May 05, 2014
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- Tiger Woods, who won THE PLAYERS in 2013, was accurate using his Nike VR_S Covert 5-wood. (Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Professional golfers will tell you every club in the bag plays an important role during a tournament week.
But as we've seen over the years at THE PLAYERS Championship, there's usually one club in the bag that separates the winner from the rest of the field.
Here's a look back at the key club in the bag for the last five THE PLAYERS Championship winners.
2013 — Tiger Woods / Nike VR_S Covert 5-wood (19-degrees; Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 103x shaft): Accuracy is a valuable tool at TPC Sawgrass. Just ask Tiger Woods, who all but left his driver in the bag for the tournament and relied on a 19-degree Nike VR_S Covert 5-wood off the tee.
Woods hit 68 percent of his fairways for the week and rarely got in trouble en route to his second THE PLAYERS Championship title. Thanks to warm temperatures and favorable wind conditions, Woods noted during the tournament that 5-wood was more than enough club to reach the fairway and give himself a shot at attacking the pin.
"My 5‑wood was getting out there near 300," Woods said after the first round. "The ball is just traveling today. It's so hot, so warm, and you get the right wind, and it's going a long way."
Woods added the new Covert 5-wood last season at the WGC-Cadillac Championship after using a Nike SasQuatch 2 since 2007.
“The 5-wood that I used is the SQ, so it's, what, three versions ago,” Woods said. “I finally put one in play that I felt comfortable with. I hit it a little bit further, so there's a little bit bigger gap between the 3-iron and the 5-wood but I can hit this 5-wood a little bit higher, so I can actually take something off it and throw it up in the air, which is nice."
2012 — Matt Kuchar / RIFE Island Series Barbados belly putter: Holding a three-shot lead three holes to play, Matt Kuchar watched from the fairway on the par-5 16th as Rickie Fowler rolled in his second straight birdie on the par-3 17th to cut the lead to two shots.
Needing a birdie putt to maintain his cushion, Kuchar hit his approach shot to 15 feet and calmy rolled in the putt with a RIFE Island Series Barbados belly putter he started working with at the beginning of the tournament.
“We made Matt a brand new Barbados with a special bend and bore angle that would fit his putting style better," said Jim Barfield, RIFE's V.P. of Tour Operations. “It has 5 degrees of loft and a 70 degree lie angle. I joked with Matt’s dad on Monday and said it was a magic putter that we put together for him.”
The putter certainly felt like a magic wand in Kuchar's hands. He finished the week second in Strokes Gained/Putting, fifth in Putts Per Round (27.5 avg.) and fifth in Putts Per GIR (1.642 avg.) with the new putter en route to the biggest victory of his professional career.
2011 — K.J. Choi / TaylorMade R11 driver (9 degrees; Matrix Ozik XCON F6M2 shaft): The 2011 PLAYERS Championship will be remembered for the short par putt David Toms missed on the first playoff hole, but that shouldn't take away from K.J. Choi's impressive driving display during the tournament.
Choi only recorded six bogeys, one double-bogey and ranked T-10 in driving accuracy en route to his only THE PLAYERS Championship title. Following the win, he donated his 9-degree TaylorMade R11 driver to the tournament.
2010 — Tim Clark / Cleveland CG14 wedge (60 degrees): Three shots back with 10 holes to play, Clark reeled off four consecutive birdies to vault into the lead.
The long bunker shot on the par-5 11th was one of the most important during that stretch. Clark, who was trying to keep the momentum going at a critical juncture in the tournament, blasted the ball out with a 60-degree Cleveland CG14 wedge to 5 feet and made the birdie putt.
"I don't mind bunker shots," Clark said following his win, "so I was quite happy if it went over the back into that bunker. I knew I'd be playing back into the wind and would probably have enough green to play the shot.
The bunker shot was tame compared to some of the putts Clark rolled in late in the round, but it allowed the South African to keep his birdie streak alive.
2009 — Henrik Stenson / Yes! putter (Donna model): Stenson's Yes! putter wasn't red-hot the entire week — he needed 33 putts and three-putted twice on the back nine during the third round — but when the Swede needed his flatstick the most, it came through on Sunday afternoon.
Stenson posted a bogey-free 6-under 66 and never missed a putt inside 5 feet during the final round. The putter Stenson used that week was a 355-gram Donna model that featured a stainless-steel body with an aircraft-grade-aluminum face.