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McIlroy to make equipment tweaks for U.S. Open

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This year’s U.S. Open could be one of the most intriguing of the USGA’s championships this decade, with Pinehurst’s redesigned No. 2 course playing nearly 7600 yards.

No. 2 will play very different than it did when it last held the U.S. Open nine years ago, however, with wider fairways and very little rough around its fairway and greens. That plays into the hands of U.S. Open favorite Rory McIlroy (8-to-1 at the time of publication), and will force many players including McIlroy to rethink their equipment makeups to best navigate one of famed course architect Donald Ross’ signature designs.

While McIlroy initially struggled with his transition to a Nike driver in 2013, he’s driving the ball as long and straight as he ever has since his change to the company’s Covert 2.0 Tour driver in late 2013, which GolfWRX selected as one of the best drivers of 2014 in its Gear Trials: Best Driver list. Throughout the year, he’s expressed how happy he is with the combination of that driver and Nike’s new RZN Black golf ball, calling it the best driver-ball combination that he’s ever used in his career, and his numbers back up those claims.

McIlroy is currently averaging 304.8 yards off the tee — 8th best on the PGA Tour — and is hitting more fairways than he did in his career-best season of 2012 in which he won four times on the PGA Tour including his second major championship title, the 2012 PGA Championship. With the Covert 2.0 Tour, his launch monitor statistics have also improved, as he’s launching the new driver almost a full degree higher and with more than 300 rpm less spin than he did in 2013, according to the PGA Tour’s statistics.

McIlroy told GolfWRX that he plans to play Pinehurst No. 2 more conservatively than he has majors in the past, however, to contend with the course’s firm and fast turtle-backed fairways and greens, which will funnel even the slightest mishits out of position and create awkward angles and touchy pitch shots that will test the field’s precision.

“I’m probably not going to go at a pin all week and hit it at the middle of the green every time,” McIlroy said. “Birdies will be at a premium, so you have to keep the big numbers off the card.”

To better combat the course’s length, McIlroy said he will change his iron and wedge composition. He’ll use his normal pitching wedge, a 47-degree Nike VR Forged, but remove his 52- and 56-degree wedges for a Nike VR Forged 54-degree. That gives him room in his bag to include a VR Pro Blade 3 iron in addition to the VR Pro Blade 4-through-9 irons that he’s used throughout the year.

McIlroy said he plans to use the 3 iron off the tee on a few of Pinehurst’s shorter par 4’s and might need to it reach the green on Pinehurst’s three longest par-3 holes, Nos. 6, 15 and 17, which will play between 202 and 219 yards, depending on how the USGA sets up the course.

When McIlroy won the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth two weeks ago, he made another significant change to his bag, swapping his 59-degree VR Forged Dual Sole wedge for Nike’s radical-looking X3X Toe Sweep wedge, a design that removes nearly the entire heel portion of the wedge’s sole to make open-faced shots with the club easier to play. The club’s biggest advantage, McIlroy said, is that the grind limits the amount of friction on shots from the deep rough, allowing him to make cleaner, more predictable contact.

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Above: Rory McIlroy’s Nike X3X Toe Sweep wedge, photographed at the 2014 Memorial Tournament. 

“I knew going into Wentworth that any time I missed the green I was probably going to be in that deep rough,” McIlroy said. “And two weeks ago at Memorial, although I didn’t play as well as I would have liked, the Toe Sweep wedge was really helpful. It’s going to be a great tool for me on courses with deep rough going forward.”

Since there’s very little rough at Pinehurst No. 2, McIlroy will revert to his 59-degree Nike VR Pro Dual Sole wedge, which he said gives him a little more versatility on straight-faced shots on tight pitching surfaces, but even that wedge is slightly different than the model he used to win major championships in 2011 and 2012.

McIlroy played low-bounce wedges early in his professional career, but the time he has spent working with Nike’s wedge experts at the company’s R&D facility, The Oven, convinced him that he could get more performance from a model with more bounce, especially from the sand.

“I always stayed away from bounce, because I thought I didn’t need it,” McIlroy said. “But the [Nike wedge] has been much better out of bunkers.”

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Click here to see photos of the clubs McIlroy has used throughout the 2014 PGA Tour season.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Ronald Montesano

    Jun 11, 2014 at 7:42 am

    Not all of the greens are turtle-backed. Some are, especially the one John Daly twelve-putts. Ross blended a number of green types into this labor of love. Hopefully the viewing public will pay attention over the next two weeks.

  2. Ben

    Jun 9, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    This article brought to you by Nike Golf Inc.

  3. Ken

    Jun 9, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Nice article from the Nike marketing team!

  4. MHendon

    Jun 9, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I wouldn’t think a single one of those par 3 lengths would be a 3 iron for Rory unless they’re into a strong wind and if he’s looking for a club to hold those Pinehurst greens from well over 200yds then why not consider a hybrid.

    • steve

      Jun 9, 2014 at 11:57 am

      Rory hits his long irons very high. Also he is not going to put a hybrid in the bag that he hasn’t had serious time with

    • Rep

      Jun 9, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      He’ saying he’s going to be play conservative. So I’m assuming that he’s going to be swinging smoother and easier rather than pummeling his irons. So, may be on a normal course he would use his 5 or 4 iron to the Par 3 distances here, but obviously he wants to hit more controlled shots in there smoothly.

      • Bean

        Jun 9, 2014 at 2:33 pm

        Conservative on club and shot selection, not swing mechanics. Less drivers, centers of greens, etc…

        • Andrew

          Jun 9, 2014 at 10:56 pm

          this. he even said a few years ago that he swings 100% on everything but wedges.

          • EZ

            Jun 10, 2014 at 3:29 am

            Obviously, he’s been advised against swinging 100% on everything, on account of his left knee being almost broken! So, the obvious choice to go for long clubs and swinging easy.

  5. ND Hickman

    Jun 9, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Should be interesting to see how well these changes work for him.

  6. Matt

    Jun 9, 2014 at 10:37 am

    I’d guess most guys will be tweaking their bag for Pinehurst. It’s going to be an interesting test. Can’t wait to watch it.

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Equipment

Zozo Championship Tour Truck Report: Phil’s new driver and 2-wood, Tiger testing a new 3-wood

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Slower week than most at Sherwood but still a couple of nuggets—and who doesn’t love a Tiger/Phil equipment update?

Callaway

Phil Mickelson: After his (two drivers in the bag) win on the PGA Tour Champions, Lefty went full gearhead and continued to test not only the new Apex MB ’21 irons (6-PW) but also put a 47.5-inch Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero in the bag. The (low-lofted) 9-degree head, set now at 8 degrees (swing weight at D7) will be equipped with either a Project X HZURDUS Smoke Green 60 6.5 or a KBS TD 60G C5 TX.

In addition, Phil is bringing back the 2-wood having put a 43.5-inch, 12.5-degree “old school” X Hot 3 Deep. The idea with both is distance gain (non-shocker) for example on Tour there are a number of bunkers, forced carries at the 300+ clip and to be able to fly by those on command is a huge advantage. Dispersion will suffer a bit in this scenario, but that’s what the 2-wood is for. The new driver set up got Phil about 8 mph of additional ball speed and on avg a 310 carry. The 2 wood is to fill the larger gap created by the driver—this new fairway metal gives Phil about 280-285 carry.

Ping 

Tony Finau: Ping G425 LST (9 @7.5 Big-) with Diamana D+ 70TX tipped 1.5

Andrew Landry: Ping G425 LST (9 @8.75, flat) with Fujikura Ventus Blue 6X (46 Inches)

Joaquin Niemann: New Ping G425 7-wood (20.5 @20) in the bag with Graphite Design Tour AD DI 8X (20.5, 40.5 inches).

Titleist

Slow week, no major updates to report beyond Aaron Dill making 9,000 wedges for the players in early Augusta prep…

TaylorMade

Tiger Woods is testing a SIM Ti 3-wood with a Mitsubishi Chemical Diamana D+ 70 TX shaft. The 15-degree 3-wood is set at 14.25 and is on the upright setting. (42.5, D4, Golf Pride BCT 58R). Won’t know if it goes in play until tomorrow tee off…

 

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Whats in the Bag

Tiger Woods WITB 2020 Zozo Championship (new 3-wood?)

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  • We spotted Woods with a TaylorMade SIM 3-wood in his bag, along with the TaylorMade M5 he’s had in play for more than two years. We’re told it will be a game-time decision as to which one he puts in play.

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 60 TX

tiger woods witb

3-wood: TaylorMade M5 (15  @14.25 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Titanium (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX

5-wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 @18.25 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX

Irons: TaylorMade P7TW (3-PW)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 TW/MT Grind (56-12, 60-11)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS Newport 2
Grip: Lamkin Deep-Etched cord

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord 58R

Ball: Bridgestone Tour B XS

 

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Equipment

GolfWRX Classifieds (10/21/20): Cameron cover, Ping Hoofer tour bag, SIM Rocket 3-wood

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

These are some of the latest cool finds from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

Member Tourseeking – Rare Cameron Maiden America cover

There are rare, and then there are really rare covers and this falls squarely in the really rare category. It’s priced according but would make a great addition to any collection.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Rare Cameron cover

Member slalomdude – Ping Hoofer Tour bag

Were used to seeing rare and hard to find, but it’s not often Ping releases something that captures attention like this. The bag is new with tags and is being offered at a great deal!

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Hoofer Tour 

Member awtryau89 – TaylorMade SIM Rocket 3-wood

This is truly one of the fastest little “rocket ship” fairway woods on the market, and this is your chance to get your hands on one for a great deal with a Graphite Design BB.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Rocket 3 wood 

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds

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