December 13 2013
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
LAS VEGAS — Rory McIlroy spent six-plus months using Nike's 2013 VRS Covert Tour driver before making a mid-season change at The Open Championship to a pear-shaped VRS Covert prototype that, to the untrained eye, looked almost identical to the driver he had been using.
The reason for the switch in head shape stemmed from McIlroy's inability to square the club face up at impact, an issue the two-time major winner said he was able to rectify once he put the prototype driver in the bag.
"I felt like the pear-shaped prototype was a little bit longer in the face and easier to turn over," McIlroy said. "I loved it and put it in play right away. I think that's one of the reasons why the new Covert 2.0 fits my eye so well."
Although McIlroy only used the prototype model for just over three months, the new head design, along with McIlroy's feedback, played a key role in the design process of the new second-generation VRS Covert 2.0 — a driver the two-time major winner officially put in the bag in October at the Korea Open.
While the 2013 VRS Covert and VRS Covert 2.0 may look similar, Nike made some significant changes to the head shape and technology inside the driver head.
The changes were significant enough, in fact, that two of Nike Golf's players -- McIlroy and Charl Schwartzel -- have already posted wins with Covert 2.0 after deciding to switch to Covert 2.0 in the past few months.
“We work very closely with our athletes and the new VRS Covert 2.0 drivers deliver on the shape, stability, and speed they have asked for,” said Nate Radcliffe, Nike Golf's director of engineering. “The added stability and speed realized by our athletes with VRS Covert 2.0 allows for an aggressive approach off the tee which is essential in the modern game.”
Covert 2.0 features a redesigned cavity-back with Fly-Brace technology that ties the sole and the crown together, making the rear portion of the club head more stable. The end result is more energy transferred to the face at impact, and increased ball speeds — up to six extra yards — when compared to the 2013 version.
“It’s similar to an automotive frame design,” said Radcliffe. “Fly-Brace technology reinforces the rearward portion of the club head to focus impact stress, flexing and subsequent energy transfer to the point of impact.”
Along with the new pear-shaped head shape, engineers made the NexCOR face larger for added forgiveness and improved ball speeds across the entire face. The face on the Covert 2.0 Tour driver is 15 percent larger than the 2013 model, while the standard Covert 2.0 driver has a face that's increased by 7 percent.
"Covert 2.0 is a little bit more forgiving," McIlroy said. "If you look at the tee marks [on the face of my driver] not all of them are in the middle. You have some a little more off the tee and off the heel, so the added forgiveness helps with shot dispersion and increased ball speeds."
The adjustable FlexLoft sleeve, a staple of the 2013 model, allows golfers to move the loft from 8.5 degrees to 12.5 degrees, and the face angle to three different positions.
Both driver models come standard with Mitsubishi Rayon's Kura Kage shaft. The Kuro Kage Silver TiNi 60 graphite shaft in Covert 2.0 is the same shaft Rory McIlroy uses in his driver, and features TiNi Fiber Technology in the tip section, a unique Titanium and Nickel alloy that was added to reinforce the graphite.
Kuro Kage Black HBP 50 (High Balance Point) graphite is the standard shaft option in Covert 2.0 driver.
Nike's VRS Covert 2.0 driver line will be available Jan. 31. The standard Covert 2.0 driver retails $299, and the Covert 2.0 Tour for $399.
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