U.S. Open 2019: Xander Schauffele finds success with new putter; is Viktor Hovland's Ping driver a clue?
The U.S. Open at Pebble Beach provided competitors an opportunity to test their skills on a traditional links-style course that required all the requisite skills, not just the ability to bomb the ball. For several players, it also proved a chance to put some new equipment in the bag and see what it could produce under what is considered the most-difficult test in golf. That meant putter changes for Xander Schauffele and Sergio Garcia, a new driver (and perhaps a hint to what company he’s signing with) for amateur Viktor Hovland and a new dark-colored set of irons for Cameron Smith.
Xander Schauffele made a timely putter change at the U.S. Open, switching from his Odyssey Stroke Lab R-Ball to the company’s Stroke Lab Tuttle mallet. Schauffele has been using a Stroke Lab shaft in his putter since the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in March, feeling the multi-material shaft has improved his tempo and consistency in his stroke. However, after testing the Tuttle head extensively at Pebble Beach, he preferred the alignment of the three lines that run all the way from the front to the back of the putterhead to help frame the ball in the Tuttle. Schauffele’s new putter is 34.375 inches long with a Superstroke Traxion grip and he used the club to rank seventh in strokes gained/putting at the U.S. Open at 5.96 strokes better than the field, en route to T-3 finish.
Viktor Hovland served notice that he might be a force to deal with when he turns pro, and the equipment in his bag at Pebble Beach might offer some clues as to what company he might be signing with. Hovland had a fair share of Ping equipment in the bag, including the company’s G410 Plus driver with 9 degrees loft. Hovland also had the company’s irons and fairway wood in the bag. Hovland set the 72-hole scoring record for an amateur, aided greatly by leading the entire field in strokes gained/off the tee at 8.40. Hovland is playing this week’s Travelers Championship.
Among the players putting Titleist’s new T100 irons in play was Cameron Smith, but his irons came with a twist. Smith prefers a dark finish on his irons and he convinced the company to produce a one-of-a-kind black finish T100 for him. Smith previously used the 718 AP2, which the T100 has been speculated to replace. Completing the dark look in Smith’s irons is True Temper’s Dynamic Gold Onyx X100 shafts.
Perhaps Sergio Garcia was hoping to rekindle a little Masters magic or just get a good feeling by channeling his young daughter, but regardless of reason he went back to an Odyssey Toulon Azalea putter at the U.S. Open. The club is named after the 13th hole at Augusta National and also happens to be the name of his daughter as well. The head is a little longer and wider than a Toulon Atlanta model he had used, and features a 50-gram counterbalance weight in the grip.