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TIGER AND PHIL PREP FOR THE MASTERS
Masters favorites perpetually include Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Both have been toying with equipment changes, gearing up for Augusta. Woods is playing Nike’s new Victory Red Forged Blade irons, claiming they feel identical to the irons he played last year. In fact, he uses the same loft, shafts and grips as he did in 2008. His new driver, the relatively small-headed 380cc Nike SQ Dymo, contains a Mitsubishi Diamana White Board shaft, same as in his previous driver. Meanwhile, Mickelson – who just won at Doral – switched back to the Callaway FT-9 driver, which he says he’s hitting further and more accurately than previous drivers. Just after he won the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles earlier this year, he decided to go back to his 2008 driver, a Callaway FT-5, for a brief period of time before jumping back to the FT-9. At Doral, he averaged 303.6 yards off the tee. In the FT-9, Mickelson’s playing a Mitsubishi Fubuki 73-gram graphite shaft. He also uses a Callaway Diablo fairway wood, Callaway X-Forged 3- and 4-irons, Callaway prototype 5-iron thru PW, Callaway X-Forged wedges (56, 60 and 64 degrees), an Odyssey White Hot XG 9 putter and Callaway Tour ix ball.
TaylorMade R9 Drivers
Golfers have really taken to drivers with adjustable weights, ever since TaylorMade introduced the concept in its line back in 2004. This year, TaylorMade’s expanded adjustability by unveiling its R9 driver with movable weights that can alter the center of gravity location, as well as a clubhead that can rotate into four pre-set positions around the shaft, allowing golfers to quickly and easily alter the clubface angle, lie angle and effective loft. The company claims that all of these alterations essentially give you 24 clubs in one that can affect right/left flight by up to 75 yards. The classic clubhead shape has some sharp edges. While most of today’s drivers bear a United States Golf Association-mandated maximum size of 460cc, the R9 ranges from 418cc for an 8.5-degree loft to 420cc (9.5) and 422cc (10.5). The company’s heft behind the clubface sweet spot – coined inverted cone technology – helps yield forgiveness on off-center hits. Impact feel is rock solid and you’ll definitely manipulate ball flight and trajectory as you toy with the club’s features.
Callaway Big Bertha Diablo Line
The Big Bertha Diablo is Callaway’s high-profile line of woods and balls for the masses in 2009. As if the shiny candy-apple red crown won’t turn enough heads, the performance of the clubs will. The titanium driver has a dropped rear crown, sounds similar to the FT-9, but feels slightly more metallic. It yields a nice, high flight and carry. Even low lofts carry high, and ball flight is incredibly consistent. The high-MOI, all-stainless steel Draw fairway woods are weighted and shaped to help steer the ball left – although a Neutral version is also available. Variable clubface thickness boosts ball speed and raises forgiveness across the face. Callaway’s renowned chevron on top helps define a swing path, especially when visually aligning with the crown’s ridges. Thus, set up is a breeze. Impact feels powerful, producing a penetrating, high trajectory that carries well into wind. The ball lands softly with ample bounce and distance. The smaller-headed Neutral version bears less-pronounced ridges on top than the Draw. As for the ball bearing this new name, the two-piece Big Bertha Diablo feels soft but travels far. Its soft ionomer cover with HEX Aerodynamics enhances the softness while providing a more penetrating flight.
HOT GEAR NEWS
Rory Sabbatini has been an equipment nomad the past few years. He played and endorsed Nike products for a while, left to play Adams’ clubs two years ago, tried Callaway earlier this season, and is now settling in with TaylorMade equipment. He was recently using a TaylorMade Burner driver (although he’s trying an R9, too), R9 3-wood, Tour Preferred irons and two rac wedges. He continues using Adams hybrids, an Odyssey putter and Callaway ball...Nickent Golf signed Jeff Quinney to a multi-year extension of his endorsement contract…ECCO debuted a new Comfort Tech Van that will serve as centerpiece to a nationwide initiative facilitating retailer training and enhancing consumer awareness of the brand's direct-injection technology. Appearing at Tour events, trunk shows, ECCO Days, promotions and demo days in 2009, the van’s exterior showcases images of staffer Aaron Baddeley and the new Ultra Performance shoe...FootJoy closed its long-time Classics manufacturing facility in Brockton, Mass…adidas Golf debuted the Tour360 Sport golf shoe with the 360WRAP support system that encircles the foot to deliver a customized fit while increasing stability and leverage. The shoe features a water-resistant TPU shield to protect the lower-half of the foot from outside elements and a lightweight and breathable air-mesh top-half. The company also introduced the Powerband 2.0 shoe that provides a solid platform and delivers power back into the ball at impact. Its new chassis adds stability during the load phase, promoting a quick and powerful move through impact and a full-finish swing. The outsole's lateral side has a sharper edge to prevent power leaks, while the medial side utilizes a rounded edge to allow for complete follow-through… Izzo Golf debuted the 5.5-pound SCOUT stand bag with a Dual Strap. The bag also sports Ionetix strips that employ a holistic technology using negative ion therapy and magnets which can help reduce stiffness in joints, lower stress levels and promote a feeling of well being… Cobra Golf’s 2009 King Cobra Baffler TWS steel utility metals incorporate a Triple Weighting System that provides high MOI and low CG, which yields a higher launch angle and forgiveness and consistency across the entire hitting area. The face area is also slightly larger than on past Bafflers, and houses a thin steel face insert…After experimenting with a belly-length version of his Yes! Golf Tracy putter, Retief Goosen is back to the standard-length version. Besides, he used the standard-length model to win two U.S. Opens. "You always seem to go back to the clubs you like and trust," says Goosen. "Maybe putting with that long putter helped me a little bit because my stroke felt very good. The last couple of years I have not been putting well. That's why I tried something new at the beginning of the year and it didn't work. I felt very comfortable going back to this putter and just changed it a little bit, put a little bit more loft on it and that seemed to help…Sometimes, when you are not making anything, you need to try something else, and you try it for a couple of weeks, and if that doesn't work, then you just go back to the old one.”