Toy Box: Thompson tames challenges with Ping

Michael Thompson won the Honda Classic and is now 45th in the OWGR.

Battling something as powerful and devastating as Hurricane Katrina, Michael Thompson must have learned a few lessons, such as how to keep his cool under duress. Virtually all of Thompson’s accomplishments have come on tough courses: runner-up in the 2007 U.S. Amateur, low amateur in the 2008 U.S. Open, runner-up in the 2012 U.S. Open, winner of the 2013 Honda.

Thompson has used Ping clubs throughout his college and pro careers, and his bag at the Honda Classic contained 13 Ping clubs and one from Japanese manufacturer Akira.

Experimenting with iron shafts more than most players, Thompson has gone back to True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 steel shafts for 2013.

Thompson’s bag: Ping i20 driver (9.5 degree, with Grafalloy ProLaunch Red X shaft), Ping G25 3-wood (15 degree, with ProLaunch Red X shaft), Akira Prototype M218 5-wood (18 degree, with ProLaunch Red X shaft), Ping S56 irons (3-9, with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts), Ping Tour-S pitching wedge (47 degree, with Dynamic Gold X100 shaft), Ping Anser gap and sand wedges (52 and 58 degree, with Dynamic Gold X100 shafts) and Ping Anser 4 Classic putter. Thompson played a 2013 Titleist Pro V1x ball.

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Pro V1x success spans generations: Whether it’s the latest vintage or an earlier model, Titleist Pro V1x continued its winning ways this past weekend.

The top-three finishers at the Honda Classic used the 2013 Pro V1x, and Stacy Lewis played the 2009 version in claiming the HSBC Women’s Champions on the LPGA. Other Pro V1x winners: Patrick Cantlay used the 2011 Pro V1x in taking the Colombia Championship on the Web.com Tour, while Michael Hendry won the Australasian Tour’s Victorian Open with the 2013 edition, which is the sixth iteration of the ball. (Titleist makes previous versions of the Pro V1 and Pro V1x available to touring pros.)

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Counterbalancing: An alternative for anchoring? As pros look ahead to a possible ban of the anchoring stroke, some are taking a renewed interest in counterbalanced putters. With counterbalancing, extra weight is placed in the butt end of the club, often by using a heavier grip. This is intended to provide additional stability during the stroke.

The latest to experiment with counterbalancing include David Duval and Steve Marino. At the Honda Classic, Duval used a 36-inch Nike Method 006 putter with a 75-gram Iomic grip. Marino’s 38-inch TaylorMade Daddy Long Legs had a 130-gram TaylorMade grip made by Winn.

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TaylorMade staffers work with new gear: Justin Rose is easing his way into TaylorMade RocketBladez Tour irons. At the WGC-Accenture Match Play, he switched his 3- and 4-irons from TaylorMade Tour Preferred MB to RocketBladez Tour. At the Honda Classic, he did the same with the 5-iron.

Meanwhile, the up-and-down week of Camilo Villegas (first-round lead to missed cut) included the addition of two TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2 fairway woods. One was 17 degree, the other 19 degree. Both had Matrix Ozik shafts. Villegas also switched to the new TaylorMade Lethal ball.

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Odyssey’s Versa gains converts: On the PGA Tour, one measure of success for any golf club is achieved when non-staff players decide to use the product. Such is the case with Odyssey’s new Versa putter. Among those switching to the putter were Bob Estes (90 No. 7 BWB), Charles Howell III (No. 1 BWB), Chez Reavie (90 No. 7 BWB), Rory Sabbatini (2-Ball), Boo Weekley (2-Ball) and Mike Weir (No. 7 BWB). BWB represents a black-white-black color scheme.

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Short shots: Tiger Woods went back to his Nike VR_S Forged 2-iron at the Honda Classic. Depending on the course length and conditions he will face, Woods switches between a Nike SQII 5-wood and the VR_S 2-iron. . . . Thompson and Cantlay used Golf Pride Tour Velvet grips, as did European Tour winner Dawie Van Der Walt. . . . Aldila won the wood and hybrid shaft counts at the Honda Classic. . . . 58 TaylorMade drivers were in play at the Honda, which led that category. The company won two other counts: fairway woods (82 in play) and irons (36 sets).

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