Justin Thomas’ driver, magic wands and worthy causes | Wall-to-Wall Equipment
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.
Justin Thomas has never been afraid to make equipment changes in big moments. Several years ago, Thomas switched driver shafts at the Tour Championship with $15 million on the line. Kicking off the 2022 FedEx Cup Playoffs at TPC Southwind, Thomas once again chose to make a significant change to the big stick, replacing his Titleist TSi driver with a 10-degree TSR3.
According to Titleist Tour rep J.J Van Wezenbeeck, Thomas had an “unbelievable” testing session with TSR during the Travelers Championship — the first week the driver debuted on Tour — but chose to hold off on putting it in play with the Scottish Open and Open Championship on tap.
“It was a short timeframe going into Connecticut,” Van Wezenbeeck said. “It was one of the reasons why he waited so he could get some more time with it at home. What he noticed right away during initial testing was some incredible consistency. The highest spin was lower, the lowest spin was higher. It’s what you want in a driver when you do miss it. He also saw better ball speeds across the entire face. It’s basically taking all of the great things from the TSi he had success with and making it better.”
Thomas’ driver is equipped with a Mitsubishi Diamana ZF 60TX shaft; the SureFit hosel was positioned in the D1 setting, which moves the stated loft down three-quarters-of-a-degree to 9.25. Reducing the loft on the head also opens up the face — a look Thomas prefers to see in the address position.
“The top priority for JT with driver is performance on all of the variety of shots he likes to hit, from the low, piercing cut to the high draw and everything in between,” said Van Wezenbeeck. “He’s also looking for that classic shaping, a very clean look, and a driver that sounds great. TSR checked all of those boxes for him.”
Hoping to find a 3-wood that produced slightly more spin but still fit in his usual launch window, Rory McIlroy opted for a 15-degree TaylorMade SIM2 with a Mitsubishi Kai’li White 80TX shaft. The head and shaft change was one of two adjustments McIlroy made to his setup for the first event of the playoffs.
McIlroy also added a 58-degree TaylorMade MG3 lob wedge with 11 degrees of bounce. If you’ve been struggling with the lob wedge, it might be time to embrace McIlroy’s current setup. Check out the full report here.
Bigger is better
Scotty Cameron’s Special Select Jet Set release just happened to coincide with the introduction of two Tour-only putters in Memphis that were based on the retail offerings. One of those models (Timeless+) wound up catching the attention of Rickie Fowler, who narrowly made the FedEx St. Jude Championship field as the last man in.
Along with employing a new caddie, Fowler switched putters in Memphis and found his stroke on the greens — something that’s eluded him for much of the season.
“Hit a couple putts with it, everything looked good, felt good,” Fowler said. “Messed with it a little bit more [on Wednesday] and decided to give it a shot. There was a lot of good out there today. Actually, a lot of really good putts. Left a couple short, but other than that, some of it was just a little off on read. It’s just a little bigger, a little deeper version of what the current Newport is.”
As Fowler mentioned, the overall look of the new Timeless+ (along with the Newport-style Mastersful+) is very much in line with two of Cameron’s most classic designs. The big difference is some additional width on the back flange that makes the putter look slightly wider.
The Special Select Jet Set+ model is comparable to the retail version should weekend golfers want to get their hands on Fowler’s new putter.
Scottie Scheffler missed out on the weekend in Memphis but still managed to highlight the incredible work that goes on at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by donning a custom FedEx St. Jude Championship headcover on his TaylorMade driver. Scheffler was one of several players in the field who opted to use a special headcover for the week.
We have options
With players facing softer conditions due at TPC Southwind, Joaquin Niemann swapped his Ping iBlade 4-iron for a Ping G425 5-hybrid (24 degrees; big minus loft sleeve setting) following testing at home with a number of different options.
“He had reached out last week to test 4 and 5 hybrids to get more peak height from 235 yards,” said Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates. “I sent him a 9-wood, 4-hybrid, 5-hybrid, couple 230-yard 4 irons, including one with a graphite shaft. He received a bunch of different clubs to test.”
Compared to a traditional 4-iron, hybrids with similar carry distances tend to be longer in length. Not wanting to go longer, Niemann requested the hybrid be built at his usual 4-iron length to gain more control and maintain a similar ball flight.
While the 5-hybrid received the nod in Memphis due to the premium that was placed on carry distance, Oates confirmed it’s still a course-dependant option going forward.
“I think we’ll see this club again, along with the 4-iron,” Oates said. “It definitely feels like a course-dependent club. We’ll see how he controls it left to right. On a week like this where it’s soft and the wind is down, I think it’s a great option. But as more control comes into play, we’ll see how it goes.”
Taylor Moore has been peaking at just the right time. Dating back to the John Deere Classic, the Tour rookie has finished outside the top 25 just once in his last five starts. The run of good form just happens to coincide with a switch to Ping’s yet-to-be-released i230 irons.
Moore, who was playing i210 before the switch, wasted little time embracing the updated version. Check out some in-hand photos of Moore’s irons that were captured in Memphis.
Ping’s PLD putters have taken the Tour by storm this season. The equipment manufacturer is hoping its latest putter line generates the same buzz. The nine putters released at TPC Southwind come in two different finishes — two-tone and matte black — and face options.
“We’ve brought back the color blocking from the Heppler line,” said Ping Tour rep Dylan Goodwin, “but in a new finish we’re calling platinum. It has a nice contrast for the face. Some of the models have it, some of it don’t. With this line, we wanted something that appealed to the masses.”
The shallow milled face features two tungsten weights — 23 grams in total — in the lower half of the heel and toe. A Pebax insert is another option for golfers who prefer a softer feel at impact.
“Certain models we were able to add tungsten in the heel and toe to maximize MOI and stability,” Goodwin said. “So wherever we were able to, we did that to maximize forgiveness for all players. But it’s important to note that while the milled face and Pebax have different feels, they still have similar ball speeds.”
Finau’s Anser 2D putter and a rounded Mundy mallet are two of the new head shapes offered in the line. Goodwin was on hand in Memphis to gather feedback from Ping staffers on the new shapes and face constructions.
Tiger on the brain
Even when he isn’t in the field, Tiger Woods is still part of the conversation on the range. If you missed out on the story that was penned last week, go check it out. It gives you a great idea of the pull Woods has on major equipment launches.
Whatever the G.O.A.T wants, the G.O.A.T. gets.
Quick-hitters: Webb Simpson is the only pro carrying a 5.5-iron. … Before he withdrew with a neck injury, Hideki Matsuyama was spotted with an Axis1 putter in the bag. … Softspikes had pros offering feedback on a new Tour Flex Pro spike. … Odyssey’s “Playoffs” headcover won the week. … Jordan Spieth added a Titleist TSR3 3-wood (15 degrees; D1 SureFit setting) with a Mitsubishi Tensei AV Blue 75TX shaft.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.