NEWS FROM THE TOUR VANS
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After winning 13 times around the world from 2013-17, Hideki Matsuyama has been conspicuous by his silence in the past three years.
One glaring reason for that is Matsuyama’s horrid putting performance. This season on the PGA Tour, he ranks second in strokes gained tee-to-green – true superstar territory given how reliant power has become in the game – but is No. 178 in strokes gained putting. He spent a good deal of the year ranked worse than that, often giving away multiple shots per round on the green.
That changed for Matsuyama at the PGA Championship, Northern Trust and BMW Championship. He’s recently been using an LA Golf TP135 shaft in his Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter, the same shaft Kevin Na uses in his Odyssey Toulon Madison. Matsuyama put the new shaft into one of his backup Camerons but then felt comfortable enough to promote that version to his gamer.
Matsuyama also has swapped drivers, going for a Srixon ZX5 in place of his TaylorMade SIM Max. He started his pro career with a 9.5-degree Srixon ZR-30 driver before switching to Callaway and, eventually, TaylorMade.
Also in the mode of tinkering with equipment late in the season: Rory McIlroy briefly used a custom milled TaylorMade TP Soto putter at the BMW Championship before going back to his TaylorMade Spider X. All it took was one short miss to convince him that the experiment wasn’t working.
“It wasn’t a yip, but it was ... just not a good stroke,” McIlroy said. “And sometimes with the blade I get a little indecisive or a little unsure of my aim. At the last minute (I’m thinking), ‘Don’t miss it right.’ And then you put the right hand into it.”
Like Matsuyama, McIlroy also has been looking for a boost off the tee. He struggled mightily at the Northern Trust and then went back home to Florida early in the week to test new shafts. McIlroy settled on a TaylorMade SIM with a new Mitsubishi Tensei AV Raw Orange 75TX shaft (tipped 1-inch).
Normally pros do everything they can to reduce spin, but McIlroy was looking for more spin with the new shaft so he could gain accuracy. That could be a critical move aimed at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot later this month.
Also in driver news, this week PGA Tour and European Tour players get their first chance to put new
Titleist TSi drivers into competition. It is the start of
the tour seeding and validation process by the company to ensure the new drivers
meet players’ standards.
Titleist has been the most
played driver on the PGA Tour for two seasons running.