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How forgotten 4-gram weight changed Matt Fitzpatrick's driver

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In contention Friday at THE PLAYERS after a first-round 66

    Written by Sean Martin @PGATOURSMartin

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – How much difference can 4 grams make? For Matt Fitzpatrick, that almost imperceptible amount has had quite a large effect on his game.

    Fitzpatrick shot 65 late Thursday to sit one off the 18-hole lead at THE PLAYERS. He said afterward that he’s felt like his “old self” since taking a 4-gram weight out of his driver in February. Removing it from the grip of that club has lessened the face rotation through impact and the left miss that often followed.

    “Drove the ball well, putted well, and that's kind of always been the key to when I've played well really,” Fitzpatrick said Thursday after leading the field in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (+2.64). He missed just three fairways while ranking fourth in driving distance (311.4 yards), as well.

    It was a promising performance after a perplexing year of substandard driving, and it continued Friday. Fitzpatrick shot a second-round 69 to post 9-under 135 through two rounds. Fitzpatrick gained more than four strokes on the field with his driving, hitting 21 of 28 fairways and averaging more than 313 yards off the tee through two rounds.

    “My driving kind of got worse from pretty much after Harbour Town (where Fitzpatrick won the RBC Heritage last April), and we were going back and forth," Fitzpatrick said. "We were just very confused swing-wise, did all sorts (of testing). Turns out, take the weight out of the top of the driver, and I think since Phoenix is when I've taken it out, I've driven it a lot better.”

    Matt Fitzpatrick takes the lead with birdie on No. 2 at THE PLAYERS

    Fitzpatrick’s improved driving and increased distance off the tee, were a big part of the story in 2022 when he won the U.S. Open for his first major championship. He ranked 10th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee that season. He fell to 55th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee last year, however, and ranks 92nd this season.

    Fitzpatrick still won the RBC Heritage last April and the DP World Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October, but joked, “Maybe I’d have won four times if I had (the weight) out,” when a reporter implied that the wins proved the weight didn’t have a large impact.

    “As soon as I came out and hit the next day, it felt night and day,” Fitzpatrick said. “I could hit it as hard as I want and it wouldn't go left. Previously, I felt like I hit it hard and it would just go straight left.”

    Matt Fitzpatrick on removing 4-gram weight from driver

    The weight had been in his club for about a year, being added to his driver after similar weights were put in his irons as part of an experiment. The weights came out of his irons after only about a month, but Fitzpatrick forgot about the one in his driver until getting the club regripped earlier this year.

    “They regripped it for me and they're like, ‘Oh, you know there's a weight in there,’ and I almost had a heart attack,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s just as much my fault as everyone else.”

    Sean Martin is a senior editor for the PGA TOUR. He is a 2004 graduate of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. Attending a small school gave him a heart for the underdog, which is why he enjoys telling stories of golf's lesser-known players. Follow Sean Martin on Twitter.

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