Tiger Woods stood on the tee of the par-3 16th tee at Augusta National with an 8-iron in his hands. Some could be forgiven if they felt a sense of deja vu as Woods tugged an 8-iron on the same hole in 2005 before making a miracle chip for birdie. But this wasn’t the same 8-iron. This time Woods was using a TaylorMade P7TW iron, and when he knocked it to kick-in distance, it gave him enough of a cushion to secure his fifth Masters title and one of the great comeback stories in sports history.
When Woods signed with TaylorMade in January 2017, no one was quite sure what Woods was going to bring to the company. There was talk of his value to the brand, more than as a player of product, although at the time it was mentioned he would be “expected to work with TaylorMade’s club engineers in the design and development of a ‘new, personalised iron model.” Now, some two-plus years and a second iteration later, those irons – the P7TW muscleback blades – have a Major championship to their credit.
The irons are traditionally shaped, muscleback blade irons with a focus on feel, not forgiveness or distance. To achieve that feel required the use of tungsten to produce, in his words, a deeper feel. “It wasn’t until we included tungsten in his irons that we got the final seal of approval from him,” said Matt Bovee, product manufacturing engineer for TaylorMade. The company just announced at the beginning of the week that the irons will begin selling at retail in May
Woods has used the same iron specs since he was a kid, telling Golf Digest in 2017 he only changed the lie angle at times when a swing change called for it. He’s also aware that alterations are easier to make today, recalling that during his early years as a pro he would need to go through eight or nine sets of irons and cherrypick clubs from each set to get the CGs to match.
Woods also is a stickler for sole design, and that’s where the P7TW’s primary difference lies. Instead of a standard forging that requires a fair amount of handwork, the soles of the P7TW are CNC milled – a process similar to the company’s Milled grind wedges – to remove any inconsistencies from a hand-grinding process.
“He demands perfection when it comes to the sole shape, and honestly, that’s what he used to have to do,” said Bovee. “He used to have to test eight or more irons per loft to figure out which one felt perfect, which one had the perfect sole geometry. That could be a thousand or more balls just to get the right clubs in his hands. He doesn’t want to have to do that now.”
Among the distinct aspects of the sole grind on the P7TW irons is a slightly flatter sole radius and slightly more bounce (depending on the loft) compared to typical designs. In addition, Bovee said the groove on the P7TW irons is narrower than typical designs, and there are more grooves on the face. The shafts are True Temper’s Dynamic Gold X-100 and the grips Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet cord. Woods led the Masters field in greens in regulation, hitting 57 of 72 – two more than anyone else in the field.
In addition to not being the same iron, it wasn’t the same ball, either, as Woods now uses Bridgestone’s Tour B XS model instead of one with a Nike swoosh. The XS is the spinnier version of the company’s tour-calibre spheres.
Woods also drove the ball well for the most part, using a 9-degree TaylorMade M5 with a Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 60TX shaft. The movable weights are both set in the rear split with one slightly towards the toe and one slightly towards the heel to boost forgiveness. The club boasts the company’s TwistFace technology where the upper toe is slightly more open and the low heel slightly more closed to assist shots hit off centre. It also boasts TaylorMade’s inject face technology where the face is designed beyond the legal springlike limit and then injected with a resin to bring it back to within conformance.
New company, new irons, new ball, new driver but slipping on the green jacket for his 15th Major meant for this week it was the same old Tiger.
What Tiger Woods had in the bag at the Masters
Ball: Bridgestone Tour B XS
Driver: TaylorMade M5 (Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 60TX), 9 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade M5, 15 degrees
5-wood: TaylorMade M3, 19 degrees
Irons (3-PW): TaylorMade P7TW
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (56, 60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2 Tiger prototype