Both of my six-man rosters faltered big time last week, with several of my picks trunk-slamming Friday and the few potential Sunday showmen dropping down the board over the final 18 holes.
We all have bad weeks, though, and I am right back on the horse.
Next up is the Wells Fargo Championship at future PGA Championship site Quail Hollow. The DraftKings contest to look for here is the $100,000 pool, in which the top finisher receives $10,000 and 7,850 lucky folks will get paid.
As always with that payout, the entry fee is just $3, and if you beat my main lineup by registering your own team through the link below, you are refunded those $3.
Considering my recent woes there, you might want to test that out. Onto my picks and my (hopeful) turnaround!
Quail Hollow is a long track that affords players leeway with errant tee balls. This is a profile that suits a bomb-and-gouge type, a long-hitting, inaccurate driver that the PGA Championship tends to favor.
The course’s greens usually rank among the toughest on Tour to decipher due to their severe undulations and have been a consistent source of news the past couple of years.
First, came the bad in 2013. Good tidings arrived the next year, as a move from bent grass to bermuda grass surfaces meant player satisfaction. So overall, we have that bomb-and-gouge model for a successful player here and possibly a great putter due to the greens’ difficulty.
Testing these assumptions against my five-year, top-10 finishers model, the results were mixed. The long-ball hitter has indeed flourished at Quail Hollow, nearly to the same degree as those at Augusta. High-ball strikers also garnered a significant Augusta-like advantage over the last five years in Charlotte. Accuracy off the tee was only marginally important, but still not something to overlook.
Unsurprisingly, great drivers showed up by far the most in the sample. This is a tee shot-course first, but everything else had extensive value too. Approach play and short game came up virtually the same in a tie for second not far behind driving. Putting, as it turned out, proved least important, albeit by a small margin.
What kind of player are we looking for?
Definitely gravitate toward the long, high-ball hitter. Great drivers of the ball are a good choice, but with the sizable importance of approach play and short game as well players atop Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green are also a good bet.
Finally, with the course’s fairways hit numbers being the fourth-worst among Tour courses last year, make sure you hoard players who can handle approach shots from the rough.
Six-Man Roster (Last Week: 306 points, 22300th of 38300)
- Hideki Matsuyama, $10,600
- Louis Oosthuizen, $9,300
- Webb Simpson, $8,600
- Martin Laird, $7,300
- John Huh, $7,100
- Morgan Hoffmann, $7,100
The Japanese sensation Matsuyama has been on fire in a most understated way this season, producing zero titles but piling up three top-3 finishes and seven top-10s in 14 PGA Tour events.
His first go-round at Quail Hollow last year was a solid T38 effort, and his game really screams out for this course. Matsuyama is a brilliant long, high-ball hitter, immaculate with approaches on and off the fairway and has a highly underrated and lethal short game. This has all added up to a No. 3 ranking in Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green this year. Everything points to him contending at Quail Hollow.
Oosthuizen lacks Matsuyama’s short game and is a touch less potent on approaches, but he possesses everything else for a pretty solid fit at this course. His recent high form suffered at Sawgrass in a T69 showing. The South African was tied for the first day lead late in his Thursday round, though, proving that the sparks of great play didn’t vanish.
Simpson’s game does mesh well with this course, but that’s not the main reason I’m taking him. The Wake Forest grad is a member at Quail Hollow and put his course knowledge to excellent use finishing fourth in 2012. Simpson’s due for something good with his recent spotty play in 2015 and his lack of contention record otherwise at a track he should dominate via familiarity.
Laird cooled off after a torrid three-tournament start to the 2015 calendar, but I have a hunch he gets back on track this week. The Scot is a sneaky long and excellent driver and excels from thick grass on approach shots. And he finished in the top 30 at Quail Hollow last year amid a much worse slump than present.
Huh is a pure flyer pick on a guy who has shown several instances of encouraging performance in recent months, even if it is intermittent.
Hoffmann missed the cut at The Players, but produced two top-10s in his previous four starts. He fits that long-hitting, high-baller mold and possesses a decent short game and great ability from the rough. I trust that opening 76 at The Players was an anomaly that won’t recur at a Quail Hollow track that suits him better.
One Big Name to Avoid
- Phil Mickelson, $10,400
Lefty is the fourth-most costly option this week, and it’s easy to see why considering his sensational career at Quail Hollow (five top-5s and nine top-15s in 11 appearances).
I’m taking a huge leap of faith, though and steering clear of his path. Mickelson has been one of the greatest ever at approach play from the rough, but he’s misplaced that ability big time in 2015 with a 184 ranking in rough proximity. While Mickelson has performed well on-course of late, his highly erratic driving will ensure he misses the fairway often at Quail Hollow. And I don’t think he’ll rediscover that magic from the rough this week that he will need to harbor any hopes of contention.
Alternate Six-Man Roster (Last Week: 265 points, 31700th of 38300)
- Jim Furyk, $10,800
- J.B. Holmes, $9,800
- Jhonattan Vegas, $8,100
- Ryan Moore, $8,000
- Pat Perez, $7,100
- Brian Davis, $6,100
OK, I strayed from the majority-long hitters model a little bit here, but many of the remaining non-bomber options had too much in their arsenals to pass up.
Furyk is the all-time earnings leader at Quail Hollow, fifth in Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green and recently found a groove in winning at Hilton Head.
Moore is a big horse for the course (T18,T6, T5 his last three starts) and has been sensational from the rough this year. Perez’s recent play combined with his history at Quail Hollow was too enticing to ignore as well.
Davis is my wildcard for this group. He has missed four of his last six cuts, but he does have three top-25s at Quail Hollow and he strikes me as a bit of a poor man’s Furyk when he’s at his best, and that should work very well at this course.
As for the long hitters, Holmes is the defending champion. He has been electric when he’s on this year, and the good mojo at this venue should help bring that out.
Under the radar, Vegas has really started to piece his game together of late, which makes me confident despite his dismal record at Quail Hollow.
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