Wall-to-Wall Equipment: Brooks Koepka’s ‘new stuff’ is getting the job done
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.
Brooks Koepka is a man of few words when it comes to the gear in his bag. There’s little incentive to mention clubs by name when you’re an equipment free agent. When asked to expound on the state of his current club setup following the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the four-time major champion needed just 14 words to get his point across.
“Just going back to old stuff,” Koepka said of recent changes. “Just going back to old stuff. That’s it.”
In other words, you’re going to have to do your own digging to figure out the setup. Koepka was somewhat telling the truth when he said he was “going back to old stuff.” Nike’s Vapor Fly Pro 3-iron resurfaced in Palm Springs, which was a welcomed sight for those who still swear by Swoosh gear.
But a quick peek at Koepka’s winning setup reveals far more “new stuff” than old.
It started with Srixon’s ZX7 irons at the American Express — a significant change for someone who swore by Mizuno irons for all four of his major victories. Two starts later, Koepka made another noticeable change, replacing TaylorMade’s M5 driver with the new (and improved) SIM2 (10.5 degrees; Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 60TX shaft) just prior to securing his 8th PGA Tour title.
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As much as gearheads fawn over the old gear in Koepka’s bag — Vapor Fly Pro and Vokey TVD M-Grind lob wedge — it was the new sticks that carried the load at TPC Scottsdale. Koepka ranked 11th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee (plus-2.643) and 2nd in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-green (plus-6.084) with relatively fresh TaylorMade and Srixon gear.
Going back to the “old stuff” can help right the ship when things are going sideways. But in Koepka’s case, it was a combination of old and new that got the job done.
Just don’t expect Koepka to sing the praises of his new driver and irons anytime soon.
When a driver has “Speed” in the name, you expect it to provide some additional oomph. Sam Burns would be the first to tell you the name fits Callaway’s Epic Speed driver. Coming off playing in the final group on Sunday at the Farmers Insurance Open, Burns worked with Callaway Tour rep Jacob Davidson on a new driver setup after ShotLink data revealed Burns’ spin rate had started to creep upward.
Hoping to knock off roughly 200 RPMs of spin — specifically on shots into the wind — Burns tested a 9-degree Epic Speed head (down from a 10.5-degree Mavrik head) with the same lie angle, shaft (45-inch TPT 15.5 X) and D6 weighting.
Burns hit less than 10 balls with both drivers and was immediately sold on Epic Speed. In addition to reducing spin, Burns found a tighter dispersion and better sound/feel with the driver.
The new setup produced promising results as Burns finished T22 for the tournament while ranking 5th in driving distance (328.3 yard).
Speaking of Speed…
Sam Burns wasn’t the only player in the field who found Epic Speed to be a good fit. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker finished T4 with a new Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond driver (9 degrees; Fujikura Motore Speeder VC 8.2 shaft). While no one is going to confuse Stricker with the big bombers on Tour, he did average over 300 yards during the week — an uptick of more than 20 yards from his previous start at Torrey Pines.
Lending a hand
Nearly three years ago in Charlotte, Rickie Fowler lent good friend Justin Thomas his Scotty Cameron backup putter to help get his flatstick back on track. Thomas went on to make the cut. When Fowler’s putter went cold during the first round at last week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, he made a call to shake things up. Only it wasn’t Thomas who was there to repay the favor.
Instead, it was Fowler’s caddie, Joe Skovron, who came to the rescue, offering up a Scotty Cameron Newport Art of Putting putter for his boss to use during the second round. The putter, unfortunately, didn’t make much of a difference as Fowler missed the cut. He ranked 125th in Strokes Gained: Putting (minus-3.789) before departing.
Scott Brown became the latest pro to add a set of Mitsubishi MMT 125TX graphite shafts to his irons. Only Brown isn’t playing a set of irons commonly found on Tour. His Proto Concept irons are made by a new Japanese-based equipment manufacturer who also happens to design drivers, fairways and hybrids.
Quick-hitters: Justin Thomas returned to Titleist’s TS3 driver. … Dustin Johnson swapped TaylorMade’s SIM2 driver for his old SIM. … Scottie Scheffler’s Nike VR Pro Limited 3-wood reappeared in Arizona. … Justin Rose was spotted with Mizuno’s MP-20 irons in the bag. … Jason Day went back to TaylorMade’s Spider Limited Itsy Bitsy mallet. … Gary Woodland switched to a 9-degree Cobra King Radspeed XB driver.
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