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February 8 2012

9:55 PM

New balls, old putters and free money

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Gary Woodland put a Titleist ProV1x in play at the WM Phoenix Open.

By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM

Gary Woodland needs a few more yards like a Corvette needs more horsepower, but he got them last week at TPC Scottsdale with a move from the Titleist ProV1 to the ProV1x.

Woodland, who has been working through swing tweaks with acclaimed teacher Butch Harmon, noticed some increased spin off his irons and wanted to make sure he had the right ball for his updated swing. He had already adjusted some of his clubs, adding one degree of effective loft by moving his Titleist 910 adjustable driver from its C•1 setting (6.75º loft, 57.75º lie) to A•1 (standard; 7.5º loft, 58.5º lie) and making the same move with his Titleist 910Fd 13.5º fairway wood.

He sought out Titleist golf ball R&D specialist Fordie Pitts, who put Woodland through paces on a TrackMan launch monitor with the company’s slightly harder, less-spinning ProV1x. With his short- and mid-irons, the monitor showed a reduction of some 150-200 rpm in spin and an increase of 1-1.5 mph in ball speed. With his driver, Woodland’s ball speed increased some 4 mph with similar spin.

(As PGA TOUR ShotLink radar stats show, Woodland isn’t exactly slacking in ball speed as it is.)

Woodland took the ProV1x to the course for further testing, and found the iron performance he was looking for. With the driver, his carry yardage increased some 14 yards – no joke.

The end of the story? Woodland finished T26 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, closing with 66 on Sunday. He was T4 for the week in Greens in Regulation.

LONG AND SHORT: Tiger Woods held court Tuesday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and explained his disdain for long putters , also proposing a solution. He said he had told Peter Dawson of the R&A that the putter should be no longer than the shortest club in one’s bag – essentially 35 to 36 inches, the length of most players’ wedges.

One side note to that – with a such a rule you wouldn’t see players use a long putter for measuring clublengths for penalties (as someone with a full broomstick putter could conceivably do), nor moments like last week at TPC Scottsdale where Spencer Levin used his belly putter to slap-shot a ball out of a bush.

RUSH TO MARKET: Bridgestone Golf is moving its new B330 ball line into the marketplace ahead of its original March 1 release, citing buzz from the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show and Brandt Snedeker’s come-from-behind win at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Its four new models – the Tour B330, Tour B330-S, Tour B330-RX and Tour B330-RXS – are on sale now in sunbelt states and will be available nationwide soon.

Speaking of Snedeker, he added a Callaway RAZR X Black 3-wood in his bag at the WM Phoenix Open, replacing a TaylorMade Burner 2.0.

DUSTED OFF: Ryan Palmer shot 64 in the opening round at TPC Scottsdale, thanks in part to an old Odyssey Rossie II putter that’s been in and out of his bag since college.

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Vintage Odyssey

“I've used the exact same putter the last two years, and of course had two of the best years of my career,” said Palmer, who won for the third time on the PGA TOUR at the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii. “But towards the end of the year last year, around the BMW, I just got frustrated with not making anything, so I thought I'd try something different, put a similar style head in play and actually had some success. Had a seventh-place finish at Malaysia with it, 20th place finish at Disney with it, so I knew it was a good putter.

“But my first two weeks out here I could tell I wasn't comfortable when I'd get over the short putts. When I got home from Bob Hope, I pulled it out of the garage and was putting in my living room, then went outside in the backyard on my putting green, and I knew it was time to bring it back out. So it showed today.”

Alas, that 64 would be his only round in the 60s as he faded to T55 on Sunday.

AMBUSHED: TaylorMade’s RocketBallz campaign continued at at PGA TOUR Superstore in Scottsdale, where Johnson Wagner and Pat Perez handed out cash for yards gained with the company’s new RBZ 3-wood. Check out the video to see happy golfers after they got stacks of $10 bills. We’d be happy too.

WINNER’S BAG: Kyle Stanley at the Waste Management Phoenix Open:
Driver: Titleist 910D3 driver, 8.5 degrees
3-wood: Titleist 910Fd, 13.5 degrees
Irons: Titleist 503i 2-iron, MB irons 4-PW 
Wedges: Vokey Design Spin Milled 52, 56, 60 degrees
Putter: Scotty Cameron Timeless GSS
Ball: Titleist ProV1x 

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