By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods is retaking his place at the top of the golf pantheon. His win on Sunday at the AT&T National – his third in seven starts -- gave him a PGA TOUR-leading three wins on the season, the FedExCup points lead and solo second place on the all-time TOUR victory list.
Where is it all coming from? The added “reps”, as Woods frequently cites? The work with swing coach Sean Foley? The weather? (Tiger’s an especially strong player in the heat.)
The answer may be simpler than that. He’s simply rolling the ball better.
Woods was ninth at Congressional in Strokes Gained-Putting with his Nike Method 001 putter, picking up nearly a shot and a half on the greens for the week. He’s now 14th in Strokes Gained-Putting for the year and 11th in Total Putting, a stat that combines putting averages from various distances.
“I feel like I really controlled the putter well this week,” Woods said. “I had a lot of good putts, and I had a lot of -- for some reason I had a lot of putts that were downhill, big, breaking putts. I hit a lot of good putts this week.”
The Method putter features Nike’s polymetal groove technology, which gets the ball rolling with forward spin more quickly after impact.
Woods wasn’t the only one with a big week at AT&T with a Method 001. Jhonattan Vegas finished T4, his best of the season.
D2 DEBUTS: Titleist unveiled its new 913 drivers for pros at AT&T, and 14 of the 34 players who teed up Titleist drivers in competition used the new models.
Seung-Yul Noh, using a 7.5-degree 913D3, finished highest with a T4, while Nick Watney finished 10th with a 10.5-degree 913D3. Brendon de Jonge, the 54-hole leader at Congressional, ended tied for 11th with his 9.5-degree 913 D3.
The newest members of Titleist’s 900 family (“9” is the designation for metalwoods and “13” is the model year) feature some cosmetic differences and a weight cartridge at the rear of the clubhead. Like the previous 910 models, Titleist’s SureFit Tour hosel helps a player dial in the ideal lie and loft.
There are two models, the D2 and D3, with the D2 having a slightly bigger head. Of the 14 pros at AT&T, 11 played the D3 and three (Bud Cauley, Tom Gillis and John Merrick) chose the D2.
Rory McIlroy put an 8.5-degree 913D3 at the Irish Open, finishing in a tie for 10th.
BEER!: For those of you who consider beer as essential “equipment” for your weekend rounds, there’s a new brew inspired by Sam Snead.
Slammin’ Sam is a craft-brewed American lager developed off a proprietary recipe and made in Wisconsin by Stevens Point Brewery. It debuts this week at The Greenbrier Resort, which is hosting the PGA TOUR’s Greenbrier Classic.
“It makes sense for Slammin’ Sam beer to be introduced here,” said Jeff Kmiec, president and managing director of The Greenbrier Resort. “Sam Snead called The Greenbrier his professional home for more than 60 years and I think he’d be happy to know guests will savor a beer that bears his nickname.”
The beer’s packaging features famous images of Snead and is available in cans, bottles and kegs. The company plans to launch the product soon at other golf resorts around North America.
For more information, check out a fun Q&A with the founder of Slammin’ Sam here.
LOOKING AT LYTHAM: Justin Rose and Justin Leonard had new hybrids built in the TaylorMade truck at Congressional, purposely for the British Open later this month. Rose got a 16-degree Rescue 11, designed for him to hit piercing shots in the wind. Leonard got two 17-degree Rescue 11s and compared the two during practice rounds at Congressional.
BITS: Martin Laird put a new TaylorMade Ghost Spider IB belly putter in play at Congressional, replacing his longtime Ghost Tour DA-12 belly model. He finished T11. … John Mallinger also finished T11 at AT&T, playing a new set of TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC irons. He’s moving away from an older model of TP irons which had “pretty dead” grooves, in his words. … Kevin Stadler had never played a 5-wood but tested a Callaway Razr Fit model and liked how it fit a gap between his 3-wood and hybrid. He tested it, found that he could hit his standard high cut with it, and put it in play at AT&T.
WINNER’S BAG: Woods at the AT&T
Driver: Nike VR Tour (8.5 degree, Graphite Design DI 6X shaft)
Fairway wood: Nike VR Pro Limited Edition 3-wood (15 degrees); Nike SQ II 5-wood (19 degrees)
Irons: Nike VR Pro Blades (3-PW)
Wedges: Nike VR Pro (56, 60 degrees)
Putter: Nike Method 001
Ball: Nike ONE Tour D