The TaylorMade Driving Relief for COVID-19 match marks the return of live golf with PGA Tour stars. With that, it’s also an opportunity to get a fresh look at what will be in the bags of the four participants: Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Matthew Wolff. DJ and Rory have been pegged as the favourites according to oddsmakers against the underdog duo, Fowler and Wolff, both former Oklahoma State golfers.
Though their gear has remained mostly unchanged since the last time they teed it up for real at the Players, there have been some switches, most notably Fowler’s new Cobra prototype MB irons. The downtime also afforded Golf Digest an opportunity to take a deeper, more detailed look into each player’s equipment. Let’s get started.
Ball: TaylorMade TP5 Pix 2.
Driver: Cobra King F9 Speedback, Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X), 10.5 degrees
3-wood: Cobra King Speedzone Tour (Aldila Rogue Black 70 TX), 14 degrees
Irons (4): Cobra F9 Speedback (Graphite Design Tour AD IZ Prototype 120x); (5): Cobra F9 Speedback (KBS C-Taper 125S+); (5-PW): Cobra Rickie Fowler Prototype MB (KBS C-Taper 125S+)
Wedges: Cobra King V Grind (True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 ), 52, 56, 60 degrees
Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2 GSS prototype
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Align for all full-swing clubs
Fowler’s bag is perhaps the most interesting of the group. Not only does he have new irons in the prototype MB, but they are copper-coloured and feature soft-stepped shafts (soft-stepping is changing the flex profile of a shaft by taking the shaft for one club and putting it in another, for example a 6-iron shaft in a 7-iron). The irons also have a parallel hosel so there is no offset. Stamped on the back of the club is RF on one side and REV 33 on the other, the number signifying the 33 revisions made to dial in the design to Rickie’s liking. The design was more than a year in the making. Rickie subbed out his 5-wood in favour of an additional 5-iron, meaning he’ll play one in the traditional Cobra F9 Speedback model and another as part of his prototype set.
Fowler’s Cobra King F9 Speedback driver also is a shorter-than-standard 43.5 inches in length, a move he made in 2017 that brought immediate benefits in terms of accuracy. The weights on the sole of the driver are set with the 14-gram weight in the front and 2-gram weight in the rear to bring down spin and he uses the adjustable hosel to bring the 10.5-degree head to an actual loft of 9 degrees. Fowler’s putter is a Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2 GSS prototype with a multimaterial shaft from LA Golf.
As for the ball, Fowler changed to TaylorMade’s TP5 at the start of 2019 and has often used the patterned Pix 2.0 version with the number 15 (for his love of Motocross). Upon making the change, Fowler told Golf Digest: “The cover and the dimples and the aerodynamics do a great job to where the ball doesn’t float in the wind. Into the wind or in windy conditions I want a golf ball that’s going to be strong and this definitely is.”
Ball: TaylorMade TP5
Driver: TaylorMade SIM (Mitsubishi KuroKage 70 XTS), 10.5 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM (Mitsubishi Tensei White 80 TX), 14 degrees
5-wood: TaylorMade SIM (Mitsubishi Tensei White 90 TX), 19 degrees
Irons (4): TaylorMade P760; (5-PW): TaylorMade P730 (all Project X 7.0 except PW, which is Project X 6.5)
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind 2 Raw (Project X 6.5); 52, 56, 60 degrees
Putter: TaylorMade Spider X
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet
Known as a superior driver of the ball, McIlroy ranks second in driving distance this season at an eye-catching 320.1 yards with his TaylorMade SIM driver with a Mitsubishi KuroKage 70 XTS shaft. As for the remainder of his setup, McIlroy is partial to his SIM 5-wood, but could opt to sub that out for either a SIM Max 19-degree hybrid with a Project X HZRDUS S 105 Black shaft or a P760 3-iron. His wedges include a low-bounce lob wedge and his pitching wedge shaft matches that of his other wedges instead of the rest of his irons for continuity on shorter approach shots.
Perhaps the biggest addition to his bag was with the shortest club: Since McIlroy put TaylorMade’s Spider X Copper putter in play, he has gone on a run of finishing in the top 10 in 20 of 24 events, with four wins including the 2019 Players. Last season McIlroy ranked 29th in strokes gained/putting compared to 97th the season before. His putter features a straight, stepless black shaft.
McIlroy’s ball is TaylorMade’s TP5 with the number 22, which McIlroy told Golf Digest has a dual meaning. “I got married on April 22,” he said. “Also, I looked up the meaning of numbers and the number 22 means powerful and high risk, high reward. That’s sort of everything I am on the golf course, so I thought that was appropriate.”McIlroy’s grips are Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet with two wraps of tape under the left hand and three wraps under where McIlroy places his right hand.
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Driver: TaylorMade SIM Max (Fujikura Speeder 661), 10.5 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Max (Project X HZRDUS Black 95), 16 degrees
Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max (Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black 100), 19 degrees
Irons (3): TaylorMade P790; (4-PW): TaylorMade P730, True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 for all
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind 2 (KBS Tour Black); 52, 56, 60 degrees
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Mini
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet
Johnson put the company’s new SIM Max driver and 3-wood in play at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, but perhaps the bigger change for Johnson that week was the addition of a 19-degree SIM Max hybrid.
“I never thought that would happen,” Johnson said at the Sentry. “I hit it quite nicely. … My first couple of years on tour I played a rescue club a little bit, kind of switched back and forth between a rescue and a 2-iron.”Johnson also will have TaylorMade’s Spider Tour Mini putter in the bag at Seminole. Johnson first put the slimmed-down version of the Spider Tour in then bag at the 2018 Players. “I always liked putting with a blade, I putted with one forever,” Johnson said at that event. “But I’ve been using the Spider for the last year or so and this was kind of in between.”
Ball: TaylorMade TP5
Driver: TaylorMade SIM (Graphite Design TP 7TX), 9 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM (Graphite Design XC 8TX), 15 degrees
Irons (3-PW): TaylorMade P750 (Nippon Modus 130X)
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind 2 (True Temper Dynamic Gold X100); 50, 56, 60 degrees|
Putter: TaylorMade Spider X
Grips: Golf Pride Z
One of the reasons Wolff opted to sign with TaylorMade out of college is that he didn’t want to have to make big changes to his bag. That included the P750 irons. “I’ve used those since my senior year of high school,” Wolff told Golf Digest. “I’ve had them for about three years and they just work very well for me. The lofts are standard and the lie angles are 1-degree flat, but another thing that’s a little different is my clubs are about a half-inch shorter than standard through the bag. I’ve done that for a long time and it just feels comfortable to me.”
Comfort also explains why his 9-degree TaylorMade SIM driver is actually closer to 8 degrees, using the adjustable hosel to make that tweak, which takes down spin and allows Wolff to hit his preferred cut when he wants to. His TaylorMade Spider X putter is another club likely not going anywhere in the near future.
“It’s tough to move away from clubs you’ve been successful with,” said Wolff, who used the putter in winning the 3M Championship last year.
Wolff also switched from the Titleist Pro V1x to TaylorMade’s TP5 with the number 21 on it, the number signifying the 21-under par total he won with at the 2019 3M Championship.