One of the keys to Phil Mickelson's success on links-style courses over the last 12 years has been his ability to flight the ball low off the tee and allow the firm turf to release the ball down the fairway.
Mickelson typically uses a utility iron to execute the shot, but this year he decided to go with a throwback, replacing the hollow-body iron with a Callaway RAZR X Forged 2-iron.
Compared to Mickelson's Callaway Apex Utility, the older model long iron lacks similar forgiveness in a more compact head with a thinner top line and sole. What ultimately sold Mickelson on the club was how easily he could get the ball on the ground and find the fairway.
"That 2-iron that I hit kind of this low shot that just kind of gets on the ground quickly is taking a lot of stress for me away from my tee shots," Mickelson said after the second round. "I feel like if I have to get one in the fairway, I've got a club and a shot that I could do fairly easily and consistently, and that has led to me playing well in the elements today and hopefully in the winds that we'll have tomorrow, being able to keep the ball down and get it the ground."
The traditional long iron has been made obsolete in recent years by more forgiving utility irons and game-improvement versions, but considering how well Mickelson played off the tee — he ranked 15th in fairways hit — there's still a place in the bag for the trusty 2-iron, especially when it comes to links-style layouts.
Schwartzel's instant success with PXG: Charl Schwartzel raised some eyebrows when he arrived at Royal Troon with nine PXG clubs in the bag. Following a nine-month stretch that saw the South African recorded three worldwide wins, Schwartzel announced he was departing Nike Golf midway through the season for PXG.
"It was just a mutual decision," Schwartzel said. "I was with Nike for nine years, for most of my career. I achieved a lot with them and very thankful for that. But it just came time for a change."
Schwartzel started testing PXG's clubs the Sunday before Open Championship week and had a full set by Tuesday. He ultimately decided to use a 0811X Prototype driver, 0311 3- and 5-irons, 0311T 6-PW and an 0311T 54-degree wedge.
"I didn't think it was going to come together this quickly," PXG founder and CEO Bob Parsons told PGATOUR.COM. "I knew there was a possibility that he could be playing our clubs and wearing our colors at The Open, but it was certainly quick and all came together."
Schwartzel wasted little time getting acclimated to his new equipment. He finished T18 for the week while ranking T16 in greens in regulation and T36 in fairways hits.
"I was very happy with the way the product looks and the way it felt and the way I could hit shots," Schwartzel said. "You know, it's just given me a little bit of freedom."
Mizuno's new wedge: The Open Championship has been the site of Mizuno's equipment unveilings in recent years. The 145th edition at Royal Troon was no different, as the company gave golfers a sneak peek at the yet-to-be-released T7 wedge.
Luke Donald immediately put the new wedge in play, replacing his 54- and 60-degree S5 wedges with the T7 model in a blue ion finish.
Mizuno wouldn't comment on the wedge, but based on photos in the company's golf forum, the replacement for S5 comes in two finishes (blue ion and white satin) and has "GF Forged 1025 Boron" stamped on the hosel.
The company's MP-25 cavity-back iron was recently designed using a Boron-infused 1025 carbon steel that's 30 percent stronger than standard carbon steel, allowing designers to create a significantly thinner face that improves ball speeds. It's unclear how the material composition benefits the wedge design.
Day tweaks lob wedge: World No. 1 Jason Day spent a good portion of his Open Championship tune-up working on the range with TrackMan to dial in his carry yardages. Instead of tinkering with his bag setup, the Aussie kept the changes to a minimum with the addition of a new TaylorMade ATV lob wedge that had more heel relief for the turf/sand interaction around Royal Troon.
DeChambeau's Cobra irons ready for Canada: Bryson DeChambeau wasn't in the Open Championship field, but that didn't stop him from grinding away at Cobra headquarters during the off week.
For the last four months — going back to when DeChambeau officially joined Cobra at the RBC Heritage — Cobra engineers and the former U.S. Amateur champion have been working tirelessly to come up with a set of single-length irons.
Initial prototype versions were made from the company's King Forged MB and CB models. The final version DeChambeau plans to us looks similar to the CB version with a cavity-back visible throughout the entire set.
Expecting to be there only a few days, DeChambeau ended up staying all week to fine-tune all aspects of the irons. When DeChambeau departed, he had a set of same-length prototype Cobra King irons that are expected to go in play at this week's RBC Canadian Open.