By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
Jan. 1 marked the first day equipment companies could officially unveil new staffers for the upcoming season, and, as expected, Nike Golf didn't waste any time, announcing the addition of Nick Watney and Kyle Stanley to the Nike Golf staff for 2013. According to a press release, both players agreed to head-to-toe multi-year deals with the Swoosh brand that includes clubs, balls, footwear, gloves, apparel, headwear and accessories.
Watney and Stanley, both former Titleist staffers, have been two of the PGA TOUR's top young players over the last couple of years. Watney, 31, who joined the PGA TOUR in 2005, has won five times, including two wins in 2011, and a victory last season at The Barclays. He finished fourth in the 2012 FedExCup standings and won more than $3 million.
"I'm really excited about the move and the new equipment I'll have in the bag this year," Watney said. "What I liked the most was Nike's commitment to golf and the direction the company is headed in at the moment. I feel like they'll do whatever it takes in order for me to do my best."
Watney confirmed on Tuesday that he would have all 14 Nike clubs in the bag for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, and that he felt comfortable with the new gear. He did note that he'll get a better idea of how the clubs handle perform in windy conditions when he tees it up on Thursday for the first round at Kapalua.
"I think this week will be a pretty good test for me with the new equipment," Watney said. "We're supposed to get some wind during the tournament, and I've been playing at home where I didn't really have to deal with tough conditions. I feel comfortable and anticipate good things with every club in my bag, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see how everything goes."
Stanley, 25, burst onto the scene last season with a dramatic one-shot win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Stanley, who secured his PGA TOUR card in 2011, earned more than $2.3 million in 2012 and finished 31st in the FedExCup standings.
Also making his debut this week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Stanley said that even though he played a schedule that finished in early December at the Australian Open, he's already found a comfort level with his new Nike equipment — especially the 20XI X ball. While Stanley said he was impressed with Nike's entire equipment line, he said the new ball played a big part in the switch from Titleist to Nike.
"The ball doesn't spin as much with my wedges," Stanley said. "With my shorter irons I can be a little more aggressive with some of my yardages because I really don't have to allow for as much spin. I definitely feel like Nike has the ball and the equipment to take my game to the next level."
He also noted that Nike's VR_S Covert driver gave him an extra 5-6 mph ball speed, which comes out to about 10-20 additional yards off the tee. Even though Stanley finished the season ranked eighth in driving distance on the PGA TOUR, he noted that the comfort level with the club and the added length had him excited about Nike's latest driver offering.
"As far as the shape and design goes, it really put me at ease and I felt comfortable with behind the golf ball from the start," Stanley said. "I also picked up about 5 or 6 more miles per hour ball speed, which is a pretty considerable amount. It's a pretty hot driver."
In Stanley's bag:
Driver: Nike VR_S Covert 9.5-degree, neutral position
Fairway Wood: Nike VR Pro Limited Edition 3-wood/15-degree
Irons: Nike VR Pro Combo (2), VR Pro Blades (3-9)
Wedges: Nike VR Pro 52-degree, 56-degree and 60-degree
Ball: Nike 20XI X
Apparel: Nike Golf Tour Performance
Footwear: Nike Lunar Control II
In Watney's bag:
Driver: Nike VR_S Covert 11.5-degree, neutral position
Fairway Wood: Nike VR_S Covert 3-wood/14-degree and 5-wood/18-degree
Irons: Nike VR Pro Combo (3-PW)
Wedges: Nike VR Pro 55-degree and 59-degree
Putter: Nike Method Prototype
Ball: Nike 20XI
Apparel: Nike Golf Tour Performance Collection
Footwear: Nike Lunar Control II