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Gear & Equipment

Nike tour staff with early debut of Vapor fairway woods

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Nike recently made a splash when Rory McIlroy switched to Nike’s Vapor Pro driver at the Ryder Cup. Less visible, but key to the company's continued quest to become known for its equipment was some players putting its Vapor Speed fairway woods in their bags at the Frys.com Open. Scott Brown, Kevin Chappell and Jhonattan Vegas all had at least one Vapor Speed fairway wood in play at Silverado Resort and Spa. 

Nike announced Monday not only the Jan. 30, 2015 availability of the Vapor Speed at retail, but its Vapor Flex fairway woods as well. The Vapor Speed has a 25-percent larger footprint with a lower and deeper center of gravity than previous Nike models. It also features a compression channel to boost ball speed and a cavity-back design on the sole. The non-adjustable clubs (lofts of 15 and 19 degrees) will be priced at $199 each.

“Athlete insights drove significant chassis refinement in the Vapor fairway woods.” said Nate Radcliffe, director of engineering for Nike Golf. 

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“Our athletes wanted tighter but forgiving leading edges, fuller profiles and added ball speed. … Athletes including Tiger Woods requested larger face profiles in fairway woods, but it was vital that we do that without compromising ball speed or optimal launch conditions. We successfully modified the chassis by sloping the crown to lower the CG which optimized launch characteristics across the family.”

As for the Vapor Flex ($249), the club incorporates most of the same technologies found in the Speed model, but on a more compact chassis and with the addition of adjustability through Nike’s FlexLoft 2 system that provides 15 different settings covering five lofts (13 to 17 degrees in the 3-wood and 17 to 21 degrees in the 5-wood) and three face angle settings. For those who have Nike’s previous Covert fairway woods, those shafts with the original adaptor can be used in the new fairway woods as well.

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Gear & Equipment

Winner's Bag: What Rory McIlroy used to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

By E. Michael Johnson

loop-rory-winnersbag-bridgestone-518.jpgAs was the case during his British Open triumph last month, Rory McIlroy won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational thanks in large part to his Nike VRS Covert 2.0 driver. The new World No. 1 led the field in driving distance at Firestone CC (334.8 yards) and finished 12th in accuracy (60.71 percent fairways hit).

There were only minor differences in McIlroy's club lineup in his encore victory in Akron, Ohio. Instead of the Nike MM proto 2-iron he carried at Hoylake, McIlroy had a VRS Covert 5-wood (19 degrees). He also took out his VR Pro Blade 3-iron in favor of a third VR Forged wedge, adding the 52 degree to the 54 and 59 degree models he previously carried.

Here is McIlroy's bag in its entirety at Firestone.

Ball: Nike RZN Black

Driver: Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour (Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70X), 8.5 degrees
3-wood: Nike VRS Covert, 15 degrees
5-wood: Nike VRS Covert, 19 degrees
Irons (4-9):
Nike VR Pro Blade; (PW): Nike VR Forged
Wedges: Nike VR Forged (52, 54, 59 degrees)
Putter: Nike Method 006

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Gear & Equipment

Nike's Lunar Adapt shoes will have women wanting to wear them off the course

By Keely Levins

Nike has added the athletic, spikeless Lunar Adapt to its women’s golf shoe line. The two-tone, waffle-pattern bottom is designed to keep your feet close to the ground to help maintain traction. The emphasis is on comfort and the idea that golfers like the flexibility of wearing their shoes on and off the course.

loop-nike-lunar-adapt-518.jpgThe shoe, which features lightweight cushioning on the inside midsole to absorb shock during your swing, comes in three color combos: pure platinum/hyper pink-cool gray (left), light ash/hyper grape-ivory and fuchsia force/light ash-medium ash.

The Lunar Adapt is available now at retail for $100.

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Gear & Equipment

Winner's Bag: What Rory McIlroy used to win the British Open

By E. Michael Johnson

HOYLAKE, England -- There was something about Rory McIlroy that was lost in the glare of the glitzy unveiling of his mega deal with Nike last year in Abu Dhabi.

When it comes to equipment, he's a bit of a gear head.

The fact was evident during a sitdown with him last month to discuss his Nike clubs.

"I was really into different shafts and everything," McIlroy said. "I guess now I've got a little more to think about and worry about than just being focused on new equipment. So I let the guys that know more about it than I do help me on that. I let them put the stuff in my hands that they think is going to work, and then we go forward from there."

Not that McIlroy doesn't provide valuable input into the process. "This is really the first time I've worked with a manufacturer where I've been so involved," he said. "We might discuss something, and the guys will come back a couple of weeks later and right away we're working on how does this look, how does it feel, is it what you imagined it to be like. I've worked really hard with the guys on developing stuff that's going to work for me."

Those clubs worked quite well for the newly crowned British Open champion at Royal Liverpool, specifically his Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour driver.

loop-rory-equipment-driver-518.jpg"I remember having a conversation at the Barclays last year at dinner," McIlroy said. "We talked a lot about Covert 2.0 and what it was going to be like and what I'd like to see in the driver and what sort of things I'd like to change from the current model."

And what did McIlroy want to alter? "Everything is related to the details," he said. "I want it to look a certain way. I want the face to sort of look a little longer so I can square it up at impact. Then there's the technical: Why they do certain things like a cavity back in the driver. It all makes sense to me now."

Enough sense to get the third major win of his career. Here's the clubs and ball McIlroy had in his bag at Royal Liverpool.

Ball: Nike RZN Black
Driver: Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour (Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70X), 8.5 degrees
3-wood: Nike VRS Covert, 15 degrees
Irons (2): Nike MM Proto (3-9): Nike VR Pro Blade; (PW): Nike VR Forged
Wedges: Nike VR Forged (54, 59 degrees)
Putter: Nike Method 006

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Gear & Equipment

Why did Michelle Wie fool with her putter before playing Pinehurst? We'll let her explain

By E. MIchael Johnson

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Michelle Wie won the U.S. Women's Open with a bag full of Nike golf equipment. I caught up with the first-time major winner by phone shortly after her victory to talk about the clubs and balls she used, including a putter that underwent a significant alteration -- and allowed her to go all 72 holes at Pinehurst No. 2 without a three-putt.

I understand you made an adjustment to your putter this week. What was it?  
I did. I flattened the lie angle 4.5 degrees on my Nike Method 006. David Leadbetter suggested the change about three weeks ago, but it usually takes about a month for me to listen to him. The Nike guys were here this week, and since I had a backup with me it was a good time to make the change. I really wasn't planning to put it in play, but it felt so good I put it in the bag.

You've used blade irons for most of your career but now have a split set. Why?  
I have played blades for the most part. My grandmother gave me a set of blade irons when I was very young, and those old clubs, especially the 3-iron, looked like butter knives. But it made sense to go to the split set. I still have the VR Pro Blades for the 7-iron through PW, and those are great for the shots that I'm really trying to dial in. But I thought why not take advantage of the technology available to me so I have the Pro Combo irons for the 5- and 6-irons. It's really helped me with those longer irons.

Why did you add the VR X3X Toe Sweep wedges?  
Those are my absolute favorites. I started with just the 60-degree and fell in love with it immediately. It's just so good from everywhere -- sand, rough, into the grain. The toe sweep [a wider sole out on the toe area and narrower in the heel] really makes it easy to play a variety of shots, and I've added the 56-degree as well.

What do you like about the RZN Black ball?  
Rock Ishii [Nike's director, golf ball R&D] first showed me the ball when we were in Oregon last year [for the Safeway Classic], and I told him I needed to play with it that week, even though it wasn't even out yet. It really was that apparent it was a good ball for me. It's a great ball in the wind, especially, and it helped me a lot when I won in Hawaii.

You only hit driver once on the final nine, but that was a bomb on No. 10. What appeals to you about the VRS Covert 2.0 driver?  
I actually like that you can change the loft and lie angle with it. And I like that it doesn't spin as much as some other drivers. That's very helpful to me. The face is just really, really, fast and that's what you want in a driver.

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Gear & Equipment

Winner's Bag: What Michelle Wie used to win the U.S. Women's Open

By E. Michael Johnson

loop-michelle-wie-putter-290.jpgAlthough not thought of as a great putter, Michelle Wie managed to play 72 holes at the U.S. Women's Open without a three-putt on the devilish Pinehurst No. 2 turtleback greens. One of the reasons: A lie angle adjustment Wie had made to her Nike Method 006 putter just prior to the Open.

Wie had the lie angle flattened slightly, and the move paid off as she made numerous clutch putts, including the five-footer for double bogey at the 16th on Sunday to cling to a one-shot lead as well as the 25-foot birdie putt on the penultimate hole that essentially clinched her victory.


Here's a look at the rest of the bag for the now first-time major winner:


Ball: Nike RZN Black

Driver: Nike VRS Covert 2.0 (UST Axivcore Red 69X), 9.5 degrees

3-wood: Nike VRS Covert Tour, 13 degrees

Hybrids: Nike VRS Covert (18, 24 degrees)

Irons (5-6): Nike VR Pro Combo; (7-PW): Nike VR Pro Blade

Wedges: Nike VR Pro (52 degrees); Nike VR X3X Toe Sweep (56, 60 degrees)

Putter: Nike Method 006



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Gear & Equipment

Honda Classic Champ Russell Henley talks about what equipment he uses, and why

By E. Michael Johnson

Despite being just 24 years old, Russell Henley is a man in tune with his equipment. We caught up with the 2014 Honda Classic champ after his win at PGA National to talk to him about his bats and ball.

Related: Russell Henley Wins Wacky Honda Classic

Ball: I use Nike's new RZN Black. Started using it earlier this year. The biggest difference from the 20XI that I had been using is that it flies a little flatter, not as much a spinny flight. So I'm able to control it in the wind well. But it checks well around the greens, too, and has a softer feel that I like. I used to mark my ball with dots on either side of the number but now I don't mark it like that anymore. I put a line through the RZN Black stamp.

Driver: I'm not in the new Nike Covert VRS 2.0 yet although I'll probably put that in play at some point this year. Right now I have the Nike VR_S STR8Fit [9.5 degrees with Graphite Design HD-7X shaft]. I'm just so confident with this one right now that it makes it tough to switch.

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Fairway woods: Last year I used Nike SQ Sumo but last fall I put the new Covert 2.0 fairway woods in the bag. I used the 5-wood a lot today off the tee. It spins a little more so I'm able to get some air under it and it was a big help on 18 during the playoff.

Related: What's In My Bag: Russell Henley

Irons: I've played played a split set of irons since college. It just makes the long irons [Nike VR Pro Cavity] easier to hit. They're more forgiving and I can get some height with them and flight them the way I want. I also gain some confidence from looking down at the bigger head. When I have a 6-iron in my hand I'm not trying to stick it tight most of the time. I'm just trying to get it on the green. That bigger head gives me the confidence I can do that. 

Wedges: I had a new 59-degree wedge for this week. Same model [Nike VR Forged] but the grooves were getting a little dull so I figured I would need some fresh grooves and extra spin around the greens. I had the leading edge dulled a little bit to help with getting through the grass and it has 10 degrees bounce. I like wedges with a lot of bounce.

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Putter: I'm still using the Nike Method 006 prototype I've had for a bit. It's modeled after a putter I used in college and has a little longer hosel than regular 006.

Final thought: I went to Georgia and it was a Nike school and being able to stay with the same brand of equipment in the pros was huge. Chris Haack [Georgia men's golf coach] gets a lot of credit. I had played Titleist up to then but he convinced me playing Nike was a good move. My first time playing Nike clubs I shot four straight 66s and I was sold.

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Gear & Equipment

Woods tests out Nike Covert VR_S driver at Muirfield

By E. Michael Johnson

Instead of players hitting into him (as seen on a recent Nike commercial), perhaps it will be Tiger Woods saying, "Sorry," this week at Muirfield during the British Open. That's because Woods was spotted Monday testing a Nike VR_S Covert Tour driver.

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The club, which does not have the weight screw in the sole like the production model, has a Mitsubishi Diamana White Board 73X shaft and the pear shape Woods feels allows him to better shape his shots. Additionally, the shaft is glued as opposed to being adjustable.

Related: The Complete Hot List

Although it is unclear whether Woods will put the club in play this week or not, the World No. 1's history with equipment shows that although he takes his time changing drivers, he is not adverse to doing so. During his career Woods has won with eight different drivers: Cobra's King Cobra Deep Face, Titleist's 975D and six Nike models--Forged Titanium, Ignite, Ignite 460, SasQuatch Tour, SQ Dymo 380 prototype and VR Tour. Whether No. 9 comes at the British Open remains to be seen.



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Gear & Equipment

Five questions with Nike TW '14 designer Tobie Hatfield

Including Sunday's win wearing the Nike TW '14, Tiger Woods has won eight times since switching to a sneaker-like golf shoe he designed with Tobie Hatfield, the mind behind the Nike Free running shoes. Hatfield answers five questions from Mike Stachura.

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Cruel shoes: Tiger Woods' precision extends to Hatfield's shoe design. Photo: Marc Lecureuil

Q: What's the challenge in designing golf shoes?
Golf has been one of the more unusual sports for me to work on because the golfer is on so many different types of terrain in one round, even in one hole. I mean, a gym floor is a gym floor wherever you go. In track, everything's the same. In golf, it's crazy. It's anything and everything.

Q: What changes were made for this year?
Tiger wanted to build upon the idea of mobility with stability. We've brought the dynamic Flywire technology of our other shoes to the golf shoe. It works with his foot when he's moving, but when he's at address and the club is moving, then it holds him in really nicely, and he can feel that power translate into the ball.

Q: How is a minimalist, "natural motion" design important in a golf shoe?
You want to feel what's underneath, not in a bad way but in a good way. The easier it is for the computer that's your mind to understand those differences, the better you're able to make adjustments and stay balanced. Balance is so key.

Q: How is Tiger as a shoe designer?
It felt like I was talking to this amazing computer. He remembers every shot he's hit in his life, what it felt like at the moment of impact, and he's very precise in how he describes things.

Q: How important is it for Tiger to win with this technology?
I can have all the technology in the world, but if the greatest golfer wasn't wearing it, it would be much more difficult. If anyone is going to change what golfers wear on their feet, it's Tiger.


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Gear & Equipment

Tiger's Back: Nike's new TW Collection

By Marty Hackel

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Two views: TW Graphic (left) and TW Stripe.

Nike's new Tiger Woods collection shirts ($80 to $100) are technically complex, but the goal is simple: allow for movement. Sometimes with a traditionally cut shirt, you feel parts of the material when you swing. These have a continuous shoulder seam with a bonding that makes it nearly imperceptible.

The result is comfort and functionality. The shirts use Nike's Dri-FIT technology, meaning they're lightweight and allow moisture to evaporate, so they feel good in warm conditions. This is a good shirt if you're looking to go down a size for a better fit. More info.


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