Wall-to-Wall Equipment: Why Rory McIlroy is considering a hybrid for 2020
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 from the past week.
Et tu, Rory?
One week after Dustin Johnson added a hybrid to the bag, Rory McIlroy appears to be on the verge of following suit. McIlroy has historically used a traditional long iron, driving iron or 5-wood, depending on the course setup, but that could all be changing after taking TaylorMade’s SIM Max hybrid for a test run during a company photoshoot in November.
“I’ve never been a hybrid of a rescue guy, ” McIlroy told the Irish Golfer. “I’m a bit of a traditionalist… but I picked this thing up and it was unbelievable.”
McIlroy, who had never tested or tried a hybrid prior to the shoot, decided to take a few cuts with one that was built for him and immediately noticed an extremely tight dispersion with more than enough distance. McIlroy was so impressed, in fact, he took the club home to test on his own.
Based on the SIM Max rescue currently listed on McIlroy’s TaylorMade player page, he’s going to use the club this season — even if it’s a course-dependent option.
“I think for certain courses, why not?” he said. “I can flight it, I can hit it low, I can hit it high. It’s like a 3-iron that’s as easy to hit as a 7-iron.”
With the rough on Torrey Pines’ South Course keeping players honest, a hybrid could prove to be a viable option. McIlroy could find out soon enough if the club has a longterm spot in his bag.
Tour-only Tour B
On the heels of Bryson DeChambeau adding 750 RPMs of spin around the greens and Matt Kuchar picking up 10 yards off the tee with Bridgestone’s Tour B ball, Brendan Steele chose to follow their lead and insert the Tour B XS prototype ball at the Sony Open. The XS version, which happens to be Tiger Woods’ ball of choice, delivers more spin than the slightly firmer X.
The new version of Tour B remains a Tour-only prototype at the moment, but with the list of users continuing to grow, it’s very likely a retail version is imminent, especially with the PGA Merchandise Show only a few weeks away.
Hideki’s new combo
Hideki Matsuyama transitioned from TaylorMade’s M5 driver to the 2020 SIM (9 degrees) at Waialae but chose to maintain some semblance of consistency by retaining Graphite Design’s Tour AD XC-8 TX shaft. The “Xtra Carry” (what the “XC stands for) model is the latest addition to Graphite Design’s shaft line.
The mid/low launch, low spin shaft profile is similar to what Matsuyama has used in the past and based around a soft butt section and stiff mid and tip section. Torayca M40X carbon-fiber pre-preg is located in the mid to tip section along with T1100G in the tip section that helps enhance stability.
Tway’s Wilson setup
Although he missed the cut at the Sony Open, Kevin Tway offered a glimpse at his new Wilson setup after being unveiled as the equipment manufacturer’s newest tour staffer. Wilson’s C300 Forged and FG Tour V6 irons can be seen in Tway’s staff bag, along with new Staff Model wedges.
According to Wilson, Tway plans to use the recently released D7 Forged iron this season, but with little time to get acclimated to the new product, he opted to go with a different iron setup to start the year in Hawaii.
Give it a go
For Jimmy Walker, the new year didn’t bring any resolutions (at least none we’re aware of) but rather a new flatstick in the bag. The former PGA Champion was spotted using a 36-inch Directed Force 2.1 (69-degree lie angle balance) with a L.A.B. Press 2.M grip. The putter is designed to reduce head twisting through a lie-angle balanced design that keeps the face straight to the path during the stroke.
Walker tested the putter during the offseason and chose to give it a chance in Hawaii. He finished the week T45 while ranking 58th in strokes gained: putting (minus-2.473).
Quick-hitters: Callaway’s Mavrik prototype driver was used for the first time by 11 players in the Sony Open, including Marc Leishman, Talor Gooch, Emiliano Grillo, and Aaron Wise. … Xinjung Zhang became the first to put TaylorMade’s Truss prototype putter in play. … Mike Thomas, Justin’s dad, has one of the coolest wedges you’ll ever see. … Charl Schwartzel signed a golf ball deal with an under-the-radar manufacturer.