Wall-to-Wall Equipment: Why Bryson DeChambeau changed drivers during the U.S. Open final round
Welcome to Wall-to-Wall Equipment, the Monday morning gear wrap-up in which GOLF equipment editor Jonathan Wall takes you through the latest trends, rumors and breaking news.
During the final round telecast of the U.S. Open, NBC put up side-by-side footage of Bryson DeChambeau and New York Yankees slugger sluggers Giancarlo Stanton going after the balls in their respective sports with reckless abandon. The goal was to show the similar mechanics DeChambeau and Stanton share — wide open hips at impact, a picture-perfect follow through. It was a massive stretch by the Peacock.
DeChambeau isn’t Stanton. And Stanton isn’t DeChambeau. That said, DeChambeau does have something in common with some of the best hitters in the bigs, and it was on display during the final round. Unlike most tour players, DeChambeau isn’t beholden to one driver. It’s not unusual for him to play the hot hand when things aren’t working, like a baseball player trying to find a hot bat.
Cobra Tour rep Ben Schomin confirmed DeChambeau usually has two shafted drivers in the rotation and another 2-4 heads waiting in the wings. When one isn’t working, he’ll try a different head, just to see if he gets a better result.
“He doesn’t really have a gamer driver,” Schomin said. “I don’t know anyone on Tour who rotates between drivers like that. He’s not afraid to change it up.”
Which brings us to the final round at Winged Foot. Outside of DeChambeau’s camp, few noticed the newly minted U.S. Open winner actually made a driver change on Sunday. Walking off the course after the third round, DeChambeau told GOLF.com’s Dylan Dethier that he felt as if the grip on his 5.5-degree Coba SpeedZone driver was starting to wear down.
“The grip got worn a little bit,” he said. “Felt like it was gonna slip in my hands, that’s why I got a little uncomfortable today on the golf course.”
Instead of changing out the grip and continuing on with the same club, DeChambeau chose to bump the driver for a new Cobra SpeedZone just before stepping on the first tee. Only this head didn’t have 5.5 degrees of loft. DeChambeau tapped a 5.25-degree head that offered a slightly more penetrating launch with less spin. The tackier grip also allowed him to go after it without worrying about the club slipping in his hands.
In the end, DeChambeau’s driver decision paid off in a big way. Sometimes it pays to switch things up.
TaylorMade’s P7MC irons have been out on Tour for nearly two months. It’s ample time for tour players to test them extensively before making the transition. Matthew Wolff waited until just after the Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs to take the irons for a spin — only he didn’t need buckets of balls to confirm the iron’s bona fides. Wolff reportedly hit the irons at home and felt they were good enough to go in the bag after one day of practice. In fact, Wolff felt so comfortable with the new iron setup (4-PW; Project X 6.5 shafts), he put them in play at Winged Foot. Wolff ranked 32nd in Strokes Gained: Approach with the clubs en route to a runner-up finish.
Easy does it
Minor adjustments can make a world of difference for elite players. In Xander Schauffele’s case, all it took was a slight tweak to his driver loft to get the ideal launch and spin conditions for Winged Foot. Believing additional spin could lead to more control (and fairways) off the tee, Schauffele bumped up the loft on his Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero Triple Diamond driver from 7.2 degrees to 7.7 degrees. While a half degree might seem trivial, it was enough for Schauffele to see a positive uptick in both areas and make the alteration official.
For the second straight major, the 7-wood was a common sight at Winged Foot. Lush rough and firm greens forced some players to reconfigure their setup to include a club with a towering launch and versatility. Dustin Johnson tested a TaylorMade SIM DHY utility iron but ultimately stuck with his TaylorMade SIM 7-wood.
Louis Oosthuizen (Ping), Erik Van Rooyen (Callaway Mavrik), Charles Howell III (Titleist TSi2) and Cameron Smith (Titleist TS2) were a few of the higher-profile names who added a course-specific 7-wood for the tournament.
For more than three years, Rickie Fowler employed one of the shortest driver lengths on the PGA Tour at 43.5 inches. The goal was to sacrifice distance for accuracy. Fowler won twice on Tour with the driver setup, but in the run-up to the U.S. Open, he chose to shake things up and add an inch (44.5 inches) to a new Mitsubishi Chemical CK Pro Orange shaft for shot shaping purposes.
Fowler felt the additional length allowed him to work the ball left to right on command. And what about the decision to add a counter-balance shaft? Fowler reportedly wanted a different feel to go along with his new shaft length.
Out with the old
In a move rarely seen during the week of a major championship, Rafa Cabrera Bello replaced 13-of-the-14 clubs (along with the shaft) in his bag after undergoing a Monday testing session that revealed a higher launch could benefit his entire bag. Titleist Tour rep J.J. Van Wezenbeeck and team tried to talk the Spaniard out of a complete overhaul, but the Spaniard shrugged off the advice.
“I’m not playing well, so I might as well change to something I think will help,” Bello said, according to Van Wezenbeeck.
Cabrera Bello would go on to finish T23 for the week, a respectable finish for someone breaking in a new set on one of the toughest courses in the world.
Quick-hitters: Tiger Woods changed a piece of his equipment DNA at the U.S. Open. … Bryson DeChambeau is the first Cobra staffer to win a major since Geoff Ogilvy’s 2006 U.S. Open triumph at Winged Foot. … Gary Woodland returned to True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 Tour Issue iron shafts. … Rory McIlroy reinserted TaylorMade’s SIM Max rescue (19 degrees). … Jason Day switched to a TaylorMade Spider Black mallet. … Phil Mickelson moved the heavier weight in his 9-degree Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero to the back to help square up the face at impact. … Corey Conners had a new 14-degree Ping G400 3-wood built (14 degrees). … Keegan Bradley used two drivers (Titleist TSi3 and Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero) during the first two rounds. … Titleist won the driver count (44 in play) for the second straight week, with TSi3 leading the way as the most played model in the field (22).