Putting like a younger man
Aside from adding a new set of irons in the Bahamas, Tony Finau tinkered with the loft on his Piretti Elite putter following the first round of the Hero World Challenge. While warming up on Friday, Finau was spotted with three different putters resting against his staff bag.
Finau offered insight into the impromptu practice session, which resulted in him adding two degrees of loft to the putter head.
“It’s been a while,” Finau said, when asked to recall the last time he had that much loft on a putter. “Junior golf I had a lot of forward shaft lean when I putted and it was just something that I wanted to address for a little bit, just was never able to commit to it.
“I putted pretty bad on Thursday and I figured it doesn’t get any worse than that, let’s try something else. So I had my guy bring me a putter with some extra loft on it, tried it and it felt good, so I went with it.”
With Finau adding additional forward shaft lean, the overall dynamic loft would be altered, driving the ball into the ground at impact. Adding additional loft made it possible for Finau to maintain a true roll and go back to a stroke that worked well in the past.
And if you’re wondering how Finau magically found three different Piretti putters to test prior to the second round — he didn’t have them hanging in his locker. According to Piretti Tour rep Michael Johnson, he received a call from Finau after Thursday’s round and booked a flight shortly thereafter so he could hand deliver the putters. Johnson landed in the Bahamas at 9:30 a.m. on Friday and made it to the course 30 minutes before Finau’s second-round tee time. Talk about dedication to the job.
Finau and Watson have a ‘Blueprint’
Ever since Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen released photos of PING’s Blueprint prototype irons on social media — Oosthuizen played them that same week — gearheads have been efforting for more information on the equipment manufacturer’s forged muscleback iron.
The club remains a Tour-only offering, but the list of Blueprint converts continued to grow in the Bahamas, as Tony Finau and Bubba Watson used the no-cut event to break in sets for the very first time.
Finau finished runner-up with the irons and offered very few details on the recent switch — outside of confirming the official name stamped on the head.
— Jonathan Wall (@jonathanrwall) October 4, 2018
With PING preparing to launch its 2019 lineup in January, it’s possible we could see a retail version of Blueprint at some point in the near future. The best bet is likely at some point during the midway point of next year, which is around the same time the better player iBlade was unveiled in 2016. As PING begins to ramp up Blueprint testing, it’s possible more feedback is desired before the final version is given the green light.
Bubba Watson changes drivers, adds spin
The allure of PING’s G400 LST has always been the low-spin characteristics that lend itself to more distance and a penetrating ball flight. In Bubba Watson’s case, the low-spin LST version was a viable weapon in the bag, playing a role in both of his wins last season on Tour.
But every so often, Watson would not the ball dropping out of the air due to a lack of spin. For someone who relies heavily on shaping the ball, Watson felt a change was needed, which is why he opted for the standard G400 version.
— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) November 28, 2018
According to PING Tour rep Christian Pena, Watson was averaging an additional 200-300 RPMs of spin with the standard head, thereby allowing him to shape shots and pick up additional carry distance, due to the ball staying in the air slightly longer than normal.
Watson’s driver was built at 44.5 inches with 7.5 degrees of actual loft and his usual Grafalloy Bi-Matrix X shaft (tipped a half-inch).
Nothing to see here
The sight of Patrick Reed with a 57-degree Mizuno T7 lob wedge led many to wonder if the reigning Masters champion would be making a move during the winter break. In actuality, the wedge wasn’t a new addition to his bag, dousing the Reed-Mizuno rumors that were floating around.
Mizuno recently signed Chris Kirk to a staff deal, but given Reed’s current valuation, it’s difficult to see the equipment manufacturer springing for one of the biggest free agents on the market with key names continuing to play their equipment without compensation.
In other equipment equipment rumor news, Justin Rose arrived at the event with his usual TaylorMade setup, squashing rumors that he could have Honma equipment in the bag for the first time. With Rose’s deal running through the end of the year, don’t expect to see him with new gear until the calendar turns to January.
Woodland bags prototypes
Gary Woodland surprised some folks in the equipment industry when he arrived in the Bahamas with a set of unreleased Wilson Staff prototype irons and the company’s FG Tour V4 driving iron (2-iron). An equipment free agent since 2016, Woodland spent the last two weeks working with the irons before breaking them in at the Hero World Challenge.
— Jonathan Wall (@jonathanrwall) November 30, 2018
Woodland said he received the irons a few weeks ago and was merely playing them because they had a look and feel that appealed to him. He also confirmed an equipment agreement with Wilson had not yet been made, and that he was merely putting the clubs through the paces.
A Wilson spokesperson said Woodland “expressed interest in a new blade and we are happy to supply product for him, or any other Tour player, for their personal testing and evaluation.”