Wall-to-Wall Equipment: Detailing the gear changes that propelled Rory McIlroy to victory
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.
With the winless streak extending beyond the 18-month mark, Rory McIlroy made the executive decision to shake things up at the Wells Fargo Championship and return to clubs (and components) he’d used previously in his career.
The changes paid off in a big way.
After replacing his TaylorMade P7MB irons with a split set consisting of P750 and P730 at the Masters — an iron composition he’d used in the past — the four-time major winner turned the clock back even further and returned to the first set of “Rors” prototype blades he used when he signed with TaylorMade in 2017.
Unlike the P730 model he was using previously, which are forged like the retail product, McIlroy’s “Rors” prototypes were milled in Carlsbad, Calif., and feature a shaping and blade length that fits his demanding preferences.
McIlroy also returned to Golf Pride’s New Decade MultiCompound grips — he reverted to Project X shafts at the Masters — and added a 48-degree Milled Grind wedge. There was also the addition of a 15-degree SIM fairway wood to complete the changes at Quail Hollow.
McIlroy didn’t comment publicly on the iron or grip change, but he did offer some insights into the fairway wood switch.
“I’ve sort of struggled to turn my driver over for probably the last two years,” he said. “So just commit to hitting that left-to-right shot with the driver, and if I need to hit one right-to-left, just use a 3-wood. I find it way easier to turn a 3-wood over than I do a driver right now.”
While McIlroy’s recent changes were front-of-mind after the win, it was actually two changes he made around the Masters that made the biggest difference during the week. Using a pair of Milled Grind 2 TW (Tiger Woods) wedges, the four-time major winner ranked second in scrambling (82.35 percent). He also picked up nearly seven shots on the field with a Spider X Hydro Blast putter.
When McIlroy’s short game is clicking, he’s nearly impossible to beat.
Flying under the radar
Bryson DeChambeau’s gear changes rarely fly under the radar. It’s difficult to miss a prototype 2-wood or graphite-shafted wedges. Or so we thought. Last Wednesday, GOLF.com’s Andrew Tursky photographed DeChambeau using a custom Cobra fairway wood.
We assumed it was new. In actuality, DeChambeau has been quietly using it for roughly three months, going all the way back to his trip to Saudi Arabia. According to Cobra Tour rep Ben Schomin, DeChambeau’s 10.5-degree RadSpeed Big Tour 2-wood — don’t forget he used a prototype F6 last season — is meant to look a lot like the retail version, with a few modifications.
To generate a lower launch, Schomin welded small rails to the sole to push the CG forward and improve turf interaction. The bonded hosel also allows for more lie angle adjustability, something DeChambeau needs with his significantly upright setup.
DeChambeau has continued to use the prototype but also carries a backup version with retail RadSpeed cosmetics if he ever wants (or needs) to make a change.
Second guy wins
Outside of a T6 at the Valero Texas Open, Gary Woodland’s 2021 season has been far from memorable. Struggling with a balky putter entering the week — Woodland ranked 176th in SG: Putting — Woodland shook things up and tested LA Golf’s multi-material TP135 shaft in his Scotty Cameron Newport 2 backup putter.
The testing session produced promising results on the green, which led Woodland to bench the gamer in favor of the backup. The decision paid off in a big way as Woodland finished alone in fifth place — his best finish to date this season.
With Bryson DeChambeau and Kevin Na leading the way, LA Golf has seen a significant uptick in interest and usage this season. Jason Day (more on him in a moment) was also spotted testing an LA Golf shaft in a new Sik putter at Quail Hollow.
Cobra’s recent partnership with Sik Golf produced the King Supersport-35 putter, a forward-thinking design combining Sik’s Descending Loft Technology and HP’s 3D Metal Jet printing. The putter was sold in limited quantities, which made consumers wonder if a more available retail version was in the pipeline.
While nothing is for certain, Cobra appears to be busy churning out new putter designs. Jason Dufner was spotted using a “King” mallet during the tournament that features the same Descending Loft Technology on the face. We’ll have to wait and see if Dufner’s wand eventually comes to retail, or if it’s merely a one-off Tour prototype.
Xander Schauffele became the first Callaway staffer to employ a lower spinning variation of the Epic Speed Triple Diamond prototype fairway wood (15 degrees) after testing the club in preparation for the Wells Fargo Championship. Callaway Tour rep Jacob Davidson confirmed the club’s reshaped sole and modified face height were both Tour-inspired. Brian Stuard and Tom Lewis also tested the same prototype early in the week.
Even one of the most consistent putter on the PGA Tour over the past decade is due for a down year. In Jason Day’s case, he’s resorted to testing other putters beyond his trusty TaylorMade Spider mallet in recent months, but nothing has stuck. At Quail Hollow, Day tried out a Sik Flo C-Series putter — the same putter brand Bryson is using — but opted to keep working with it instead of giving it shot in competition. Sergio Garcia has also been testing a Sik putter but, like Day, chose to keep the putter on the sidelines.
Rob Oppenheim took a page out of the Phil Mickelson playbook and used two Ping G425 LST drivers at Quail Hollow. According to Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates, Oppenheim felt he needed different driver setups to hit a draw and fade off the tee. During testing, Oppenheim felt his 9-degree gamer head was a good option for fades in the “Little minus” (8 degrees) loft sleeve setting. He then requested another 9-degree G425 LST be built with the loft sleeve set in the “Big plus” (10.5 degrees) to execute a draw.
To accommodate the extra driver, Oppenheim took out his 50- and 54-degree wedges and replaced them with a 52-degree.
Quick-hitters: Phil Mickelson added a Fujikura Ventus Blue 8X shaft to his TaylorMade Original One Mini Driver in an effort to help turn the ball over. … Tommy Fleetwood put an 8-degree TaylorMade SIM2 driver in the bag. … Scott Harrington switched to Ping’s yet-to-be-released i59 irons (check out the in-hand photos). … Bill Haas and Scott Piercy tested Titleist’s Pro V1x Left Dash golf ball. … Michael Thompson added Ping’s Glide Forged Pro wedges. … Jimmy Walker tested a 15-degree Titleist TSi3 fairway wood. … Doc Redman transitioned into TaylorMade’s 2021 TP5 ball. … TaylorMade signed 18-year-old Ulsterman Tom McKibbin to a multi-year staff deal. … Shane Lowry and Harry Higgs added 15-degree TaylorMade SIM2 fairway woods.
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