SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – It feels like just yesterday we watched the final putt drop on the 2012 PGA Tour season at the FedExCup TOUR Championship and yet, here we are again, a full month into a new Tour schedule around the world. January proved memorable as it did fast, what with the R1 driver winning three times in its first three weeks, starting with Dustin Johnson’s season-opening win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions before TaylorMade Tour Staffers Brian Gay (Humana Challenge) and John Cook (Mitsubishi Electric Championship, Champions Tour) doubled up with their respective victories wielding the new R1.
The success extends beyond the winner’s circle for new TaylorMade products on Tour, as the R1 has been the No. 1 driver model for three weeks and counting on the PGA Tour and more than a dozen of our professionals switching to the new Lethal golf ball. Earlier this month, we made another big statement in bringing the distance iron to Tour and already we’re seeing RocketBladez Tour irons change the way professionals think about iron design and performance. They, too, were winners at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Johnson’s bag at Kapalua and it seems every week, we’re seeing more players – from muscleback loyalists to cavityback players and a few in between – switch to RBladez Tour.
Finally, we haven’t been able to keep the RBZ Stage 2 fairways – up to 10 yards longer than first-generation RocketBallz – on the TaylorMade Tour truck. Week after week, we have dozens of requests for new builds and just last week we saw three more big names – DJ, as well as new TaylorMade Tour Staffers Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink – add an RBZ Stage 2 3-wood to their bags. Cink calls his new weapon a “cannon,” noting his was reaching ball speeds near 170 MPH with RBZ Stage 2 and distances close to 300 yards during testing at home. That, as we say, is RocketBallzier.
As we near closer to the final day of the month this week, let’s get into some quick news and notes from Tours around the world.
– TaylorMade Tour Staff professional Josh Teater is coming off a T2 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open, capped by a final-round 69 on the south course at Torrey Pines. He arrived in Scottsdale Tuesday looking to add an edge to his R1 driver so he conducted some comparison testing and made a couple tweaks on the driving range. In addition to tuning the clubhead – he added loft to his driver and also used the Face Angle sole plate to present a more square look at address – he swapped his Aldila RIP 60-gram shaft in favor of an Aldila Blue 65 X. The result was 2-3 more MPH ball speed and a straighter, more penetrating ball flight. We anticipate he’ll play the new setup this week.
– Sergio Garcia is on a pretty serious hot streak that continued last week with his second-place finish at the Qatar Masters. In his last six official Tour events, Garcia has two victories – 2012 Wyndham Championship (PGA Tour) and Johor Open (European Tour) – and three top-10s. He’s earned more than $2 MM in that same stretch and climbed to 14th in the Official World Golf Rankings. With new equipment including the RocketBladez Tour irons and the new Lethal golf ball in his bag, Garcia appears poised for a huge year in 2013.
– In his first week playing the new R1 driver, Jason Day shot a final-round 66 to earn a T9 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. After extensive off-season testing, Day also switched to the new Lethal golf ball. He averaged 310 yards off the tee for the week at Torrey Pines and ranks 7th on the PGA Tour in driving distance, as of January 30.
– Rookie Casey Wittenberg is off to a great start to the season, finishing T15 at the Farmers Insurance Open. Wittenberg racked up some valuable experience playing in the final threesome for the last 36 holes at Torrey Pines and looks to keep momentum rolling at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
– Chez Reavie slid under the radar at the Farmers Insurance Open but played his way into a T21 finish after a strong closing round of 68. He’s among a handful of players who tested new RBladez Tour irons this week at TPC Scottsdale after switching to the R1 last week.
– Ryan Palmer tested some new products on the range this week in Scottsdale before the Waste Management Phoenix Open.