LA JOLLA, Calif. — Tiger Woods will play his first event of 2020 with some new tools in the bag.
Woods is putting the new Taylormade SIM driver and a new Bridgestone Tour B XS golf ball in play this week at the Farmers Insurance Open. The driver is 9 degrees and has the same Diamana D+60 TX “White Board” shaft as the M5 model he used to win the Masters and the Zozo Championship.
The 15-time major champion, who can break a tie with Sam Snead this week should he win a record 83rd PGA Tour event, began the week with both the SIM and the M5 in the bag. The plan was always to put the SIM in play, but it initially felt a bit light in his hands. He then made tweaks to it and did some heavy-duty testing at the driving range on Tuesday afternoon, making sure he could shape it both ways and that the ball was flying through his windows.
Whereas some players like to maximize distance, Woods has always been wary of a driver that is “too hot.” He prioritizes control and will not sacrifice any control or workability for distance.
“Yeah, I have picked up a little bit of speed, which is nice,” Woods said of the SIM on Tuesday. “I know what my driver can do, I know my current driver’s not maxed out, it's not supposed to be.
“It's a driver where I can hit a draw anytime I want, and then when I do hit a cut, it doesn't really go very far but I know I can turn it at any given time. That's what I want with the SIM driver, I want to be able to draw it and then hit my little slap cut up there kind of shortening the fairway. Trying to find both, meanwhile giving me more distance with both shots, would be ideal.”
Another part of the driver testing process has been matching it with the new Bridgestone model, which he helped design. Woods has noticed that the new combination has produced some extra ball speed and extra carry—he’s been carrying his driver close to 300 yards despite the cold, damp air here at Torrey Pines.
That he’s willing to switch is a testament to how confident he is in the new gear, because Woods drove the ball fantastically well toward the latter half of 2019, when he won the Zozo Championship, finished T-4 at the Hero World Challenge and went 3-0 as a player-captain at the Presidents Cup.