The Honda Classic is a week when you hear the phrase “The Bear Trap” so often that you might want to stab yourself in the eye with a letter opener. But the constant refrain also underscores the fact that navigating the back nine at PGA National’s Champion Course is an integral part of competing in the event. With that in mind, we take a look at the five players in the field with the lowest back-nine scoring averages this season and the irons they use.
Though Rickie Fowler has used his Cobra King Forged MB irons for some time, the King F9 Speedback 4-iron is a relatively new addition. Fowler spoke about having the club—which has a Graphite Design prototype shaft at 3-iron length—last fall in Las Vegas when he said, “Actually had a 4-iron from game improvement new F9 irons, and it’s an incredible 4-iron. I was hitting it off a lot of tees out here. It may be a sneaky weapon.” Fowler continued to use the club during his win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and one he'll continue to rely on at the Honda Classic.
Split sets of irons are more the norm than the exception, but while many players will use a different long iron or two or perhaps a wedge that matches the rest of their wedges instead of a set wedge, Talor Gooch goes a little beyond that, employing four different models of irons, including a fairly venerable Callaway Apex Pro 16 4-iron. That's not necessarily unheard of, but it's definitely unique.
Back 9 Scoring: 34.13
Irons (3, 5-PW): Wilson Staff Forged
Gary Woodland made Wilson’s signing of him to a deal to use 10 of their clubs look like a good one when he finished runner-up at the Sentry Tournament of Champions using Wilson Staff Forged blade irons. The muscleback clubs have the company’s hallmark bore-thru “Fluid Feel” hosel, which dates back to Wilson’s heyday in muscleback irons. The shape of the carbon-steel clubhead is reminiscent of the company’s recent FG Tour 100, however it boasts a milled face with a milled diamond pattern that frames the scorelines (another homage to old-school Wilson blades).
Another player that uses a split set of irons, Justin Thomas utilizes Titleist’s 718 MB irons for the bulk of the set, telling Golf Digest in 2017 that, “They look clean at address. The feel is great, they go through the turf well, they have a good sound to them. All the irons are great but I’ve used blades most of my life. I’m hitting them well so I’m not about to change.” And to date, he hasn’t.
Back 9 Scoring: 34.31
Irons (3-PW): Mizuno JPX 919 Tour
When Nike got of the equipment business in 2016, perhaps no company benefited more than Mizuno, as it saw a number of the players move from swoosh-logoed irons to theirs. One of those players was former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, who eventually signed an endorsement deal with the company in 2017. Glover now uses the company’s JPX 919 Tour irons, which boast a thin topline and more mass in the toe and sole to provide more forgiveness. The added toe weight also moved the center of gravity closer to the center of the face—A place a tour player such as Glover finds with some regularity. As a personal touch, Glover has a simple “LG” stamping on the toe area of his irons.