NEWS FROM THE TOUR VANS
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After five years as an equipment free agent, Brooks Koepka signed a lucrative contract with Cleveland/Srixon near the end of last year. That contract has him playing the Srixon ZX7 driver and irons, Cleveland RTX ZipCore wedges and the Z-Star prototype ball – but Koepka did not show up to Brookline, Massachusetts, for the U.S. Open with all of those pieces in his bag.
The four-time major champion reverted to a TaylorMade M5 driver, the same club he used during his 2019 PGA Championship triumph. Koepka used previous iterations of the TaylorMade M Series drivers in his other three major victories. One part of his gear that stayed the same for all of his major wins was the Titleist Pro V1x ball, and that also reappeared at The Country Club in place of the Z-Star.
According to a Golf.com report, Koepka conferred with Justin Thomas about the new Pro V1x before the tournament. Their report also states that Cleveland/Srixon was aware of the situation coming into the week, stating that their driver and ball have not been “a perfect fit” for Koepka to this point. The brand also said their focus has now shifted to fitting Koepka into the next generation of the driver and ball, so it’s possible we will see him continue with the M5 and Pro V1x for the remainder of the year until the new line of Srixon equipment is available.
Given his sudden struggles off the tee, this isn’t a huge surprise. Koepka has been a consistent menace with the driver in his PGA Tour career, never finishing outside the top 30 in strokes gained off-the-tee over eight completed seasons. Last year was the best mark of his career as he ranked No. 7 in the stat while earning the No. 12 spot in driving distance (310.7 yards per drive). This year, he has plummeted to No. 75 in strokes gained off-the-tee despite averaging nearly the exact same distance. He also came into the week ranked No. 19 in the world — on the cusp of his worst ranking since before the 2017 U.S. Open when he first became a major winner. Koepka held the No. 1 spot from May 2019 to February 2020.
It’s been common for Koepka to be brand-agnostic when it comes to gear performance. He used a set of Mizuno JPX Tour irons for all of his major wins, despite Mizuno being an uncommon iron to find in a tour player’s bag. He had switched into Srixon irons early in 2021 and noted that was the easiest transition to make. The driver, it seems, has been tougher.
Koepka looked more like himself with the driver this past week, gaining 3.37 strokes off-the-tee. That was good for No. 11 in the field.
One other U.S. Open gear note: Phil Mickelson offered little insight into his relationship with Callaway, which was officially paused following his comments about LIV Golf and the Saudi government back in February. Mickelson did not appear overly concerned, and it seems unlikely there will be any meaningful updates in the near future.
“It's not high on my priority list right now, and that stuff will play out in time,” Mickelson said.