Arnold Palmer would have been proud. Rory McIlroy’s final round Palmer-like charge of five birdies in the last six holes to shoot a 64 gave him a three-stroke margin over Bryson DeChambeau who made the closing holes of the Arnold Palmer Invitational exciting when he eagled the par-5 16th.
McIlroy was one of the players on the Nike Golf club endorsement staff when the company closed its club and ball division and after some time for testing the endorsement waters the 29-year old native of Northern Ireland chose to go with TaylorMade.
Of particular interest is his Black Copper finish TaylorMade TP Soto putter which McIlroy first put in the bag on Wednesday before the start of the API after a lesson the previous Sunday from Brad Faxon. The result was the win and only 100 putts in the four rounds. The Soto was first introduced in the fall of 2016 with a Tour Chrome finish and the Black Copper color Soto is coming to retail in April. It is a classic modern blade with short, rounded and soft edges and a single alignment line in the back cavity. The hosel has a scalloped shape which saves weight and is full offset entering the 345-gram head. The putter face has the popular Pure Roll insert which combines 45-degree grooves with a softer polymer for more topspin and insuring a quick transition to forward roll on most green surfaces.
The clubs McIlroy used for his first win on the Tour since the 2016 Tour Championship:
Driver: TaylorMade M3 (8.5 degrees) – Mitsubishi Tensei Orange 70X shaft
Fairway Woods: 15 degrees TaylorMade M3 – Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 80TX shaft; 19 degrees TaylorMade M3 – Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 80TX shaft
Irons: 4 iron TaylorMade P750 and 5 to 9 irons TaylorMade P730 RORS Proto – all with Project X 7.0 shafts
Wedges: 48, 52 & 58 degrees TaylorMade Milled Grind and 60 degrees TaylorMade Hi-Toe – all with Project X 6.0 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade TP Collection Soto – Black Copper finish
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
In Case Anyone Should Ask:
Counts at API: The same two manufacturers as usual dominated ball and driver counts at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week in Orlando. Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x balls were played by 76 of the 120-man field versus 18 playing either Callaway Chrome Soft or Chrome Soft X. TaylorMade Golf’s M3 or M4 drivers were in the bags of 44 competitors versus 28 carrying Callaway, 22 for Titleist and 15 for Ping. Vokey Design wedges from Titleist were tops in the approach-sand-lob category with 124 clubs. Reflecting their rising usage on Tour, Callaway took the iron and hybrid counts for at least this one week away from Titleist.
Tiger Factor: In case anyone doubts whether Tiger Woods can still draw fans, the Valspar Championship attendance was more than 30% higher than in 2017 and Woods didn’t even win, he finished in second. NBC and Golf Channel reported the viewership for the four days doubled over 2017 Sunday’s coverage and saw 15.4 million minutes streamed, +1060% vs. 2017. At this week’s API, attendance was an all-time high and Tiger managed a tie for fifth. Day one for the Golf Channel compared with last year was up 50% and day two up 153%. Saturday the Golf Channel and NBC were up 92% and Sunday’s final round up 135% plus streamed minutes counted almost seven times the number last year. From the standpoint of Bridgestone and TaylorMade, who are paying for Tiger’s endorsement of their balls and clubs respectively, it looks like they made a great investment.
Rogue Custom: Callaway’s Roguedriver now offers customization options like those for the Epic driver last year with two zones for color and nine color options making 81 possible combinations. To color your Rogue the price is $100 making a total of $600 for any of the three Rogue models: Standard, Sub Zero or Draw
Reed Adds Pro V1: Patrick Reed, known, for his enthusiasm playing for U.S. on the Ryder Cup team and nicknamed Captain America, has been resurgent this season after a less than spectacular 2017 campaign. At least in part he attributes his better play switching from the Callaway Chrome Soft to the Titleist Pro V1.
Color Me Yellow: Tiger Woods though not the only player paid to tee up the new Bridgestone Tour B ball gets the most visibility. Coincidentally with the numerous close ups of his ball as it rolled towards the cup prominently showing the company logo, Bridgestone has announced the Tour B X and Tour B XS are now available in yellow. They are available only online at Bridgestonegolf.com at the same price as the white, $44.99.
PXG Price Increase: PXG’s first irons sold at $300 each and their latest models bump that by one-third to $400. The Gen2 redesign is broken into four models: 0311 T for tour players, 0311 P for low handicap players, 0311 XF extreme forgiveness and 0311 SGI super game improvement. All offer the choice of chrome or black finish and are available through custom fitting session only.
Tommy Armour’s Back: One of Dick’s Sporting Goods’ inhouse brands carries the name Tommy Armour (they also own Top-flite) and Dick’s is relaunching the iconic brand with game improvement category woods and irons at lower prices than comparable clubs—the TA1 driver is $300. Tommy Armour clubs, named after the World Golf Hall of Fame player, were originally made in the 1970s and gained a large following in the middle 1980s after introduction of the 845 line of irons.
Equalizer Returns: Ben Hogan Golf has a new version of the iconic Equalizer wedges with lofts from 48 to 62 degrees (increments of 2 degrees) available for shipment in mid-April. Forged from 1025 carbon steel, the lower lofts have a center of mass higher in the head for flatter trajectory and higher lofts lower in the head for higher trajectory. Each makes use of Hogan’s Enhanced V-Sole design. Pricing is $100 each and they will only be available benhogangolf.com, shipment projected for mid to late April.