September 07, 2014
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- Rory McIlroy ranked fourth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green this week, picking up 7.856 strokes on the field. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Looking for additional bite to handle the firm greens and rough at Cherry Hills Country Club, Rory McIlroy added a 54-degree Nike VR X3X wedge to the bag. The four-time major winner typically carries four wedges (46, 52, 56 and 59 degrees) but went with a three wedge setup (46, 54 and 59 degrees) at the BMW Championship.
"The greens are firm," McIlroy said after the first round. "It's playing a little bit like a U.S. Open. I wouldn't say it's quite as difficult as that, but it's thick rough, especially around the greens, and firm greens. That's what they need to keep the scoring the way it is."
Nike released an updated version of the high-frequency X3X groove pattern (27 grooves) this year that has wider spacing with a 15-percent increase in groove volume. A laser crosshatch pattern increases surface texture, creating more spin from a variety of conditions.
Along with adding a 54-degree VR X3X wedge, McIlroy filled the final slot in his bag with a VR Pro Blade 3-iron.
Harris English goes to lower lofted driver: Harris English moved into a lower lofted Callaway Big Bertha V Series driver — 10.5 degrees to 9 degrees — after switching to Fujikura's Pro shaft. According to Callaway Tour rep, Mike Sposa, the bend profile of the new shaft facilitated the loft change.
"The main difference in the shaft is that the Fujikura is heavier with a softer handle," Sposa said. "This helps (Harris) hit his patented fade easier." He averaged 312.5 yards per drive on the week."
English also put a new Odyssey Metal-X Milled #7 putter in play that was an inch shorter (36.25" finished to 35.25" finished) than his previous putter to help get his eye plane more vertical.
"This was done to help improve Harris' ability to aim the putter when he gets into his setup," said Odyssey Tour rep Johnny Thompson. "He looked much more confident over the ball and this change didn't affect his stroke, it made his aim more efficient."
Ryan Palmer reaches first green with older model driver: It wasn't as impressive as Arnold Palmer's opening tee shot at Cherry Hills during the final round of the 1960 U.S. Open — The King drove the 346-yard hole with a persimmon driver en route to a final-round 65 that saw him come from seven shots back to win the U.S. Open — but Ryan Palmer managed to reach the green during the first round, and make eagle, with a TaylorMade Burner SuperFast 2.0 driver.
With the older model TaylorMade driver in the bag, Palmer finished fourth at the BMW Championship and averaged 323.4 yards off the tee (T-2 in the field).
Divots: Kevin Chappell added Nike's new Vapor Pro irons at The Deutsche Bank Championship but noticed there was too big of a distance gap between his Vapor Pro Combo 3-iron and Vapor Pro 4-iron. Working with Nike Tour reps, Chappell was able to close the gap by switching to a Vapor Pro Combo 4-iron. ... Players in the field were given the opportunity to duplicate Arnold Palmer's tee shot during the 1960 U.S. Open by hitting a persimmon driver off the first tee at Cherry Hills.