Toy Box notes: Triple play for Ping

Maria Hjorth during the Avnet LPGA Classic.

Ping claimed a rare hat trick with three victories in the same weekend by its touring pros. Bubba Watson won on the PGA Tour, Lee Westwood triumphed on the European Tour and Maria Hjorth was victorious on the LPGA. The winners used three different Ping drivers. Watson played a G15 (7.5 degree), Westwood used a G10 (9 degree) and Hjorth had a K15 (9.5 degree).

The three champions also played different sets of irons. Watson used S59 (3-PW), Westwood i10 (3-PW) and Hjorth S56 irons (5-PW).

For the first time in his last three events, Westwood used the same putter for four rounds.

Here’s a recap of Westwood’s recent putter usage:

Masters (T-11): Westwood used a conventional-length Ping Scottsdale Wolverine H for the first three rounds, then switched to a Wolverine H long putter for the last round.

Indonesian Masters (won): Carried the Wolverine H long putter for the first three rounds, then substituted the Ping Redwood Anser for the final round.

Ballantine’s Championship (won): Redwood Anser for all four rounds.

Westwood also carried: Ping i15 3-wood (15.5 degree), Rapture V2 5-wood (18.5 degree) and Tour-W (54 and 58 degree) wedges.

Watson’s other clubs: Ping G15 5-wood (17 degree), Tour-W (52 and 56 degree) and Tour-S Rustique (64 degree) wedges, and Redwood Anser putter.

Hjorth’s bag: Ping K15 3-wood (16 degree), G10 hybrid (24 degree), Tour-S Rustique (52, 56 and 60 degree) wedges and Scottsdale Pickemup long putter. She also used a TaylorMade Rescue 11 hybrid (18 degree).

Watson, Westwood and Nationwide Tour winner Ted Potter Jr. used the Titleist Pro V1x ball, while Hjorth played the Pro V1.

• • •

All eyes on the flat stick: Putter brands on the LPGA typically don’t gather much attention, but TaylorMade is trying to change that.

Look at these statistics from the Avnet LPGA Classic: In 2010, TaylorMade putters were used by 10 players (6.9 percent of the field). This year, TaylorMade putters were used by 34 players (23.6 percent).

Odyssey won the Avnet putter category both years with identical counts of 41.

Why TaylorMade’s increase? The company has made a decision to concentrate on putters on all the major tours. This reflects a decision at the consumer level to drop the Rossa name and simply call the putters TaylorMade for greater recognition. Most of these putters are the white-headed Ghost models.

• • •

Putting by the numbers: The PGA Tour has introduced a new statistic called strokes gained–putting.

This stat is intended to identify the best putters on Tour. Using a complex formula, it evaluates each player’s putting performance from different distances (relative to the performance of other players).

Through the Zurich Classic, here are the top five putters (using Strokes Gained) and their magic wands:

  1. John Merrick, Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport Studio Select;
  2. Greg Chalmers, Bobby Grace Amazing Grace;
  3. Brandt Snedeker, Odyssey White Hot XG Rossie;
  4. Steve Stricker, Odyssey White Hot No. 2;
  5. Lucas Glover, Nike Method 001.

Adam Scott may have caught the attention of the golfing public with his long putter, but he ranks 178th and close to last in this new putting category.

Justin Rose is 135th, Dustin Johnson 148th and Ricky Barnes 151st. Even Bubba Watson, with two victories this year, is 115th.

According to the numbers, Merrick has gained 1.046 strokes per round on the field. Scott, meanwhile, has lost .827. This means Merrick has an advantage over Scott of nearly two strokes per round on the greens.

• • •

Shaft insights: Lee Westwood’s back-to-back tournament wins warrant a closer look at his driver and driver shaft.

Westwood uses a 74-gram Aldila NV VooDoo XNVS shaft in his Ping G10 driver.

Accuracy is a key for most golfers, David Toms included. At the Zurich Classic, Toms led the field in driving accuracy, hitting 82.14 percent of the fairways. His driver shaft is considerably lighter than Westwood’s – a 60-gram Aldila RIP 60.

• • •

By the numbers: This year on Tour, the Darrell Survey reflects frequent No. 1 finishes by Titleist in balls, irons, wedges and putters. TaylorMade regularly is tops in drivers and fairway woods. That leaves hybrids, the most competitive category. Adams, Titleist and TaylorMade have been neck-and-neck all year. At the Zurich, Adams totaled 38 hybrids in the field to 33 for Titleist and 32 for TaylorMade. That’s more than 100 hybrids in play in a PGA Tour event.

• • •

O’Hair still grinding: Sean O’Hair, ready to change irons for the fourth time this year, has been testing TaylorMade MC Tour Preferred irons. He was scheduled to get the irons before the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C. Technicians said they performed a leading-edge grind to prevent digging.

• • •

Short shots: Chris Baryla switched into a TaylorMade Corza Ghost putter. The specs: 45 1/4 inches with 8 degrees of loft. The reason: Baryla keeps the ball back in his stance and then uses an aggressive forward press. He also braces the grip into his left arm for stability. . . . Ted Potter Jr. used an Odyssey White Hot Center Shafted putter to win the Nationwide Tour’s South Georgia Classic after making the field as a Monday qualifier. Potter led the field in putts per greens in regulation (1.6) and was second in putts per round (27). . . . Bubba Watson and Lee Westwood wore FootJoy ICON golf shoes.

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