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Seeking more distance, Tiger Woods is making a golf ball switch for upcoming events

December 08, 2022
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Stuart Franklin/R&A

Tiger Woods is almost certain to be back in action shortly. Now, The Match and the PNC Championship aren’t exactly the Masters, but they are competitive events. And Woods, it appears, will be using a different golf ball when he next tees it up: Bridgestone’s Tour B X.

That’s because Woods is like almost every golfer—he’s looking for more distance, and the lower-spinning Tour B X model (compared to the Tour B XS he had been playing) definitely spins less.

“The Tour B XS is a great golf ball, it has the feel and spin I’ve preferred,” Woods said through Bridgestone. “Right now, though, I’m experimenting with the Tour B X to get a little more pop. Based on the situation, I have different preferences and it’s great that Bridgestone has multiple balls right off the shelf that I can play.”

The genesis of the switch is that Woods was getting some questions from his team about the Tour B X and wanted to be able to speak intelligently about the differences. He hit both in the simulator to experience the differences first-hand and became intrigued by the X, then took it outside and put it through its paces, where he was impressed by the added yards.

“He told us that off the tee he’s now about one club less into the green with the X versus the XS,” said Elliot Mellow, marketing manager for Bridgestone Golf. “He might be giving up a little control with the X, but maybe hitting one less club in will offset that.”

Although the move might appear to be a small departure, at the elite level such differences are magnified. Even more so, perhaps, in the case of Woods, who over the year has expressed a desire for golf-ball R&D teams to “Give me all the spin you got. It’s my job to take it off.” Woods also is not fond of more velocity on short-game shots. As he told Golf Digest during a test session in 2019, “I want a feel like I can hit it without the ball coming off the face too quick.” The Tour B X is decidedly firmer than the Tour B XS.

“As swings change, people change and course conditions change—and those are all variables all golfers deal with, including Tiger—the fit, whether it be balls or clubs, can change,” said Mellow. “Given the casual nature of the events and maybe the courses aren’t as firm, it’s an opportunity for him to experiment by pulling the distance lever, giving up a little spin and see what happens.”

Although the events are low stress, they are competition. And it stands to reason that Woods, given how likely it is that he will play a very limited schedule of tournaments going forward, wants to get some reps in with the ball in a competitive environment of some kind where he’s legitimately trying on every shot.

Speaking of trying on every shot, whether Woods plays well with the ball or not, it’s probably a reach to think he would use the ball at the Masters. With less spin comes less ability to work the ball, and Augusta National requires a number of tee shots with movement, not to mention Woods probably desires something a little softer around those firm greens.