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Driver change paying off for Jon Rahm at the Masters

3 Min Read


Driver change paying off for Jon Rahm at the Masters

    Written by Sean Martin @PGATOURSMartin

    AUGUSTA, Ga. – The story of Jon Rahm’s first-round 65 at the Masters was his rebound from a four-putt on the first hole. Rahm followed that double-bogey with seven birdies and an eagle to take a share of the first-round lead at Augusta National.

    But Rahm’s ballstriking also was noteworthy. He hit every fairway and missed just one green to lead the field in both statistics. He also averaged 310 yards off the tee.

    It was a return to form for Rahm, who has been in the top five in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee in all six of his TOUR seasons. He was No. 1 in that stat last season but had fallen to 28th entering this week.

    “It’s the first time this year that it’s felt like it should,” Rahm said Thursday about his driving. “Being the strength of my game, I wouldn’t say there was any key. I just committed to my lines and to my swing and was able to pull it off.”

    Rahm switched into Callaway’s new Paradym Triple Diamond at the start of the year. He won his first two PGA TOUR starts of 2023 and added a third win three events later. He was No. 1 in the world and the FedExCup. The new driver was spinning less than his previous model, making it harder for Rahm to hit his preferred cut shot off the tee, but it can be hard to make a switch in the midst of such success.

    Rahm said Thursday that he’s “finally found (a driver) I’m comfortable with” after tinkering with a couple different Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond heads in 2023. He switched to this latest iteration at THE PLAYERS but had to withdraw after a first-round 71 because of illness. He finished T31 at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play with the club, as well.

    “He was spinning it a couple hundred RPMs less than last year, and you saw him early in the year start to aim farther and farther left. He wasn’t able to get the driver to cut as much as he liked,” said Jacob Davidson, Callaway’s Senior Director of Tour and Sports Marketing. “We just worked with him on getting more spin so he could cut it and have his drives fall more right. He likes to aim down the left side and curve it a good amount, getting him back to that.”

    The low point was his T39 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, where he finished last in the field (among players who made the cut) in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. He lost nearly two strokes with his driving en route to a T39 finish, his worst on TOUR since last July. But Rahm and Callaway felt they found a solution during the practice rounds for THE PLAYERS.

    He is using the same type of driver head as at the start of the year – a 10.5-degree Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond – but switched into a different head and changed the hosel setting from NS to NS+1, which adds a degree of loft to the head. The increased spin from the added loft brought back Rahm’s preferred shot shape. The team at Callaway brought Rahm several different heads to help him find one that didn’t look too closed with the added loft.

    In his first round with the new club, Rahm missed just one fairway over the final nine holes of his opening 71 at TPC Sawgrass.

    “We knew we were in a good spot, and then it was a bummer because he got sick,” Davidson said Thursday. “Last week, he was working with (instructor) David Phillips, and they had some unbelievable sessions. I think he shot 60 … last week in Scottsdale. We knew coming into this week that he was scoring well.”

    Rahm’s indomitable driving seems to be dialed in once again, which bodes well for his chances at Augusta National this week.

    Sean Martin manages PGATOUR.COM’s staff of writers as the Lead, Editorial. He covered all levels of competitive golf at Golfweek Magazine for seven years, including tournaments on four continents, before coming to the PGA TOUR in 2013. Follow Sean Martin on Twitter.

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