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The inside story of the surprise popularity of the TaylorMade SIM Max Rescue on tour

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“Let’s build ’em hybrids. What the hell.”

The TaylorMade tour staff photoshoot has become an early November tradition that is well known to the golf junkies of the world. For civilians, it’s when Tiger, Rory, DJ, Rahmbo, and the rest of the staff will get their first look at the new TM equipment.

Fun for us onlookers, but extremely stressful for TM marketing, R&D, and tour departments.

“First impressions are everything. If we don’t get ’em excited right away, it could go the other way fast.” – Chandler Carr, TaylorMade Product Creation

The task of prepping the new clubs falls on the shoulders of TaylorMade’s Product Creation Team—Chandler Carr and Patrick Baxter. Every year, they get staff specs, pillage the stock for the right components, and assemble the full gamut of what each player typically games. One thing that is never in the conversation is hybrids, however—nobody on staff hits ’em so why build ’em?

This is where this story gets fun.

Either as a joke or out of general curiosity, Chandler had the thought to build up hybrids for the entire staff.  Obviously team TaylorMade has all players specs dialed in but Hybrids? Without knowing the exact hybrid specs there was a good amount of guesswork involved as well as some healthy debate between those in the room (including Baxter) on the practicality of building a hybrid for Tiger Woods, Rory, or any of the staff that has never even sniffed a hybrid.

I know Chandler well, and he is a gearhead of the highest caliber as well as a person who will take a risk just to see the outcome. What’s the worst that could happen? Nobody hits ’em and they end up back at HQ in a pile of “I told you so?”

So, after finally convincing Patrick Baxter to go along, the Rescues were built to spec and shipped off to sit in the bags of the highest-ranked tour staff in the world.

Now, there are hybrids on tour—lots of them. But they are not the most desired choice for multiple reasons the main one being a left-miss tendency. And frankly, most players would rather look at a 5-wood or 2-iron. In relation to TaylorMade, they don’t really make hybrids for the tour: they are for the higher handicap player.

Rory McIlroy was testing a SIM Rescue ahead of the Farmers Insurance Open.

The story continues…

The TaylorMade staff shows up at the Floridian in West Palm Beach, Florida, for a day of content with people like Me and My Golf, for testing with Tomo Bystedt, Bazz, and Keith, interviews with selected press, and the fun of all being in one place at one time on a day off.

When each player approached the new bags of goodies, Rory was the first to comment

“There is a hybrid in my bag, is someone trying to tell me I need help with my long irons?” 

He was kidding, obviously, but it was a weird thing for a player like that to see in his bag. However, during a break, Rory decides to kill some time and starts hitting the 19-degree Sim Max Rescue. He put on a ballstriking clinic that had the whole place in awe.

“The flag was 260 out and he was peppering this thing with draws, fades, stingers on command.” – Chris Trott, TaylorMade Sports Marketing

Low and behold DJ gets wind of the action, hits a few, loves it and puts it in the bag.

This is a unicorn situation for TaylorMade…sort of. A few weeks later, the buzz around Rory and DJ putting Sim Max Rescues in the bag hit Instagram during the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, and it was a big deal. That buzz created curiosity that trickled down the world rankings, and within days the TaylorMade tour crew had orders coming from some of the best players on the planet, staff and non-staff.

Looks good for marketing, but for Wade and the boys in the truck, it’s been a club building calculus problem.

Heres the thing, Sim Max Rescues are production-only heads…not tour spec heads. They’re built for big box retail and online buyers. When a product goes to Tour, it’s built for the tour, which in this case means it would have a longer hosel for manipulation, center of gravity would be different, and there would be a hot melt port for sound and swing weight, etc.

The issue is the heads that went out to the truck for the first event stateside were retail production heads. So, if a guy wants to try one and give it a fair shot, the TM tour trailer has a component that is damn near impossible to bend (due to the short hosel), tricky to weight with no hot melt alleyway, and also it’s a head built specifically for a 65-gram 40-plus inch regular flex graphite shaft. For the club builders out there, you can see the dilemma.

In a one-off situation, it’s not a huge issue, but due to the volume of players wanting to test, TaylorMade literally ran out of Rescue heads this week in Phoenix. Wade and crew are in full grind mode on the truck. This is the “influencer” thing working. Situations like this where the world No. 2 gets excited, puts it in play and boom, instant curiosity from his peers.

I’m assuming the plan is to create a tour head to allow for an easier build, but that could take weeks. (I’ll keep you posted on that)

So it goes like this: TaylorMade owes Chandler and Patrick a thank-you for the bold idea, and Chandler and Patrick owe the boys on the truck a case of apology beer for the chaos created. And if sometime in April Rory flings his Sim Max Rescue into the eighth green at Augusta and has a four-footer for eagle to take the lead, Chandler and Patrick can say “I told you so.”

Not all heroes wear capes.

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Johnny Wunder is the Director of Original Content, Instagram Manager and Host of “The Gear Dive” Podcast for GolfWRX.com. He was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. John is also a partner with The Traveling Picture Show Company having most recently produced JOSIE with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. In 1997 Johnny had the rare opportunity of being a clubhouse attendant for the Anaheim Angels. He now resides in Toronto, On with his wife and two sons. @johnny_wunder on IG

49 Comments

49 Comments

  1. Martin

    Feb 20, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    This just shows us how reluctant the guys on tour really are to try new stuff. Unless another player use it, they wont use it. They just follow the pack. So there is nothing special with this hybrid, its just another hybrid on the market.

  2. derek gzaskow

    Feb 15, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    anyone seen it in their bags at Riviera?

    • Juanny

      Feb 17, 2020 at 9:57 am

      Nope. All out of the TM guys bags now. Every hybrid they’ve come up with since the Aeroburners in 2014 have the same identical shape.

  3. Jim

    Feb 5, 2020 at 11:41 pm

    Great article Johnny. It was hilarious hearing Chandler and Tomo tell the story. I liked the feel of the SIM Max Rescue. The trajectory was great. I just need a flatter lie to work for me.

    • Mamba

      Feb 17, 2020 at 4:53 am

      No doubt. I bet all the hybrids, woods and drivers on tour have a flatter lie than what the manufacturers make for us. They always seem too upright.

  4. Alex

    Feb 5, 2020 at 10:44 am

    I completely get it. The way these guys hammer driver their 3 wood is too long for approach into a par 5. So you either bag a one trick pony 5 wood for 2 shots a round or…bag this hybrid for the 250/260 shot and it also serves the purpose of a long iron to hit off the tee on a short par 4. These guys are long enough with 4 iron for all par 3s they’ll see so it’s actually the perfect fit. Also let’s you carry 4 wedges and have the gaps all covered. I bet we’ll see more of this come back into the tour bags unless you are Cam Champ long or Jim Furyk short. I can’t figure out guys that carry nothing between 3 wood and 3 iron, seems like a gigantic gap in a range that these guys have to be good from to make birdies on par 5s.

  5. MadMex

    Feb 2, 2020 at 4:35 am

    Looks like a V-Steel remake,,,, old is new?

    • geohogan

      Feb 5, 2020 at 11:06 pm

      My TM 5 W has always been easiest to hit.

      if the SIM Max rescue hybrid improved upon the V steel, they may a winner.

      • geohogan

        Feb 5, 2020 at 11:10 pm

        The perfect shaft for the Sim Max Rescue is the Nunchuk Hybrid shaft.

        No stiffer without being boardy, and no straighter shaft on tour.

        • derek gzaskow

          Feb 15, 2020 at 2:18 pm

          I’ve never seen the Nunchuk compared to any other shaft on trackman tests on you tube. its about time someone does it.

  6. Ben Hogan

    Feb 1, 2020 at 8:06 am

    Rory and DJ aren’t putting these in their bags as part of a marketing ploy. The best players in the world are trying to win. TM isn’t going to force them to do this at the price or their careers. They may have 14 club deals but not deals that say you must play our newest equipment. That’s just silly.

    • Joe

      Feb 1, 2020 at 10:54 am

      YET THE HYBRID NEVER MADE IT IN THE BAG. All marketing. Neither player has a hybrid in the bag for actual play.

  7. MCoz

    Feb 1, 2020 at 4:36 am

    Sometimes I wonder why I read comments from golf sites. There is a lot of stupid people here who have no clue. I am sorry but the “haters” have no idea what they are talking about. I have commented here on GolfWRX in the Forum discussion on this new SIM Max Rescue. I was asked to try this club out the first week in January, as I received the other SIM clubs. I really wasn’t interested in a new Rescue. The oldest clubs in my bag are such. One from 2005 (Cleveland Hi Bore 16* #1 that really plays like a 2i and a 2013 RBZ Stage 3 that plays like a 3.5i. I have had great success with these two and wasn’t looking for anything else. But I said I would look at it. Fujikura sent me a couple of shaft options to put in it. (Thanks Chad) I received two Atmos HY shafts. The first one I tried was a Blue 8S Tour Spec. Magic!! This is a real revelation. While in Orlando at the PGA Show I got 4 rounds of golf in with real players and this was the club that just shocked everyone I played with during the week. I can say it was the best club in the bag the whole week. My friends have already ordered the club for themselves, some even ordered two lofts. So while “haters” want to hate, I hope you don’t mind losing to those who want to win. This is a remarkable club and while it may not look a lot different that the previous models (M6 and earlier), it definitely plays different. This is a players utility. Don’t let the “boneheads” expound on things for which they have no clue!

  8. Guanto

    Jan 31, 2020 at 11:19 pm

    Still have a couple aeroburner tp hybrids which are the best hybrids to date.

  9. Larry Y

    Jan 31, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    Does anybody else think the SIM hybrid looks a lot like the Adams Super LS?

    • dave hollander

      Feb 5, 2020 at 2:43 am

      ding

    • MBU

      Feb 19, 2020 at 5:23 am

      Exactly! I just bought a new 17 degree Adams LS 17 hybrid last week and you can easily see where the similarities are. And of course they bought up Adams..

  10. Travis Boerner

    Jan 31, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    Chandler and the product creation team are genius for this. Pin seekers from 260, are you kidding me!? Did you see Rory’s bunker shot at Torrey with that hybrid? A classic case of not judging a book by its cover. Get the product in their hands and let it speak for itself. Well done.

  11. Steve Wilkins

    Jan 31, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    Great read! So cool that we can dig a little deeper and hear from the people who make all these things happen.

  12. JohnK

    Jan 31, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    I’m just glad to finally have a left handed 5 hybrid option. I can finally retire my TM burner 5 hybrid from the mid to late 2000’s.

  13. Charles

    Jan 31, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    I love all the hate towards Taylormade, this is a story more about a few guys changing the game more then most people will ever take the initiative to do so. Hybrids have become a staple in recreational golfers bags for a quite a few years and good by them to go out and take a risk and bridge the gap between common folk and the greatest players on the planet.All the industry animosity is quite redundant if you have no allegiance play the clubs that fit your game! Props to the team guys like Patrick and Chandler are the reason you have the ability to play the latest and greatest Taylormade product. And I am sure that if it were another companies tales you haters would be all about it….. GROW THE GAME!

  14. Sevestyle

    Jan 31, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    Finally… a fresh 585 . H

  15. Max

    Jan 31, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    Cool story, but I agree with the skeptics that this is totally just a clever marketing story from Taylormade. The SIM hybrid is literally just a re-skinned M6 hybrid, which was literally just a re-skinned M4 hybrid, which was literally just a re-skinned M2 hybrid. There is literally nothing new with the SIM hybrid over the pat 4-5 iterations of the same club to warrant a sudden interest by the pros. Literally.

    • M Coz

      Feb 4, 2020 at 1:48 am

      Before you make wild comments, maybe you should try things out before you spew knowledge-less hate. Read my comments from Feb 1. Also While I have tested the previous hybrids you mention none of them even had a chance to get into my club mix. This club may not look that much different on the outside but it is clearly superior to the M6 which tended to be a “hook” club.
      TM didn’t expect this club to be this well received by the Tour Staff, that’s why they only had one club at the photo and filming at the Floridian. It is also why they only made one design for all players.

      • Max

        Feb 5, 2020 at 5:37 pm

        Lol, how do you know I haven’t tried it? In fact, I have tried it. The clubs have been available to try for some time now, you’re not special in getting it early and your free shafts and name dropping the guy from Fuji doesn’t make your opinion or experience any more or less more authoritative than mine. It was fine, just like every other iteration of Taylormade hybrid before it. Great clubs all. Still just a cool marketing story. Just my non-hateful BUT knowledgable opinion.

        • Shawn

          Feb 17, 2020 at 10:21 am

          Dead on Max. It’s just marketing fluff. They both did not play it this week and it’s over. Buddy above thinks he’s on tour but, likely just another name dropping know it all.

  16. roho99

    Jan 31, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    hard to believe tm designed a head for a regular flex shaft only.

  17. Rusty Cockering

    Jan 31, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    I’ve been playing Taylor Made hybrids for years. Its just a smaller-headed, shorter fairway wood, really.

  18. Mehas Tinecock

    Jan 31, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    I use hybrids after my 7 wood. A lot of hybrids. I’m so cool.

  19. Joey5Picks

    Jan 31, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    Taylormade hate is strong with this crowd.

  20. Cody Reeder

    Jan 31, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    Nice article. Thanks.

  21. Benny

    Jan 31, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    Love it JW & Golfwrx. I know its not easy to find great stories in the golf world. But appreciate you always trying to entertain. Awesome!

  22. Ty Webb

    Jan 31, 2020 at 2:52 pm

    I got one of these with some points I had. 19 with a project x hzrdus smoke 90 hybrid in 6.5. I must say this thing is pretty solid. High tight draws.

  23. NoHolesParred

    Jan 31, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    This is the kind of content we need. Like the other guy said, most of these articles are reworked PR fluff with no actual insight. Hopefully you guys do the work to make this a trend going forward.

  24. Blubber Watson

    Jan 31, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    Cool story bro!

  25. Fj27

    Jan 31, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    This is a marketing move, plain and simple. What’s the easiest way to sell hybrids? Have Rory put one in the bag and, oh, also let’s grant some interviews to golf media so they can write fluff pieces about how impressed our staffers were.

    Call me a cynic, but I’d be shocked if Rory has a hybrid in his bag come The Players.

    • ht

      Jan 31, 2020 at 2:51 pm

      Exactly my thoughts. And better yet, claim there was a mixup and the pros were putting THE SAME CLUB YOU CAN PURCHASE AT A RETAIL STORE in play! How convenient

    • dat

      Jan 31, 2020 at 3:58 pm

      Where’s Tiger’s hybrid? Oh, right… Nowhere.

    • BigFoot

      Jan 31, 2020 at 7:00 pm

      The nail on the head, you have hit!! The whole situation was awful convenient for TM wasnt it?

  26. I know donkeys

    Jan 31, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    What about Matt Kouchar? Kduoooooooooooooooche, Kduooooooooooooooooche, Kduoooooooooooooche, Kduooooooooooooche….

  27. Barney Adams

    Jan 31, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    Sell that snake oil taylormade, sell it!!!

  28. Rich Douglas

    Jan 31, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    A lot of the time, these articles are just re-warmed press releases. But not this one. I really appreciated the candid admission that what you can buy is not what these pros get to work with. Most of us know that, which is why some of us buy from club-fitters instead of off-the-rack.

    Just like the ball. Bridgestone made golf balls for Nike in general, but one specifically geared for Tiger alone. You couldn’t buy it. (Nor should you, necessarily.) But the golf equipment industry has held tightly to the illusion that you’re buying the same gear and, thus, the same results. (You would NOT get the same results with their gear.) But this article tells the real truth, and it’s a good one.

  29. JP

    Jan 31, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    Reading ability is not a gift everyone was born with.

    • Funkaholic

      Jan 31, 2020 at 4:31 pm

      It is literally something nobody is “born with”. Reading is a learned skill ,common sense on the other hand……….

  30. 19_Majors

    Jan 31, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    First impressions are everything? If we don’t get them excited? What are they going to do, leave their contracts?! Taylormade pays these guys huge amounts of money to play their gear. They are going to play the new stuff regardless of if they are completely thrilled about it or not. The people who work at Taylormade sound incredibly insecure and really put these Tour guys on a god-like pedestal…

    • Prime21

      Jan 31, 2020 at 12:16 pm

      That’s what you got from that article? Tough crowd.

    • Funkaholic

      Jan 31, 2020 at 4:35 pm

      They only have the best staff players on tour. Do you think these players beg to be with Taylormade? Just because they are aggressive in the marketing department doesn’t mean they make bad gear. They have a lot of equipment being bagged by non-staffers on tour.

      • Hype

        Jan 31, 2020 at 7:07 pm

        Dont they get paid to have one or two clubs from a different manufacturer in their bags so a manufacturer can say they are first in hybrids or fairway woods.

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Whats in the Bag

Dustin Johnson WITB 2020

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Driver: TaylorMade SIM (10.5 @ 10 degrees, D4 swing weight)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (tipped 1 inch, 45.75 inches)

Fairway wood: TaylorMade SIM Max (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila RIP Alpha 90 X

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max Rescue (22 @ 19 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Black 105 X

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), TaylorMade P730 DJ Proto (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (soft stepped)

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (52-09, 60-10 @ 62 degrees)
Shafts: KBS Tour Custom Black 120 S

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Mini
Grip: SuperStroke Traxion Pistol GT 1.0

Ball: TaylorMade TP5

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet 58R (1 wrap 2-way tape + 2 wraps left hand, 3 right hand)

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Equipment

Top 10 clubs of 2003—inspired by Adam Scott’s Titleist 680 irons

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As has been well documented, Adam Scott recently won the Genesis Invitational with a set of Titleist 680 blade irons, a design that was originally released in 2003. One of the great benefits of being one of the best players in the world is you don’t need to search eBay to find your preferred set of 17-year-old irons. Titleist has been stocking sets for Mr. Scott—even to the point of doing a limited production run in 2018 where they then released 400 sets for sale to the general public.

A lot of time has passed since 2003, and considering the classic nature of Scott’s Titleist 680, I figured now was a good time to look back at some other iconic clubs released around the same time.

Ping G2 driver

This was Ping’s first 460cc driver with a full shift into titanium head design. The previous Si3 models still utilized the TPU adjustable hosel, and this was considered a big step forward for the Phoenix-based OEM. The driver was a big hit both on tour and at retail—as was the rest of the G2 line that included irons.

TaylorMade RAC LT (first gen) irons

The RAC LTs helped position TaylorMade back among the leaders in the better players iron category. The entire RAC (Relative Amplitude Coefficient) line was built around creating great feeling products that also provided the right amount of forgiveness for the target player. It also included an over-sized iron too. The RAC LT went on to have a second-generation version, but the original LTs are worthy of “classic” status.

TaylorMade R580 XD driver

Honestly, how could we not mention the TaylorMade R580 XD driver? TM took some of the most popular drivers in golf, the R500 series and added extra distance (XD). OK, that might be an oversimplification of what the XD series offered, but with improved shape, increased ball speed outside of the sweet spot, and lower spin, it’s no wonder you can still find these drivers in the bags of golfers at courses and driving ranges everywhere.

Titleist 680MB irons

The great thing about blades is that beyond changing sole designs and shifting the center of gravity, the basic design for a one-piece forged head hasn’t changed that much. For Adam Scott, the 680s are the perfect blend of compact shape, higher CG, and sole profile.

Titleist 983K, E drivers

If you were a “Titleist player,” you had one of these drivers! As one of the last companies to move into the 460cc category, the 983s offered a classic pear shape in a smaller profile. It was so good and so popular, it was considered the benchmark for Titleist drivers for close to the next decade.

Cleveland Launcher 330 driver

It wasn’t that long ago that OEMs were just trying to push driver head size over 300cc, and Cleveland’s first big entry into the category was the Launcher Titanium 330 driver. It didn’t live a long life, but the Launcher 330 was the grandaddy to the Launcher 400, 460, and eventually, the Launcher COMP, which is another club on this list that many golfers will still have fond memories about.

Mizuno MP 33 irons

Although released in the fall of 2002, the Mizuno MP 33 still makes the list because of its staying power. Much like the Titleist 680, this curved muscle blade was a favorite to many tour players, including future world No. 1 Luke Donald. The MP 33 stayed in Mizuno’s lineup for more than four years and was still available for custom orders years after that. Unfortunately, if you are looking for a set now you are going to have to go the used route.

Callaway X-16 irons

The Steelhead X-16 was a big hit at retail for Callaway. It offered greater forgiveness than the previous X-14’s but had a more compact shape with a wider topline to inspire confidence. They featured Callaway’s “Notch” weighting system that moved more mass to the perimeter of the head for higher MOI and improved feel. There was a reduced offset pro series version of the iron, but the X-16 was the one more players gravitated towards. This is another game improvement club for that era that can still be found in a lot of golf bags.

Ben Hogan CFT irons

The Hogan CFTs were at the forefront of multi-material iron technology in 2003. CFT stood for Compression Forged Titanium and allowed engineers to push more mass to the perimeter of the head to boost MOI by using a thin titanium face insert. They had what would be considered stronger lofts at the time sounded really powerful thanks to the thin face insert. If you are looking for a value set of used irons, this is still a great place to start.

King Cobra SZ driver

In 2003, Rickie Fowler was only 15 years old and Cobra was still living under the Acushnet umbrella as Titleist’s game improvement little brother. The Cobra SZ (Sweet Zone, NOT 2020 Speed Zone) was offered in a couple of head sizes to appeal to different players. The thing I will always remember about the original King Cobra SZ is that it came in an offset version to help golfers who generally slice the ball—a design trait that we still see around today.

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Equipment

Today from the Forums: “The importance of wedge fitting”

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Today from the Forums we delve into a subject dedicated to wedge fitting. Liquid_A_45 wants to know if wedge fitting is as essential for golfers as iron fitting, and our members weigh into the discussion saying why they feel it is just as imperative.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Z1ggy16: “Super important if you’re a serious golfer. Even better if you can get fit outdoors on real grass and even go into a bunker.”
  • ThunderBuzzworth: “The biggest part of wedge fitting is yardage gapping and sole grinds. If you have a grind that doesn’t interact with the turf in your favor, it can be nightmarish around the greens. When hitting them try a variety of short game shots with different face angles etc. with the different grinds to see which one works best for what you need.”
  • Hawkeye77: “Wedge fitting I had was extremely beneficial when I got my SM6s a few years ago. Mostly for working with the different grinds and how they interacted with my swing and on different shots and having an eye on my swing to help with the process and evaluate the results. My ideas of what grinds were right for me based on researching on Titleist, etc. just were not correct in 2/3 of the wedges I ended up with as far as the grinds were concerned. Good to have an experienced fitter available to answer questions, control variables, etc.”
  • cgasucks: “The better you get at this game, the more important wedges are.”

Entire Thread: “The importance of wedge fitting”

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