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Wall-to-Wall Equipment: Rory McIlroy added a new TaylorMade club for Riviera

rory mcilroy taylormade p790 3-iron

McIlroy added a graphite-shafted P790 3-iron for Riviera.

Getty Images

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.

Worthy options

The tight, tree-lined fairways of Riviera Country Club don’t scream bomb and gouge. With the Kikuyu grass adding another layer of defense, it’s no wonder some players in the field opted to shake up their equipment setups and add a “fairway finder” to the bag — Rory McIlroy included.

Depending on the course setup, McIlroy has two different 3-irons at his disposal. A steel-shafted TaylorMade P770 (Project X Rifle 7.0) is the most common option and ably fills the distance gap between his TaylorMade Stealth Plus 5-wood and Rors Proto 4-iron. With a forged, hollow-body construction, the P770 offers an uptick in forgiveness and ball speed when McIlroy wants to attack the par 5s.

On weeks where he needs another option off the tee, McIlroy employs a graphite-shafted TaylorMade P790 — a club he reinserted at Riviera for the Genesis Invitational. McIlroy has used P790 UDI 2-iron in the past but chose to go with a standard P790 3-iron (19 degrees) that required him to conduct shaft testing to find the optimal build.

What McIlroy learned during testing early on was that his standard Project X Rifle 7.0 steel shaft was “too soft for his liking.” Without a viable steel option, McIlroy chose to test out different graphite options at home.

“With that club, every steel shaft I tried had a bit of left in it,” McIlroy told GOLF.com. “They made four 3-irons for me to try with graphite. I tried a Graphite Design Tour AD, Fujikura 115, Project X HZRDUS and a Fujikura Ventus Black.”

Testing revealed Ventus Black HB 10X was the best option for McIlroy, who eliminated the dreaded left miss with the low-torque shaft.

“The Ventus was the only one that didn’t make the ball go left for me,” McIlroy said. “The Black version of Ventus is really boardy and a continuation of what I already play in my [TaylorMade] woods.”

The P790 3-iron likely won’t be an every-week option for McIlroy, but with the correct shaft in place, he can rest easy knowing he has two worthy choices.

“Deciding on one 3-iron over the other just depends on the course,” he said. “At least I have options, which is what you want when you’re seeing different setups.”

Picture of consistency

Morikawa and TaylorMade came to terms on a contract extension. Getty Images

 Collin Morikawa won’t be changing equipment teams anytime soon. The world No. 2 put pen to paper on a new multi-year extension that will see him remain a TaylorMade staffer for the foreseeable future.

“I’m glad to partner with [TaylorMade] for another handful for years,” Morikawa said. “They’ve been great to me. I really have had them by my side forever and it’s always nice to have someone you can trust. That’s the biggest thing out here, how many people can you trust? I keep my circle pretty tight. As you progress along professional golf you add people to your group. As long as you trust them it makes life a lot easier and when you’re out there you just worry about playing golf.”

Morikawa, who finished runner-up at Riviera, has been a member of TaylorMade’s Tour staff since he turned pro in 2019.

A first time for everything

Rickie Fowler gave TaylorMade’s Spider GT Black putter a try. Getty Images

Rickie Fowler’s search for a reliable putter led him to try a TaylorMade putter for the first time in his career at the Genesis Open. The 33-year-old tapped a 35-inch Spider GT Black with a single sightline on the crown. Released earlier this year, the latest version of TaylorMade’s popular Spider putter is equipped with a lightweight 145-gram top plate made of 6061 aluminum AND two 90-gram steel side weights that push 82 percent of the putter’s weight towards the perimeter for more stability through the stroke and on off-center putts.

Fowler ranked 62nd in SG: Putting with the new wand.

Upping the difficulty

Thomas switched to a Vokey K-Grind at Riviera. Getty Images

Dislodging the ball from Riviera’s sticky Kikuyu grass requires a special set of tools. Justin Thomas was one of the notable names to change up his wedge setup to handle the unique conditions, replacing his 60.5-degree Titleist Vokey WedgeWorks lob wedge with a wide-sole K-Grind to keep the head from digging into the turf at impact. (Xander Schauffele also added an SM9 WedgeWorks K-Grind lob wedge.)

While Thomas chose to increase sole width and add bounce, others went the opposite direction, reducing overall bounce to allow the club to quickly extract the ball from the rough.

Quick-hitters: Dustin Johnson replaced his TaylorMade Rescue with a DJ Proto 3-iron. … Sergio Garcia switched to a 10.5-degree TaylorMade Stealth Plus driver. … Maverick McNealy had a Callaway Jaws 60-08W lob wedge built with trailing relief for the conditions at Riviera. … Matt Kuchar added an 18-degree TaylorMade Stealth fairway wood. … Joaquin Niemann’s win with a Titleist Pro V1x made it 5 consecutive golf ball Tour wins — and 9 out of the last 10 — for the equipment manufacturer.

Zephyr Melton contributed to this week’s gear notes.

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.

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