May 11, 2014
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- Luke Donald became the first player to put Mizuno's JPX 850 driver in play this week. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Luke Donald wasn't in contention on Sunday afternoon, but that didn't stop him from making equipment news at THE PLAYERS Championship. Donald became the first to put Mizuno's JPX 850 driver in play after testing it at home over the last few weeks.
Donald, who finished T-38, found the fairway 66 percent of the time with the new driver that featured a blue crown and a unique weight configuration that allowed the center of gravity to be adjusted via a weight channel (called "Fast Track Technology") in the middle of the sole. The club had additional weight ports in the heel and toe for a fade or draw bias.
Mizuno used similar adjustable weight technology in the past with the MP-630 Fast Track driver, a model that had a moveable 16-gram weight system in the rear portion of the head that allowed the weight to be placed in a number of positions to alter shot-shape tendencies.
Choi goes with PING driver: Former PLAYERS Championship winner K.J. Choi doesn't have a club deal in place for 2014, but that didn't stop him from adding a PING i25 driver (9.5 degrees) to go along with his G15 irons and Anser 3-wood at TPC Sawgrass.
Choi saw an increase in distance when compared to his Callaway Big Bertha during testing last week at the Wells Fargo Championship but decided to stand pat. Following additional testing at THE PLAYERS Championship, Choi made the switch official and hit 69.64 percent of his fairways (T-19) while posting his fourth top-15 finish of the season.
Streelman's new Scotty Cameron: Kevin Streelman arrived at TPC Sawgrass with a new TOUR-only Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS Tri-Sole putter. The putter featured a red cherry bomb and cross on the face, with Streelman's daughter's name, "Sophia," on the neck. Cameron also added an "SCM" crown, smiley face and Circle-T to the back cavity.
Streelman's putter was made from German Stainless Steel (GSS), an extremely pricey material that's costly to mill but has a very distinct feel and sound. While the material has a crisp sound at impact, it's softer than carbon steel — a material Cameron typically uses for his retail putters.
Mickelson goes back to old Odyssey putter: Phil Mickelson went back to an old friend at THE PLAYERS Championship: an Odyssey White Hot XG Prototype blade he used to win the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Mickelson had been using an Odyssey Versa #9 since last year's British Open win but said during Tuesday's news conference that the old putter worked with his new grip change.
"I just felt, with the grip change, it made it easier to not have a line on the club to help get my hand over in a better position, so it wasn't weak," Mickelson said. "That's basically the only reason why I ended up going to a blade this week was it just made the grip change easier."
Even with the old flatstick in the bag, Mickelson struggled to find his putting stroke and missed the cut for the third time this season.
Mahan goes Rogue: Hunter Mahan's PING G25 driver lasted 22 months before it officially became unusable last week at the Wells Fargo Championship. According to PING Tour reps, Mahan flattened the face, to the point that he had to put his backup in play.
Mahan stuck with his Aldila Phenom NL 60TX at Wells Fargo but opted for a new Aldila Rogue 70TX shaft at THE PLAYERS Championship. Rogue has gained a following on TOUR since its release at last year's U.S. Open.
The shaft uses a very expensive, extremely stiff petroleum based carbon fiber that is typically used for aerospace applications — like satellites, where extreme stiffness and ultra-lightweight materials are required.
The material used to design the shaft is nearly twice as stiff as any material Aldila has used in the past. The tensile modulus (stiffness) is 125 million pounds per square inch (msi); typical carbon fibers historically used in shafts have ranged from 33 msi to 65 msi.
Mahan liked the shaft because it flattened out his ball flight and gave him additional rollout on his tee shots.
Divots: Dustin Johnson tried out TaylorMade's Tour Preferred wedges for the first time at TPC Sawgrass. He had been using TaylorMade's TP xFT wedges for several years. ... Francesco Molinari received new Nike VR wedges with fresh grooves in preparation for the U.S. Open. According to Nike Tour reps, Molinari likes to get new heads a few weeks before a major championship to break them in. ... After putting heavier shafts in his Nike VR Pro Blades at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Charl Schwartzel decided to go back to True Temper's lighter Dynamic Gold SL X100 shaft. The reason for the return? Schwartzel didn't see any improvement with the beefier shaft. ... Keegan Bradley went back to his Miyazaki Kusala Indigo 61X driver shaft. He had been using Mitsubishi Rayon's Kuro Kage Silver TiNi 60X. ... Graeme McDowell added a 14-degree Cleveland 588 fairway wood.