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TOUR REPORT: Rickie Fowler’s wild new Odyssey putter (and the fascinating story behind it)

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After kicking off the season in the Hawaiian Islands, the PGA Tour made the trek back to the mainland this week for The 2023 American Express at PGA West in La Quinta, California. The West Coast swing is officially underway, and GolfWRX was on site for the practice rounds to see all of the new gear that players and equipment companies are unveiling early in the year.

This week was jam packed with switches, launches and testing from big names, including Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Jimmy Walker and Will Zalatoris.

You can check out ALL of our photos in the GolfWRX Forums here, or continue reading for my breakdown of the notable gear news from this week at The American Express.

1) Patrick Cantlay tests Ping drivers

Cantlay, who’s no longer a full Titleist staffer, showed up at the 2023 Tournament Sentry Tournament of Champions with an all-black Vessel bag, but he was still using 14 Titleist clubs. Although he’s still using the Titleist TS3 driver at The American Express so far this week, he had two Ping G430 LST drivers in his bag prior to the start of the event. It seems his testing with other brands has commenced as a free agent. We’ll be keeping a very close eye on his equipment decisions going forward, because things could get interesting.

Patrick Cantlay WITB 2023 (The American Express)

2) A long-awaited golf ball switch for Willy Z

As we covered in-depth on the PGA TOUR website’s Equipment Report this week, Zalatoris switched from a Titleist Pro V1 2019 golf ball into a new Pro V1x 2023 golf ball at the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions. On Wednesday, we caught up with Zalatoris, who explained that the 2023 Pro V1 was producing spin rates that were actually too low with his driver, but when he tried the new 2023 Pro V1x, he found his perfect match.

According to Zalatoris, the 2023 Pro V1x provides the same performance as his previous 2019 Pro V1, the only difference is that it’s better in the wind.

Here’s what he told GolfWRX on Wednesday:

“I played the V for 3 or 4 years, and then switched to the X. The new ball is really good through the wind … I didn’t really go through any deep testing or anything. I just hit a couple shots downwind, hit a couple shots into the wind, and just see which one does what you want it to do.

“(Titleist) gave me the V at first, because I was playing the V, and my spin rates went down to like 2,000 rpm (with the driver). I had a tough time getting it in the air. And so, I tried the X, and (my numbers) went right back to what I was playing. It’s literally reacting the same (as my previous golf ball), it was just better through the wind. That was kind of it.

“The golf ball is the engine of everything, but I’ve played a Titleist ball my whole life. So as long as it does what you think it’s going to do … this (switch) was really easy. It’s literally the same ball, it just fights the wind better. And it’s not like it’s a drastic difference, it’s maybe like a yard or two, but a yard or two could be the difference between hitting one in the lip of the bunker and having a 6-footer for birdie.”

3) Rickie Fowler’s wild new putter, and the fascinating story behind it

Read the full story over on PGATOUR.com

Slab. City.

Fowler, who changed putters no less than a billion times in 2022, came out to The 2023 American Express with something completely different than we saw last year.

On Sunday, prior to the start of the week, Fowler picked up his caddie Ricky Romano’s putter, and he took an immediate liking to it. On Monday, Fowler went into the Callaway Tour Truck to ask Joe Toulon to build him up something similar to Romano’s setup.

The result? An Odyssey Versa Jailbird with a Micro Hinge face insert, 20-25 grams of lead tape on the sole, and it’s equipped with a SuperStroke Tour 3.0 17 grip. Although the grip is longer, he’s not using it as a belly putter, broomstick, or armlock. Instead, he’s taking his normal stance and grip, he’s simply letting the counterbalancing of the putter work its magic.

Fowler explained how the putter came about, and why he likes the new grip style:

“I’ve been, over the last few years, not putting how I’m used to, or how I want to by any means,” said Fowler, who ranked 161st in Strokes Gained: Putting last season. “Some of it, confidence wise, not having the same feel I’ve always had. The right hand, not making confident strokes. And, I wasn’t necessarily searching. I’ve been grinding and working on my normal stuff.

“I was very shocked, because I never really looked into anything that was longer, counterbalanced, or anything like that. … It’s very interesting, but it’s kind of freeing me up in a way. I’m not changing stroke-wise, or setup, not gripping anything differently than my normal length putter. I just feel like it’s, I don’t know, kind of helping me do some things, and I don’t have to think about it.”

Fowler also switched up his driver and 3-wood during his off-season. Although he told GolfWRX that he’s been using and testing Cobra’s new Aerojet metalwoods for a couple months now, it’s still the first PGA Tour event where Fowler has them in play.

He weighed in on the new Aerojet designs, and his experience so far:

“I mean, ultimately, I wouldn’t put the driver and 3-wood in if I didn’t think they were better,” Fowler explained. “Obviously it’s always something that we try and get in new product, but I was happy with what I had. I was playing last year’s driver, and a 3-wood from a couple years ago, but the new 3-wood was, I felt, a little more forgiving sometimes with a little toe miss. … The Aerojet 3-wood I felt it was a little more stable, but very similar flight characteristics, just a little more forgiving, so that was a nice bonus.

“The driver, pretty similar. I felt the numbers were a bit tighter from the low-to-top end of the face, not as spinny on some misses, and the spin didn’t drop too much on some higher-on-the-face hits. With that, a little tighter with dispersion, left and right. Then I actually went up about a half-degree (in loft) from where I was. The LS is a fairly low-spinning head, which has been great for me.

“Being able to go to something that has a little bit more loft, that can definitely help with the side-to-side dispersion, because once you go down to loft, you can get the ones that kind of squirt right or knuckle left. Loft is your friend if you can have it.”

Head over to PGATOUR.com for my full report on Fowler’s putter, and check out his full 2023 WITB here in our GolfWRX Forums.

4) New putters galore

GolfWRX spotted a slew of new putters at PGA West this week, including Tour launches from Bettinardi, Ping, Scotty Cameron and EvnRoll (click on each company name to see all of the photos and model options…there’s a LOT of new models inside each link).

5) Doug Ghim’s clean custom Scotty

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by GolfWRX (@golfwrx)

Yeah, wow. No further commentary necessary. Click here for more photos of Ghim’s new custom flatstick.

6) Mizuno’s new driver spotted in the wild

Mizuno officially announced the launch of its new Mizuno ST-X 230 and ST-Z 230 drivers this week, and we spotted the ST-X 230 in Mizuno staffer Greyson Sigg’s bag this week. Interestingly, the ST-X 230 option is the more draw-biased, higher-spinning and higher-flying model, compared to the ST-Z 230.

Learn more about Mizuno’s new drivers here, and see what people are saying about Sigg’s driver, in particular.

7) Patrick Rodgers tests out a giraffe neck

Rodgers, who was previously a Callaway staffer, was already playing an Odyssey Toulon putter with a long plumbers’ neck prior to this year. At The 2023 American Express, we spotted Rodgers testing out a custom Scotty Cameron with an even longer neck, and he tried out a LAB Golf Mezz.1 putter. He was undecided earlier in the week, and we’ll work to confirm which putter he ended up going with for the event. Until then, see what GolfWRX members are saying about his options.

8) Jimmy Walker switches to an Axis1

Over the summer of 2022, Justin Rose unveiled a new Axis1 Prototype putter. Although he didn’t end up switching to it, Billy Horschel put it in play for the 3rd and 4th rounds at the 2022 Tour Championship. This week, Jimmy Walker also put the Axis1 Prototype putter in play after we spotted him putting with it earlier in the week.

9) Aaron Wise goes into a Stealth 2 Plus, with an interesting weight setup

Last year, Wise was using a TaylorMade Stealth Plus driver, so it’s no shock to see him switch into the new Stealth 2 Plus this year. It is a surprise, however, to see that Wise has the adjustable weight all the way in the draw position with the new Stealth 2 Plus, whereas he had the sliding weight in his previous Stealth Plus driver in a neutral position. We’ll provide an update on exactly why he switched up the weights when we have more information.

10) Custom Tour-Only putter covers

Before closing out the Tour Report from this week, I had to mention two new putter covers we spotted.

First up, there’s new Scotty Cameron “Baller Boy” headcovers

…as well as Zac Blair’s new “The Buck Club” cover inspired by In-N-Out.

And, now that we’re all craving cheeseburgers from In-N-Out, we say goodbye to The 2023 American Express at PGA West. We’ll be back next week on the cliffs of San Diego for the 2023 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

Click here to see all of our photos from The 2023 American Express

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

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Whats in the Bag

John Pak WITB 2023 (January)

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Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 (9 @9.75), TaylorMade Stealth Plus (9 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 6 X, Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 6 S

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth Plus (15 degrees @ 14.25)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Red 8 TX

Irons: TaylorMade Tour Preferred UDI (2), TaylorMade P7MC (8)
Shafts: Graphite Design Tour AD (2), Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 Tour 125 S

Wedges: TaylorMade MG3 (46-SB09, 50-SB09, 54-SB11, 58-SB11)
Shafts: Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 Tour 125 S

Putter: TaylorMade Spider GT Notchback
Grip: Golf Pride Pro Only

Grips: Golf Pride Z Grip Cord

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Whats in the Bag

Gunner Wiebe WITB 2023 (January)

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Driver: Titleist TSR3 (9 degrees @8.25)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70 TX

3-wood: Titleist TSR3 (15 @14.25)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei AV Raw White 85 X

5-wood: Titleist TSR3 (18 @18.75)
Shaft: Mitsubish Tensei AV Raw White 85 X

Irons: Titleist T100s (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM9 (50-12F, 54-14F), Titleist Vokey Design WedgeWorks Proto (58-T)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Putter: L.A.B. Golf Direct Force 2.1, L.A.B. Golf
Grip: L.A.B. Golf Press No II

Grips: Lamkin

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Whats in the Bag

Sam Burns WITB 2023 (January)

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Driver: Callaway Rogue ST Triple Diamond (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 7 TX

4-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (17 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 8 X

Hybrid: Callaway Apex UW (21 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 8 X

Irons: Callaway Apex TCB
Shafts: Project X 125 6.5

Wedges: Callaway Apex TCB (AW), Callaway Jaws MD5 (56-10S
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (AW), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 (56)

Putter: Odyssey O-Works #7s Black
Grip: Odyssey

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Align

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