Toy Box Notes: Kuchar wins with mixed bag

Matt Kuchar during the final round at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Matt Kuchar during the final round at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

There is plenty to be learned from Matt Kuchar’s set makeup at The Players.

Kuchar is a Bridgestone staff member who became the first player to win on the PGA Tour with the new Bridgestone B330-S golf ball and the Bridgestone J40 driver.

But Kuchar isn’t reluctant to mix up his bag. He doesn’t carry a 2-, 3- or 4-iron. Kuchar’s longest iron (also Bridgestone J40) is a 5-iron. In place of long irons, he carries Ping i15 hybrids (23 and 20 degrees). This is a strategy that should appeal to many amateur golfers.

Following the examples of Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson, Kuchar carries a super-lob wedge, in this case a 62-degree Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled. Although these super-lobs require precision and dexterity, they also allow flop shots to be hit with little rollout.

Kuchar’s bag: Bridgestone J40 driver (9.5 degree, with Graphite Design Tour AD DJ-6X shaft); TaylorMade Burner 3-wood (14.5 degree, with Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana Blue Board 73X shaft); Ping i15 hybrids (20 and 23 degree with Matrix Ozik Program 95 shafts); Bridgestone J40 Cavity Back irons (5-PW, with AeroTech SteelFiber i95 Constant Weight S shafts); Bridgestone J40 wedges (52 and 60 degree, with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts); Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled wedge (62 degree, with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shaft); Rife Island Series Barbados Belly putter.

The putter was hand-delivered on Monday of Players week. It is 44.5 inches with a lie angle of 70 degrees and 5 degrees of loft.

Kuchar uses a mix-and-match collection of golf shafts, which is the way most amateurs do it. In his iron shafts, Kuchar is again a trend setter. The shafts, made by AeroTech Golf of Bellingham, Wash., are classified as graphite shafts. Technically, the shafts have a graphite core surrounded by a surface layer of SteelFiber mesh. Furthermore, Kuchar’s AeroTech shafts weigh 95 grams, much lighter than the iron shafts used by most touring pros.

• • •

Garcia’s shaft switch-out: Sergio Garcia changed all his TaylorMade irons (Tour Preferred MB, 3-PW) and wedge (ATV, 50 and 58 degree) shafts on the eve of The Players, switching to a new prototype Nippon NS Pro steel shaft. It was not an easy build for TaylorMade technicians because Garcia uses counterbalance weighting from Balance Certified in the butt end of all his clubs.

• • •

More shaft news: Seven golfers at The Players used Nippon steel shafts in their irons, and four finished in the top 25. Those four were Bo Van Pelt (N.S. Pro Modus3 ST prototype), Henrik Stenson (N.S. Pro Modus3 Tour 120), Brendon de Jonge (N.S. Pro Modus3 prototype), Chris Couch (N.S. Pro Modus3 ST prototype).

Aldila had 105 graphite shafts in play at The Players, counting all metalwoods and hybrids. That allowed Aldila to win the wood shaft manufacturer count for the 20th consecutive event on the PGA Tour.

David Toms, the most accurate driver at The Players with 76.8 percent of his drives in the fairway, used an Aldila RIP Beta 60 in his Cleveland Classic driver (10.5).

• • •

Short shots: Phil Mickelson asked Callaway technicians to build him a new Razr X Muscle Back 9-iron before The Players. Why? He said he was hooking his gamer (also a Razr X Muscle Back) and wanted a fresh club. . . . Ben Curtis, T-2 at The Players, leads the Tour in strokes gained/putting in 2012. His putter? A Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2. . . . Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen putted with a new TaylorMade Ghost Manta belly model at The Players. Goosen has played much of his career without a sightline on his putters, but he wanted a single, thin sightline on this Ghost Manta. . . . Alvaro Quiros also went with a new putter, an Odyssey White Ice No. 7 Heavy. He dropped the length 1 inch to 35 inches. . . . The oversized SuperStroke Splash putter grip has now won two of the last three PGA Tour events (Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar). SuperStroke also has captured two straight titles in The Players Championship.

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