The week of THE PLAYERS Championship is an unlikely place to make a major equipment change, but that didn't stop Louis Oosthuizen from overhauling his iron setup at TPC Sawgrass.
The former major winner hit all 18 greens in regulation on Friday and finished the week T8 in greens in regulation (73.61 percent) with a set of yet-to-be-released iBlade prototypes (3-PW) that likely have the same look and design as the retail version.
The release of iBlade marks the first time in two-plus years that PING has debuted a better player iron on TOUR. Very little is known about the iron — PING wouldn't comment on the design — but judging from the compact head, thin top line and minimal offset, it's geared for the low- to mid-handicapper.
One piece of technology that is visible in the small cavity is a Custom Tuning Port that distributes weight to the perimeter, improving forgiveness and feel. The CTP has been a staple of past PING iron introductions, including S55.
Even though he stuck with PING's S55, Bubba Watson also gave iBlade a test run during early week practice sessions. Watson's custom set (3-PW) had pink paint fill and "Bubba" stamped on the back of each head.
Rose's "Day mallet": The amount of success a player has with a particular club or shaft can dictate its level of popularity on TOUR. The latest example is the TaylorMade Spider Limited Red mallet Jason Day used to win THE PLAYERS Championship.
Justin Rose took notice of Day's success on the greens and added a Spider Limited of his own after testing four different putters early in the week. But instead of going with Day's red version, Rose went with a darker finish on the mallet.
According to TaylorMade Tour reps, Rose liked the feel of the lightweight aluminum body backed with a heavier stainless steel frame that improved stability and forgiveness.
Prior to THE PLAYERS Champions, Rose had been using TaylorMade's Arc1 — a mallet with similar high-MOI properties to the Spider Limited he carried at TPC Sawgrass en route to a T19 finish. Rose gained more than two strokes on the field with the new flat stick during the final round.
DJ gives The Brick a try: Following a third-round 77, Dustin Johnson made a putter change on Sunday, shelving his 340-gram Scotty Cameron 009 for an Edel's The Brick. Johnson went on to shoot 68 — his best round of the week — with the new putter but still posted a negative strokes gained-putting number (minus 0.087) on the greens.
Johnson was spotted testing the 35-inch putter on Tuesday that features a 21-gram weight in the heel, and a non-tapered grip (round) that promotes constant grip pressure and less face rotation during the stroke.
Made popular by Bryson DeChambeau, The Brick design centers around the company's torque balanced technology that reduces head twisting during the stroke. Edel removed weight from the toe and added it to the heel through an interchangeable weight that makes it possible to increase or decrease head weight depending on personal preference and green speeds.
Spieth's new driving iron: Making his first start in more than a month, Jordan Spieth made one change his equipment, replacing his Titleist 712U 3-iron driving iron with the company's 716 T-MB. While the head design is significantly different, Spieth opted to stick with the same Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 105 graphite shaft.
Titleist's 716 T-MB long irons have been a popular option for TOUR players since they debuted at the 2015 Quicken Loans National. The multi-material iron features a 431 stainless steel body, high-strength, unsupported Thin Fast Face and more than 80 grams of high-density tungsten in the heel and toe that boosts forgiveness.
Day dials in 3-wood: After testing multiple TaylorMade M2 3-woods over the last month, Jason Day finally found one that met his requirements. Day used a 17-degree M2 that was bent to 15.5 degrees at the Zurich Classic but had TaylorMade Tour reps add an additional degree of loft to the head at TPC Sawagrass, bringing it to an actual loft of 16.5 degrees.
The club allowed Day to carry the ball 285 yards off the tee with an additional 10-15 yards of roll out. It also solved the distance gapping dilemma from the fairway, filling the 265-yard gap (275 yards in total) Day struggled to find with his previous M2 fairway wood.
Notes: Rory McIlroy put the course-dependent Nike Vapor Fly Pro 2-iron back in play. ... Hideki Matsuyama was spotted using a center-shafted Scotty Cameron Kombi with a Flat Cat putter grip for the first two rounds. He returned to his trusty Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS for the final 36 holes. ... Mitsubishi Rayon unveiled a high balance point Tensei CK Series Orange prototype shaft. ... McIlroy became the first Nike athlete to wear the Zoom Air 90 IT golf shoe in competition. ... Sean O'Hair requested a set of TaylorMade Tour Preferred MB irons with a "double bend" offset to to move the perception of the face closing too early and looking closed at address. The double bend allows him to release the club instead of holding on through impact.