Wall-to-Wall Equipment: Justin Thomas’ surprise playoff gear change
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.
Big things ahead
Putting is a game of inches — or half inches in Justin Thomas’ case.
Coming off a win at the PGA Championship with a relatively new Scotty Cameron T5 Proto, Thomas appeared primed for a big summer after finding a replacement (Scotty Cameron T5 Proto) for the Phantom X 5.5 that played a role in 13 Tour wins, including his first major title.
The big change for Thomas’ T5 was going away from a slant neck into a custom “knuckle neck” — the neck takes almost a day to weld, cut and sandblast the knuckle — that offered slightly less toe hang than his previous putter. While the neck improved Thomas’ start lines and closure rate, there was another potential alteration still being tested behind the scenes.
Earlier this year at the Genesis Invitational, Thomas tried out Scotty Cameron mallets in three different lengths (34.5, 34 and 33.5 inches) to see how they affected his setup. Thomas ultimately stuck with his usual 34.5 inches, believing it was the best length. Things seemed to be going well until Thomas started to notice his left shoulder was creeping up post-PGA, which prompted him to ask Scotty Cameron Tour rep Drew Page for a 34-inch version of his current T5 Proto — a half-inch shorter than his previous gamer — in advance of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
On Tuesday of the BMW Championship, Thomas’ new 34-inch T5 putter (SuperStroke Traxion Pistol GT Tour grip) arrived, replete with a JT logo in the back cavity and thumbs-up stamp on the toe side. Thomas initially thought he might take the putter home, but after rolling putts with it on the green and noticing his shoulders level out, he chose to give it a shot.
“[A shorter putter was] something we looked at earlier this year and we were going to mess with this off-season, but I haven’t been putting great for how I feel like I should be, and it was just one of those things,” Thomas said. “I’m like, if this is going to be an easy adjustment that’s going to help me improve, then why wouldn’t I do it.”
As for why Thomas decided to have a new putter built instead of shortening his previous T5, Page said it came down to Thomas “not wanting to touch the gamer.” In other words, if the shorter length doesn’t stick, Thomas knows he has a 34.5-inch T5 sitting in the locker ready to go.
For the moment, however, Thomas doesn’t appear to be wavering in his decision to switch. Following Thursday’s opening round, he praised Cameron for building him a new putter that felt the same as his previous T5, but at a shorter length.
“I switched because it was the exact same feel,” Thomas said. “Scottie did an unbelievable job. It’s very difficult to make putters the exact same in terms of feel. They may be the same but none of them are ever the same in terms of clubs in general. But it feels identical, so getting adjusted and acclimated to the speed wasn’t difficult, but just being a little bit shorter was so much easier for me to get in a good setup.”
It also didn’t hurt that Thomas gained nearly two strokes on the field on the greens during the opening round. (The rest of the week was a mixed bag for Thomas, who lost nearly six strokes over the final 54 holes.)
“It felt great,” he said. “It was the best I’ve putted in an extremely long time. Every single putt I hit was exactly where I wanted, the speed I wanted it. It was nice. I hadn’t felt that in a while.”
As we saw at the PGA Championship, a hot putter makes Thomas extremely dangerous. If Thomas can find a way to replicate Thursday’s round on the greens, watch out.
Joaquin Niemann and Taylor Moore were among the first pros to take Ping’s Glide Forged Pro Raw wedges for spins around Wilmington Country Club. The latest iteration of Ping’s popular wedge features a non-plated finish that allows the head to patina, and eventually rust, over time.
Instead of breaking in a wedge or two, both Niemann and Moore chose to change out their entire wedge set — a good sign for Ping as it begins to seed the raw wedges on Tour.
Ping Tour rep Dylan Goodwin spent a chunk of his time in Deleware dialing in putters for several pros who were attempting to advance to the Tour Championship, including Sebastian Munoz, Mito Pereira and Chez Reavie.
“Worked hard with Sebastian Munoz and [PGA Tour putting consultant] Stephen Sweeney,” Goodwin told GOLF.com. “Sebastian can get caught up on alignment so freeing him up to focus more on the read and where he wants to roll the ball over is key. Switching to a PLD Anser Milled with no sight lines had definitely helped and was in the bag for several months. Now he wanted something a little more stable but still visually subtle and not distracting, so we experimented with various mallets. We found the Oslo H was a great fit for him. Still has the Anser neck like his current gamer but in a more stable model of the Oslo. It’s all matte black with a small white topline.”
For Reavie, it was video work to check his contact point and lie angle with a Ping PLD Anser 2D. The session verified Reavie’s putter was good to go, and he was on his way.
Similar to Justin Thomas, Pereira only needed a minor length adjustment to get back on track. To keep Pereira’s shoulders from pointing left and affecting his stroke, Goodwin lengthened the putter from 35 to 37 inches, which allowed him to stand taller and reduce the tension in his shoulders and arms.
Quick-hitters: Viktor Hovland added a Ping Glide 2.0 58TS lob wedge (bent to 60 degrees). … Kevin Kisner was spotted with a 10.5-degree Ping G425 LST driver. … Collin Morikawa had TaylorMade’s original SIM driver in the bag.
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