Furyk's two drivers a page out of Mickelson's book
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Jim Furyk is using two drivers this week at the Valero Texas Open, but he can't be categorized as an expert on the subject.
One of Furyk’s drivers, a 9.5-degree Callaway Razr Fit Xtreme, is euphemistically called the “Bomber,” an intriguing choice of names for a guy whose official driving distance average for the year is 273.7 yards. The other driver is a 10.5-degree Callaway Razr Fit Xtreme.
In a weekend game among amateurs, 273.7 yards would be extremely impressive, but consider that it ranks no better than 166th on the PGA Tour. In the driving-distance category, the Tour goes to 180 golfers and stops, meaning Furyk is 14 spots from last place.
This is not a criticism of Furyk. Actually it is a compliment. A short hitter by Tour standards, he has won 16 tournament titles and more than $53 million in prize money. He is one of the most consistent players in modern golf.
But, the real king of the two-driver strategy is Phil Mickelson. Here’s what he has done:
• In 2006, Mickelson unveiled a new strategy by carrying two drivers at the BellSouth Classic. He won by 13 strokes.
• Mickelson followed with his second Masters victory, still using the two-driver arsenal. He won by two over Tim Clark, while Tiger Woods, Retief Goosen, Fred Couples, Jose Maria Olazabal and Chad Campbell were three back. Each driver was a Callaway Fusion FT-3 with 9.5 degrees of loft, although one was 46 inches in length with a draw bias and the other was 45 inches long with a fade bias. As a bonus, Mickelson said the 46-inch driver was 15 to 20 yards longer than the 45-inch version.
• From 2007 through 2010, Mickelson used one driver at the Masters and finished 24th, fifth, fifth and first, respectively.
• At Augusta in 2011, he was back to two drivers. One was a Razr Hawk Prototype, 45 inches long with 8.2 degrees of loft and a very low center of gravity. The second driver was another Razr Hawk Prototype, although it had a much stronger loft (6.3 degrees) and was one inch longer (46 inches). Its center of gravity also was higher. The strategy was not successful, and he tied for 27th with scores of 70-72-71-74.
Mickelson likes the combo of a fade driver and draw driver, but a player such as Furyk, seeking more yardage, usually goes with one driver that definitely is longer and a second driver that is reliable for accuracy.
Mickelson, it should be noted, also has more experience with a no-driver setup than any other contemporary golfer.
• At the 2008 U.S. Open, Mickelson played the first two rounds without a driver and the last two rounds with a driver. His scores were 71-75-76-68.
• At last week's Shell Houston Open, Mickelson played the last three rounds without a driver, substituting Callaway's new X Hot 3Deep 3-wood off the tee. He shot 72-71-67-68.
Furthermore, Mickelson promised a surprise for the Masters, a “special club” that he hopes will help him win a fourth green jacket.
As a matter of history, plenty of golfers before Mickelson carried two drivers. In fact, it became something of a trend in the 1980s after the introduction of metal-headed drivers. Several players carried one wooden wood and one metalwood. One prominent example was Mike Donald, who had two drivers in his bag while losing a playoff to Hale Irwin for the 1990 U.S. Open title.
One of the drivers was a MacGregor persimmon model, and the other was a TaylorMade metal driver. His strategy was to use the MacGregor (9 degrees loft, 43.5 inches length) for distance and the TaylorMade (12 degrees, 43.25 inches) for accuracy.
The two-driver configuration is seldom used by amateurs today, but perhaps the strategy should be reconsidered. With the proliferation of ultra-lightweight graphite shafts, it is a simple matter to construct a longer 46- or 47-inch driver that is light and powerful. A shorter driver of 44 or 45 inches would be intended for accuracy.
Just tell your clubmaker that Phil Mickelson sent you.