Tiger Woods' struggles off the tee at the Quicken Loans National and The Open Championship led him to make a driver change at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
The 14-time major winner revealed that he tested a Nike VRS Covert Tour (9.5 degrees) — Woods used the driver for a short stint last season — at home and preferred the ball flight over his previous driver. Woods had been using a Nike VRS Covert 2.0 prototype since last year's Northwestern Mutual World Challenge.
"I went back to my old driver from last year. Has a lighter shaft in it," Woods said after a 2-over 72 in the third round. "I like my driver that I've been using, but I didn't want to tinker around with it and put a new shaft in and ruin the club. I figured the lighter shaft should help me out a little bit, get some speed back, because I'm just not quite as explosive as I need to be."
Woods had been using a 103-gram Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board shaft in his driver — the same shaft he currently plays in his 3- and 5-wood — since the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, but opted for a 93-gram Blue Board when he returned from a three-month layoff at the Quicken Loans National.
Even with the old driver in the bag, Woods once again struggled off the tee, hitting the fairway 42.86 percent of the time before withdrawing on the ninth hole during the final round.
Woods noted that the driver switch is a temporary one until he begins his "explosive lifting" again.
"As I said, I haven't done any explosive lifting," he said. "I haven't done any of my fast twitch stuff yet. As soon as I start doing my fast twitch stuff, I can get my speed back up and then I can go back to my old driver."
Snedeker tests new Bridgestone clubs: Brandt Snedeker gave gear heads a peek at Bridgestone's upcoming lineup when he was spotted testing a prototype driver and two different iron models at Firestone.
The J715 driver has a deep face with two adjustable weight ports in the sole — one in the front portion and another in the heel section. The club also has a unique pattern design that runs from the rear of the sole and stops just short of the weight port in the front portion of the head.
Bridgestone's J15CB iron appears to be a forged cavity back that's similar to the J40 Cavity Back that Snedeker's currently playing. The J15DF has a slightly larger profile than the J15CB, which could mean it's being geared for players that currently use the company's J40 Dual Pocket Cavity iron and need additional forgiveness.
McIlroy tweaks bag setup: Two weeks after he hoisted the Claret Jug at The Open Championship, Rory McIlroy returned to the course with a different bag setup and a new Nike VRS Covert 2.0 3-wood. McIlroy, who had been using a Nike VR_S Covert 3-wood since last year, liked the Covert 2.0 because it had a stronger ball flight and helped take some of the left out of his shots.
McIlroy also returned to his usual 19-degree Nike VRS Covert 5-wood and four wedge setup (46, 52, 56 and 59 degrees). At Royal Liverpool, McIlroy removed the 5-wood, replacing it with a Nike MM Proto 2-iron, and swapped his 56-degree Nike VR Forged wedge for a VR Pro Blade 3-iron.
Callaway V Series driver spotted: Callaway's V Series driver was spotted for the first time at Firestone after appearing on the USGA's List of Conforming Driver Heads last week.
Callaway wouldn't comment on the design, but photos of the club revealed an aerodynamic head shape and Warbird sole plate. The lack of adjustable weight ports and the addition of the words "Speed Optimized Technology" on the toe leads to the assumption that Callaway is trying to reduce weight and drag, which in turn would improve clubhead speed and ball speed.
According to Callaway Tour reps, Harris English, Patrick Reed and Matt Every put V Series in play the very first week, primarily because of improvements in ball speed during testing.
Every makes putter change: Matt Every leads the TOUR in strokes gained-putting by a sizable margin, but that didn't stop him from making a putter change.
Every switched to an Odyssey Metal-X Milled Versa #9HT because he liked the additional toe hang and fresh look from the White Hot Pro #9 he'd been using.
Nike unveils MM Proto irons: Nike's MM Proto irons were unveiled as a full set just three weeks after Rory McIlroy put an MM Proto 2-iron in play at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Russell Henley and Seung-Yul Noh tested the irons at Firestone but decided to stick with their current setups. However, David Duval and Thorbjorn Olesen, who were in the field at the Barracuda Championship, opted to put the irons in play the first week they were available.
Olesen preferred the shape and higher ball flight compared to his VR Pro blades. Duval reportedly told Nike reps during testing that the MM Proto was "the most solid irons I have ever hit."
Nike announced that the forged blade model would be available in a limited run of 40 sets, on Aug. 4th, with a retail price of $1,500 for eight clubs (3-PW).
Titleist launches 915 series fairway woods, hybrids: Titleist debuted its 915 series fairway woods and hybrids at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational after rolling out the 915 driver at the Quicken Loans National.
Compared to the 915 driver, the new fairway woods and hybrids have a similar design with an adjustable hosel and "Active Recoil Channel" that runs along the front of the sole and likely improves ball speeds and forgiveness on off-center shots.
The 915 fairway woods and hybrids come in two versions — 915F/915H and a lower-spinning 915F.d/915H.d. Titleist offered a low spin option when it launched the 913 lineup two years ago.
Day's grip change: Jason Day's lingering thumb injury forced him to make an adjustment to the grips on his clubs. Day's coach/caddie, Colin Swatton, suggested the Aussie switch the tapes under his grips to alleviate the pressure on his thumb.
TaylorMade Tour reps built up the top portion of the grip so Day could hold the club with less pressure. The request to build up the left hand was the first time TaylorMade reps had built up more on that side of the grip. Even with the grip change, Day was forced to withdraw during the third round due to a severe case of vertigo.
Rose tinkers with driver: Soft conditions at Firestone caused a number of players in the field to try out drivers with less loft to maximize roll. One of those players was Justin Rose, who tested a 9-degree TaylorMade SLDR against his 10.5-degree SLDR gamer.
During testing, Rose saw that he needed the additional loft to take advantage of SLDR's low and forward center of gravity and kept with his 10.5-degree driver in the bag.
Divots: Harris English moved into an Odyssey Metal-X Milled 330M putter, and also put Callaway's SR3 ball in play. ... Ernie Els switched to a 9.5-degree TaylorMade SLDR driver at The Open Championship but went back to this 10.5-degree SLDR. ... Branden Grace had Callaway Tour reps build him a 15-degree Callaway X2 Hot Pro fairway wood with a Fujikura Pro 73 Tour Spec shaft cut to 42 1/2 inches. ... Ryan Moore used two TaylorMade UDIs (#2 and #3) at The Open Championship and decided to keep the #3 in the bag at Firestone. Moore preferred the versatility of the club to his Rescue.