Toy Box: At Valero, Laird goes long and straight

Martin Laird watches his drive on the 1st hole during the final round of the Texas Open.

Martin Laird watches his drive on the 1st hole during the final round of the Texas Open.

Laird goes long, straight at Texas

Valero Texas Open winner Martin Laird, with his rhythmic swing, is averaging 290.7 yards in official driving distance this year on the PGA Tour. At Texas, though, he turned it up a notch with a 298.2-yard average.

He also drove the ball straight, hitting 66.07 percent of the fairways. That gave him the coveted weekly double – top 20 in driving distance (20th) and driving accuracy (tied for 8th).

Laird’s driver is a TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2 model (45 1/4 inches, 9 degree) with a Matrix Ozik 8M3 Black Tie shaft. This low-spin, low-launch shaft is the first to be introduced in the new Matrix Flight System family of shafts. The Ozik 8M3 Black Tie shaft also is used by PGA Tour players Justin Rose, Jason Gore, Colt Knost, David Mathis, Henrik Norlander, Tim Petrovic and Chris Stroud.

Looking closely at Laird’s clubs, there is another lesson: It is not necessary to carry a 3-wood. Laird’s strongest fairway wood was a RocketBallz Stage 2 Tour HL 4-wood (16.5 degree) with a Mitsubishi Diamana B-Series shaft.

The rest of Laird’s bag: TaylorMade R9 5-wood (19 degree, with Diamana B-Series shaft), TaylorMade Tour Preferred 08 irons (3-4, with Rifle 7.0 shafts), TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC irons (5-PW, with Rifle 6.5 shafts), Titleist Vokey Design SM4 TVD wedges (54 and 60 degree, with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts) and a TaylorMade Ghost DA-12 putter. He played a TaylorMade Lethal ball.

• • •

Furyk still testing two drivers

Jim Furyk’s dual-driver philosophy took a left turn after Day 1 of the Texas Open. Furyk carried two Callaway Razr Fit Xtreme drivers (9.5 and 10.5 degree) in the opening round. The next day, he ditched the 9.5 degree.

“The one driver, the less‑lofted driver that I’m trying to hit a little farther, has some left in it,” he said, “and I’m having a hard time. So I may have to switch shafts out. I have a couple of ideas.” Furyk said he’d visit the Callaway tour van at Augusta and “make a couple of adjustments and try to play it Monday through Wednesday in practice rounds and see how comfortable I get.”

Furyk also tested a Callaway X Hot 3Deep fairway wood (14.5 degree) and called it “a course-dependent club for tee shots” (read: a mini-driver).

The Odyssey Versa No. 1W used by Furyk at the Valero is the same putter he bought at Edwin Watts in Orlando, Fla., while at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

• • •

Bettencourt plays on with damaged wedge

Matt Bettencourt damaged a TaylorMade ATV wedge during first-round play at the Texas Open. Bettencourt’s tee shot at the par-5 eighth hole hit a cart path and bounded into a rocky area. He played his second shot from there.

“It had a decent lie. It was just a stance issue,” Bettencourt said. “So I hit a 52‑degree wedge, and I didn’t realize there was a rock underneath and it destroyed pretty much the face of the club. The shaft stayed intact.”

According to the Rules of Golf (Rule 4-3), Bettencourt was able to continue using the club because it was “damaged in the

normal course of play.” He did, shot 5-under 67 and was a co-leader before tying for 46th.

• • •

SHORT SHOTS: Winners who used Titleist Pro V1x golf balls included Benjamin Alvarado on the Web. com Tour and Wade Ormsby on the Asian Tour. At the Valero Texas Open, 104 of 156 players used Titleist balls. Titleist also led the wedge and putter equipment-usage categories in San Antonio. . . . Meanwhile, TaylorMade was first in drivers, fairway woods and irons. . . . Daniel Summerhays isn’t ashamed to admit he has added a Ping G25 7-wood to his bag this season: “I always (have) hit a 2-iron since college. This 7-wood is the best club I’ve ever hit out of the rough. It’s almost (like) no matter how bad the lie is I can hit it 200 yards.” . . . Bob Estes, who tied for seventh in Texas, has been using a Yes! Olivia-MB putter since the Arnold Palmer Invitational. . . . Charley Hoffman used a Callaway X Hot fairway wood (15 degree) in Texas. . . . Justin Hicks made the switch to an Odyssey Tank No. 7 putter. He uses an Arm Lock style with minimal shaft lean. He said his left-hand low grip, along with a ball position off his front foot, is perfect for 3 degrees of putter loft. . . . Peter Hanson, who tied for third at the 2012 Masters, added a TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2 Rescue (18 degree) at the Valero. . . . Aldila won the wood and hybrid shaft manufacturer counts for the fourth consecutive week on the PGA Tour. The most accurate driver on Tour, Ken Duke, is hitting more than 73 percent of the fairways using an Aldila Tour Green in his TaylorMade R1 driver and TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2 3-wood. Aldila had a total of 39 Tour Green and Tour Blue shafts in play at the Texas Open.

– James Achenbach and Adam Schupak

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