Wall-to-Wall Equipment: Tiger Woods makes surprising Masters gear change after 26 years
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.
Switching it up
Tiger Woods remains a “game-time decision” for the Masters, but that didn’t stop the 15-time major winner from making headlines on Sunday for something few saw coming — his choice in footwear.
For 26 years, Woods’ shoe of choice has featured a Swoosh emblazoned on the side. Then along came a Sunday practice session to shake things up. In a surprise move, Woods opted to prepare for the Masters in a pair of black FootJoy Premier Series Packard shoes, as opposed to the Nike Air Zoom Tiger Woods ’20 he wore at the PNC Championship.
While it’s unclear if Woods plans to stick with the shoes should he decide to tee it up on Thursday, the sight of him in a traditional FootJoy spike threw many for a loop. As expected, FootJoy and Nike offered little in the way of insights into the footwear change. FootJoy responded with a “no comment” when reached by GOLF.com on Sunday. Nike, on the other hand, confirmed it’s working with Woods on his “new needs” for the future.
“Like golf fans around the world, we are delighted to see Tiger back on the course,” Nike said in a statement. “He is an incredible athlete, and it is phenomenal to see him returning to the game at this level. His story continues to transcend sport and inspire us all. As he continues his return, we will work with him to meet his new needs.”
Coming back from an injury where Woods revealed there was a “damn-near 50/50” chance he might lose his leg, it should come as no surprise that he’s wearing a shoe with ample stability for Augusta National’s undulating terrain. The Packard is designed around a custom cushioning system and firmer density cup around the heel that provides perimeter heel support and stability during the swing.
Woods chose to pair the shoes with a hybrid metal spike from Champ called the Pro Stinger. The spike combines a steel tip with a durable polymer outer — more commonly found on soft spikes — that allows Woods to rip through the ball without having to worry about slippage.
It should also be noted that this isn’t the first time Woods has made a footwear change for the Masters. During the 2015 edition, Woods swapped Nike’s Free-inspired outsole for an older, more traditional TW ’11 featuring a leather upper and sturdier sole with a Zoom Air unit for cushioning. At the time Woods made the change, he said it was due to “recent swing changes leading to an adjustment in his footwear.”
This time around, Woods is trying to find a way to protect his right leg. Adding stability can’t hurt — especially if it helps get him on the course.
One of the rare casualties of the USGA and R&A’s decision to reduce the maximum driver length from 48 inches to 46 inches, Brooke Henderson knew the day was coming. Instead of acclimating to a shorter 9-degree Ping G400 driver (Graphite Design Tour AD-VR shaft) in advance of the LPGA’s first major championship, Henderson chose to stick with the longer length until it was deemed non-conforming.
“I’ve played over 46 inches since I was 15, so I was going to use the 48 up until I couldn’t anymore,” Henderson said.
The decision paid off, as Henderson finished in the top six in four of five starts — making the Chevron Championship her first event with a 46-inch G400.
“I’m going to miss it, but definitely excited moving forward,” she said. “I feel like I have a solid driver in the bag, and hopefully it’ll do the job.”
To make up for the two-inch reduction in shaft length, Henderson made several adjustments before settling on the shorter driver, including adding weight to the grip “to help with that feeling of like as if I was choking up on the 48.”
“It’s definitely been a big process starting last year when the announcement kind of came out that there was going to be the rule change,” Henderson said. “I went through a lot of different shafts and weights, but was able to, I guess early January late December, to pick one that I have in the bag this week that I felt was going to be the right club. I definitely miss my 48-inch driver, but this one, it’s good. I think as I get used to the timing and the rhythm of it, I’ll be able to gain back some of the distance that I lost. It’s just a little bit of an adjustment now, but moving forward I think it’ll be good.”
Henderson finished eight shots back of eventual winner Jennifer Kupcho but still logged a respectable T13 finish in California.
Covert fairway wood
Abraham Ancer added a new 5-wood to the bag last week. What’s interesting about this particular Callaway Rogue ST Triple Diamond fairway wood (18 degrees) is that it doesn’t have any markings on the sole, giving it a covert look.
According to Callaway, the clean look is a Tour-only option. In other words, don’t expect to find this gem at your local golf retail store.
Quick hitters: High-schooler Anna Davis won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur with 14 Titleist clubs, including an 11-degree TSi2 driver, and Pro V1x golf ball. … Callaway signed world No. 1 amateur Rose Zhang to a NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) agreement. … Branden Grace returned to an older set of Callaway X Forged 13 irons due to the lower flight they produced.
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