Toy box: Putters key in victories for Potter Jr., Choi

Ted Potter Jr.

Ted Potter Jr.

Ted Potter Jr. and Na Yeon Choi made a variety of crucial putts in victories Sunday.

Potter, winner of The Greenbrier Classic, can thank Zoran Zorkic, Potter’s friend and fellow competitor from their Nationwide Tour days, for the Piretti putter. Meanwhile, U.S. Women’s Open champion Choi can thank the long-hitting Hank Kuehne for her Bobby Grace putter.

Potter liked Zorkic’s Piretti putter so much that he contacted Piretti founder Mike Johnson. Potter has no endorsement deal to use the putter.

“We don’t do many left-handed putters,” Johnson said, “but this one for Ted was fun. It’s a Cortino center-shafted prototype.”

Johnson, headquartered in Spring, Texas, started Piretti in 2008. He made up the name “because it sounded catchy, kind of like Ferrari or Lamborghini.” His stock models sell for $290, and his handmade prototypes start at $450.

Henrik Stenson used Johnson’s stock Teramo heel-shafted model at this year’s Masters.

Choi got a Bobby Grace putter as a hand-me-down from Kuehne. She later visited Grace’s factory in Pinellas Park, Fla., and walked away with five new putters. Like Potter, she has no endorsement contract.

The Bobby Grace model she used in the Women’s Open is a prototype that is being turned into a stock model. “Her initials are NYC, so I called it the NYC Tour Prototype,” said Grace via phone from New York City.

The putter has seven weight ports. Retail prices are $275 for conventional length and $350 for belly length.

• • •

Siem wins with Grafalloy shaft: At the Alstom French Open, winner Marcel Siem used a yet-to-be-released version of the Grafalloy Blue shaft in his TaylorMade RBZ driver (8 degree). This is an updated Grafalloy Blue, labeled “The White Blue” because of its reverse cosmetics from the original design. It should be available to consumers in October.

In other shaft news, Choi used a Callaway Razr Fit driver (8.5 degree) for only the second tournament, and she hit 46 of 56 fairways. The shaft is 60-gram Diamana Kai’li from Mitsubishi Rayon. The R flex shaft was tipped 1 inch. . . . Potter and runner-up Troy Kelly played True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 steel shafts in their irons.

• • •

Woods’ 9-iron takes a hit: Remember that 9-iron that said hello to a tree during a Tiger Woods followthrough at the AT&T National? Woods hit the 165-yard shot onto the green, but kept looking at the club to determine if it was bent.

At The Greenbrier Classic, Nike technicians checked and measured the VR Pro Blade 9-iron, and proclaimed there was no damage. Woods left it in the bag.

Another Nike staffer, Scott Brown, practiced extensively at The Greenbrier with a club that had a training grip. These grips, of course, cannot be used in competition.

• • •

Castro goes deep with hybrids: How far do touring pros hit their hybrids? Here are some numbers for Roberto Castro, courtesy of the TaylorMade tour van.

Using a launch monitor at The Greenbrier Classic, Castro experimented with RBZ Tour hybrids. He averaged about 225 yards of carry with the 21-degree model and almost 240 yards with the 18-degree model. Both clubs went into his bag.

Former Open champion Justin Leonard, preparing for next week’s Open Championship, had a 16.5-degree Rescue 11 hybrid that he wanted to hit lower. So the loft was lowered to 15.5 degrees and the club was cut down a half-inch.

Bob Estes, meanwhile, is working with an entire set of TaylorMade irons (Tour Preferred MB forged) specifically for the firm, fast and tight conditions competitors will see at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Rory Sabbatini, looking for more yardage off the tee, went to a Matrix XCon 5 shaft in his RBZ Tour driver.

• • •

Short shots: Titleist, continuing its seeding process for the new 913 driver, allowed European Tour players to use the driver for the first time at the Alstom French Open. A total of 14 put it in play. PGA Tour players, using the new driver for the second week, put 13 of the 913D2 and 913D3 models in play. . . . Winners using the Titleist Pro V1x ball: Potter on the PGA Tour, Siem on the PGA European Tour, Choi at the U.S. Women’s Open and Kyoung-Hoon Lee on the Japan Tour. . . . Greenbrier runner-up Troy Kelly putted with an Odyssey Metal-X No. 7. The Metal-X insert features a lightweight aluminum face with a urethane layer behind it.

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