Toy Box: Versa's paint scheme attracts attention

Keegan Bradley at No. 9 Round 2 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Odyssey is busy on the PGA Tour with players either switching to new Versa putters or requesting Versa paint jobs on their existing putter models (the Versa putter head has alternating sections of black and white).

On the repaint/retool list: Keegan Bradley (black-white-black Odyssey Sabertooth) and Tommy Gainey (white-black-white Odyssey Backstryke Blade).

On the new list: Phil Mickelson (white-black-white No. 9) and Gary Woodland (black-white-black No. 1 Wide).

Rickie Fowler, who tied for third at Bay Hill, also jumped aboard the Versa train, electing to putt with a Versa No. 7. The putter had a black-white-black color scheme along with a White Hot Pro insert.

And then there was Jim Furyk, who went to the Edwin Watts Turkey Lake store in Orlando, Fla., and purchased a Versa No. 1 Wide after the third round of the Bay Hill tournament. He used the putter in the fourth round.

Odyssey tour rep Johnny Thompson offers some helpful hints: Players who “use the face to aim” or “feel the line” generally choose a white-black-white finish. Those who rely on alignment features or “are target-oriented” tend to like the black-white-black finish.

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TITLE HOLDER NO MORE: On the subject of driver length, Nike’s Patrick Reed has vacated a title he previously held. Reed played by far the shortest driver on Tour – 43 inches – before switching to a 44 3/4-inch model at Bay Hill. Both were VR_S Covert models (10.5 degree).

Why the change? “I wanted more distance off the tee,” said Reed, echoing the sentiment of just about every golfer.

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NEWER IS BETTER THAN OLDER: Most golfers have heard this question: With all the USGA limits on drivers and driver speed, how can a new model possibly be better than an older model?

We’ll let Webb Simpson answer that one. Simpson won the 2012 U.S. Open with a Titleist 909D3 driver (10.5 degree) and UST Mamiya ProForce AxivCore shaft. In 2013, he has been playing a Titleist 913D3 driver with the same loft and same shaft.

Said Simpson, explaining the reason for his switch: “Better performance on offcenter hits. Out here on Tour, even (an extra) 2 or 3 yards can be a big deal.”

• At Bay Hill, Titleist ran away with two usage categories – golf balls and wedges. In a field of 132 golfers, 79 used Titleist balls. A total of 132 Titleist wedges were in play (not counting pitching wedges), more than double the nearest competitor. In addition, 59 players used Scotty Cameron putters.

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OLESEN CHANGES CLUB LINEUP FOR AUGUSTA: Masters-bound Thorbjorn Olesen adjusted the loft in his Nike VR_S Covert driver from 10.5 to 9.5 degrees. He added a new VR_S Covert hybrid (18 degree) and VR_S Covert 3-wood (15 degree). Finally, he put new VR Pro wedges (46, 54 and 58 degree) in his bag.

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TAYLORMADE STAFFERS CONTINUE GEAR CONVERSION: Justin Rose played a new TaylorMade R1 driver at Bay Hill. It had a Matrix 6m3 Black Tie shaft. Rose also added a RocketBladez Tour 6-iron. Rose now has a split iron set: RocketBladez Tour (4, 5, 6) and Tour Preferred MB (7, 8, 9, PW).

Meanwhile, Boo Weekley, coming off a runner-up finish at Tampa Bay, now is playing TaylorMade’s new Lethal golf ball.

• • •

SHORT SHOTS: Edward Loar wore FootJoy’s new M:Project minimalist golf shoes in winning the Chitimacha Louisiana Open. FootJoy led the official count for the tournament with 71 percent of the field. . . . In the official equipment count at Bay Hill, TaylorMade was first in drivers, fairway woods and irons and second in hybrids, wedges and golf balls. . . . Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand won the Maybank Malaysian Open on the PGA European Tour, using a Titleist Pro V1x ball along with a Titleist 913D3 driver, CB irons and Vokey SM4 wedges.

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