December 17, 2021
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- Tiger Woods holding his TaylorMade Stealth Plus driver during Friday's PNC Championship pro-am. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)
The PNC Championship may be a warm-hearted exhibition that highlights the familial bond, but Tiger Woods isn’t just using the event as an opportunity to play alongside his son.
He’s also testing equipment during this 36-hole scramble at Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Florida. Woods announced earlier this week on Twitter that he’ll be using a prototype Bridgestone ball this weekend. When he showed up Friday for the PNC’s pro-am, he also was seen using TaylorMade’s Stealth Plus driver. The USGA and R&A added the Stealth and Stealth Plus drivers to their lists of conforming heads just days ago, opening the door for the clubs to be used in competition.
Based on in-hand photos of Woods' new driver, it looks like the 9-degree Stealth Plus head is set 1.5 degrees open, which gives the club an effective loft of 8.25 degrees (opening the face decreases the loft). The club's sliding weight port is also moved slightly toward the draw setting.
“First of all, they have moved the (center of gravity) more forward so I'm able to curve the ball more, and you guys all know that I've always been a player that has worked the golf ball,” Woods said Friday. “It’s given me the ability to hit draws and hit cuts.
“I didn't like having just only one shot. The driver setup that we had for Augusta allowed me to draw the golf ball. But when I hit the cut, it was really short. I don't have that difference anymore. They are very similar, which is huge.
“And hey, got to love the colors,” Woods added about the red-and-black head.
Woods may have said at the Hero World Challenge that his future is as a part-time player, but the fact that he’s testing equipment seems to imply that he’s preparing to play more than just exhibitions.
“It’s about right. Right on par,” Justin Thomas said with a laugh when asked what Woods’ testing this week reveals about his obsession with the game. It should be noted that Justin’s father Mike played recently with Woods and was surprised by how hard he was swinging.
“He’s got some speed,” Mike Thomas said. “He’s got some length.”
The Stealth and Stealth Plus have the word ‘carbonwood’ printed on the sole. The face is listed as ‘60X Carbon Twist Face’ on the USGA’s List of Conforming Driver Heads. Carbon-composite materials are often used in driver designs to remove weight from the head, especially in the sole and crown, and reposition it elsewhere to impact spin, launch and stability.
Companies have shied away from using the material in the driver’s face, however, after attempts in the early 2000s failed to gain traction. Titanium is still the material of choice for driver faces, but TaylorMade appears to have solved the issues that plagued past carbon-composite faces.
The aerodynamic soles of the Stealth and Stealth Plus drivers are similar to TaylorMade’s SIM line, including a speed pocket behind the face. The Stealth Plus also features a sliding weight track on the bottom of the head to alter shot shape.