Toy Box notes: Sluman, an HP touring pro
Jeff Sluman’s bag is not your ordinary golf bag. It does not have a golf-equipment company’s name on the outside, but rather is covered with logos that read HP (Hewlett-Packard). Inside the bag, Sluman, who won The First Tee Open for the third time, divided his clubs between TaylorMade and Mizuno.
His TaylorMade clubs were a Tour Burner driver (10 degree), Burner 08 fairway wood (14.5 degree), Rescue 11 hybrid (18 degree), ZTP wedges (48, 56 and 60 degree) and a Corza Ghost long putter. Sluman also used Mizuno MP-67 irons (4-9) and the company’s MX-900 3-iron. His ball was a Titleist Pro V1.
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Stricker relies on an old friend: You might say John Deere winner Steve Stricker is attached to his Odyssey White Hot No. 2 putter. And why not, after his
25-foot putt from the fringe for victory?
“That same style has been in my bag my whole career out here basically,” he said. “It started off as one of the black faces of the Odyssey, and then when they came out with the white face, I changed to (that). . . . That’s been the same putter probably for, I don’t know, 10 or 12 years.”
A media person then said, “It looks it.”
To which Stricker replied, “Yeah, it’s getting beat up, but it still goes in.”
The rest of Stricker’s equipment (all Titleist): 909D3 driver (8.5 degree), 906F2 3-wood (13 degree), 909H hybrid (19 degree), 710 AP2 irons (3-PW), Vokey Design wedges (54 and 60 degree) and a Pro V1x ball. He also was decked out in FootJoy items from chest to toe: a ProDry Performance Lisle shirt, Pure Touch Limited glove and DryJoys Tour shoes.
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Hamilton and his hybrids: Todd Hamilton famously used a hybrid club from off the green at the 2004 British Open, which he won in a playoff with Ernie Els. For this week’s Open at Royal St. George’s, where it has hardly rained in recent months, Hamilton asked TaylorMade to build him a 16-degree Rescue 11 hybrid. He also requested a Tour Preferred MB 2-iron (18 degree). With bone-dry fairways, accuracy off the tee will be essential.
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Stricker’s golf shafts: Steve Stricker, who has won twice in six weeks, is using the new KBS C-taper (Constant-Taper) shaft in his irons. Why? Lower ball flight. Lower spin. Better distance control.
This is a heavy shaft, roughly 130 grams in an X-flex.
Stricker has Proforce V2 Tour graphite shafts from UST Mamiya in his driver, 3-wood and hybrid. The weights (X-flex) are 86, 96 and 104 grams, respectively.
It is not widely known, but consumers can purchase the same Proforce V2 Tour shafts used by touring pros. These shafts have very little torque (1.8 degrees in the 86-gram driver shaft) and produce a medium-low trajectory. Be observant: There are two V2 shafts – the normal V2 and the heavier V2 Tour.
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Blanks’ putter tweaks: Kris Blanks, who ranks No. 178 in the PGA Tour’s new strokes gained-putting category, switched from a Scotty Cameron Newport 2 to a Cameron Del Mar prototype and added some heel weight to accommodate the slower greens at the John Deere. He promptly reeled off 10 birdies in the first round to grab the lead. He eventually tied for 12th. Blanks tied for 19th in putts per round and tied for 10th in putts per green in regulation.
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Short shots: Looking at the driving accuracy category on the PGA Tour, three of the top four players use Aldila RIP shafts in their drivers. That would be No. 1 David Toms, No. 3 Heath Slocum and No. 4 Ben Curtis. . . . At the John Deere, all players who finished top 10 and ties (11 total) used Titleist golf balls, either the Pro V1 or Pro V1x. So did Luke Donald (Pro V1x) in the Barclays Scottish Open and So Yeon Ryu (Pro V1) in the U.S. Women’s Open. . . . James Driscoll switched his TaylorMade R11 from 9 degrees to 8 degrees. Driscoll is a powerful player who produces a lot of backspin, and the lower loft reduced his spin by 400 revolutions per minute. . . . So Yeon Ryu, the U.S. Women’s Open champion, made all those crucial putts with an Odyssey TriHot 3. . . . Charles Howell III, putting with a new Odyssey DART Mallet Mid, posted his third consecutive top-5 finish. . . . Russ Cochran, using a new Odyssey Backstryke Marxman putter, made six consecutive birdies to take the first round lead in the Nature Valley First Tee Open. He tied for 10th.
– Adam Schupak contributed to this report.