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The GolfWRX “WITB BATTLE:” Team USA vs. Team Europe at the 2023 Ryder Cup

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Have you ever wondered who would win the Ryder Cup, if the competition was purely based on the aesthetics, historical significance, backstories, custom designs, and storylines of each player’s golf equipment?

No one? Just me?

Well, this hypothetical “WITB” competition actually already happened.

That’s right. Team USA and Team Europe already competed for the 2023 WITB Cup, and we have the results right here.

The rules were simple.

The GolfWRX Ryder Cup “WITB Battle” was played in a singles match-play format, where in-hand WITB photos of all 24 Ryder Cup players have been closely analyzed and scrutinized by The Committee.

(I am the sole member of The Committee, so the vote was easy to count).

Matchups were decided by alphabetical order, as per the official Ryder Cup website.

NOTE: All opinions below belong solely to The Committee. All commentary henceforth shall not be attributed to GolfWRX.com.

“Hopefully entire nations don’t get mad at us,” said The Committee, in a statement, following the 2023 GolfWRX WITB Cup. “It was a lot of pressure deciding which team’s golf clubs were cooler between the two teams. We, as The Committee, know that the entire United States of America, and the entirety of Europe, both collectively and independently, were depending on The Committee to properly decide this WITB battle. Big stuff, honestly. As for the results, The Committee has elected not to discuss the outcome at this time. No further questions, thank you.”

So, without further ado, and all legal proceedings tended to, let’s get to the WITB Cup official results!

Below is a super unnecessary – but hopefully entertaining and informative – 2023 Ryder Cup equipment preview.

Sam Burns (USA) vs. Ludvig Aberg (Europe)

Unreal matchup out of the gate.

Ryder Cup rookie Ludvig Aberg will get newfound exposure this week to tens-of-millions of sports fans globally. Even some casual golf fans may not have heard about Aberg yet.

They’ll learn.

The 23-year-old Swede still hasn’t even played in a major yet, but he has “the real deal” written all over him. The former No. 1-ranked amateur, and now professional, has already finished T4 at the John Deere Classic, T14 at the Wyndham Championship, and he just won the Omega European Masters. He’s also a fully exempt PGA Tour player through 2024, thanks to the PGA Tour University ranking system.

Ludvig Aberg. It’s a name worth repeating.

He’s been using a new Odyssey Versa White Hot No. 1, at 37 inches, with a Microhinge face insert. Overall, the new putter mostly matches his old Versa Works No. 1 gamer from college. Honestly, a very cool prototype for such a new pro to have in the bag. And he just used it to win the European Masters.

He has the potential star power of a Viktor Hovland, so he’s properly getting that type of custom gear treatment.

The problem is, though, that Burns’ putter has History.

That’s History, with a capital “H.”

Burns will most likely use an Odyssey O-Works No. 7 black putter at the 2023 Ryder Cup. It’s a putter that he’s used to win FIVE times on the PGA Tour.

Like I said. History.

Burns’ new putter, which he’s also been testing, and used at the Tour Championship, is a custom 1-of-1 putter.

Let’s just call it a tie in the putter heat category.

As for the rest of the bag, Aberg did recently switch into a Titleist TSR3 with a Fujikura Ventus Black 6X shaft, which is a very “Tour” setup, but it’s not enough to keep up.

Burns uses the Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond “S” proto driver that’s a little bit smaller than retail, and he uses the highly sought after Paradym Triple Diamond “T” fairway wood, which is originally a custom-designed Jon Rahm special.

Burns also has an ultra-rare Callaway Apex TCB “A” wedge in the bag.

The Texas Tech Red Raider-colored “LA” stampings on Aberg’s Titleist Vokey wedges are certainly a nice touch, but Burns simply has too much experience and too many prototypes.

Burns: 1 point

Team USA: 1 – Team Europe: 0

Patrick Cantlay vs. Matt Fitzpatrick

Another tough one. Wow.

On paper, Cantlay (31 years old) and Fitzpatrick (29 years old) are actually pretty similar. Their career resumes line up, for the most part, and they’re also very similar from a gear perspective.

I’d say they’re both “old heads” when it comes to equipment.

Cantlay uses a Titleist TS3 driver from 2018, a 915F 3-wood from 2014, and AP2 irons from 2017. Some nice throwbacks in his bag.

Likewise, Fitzpatrick uses a TSi3 driver from 2020 and Ping S55 irons from 2013.

I’d say they’re all square in the “throwback appeal” category.

BUT THEN FITZPATRICK PULLS AWAY IN THE PUTTER CATEGORY!

Yes, Cantlay’s Scotty Cameron T-5 Proto is clean.

And I mean it is cleeeaaan.

But Fitzpatrick uses one of the most uniquely awesome putters in all of golf.

Fitzpatrick’s custom Bettinardi is actually a re-design of a now-out-of-production Yes! Tracy II putter that he used to win the 2013 U.S. Amateur. The full story on Fitzpatrick’s putter is well worth the read.

Cantlay’s Scotty simply cannot beat Fitzpatrick’s U.S. Open-winning Betti. I’m sorry.

Fitzpatrick: 1 point

Team USA: 1 – Team Europe: 1

Wyndham Clark vs. Tommy Fleetwood

Wyndham Clark obviously uses the Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter setup that Rickie Fowler popularized in 2023. And Clark used that putter to win the U.S. Open.

Against anyone else, Clark would probably cruise to victory on that fact alone.

HOWEVER, Tommy Fleetwood uses the Tiger Woods co-designed TaylorMade P7TW irons through his set (3-PW), plus he’s likely using TWO drivers: A TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus 9-degree, and a TaylorMade BRNR Mini 13.5-degree head.

Clark came into this match as the favorite, but Fleetwood used the Tiger effect and two drivers to clip off the 2023 U.S. Open winner. Big win for Europe here.

Tommy Fleetwood: 1 point

Team USA: 1 – Team Europe: 2

Rickie Fowler vs. Tyrrell Hatton

Tyrrell Hatton is one of the most expressive, interesting, and skilled players in the world of golf. He recently started using Ping’s unreleased Blueprint S short irons (7-PW) this summer, and he also uses a Ping G430 Max 7-wood, which is both useful and pretty cool.

But in case you didn’t hear, Rickie Fowler was THE equipment guy in 2023, thanks to his Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter setup, which essentially started a revolution on the PGA Tour this year. Seemingly everyone in professional golf has been testing a long, counterbalanced mallet putter in recent months because of Fowler.

Unless Hatton started an entire gear trend in 2023 that I don’t know about, Fowler wins this one in a landslide victory.

Rickie Fowler: 1 point

Team USA: 2 – Team Europe: 2

Brian Harman vs. Nicolai Hojgaard

Hojgaard, a 22-year-old from Denmark, made it a surprisingly close match against Harman, the 36-year-old 2023 Open champion.

As a Callaway staffer, Hoojgaard’s bag is highlighted by a Paradym Triple Diamond 7-wood, a set of awesome Apex MB Raw irons, and an Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter. He brings the heat.

Harman, as a Titleist staffer, uses an older TSi2 driver, a mixed set of irons including three U500 driving irons (3-5), and an older set of 620CB short irons.

It’s kind of a toss-up, to be honest, but Harman gets the edge because of his putter.

It’s a TaylorMade Spider OS – which is probably the only one you’ll see being used in professional golf – and he’s used it since 2016. He also won the Open Championship with it this year.

Harman wins thanks to his putter. No shocker there.

Brian Harman: 1 point

Team USA: 3 – Team Europe: 2

Max Homa vs. Viktor Hovland

Homa vs. Hovland. The battle of ultra-marketable superstars, with the games to match.

They’re also both 7-wood users.

This one ain’t easy.

Homa wins the “team pride” category with his new Titleist Vokey wedges, but Hovland has him beat in the “custom 1-of-1” putter category with his Ping PLD DS 72 prototype that he designed in collaboration with Ping.

Certainly a hard-fought match, but both players can hold their heads high, each earning 0.5 points for their respective teams.

Max Homa & Viktor Hovland: Tie (0.5 points each)

Team USA: 3.5 – Team Europe: 2.5

Brooks Koepka vs. Shane Lowry

Let’s get our Srix-On!

Both major winners. Both Srixon staffers. Both play with older TaylorMade fairway woods.

Lowry uses an Odyssey White Hot OG 2-Ball, which is pretty cool.

But Koepka uses a Scotty Cameron Teryllium TNP2 putter, which is simply tough to beat, by anyone not named Tiger Woods.

Look at the wear mark on the face!

Koepka also still uses a Nike Vapor Fly Pro driving iron, helping Koepka comfortably cruise to victory over the Irishman.

Brooks Koepka: 1 point

Team USA: 4.5 – Team Europe: 2.5

Collin Morikawa vs. Robert MacIntyre

MacIntyre, a 27-year-old from the UK, has the type of gamer setup that any golfer would love to have. He’s even got a Scotty Cameron T-5.5 Proto putter, and a TSi3 driver with a saucy, single strip of lead tape on the outer edge of the sole.

That being said, there’s just not enough bag appeal there to keep up with Morikawa, unfortunately.

Morikawa uses TaylorMade P7CM short irons.

Yes, the “CM” stands for Collin Morikawa.

Robert MacIntyre does have his initials stamped on his Vokey wedges, but that isn’t the same as having your initials manufactured onto irons that are literally made for you.

Plus, Morikawa is reportedly set to switch into a custom Mitsubishi Diamana proto putter shaft.

Easy victory.

Collin Morikawa: 1 point

Team USA: 5.5 – Team Europe: 2.5

Xander Schauffele vs. Rory McIlroy

Great match here.

Thanks to some mid-season driver, driving iron, wedge, and putter changes, few golfers have been in the equipment news more than Rory McIlroy this season.

McIlroy’s WITB notables include TaylorMade “Rors” Proto blade irons, and a TaylorMade MG3 proto wedge with a custom “RM” wedge grind.

Schauffele has plenty of heat, too, including a custom Odyssey Toulon Red No. 7CH putter, Apex TCB raw irons, and a rarely-seen Vokey SM6 sand wedge.

What Schauffele doesn’t have, unfortunately, are Rors Proto irons.

McIlroy’s irons are likely first ballot hall-of-famers, and certainly enough to get the win here.

Rory McIlroy: 1 point

Team USA: 5.5 – Team Europe: 3.5

Scottie Scheffler vs. Jon Rahm

Here’s the heavyweight matchup everyone was waiting on.

Scheffler vs. Rahm.

Multi-time major winners.

Both custom-club-using titans in the gear world.

Scheffler’s bag is highlighted by TaylorMade’s P7TW blade irons, Srixon driving irons with MOUNTAINS of lead tape, and a custom Scotty Cameron Timeless putter that’s so clean and customized it would make Scotty Cameron collectors pass out on the spot just holding it. Scheffler has also been testing out a new Scotty Cameron with a SuperStroke grip while on-site at the Ryder Cup in Rome, but either way, Scottie always keeps a custom Scotty ready to go.

Rahm’s bag is highlighted by Triple Diamond “T” fairway woods, a brand new Odyssey Rossie JR prototype putter, custom-stamped Callaway Jaws Raw wedges, and a mysterious Callaway prototype lob wedge.

Many were hoping for fireworks from this match.

Many were let down.

The Scheffler vs. Rahm WITB matchup culminated in a stand-still match. The players tied every single hole in the 18-hole match, ending in an ultimately lackluster tie.

Both players represented their teams well, but couldn’t outmatch their opponent for a full point.

Scottie Scheffler vs. Jon Rahm: Tie (0.5 points)

Team USA: 6 – Team Europe: 4

Jordan Spieth vs. Justin Rose

The guy who never switches, versus the guy who never stops switching.

Jordan Spieth vs. Justin Rose is easily the most confusing matchup in the WITB Cup.

Spieth uses one of the most well-known and iconic custom Scotty Cameron putters in existence. From the perspective of both majors and money, Spieth’s putter may just be the winningest putter actively on the PGA Tour, aside from Tiger Woods, of course.

Justin Rose uses an Axis1 “Rose” Prototype, which uses advanced technology to keep the putter stable throughout the stroke. He’s been using it for years, and it completely turned around his putting stats. Rose has also used at least four drivers in 2023, including an old TaylorMade M2 2016 with slabs of lead tape on the sole, and an M3 440.

Spieth is the ultimate “I’m not changing clubs unless something is actually better” type player.

Rose is the ultimate “I’m going to test every club in my bag, every week” type player.

It was a roller coaster of a match, and Rose held it down for all of the gear heads, but Spieth’s putter is arguably the single coolest golf club that participated in the 2023 WITB Cup.

And, after earning the 7th total point for his team, Spieth’s putter propels Team USA to victory over Team Europe.

It always ends up coming down to Spieth’s putter, doesn’t it?

Jordan Spieth: 1 point

Team USA: 7 – Team Europe: 4

Justin Thomas vs. Sepp Straka

Where did all the drama go?

In the final match, as the fans made their way to the 18th green for the WITB Cup trophy presentation, Thomas edged a victory over Sepp Straka.

While Straka kept things close with his unique Odyssey Tuttle Stroke Lab putter and Stealth2 7-wood, Thomas pulled away with his patriotic USA-stamped wedges, his newly added Titleist TSR3 long driver, his custom 621.JT blade irons, and his custom-welded T100 4-iron, which was altered to have ZERO offset.

If you have a custom-designed cavity back iron that’s bent to have less offset, there’s just no beating that at the WITB Cup.

Justin Thomas: 1 point

Final Score: Team USA, 8 points – Team Europe, 4 points

On behalf of The Committee, congratulations to Team USA on well-earned and hard-fought victory at the inaugural 2023 WITB Cup. We’ll see you again in two years.

Click here to see all of Team Europe’s Full WITBs

Click here to see all of Team USA’s Full WITBs

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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.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Zach's Johnson

    Oct 2, 2023 at 7:13 pm

    Zach’s Johnson said he wouldn’t change a thing if he had it to do over. Mr Johnson is obviously an idiot and statements like that, lacking humility, goes to show why the EU wins more than they lose in the Ryder Cup. Hopefully Zach’s Johnson is the “Captain” again in two years. If so I’m betting the house on EU.

  2. Joe

    Sep 29, 2023 at 6:11 pm

    Respectfully, as a member of rooting for Team USA, we could have used some of these points today…

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Whats in the Bag

Lee Hodges WITB 2024 (May)

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Driver: Titleist TSR2 (8 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 757 Evolution VI TX

3-wood: Titleist TSR3 (15 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: UST Mamiya LIN-Q Blue M40X

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

Irons: Titleist T200 (3), Titleist T100 (4-6), Titleist 620 CB (7-9)
Shafts: KBS Prototype 95 X (3), KBS C-Taper 130 X (3-9)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM10 (46-10F, 52-08F, 56-10S), WedgeWorks (60-L)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper 130 X (46, 52), KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 125 S (56, 60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron TG6

Grips: Golf Pride MCC

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Check out more in-hand photos of Lee Hodges’ WITB here.

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Whats in the Bag

Club Junkie WITB, league night week 6: New combo iron set!

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Another week down and we are already into week 6 of Thursday Night Men’s League! Last week was a scrambler’s paradise. Thankfully the putter was pretty hot and it kept BK in the round after some inaccurate iron shots. The forecast looks good, so let’s hope he can put a good number up!

Here are the 14 clubs in the starting lineup.

Driver: PXG 0311 Black Ops Tour-1 (10.5 degrees, neutral setting)
Shaft: Project X Denali Blue 60 6.5

4-wood: Sub70 Pro V2 (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke Red RDX 70 6.0

7-wood: Callaway Paradym Ai-Smoke Triple Diamond (20 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus TR Blue 8-S

4-iron: Edel SMS
Shaft: Fujikura Pro Tour Spec 115 Stiff

Irons: Edel SMS (5 – 6)
Shaft: Prototype

Irons: Edel SMS Pro (7 – PW)
Shaft: Prototype

Wedge: Bettinardi HLX 5.0 Forged (50-8C)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400

Wedge: Bettinardi HLX 5.0 Forged (56-14RJ)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400

Wedge: Bettinardi HLX 5.0 Forged (60-10RJ)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour X Proto
Shaft: LA Golf P-Series 135

Ball: TaylorMade TP5 Pix

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Whats in the Bag

WITB Time Machine: Daniel Berger’s winning WITB, 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge

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At the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge, Daniel Berger bested Collin Morikawa in a playoff, making four to the latter’s five at Colonial Country Club after the pair deadlocked at 15 under at the end of regulation.

After a three-month break, the tournament was the first of the Tour’s resumed season amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Berger saved par from off the green on the first playoff hole. Morikawa couldn’t convert a three-footer to par.

The victory was Daniel Berger’s third tour triumph.

Take a look at what “db_straitvibin” had in play four years ago.

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero Triple Diamond (9 degrees) Buy here.
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X

3-wood: Callaway Epic Flash (13.5 degrees) Buy here.
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 857 TR 85 X

Irons: Callaway Apex Forged ’16 (3) Buy here, TaylorMade TP MC ’11 (4-PW) Buy here.
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy Forged (50-10, 56-10) Buy here, Callaway Mack Daddy 4 (60-12C) Buy here.
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour (Chalk) Buy here.

Ball: Titleist Pro V1 Buy here.

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Wrap

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