Players Championship 2018: Brooks Koepka switched to a new driver at the Players en route to final-round 63
The Players Championship habitually boasts one of the strongest fields all year, and a number of top players were changing sticks at TPC Sawgrass in an attempt to better position themselves for a shot at the $1.98-million first-place prize. Two of those players, Justin Thomas and Adam Scott, went back to clubs they had previously had success with, while Brooks Koepka and Marc Leishman added some new additions to the bag.
Koepka is starting to get his groove back after a lengthy layoff due to a wrist injury. After missing the cut in the team event at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Koepka had a lackluster T-42 at the Wells Fargo before finishing strong at the Players to grab a share of 11th place. Helping Koepka greatly was a double-eagle 2 on the par-5 16th, a deuce set up by a strong tee shot of 308 yards (the shot he holed was a 6-iron from 208 yards). That drive was hit with a TaylorMade M3 460 driver—a club Koepka changed to at the Players from the company’s M4 model that he had been using. The M3 460 uses a weight track that allows a pair of weights to be moved to various positions. Kopeka had them split in the rear section, one in the heel area and one in the toe, a setup that provides max stability. For the week Koepka averaged 308.9 yards off the tee, ranked second.
At the Wells Fargo Championship Thomas borrowed Rickie Fowler’s Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2. He gave Fowler the putter back, but had Titleist make him one of his own. Thomas, however, was back with his usual Scotty Cameron by Titleist Futura X5 mallet at the Players Championship. Thomas, who used that putter to win Player of the Year honors last year as well as the PGA Championship, finished T-11 at the Players and was able to overtake Dustin Johnson as World No. 1. Thomas’s putting had a lot to do with that as he posted a 3.457 strokes gained/putting mark on Sunday, en route to a final-round 66.
Scott, who won the Players in 2004, changed this week to a Titleist 910D3 driver—a model introduced in 2010, and a club Scott used when he won the 2011 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Players returning to clubs they have had success with in the past is not unusual and from photos the driver appears to have the same Graphite Design AD DI-8 shaft that was in Scott’s 910D3 in 2011. Scott finished T-11 at TPC Sawgrass, averaging a solid 305.5 yards off the tee and hitting a highly respectable 62.5 percent of his fairways. For those wondering why Scott might not have opted for the 913D3 with the same shaft that he used to win the 2013 Masters, that club isn’t exactly handy. Scott donated that particular driver to Augusta National Golf Club to include in its collection of clubs from its champions.
Leishman had a trio of new Callaway Mack Daddy 4 wedges in the bag at the Players. Leishman had a 48- and 54-degree model in the S grind, which is a versatile grind with 10 degrees bounce and slight trailing edge and heel relief. His 58-degree lob wedge had the X grind, which has 12 degrees bounce with more heel and toe relief along with a flat center section and a straight leading edge. Leishman, who finished T-36 at the Players Championship, was 14 of 25 in scrambling for a 56-percent conversion rate, slightly better than the field average of 53 percent at TPC Sawgrass.