September 29, 2014
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- Rory McIlroy used a 460cc driver at the Ryder Cup that features a pear-shaped profile like his VRS Covert 2.0 Tour driver. (Wall/PGA TOUR)
Rory McIlroy turned heads at the Ryder Cup when he arrived at Gleneagles with a Nike Vapor Pro driver in the bag. Given McIlroy's success this season with Nike's VRS Covert 2.0 driver, some speculated that pulling one of the most consistent clubs from his bag at the biennial matches was an incredibly risky move.
What few realized at the time was that McIlroy had actually been working with the new driver since June — McIlroy reportedly saw 8 yards of additional carry with Vapor Pro — and felt comfortable enough with the club's performance to put it in play for the first time.
"This is a driver that I’ve actually been using and practicing with since June,” said McIlroy. “I wouldn’t be putting it in the bag if I didn’t feel it was better. But I think everyone saw yesterday, it was the only driver I had out there in the bag."
Following the driver swap, McIlroy went on to win three points for the victorious European side, including a decisive 5-and-4 rout over Rickie Fowler during Sunday singles.
McIlroy played a major role in the design process of Vapor Pro — a 460cc driver that features a pear-shaped profile like his VRS Covert 2.0 Tour driver. Aside from the head shape feedback, McIlroy wanted add more stability and speed to Vapor Pro.
To achieve the combination the four-time major was looking for, Nike engineers blended two key technologies — Nike's FlyBeam reinforced Covert Cavity Back design, and a re-engineered Compression Channel — from recent driver offerings to generate increased ball speeds and stability.
The variable-profile Compression Channel on Vapor Pro was last seen on Nike's VR Pro driver lineup a few years ago. The channel on the sole of the driver improves the spring-like effect across the entire face, especially on off-center hits.
The re-designed Compression Channel was positioned closer to the leading edge and is wider in the heel and toe to improve forgiveness and generate higher ball speeds on shots that don't hit the center of the face.
The Covert Cavity design was improved with the addition of two silver FlyBeams — Covert 2.0 had a similar technology called "Fly-Brace" — that tie the sole and the crown together, making the rear portion of the club head more stable.
Together, the Compression Channel and FlyBeam Technology work together to store impact energy in the channel and face for increased ball speeds and distance.
“To elevate performance, we added FlyBeam technology to the Covert Cavity Back to focus energy into the variable-profile Compression Channel and NexCOR face,” said Nate Radcliffe, Nike's director of engineering. “This is the first time we have created a driver where the face and channel are measurably more flexible than the body.”
The channel and cavity back of Vapor Pro were designed in an eye-catching volt green — the same color that was used in Nike's Vapor irons.
Nike also re-design its FlexLoft system. FlexLoft 2 is five grams (30 percent) lighter that its predecessor, which allowed engineers to redistribute discretionary weight for additional stability, better launch conditions and faster swing speeds. The loft system has five loft options (8.5 to 12.5 degrees) and three face angles within 15 different settings.
Although the FlexLoft has been improved, Nike said golfers will still be able to use shafts with the original FlexLoft adapter that worked in Nike’s VR_S Covert and VRS Covert 2.0 drivers.
Nike's Vapor Pro driver will be available Jan. 30, 2015 for $400 and comes standard with Mitsubishi Rayon's Diamana S+ Blue Board 60 shaft.
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