The biggest equipment stories of the week: Phil Mickelson brings back his British Open 3-wood, Ariya Jutanugarn actually uses a driver
Phil Mickelson put an old friend back in the bag and Ariya Jutanugarn tried something entirely different. Newly minted pros Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland not only made their professional debuts at the Travelers Championship, but inked equipment deals as well, allowing them some financial security before even hitting their first shot as a pro.
Streeter Lecka/PGA of America
Ariya Jutanugarn simply does not hit driver very often. In fact, coming into the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, she hadn’t used driver at all this season. But on a Hazeltine National Golf Club course measuring over 6,800 yards, Jutanugarn added a Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero with 9 degrees loft to the bag. She used the club to tee off with on both of the course’s back-nine par 5s. For the final three rounds, however, Jutanugarn went back to what she knows, using her TaylorMade AeroBurner fairway wood as her primary driving club.
Phil Mickelson always delivers—at least as it relates to interesting equipment stories. After recently employing a two-driver strategy, Lefty hauled out his old Callaway X Hot 3Deep fairway wood that he used to win the 2013 Open Championship with. Earlier that year Mickelson asked Callaway for a 3-wood he could hit both off the tee and off the turf. The result was a 43.25-inch 3-wood (with a finished loft slightly stronger than its listed 13 degrees). The club also had a face height 10 percent larger than the company’s X Hot Pro, thus raising the center of gravity more in line with Mickelson’s impact spot. After working with the club at Doral that year, Mickelson’s caddie at the time, Jim Mackay, called it, “The most meaningful club Phil has ever put in the bag in my 20 years caddieing for him.” Those words had extra meaning at that year’s Open Championship as Lefty ditched his driver and used the 3-wood to tee off with. Then, on the 71st hole, Mickelson hit Muirfield’s par-5 17th in two blows—both struck with the 3-wood, to set up what was, effectively, the clinching birdie. No word on whether or not Lefty will use the club next month at Royal Portrush.
Matthew Wolff knew turning pro would bring some changes to his life, so he decided to stay pat in one area he had control over: his equipment. “Just stick to what you know,” Wolff said at the Travelers, where he was unveiled as a member of TaylorMade’s tour staff. “That's why I stayed with TaylorMade. I've been playing them since probably seventh grade, 12 years old. That's what I love to use and I feel most comfortable with.” Wolff used TaylorMade’s M3 460 earlier this year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but as a newly-minted staff player, he had the company’s newer M6 driver (8 degrees) in the bag at the Travelers Championship.
Here’s a full look at Wolff’s bag:
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Driver: TaylorMade M6, 8 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade M6, 15 degrees
Irons (3): TaylorMade P760; (4-PW): TaylorMade P750
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (50, 56, 62 degrees)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour
Wolff wasn’t the only player to sign a deal. Viktor Hovland inked a multi-year pact with Ping and employed nine of the company’s clubs at TPC River Highlands, including a split set of irons. But while many would think the i210s he had would be used for the long irons and the iBlades for the short irons, it was actually the reverse. “Most people would think it would be the other way around,” Hovland said. “But I felt the i210s flighted the ball a little lower than the iBlades and I wanted that in the shorter clubs. So it’s a bit unusual, but it works.” How long it works remains to be seen as Hovland said he might use the company’s Blueprint irons in the near future.
Here’s a full look at Hovland’s bag:
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Driver: Ping G410 LST, 9 degrees
3-wood: Ping G400, 14.5 degrees
Irons (4-6): Ping iBlade; (7-PW): Ping i210
Wedges: TaylorMade Tour Preferred EF (50, 56, 60 degrees)
Putter: TaylorMade TP Mullen 2