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June 21 2013

1:10 PM

Mailbag: What driver does Tiger play?


Will Woods switch to a different model driver? Wall thinks he's committed to the VR Tour. (Getty Images)

In this week's Equipment Report Mailbag, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider Jonathan Wall talks about popular driver shafts on the PGA TOUR, Tiger Woods' driver and golf ball and what's in Chris Williams' bag.

Have a question about the latest golf equipment or what the pros are playing? Send a tweet to @jonathanrwall.

What's the most popular driver shaft on the PGA TOUR? — Stuart Rust (@StuartRust81)

Wall: There are plenty of great driver shaft option out there at the moment, but if we're going strictly by the numbers, Mitsubishi Rayon tends to be the top shaft brand on the PGA TOUR.

I say "tends" because the top driver shaft brand in the field can change every so often (Fujikura recently won the driver shaft brand count at the 2013 HP Byron Nelson Championship).

Tiger Woods (Mitsubishi Diamana White Board) and Rory McIlroy (Mitsubishi Kuro Kage prototype) are the two biggest names playing MRC shafts at the moment.

The company also won both the driver and total shaft at the U.S. Open with Phil Mickelson (T2 playing a Fubuki shaft), Jason Dufner (T3 playing Diamana 'ahina), Billy Horschel (T4 playing Fubuki) and Rickie Fowler (T10 playing Diamana White board) leading the way.

With so many options available, it's difficult to narrow down the list to one model. But according to Mitsubishi, the Diamana +PLUS and Diamana Kai'li are the company's most popular at the moment.

The Diamana +PLUS is a shaft combines the same materials from the original Diamana Series shaft with Multi-Dimensional Interlay (M.D.I.) Technology developed for the second generation Diamana Series. So you're basically getting the best parts from both shafts in one package. It also has a progressive torque system that allows you optimize the shaft's torque and frequency for players of all abilities.

Diamana Kai'li is a low-launch, low-spin, low-torque driver shaft that has the same MDI technology as the +PLUS shaft but with a slightly stiffer tip and butt section.

Aldila's Tour Green — Aldila officially merged with Mitsubishi Rayon at the beginning of April — is another shaft that's garnered a lot of attention on TOUR this season. Lee Westwood, Harris English, Jim Furyk are a few of the notable names that have used Tour Green at one point or another in competition with success.

The low-launch, low-spin shaft has a stiffer tip section that makes it perfect for today's drivers. The shaft is the most consistent the company has ever produced and was produced with graphite fibers that make shaft lighter, stiffer and lower in torque.

Fujikura's FUEL and Motore driver shafts have also been popping up on TOUR this season. Brandt Snedeker and Boo Weekley are two recent PGA TOUR winners that had a Motore driver shaft. Dustin Johnson used a FUEL shaft to win the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions event

Bottom line, there are a bunch of popular shaft options on TOUR at the moment.

What ball does Tiger Woods use? And why doesn't Tiger play Nike's VR_S Covert driver? — Chris Lewin (via e-mail)

Wall: I'll answer the second part of your question before I touch on the golf ball Woods is playing at the moment. If you'll recall, he started the 2013 season carrying Nike's VR Pro Limited 3-wood (15 degrees) and SQ II 5-wood (19 degrees).

In the span of four months, Woods had switched to Nike's VR_S Covert Performance fairway woods. He pulled the SQ II 5-wood before the start of the WGC-Cadillac Championship and removed the VR Pro Limited 3-wood before the start of the Masters.

Unlike the Tour version that features an adjustable hosel system that allows you to change the face and loft angle, the Performance fairway model Woods is currently using doesn't feature an adjustable hosel.

The fact that he's already switched out his fairway woods tells you he's comfortable with Covert's red crown and the performance. I've talked to some of the folks at Nike Golf in the past and they confirmed Woods has tested the VR_S Covert driver and has seen some benefits.

Will VR_S Covert take the place of his 9.5-degree VR Tour driver this season? Who knows. Woods went back to a Mitsubishi Diamana White Board — he had been using Graphite Design's Tour AD DI-7X shaft — and upped the loft in his driver from 8.5 degrees to 9.5 degrees to fit the new shaft. The shaft testing he's been doing with VR Tour leads me to believe he's committed to his current model.

Of course, I thought Woods would never swap out his VR Pro Limited 3-wood the week of the Masters, and look how that turned out. He'll will make the driver switch when he's good and ready.

As far as the golf ball is concerned, Woods is still playing Nike's One Tour D ball. I say "still playing" because the One Tour D was released in 2009. That's right, Woods is playing, and winning, with a ball that's four-plus years old.

Until recently, Luke Donald was still using the 2005 version of Titleist's Pro V1 before switching to the 2013 model, so ball holdouts exist on the PGA TOUR.

The One Tour D is a three-piece, solid core, urethane ball designed to achieve distance and feel without compromising workability. Is it odd that Woods hasn't found a recent Nike ball he likes as much as One Tour D? Not really.

He's incredibly particular when it comes to his equipment and the One Tour D is still getting the job done on the course.

Take a look at his driving distance stats over the past four-plus years: 298.4 yards in 2009, 295.8 yard in 2010, 293.7 yards in 2011, 297.4 yards in 2012 and 294.5 this season.

Thanks to improved driver technology, Woods' driving distance numbers with the old ball have remained steady over the years, ranking him inside the top 35 in the stat category four of the past five seasons.

Do you know which equipment Chris Williams is using? — Tom Jacobs (@TomJacobs8)

Wall: Chris Williams, the top-ranked amateur in the world, turned pro this week at the Travelers Championship and signed an equipment and apparel deal with Nike Golf.

He'll play the company's VR_S Cover Tour driver (9.5 degrees Neutral), VR Pro Combo irons (2-PW) and use the 20XI golf ball. Williams will also wear Nike's Lunar Control and Tour Performance Collection apparel.

So what about the other four clubs in his bag? Williams carried PING clubs during his days at the University of Washington and decided to keep his PING Anser Series wedges (54 and 60 degrees) and Anser putter in the bag. He also has a 14.5-degree TaylorMade RocketBallz 3-wood.

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