By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – By all accounts, Tom Lehman has had a fine season on the Champions Tour. One win, three seconds, 11 top 10s in 18 starts, and a puncher’s chance at winning a second consecutive Schwab Cup title this week at the season finale, the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
But on Tuesday at Desert Mountain, he echoed the lament of many amateur players – the year could have been even better had he been more dialed in with his wedges.
“I haven’t been super sharp inside of 100 yards. I really haven’t,” said Lehman, who trails Bernhard Langer by 211 in the season-long points race. “My wedge game has been off all year. It seems like you kind of get in these streaks where you seem to have all of these in-between yardages. Every big shot you have that you really need to hit it close is just right in between.
“I don't remember a year where I've ever had so many shots that were like 108 yards, or 102 yards or 123 yards into the wind. Where the sand wedge is not quite enough, the pitching wedge is too much. I don't carry a gap wedge. I'm falling into that crack.”
Consequently, Lehman said he’s considering putting a gap wedge into his bag for the first time.
“I'm really good at hitting a 112-yard pitching wedge into the breeze, but I'm not good at hitting 102 pitching wedge into a breeze,” he said. “The sand wedge full into a breeze always spins back 40 feet, so it's like you have this gap where I've just been tortured all year long.”
Of course, to put a gap wedge in requires taking something out. For pros, that means taking a look at fairway woods or hybrids.
“If I took out the rescue (hybrid) and put in the gap, the next week I would be needing that rescue club 27 times,” said Lehman, who plays TaylorMades. “Now I have this gap between my 3-iron and my 3-wood, which is about 50 yards wide versus the gap between a sand wedge and a pitching wedge, which is 20. So there you have the secret.
“To me you have to figure out your bag, bend a couple of clubs a little bit stronger, maybe get a new rescue, which is a little bit weaker. Who knows what? But you got to drop something. Some guys take that out, maybe take the 3-iron out and strengthen the 4-iron. There is all kind of ways to do it. But that means relearning yardages.
“I can tell you, the average golfer, what happens is you get these in between yardages, and you try to hit it so easy you decelerate. You decelerate on a wedge like you decelerate on a putt, and you end up hitting bad shots.”
Have you put an extra wedge in the bag this year? If so, what came out to accommodate it? Tell us in the comments below.
HOT STICK: Robert Garrigus switched to an Odyssey White Ice 2-Ball V-Line putter two months ago at the Deutsche Bank Championship. In four tournaments since then he has finished T4, T10, T22 and, at the CIMB Classic, T2. This putter is 32.5 inches, a mainstream length for a guy who has putted with a 28.5-inch junior-sizied putter and a 46-inch long flatstick.
NEW NIKES: Nike Golf is expanding its Method line of putters with the Method Core Weighted putters, which use fixed weights on the heel and sole to provide optimal weighting for different lengths of putter. The weights lower the center of gravity of the putter and move the center away from the face.
“Most people don’t realize that they are about three-tenths of an inch above the ground at impact,” Nike clubmaker David Franklin said. “You need to keep the center of gravity of the putter as low as you can so that it never gets higher than the CG of the ball. This stops the putter from driving the ball down and creating backspin on the ball.”
WINNER’S BAG: Nick Watney at the CIMB
Driver: Titleist 910D3 (Mitsubishi Diamana White Board, 10.5 degrees)
Fairway woods: Titleist 910F (15, 19 degrees)
Irons: Titleist AP2 (3-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM4 (50, 60 degrees)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron GSS
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x