By winning the RBC Canadian Open, Brandt Snedeker took home his sixth career PGA title and second of 2013. He joins Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar as the only players with multiple Tour wins this year. The victory also moved him up to third in FedEx Cup Standings. Here's a look at the clubs Snedeker used to capture the Canadian Open:
Driver: TaylorMade SLDR prototype (Fujikura Motore Speeder), 9.5 degrees
3-Wood: Tour Edge Exotics CB4, 13 degrees
Hybrid: Ping Anser, 17 degrees
Irons (4-PW): Bridgestone J40
Wedges: Bridgestone J40 Forged (52, 56 degrees); Titleist Vokey TVD K-Grind (60 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey White Hot XG Rossie
Ball: Bridgestone Tour B330
[Photo: Hunter Martin/Getty Images]
Phil Mickelson is an equipment writer's dream -- the gift that keeps on giving. Whether it's using two drivers to win the Masters or the mistake of no drivers at Torrey Pines in 2008, Lefty never disappoints, with the British Open being the latest example.
Photo: J.D. Cuban
The Champion Golfer of the Year again fiddled with his set makeup, opting for no driver and not even a Phrankenwood, but rather a Callaway X Hot 3Deep 13-degree 3-wood as his longest club in the bag, just as he did at Merion for the U.S. Open. This time, however, the results were different as Mickelson took home his fifth major. Here's a look at some equipment changes Mickelson has made leading up to the majors (not counting the infamous switch to Callaway just prior to the 2004 Ryder Cup) -- moves that resulted in memorable wins or epic losses.
Two drivers at 2006 Masters
Mickelson is known for preferring to play the week before a major and at the 2006 BellSouth Classic, he used the tournament to try out a potential strategy for the following week at Augusta National -- a pair of 9.5-degree Callaway Big Bertha Fusion FT-3 drivers.
He did this in hopes of working the ball both left and right without altering his swing. Although comfortable hitting his "baby cut" with his gamer, Mickelson had to change his move to hit a draw. The second driver was one inch longer (46 inches as opposed to 45 on his gamer) with a lower center of gravity. Along with moving some internal weight to make it more draw-friendly, the club provided Mickelson the desired shot with his normal swing.
"I knew I was going to [use two drivers] at Augusta," he said at the BellSouth. "I wanted a week where I did this before the Masters, to see if I could go from one driver to the other and still hit fairways and not have it be a big change."
The change was big, but in a good way. Mickelson won the BellSouth in runaway fashion and his second Masters the following week.
A 64-degree wedge at Winged Foot
In the weeks leading up to the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot GC, Mickelson had Callaway make him a 64-degree X-Tour wedge to combat the touchy little shots around the course's tricky greens.
Although Mickelson wasn't alone in carrying a high-lofted weapon, he did face the problem of what club to leave out. During a trial run at the Memorial, Mickelson left the 7-iron out to make room for the club. At Winged Foot, however, Lefty dropped the 3-wood. Still, the 64-degree proved handy. After 54 holes Mickelson said, "That one club has saved me a lot of shots, more than one or two a round possibly. If I'm able to be successful tomorrow, I will give credit to that one particular club for being the little extra edge." Unfortunately, his memorable double bogey at the last prevented that.
No driver at 2008 U.S. Open
On the longest course in U.S. Open history, Mickelson decided to go without a driver, opting instead for a Callaway FT Tour 3-wood -- a 13-degree version bent to 11.5 degrees. Mickelson had a 43-inch Mitsubishi Diamana White Board shaft installed and used the club as his primary weapon off the tee the first two days.
Mickelson's rationale was that his driver would go too far and quite possibly land him in trouble. "The 3-wood carries 275 [yards]," he said. "So it's running about 300 here. And it's just easier to hit fairways at 300 than 320. It just felt more comfortable."
Unfortunately, the plan backfired as he had trouble finding the short grass with the shorter club, forcing him to go back to the driver on the weekend.
Phrankenwood at 2013 Masters
At this year's Masters Lefty kinda sorta tried two 3-woods in the bag and the results were mixed. Mickelson promised a "special club" for the Masters and was true to his word, unveiling the "Phrankenwood" -- a 250cc "driver" that came about because of Mickelson's affinity for Callaway's X Hot 3-wood, which he noticed spun less than most 3-woods.
Mickelson asked the engineers at Callaway to take that technology and put it in a slightly larger clubhead, effectively making the club a small-headed driver. However, unlike most drivers that are titanium or titanium/composite combinations, Phrankenwood was made from stainless steel with a Carpenter 455 face insert to help boost ball speed. The club had a 45-inch Mitsubishi Fubuki shaft and 8.5 degrees of loft.
The club performed well enough as Mickelson ranked sixth in distance at 298.12 yards and T-9 in accuracy at 71.43 percent, but the result that mattered most wasn't very good as the three-time Masters champ had his worst Masters performance ever, finishing T-54.
The "Hot" 3-wood at 2013 U.S.
and British Opens
Earlier this year Mickelson expressed a desire for a fairway wood that was long enough to use as a second driver, but also playable off the ground. The company responded by making the X Hot 3Deep with a face 10 percent taller than its X Hot model, thus raising the center of gravity slightly, making it more in line with the impact area on tee shots (higher on the face), leading to more ball speed.
Mickelson used the club at this year's U.S. Open at Merion GC and again at Muirfield. Although the results were mixed at Merion (he could barely reach the fairway from the back tee on No. 18 and the club came up short on the brutally long par-3 third in the final round), the strategy played to perfection in Scotland. Mickelson kept the ball in play and then, on the 71st hole, struck a pair of shots that essentially put the tournament away.
"That is exactly why I don't have a driver in the bag," Mickelson said afterward of the two 3-woods that reached the par-5 17th in two blows. "Those two 3-woods were the two best shots of the week."
Which brings us back to where we started. Whether he continues to play well or fails, Mickelson's equipment decisions will continue to be debated and dissected. Like we said, an equipment writer's dream.
Odyssey Versa #9
PRICE: $170 (Lengths: 34, 35 inches)
Versa putters feature a high contrast alignment technology that accentuates the face angle at address. Phil Mickelson used this model at the British Open.
After taking to Twitter to solicit putters, Ian Poulter settled on an Odyssey White Damascus iX #1. Currently a Japan-only product, the club is made from the same Damascus steel that has been used in samurai swords. Poulter rallied to finish T-3 at the British Open, ranking T-16 in total putts. ... Another player making a putter change was Lee Westwood, who went back to a Ping Redwood Anser -- a model he has won with nine times. ... Although drivers were not used often at Muirfield, some big names had a new big stick in the bag. Most notable was Tiger Woods, who added a Nike VR_S Covert Tour prototype driver. The non-adjustable driver features the same cavity back as the retail version; however the head is more pear-shaped, which Woods prefers to help shape and control his shots.
Just as he did at Merion GC during the U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson opted to not carry a driver at the British Open at Muirfield, using a standard-issue 13-degree Callaway X Hot 3Deep 3-wood (at 43.25 inches) as his longest club in the bag. Related: Video: Phil talks equipment The strategy paid off handsomely at the penultimate hole when Lefty reached Muirfield's final par 5 by using the club off the tee and again for the second shot into the green, leading to a birdie that all but assured victory. At the other end of his bag, Mickelson carried five wedges, including a Callaway Mack Daddy 2 64-degree model. A look inside Mickelson's bag: Ball: Callaway HEX Chrome + prototype 3-wood: Callaway X Hot 3Deep (Mitsubishi Fubuki K 70X), 13 degrees Hybrid: Ping Anser, 17 degrees Irons (4-PW): Callaway X Forged Wedges: Callaway Jaws (52, 56 degrees); Callaway Mack Daddy 2 (60, 64 degrees) Putter: Odyssey Versa #9 Follow @EMichaelGW
The decidedly old-school Miguel Angel Jimenez got a lot of attention for an early push to the top of the leaderboard and eventual opening 68 in Thursday's first round of the British Open, but it was a piece of new technology that may have helped propel him to five birdies on his first nine holes.
Jimenez was one of several players putting in play Srixon's latest version of its Z-Star ball, which was officially unveiled to the U.S. market yesterday (it was previously introduced in Europe this spring). The new Z-Star line, which includes the Z-Star and Z-Star XV, features three- (Z-Star) and four-piece designs (Z-Star XV) with a new coating on the urethane cover that is designed to improve greenside spin by enhancing friction between clubface and ball on shorter shots. According to Srixon's engineers, the coating creates a more flexible molecular structure that allows the cover of the ball to penetrate into the grooves.
The Z-Star line also features a new, larger 344-dimple pattern for more consistent aerodynamics in an effort to decrease ballflight variability in the wind.
The Z-Star features a single large-diameter core and thin cover, while the Z-Star XV is designed for higher swing speeds and features a dual-core. The new Z-Star line comes in traditional "pure white," as well as "tour yellow" color formulations.
In addition to Jimenez, who plays the Z-Star, Graeme McDowell play the Z-Star XV, while the current No. 1-ranked women's player in the game, Inbee Park, plays the new Z-Star. The new balls are expected to hit stores by Aug. 8 at a price of $45.
As Daniel Summerhays struck his second shot on the 557-yard, par-5 17th hole at TPC Deere Run Sunday at the John Deere Classic (shown, right), a fan was unmistakably heard just after the club struck the ball. Only this time the yell wasn't "You da man!" or even "Mashed potatoes!" This time the words that pierced the air were ones rarely heard these days: "Driver off the deck!"
Photo: Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MC
Faced with 278 yards to the hole and needing birdie, Summerhays really had little choice other than to haul out his 8.5-degree Ping G25 driver. The fact he hit the shot perfectly, the ball traveling with a slight fade, running up onto the green and ending 22 feet from the hole, was impressive. A bogey at the last that dropped him from a share of the lead to T-4, however, prevented the shot from getting more attention. Even Summerhays, despite his disappointment at not winning, commented afterward that, "I'll remember the driver off the deck that I hit on 17."
And he should. The "cool factor" of a driver struck from a tightly mown fairway is undeniably high. The odds of pulling the shot off successfully -- especially with today's large-headed drivers -- are rather long.
Still, there have been instances in recent years where players have hit big shots with the big stick off the grass. At the 2011 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Bubba Watson stood 305 yards from the green on the par-5 last at Kapalua's Plantation Course and used his 7.5-degree Ping G15 driver, smashing a low, hard cut that curved nearly 50 yards right-to-left and scooted along the ground until it came to rest 10 feet from the hole.
Woody Austin is another example -- sort of. Over the final nine of the 2008 Buick Open, Austin eschewed a tee on the tee box and instead kicked up a tuft of turf, put the ball down and hit driver. Austin did that twice, finding the fairway both times. But why? Summerhays' shot is understandable, but a pro hitting driver without a tee off the tee?
Some might believe it was Austin being his nonconformist self, but there was a reason for it. Although Austin certainly was sacrificing distance (the hot spot on most modern drivers is actually slightly above the center of the clubhead), he was trying to eliminate the left side of the course. Hitting a large-headed club without the added height of a tee decreases the chances of the ball hooking.
Whether in the fairway or off the tee box, the fact is driver off the deck is a shot the pros practice -- and use -- more often than most would think.
Vijay Singh also is a fan of the shot, using the big stick often for the second shot on par 5s. "I like hitting drivers off the deck," Singh told Golf World in 2011. "It makes one really aggressive when you do that."
Martin Kaymer had success with a driver off the deck as well at the 2008 Abu Dhabi Championship. When questioned about the shot, Kaymer had a simple explanation for why he felt comfortable trying it.
"When I was young, my father never gave me tees," said Kaymer. "I would ask, 'All the other guys get tees. Why don't I get tees?' He told me it was a big advantage for [me] because I would feel better playing it from the fairway in tournaments. That's how I got used to it."
Physics, however, dictate driver off the deck may not be a shot everyday players should attempt. In fact, you might want to steer clear unless you have a courtesy car.
That's because the shot really makes little sense for most everyday players. One of the reasons is that it spins more. That's not such a problem for tour players who hit it fairly straight, but for average golfers who impart more sidespin, it could lead to shots going even more off line. It's also important to remember that for most players, hitting driver off the turf delofts the launch angle between 3 to 7 degrees. Couple that with today's lower-spinning golf balls and the odds of keeping the ball airborne long enough to get the distance benefit are small for all but the fastest of swingers.
In other words, there's nothing cool about hitting driver off the deck if you're hitting grounders.
TIANLANG GUAN // Anchors away?
Now that the USGA and R&A have announced they will enact Rule 14-1b -- the so-called anchor ban -- starting in 2016, numerous players using anchored putters have begun practicing non-anchored strokes, with 14-year-old Chinese amateur prodigy Tianlang Guan among them.
Guan, who qualified for and made the cut in the Masters using a belly putter he anchored in his abdomen, recently played the South Course at Torrey Pines. Though he was still using a belly putter, he was holding it about an inch away from his body. "I just have a try with it," Guan said, "and I feel good with the change. It's not a big deal. It's OK they stop using it. I'm OK with it."
Guan said he will continue to experiment without anchoring his belly putter -- using a Scotty Cameron by Titleist Futura X that he received on a recent visit to Cameron's putter studio in San Marcos, Calif. Guan, who is waiting to hear about a possible sponsor's exemption into the RBC Canadian Open, was noncommittal as to whether he would use a non-anchored stroke should he get in the field. --John Strege
Scotty Cameron by Titleist Futura X
This mallet uses weight in the sole and "wings" to lower the center of gravity for stability and better performance on mis-hits. Available in 33, 34, 35 inches. Half-inch increments through custom order.
Ping is debuting a prototype driving iron -- named Rapture -- at the British Open and True South Classic. The 17-degree club is made from stainless steel with a 455 Carpenter steel face to promote ball speed while tungsten is positioned low in the sole to lower the center of gravity and assist launch. Bubba Watson and Lee Westwood have tested the club. ... David Duval has a new stick for the British Open -- a Nike VR_S Forged 2-iron that is a quarter-inch longer and 2 degrees stronger than a normal 2-iron making it, in essence, a 1-iron. ... TaylorMade's new SLDR driver was in the bags of nine players at the John Deere Classic (including Boo Weekley and Lucas Glover) and another four at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, including Darren Clarke.
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.
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.
By winning the John Deere Classic, 19-year-old Jordan Spieth became the youngest winner on the PGA Tour in 82 years. He also became the first teenager to win since Ralph Guldahl took the Santa Monica Open in 1931. Here's a look at the clubs Jordan used to capture his first pro title:
Driver: Titleist 910D2 (Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 63X), 8.5 degrees
3-Wood: TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2, 14.5 degrees
Hybrid: Titleist 913Hd, 18 degrees
Irons (4-9): Titleist AP2 714 prototype
PW: Titleist Vokey SM4
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM4 (52, 56, 60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
[Photo: Michael Cohen/Getty Images]