May 25, 2009

It's A Real Keeper

golfworld-2009-06-gwar01_090601wedge.jpg

fourteen MT28V4 wedge: Rory Sabbatini used a 61-degree version of this wedge at the Nelson, giving the company its first PGA Tour win.

Coming into the 1999 GTE Byron Nelson Golf Classic, Tiger Woods ranked T-102 in putting on the PGA Tour and had won just three tournaments since a victory in the 1997 Nelson. At the Nelson in 1999, Woods made a significant change: He switched to a Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2 putter, which remains in his bag 10 years later.

The longevity comes with good reason. Woods was so successful with the putter that his putting-average rank jumped to T-24 by year's end. More importantly, he won seven of his next 11 starts. In the eight full seasons he has used the club (not counting 1999 and 2008), Woods has ranked in the top 10 in putting average five times.

Woods says the club resonates with him because it is similar to the Ping Anser 2 he used as a kid. But it was a lack of success with another Anser 2 that led him to his current putter.

Last fall, Mark O'Meara recounted a story to the London Telegraph about the plane ride back to the U.S. after his win in the 1998 British Open in which he spoke about how Woods had used O'Meara's backup Ping Anser 2 in 1998, including at the Open Championship where Woods came up a shot shy of the O'Meara-Brian Watts playoff. "Why do you think it's the backup, Bud?" chided O'Meara. The putter Woods went to next was the Cameron.

This putter is made from German stainless steel and is 35¼ inches long with a standard lie angle. Recently, Woods added ¼-degree of loft to the clubface to bring it back to its correct loft. In this era of somewhat heavier flat sticks, the club's 326 grams is a touch on the lighter side. According to Wikipedia, the markings include a single sight dot and a blank sole, with "Tiger" engraved on the left bumper and "Woods" on the right bumper. The club features a Ping grip with the "Ping" name blacked out and has been re-shafted twice.

Woods is one of the tour's most meticulous players when it comes to his equipment, which has made producing a backup difficult. Cameron makes three or four a year for Woods, but they are never put in play and often are simply given away.

Which won't happen to Woods' gamer anytime soon.

Spotted

TaylorMade showed its prototype RS putters to its tour staff at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Currently on the market in Japan, the RS stands for Red Stripe as a long white stripe is flanked by two red ones set a golf-ball width apart to create an alignment aid. James Nitties and Jay Williamson were among players requesting RS putters.

Bag Room

After opening with a 75 at the Valero Texas Open, D.A. Points (right)switched to a SeeMore FGP Black putter and shot 67 with just 23 putts. Points kept the club in the bag at the Nelson and finished solo third while ranking sixth in putts per round and putts per GIR. ... Starting this week, tour players (including Rory Sabbatini) will need to make sure any Callaway Tour i balls sidestamped with a single dot on each side of the name come out of the bag. Callaway has asked that the model be removed from the USGA's List of Conforming Golf Balls after a small sample was found to be over the USGA's weight limit. A new version of the Tour i with two dots on the sidestamp will be added to the conforming list.