With his win at the RSM Classic, all golf fans by now well know that Charles Howell III ended an 11-year victory drought.
What may be equally as interesting for GolfWRX Members, however, is that the Georgia native did so just a month after totally overhauling his golf bag, switching to 13 Titleist clubs and a prototype 2019 Pro V1 ball.
The presumptive 2019 Titleist signee talked to our Johnny Wunder about the switch and what it was like to go winless for so long.
JW: Charlie, welcome back to the winner’s circle, my friend.
CH III: I appreciate it…I made it as hard as I could, but fortunately, I found a way there.
JW: There was a transition that happened before this — we’ll call it a month ago — into a whole new bag of Titleist equipment. So, the first quest I have is, “What prompted the change, and how difficult was that process for you?”
CH III: When I look at my career, and where I’m at in my career, I thought that, the most important thing for me going forward is my driver and 3-wood. Where, the way that the game is changing, I’ve got to find something that I can hit as far as possible, but also straight…I know that I’m not going to drive the bar as far as Cameron Champ, but I need to maximize whatever I can do. So going through the process of testing a lot of things, it was very clear that the TS drivers really did that for me. My ball speed went up. My overall dispersion pattern became closer together. Really, it was a home run.
Now, we spent a bit of time testing. I know that I wore J.J. [VanWezenbeeck, Titleist Tour Rep] out. But, by the end of the process, I had a TS2 and a TS3 that I could have played in a golf tournament, and it was a flip of a coin really on which one to use. Not a lot of guys can say that about companies, where you can play either model, but for sure, that was the case there.
JW: Well, let’s talk a little bit about the TS2 and the TS3. You had both drivers ready to cook for the tournament, but what was the deciding factor?
CH III: The TS2 is a driver where you can just tee it up and hammer it. It’s going to go very straight, and the ball isn’t going to curve a whole lot. It’s very easy to launch. The TS3 was a driver where, if I get a hole where I need to work it a little bit left to right, or a little right to left to go with the slope of the fairway, or a crosswind, for me, it was a little bit easier to do that with the TS3, and that’s why I ultimately ended up there.
If I’m playing everyday golf at home with my buddies, and I want a driver with which I can just swing as hard as I can and hammer it, then I’m going to go to that TS2 all day.
JW: I noticed in the driver you have the [Mitsubishi] Tensei AV Blue . Is that personal preference, or is that what tested out?
CH III: That’s just what tested out. We were having this conversation earlier about driver shafts; there’s so many of them out there, and there’s so many companies, and it’s really difficult to know what’s what. What we wanted to do is start with something that’s familiar, and it ended up actually testing out fantastic — we were getting the launch and the spin numbers that we were after, so there was no reason to…go down a rabbit hole.
JW: You have a very interesting set makeup now. You have a T-MB 4-iron, but then you go AP2 in 5, 6, 7, and then the CB in your shorter irons…talk to me about the strategy.
CH III: I grew up playing cavity back clubs my whole life. I’ve always been a proponent of some forgiveness down there and some help down there. The big reason for the  CB in the short irons had to do with offset, and that’s strictly a personal preference. I wanted some help down there…but I didn’t want a lot of offset, so the CB…fit that perfectly.
The T-MB 4-iron, that thing is so easy to get up in the air, it’s incredible. That, for me, and for every golfer out there, they need a T-MB 3, 4, and 5-iron, because they are so easy to get up in the air. It really is awesome, the technology of that club.
JW: Let’s talk about the golf ball. You go from a 2017 Pro V1x and you transition into the new Pro V1 proto…
CH III: I loved everything about the Pro V1x ball off the driver and the 3-wood. Now, when the [2019 Pro V1] came out, what I found out was that I gave up no ball speed whatsoever, but I picked up a little bit of a softer feel and a little more spin around the greens. So for me, right away that was a home run.
Now, I say that knowing that touch and feel around the green is highly player dependent. For me, I prefer a bit of a softer feel…I could find you 10 guys who prefer a firmer Pro V1x feel around the greens…but the cool thing was that I didn’t give up any ball speed with the driver whatsoever.
JW: Let’s talk a little bit about the last 11 years. We talked a little bit on the podcast with you about expectations and what you went through to get back to the winner’s circle. Just kind of man to man, how difficult was it at times. — knowing how good you are and being such an amazing player and then going on a drought like that — how difficult was that?
CH III: You know, there were a lot of times where I questioned everything I did from how I practiced, to how I prepared, to who I worked with…just everything. And eventually, I got to a point where I sat down with Grant Waite and Dana Dahlquist who I work with, and John Graham on short game, and I said, “OK, guys, do we really think that I’m doing this the right way?” And through some discussions…the answer was, “yes.” And [I said] let’s just stay the course. Let’s just keep doing this.
Golf’s a funny game. In Mexico, I missed the cut there, and I thought I played close to every bit as good as I did at Sea Island. I just didn’t quite score as well. That shows you how razor thin-edged this game is. You miss a cut, then you win a golf tournament.
I think the most challenging part of the game is staying the course with stuff that you truly believe in and giving it time to work out, because it’s such a results driven game, and you want results yesterday. Between social media and the way golf is covered now, it’s “results, results, results.” I think the challenge is to stay patient amongst all that.
JW: For you, as I mentioned a while back, getting that first one, it’s almost like winning for the first time again in a weird way. Once that first one inspires the confidence, you’re off to the races. Now that you’ve got that behind you…are you looking at your schedule in a different way or is it just week to week?
CH III: A little bit of both. I’ve got the tournaments that I like. I’ll still play a bunch on the West Coast because I like the West Coast…I’ll tell you the one thing I hope comes out of this is that if I get in position to win a tournament on Sunday, I’ll be that much more comfortable, and I’ll be that much more trusting in what I do. I’ll just play normal golf, and I won’t try to do more of anything, and hopefully that continues to evolve, etc.
But that to me is what I’m most curious to find out: When and if I get into that position again, will I feel a little bit more, let’s say, comfortable or different?
JW: Cool. Last question: You’re with Titleist. Big company. Historic company. But now you kind of have access to Vokey, Aaron Dill, Scotty Cameron, what’s it like walking into that scenario where you have access to those clubmakers and designers? Was that an attraction? Was that part of the decision to go to Titleist?
CH III: Well it is, right? I have a leading expert in every field. I can lean on their experience. I can aggravate the daylights out of them. I’m at a point in my career where I want to play good golf, and if these guys are able to help me find a half-of-a-percent advantage, well then…over the course of a year, it matters.
[For example] Aaron Dill’s expertise and changing bounce on wedges in different situations and conditions. Those things I’m really looking forward to…and I’m going to learn a lot in this process too. These guys have been around a long time, and they’ve helped a lot of world-class players, so I’m going to learn a bit.
JW: I’ve got to ask this question or the GolfWRX Members will kill me. When’s that 14th Titleist club going to pop in there…a Scotty Cameron?
CH III: Now this off season, I’ll have more time work with different things…we’ll continue to work on that, and we’ll get that part handled.
JW: Well, Charlie, on behalf of GolfWRX and everybody else, that was a really, really, ridiculously popular win. You’re good for the game, I’m so happy that you won. Go kick some butt and have a great holiday, and we’ll look forward to watching you in 2019.
CH III: You guys, as well, have a great Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I do appreciate it. I know that all the GolfWRX Members understand the difficulty of the game and the challenges of it it. I hope I carry myself in a way where people understand that I know the difficulty of the game, and I can appreciate the ups and downs. I thank everyone and hope everybody has a great holiday.
Tour Rundown: ‘Team Mullet’ triumphs in playoff | Henderson’s 10th
The last full week of April saw events played from the Big Easy to Hollywood, from a Spanish island in the Atlantic to central Texas. The PGA Tour fellows teamed up in Louisiana, while the LPGA tackled a classic course built by Macbeth. The Korn Ferry Tour made a swing through the Lone Star state, where it encountered a bit of a weather delay. The European Tour moved from the mountains of Austria to the southern tip of Gran Canaria, off the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Twisting the words of Sugar Ray, All around the world putts tumble for me. Five winners stood tall in these four events (don’t forget the partner one) so let’s race around and find out what we can.
PGA Tour: Zurich Classic Decided in Playoff
The beauty of two formats in an event is simply that one competitor (or team) can excel on one given day then founder then next—and vice-versa, my friends! Look no further than the team of Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith, Australia’s finest. They played the final six holes of the Zurich Classic in two over par, with three bogeys, and still won the tournament. Their last bogey, at the par-three 17th, dropped them to 20 under par on the week. Fortunately for them, the South African besties (Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel) also made four at that hole, which dropped them to the same figure. When neither team made birdie at the par-5 closing hole, it was off to a playoff.
On that solitary playoff hole, the unbelievably reliable Louis Louis bailed on his swing and flared a tee ball into the water. His baby draw betrayed him, and the hole was wide open for Cameron Smith, who ensured a dry landing with a drive tugged left, into a fairway bunker. From that point on, it was up to the Smith-Leishman duo to make par, and Smith did so with a seven-foot putt. Third place went to Richy Werenski and Peter Uihlein, whose 67 surge was tied only by one team on day four.
LPGA Tour: Los Angeles Open is Henderson’s 10th Title
Not many were better than Brooke Henderson on Saturday. Just five golfers bested her final-round 67, and they did it by just one stroke. Victory number 10 on tour seemed out of reach for the Ontario native, as four strokes separated her from leader Jessica Korda. Korda had owned the front nine at Wilshire Country Club all week, playing it 2 under, 3 under, and 4 under with zero bogeys on the card. When her fourth-round card saw plus 2 at the end of nine, however, the game was on and Brooke was in it.
Who knows what vexes golfers, and equally so, what vindicates them? Why did Korda lose her grip on the LA Open after holding firm for 54 holes? What did Henderson find on Saturday, that so eluded her on Friday? Lots of questions, aye? The facts show that Henderson made six birdies against two bogeys over the final 18 holes, while Korda was able to summon just two birdies on the day, with one coming at the 18th, where she needed an ace to tie.
Henderson’s first title in two seasons certainly returned a fair amount of confidence to a game that shouldn’t need it and to a psyche that did. Korda was hoping to add a second win in 2021 to her résumé but came up short on birdies when she thought she’d never run out.
Korn Ferry Tour: Veritex Bank Championship to Coach’s Son
Two types of stories tend to stoke the adrenaline fires for the Korn Ferry Tour aficionados: young triumphs and veteran victories. The recent successes of Will Zalatoris fit in the former category. Allow Mr. Tyson Alexander to occupy the latter on this delightful Sunday evening. Alexander was a stalwart member of the UFlorida Gators team a dozen or so years back. Since then, he has honed the tools of the professional trade, learning how to win. Having a golf-successful father (his former college coach and U.S. Amateur champion, Buddy Alexander) had to be equal parts benefit and burden.
This week in Arlington, Alexander opened with 67, then improved to 65, then another 65, and finally, a 64 on Sunday. They say that if you continue to improve, good things come your way. Well, Alexander improved all the way to 23-under par, a pretty impressive tally. Over the course of the first three days, Theo Humphrey was the man in command. Much like Korda above, he appeared to have the tournament under control. Like Korda, Humphrey’s troubles began on the outward nine. Twice he followed birdie (1 and 5) with bogey; at 8 and 9, he reversed that trend, and turned in even par. In Arlington, that amounted to a two of three-shot deficit.
Birdies at 10 and 11 gave the third-round leader hope, but bogey at the 12th ended that run. Desperately needing one more birdie to join Alexander, Humphrey was all pars over the final six holes, and came second by one shot. It was two more shots to the third-place pair, Taylor Moore and Brett Drewitt.
European Tour: Gran Canaria Open Sees Fireworks and an Unlikely Winner
Three golfers posted 61s in round two at the Gran Canaria Open, yet none figured in the top three at week’s end. Last week’s runner-up was this week’s runner-up, despite opening with 63 and closing with 62. If you weren’t five under par on Friday evening, you weren’t playing on the weekend. Golf on Gran Canaria was serious business, as the Meloneras Golf layout let players know early on that birdies were the week’s currency.
Garrick Higgo was never far from the lead all week, but he somehow flew under the radar, even after opening 65-64. Attention was on Connor Syme, who improved ten shots from his opening 71, or on Thorbjorn Olesen, who stood at 126 through two rounds, or on Sam Horsfield, who also signed for 61 on day two. On day three, Syme nearly matched his 61 with 62, and he moved quite high into contention. The problem was, Higgo kept getting better. He dropped another shot with 63, and overtook Olesen on the top rung.
On Sunday, Higgo made eagle at the fourth hole for the second consecutive day, framed it with five more birdies against zero bogies, and reached a massive 25-under par. Charging hard was last week’s hard-luck, playoff-losing Max Kieffer. The German amassed seven birdies and a hole-out eagle at the 10th, but simply ran out of holes against the young South African, who gained a second European Tour title in the Canary Islands.
A new feature of Tour Rundown: We take a no-holds-barred look at something that happened this week in the world of golf.
Today, we target that photo of King Tiger and his faithful hound, Bugs. Are we so golf-starved or hero-starved that we immediately begin tweeting and gramming and tiking about #TigerWoods2022MastersChampion? Have we so quickly forgotten that he might have had a little responsibility in this? Dude was on the shelf from back surgery for 2021’s playing as it was, so the shattering of the lower right leg certainly added to the list of boxes to check. Lots of other stories in golf to tout, so let’s leave Eldrick the Only to his rehab and focus our enthusiasm on other elements.
Zurich Classic Truck Report: Hovland testing Ping i59 Prototype irons, Xander’s Epic Speed Triple Diamond 5W
What testing is done and what equipment adjustments are made during a team event on the PGA Tour? Well, in the long view, what we’ll see on the range at the Zurich Classic likely isn’t that much different than the goings-on of a standard week on the PGA Tour. But this week in New Orleans, our sources indicate there’s a ton of shaft testing taking place as well as some significant toolbox adjustment.
What is else is happening on the equipment front in the Big Easy? Open the Tour Truck Report folder to find out.
We spotted Viktor Hovland with prototype i59 Ping irons. While Ping is mum on the details of the new line, Ryan Barath offered some speculation here.
Kris Ventura (non-staff) is putting an i210/Blueprint combo set in play.
Scottie Scheffler (non-staff), who has been in the Ping G400 LST, is 50-50 on playing G425 this week, according to a source.
Xander Schauffele is testing a prototype Epic Speed Triple Diamond fairway wood. Resident equipment expert Ryan Barath sees this as a possible smaller, deeper-faced, Sub Zero-esque Epic Speed variety, as he wrote here. Xander has his usual Graphite Design Tour AD DI 8 X (Black) shaft in the new tool.
Dylan Frittelli had an Epic Speed Max LS Triple Diamond built for testing with a 46-inch Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 60 TX shaft.
Mark Anderson tested a TSi2 15-degree fairway. Loved the easy launch, carry distance, and ball flight from both the turf and tee, according to a source.
Free-agent Jhonattan Vegas tested a TSi2 15-degree fairway.
TaylorMade is calling this “wedge week” and with that in mind, a number of staffers are using some very cool custom “RAW” staff bags, highlighting the unfinished wedge options across their line. Staffers will wear “RAW” hats as well, as showcased in the second photo below.
We still don’t have an official comment from PXG, the existence of “prototype” Gen4 0311 ST irons can’t be denied based on some more images we captured from the range this week.
Rocco Mediate was spotted with a DeChambeau-esque SIK putter and LA Golf Shaft combo.
Most interesting photos from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans
This week, the PGA Tour is at the TPC Louisiana for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans—which is the one and only team event that takes place during the season. GolfWRX was on-site Tuesday to spy a glimpse into the bags of some of the world’s top golfers where the field of 160 (80 two-man teams) is getting ready to battle starting Thursday for the $7.4 million purse, with winning golfers each taking home just over $1 million dollars.
Don’t forget you can check out all our image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.
Rafa Campos loves contrast
Rafa’s irons and wedges couldn’t be more contrasting. A shiny set of Mizuno’s alongside some of the most perfectly patina’d raw Vokey SM8s you will ever see.
No mistake about who this putter belongs to
Doug Ghim has one heck of a really nice Scotty Cameron 009 – in fact it’s so nice the team at Scotty Cameron stamped it the same way I write my kid’s name into her shoes that she takes to daycare.
TaylorMade players getting a RAW deal this week
I kid. The only RAW deal going on is the fact that TaylorMade is calling this “wedge week” and with that in mind, a number of staffers are using some very cool custom staff bags.
You gotta test the product
Every week it seems like more and more players on the PGA Tour are using technology-packed putter shafts to help improve consistency. This week at the Zurich, we spotted a Scotty Cameron outfitted with an LA golf Shafts TPZ putter shaft and the tour rep was giving it a little test for feel.
Holmes is rolling with a Bettinardi
JB Holmes was spotted on the practice green as the TPC of Louisiana working on his putting with a Bettinardi mallet. Considering the event features an alternate shot format, it’s likely he was working on his pace. Nobody wants to leave their partner a long tester for par.
Something old and something new for Henrik
Henrik Stenson is mixing it up. He continues to use his tried and true Legacy black forged irons while also working with some of the newest putters from Odyssey like the below 2-ball Ten.
Kisner still working with an armlock
Although he was carrying both a conventional and armlock style putter this week, it looks like Kisner is starting to fully commit to the popular putting technique.
Hovland’s aim is on point
Little slopes make a big difference, which is why Viktor Hovland was seen working hard on his Aim-point technique using an around-the-hole drill and a digital level.
Woody Austin sure knows how to strike it
Although it has been years since he was a regular on the PGA Tour, Woody Austin still knows how to strike it! Just look at the wear pattern on his irons, and more specifically, his wedges.
Charl is looking for a flatstick
“Listen I got to go, I’m working on my putting”
Mr. Schwartzel sure knows how to swing a golf club, but on the greens is where he has recently struggled, and in New Orleans this week we spotted him testing a number of putters on the practice green.
We should note, he still has some raw Nike wedges in the bag too.
Keegan is hard at work on the putting green
The 2011 PGA Champion was on the green as using a laser alignment for what looked to be a face contact and putting path drill.
Rocco’s looking SIK
Rocca Mediate absolutely loves to tinker, and it also looks like Mr. DeChambeau is rubbing off on him based on his putter choice this week. He was spotted working with a custom SIK putter fitted with an LA Golf Shafts graphite shaft.
New Ping irons for Hovland
Viktor Hovland is bringing “gear junkie” heat this week to New Orleans. We spotted the Ping staffer with new i59 irons, along with some Glide Pro wedges that we first spotted a couple of weeks ago in Austin at the WGC.
Pop it and arm lock it
We continue to see more and more pros working on an armlock putting technique—it is certainly something that is picking up steam on tour.
PXG 0311 Gen4 ST sticking around
Although we still don’t have an official comment from PXG, the existence of “prototype” Gen 0311 ST irons can’t be denied based on some more images we captured this week.
Great bags for great causes
Both Scott Stallings and Greg Chalmers are using their biggest billboards—their staff bags, to promote great causes on tour.
For Greg, that means Maximum Chances, an organization that helps children with autism and their family’s connect to resources including financial aid, and for Scott Stallings, it’s to share the “Kids play free” program which he helped to found with the Tennessee Golf Foundation.
Billy Horschel’s got a new long iron
We spotted a new Titleist 620 CB 3-iron in the bag of Billy Horschel this week, which means there is once again fewer players than ever still using a blade 3-iron on the PGA Tour. Are blade long irons close to extinction?
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Joel Dahmen’s winning WITB: 2021 Corales Puntacana
Louis Oosthuizen WITB 2021 (April)
Driver: Ping G400 (9 degrees @8.75) (D4) Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 6 S (45 inches, tipped 1.5 inch) 3-wood: Ping G425 Max (14.5...
Garrick Higgo’s winning WITB: 2021 Gran Canaria Open
Driver: Titleist TSi3 (9 degrees) Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 3-wood: Titleist TS2 (15 degrees) Shaft: Fujikura Pro 2.0 Tour Spec Hybrid:...
Marc Leishman, Cam Smith winning WITBs: 2021 Zurich Classic
Marc Leishman WITB Driver: Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond DS (10.5 degrees loft) Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X 4-wood: Callaway Epic...
Brooke Henderson’s winning WITB: 2021 LA Open
Driver: Ping G400 (9 degrees @7.7) (small – hosel setting, D8+) Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD VR 5 X (48...
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