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A lob wedge is the most dangerous club in your bag—and not in a good way

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For professional golfers, a 60-degree lob wedge around the green could be classified as a surgical scalpel. Many pros—most notably Phil Mickelson—have built their reputations on the ability to hit miraculous recovery shots with these higher-lofted clubs. Phil has even gone as far as carrying a 64-degree wedge for extreme situations where it might come in handy.

For regular golfers though, higher-lofted wedges can end up being anything but scalpel-like, unless you plan on using one to shred your scorecard after the round. Higher lofted wedges can become a massive liability because of their limited margin for error and the speed at which they are swung. This is also why we see so many people trying to innovate in the wedge market—small changes for regular golfers can make a noticeable difference.

The benefits and dangers of the lob wedge

Being able to effectively use a lob wedge can save a lot of shots around the green, especially when faced with a short-sided up and down or a difficult buried lie, but the hardest part of an open-faced lob wedge shot is repeatability. It’s why you can feel like a hero on one hole, and a complete failure on the next—because the ball ended up exactly where it started…or it ends up on the other side of the green…

We’ve all done it!

Professionals at the highest level have the benefit of hitting these shots countless times in practice over and over, not just at their home course but week to week in varying conditions on different grass types. Most golfers don’t have this luxury, and without practice or understanding the dynamics of hitting the shot properly, the failure rate goes up quickly. This is why reasonable expectations, good decision making, and simple technique changes can make a big difference.

The WHY?

Wedges with 60 degrees of loft (and even 56 in some cases) look easy to hit since they have large faces which in turn equals greater surface area to make contact but face area versus effective face area to make contact are two completely different things.

Compared to a club with less loft, the most extreme being a driver, there is a smaller effective area to make contact and transfer energy to the ball, and beyond the transfer of energy, any club that has an effective loft of more than 50 degrees at impact will be more difficult to control in less than perfect conditions since the coefficient of friction decreases. That means you have less control over launch parameters including spin, which on short shots is one of the biggest components to stop the ball close to the intended target.

Solutions to your wedge problem

This one is the most obvious, but it’s also the least exciting: practice. By dedicating valuable practice time to the short game, you can quickly see improvements. Practice helps ingrain “feels” in your technique and also helps build up the knowledge to analyze ground conditions and lies to know which club to hit and how to play the shot.

The second option is a new wedge—come on, who doesn’t want a new wedge? Whether it be based on loft, bounce, or sole configuration, getting set up with the right tools can make a world of difference, especially if what you are using now is ill-fit to your game. If you really struggle with the short shots around the green and are willing to admit that practice isn’t an option, I highly recommend trying a specialty club designed to make the game easier. I know it’s not the “sexy” option but something like the Cutter CTR1 wedge: Cutter wedge -here to help,  or a Square Strike wedge for chipping can make golf fun and easier.

Learning to hit different shots, and making simple changes to how you approach the hole can make a huge difference very quickly to your game. This can involve choosing to hit more low running square faced shots with lower lofted-clubs like a 9 or 8-iron, or if you are still trying to be as aggressive as possible, learning to hit delofted shots with your higher lofted wedges which can also help create more spin. If possible, taking a short game lesson with a teacher can be truly game-changing with a few simple technique adjustments.

Understanding where you loose shots can help you save them

Last but not least, managing expectations can help take the pressure off when hitting shots around the green and help you make better decisions, leading to lower scores. Instead of trying to hit a “hero” flop shot over a bunker from a bad lie, aim for a larger part of the green and give yourself a better opportunity make your next shot—again not a magic cure, but if you do this a few more times in a round of golf, you can turn those wedges into weapons—and not weapons of self-destruction.

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Ryan Barath is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Pingback: Purchasing Your First Set Of Golf Irons – FAQs

  2. Pingback: From Sunday bags to club fitting: My favorite pieces of 2020 – GolfWRX

  3. steve jenney

    Oct 17, 2020 at 9:54 am

    When I teach and I find a lot wedge in a 20 handicappers bag I say “there are only two people I know that can use this club” GOD and Tiger Woods! Michelson is so over rated its disgusting! Put in another hybrid or another wedge. 46, 49 52 and 56 at most.

  4. Dennis Beach

    Aug 8, 2020 at 10:05 am

    I usually use my 60* to make full swing shots. Trying to finesse a lob with a half swing is better left to the pros. Greenside bunkers where the green is higher than the sand is my go to 60* shot, especially if the green is eye level when you are in the bunker, as it requires a full swing to get up and on most of the time. My 56* is my all around chip/pitch club within 50 yards of the green. If the ground is level, I will use a pitching(46*)wedge to bump and run. I carry a 52*, but use mostly on full shots inside 100 yards of the green.

  5. christian

    Aug 1, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    Hitting a lob wedge doesn’t need to be some big mysterious event. It’s the same as the rest of the irons in you bag. Keep your hands ahead of the ball at impact and you can hit a lob wedge just as effectively as a 4 iron. I don’t care if you’re hitting a one hop and stop pitch or a high soft lob, keep your shaft leaning forward and hands ahead of the ball at impact and you’ll hit 90% of them just fine. Everyone gets freaked out about 60 degree wedges for some reason and in the end, it’s just a club that needs a little practice to figure out…but then again, don’t all of your clubs need that.

  6. ChipNRun

    Jul 30, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    Two things to decide on LWs:
    * Can you hit a 60* reliably? If not, go with a 58*.
    * Whether it’s a 60* or 58*, you need to pull firmly through the shot with the left side. If not, you’ll come up short a lot on your LW.

    Once you resolve these two points, remember: a LW is not an all-occasions club. If you hit a lob into a green with a false front, don’t be surprised if the ball spins back to your feet. In this case, go to a chip and run if you’re going uphill slightly.

    I saw this happen several times from the U.S. women in the 2014 Curtis Cup. The U.S. would lob into the false front and die, or spin back, while the British/Irish women would roll a chip-and-run in close for an easy tap-in. (Fortunately, the US women were dropping iron-shot darts into the green from the fairway, and eventually won out.)

  7. Par-Tee-Animal

    Jul 29, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    Honestly, I think most of Ryan’s work is just product of boredom. This article is so lazily written that the only data he provides is a percentage of “sand saves” with no data on what kind of wedge was used during those attempted “saves”.

    Also on a similarly and ironic note, he includes a meme about skulling a sand wedge 170 yards from a bunker. What degree is a sand wedge again? Oh that’s right it’s between 54-57 degrees, so he’s basically invalidated his argument in one meme.

    How often are you going to open the face of a 60* lob wedge in a bunker or around the green? Hardly ever, want to know why? Because it has 60* of loft unlike the 56* everyone opens up and sweeps through the bunker with that has the added repercussion of higher bounce which leads to more skulled shots than a 60* with lower bounce.

    Now are lob wedges for everyone? Certainly not, there are guys like Lee Trevino who only carried a wedge as high as 54* and had a successful career. But for someone who want a little more confidence to land a nice soft shot onto the green over a bunker or even a water hazard they’re a nice tool to have. Why work on building a whole new swing for one shot when you can buy a club that effectively has the same mechanics?

    Ryan, I highly encourage you to rethink your Op-Ed articles as they’re basically non-educated opinions by someone who speed out articles that read like Buzzfeed headlines.

    I saw your latest post about club makers and gourmet chefs being similar, maybe it’s time for you to hang up the carry bag and take up cooking. At least that way everything is already measured out for you so you don’t have to try to use any critical thinking which you seem to lack.

  8. PATRICK CARROLL

    Jul 29, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    When i was a 25 handicap (maybe more that’s just a guess), I used a lob wedge often and ineffectively. Probably rarely at the right time. It probably didn’t help my score like using a 9 iron to bump and run would have. But it was fun.

    I’m officially a 12 handicap now. The big difference is I know the shots I CAN hit and know the shots I SHOULD hit. That combination means i spend most of my time using my 54* with great success. But, when I need to play a high, short, soft shot, I can do it with moderate success. Certainly much better than I could with an open faced 54 or lower.

    In short. Know the FEW shots and scenarios you NEED a LW and be diligent in using the club ONLY for those shots.

  9. Evan

    Jul 27, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Why, when facing a short shot that needs to fly high and land softly, wouldn’t a LW be helpful, regardless of handicap- in fact probably more helpful to a less skilled player?

  10. JackCi

    Jul 27, 2020 at 8:15 am

    This is a dumb article. I use my 60* a lot and also any other club down to a 7 even around the green. The 60* is nothing short of s godsend around the green and one of the easiest clubs to hit. Whoever wrote this is a hack and should retire.

  11. BWeez

    Jul 25, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    A 60 degree wedge is useless and isn’t worthy of the slot in the bag, you’d be better off with a driving iron. My 56 degree is the most effective club in my bag and I use it in a million different situations. It is also the club I practice with the most. Anyone who puts anything above a 48 degree in their hand and hasn’t got serious reps with it is hoping to get lucky.

  12. Justin

    Jul 21, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    I think this article has some credence. I have a 60 degree wedge and used many different kinds of grinds and bounces in the past. It is in the grinds and bounces that I think can benefit each player the most. Once the player understands what is best utilized for them can the wedge be beneficial. I have though found lately I have gravitated to more my 56 and 52 on standard wedge shots and pitches and only using my 60 in specialty situations. It is quite a low bounce so it comes in handy on tight lies and firm bunkers. It has a decent amount of heal and toe relief. I am a low single digit handicap. Not sure if thats any relevance to the situation but I always used to just use a 60* form anywhere. Have found since I expanded the 56 and 52 it has allowed me greater control over being able to keep the flight down and get the ball running on the green faster.

  13. Bas

    Jul 20, 2020 at 5:13 am

    I’m a 38 handicap and have a 60 degree Cleveland CBX in the bag. It is incredibly easy to hit, more so than my SW and AW (Callaway Rogue). I just put the ball in the middle of my stance, weight 50/50 and swing through the ball nice and easy. Nothing fancy. Love it from the sand as well.

    Although at my level I have never even thought about ‘opening up’ a 60 degree wedge. Why on earth would you do that? Isn’t the point of a 60 degree that you don’t have to open up your 54 degree? i would think that 60 would be enough.

  14. nomad golfer

    Jul 20, 2020 at 12:01 am

    I use a Lovett chipper wedge for getting out of sand traps otherwise it just stays in the bag. My reliable short range club is a sand wedge which I don’t use in sand !.
    Yeah it’s a funny game.

  15. Jonas Henderson

    Jul 19, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    Exactly what audience are you addressing here? A lob wedge is an entirely legitimate tool for many serious golfers. I bet among single digit hcp players, most would say it’s indispensable. Among mid-cappers, I bet a good proportion wield it with decent competence, especially, if they use it for standard chips and pitches, and not hero shots.

    I’d wager the 3w has destroyed more rounds than LWs ever have.

    • gwelfgulfer

      Jul 29, 2020 at 11:46 am

      I’d easily take that bet. The LW has far more potential use in a round than a 3wd does for the vast majority. More so if they aren’t hitting a good % of GIR’s and blindly grab the 60* for each and every situation.

  16. Simms

    Jul 19, 2020 at 10:26 am

    If you play public golf I find it a lot easier to find a place to practice 58 degree lob and chip shots then any other shot…almost no one in the public course arena has a 100 yard grass to a real green practice area and for most of us 75% of driving ranges are mats (almost a waste of time for short iron and fairway wood practice). So I keep a 58 in my bag because I have practiced with it till it works.

  17. Tom Duckworth

    Jul 19, 2020 at 10:15 am

    I think Phil made the idea of a lob wedge popular for many golfers and that has probably hurt their games. In many weekend golfers minds their idea of the short game is to hit a high shot that lands close to the hole and stops, no matter what the shot really calls for. I guess a low running chip isn’t as sexy as a high lob but I’ll take closer to the hole any day.

  18. Matt70

    Jul 18, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    I only carry 46° and then 54°. Keep it simple. +0.2 hcap

  19. Duane Martin

    Jul 18, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    I still carry my Ping Eye 2+ SW instead of lob wedge…..57.5 degrees, double bevel sole, 64.5 degrees of lie angle.
    Best “SW” ever made imo…. easy to flop, easy to hit 80 yards and easy to hit all green side bunker shots with.
    But like everyone else has said….. practice goes a long way towards perfection.

  20. Rascal

    Jul 18, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    I agree, don’t see the need to take up the bag spot when I can use the 3i instead.

  21. Mac

    Jul 18, 2020 at 3:43 am

    Technique is king!

    • gwelfgulfer

      Jul 19, 2020 at 2:34 pm

      Pretty well this. Golf is hard, even harder to play very well and the vast majority of players in the world have had little to no actual quality instruction, little to no practice (or practice poorly because of lack of knowledge) or actual drive/ability to get better.

  22. Dicklaus

    Jul 17, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    I’ve been a Cat 1 golfer for the best part of 50 years. The whole basis of the short game is to get the ball on the ground as soon as possible – unless you’re forced otherwise.
    I tried a LW once and realised it was an unreliable club – unless I was prepared to put in a lot of practice.
    It was also evident that a better strike, and the same result as a LW, was possible by opening up my 54 SI.
    In other words, the shot I’d learnt as a kid & used for decades.
    Different strokes for different folks!

  23. Dan

    Jul 17, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    I was a scratch when 95% of players didn’t carry a lob wedge, myself included. You practice enough you can hit anything.

  24. Richard Pym

    Jul 17, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    For me it’s all about course management a good player knows most of the time what type of shot to hit around the green. I think that the slightly higher handicappers sometimes try to hit the miracle Mickelson esq flops shots they have seen from TV rather than taking the easier shot for say bogey and walking away with 1 or 2 points rather than a blob.

  25. Bob Jones

    Jul 17, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    My 60-degree wedge is calibrated to certain distances for pitching and for chipping. I have practiced with it around the green and am familiar with what I can do with it and what I can’t. It’s a big stroke-saving club for me.

  26. KP

    Jul 17, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    I never thought I would see an endorsement for gimmicks like the Square Strike wedge on GolfWrx, a website that is supposedly geared towards serious golfers. I’m stunned.

  27. Acemandrake

    Jul 17, 2020 at 1:13 pm

    56 is easier to use than 58 or 60. It’s also more versatile.

    For me, there’s just less thought involved with the 56.

  28. David

    Jul 17, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    I could probably hit 75% of my 60 degree shots with my 56, but still would play it more often in a round than I would a 3 wood. For my set I have put a 60 in the bag, lowered the loft on my 5 wood, and dumped the 3 wood to stay at 14 clubs. Newer 60s seem to have better weight distribution and easier to hit than my older versions did but that’s just my opinion. I think it comes down to understanding your capability when picking your target landing area, but its doesn’t seem any harder to hit to me. I understand I’m not Phil.

  29. Sean Foster-Nolan

    Jul 17, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    I disagree. I have both a 58 and 62 degree. They are real stroke savers for me.

  30. DougE

    Jul 17, 2020 at 11:38 am

    I too have to disagree, with respect.

    I feel this article might be better published on a site where the majority of players are mid to higher handicappers. Not WRX. The article itself is not totally off base in the opinions presented, though it is quite condescending if you are lumping good players into the equation. You don’t get to be a single digit handicap without having good control of your wedges and a somewhat thorough understanding of the design and dynamics of wedges and swings, particularly short game swings.

    Personally, I could not play to the level I do without a good quality lob wedge. I use anything from a hybrid to a 58* around the greens, but 90% of the time, it is my 58. It is the most trusted short game club in my bag. Sure, I screw up with it, occasionally, just like everyone else does from time to time, but I’ll take the 90-95%, good to excellent shot, success rate I do have with it any day, over not having a LW in my bag at all. Yes, I admit, I practice and play a lot (virtually everyday), so I am very aware of how to handle it properly. But, I would also guess, that the majority of WRX readership would fall into my same category (4.8), or better. Most here are serious players of the game, not just casual golfers.

    A simple qualification in the beginning of the article suggesting that it is aimed more at mid to higher handicap level golfers, and then the article has plenty of merit. JMO.

  31. John B

    Jul 17, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Am 84 now – 30 years with my Ping 60 degree lob. Swing plane & speed very important. Don’t give up, just practice, practice!

  32. Brandon

    Jul 17, 2020 at 10:34 am

    I think the negative feedback misses the real point Ryan is trying to make. Perhaps Ryan should change the title to “A lob wedge CAN be the most dangerous club.” It seems like the real point of it is that the club can be dangerous when trying to replicate the shots tour pros make look easy. I like using my lob wedge as much as any of you, but I wouldn’t dream of trying anything more complicated than a simple pitch shot.

  33. Big_Church

    Jul 17, 2020 at 10:30 am

    I’m a 12 index and use a 60 all the time around the green, gets me out of trouble(which happens a lot) quite often. Disagree here.

  34. Obee

    Jul 17, 2020 at 10:19 am

    Define your audience first. The overwhelming majority of players below a 10-handicap can wield a LW just fine, and for many players 5 and under, it’s their go-to wedge around the green.

  35. Brian Parsons

    Jul 17, 2020 at 9:54 am

    I completely disagree with this. I’m a 7 index and I would be lost without my 60. Gets me out of trouble around the greens all the time. I use it almost exclusively on shorter sand shots its my go to club for a full 80-90 yard shot from the fairway. Love my 60.

    • Brandon

      Jul 17, 2020 at 11:40 am

      I agree with you completely. Sometimes I’ll chunk or blade my 60, but I do it with my 56 or my 52 as well. Definitely not going to buy an infomercial wedge just because I suck. I’d rather be a 7 with real clubs and be able to look at myself in the mirror than a 5 with clown clubs.

  36. SV677

    Jul 17, 2020 at 9:47 am

    I agree, lob wedges are a disaster waiting to happen. I pretty much only use one for full shots. Even then I avoid it as much as possible. I also do not open the clubface because the ball goes 45* left (lefty) every time. I think a max of 56* is enough unless one is very skilled. Find the safe spot on the green and hope for a long putt and avoid disaster.

  37. Alexander Thompson

    Jul 17, 2020 at 9:39 am

    I disagree with this idea. I think more golfers should utilize a lob wedge. It’s not necessarily about technique of hitting the ball. It’s about knowing how to set up to the shot correctly. Feet position, hand position, and ball position are the keys to hitting a lob wedge. These don’t require much practice since they are set up related. Promoting gimmicky clubs to make the game easier is a set up for failure when the solution is rather simple and allows people to have a better understanding of what the club should be doing at impact with the ball.

  38. Skip

    Jul 17, 2020 at 9:32 am

    Dumb article to assume nobody is good enough to use a lob wedge.

  39. brian

    Jul 17, 2020 at 9:27 am

    I stopped playing with anything higher lofted than a 56 degree. I can open the face and hit flops every bit as easily with a 56 and it has more utility, for me, than a 60.

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The Wedge Guy: A defense of blades

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One of the longest-running and most active conversations in all of golf equipment is the subject of blades versus game improvement irons. Over the nearly 20 years I’ve been writing this blog as “The Wedge Guy,” I’ve addressed this in various ways and always stimulated a lively discussion with my readers.

I hope this angle on the conversation will do the same, so all of you please share your thoughts and observations.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have always played some kind of blade-style irons, with only a few detours along the way. But I always come back to my blades, so let me explain why.

I grew up in the 1950s and 60s when blades were all we had. As a teenager with a developing skill set, I became a devotee to those models from the old Ben Hogan Company, and played the “Bounce Sole” model, then several iterations of the Apex line after it was introduced. Those few sets served me well into my 30s, when I became involved in the golf equipment industry. Having Joe Powell Golf as a client, I switched to his pure muscle back model called the “PGI.” They were certainly sweet.

In the late 1980s, I was handling the marketing for Merit Golf, who offered a cavity back forging called the Fusion, which was inspired by the Ben Hogan Edge irons, but offered a more traditional face profile. So, I switched to them.
Playing to a low single digit handicap at the time, I really didn’t see my scores change, but I just wasn’t making as many birdies as I had before. Openly pondering why my golf felt different, a regular golf buddy noted, “You’re not knocking down pins as often as you used to,” and I realized he was right. I was hitting just as many greens as before, maybe one or two more, but I wasn’t getting those kick-in birdies nearly as often. So, I went to the closet and broke out the old Joe Powell PGI irons and had an epic day with three birdies inside five feet and a couple more in the 5-10 range.
Those blades stayed in the bag until I developed my first iron design, the “RL blades” by my first company, Reid Lockhart. By this time, I had seen enough robotic testing prove that the most penalizing mishit with a blade was a toe impact, which mirrored my own experience. So, I sculpted a pure muscle back blade, but added a bit of mass toward the toe to compensate for that deficiency of all such designs.

I played those irons for 20 years, until I created the “FT. WORTH 15” irons for the re-launch of the Ben Hogan brand in 2015. In that design, I further evolved my work to very slightly add a bit of modified perimeter weighting to a pure forged blade, taking inspiration from many of Mr. Hogan’s earlier personal designs in the Apex line of the “old” Ben Hogan Company. Those are still in my bag, going on eight years now.

So, why do I think I can make a solid defense for playing blade irons? Because of their pinpoint distance control, particularly in the short irons — those with lofts of 35 degrees or higher.

I’ll certainly acknowledge that some modern perimeter weighting is very helpful in the lower lofts . . .the mid- and long irons. In those clubs, somewhere on or near the green is totally acceptable, whether you are playing to break 90 or trying to win on the PGA Tour. [Did you know those guys are actually over par as a group outside 9-iron range?] That’s why you see an increasing number of them playing a conservative game-improvement design in those lofts. But also remember that we in the golf club design business deal with poor “hits” only . . . we have no control over the quality of your swing, so the vast majority of bad golf shots are far beyond our influence.

But what I’ve seen in repeated robotic testing and in my own play, when you get to the prime scoring clubs – short irons and wedges – having a solid thickness of mass directly behind the impact point on the face consistently delivers better distance control and spin. In my own designs of the SCOR wedges in 2010, and the Ben Hogan FT.WORTH 15 irons and TK15 wedges, I created a distribution of mass that actually placed a bit more face thickness behind the slight mishit than even in the center, and the distance consistency was remarkable.

I’ve carried that thinking to the Edison Forged wedges by positioning much more mass behind the high face and toe miss than any other wedges on the market. And in robotic testing, they deliver better transfer of energy on those mishits than any other wedge we tested.

So, back to that experience when I switched back to my Joe Powell blades from the Merit cavity back forging, I can sum it up this way.

If your pleasure from your golf is derived more from how good your worst shots turn out, then a game improvement iron is probably the way to go. But if your golf pleasure is more about how good your best shots are, I think there is a very strong case to be made for playing some kind of blade iron design, at least in your scoring clubs.

Alright, fans: sound off!

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 Open De France: Betting Picks & Selections

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After an enthralling Italian Open at next year’s Ryder Cup venue, the DP World Tour moves on to Le Golf National, scene of one of Europe’s finest hours, a 17.5-10.5 victory at the 2018 running of the bi-annual festival.

With Valderrama on the schedule in three weeks’ time, the tour showcases a trio of its best courses within a month, and whilst deserving of a better field than present in France this week, the tournament should again provide viewers with a treat.

With the lowest winning total since 2000 being 16-under, and an average of 11-under, the focus is very much on a strong tee-to-green
game. The rough is up, the greens are tricky, and scrambling difficult. Those with low confidence in any aspect of their game need not apply.

2019 winner Nicolas Colsaerts somewhat went against the grain when winning via a long driving game , certainly compared to the likes of runner-up J.B Hansen and third-placed George Coetzee, as well as previous winners Jaidee, McDowell and Levet. Like the differing results at the Marco Simone course over the last two runnings, we should resume normal service, with bombers not having so much of an advantage.

In a hard event to weigh up, here is this week’s best bets.

Antoine Rozner 28/1

Ewen Ferguson 45/1

Jorge Campillo 45/1

Marcus Kinhult 60/1

There are few of the top lot that can be ruled out.

All of Thomas Pieters, Jordan Smith, Ryan Fox and, Victor Perez appear very high on the season-long tee-to-green lists. The Englishman was the first one on my list but, at 20/1, he can be left alone, especially given I would have expected him to have done better than a best of 21st in three outings here.

Nevertheless, his is the type of game needed for here and with home support probably a boon, plump for Antoine Rozner to make the Gallic crowd go wild for the first time since Levet’s victory in 2011.

Since his last couple of appearances in his home country – ninth and 13th on the Challenge Tour – the 29-year-old has won in Dubai and Qatar in contrasting styles.

The first saw him putt the lights out to win in 25-under, whilst the more relevant victory was at wind-affected Education City, where he grinded out a one-shot victory in eight under-the-card, a final hole 60-plus foot putt sealing the deal.

2022 has been good.

The record of two top-10s in Spain and Crans disguise four further top-20 finishes, and that he was inside the top-10 after round two of the BMW International, round one of the Czech Masters, and rounds one and three at Glagorm Castle.

Indeed, it was after the first of those that he announced he was very happy with the way his game was trending, and, true to his word, his tee-to-green play has been nothing short of stunning.

Since July, he has averaged a ranking of ninth for approaches, two of those efforts rating him leading the field for tee-to-green. Using the older stats, Rozner has recent greens-in-regulation figures of 21/2/2/7/34/5, perfect for a course that will penalise anyone that constantly misses the short stuff.

There may well be a current issue about his putting, but that is true of all the better ball-strikers. After all, it would be neigh impossible to beat them if every facet was ranking in the top five.

Rozner is bound to know this course better than his ‘debutante’ status, so take him to prove himself in a very beatable field.

Qatar seems a bit of a theme with Ewen Ferguson taking the next spot in the plan.

The Scot owes us nothing after two wins this year for the Players To Follow in 2022 column, but I’m not sure he is quite finished yet.

Slightly naïve when in front on Sunday at the Kenya Open, his next two starts might show finishes of 61st and 40th but, again, they disguise better play than the record shows – Fergie was 11th after three rounds at the MyGolfLife and just outside the top-20 at halfway at Steyn City.

That experience no doubt led to a grinding victory – another to be seen in Qatar – where his solid tee-to-green game outlasted most of his opposition.

The game has continued in that vein, with a 12th place at Celtic Manor (7th after three rounds) being a fine correlation with this week’s track, followed by his second victory of the year at Galgorm Castle.

Probably his best effort was in Himmerland at the beginning of the month, when his all-round game was in superb shape, only giving way to a ridiculous pair of putts by Oliver Wilson. As he did in Ireland, Ferguson led the tee-to-green figures via both driving and irons, whilst his scrambling game was also highly ranked.

Despite the smiles, he may have been feeling that defeat when missing the cut at Wentworth, a course that doesn’t suit everyone on debut, and look at his price – over twice that of players that fail to convert winning chances.

At the same price, the mercurial Jorge Campillo is well worth backing to continue a solid bank of recent and course form.

Rather like previous Spanish winners of the French Open, the 36-year-old (yes, I thought he was older than that, too) has that capability to get out of trouble with the short game so identifiable with his compatriots.

One missed cut in his last nine starts shows he has a belief in his overall game, whilst six consecutive cuts sees him in the sort of form that should enable to challenge for his third European victory, after Morocco and (here we go again) Qatar.

Again his record shows just a couple of top-10 finishes this year, but he was in fourth place going into the final round at Kenya, top 10 for the middle rounds in Belgium, led the Irish Open at halfway and was in the final group on Sunday, whilst he closed late last weekend when it turned tricky in Italy.

With an 8th, 15th and 18th in six starts around here, it’s that ability to grind out a result that gives him claims this week. Campillo isn’t a strong birdie machine, so a winning score of around 10 to 12-under will do just fine.

Marcel Schneider and Romain Langasque both tempted me in at the prices, but whilst the former is in flying form, his record shows he improves after a first sighting at a course, so monitor him for a quiet debut and back him next year! As for the French native, he really should do well if his win at Celtic Manor and his home record has anything in them. The issue is that, at the moment, he is hitting it sideways off the tee and unable to recover with his irons – not a great combo around a tight track.

Instead, take a chance on Marcus Kinhult, who beat Robert MacIntyre, Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace to the British Masters in 2019, held at the links of Hillside, his sole victory on tour to date.

The Swede, whose tee-to-green game doesn’t give him as much reward as it may be ought to, followed that win by making a tough up-and-down at the final hole of that season’s Nedbank Challenge to join Tommy Fleetwood in a play-off, both having come from off the pace at the start of the day.

Unfortunately, that one didn’t go his way, but he has continued to bank a solid record, including top-10 finishes in Qatar (hello, again), The Renaissance Club and Wentworth through 2020, before a personal nightmare.

As he explained in his DP World Tour blog, the 26-year-old started suffering with dizzy spells, eventually diagnosed with epilepsy. In terms of golf, we can put a red line through 2021 form.

Fortunately, the condition is now under control and having worked his way through the Nordic Golf League, where in two events he finished ninth and first, arrived at full fitness at Kenya to finish inside the top-10, before a closing third in Qatar (hello…oh, ok.)

Whilst he couldn’t capitalise on a place in the final two-ball at The Belfry, it was a good warm-up for a return to Hillside, where he would finish a never-nearer third, following that effort with a pair of 23rd place finishes at the Czech Masters and Crans.

It is worth noting that his best efforts in 2018 were in Qatar, at Wentworth and around here (when finishing in fifth place), whilst the last time the French Open was played here, he again finished quickly to be just outside the top-10.

Kinhult has ranked top-12 for driving accuracy in his last three completed outings, and in the top-20 for scrambling in five of eight starts. This is his track.

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Equipment

Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama make big gear changes in Napa

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Andrew Tursky was on site at the Fortinet Championship this week and got all he could handle in terms of new equipment news. There were new irons, drivers, and even headcovers all over the range, so we had to dig into two of the biggest stories out there on this week’s Two Guys Talking Golf Podcast (give us a follow on Instagram: @tg2wrx).

Rickie Fowler’s new irons

Rickie Fowler has been changing a lot of equipment in his bag as he has struggled to get his golf game back into shape. We have seen him with different drivers, shafts, irons, and putters throughout the 2021-2022 season. Fowler has typically played some form of blade during his career, and Cobra even made him some signature Rev33 blades that were beautiful, but razor thin and intimidating for us mortal golfers.

Rickie showed up to the Fortinet with some brand new, unreleased, Cobra King Tour irons. The King Tour irons look a lot like the current Cobra King Tour MIM irons, and we can only assume that the new Tour will replace the MIM.

The interesting thing about the King Tour irons is that they look a little larger than his preferred blades and that they might have a little more ball speed and distance built into them. From the images you can tell there is a little slot behind the face that might be filled with some type of polymer.

Rickie didn’t get into the tech of the new King Tour irons but did tell Tursky that he was gaining around 3-4 yards on shots that he stuck low on the face. He finished the first round of the Fortinet Championship in the top four, so the new irons have seen some success under pressure. I know many of us hope to see Rickie back to form soon, and maybe these new King Tour irons can be the catalyst.

Hideki Matsuyama’s driver change

The other big story comes from a former Masters Champion testing out some new drivers on the range, Hideki Matsuyama. Matsuyama is well known as a golfer who loves to test and tinker with new golf equipment. Each week there is a good chance that he will have multiple drivers, irons, and fairways in the bag searching for the perfect club that week.

Earlier this week, Hideki was spotted with some new, unreleased, Srixon drivers out on the range in Napa. We spotted a few pros testing the new Srixon ZX7 MkII and ZX 5 MkII LS on the range.

Andrew spoke to the Srixon reps and learned Hideki has been trying the new drivers and seems to have settled on a Srixon ZX5 MkII in 10.5 degrees of loft (and his trusty Graphite Design Tour AD DI 8 TX shaft).

The ZX5 MkII LS looks to have an adjustable weight on the sole that is moved far forward —closer to the face — to possibly lower the spin. We haven’t heard anything specific from Srixon on the new drivers, but with their recent success, we would expect to see some solid performance out of the line.

Check out the full TG2 podcast, below

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