Tyler Duncan on his equipment, why golf balls can be on a short leash and why he carries nail clippers in his bag
Tyler Duncan won the RSM Classic for his first win of any kind as a professional golfer. During the final round and playoff, Duncan displayed the ball striking of a veteran player in downing Webb Simpson for the title. Golf Digest spoke with Duncan about his Titleist golf equipment, including the Scotty Cameron 009 putter he used to hole several key putts, as well as why golf balls can last one hole or all 18.
You made some huge putts Sunday at the RSM. How long have you had that Scotty Cameron 009 in the bag and where did you get it?
When I first got on tour I used the 009 with the topline and I went away from it for the last year or so. Then at Wyndham this year, last event, I was in the equipment van and kind of browsing around. I used one of the mallets that week, but in looking around I picked up this 009 that I’m using now and was like, “Wow, this is incredible. It just seemed to set up so well. But I hadn’t used a blade putter in over a year so I told Drew Page, the Scotty Cameron tour rep, that I had to take it home because it might be my next putter. I took it with me and put it in the first week of the Korn Ferry Tour finals and have been using it ever since.
Pretty timely stop in the equipment van.
It was. I have no idea how long it had been sitting on there, but it’s one of the best putters I’ve used.
Titleist brought out their new Vokey SM8 wedges this past week at Sea Island and you put two of them in the bag. How much work did you do with them beforehand and do you change the grinds at all?
I use some of their basic grinds, so no, I don’t do anything special in that regard. I hit the wedges on the range Monday afternoon at Sea Island and they felt great. On Tuesday I went out and played a few holes and chipped around the greens and they were unbelievable. The feel off the face and the spin was terrific and the launch on full shots seemed a little bit lower, which is what I like. The clean look on the back of them is nice too.
Compare the access to equipment and the ability to test new equipment on the PGA Tour compared to the Korn Ferry Tour.
The Korn Ferry Tour you have access to equipment, but not like you have on the PGA Tour. Out here you can get pretty much whatever you want with a day’s notice. It can actually be challenging at times if you’re struggling and want to try something new because you can almost have too many options. But I’ve been fortunate with the equipment that I’ve been in and I haven’t made a whole lot of changes other than the putter and wedges. The rest of my setup has been pretty much the same for a year now.
Does having that familiarity with your clubs help in pressure situations such as the final nine at the RSM Classic because you know exactly what to expect from your equipment?
Very much so, especially on days such as Sunday at the RSM where it was windy and cold. I know exactly how every single one of my clubs is going to react on every type of shot because I’ve been playing them for so long. That familiarity lets you know exactly what the ball flight is going to be if you execute the way you’re trying to and also how it’s going to react if you don’t execute the way you want to. I think it’s very important to be familiar with your clubs.
The TS2 driver you use has an adjustable hosel. How do you have it set and do you ever tinker with it out of curiosity or due to course conditions?
I have it set on D-1 and I’m not even sure what that does to the club [Editor’s note: it reduces the loft by .75 of a degree]. We were in Hilton Head at the RBC Heritage and messed with a couple of different settings to see how it reacted and I hit about two balls in two different settings and realized I liked it just how it was before. I haven’t played a round with that driver in a different setting.
You play the Pro V1 ball. What do you like about that ball compared to the Pro V1x and how many balls do you go through in a typical round?
I’ve been playing the Pro V1 since the new launch in 2015, so it’s been four years that I’ve been playing it. I’ve found that it launches a little bit lower for me and spins a little bit less, but you still have the touch and spin around the greens. As for the number of balls I use during a round, it completely varies. A lot of times after I make a bogey I’ll switch it out. And Friday at the RSM when I shot 61 I used the same ball the entire round. I did the same at Mayakoba. It’s almost a superstitious thing. If I have a good vibe I’m going to keep rolling with it and if I don’t, I’m gonna switch. In the final round at RSM I made a bogey on the first hole and that ball lasted one hole.
What’s your earliest memory about golf equipment?
When I was really young my grandpa used to build some custom clubs around town for some of his buddies. He’d order components from GolfWorks and build them. So I had a 3-wood, and 8-iron and a putter he built that were really short because I was so young.
What’s the most unusual thing you have in your golf bag?
Probably fingernail clippers. I don’t know a lot of people who carry those in their bag. Someone told me once when I was younger that they had heard from one of the all-time greats—I can’t remember who it was—that if your fingernails are too long, it affects your touch so I’ve always tried to make sure that if they’re feeling a little too long I chop them down.