By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
In this week's Equipment Report Mailbag, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider Jonathan Wall talks about Tiger Woods' Nike VR_S Covert prototype driver, wedges at the majors and picking a winner at the PGA Championship.
Have a question about the latest golf equipment or what the pros are playing? Send a tweet to @jonathanrwall.
I didn't realize it until I was watching Tiger Woods in person last week at Firestone, but the Nike driver he's using looks different than the retail version. What's up with the driver? And will his version be made available? — Alan Channel (@achannelruns_)
Good question, Alan. As far as the story behind Tiger's new driver, he actually started working with it for the first time at The Open Championship and used it again last week during his seven-shot win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
As far as "what's up with the driver," I can tell you it has a number of noticeable differences from the VR_S Covert Tour driver at your local golf store — namely a non-adjustable (glued) hosel and a sole that doesn't feature a weight screw.
Woods has never played an adjustable driver during his career and had no intention of changing with the VR_S Covert prototype driver.
With regards to things you likely won't be able to pick up at first glance is the pear-shaped head that's slightly smaller than the 430cc Tour head. Rory McIlroy actually started using a similar prototype version with a pear-shaped head and an adjustable hosel at The Open Championship.
The reason for the pear-shaped head? McIlroy said it allowed him to turn the ball over more than the retail version. I'd assume Tiger likes the driver's traditional shape and workability as well.
Nike wouldn't say if the driver is coming to retail, so I can't say for sure if Rory or Tiger's version will be available at some point.
Speaking of Tiger's driver, don't expect him to use it often at the PGA Championship. He mentioned on Tuesday that based on wind conditions, he could use it between 2 and 5 times at Oak Hill.
Saw on Twitter that a bunch of players were adding new wedges this week at the PGA Championship? Is that a trend at most majors? — Hillary Brooks
And here I thought it was my job to find the equipment stories at major championships! But you're correct, a large number of players added high-lofted wedges — think lob wedges — with fresh grooves this week at Oak Hill.
I had a chance to chat with Aaron Dill, Vokey Design's PGA TOUR rep, on the range and he mentioned players were looking for fresh grooves to combat the heavy rough at Oak Hill; he also said some were going with higher-bounce wedges to handle the coarse sand in the bunkers.
Rickie Fowler (59-degree Vokey prototype), Billy Horschel (60-degree PING Gorge) and Hunter Mahan (53- and 60-degree PING Tour WS) were just a few of the big names adding new wedges to the bag.
Tiger Woods even mentioned he put in a fresh set of Nike VR Pro at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Bottom line, when it comes to the firm greens and dense rough at major championships, it pays to have some extra bite at your disposal.
Who's your pick to win the PGA Championship? I know it's not an equipment question. — Marcellus Triango
I'll be honest, Marcellus, I'm pretty terrible at picking winners. Normally I'd check out Rob Bolton's fantasy golf power rankings and pick a winner from his list, but I'm going to refrain from copying the guru and go with my gut. And my gut says to pick Jason Day.
He posted a third-place finish at the Masters and a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open. I don't know about you, but I think the Aussie is due for a major championship. The fact that he fared well on Merion's tight layout leads me to believe he'll do well at Oak Hill.
So there you go, I'm taking Jason Day. Here's hoping he's in contention come Sunday afternoon.