Although the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is a big event with a ton on the line, it did give players such as Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Tiger Woods an opportunity to solidify their bags and try some new equipment before this week’s PGA Championship. Woods removed the TaylorMade GAPR Lo utility iron and replaced it with the company’s Tour Preferred UDI, a club he had previously used. Johnson made a drastic mid-tournament putter change to the TaylorMade Spider Mini and Matsuyama continued to look for a driver. Spieth, meanwhile, put a new fairway wood and a hybrid in the bag. Looks like some of the game’s best have their gear ready for Bellerive.
Dustin Johnson showed just how fickle some tour players can be when it comes to their putters at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Just one week after winning the RBC Canadian Open, Johnson opened with solid rounds of 69 and 71, but he decided to bench his TaylorMade Spider Tour in favor the company’s slimmed-down Spider Mini, a model he previously had given a try.
“I felt like the first two rounds I played OK, but I struggled on the greens a bit,” said Johnson. “I felt like I was working hard on the putting and it wasn’t getting any better, so I switched putters and it worked a little bit.”
We would say more than a little bit. Johnson was -1.119 and -0.460 in strokes gained/putting over the first two rounds at Firestone Country Club's South Course, then rebounded with marks of 1.915 and 2.443 in the third and fourth rounds to finish T-3.
According to TaylorMade, Johnson’s putter is 35.25 inches in length with the Diamond Silver finish. A significant difference is the insert. Johnson ordered this putter with a softer Surlyn insert as opposed to aluminum immediately after the Open Championship, feeling that a softer insert would allow him to be more aggressive with his stroke.
Jordan Spieth is meticulous about his equipment but also has shown a willingness to change as soon as he is comfortable with the new clubs. Last week that meant a couple of changes to his metalwoods lineup, as Speith added Titleist’s new TS2 15-degree 3-wood that replaced his 915F2.
According to Titleist tour rep J.J. VanWezenbeeck, Spieth preferred the look and feel and felt it launched easier off the turf for him. Spieth also put in the company’s 818H2 21-degree hybrid, replacing the 718 T-MB 3-iron he carried at Carnoustie.
When it comes to trying new drivers, Hideki Matsuyama can give any tour player a run for how often he changes. Ever since his old Srixon driver cracked, Matsuyama has been in search of a new big stick, using drivers from Ping, TaylorMade and Callaway while trying out newer Srixon models as well. Last week there was another driver in the Japanese star’s bag, Callaway’s XR Speed, a model not currently sold in the United States.
The club, which does not have the company’s Jailbreak technology that is used on the recent Epic and Rogue drivers, has a re-engineered variable-thickness face that supposedly is the lightest, most flexible face Callaway has designed. The club also has a lightweight composite crown, saving weight by lowering the center of gravity to enhance forgiveness. One thing familiar was Matsuyama kept his Graphite Design Tour AD DI-8 shaft.