a club to counter the high rough at Torrey Pines, although he ended up with a Diablo Octane Tour 5-wood (18 degree).

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Short shots: Titleist won handily in the ball count at the Farmers, with 102 players using Titleist balls. The big golf ball news in San Diego may have been the growing popularity of the new 2011 Pro V1x. It was used by 32 players, compared with 11 golfers who played the 2011 Pro V1. Throughout 2010, the ratio was about 2-to-1 in favor of the Pro V1x. The ratio now is approaching 3-to-1. . . . Five of the top 10 finishers at the Farmers used Aldila shafts, as Aldila won both the wood shaft and hybrid shaft manufacturer counts.

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