Tiger Woods' driver change at Bridgestone added distance but not accuracy

Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods after a tee shot in the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Through the years, Tiger Woods' ability to drive it in the fairway has been an obvious shortcoming. He hasn't cracked the PGA Tour's top 50 in driving accuracy in any season and failed to finish within the top 100 in that category 11 times. During his 14 major victories, he led the field in driving accuracy only once: at the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool GC, where Woods famously hit only one driver.

Though he hadn't played enough rounds this year to be ranked officially in the PGA Tour's ShotLink database for driving accuracy, Woods' 56.7% clip off the tee through the Open Championship placed him 160th on Tour. Clearly searching for answers ahead of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and more importantly the PGA Championship, Woods swapped his Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour for last year's VRS Covert Tour model prior to playing Firestone.

Switching to an older driver isn't rare (especially one that's only a year old), but what makes Tiger's switch notable is the shaft change. His usual gamer (the VRS Covert 2.0 Tour) has a 93-gram, X-flex Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana Blue Board shaft while the VRS Covert Tour he used at Firestone has a 73-gram, X-flex Diamana White Board. Both models have 9.5-degrees loft.

Woods mentioned during his post-round press conference last Friday that he'd started hitting drivers on June 18, just a week before playing in the Quicken Loans National event and only a month before the Open Championship. His switch last week to the lighter driver was because he lacked his "usual explosiveness." However, the VRS Covert Tour with the 73-gram Diamana White Board (designed to produce lower launch and spin rates than the Blue Board) didn't appear to help. He hit 18 of 42 fairways (43%) through the first three rounds, before reinjuring his back on Sunday. Still, he picked up significant distance at Firestone-he averaged 320.5 yards for the week as compared to 295 for the year.

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