BETHESDA, Md. — Titleist debuted its 917D2 and 917D3 prototype drivers this week at Quicken Loans National and saw 18 of the 28 players using one of the company's drivers put the new models in play.
The model count was split evenly between 917D2 (9) and 917D3 (9), with the most notable change coming from Justin Thomas, who moved from the low-spin 915D4 into a 917D2 (8.5 degrees) that has the same Mitsubishi Rayon Tensei CK “Blue” 70TX shaft as his old driver. Thomas had been using 915D4 since the 2014-15 season.
Other notable names using 917D include Bill Haas (917D2), Charley Hoffman (917D2) and Webb Simpson (917D3).
"I really felt like driving was one of my strengths this week," Webb Simpson said. "The new one is going a little further for me which is always nice. I wasn't sure if I was going to use it or wait but I had a great day with it on Wednesday and that gave me the confidence to put it in play."
Below is a complete list of who changed into the new models:
Blayne Barber (9.5 degrees)
Erik Compton (9.5 degrees)
Bill Haas (9.5 degrees)
Charley Hoffman (8.5 degrees)
Mark Hubbard (9.5 degrees)
Andrew Loupe (8.5 degrees)
Peter Malnati (8.5 degrees)
Justin Thomas (8.5 degrees)
Tyrone van Aswegen (9.5 degrees)
Ben An (8.5 degrees)
Brendon de Jonge (9.5 degrees)
Chesson Hadley (10.5 degrees)
Morgan Hoffmann (8.5 degrees)
Patton Kizzire (10.5 degrees)
Ben Martin (9.5 degrees)
Webb Simpson (10.5 degrees)
Cameron Smith (10.5 degrees)
Cameron Tringale (8.5 degrees)
There are a number of differences between 917 and its predecessor. The most noticeable is a SureFit CG cartridge that's featured prominently in the heel and toe of the sole, similar to what was recently introduced with the high-end C16 driver.
Assuming 917D has the same SureFit CG, it allows the center of gravity to be altered to produce a fade or draw, via a cylindrical cartridge that's inserted diagonally from the low-heel area and high-toe section to help with shot-shaping and spin characteristics.
Another new addition is a new high-gloss, metallic grey paint on the crown that appears to be a throwback to previous Titleist driver models like the 983K.
Hurley makes key putts with mallet: The highlight of Billy Hurley's final round was the chip-in on 15, but it was his putter that kept him ahead of the pack on the back nine. Hurley got up-and-down for par on 13, converting a 10-footer for par to stay one ahead. He then went on to roll in a 27 foot birdie putt three holes later on 16 that all but ended the tournament.
Hurley switched to TaylorMade's Spider Limited mallet at the AT&T Byron Nelson. The putter was launched earlier this year at the Northern Trust Open with a dark grey finish and two dark red rear ports.
Jason Day played a key role in the red color and design, and recently used an all-red version to win THE PLAYERS Championship.
The version Hurley had in the bag is similar to the Spider Limited available at retail. It comes with a milled gunmetal Pure Roll insert that encourages a better forward roll across the face, and a white alignment aid on the crown.
Els' putter keeps him in mix: Ernie Els' incredible turnaround since the Masters can be partly attributed to the success he's had with a milled SeeMore mFGP Deep Flange putter.
Els started using the putter over the last 36 holes at RBC Heritage and has stuck with it the last month. The putter is 35.5 inches with a 68 degree lie angle and a SuperStroke Flatso 1.0 grip.
It's closely related to the mFGP, the Tour FGP and the mFGP Tri Sole, which are all a part of SeeMore's milled line.
The putter features the company’s patented RifleScope Technology — also known as the hidden red dot. When the red dot, which is on top of the head, is “hidden” behind the shaft at address, a player knows he has the putter aligned.
Els ended the week second in strokes gained: putting, picking up more than three strokes on the field (3.230) during the final round.
Driver key for Singh: At 53, Vijay Singh is still keeping up with the young bombers on the PGA TOUR. Singh averaged 295.1 yards (T22) at Congressional with a PING G LS Tec driver he started working with after the Masters.
The driver has 9 degrees of loft with a Fujikura Motore Speeder VC6.2X shaft. Singh unleashed a 351-yard poke — his longest drive of the tournament — on the 18th that setup up a closing birdie and a second-place finish.
"You've got to drive the ball well and I drove it well all week," Singh said. "It's a tough golf course. You've got to drive the ball well and place your irons in the correct side of the holes and I was able to do that most of the time."
The club comes with PING's Turbulators on the crown that improve aerodynamic efficiency by significantly delaying airflow separation during the swing to improve clubhead speed.
A new addition is the Dragon Fly design that was inspired through research into the exoskeleton structure of dragon fly wings. The rib-like design on the crown allows for a thinner, more stable structure.
A Vortec port was also added in the rear of the head that mimics the wing design currently found on the back of an 18-wheeler, improving stability and reducing head drag.
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