While the arrival of a major championship or a World Golf Championship event heightens enthusiasm among viewers, it makes the job of Tour Rundown an arduous one. Other tours tend to take the week off (European, Web and Champions, for example, this week) and our intrepid investigators (me!) are forced to scour the planet for golf news. Fortunately, the Ladies European Tour and the PGA of Australia bailed us out this week, with wonderful events. With that said, here is this week’s GolfWRX Tour Rundown, highlighted by the WGC Mexico Championship.
Dustin Johnson double-decade in wins after WGC Mexico
We’ve come a long way since the USGA planted a tree, to stop Lon Hinkle from taking a US-Open shortcut. While purists bemoan the traversing of entire par fours in one mighty strike, it makes for great golf. Such was the tale at Chapultepec this week, as Rory and Rickie and DJ (and many others) took countless lines over treetops, arriving on or near the putting surface in one. Trouble still lurked, which made Dustin Johnson’s triumph an impressive tableau.
The lanky one drove the ball supremely all week, matched it with steely iron play and nervy recovery efforts. McIlroy tried mightily to put pressure on the 2015 US Open champion on Sunday, but Johnson responded each time with the shot required. In the end. DJ stood atop the pyramid with 21-under par, 5 shots clear of his pursuer from Northern Ireland. Paul Casey, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Ian Poulter came third at -11. His 20th tour win and 6th WGC title brought Johnson to 8th in FedEx Cup standings and 2nd in world golf rankings.
No one could catch DJ all day. ???????
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 25, 2019
Yang claims 3rd LPGA Thailand title by 1
Make a note to bet Amy Yang in 2020, when the LPGA Tour returns to Thailand in February. The Korean-turned-Australian-turned Floridian made this year’s playing her 4th LPGA title, and 3rd in 5 years in the Land of Smiles. As for Minjee Lee, the young Korean-Aussie must wonder what more it takes to win. Despite four rounds in the 60s (one of two golfers to achieve this distinction all week), Lee came second to Yang’s 9-birdie Sunday effort.
Despite 2 bogeys in round four, Yang rode 5 consecutive front-nine birdies to 64 and victory. Lee had no blemishes on her Sunday card, but still came up one agonizing stroke from a playoff. Spain’s Carlota Ciganda also went stratospheric over the final 18. The Iberian had 2 eagles in her 63, and certainly imagined herself in the mix. Alas, her -20 was 2 off the pace and 1 behind Lee’s runner-up tally.
Amy Yang made 9 birdies on her way to a final round 65 and a third championship at the @hondalpgath. ????????????
Watch her final round highlights now! ?? pic.twitter.com/sCRSv5RQk8
— LPGA (@LPGA) February 24, 2019
Trainer no longer, Martin wins on PGA Tour
After 2 Web.Com tour titles in 2018, Martin Trainer didn’t slow his roll one bit in Puerto Rico. The USC Trojan kept his 2018 Web.Com momentum at full speed at Rio Grande golf club this week. He overtook 54-hole leader Aaron Baddeley with a 7-birdie 67, and earned a convincing, 3-shot win over Baddeley and 3 cohorts.
The title was Trainer’s first in 11 events on tour. He had solo appearances in 2011 and 2014, all while working his way up from PGA Tour Latinoamerica to the Web, to the top shelf. Johnson Wagner was within a stroke of the winner late Sunday, but made bogey at 17 to fall 2 back. Trainer’s 72nd-hole birdie established the final victory margin. Wagner and Baddeley were joined by Roger Sloan and Daniel Berger in the runner-up stable.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 24, 2019
Skarpnord earns 4th Ladies European Tour title in Australia
After 2 titles in 2K9, followed by another in 2K13, Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord waited 6 years to secure victory number four. She did so at the Australian Ladies Classic, by two shots over Spain’s Nuria Iturrios. Skarpnord and hometowner Hannah Green.
The only bumps along the road for the Norwegian appropriately came at the diabolical 13th. Skarpnor bogeyed the hole each day, accounting for 4 of her 11 bogeys on the week. The rest of the way, she was in control. 19 birdies, including the 71st and 72nd holes, gave her the 2-shot margin of victory over the runners-up. Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom owned a slim 3rd round over a host of players, but received no love from the Bonville course on Sunday. She ballooned to 75 and a t6 finish in the end.
— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) February 24, 2019
Nisbet in control at Queensland PGA Championship
A wonderful competition ensued late Sunday, between Harrison Endycott and Deyen Lawson. In the end, the pair tied at -18. Officially, that tie represented second place, as Daniel Nisbet lapped the field by a 6-stroke margin. Nisbet’s greatest victory came in 2018, at the New Zealand Open. Since then, a spate of missed cuts and mediocre finishes have kept him mired near the 400th spot on the official world golf rankings. This week, however, was a different story. The Queenslander etched 24 birdies and 3 eagles onto his 4 scorecards this week, and closed with rounds of 63-63-64 after a ho-hum 66 in round one. The title is Nisbet’s 3rd in the past 2 seasons on his home tour.
Beautiful putt for eagle from Nisbet on the 10th ??????
— PGA of Australia (@PGAofAustralia) February 24, 2019
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!
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