NEWS FROM THE TOUR VANS
BROUGHT TO YOU BY GOLF PRIDE, THE #1 GRIP ON TOUR
It was the 1949 U.S. Open at Medinah Country Club when more players chose to play a Titleist golf ball than any other brand. With 20 percent of the field teeing up a Titleist, the event marked the first U.S. Open in which Titleist won the golf ball count.
In every U.S. Open for the ensuing 74 years, Titleist has remained the top golf ball choice for competitors. Last week at Los Angeles Country Club, 106 of the 156 players tabbed a Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x, more than five times the amount of the nearest competitor (21). Titleist was also the No. 1 ball (77 percent) among the more than 850 amateurs and professionals who teed it up in a U.S. Open final qualifier.
“Anytime you can make a piece of equipment that can be the best for that amount of time is pretty cool,” Tony Finau said. “I’ve played Titleist pretty much most of my life. I grew up playing Pro V1 golf balls when you came out with the very first one. The longevity tells you that the best players are playing it, and I’m just happy to be a part of that group.”
And arguably the biggest equipment storyline of the week also involved Titleist. After a stretch of poor putting, Scottie Scheffler switched from his Scotty Cameron Newport 2 to a Plus model of the same flatstick. It offers a similar shape but a wider flange designed to provide better alignment and a higher MOI for forgiveness.
“I don't ever take decisions on switching equipment lightly,” Scheffler said Tuesday before the tournament. “I think it's strange that I've been struggling the past few weeks with my putter … I mean, sometimes you’ve just got to bring another putter around there to make the original one scared.”
Scheffler came into the week ranked No. 1 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained total, tee-to-green, off-the-tee and approach – but was No. 148 in putting. The situation reached a boiling point at the Memorial when Scheffler obliterated the field in strokes gained tee-to-green (gaining 5.17 strokes against the field per day) but finished last in strokes gained putting among players to make the cut (losing 2.13 strokes against the field per day). Despite finishing one stroke short of a playoff won by Viktor Hovland, Scheffler knew it was time to try something new.
He had been working with the new putter at home for two weeks before getting it in play last week. Scheffler said that he used this shape of putter when he won the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur and during a run in the U.S. Amateur while he was attending the University of Texas.
Scheffler was peppered with questions about his putting struggles, and he took an uncharacteristically defensive approach when discussing his performance on the greens, often pushing back when media suggested his putting has been a problem.
“Thank you for not realizing that I switched putters,” Scheffler said in response to a reporter. “I feel like people are just asking me tons of questions about my putter, so thank you.
“(The new putter) is just something that was kind of an older look for me and something that just looked slightly different. Maybe it looked a little bit bigger (alignment) line, would feel more forgiving or something like that, just a slightly different look, and I feel like I’m rolling it nice this week.”
The wand change paid off immediately as he gained 1.47 strokes against the field in round one. The Texan gave a favorable review to his putting as he finished in the positive for the week, but it wasn’t the only equipment maneuver that he made in Los Angeles.
Scheffler was seen tossing his driver to the side during a Friday evening range session. He had to go to his backup after his original TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus was damaged.
“Yeah, (the clubface) flattened or something,” Scheffler said of his original gamer. “I kept hitting it left, and I grabbed my backup and I (was) just hitting it really straight. Then I grabbed my gamer, and it just started going dead left. And then I grabbed the backup, and it started going straight. And then I just tossed (the gamer) away.”