The five key clubs for the International Team at the Presidents Cup
6 Min Read
Written by GolfWRX @GolfWRX
Quail Hollow Club course preview for Presidents Cup
Quail Hollow Club, the venue for this week’s Presidents Cup, is rightfully regarded as a big ballpark. But don’t focus solely on the length of this layout that measures at more than 7,500 yards. With two drivable par-4s, a range of more than 60 yards in the par-3s and reachable par-5s mixed in with beastly par-4s, every piece of equipment will be challenged, especially when you consider the variety of formats in use this week.
As the International Team looks to win its first Presidents Cup since 1998, and the United States team hopes to continue its winning streak, GolfWRX has broken down the five key golf clubs for each team, with insight from the respective players.
Below are the clubs that we think could play a big role for the underdog International Team if it hopes to score the upset.
TAYLOR PENDRITH’S DRIVER
Ping G410 LST (9 degrees; Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green Small Batch 70TX)
2022 stats: 12th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee; 10th in Driving Distance (316.1 yards)
Pendrith says: “It's an older model, but I'm comfortable with it. Just when I set it down, it looks great to me. Sits a little open. …I've got lots of confidence with it. I've been using the same model for three years, probably, now, and I've driven it great the last three years. So the numbers, I don't think, really can get much better. I'm quite happy with it.”
GolfWRX says: If there’s an older model driver in a PGA TOUR pro’s bag, it’s probably for good reason. As one of the best drivers on TOUR, Pendrith seems to find confidence with the familiarity of his Ping G410 LST, which hit the market in May 2019. It’s important to remember that if new technology doesn’t provide better numbers than your current gamer in terms of dispersion and distance, then don’t feel the need to upgrade. As a PGA TOUR player, Pendrith has access to the latest and greatest drivers on the market, but he still sticks with his 3-year-old model. When it’s crunch time with a tournament or match on the line, Pendrith has three years of good memories to lean on, especially after a successful rookie season on TOUR that included a runner-up at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and top-10 in a FedExCup Playoffs event (T8, BMW Championship).
SUNGJAE IM’S WEDGES
Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (48, 54 and 60 degrees)
2022 stats: 12th in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green; 12th in Proximity from the Sand (8’, 1”); 5th in Scrambling (66%)
Im says: “I use an SM7, Titleist SM7, which is maybe a couple generations old with 4 degrees of bounce – not a lot of bounce – with a little bit of relief on the back and have used it for about four years. Nothing really special, but that's the model that I like and I've been using for the last four years.”
GolfWRX says: With Quail Hollow playing so long, as well as birdie opportunities for those who can get up-and-down on the short par-4s and par-5s, Im’s scrambling could be key. Titleist has new SM9 wedges out on the market now. The company’s SM7 versions came out in 2018. As some of the most personal clubs in the bag, wedges must be selected based on look and feel preferences, but it’s also important to match the sole construction and grind to how you deliver the club to the ball, and to the course conditions you typically play on. High bounce wedges are typically better suited for those with steep angles of attack (i.e. players who take deep divots), or soft conditions, whereas low bounce wedges – like the ones that Im uses – are better for those with shallow angles of attack, or firmer conditions. Higher bounce wedges (10-12 degrees) often provide greater margin for error, so beware of using a 4-degree option like Im.
COREY CONNERS’ DRIVER
Ping G400 LST (8.5 degrees, UST Mamiya Elements AU shaft)
2022 stats: 5th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee; 78th in Driving Distance (302.7); 20th in Driving Accuracy (66.8%)
Conners says (about his swing): “I think just having good rhythm has always been sort of a hallmark of my game and something that I focus on every week. The last few days (at the Presidents Cup), just been feeling the good rhythm. That allows me to hit the ball solidly, and usually it results in it going where I am looking. I … just take some practice swings, try and feel the body moving in sync, (take) a few practice swings … with my right foot kind of behind me a little bit, feeling the body moving, club staying in front of the body, and that helps with my rhythm, as well.”
GolfWRX says: Like Pendrith, his fellow Canadian and former Kent State teammate, Conners is one of the TOUR’s top players in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, but he does it differently. He gains strokes with his accuracy off the tee, a hallmark throughout his bag. Conners also was second in greens in regulation last season. Another similarity between Conners and Pendrith is that they both play older Ping drivers. Pendrith’s G410 LST came out in 2019, and Conners’ G400 LST is even older, hitting the market in July 2017. By coupling low-spin technology with a stable design, Ping’s G400 series of drivers was a killer in the market and on TOUR. Clearly, it’s still making an impact half a decade later.
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA’S SHORT IRONS
Srixon Z-Forged (4-9 iron), Cleveland RTX 4 Forged wedges (46, 52, 56 and 60 degrees)
2022 stats: 6th in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green; 1st in proximity from 125-150 yards (19’, 1”)
Matsuyama says: “To be honest, I feel like I wasn't playing that good. So I'm not really sure about that stat. I wasn't playing very well.”
GolfWRX says: Matsuyama famously has high standards, as evidenced by the many times we’ve seen him hit a shot, hang his head and take a hand off the club in disgust, only to see the ball land near the hole. His above quote also shows that he is not easily pleased with his play, even though it resulted in two wins last season. After triple-checking the stats, Matsuyama did indeed finish sixth in Strokes Gained: Approach – the eighth time in the last nine years he’s finished in the top 10 of that stat -- and he finished first in proximity from 125-150 yards. It’s scary to think what it would look like if he hit the ball as well as he thinks he’s capable of. Matsuyama made big equipment headlines when he switched to an unreleased Srixon ZX5 MKII LS prototype at last week’s Fortinet Championship. His irons and wedges are a bit older – his Srixon Z Forged irons came out in 2019, and the Cleveland RTX4 wedges released in 2018.
CHRISTIAN BEZUIDENHOUT’S PUTTER
Odyssey White Hot OG #7
2022 stat: 6th in Strokes Gained: Putting
Bezuidenhout says: “I recently changed to an Odyssey No. 7, that fork one. I actually changed to it five months ago. I used to putt with a similar putter when I was younger. I just changed to that. I feel like I'm starting the ball on-line better, and the stroke of the putter just flows better with that. … I've always used a mallet putter, face balanced mostly. What I've got now, it's a face-balanced mallet. So it's basically the same style of putter that I grew up putting with.”
GolfWRX says: To celebrate its 20-year anniversary of the original White Hot insert, Odyssey released a lineup of White Hot OG putters last year. Bezuidenhout’s putter model is part of the White Hot OG family, and his specific option comes with a double-bend hosel. The hosel construction allows the putter to be face balanced, which means the putter face will face the sky when fixated on its balance point on the shaft, i.e. if you balance the shaft on your finger; this helps add stability to the stroke and keep the face from rotating. It’s best suited for golfers with a straight-back and straight-through stroke style (as opposed to having an open-and-closing arc style stroke).