British Open 2018: Francesco Molinari's red-hot putter has him as one of the most intriguing players heading into Carnoustie
Players from both sides of the pond spent last week in final preparations for this week’s Open Championship, with some opting for tournament golf instead of less-formal practice sessions. Whether at the John Deere Classic or the Scottish Open, it was worth taking a look into the bags of players and some of the more interesting equipment we found whether here in the States or abroad.
Francesco Molinari has enjoyed quite a run. The Italian star won the Quicken Loans National at 21 under par and was T-2 at the John Deere Classic at 19 under. That’s a lot of putts made in two tournaments. Molinari’s putter is a custom Bettinardi DASS BBZero with a skull and crossbones stamp in the rear cavity in an Italian flag-themed paintfill. Molinari first put the putter in play at the Players Championship and also won the BMW PGA Championship with it. The putter is only 32.25 inches in length with a loft of 2.5 degrees.
At the Scottish Open at the composite course at Gullane, champion Brandon Stone made a nice case for Ping’s new i210 irons, putting the 3- through 5-irons in play. The compact, players-shape iron boasts improved feel via a softer elastomer insert wedged into the back cavity. That larger, wider port for the elastomer yields more perimeter weighting, but it also means more of the face is backed by the softer material to improve feel. It clearly agreed with Stone, who shot 60 in the final round.
Though not in the field at the Open this week, Andres Romero made a strong bid to return to Carnoustie, where he posted a T-3 in 2007 here, as the Argentine recorded his first PGA Tour top-10 since the 2016 Puerto Rico Open with a T-7 at the John Deere. Romero also had a new look on the greens, using a center-shafted Odyssey O-Works 2M Black putter in place of the Odyssey O-Works #9 heel-shafted mid-mallet that had been in the bag. Romero was on fire on the greens at TPC Deere Run, ranking second in strokes gained/putting at 2.872.
Michael Kim might've ran away with the John Deere Classic, but a name not familiar to all golf fans put up a respectable T-2 finish. That's Sam Ryder. Ryder had a strong fifth-place finish earlier this year at the Houston Open, but he's had nothing better than a T-26 since and has struggled with his putting for most of the year, ranking 166th in strokes gained/putting. That prompted a change at the John Deere Classic where Ryder benched his Scotty Cameron by Titleist 009 blade in favor of TaylorMade’s Spider Tour Red mallet. The move worked well for Burns as he posted a solid 1.256 strokes gained/putting mark to rank seventh for the week.