DORAL, Fla. -- Francesco Molinari and Anthony Kim took a break from their preparation for the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship on Monday evening to entertain the media and promote the new Nike 20XI ball.
Nike's braintrust, in collaboration with engineers at DuPont, took four years to develop the technology for the 20XI. Instead of a rubber core, the ball uses a resin material that is designed to produce more distance, straighter ball flight and more controlled shots.
“I have never been more excited about a new golf ball innovation than I am now,” said Rock Ishii, Nike Golf’s Product Development Director for golf balls. “For many years, golf ball development has primarily been focused on the number of layers with a solid rubber core.
"We believe that there wasn’t really anywhere else to go as far as technology advancement in these areas, and felt that the next window of opportunity was in the exploration of various materials for the core.”
In addition to Kim – who put the ball in play the same week he tested it -- and Molinari, Stephen Ames, Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover, Justin Leonard, Jamie Lovemark, Pablo Martin and Carl Pettersson are among other Nike athletes who have switched to the 20X1.
The new balls will be available to the general public on April 29. There are two in the series. The 20XI-X is optimized for distance while the 20XI-S has a softer cover and offers better control around the greens.
Pablo Martin played his final round in two hours, 39 minutes on Sunday. And when he and his non-playing marker left the 18th green, he was greeted by appreciative cheers of "Pablo, Pablo!"
“The U.S. Open is the best atmosphere I’ve seen in any other tournament I’ve played in," Martin said. "This is exactly the way golf should be right now. It is so much fun for us and for the crowd."
Martin was the nation's top collegian in 2007 when he was a student at Oklahoma State. He was the first amateur to win a European Tour event in 2007 and made his pro debut later that year at the U.S. Open at Oakmont, where he tied for 30th.
Martin, who is from Malega, Spain, didn’t fare quite as well this year. He shot a final-round 79 and finished at 27 over but joked that he was happy to get to play Pebble Beach for free.
“It was a fun week even though I played crap," Martin said. "Sometimes, it goes that way and sometimes, it goes the other way. I’m really glad that I made it into the U.S. Open and that I made the cut. I need to keep working. It would be nice to come back in nine years.”
The U.S. Open returns to Pebble Beach in 2019 for the course’s 100th anniversary. – Helen Ross