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    The gear switch that was key to Collin Morikawa’s Open win

  • Collin Morikawa will look to defend his Open title at St. Andrews. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)Collin Morikawa will look to defend his Open title at St. Andrews. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

At last year’s Open Championship, Collin Morikawa showed an ability to quickly adapt to new conditions. His victory at Royal St. George’s made him just the fifth man since World War II to win in his Open debut.

His success on the links wasn’t exactly immediate, however. Playing in the Genesis Scottish Open the week prior proved to be a valuable learning experience about how to handle the firmer turf of the U.K.’s seaside courses and led to an equipment change that was crucial to his second major title.

“I seriously owe everything to (last year’s Genesis Scottish Open),” Morikawa said from this year’s event. “My game felt as good as it had the entire year. I came over here and it was a little windy, but nothing crazy, and I was hitting 9-irons to edges of the greens, and it just wasn't acceptable. … I just couldn't hit the ball in the center of the face. Without this extra week of prep here at Renaissance and playing here at the Scottish Open, I would never have thought about changing irons. So if I had just shown up to The Open Championship last year, it probably just would have been a repeat of what I saw … during this event.”

Following his T71 finish at Renaissance Club, Morikawa changed into a new model of short irons that were better suited for him on the firm turf of links courses

Morikawa typically uses a combo iron set, consisting of a P770 4-iron, the cavity-back P7MC’s for his mid-irons (5 and 6), and P730 blades for his short irons (7-9). Since the P730 short irons have a slightly different sole geometry than the P-7MC irons, however, the blades weren’t optimal for his swing on the links.

"I changed my irons, my 9- through 7-iron that I normally have blades in,” Morikawa said after his second-round 64 at Royal St. George’s in 2021. "I changed to the (P7MC’s) strictly because I couldn’t find the center of the face. Those are three crucial clubs that are some of my favorite clubs. My 8-iron is my favorite club in the bag, and when I wasn’t able to hit it (well) last week, I knew I had to try something different.”

TaylorMade’s Adrian Rietveld, who helped him with the change, described Morikawa as “that type of guy that nothing is going to change unless there’s an out-and-out reason to change.” There was at last year’s Open.

“The sound off the P730 was not Collin-like,” Rietveld said. “It’s unique to say this, but it was just fractionally different to what I’m hearing. Then he goes into the P7MC’s and you can hear the strike come back.”

The higher spin of the P7MC’s also aided Morikawa’s distance control, Rietveld said.

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Collin Morikawa's TaylorMade P7MC's. (Courtesy of GolfWRX)

The P-730 models have slightly higher bounce in the sole compared to the P7MC irons. By switching to the P7MC irons for last year’s Open Championship, Morikawa was able to clean up his turf interaction and regain his usual precision with his short irons.

Morikawa is using the same methodology again this year for his title defense.

“I’m doing the same thing as last year,” Morikawa told GolfWRX on Wednesday of the Genesis Scottish Open. “I’m changing those three short irons (to the TaylorMade P7MC’s).”

Throughout this year, Morikawa has used P730 short irons but he was back to the P7MC’s at the Scottish Open.

Compared to last year’s Open-winning setup, Morikawa has also upgraded to a new TaylorMade Stealth Plus driver, a TaylorMade Stealth Plus fairway wood, and he’s changed from a blade-style TaylorMade TP Juno putter into a mallet-style TaylorMade Spider GT Rollback for better speed control.

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Collin Morikawa's mixed iron setup. (Courtesy of GolfWRX)