Toy Box: McDowell back in the winner’s circle

Graeme McDowell during the 2013 RBC Heritage.

McDowell back in the winner’s circle

Ending nearly a three-year drought on the PGA Tour, Graeme McDowell earned a victory at the RBC Heritage, blending different Cleveland long irons to better manage windy conditions at Hilton Head. He played a Cleveland 588 MT 3-iron and a 588 TT 4-iron.

The rest of McDowell’s bag: Cleveland Classic 290 driver (9 degree, with Miyazaki Kusala Indigo 56 X shaft); Cleveland Launcher FL fairway wood (14 degree, with Miyazaki Kusala Indigo 72 X shaft); Adams Idea a7 hybrid (22 degree, with Miyazaki Kusala Indigo 83 X shaft); Srixon Z-TX irons (5-9, with Project X Flighted 6.5 shafts); Cleveland 588 Precision Forged (48 and 52 degree) and Cleveland 588 RTX (58 degree) wedges with Project X Flighted 6.5 shafts; Odyssey White Hot No. 7 prototype mallet putter. He used a Srixon Z-Star XV ball.

• • •

Not always for the masses

Tour-only golf equipment is becoming more prevalent on the major professional tours.

At the Masters, Phil Mickelson used a Callaway X Hot Phrankenwood driver that Callaway said would not be sold to the public. Webb Simpson, runner-up to Graeme McDowell in the RBC Heritage, played a ball identified as the 2013 Titleist Pro V1x• (Dot). Earlier this year, Rocco Mediate won his Champions Tour debut, at the Allianz Championship, using a 2013 Titleist Pro V1x+ (Plus).

Neither of these balls is available to consumers. Rather, the existence of these iterations reflects the Titleist philosophy, which is to provide various models of the Pro V1 and Pro V1x for touring pros who “require or are seeking specific launch characteristics,” according to Joe Gomes, Titleist’s director of tour communications.

In Mediate’s case, his ball had somewhat shallower dimples, which produced a slightly higher trajectory. The core and mantle of the ball were identical to the 2013 Pro V1x available at retail, according to Titleist. Simpson felt he had been hitting the regular 2013 Pro V1x “too far” on shots directly downwind or into the wind. With the additional spin provided by the Dot model, he achieved the distance control he was seeking.

• • •

Salas rolls with short putter

An eleventh-hour putter decision by Lizette Salas resulted in a 10-under 62 in the final round and a runner-up finish to Suzann Pettersen in the LPGA Lotte Championship. Salas went from belly to conventional, swapping her 38-inch TaylorMade DA-12 belly for a 35-inch TaylorMade Ghost Tour FO-72 single-bend, heel-shafted model. The new putter had a 15-inch counterbalanced grip and aluminum insert.

Meanwhile, Pettersen survived Salas’ charge and claimed victory using a full bag of Nike gear: VR_S Covert driver (9.5 degree); VR Pro Limited Edition fairway wood (13 degree); VR_S hybrid (18 degree); VR Pro Cavity irons (4-5) and VR Pro Combo irons (6-PW); VR Pro wedges (48, 52 and 59 degree); Method Core 3i putter. She played a Nike 20XI X ball.

• • •

SHORT SHOTS: James Driscoll is the latest TaylorMade player to switch from MB (Muscleback) irons to the new RocketBladez irons. Others who have made the change include Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Justin Leonard. . . . Luke List, who leads the PGA Tour in driving distance, added a Callaway X Hot 3Deep fairway wood to his bag. The loft was 14.5 degree, and the length was 43 1/2 inches. After experimenting with several shafts, List chose an Oban Kiyoshi Black 90-X. . . . Bernhard Langer won the Greater Gwinnett Championship on the Champions Tour using a 2013 Titleist Pro V1x; he had played the 2009 model of the Pro V1 for almost five years before making the switch. . . . Aldila captured the overall wood shaft and hybrid shaft manufacturer counts at the RBC Heritage. . . . In Argentina, Angel Cabrera won the PGA Tour Latinoamerica’s Abierto OSDE del Centro with Aldila’s new Tour Green 75 shaft in his Ping G25 driver and Aldila’s TIP 80 shaft in his Ping G25 3-wood. . . . Martin Kaymer played a new TaylorMade R1 driver at the RBC Heritage. It was set to 8 degree, with a Graphite Design Tour AD series shaft. . . . Ryan Palmer used a new TaylorMade Daddy Long Legs putter. . . . Ryo Ishikawa played a new Callaway X Hot 3Deep fairway wood (14.5 degree). The shaft was a Graphite Design Tour AD GT-8 TX. . . . Sang-moon Bae changed from a Callaway Razr Fit to an X Hot Pro. Both were 15 degree. The reason: He felt he could draw the X Hot when necessary. . . . Stuart Appleby used a version of Callaway’s HEX Chrome+ ball.

– James Achenbach and David Dusek

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