October 28, 2015
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- Rickie Fowler won THE PLAYERS with the new Matrix SpeedRuiz shaft. (Courtesy of Matrix)
LAS VEGAS — The beginning of Rickie Fowler's successful 2014-15 PGA TOUR season can be traced back to THE PLAYERS Championship, where the 26-year-old turned in the best finish in tournament history, closing with four birdies and an eagle in the final six holes for his first of three worldwide wins in a four-month stretch.
The defining shot of the tournament for Fowler came on the par-4 18th — a hole that's historically known as one of the toughest on TOUR. With water left and trees right, many players choose not to hit driver on the closing hole.
Fowler did, taking the most aggressive line over the water to set up a closing birdie — he averaged 324 yards off the tee on the hole, the longest average since the stat started being tracked in 2003 — that got him into a three-man playoff. He followed the drive up with a 336-yard poke during the playoff that was more than 50 yards longer than the field average.
"The drive on 18, I had been driving it well there all week," Fowler said. "That's the hardest driving hole out here by far it seems like. I really couldn't have hit one better, both in regulation and in the playoff."
What few people realized at the time was that Fowler had put a new Matrix prototype driver shaft in play the week prior at the then-WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship.
Matrix initially launched the shaft on TOUR as a prototype and saw Rickie Fowler and Fabian Gomez win with it during the 2014-15 TOUR season. Now the shaft is coming to retail under the name SpeedRulz.
Offered in three different EI profiles (Type-A, Type-B and Type-C), the new shafts all feature a new woven material in the upper portion of the shaft called Mangsa. The aerospace-grade material has an extremely high fiber (lower resin) content that maximizes feel and playability.
The material is strategically positioned within the three different profiles to augment the playability of the flight characteristics. In addition to altering flight characteristics, it also increases hoop strength without adding any additional weight, further stabilizing the product.
To improve the stability and feel of the tip section, Matrix also incorporated a new double bias ply wrap in the tip section that controls torque. As opposed to laying 45-degree angle plys — a common shaft design practice — to control torsional stiffness, the company utilized a double bias wrap design that takes two different layers of ply, angled at less than 45 degrees, that tighten the product without making it feel boardy.
The A-Type shaft is available in three weights (50, 60 and 70 grams) and has a stiffer tip and butt section with a softer midsection that offers a mid/high launch and spin profile that should cater to a large majority of players.
"Of the three profiles, [A-Type] is the one we will offer in the aftermarket in the lightest weight," said Matrix Shaft president Chris Elson. "It's designed for the meat of the bellcurve player that maybe wants a little bit more help with launch and spin."
B-Type is the counterbalanced model in the lineup, with a back-weighted, firmer butt section and a generous tip section for players that prefer to have more weight in the handle. The shaft has a mid launch and comes in 60 and 70 grams.
Then there's C-Type, also known as the current profile Rickie Fowler plays in his Cobra King Ltd. driver. The TOUR profile is geared players that want to reduce spin and prefer a low/mid launch.
While it has a completely different makeup than Black Tie, Elson said it's the one shaft in Matrix's lineup that would come close to mimicking Type-C on a launch monitor. The shaft will be available in three weights (60, 70 and 80 grams).
"This one is more of a spin killer," Elson said. "It's softer in the handle and feels a little bit more stout in the tip section. It's a really smooth and balanced profile throughout. This will launch and spin the lowest of the three."
All three shafts come with a unique finish that features a high gloss in the top half of the shaft, and a matte finish in the bottom half. The shaft will be offered with a matte black or red tip section.
Matrix expects to launch SpeedRulz at the beginning of 2016 with a retail price of $325 per shaft.