Equipment Report

    Rory McIlroy's Stealth back in the bag at Brookline

  • Rory McIlroy used two 3-woods at the RBC Canadian Open. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)Rory McIlroy used two 3-woods at the RBC Canadian Open. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy’s win at last week’s RBC Canadian Open included a rare mid-tournament equipment switch. It was the latest edition of a battle between two 3-woods for a spot in his bag.

He started the RBC Canadian Open with TaylorMade’s SIM Ti 3-wood before switching to the new Stealth 3-wood over the weekend at St. George’s. The Stealth will remain in his bag at The Country Club, he told GolfWRX.com on Wednesday.

Since the Wells Fargo Championship in May, when McIlroy first switched into TaylorMade’s new Stealth fairway wood, he’s been switching back and forth between his old flame and his new one, carrying both options on a weekly basis.

“I (used) the SIM (in Canada), I just didn’t hit it much last week,” McIlroy told GolfWRX on Wednesday. “There was honestly no real need for a 3-wood last week, just with the yardage. …I actually have the Stealth this week. SIM is almost like a 2-wood. It’s very low spinning. It’s pretty hot. It’s always been a hot head. … I can get high 170 ball speed out of it and carry it over 300 yards. …There wasn’t really much opportunity to hit it last week. It was either lay way back with a 5-wood or an iron, or hit driver. But some weeks, like Memorial, where 310 yards is a really good distance off the tee; it’s good for weeks like that. And this week is a little similar to last week. It’s either you lay back quite a lot with a 5-wood, or you get it up there with a driver. So, there’s just no need for it.”

As a quick refresher, TaylorMade’s SIM Ti (Titanium) fairway woods hit retail in February 2020, and McIlroy has been using the 3-wood off and on ever since. The TaylorMade Stealth fairway woods, on the other hand, hit retail more recently in January 2022.

This is far from the usual ‘old versus new’ dilemma, though. McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open Champion, switches between the options because he uses them for different purposes, and they fly different distances. Based on course setup and his plan of attack come competition time on Thursday each week, he must choose between the two options, since there’s only room for one in his 14-club setup. He travels with both clubs to keep his options open.

“The Stealth, I carry 285 to 290. It’s a little weaker, a little spinnier, sort of more just to get it in play,” McIlroy told GolfWRX.com on Wednesday. “The SIM is a little hotter, a little lower spin, sort of get it out there a little more. … (The Stealth is) a little more workable. A little more spin. A little more in control. That SIM 3-wood I spin it at like 2,600-2,700 rpm. It’s like a mini driver.”

McIlroy first switched into a new TaylorMade Stealth Plus 3-wood at THE PLAYERS Championship, according to TaylorMade, then he switched back into the older TaylorMade SIM for the Valero Texas Open and the Masters. With some time off in between the Masters and the Wells Fargo Championship, McIlroy conducted testing at home between the Stealth Plus (175cc size), Stealth (190cc) and SIM 3-wood models. Based on that testing session, McIlroy concluded that he preferred the higher spin rates of the larger-sized Stealth model versus the Stealth Plus he used initially.

Since that testing session at home, McIlroy has used the Stealth model as his higher spinning 3-wood option, and the SIM as his lower spinning option. After using the Stealth 3-wood at the Wells Fargo Championship, he continued using the Stealth at the PGA Championship, and then he switched back into the SIM for the Memorial Tournament and the RBC Canadian Open. At this week’s U.S. Open, McIlroy has returned to the Stealth 3-wood. 

According to a TaylorMade representative, although both of McIlroy’s 3-woods have “15 degrees” listed on their heads, McIlroy’s SIM Ti 3-wood measures out at 13 degrees of loft, whereas his Stealth has 13.75 degrees of actual loft.

While most of the focus has been on McIlroy’s 3-woods, McIlroy said it’s his TaylorMade Stealth Plus 5-wood that will get the most use among his fairway woods.

Rory McIlroy's TaylorMade Stealth Plus 5-wood. (Courtesy of GolfWRX)

“There’s a few opportunities to hit drivers here, but I think it’s just so important to get it in the fairway,” McIlroy told GolfWRX. “I can carry the 5 wood 270-275 in the air off the tee. With how fast these fairways are, it rolls out to 290 or whatever. …I’ll hit 3-wood maybe a couple times, but the 5-wood is probably just a better club for quite a few holes here.”

While McIlroy’s SIM Ti and Stealth 3-woods are busy battling it out for a place in the starting lineup, it seems the Stealth Plus 5-wood is really the one doing the hard work as he looks to win his second U.S. Open and fifth major.