It has been well chronicled that when Tiger Woods tees off Thursday at the Hero World Challenge, it will be his first competitive round with new swing instructor/consultant Chris Como. Less well known is that it will also be his first competitive round with most of the equipment he's expecting to have in his bag.
Nothing is official until he steps on the first tee, but it's highly likely Woods will be using new woods, irons and a new golf ball from when he last played at the PGA Championship in August. The only clubs he isn't expected to change are his wedges and putter.
Below are some of the details on his new equipment, which Tiger offered substantial input with during the R&D process. "That to me is fun, testing product," Woods said during a Nike press event in August. "Especially when I'm playing well. I think that is the best time to test. ... You always want to test when you are playing great, because obviously you can see the differences."
Clearly he's feeling confident about all of the new gear because there are a lot of changes to his bag. Company officials are touring this as "the first time in Nike history that he has put this much new equipment in play in one week."
Ball: RZN Black.
This is a big change for Tiger. For the last five years, he's been playing a version of the One Tour D that had been specifically made for him. The core of the RZN is waffle-shaped and made out of a resin polymer that interlocks with the mantle layer. The One Tour D has a synthetic rubber core. Resin is lighter than rubber, which means Tiger is playing a ball that is structurally quite different than what he's been playing for half a decade.
__Driver:Vapor Speed prototype, Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 93x shaft.
__The drive has a 420 cubic-centimeter clubhead and has 10.5 degrees of loft, a big change from the 9.5-degree driver he was playing most recently. And there were times in the last couple years that he's played an 8.5-degree model. His driver is also glued in, which is different from the adjustable version that will be sold at retail.
*Fairway Woods: Vapor Speed 3- and 5-wood
The biggest innovation in these clubs is stability. Two thin pieces of stainless steel run through the cavity -- called Fly Beams -- to add support and stiffness to the back cavity, something Tiger specifically looks for in his clubs. The compression channel in the fairway woods is similar to the one used in the VR series, but it's varied in width and depth.
Irons: Vapor Pro
One of the biggest alterations made in the development of these irons from the previous ones Tiger had used was moving some of the weight toward the toe. This shift in the center of gravity came from studying the wear pattern on Tiger's clubs. The ball was hitting the middle of the clubface -- which sounds ideal -- but the majority of the clubhead's weight was in the heel. Nike R&D officials wanted to get more of the mass behind the ball (for Tiger and those of his ability level, that would be the center of the face). In early trials, they drilled holes in the toe of Tiger's blades and filled them with tungsten, a heavier metal.
"We had this idea, if we moved the CG towards the center of the face that it would have more impact and more mass right behind the ball," Tiger explained on Nike's website. "And it worked. I was able to hit the ball a little bit further, it came off more solid, and the amazing thing is the ball flew better."
Nike moved on from the tungsten plugs, and calls its final iteration "Modern Muscle technology." The new geometry produces the same result as the plugs, without using tungsten.
The change in his clubs, coupled with the changes in Woods' swing, seems to be a part of a new Tiger -- or at least a different Tiger -- one that age and injury has forced him to become.
"We all have to make adaptations as athletes, and we have to make adjustments," Woods said Tuesday. "And I'm no different. As I've explained to you guys many times, [it's] like when M.J. [Michael Jordan] created a fadeaway. He couldn't jump over everybody anymore, and he created a new way to score and get points. I'm the same way. I can't blow it out there with some of the longer guys anymore. ... But there's other ways to go around a golf course."