The last time we saw Tiger Woods competing, back in February, his golf bag contained a mixture of new woods, old irons and an even older putter. Now, on the eve of his return to competition at the 2017 Hero World Challenge, the 14-time major winner appears to once again be going with a set that blends current woods with what appear to be tried-and-true irons that have been given a new look.
Last year at the Hero Challenge, Woods debuted his TaylorMade M2 driver and a pair of TaylorMade M1 fairway woods. Few were surprised to see him playing the same Nike VR Pro irons he had used for over a decade, because Nike’s announcement that it would no longer make golf clubs, balls and bags had been made just four months before Woods teed it up in the Bahamas. Tiger also had Nike VR Forged wedges, but he raised eyebrows by playing a Bridgestone B330S ball – he has since signed a contract to play that company’s balls. He also returned to using his Scotty Cameron for Titleist Newport 2 GSS putter.
On Monday morning, Woods played a practice round with Patrick Reed using mostly irons that looked extremely similar to his old Nike blades, except these clubs were stamped TGR on the back and had no manufacturer’s logo. They look nothing like any irons available from TaylorMade and were first spotted in October on Twitter when Tiger participated in Kevin Chappell’s charity event.
Golfweek received this message after reaching out to TaylorMade for clarification:
“Tiger currently plays a TaylorMade M2 driver and M2 / M1 fairways. With Tiger’s return to the game, we have resumed the process of working closely with him on the creation of his TaylorMade irons. We’re excited by his return and look forward to a successful future together.” – TaylorMade
For many pros, changing drivers is easier than changing irons because they are not trying to hit driver a specific distance. If the launch conditions are better with a new driver and they get more distance without sacrificing accuracy, even stubborn pros tend to switch. But most pros want their irons to look and feel a certain way, and they need their shots to have specific trajectories and carry distances.
In photos taken at Chappell’s event, Woods had three TaylorMade Tour Preferred UDI irons in his bag, along with a TaylorMade PSi long iron. On Monday one of the UDIs clearly was still there, but the others, along with the PSi iron, appear to have been removed. Woods never regularly used a hybrid, but he has used a cavity-back long iron in the past as a driving iron, specifically a Nike VR Forged 2-iron.
Woods is one of the greatest ballstrikers in the history of golf, but as he gets older, he is a prime candidate for adding a hollow-bodied driving iron or two to his set, such as TaylorMade’s new P790.
On Monday, Woods used his Scotty Cameron putter. It has been fitted with a Ping grip, which he has preferred since his junior golf days.