By Michael Williams
GolfWRX Staff Writer
PGA Tour crowd favorite Bubba Watson combined prodigious drives with fearless iron play to engineer a victory over South African Louis Oosthuizen on the second playoff hole at historic Augusta National. Watson and Oosthuizen finished regulation play at 10-under par 274, 2 shots ahead of a pack that had chased the lead until the final moments.
“I never go this far in my dreams,” an emotional Watson said during the Green Jacket Ceremony at Butler Cabin.
The round produced drama from virtually every part of the field. Bo Van Pelt recorded a Masters record-tying 64, including an ace on the par-3 16th. Adam Scott also aced the 16th. But the leaders produced the real fireworks.
Oosthuizen made history with his double-eagle three at the par-5 second. Oosthuizen hit a 4-iron from 253 yards that landed the front of the green and funneled down to the traditional back right pin and into the hole. The albatross was only the fourth in Masters history and the first ever on No. 2. That shot rocketed him from third to first place and he held onto it with dogged determination and a ice-cold demeanor. Throughout the round Oosthuizen displayed a rhythmic, balanced swing that made it seem it seems as though he is always going to hit what he is aiming for. Oosthuizen made key par save putts on No. 3 and No. 6 of 10 feet. He was rock solid on the later holes as well, making quality putts from every angle on Augusta’s treacherous greens.
Playing partner Watson was undeterred. He recorded birdie on the second and birdied No. 13 and No. 14 after a bogey at No. 12 to get within one shot of Oosthuizen and the lead. He sank an 8 footer at No. 16 to tie for the lead.
On No. 17, both Watson and Ooosthuizen sent their tee shots into the woods. Oosthuizen made another remarkable par save after a superb wedge out of the greenside bunker. Watson also saved par, sending the duel to the final hole of the tournament. Both players hit long drives into the fairway, and both had makeable putts to win the tournament. But Oosthuizen’s 15 footer slid just right of the hole and Watson’s birdie attempt curled to the left, sending the tournament into a playoff for the 14th time and the first since 2009.
On the first playoff hole, Watson produced a carbon copy of the drive he hit in regulation, finding the right side of the fairway; Oosthuizen left himself 151 on the opposite side. Oosthuizen drilled his approached to 15 feet and Watson responded by putting his within 10 feet. Both missed their birdie chances to take the competition to the second playoff hole, No. 10.
Both players hit wild tee shots to the right of the fairway, with Oosthuizen getting another good break as his tee shot rebounded out of the woods into the first cut of rough. Watson’s ball rested some 20 yards right the fairway and 150 yards from the flag. But fortunes were soon reversed as Oosthuizen left his approach short of the green and failed to get the ball up and down for par. Watson responded by hitting one of the most clutch shots in Masters history, hooking a pitching wedge 151 yards to 8 feet. He two-putted for par to clinch his 4th professional win and his first major championship title. Watson is the third left-handed golf to win the Masters, joining fellow American Mickelson and Canadian Mike Weir.
Oosthuizen’s historic shot was not enough to carry him to victory, but he was stoic in defeat. “I’m happy with the way I played,” he said. “I had my chance on that last hole when he hit a bad drive, but I didn’t take it. I’m happy for [Watson].”
Going into the final five holes, eight players were within three shots of the lead.
Mickelson did not recover from a disastrous triple bogey on the par 3 4th. After sending his tee shot into the brush left of the green, Mickelson declined to re-tee, hacking two shots right-handed on his way to a dismal six. He was never able to dig out of the pit he dug for himself there, finishing with a final round of even par 72 and a four-way tie for third with Matt Kuchar, Peter Hansen and Lee Westwood. No one has ever won the Masters while carding a triple bogey during the week; Mickelson recorded two.
“It was unfortunate,” said Mickelson. “I knew that I didn’t want to leave the ball out to the right, but I went too far. I had my chances later in the round but I just couldn’t hit the putts that I needed.”
Kuchar stayed in the hunt to the end, but ultimately couldn’t convert enough birdie opportunities to catch the leaders. He finished in the group at 8-under.
Third round leader Peter Hanson never really got any momentum going. Loose shots and shaky putting left him in the pack tied for third.
Pre-tournament favorites Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy ended a disappointing Masters for both with final rounds of 74 and 76 respectively to finish at 5-over for the tournament. 52-year old Fred Couples couldn’t sustain the play that carried to him to a share of the second round lead but finished at a very respectable 2-under for the tournament.
Michael Williams is the contributing editor of Newschannel8 Capital Golf Weekly and Bunkershot.com, as well as a member of the Golf Writers Association of America.
You can follow Michael on twitter — @Michaelontv
10 interesting photos from the 2020 Players Championship
GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
The field this week featured the best golfers in the world, including Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, and more.
Rory McIlroy enters the tournament as the defending champion, looking hoist the crystal again.
Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from TPC Sawgrass.
- The Players 2020 – Wednesday
- The Players 2020 – Tuesday #1
- The Players – 2020 – Monday #1
- The Players 2020 – Monday #2
- Chez Reavie – WITB The Players 2020
- Joel Dahmen – WITB The Players 2020
- Rory Sabbatini – WITB The Players 2020
- Brice Garnett – WITB The Players 2020
- Mark Hubbard – WITB The Players 2020
- Louis Oosthuizen – WITB The Players 2020
- Roger Sloan – WITB The Players 2020
- Henrik Stenson – WITB The Players 2020
- Kevin Kisner – WITB The Players 2020
- Erik von Rooyen – WITB The Players 2020
- Nick Taylor – WITB The Players 2020
- Bettinardi – St Patrick’s Day custom putter covers – The Players 2020
- Matt Wallace – WITB The Players 2020
- Patrick Reed’s new custom Cameron putter – The Players 2020
- Aaron Wise – WITB The Players 2020
- Peter Malnati – WITB The Players 2020
- Adam Long – WITB The Players 2020
- Denny McCarthy – WITB The Players 2020
- Keegan Bradley – WITB The Players 2020
Bettinardi’s St. Patrick’s Day covers
Brand-new Srixon 745 in Keegan’s bag
Roger Sloan’s custom Cameron
Mizuno JPX 919 Hot Metal irons spotted in Nick Watney’s bag
Joel Dahmen with a battle-worn hybrid
Fresh eggs for Patrick Reed…
Justin Rose continues to tweak his equipment
Carlos Ortiz looks to be picking up some supplies to mark the end of his driveway…
Jordan Spieth with a Vokey WedgeWorks Proto 60T in the bag
Kiradech Aphibarnrat with lead tape and stamping on cavity-back irons. Solid!
GolfWRX Spotted: Justin Rose with mixed bag at Arnold Palmer Invitational
It’s not very often we get breaking equipment news this time of year on the PGA Tour schedule, but this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, one of the highest-profile players on tour, Justin Rose, was spotted testing multiple brands of clubs throughout his entire bag.
It started last week at the Honda Classic when Rose put a TaylorMade SIM driver with Mitsubishi Kuro Kage in play. As of today’s first round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rose has a mixed set including TaylorMade, Cobra, and Titleist clubs, along with an Axis1 putter.
Here are the details of Rose’s equipment:
Driver: TaylorMade SIM (10.5 degrees @ 8.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70 TX
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Max (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 80 TX
5-wood: Cobra SpeedZone Tour (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 X
Irons: TaylorMade P730 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5
Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (52, 56 degrees), Titleist Vokey Design Prototype K Grind (60 degrees)
Shafts: Project X 6.5 (52, 56), Proto Hi-Rev 135X (60)
Putter: Axis1 Rose
Grip: Flat Cat Svelte
Ball: TaylorMade TP5 ‘19 (No. 1)
Inside look: Callaway Jaws MD5 wedges on tour…6 months after launch
Callaway Jaws MD5 wedges hit professional golf tours months ago. We reported on the launch extensively (see our videos later in the article) with deep coverage on the PGA Tour and at retail. As with any new offering, and especially for the gearheads on GolfWRX, it’s the tour chatter that drives us. What the pros do, play, and think is always a driving force.
Personally, I have always been fascinated by the aftermath of a launch. What are the reactions and tweaks that are made once the shine has worn off? It’s not uncommon for players to need to warm up to a new product before it ultimately finds its way into the bag permanently.
When Jaws hit the scene, it integrated quite quickly, and that is saying a lot. The MD4 was a very successful wedge line on tour and at retail. It was a huge initial launch and one Callaway was happy with as a solid portion of its staff put Jaws in play straight away.
In my conversations with tour staff and techs, spin and lower ball flight has been a recurring theme. In the case of the Tour, being able to flight a wedge down and not have it float, while maintaining maximum spin, is a weapon. Imagine being at Honda last week and knowing you can hit a knee-high fastball with a 58-degree wedge and trust the ball will stay down, not skip, and will stop dead in its tracks. On tour, its the speed of the stop that is valuable, not ripping it backward—that is typically only fun for TV. Golf these days is more like darts and less like billiards.
As to be expected, the grinds on all Callaway wedges are tour favorites. It’s pretty simple to fall in love with something that comes ought of the mind of Roger Cleveland, who has been the driving force in putting Callaway consistently at the No. 2 most-played wedge on Tour.
But how has the MD5 really done thus far?
Let’s be clear, most guys don’t make switches late-summer or fall (when MD5 was launched on tour). The season is too far down the river and the coming winter gives them quiet time to really test. Also, when you work through the California swing, a good portion of the higher-ranked staff only poke their heads out once or twice. This doesn’t mean the guys on the truck aren’t building new products, but a good portion of it is for winter testing, emergency backups, etc.
But now we hit the Florida swing. The Masters is a month away. The world’s best start to show up consistently, the playing surfaces change from the West Coast to the East Coast, and all of these guys are in full attack mode. Any real testing or guesswork is pretty much done, and it’s time to get going. This is the time when you can actually see if a product has staying power.
The question is since Jaws hit the scene, what have the pros learned, what adjustments have been made to dial them in, and ultimately, is this wedge line a success? I wanted to tackle this question from two different perspectives: from the reps on tour and two young staff players that have them in play.
In this case, there is the guy on the Callaway tour trailer who is in charge of wedges, Simon Wood, and young tour staffers Akshay Bhatia and Min Woo Lee.
Three unique perspectives—and also perspectives that give us an honest look at the performance and popularity of a “new” wedge on Tour.
I talk with Simon Wood quite a bit. He’s a good as they get in this category, having worked for years in Europe and on the U.S. tour. His knowledge is extensive and even more importantly, he is ridiculously honest. If the product is solid and he believes in it, he will tell you. If he goes quiet, there’s that too.
I caught up with him on a day off and this was the update he gave:
Wunder: It seems MD5 came out of the gates quickly and never really slowed down, are you surprised at the response?
Wood: Not at all. Truth is, these players are very particular about what makes it in or out of the bag. A new club has to do something better than the old one and do all the things they liked about the old one. The Jaws really spins. This is a unique groove system, and I’ve noticed the players like it for two main reasons 1) They can keep the trajectory down on the high lofts 2) they can be a bit more aggressive because of the amount of spin these wedges offer. Out on tour that’s a big deal.
Wunder: What percentage of staff (25+players on U.S. Tours) are in the MD5 across the board?
Wood: I’d say close to 50 percent, which is a good number considering how many good options are out there.
Wunder: Now that we are in the Florida swing, are you having to do anything special to adjust to the new grass and conditions?
Wood: No its the opposite actually. I think with the grooves being as good as they are and the number of options we have grind wise, we on the truck are doing less tweaking and grinding to wedges. That’s a sign one the R&D team did a great job with this design and two that our players trust our product enough to let their creativity take over.
Wunder: Any surprise grinds that are popping up more often?
Wood: It’s not a surprise because we knew it was good, but the low bounce W has been a hit thus far. Lots of guys testing and gaming that one.
I then went on to chat with Callaway staffers Min Woo Lee (winning WITB, podcast link below) and Akshay Bhatia on their experience with Jaws. This perspective was interesting because Akshay is young, he’s fighting for a place to play this summer, and he’s still learning the nuances of playing as a professional. Min just recently won in Australia and has enough time under his belt now to understand a real asset over something he’s still trying to make work.
Point is: pressure is high on both of these kids, and the last thing either wants to struggle with is their wedges.
Wunder: You were an early adopter of the MD5 last fall, have you noticed any significant improvement over your previous gamers?
Bhatia: Trust is the biggest one. I love the shape of these wedges and just knowing that Roger and Phil have an influence on the wedges you are playing gives me so much confidence. From a performance standpoint, I like the variety in grinds the MD5 offers. Anywhere I play I have an option, whether it be X in soft conditions or C for the firmer turf.
Wunder: With the aggressive grooves of the MD5, what shots have you gained that you didn’t have before?
Bhatia: Definitely the off-speed/three-quarter shots with some spin. These wedges really keep the ball down and it’s a bonus when I know I can take something off of a shot and the ball will stay down and hold its line into the wind.
Wunder: And your current set up is?
Bhatia: Currently, I’m in the Jaws MD5 50S, 54S bent to 55, and the 60C or X depending on the conditions (KBS $Taper 130X shafts in black with Iomic grips) with some heel and toe relief in the X. I also like to mess around wit the PM Grind 60 if I’m looking for a different look.
Young Callaway staffer Min Woo Lee, who recently triumphed at the European Tour’s Vic Open, has this to say
Wunder: What ball flight differences do you see in Jaws over the past wedge set?
MWL: Overall the same. I like to pick my trajectory. So if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have put it in my bag…need to have every shot at my disposal.
Wunder: Do you do any extra grinding to your S?
MWL: Just in the 60, there is a little leading edge relief ground in. Prevents it from digging and gives me a bit more ability to be aggressive into it.
Wunder: Are there any other grinds you tried?
MWL: I tried the low bounce W and really liked, but the S grind has been my go-to for a long time, I know how to play with that one.
Wunder: As far as full shot turf interaction, why do you prefer the S?
MWL: The S is always what I’ve been into looks-wise, nothing else really caught my eye like that grind did. I do pretty good chipping around with it around the greens and we have some history so why mess with a good thing.
Overall, I think the MD5 wedge line has been a success on tour. Let’s be honest, wedges arent drivers, but identifying a popular line over another is quite interesting. These guys can get a TV remote ground into something useable, so when there is a shift across the staff to a new model, it validates that the ideas in it are sound and the wedge performs like it says it will. For larger tour staffs like Callaway has, operating a 50 percent clip for full line use is a really solid number.
Let’s be clear here, Callaway hasn’t made a bad wedge…like ever. From X Forged to the MD line and now into Jaws, Roger and the team know what they are doing. In my experience with these wedges, I will say that the grooves are ridiculously aggressive, and as Bhatia mentioned, there is a grind to satisfy any conditions.
Do most OEMs make solid wedges? The answer is of course they do; they all do. But the advantage that Callaway has over the rest in this category is Roger Cleveland. Having the man who inspired some of the most iconic wedge shapes ever coupled with a superb R&D team yields a combination that will deliver quality and performance time after time.
Here are some pics from the forums of MD5 out on tour now.
Akshay BhatiaFrancesco Molinari
Brendan GraceIsaiah SalindaJ.J. SpaunAlex Noren
Chun An YunHenrik Stenson Matt Wallace
Check out the videos below to see me and one of our forum members put Jaws MD5 to the test!
Paige Spiranac blasts golf culture: “A big boys club” that is “elitist, stuffy and exclusive”
Looking back on a golf genius: Anthony Kim (with final full bag specs)
Patrick Reed’s winning WITB: 2020 WGC-Mexico Championship
Sergio Garcia WITB 2020
Phil Mickelson WITB 2020
Viktor Hovland’s winning WITB 2020 Puerto Rico Open
Dustin Johnson WITB 2020
Sungjae Im’s winning WITB: The Honda Classic
Bubba Watson WITB 2020
Rickie Fowler WITB 2020
WITB Time Machine: Phil Mickelson WITB, 2016 Waste Management Phoenix Open
Equipment is accurate as of the Waste Management Phoenix Open (2016). Driver: Callaway XR 16 Sub Zero (8.5 degrees) Shaft:...
Byeong Hun An WITB 2020
Equipment accurate as of the Farmers Insurance Open Driver: Titleist TS3 (8.5 degrees, B2 SureFit setting) Shaft: Accra TZ5 M5...
Pat Perez WITB 2020
Equipment accurate as of the Farmers Insurance Open. Driver: PXG 0811X Gen 2 (9 degrees) Shaft: Aldila Rogue Black 130...
Adam Long WITB 2020
Equipment accurate as of the 2020 Players Championship. Driver: TaylorMade SIM Max (9 degrees) Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green...
News2 weeks ago
Looking back on a golf genius: Anthony Kim (with final full bag specs)
Whats in the Bag3 weeks ago
Bubba Watson WITB 2020
Equipment5 days ago
Phase 1 vs. P7TW: An inside look at Tiger Woods’ TaylorMade irons
Equipment2 weeks ago
Today from the Forums: “3-hybrid or 7-wood?”
Opinion & Analysis1 week ago
Behind the numbers: A road map for an 18 handicap to get down to a 9
Equipment1 week ago
Building the perfect half set
Whats in the Bag3 weeks ago
Tommy Fleetwood WITB 2020
Whats in the Bag2 weeks ago
Steve Stricker WITB 2020