Three productive days in the heat and haze of August in Kentucky, helping our players gear up for the final major of 2015, the PGA Championship. Not only is the Wannamaker Trophy on the line, so are precious Ryder Cup points. First place this week is good for 1,800, likely enough to get Brendon Todd (currently 12th on the list), Ryan Moore (13th) and even Brian Harman (21st) into the top nine, who automatically qualify for the team. Speaking of the Ryder Cup, Valhalla has the distinction of hosting the 2008 Matches, won by the U.S., 16 ½ to 11 ½.
Valhalla is long — 500+ yards have been added since the PGA Championship was last played here, in 2000, and this time it’s playing to a par 71, down from 72. As soft as it is, it should play longer than its 7,458 yards.
As usual during the week of a major, there wasn’t a whole lot of club-building, as everybody typically arrives dialed in and focused on preparing for the event, not testing equipment. But beyond the usual loft and lie checks, there was a fair amount of significant activity.
Among our Tour Staff pros, Sergio comes in as the second hottest player in the world, with runner-up finishes in his last two starts, the Open Championship and Firestone. Justin Rose has also been playing well of late, Brian Harman won the John Deere a few weeks ago, and Martin Kaymer has already won two of the biggest events of the year, the Players Championship and the U.S, Open.
Tour rep Shawn Mullin added a half-degree of loft to Sergio’s Spider Mallet. Serge feels there’s a little more grain on these greens than what he’s been putting lately, so wants a little extra loft to get the ball rolling quickly and smoothly. Sergio currently ranks 15th on Tour in strokes-gained-putting and 18th in total putting. He also requested a fresh grip on his Spider Mallet, complete with the European Ryder Cup logo.
John Senden tested a UDI 2 18°. He especially liked how high it launched off the ground. Needed 250-yard club, he was hitting it 240 into a breeze. Tested it on the course on Tuesday.
Sticky Dave built new Tour Preferred wedges with ATV soles for Martin Kaymer, he’s been in the xFT for a long time and is ready to start making the transition.
Justin Rose took one of his four wedges out of his bag to make room for an SLDR 5-wood that will be useful on this long course, and for advancing the ball out of the rough. His former wedge lofts were 60, 57, 53, 47, with 7-yard gaps between, now he’s got 58 52, 47 with 15-yard gaps between. Justin also requested heavier shafts, by 10 grams, all of his metalwoods, to increase his club control and tighten his dispersion.
Finally, we’re exceptionally proud of the 11 TaylorMade club professionals who qualified to play this week: Michael Block (winner of the 2014 PGA Club Pro Championship), Jamie Brocek, Stuart Deane, Rod Perry, Bob Sowards, David Hronek, Steve Schneiter, Eric Williamson, Brian Norman and Ryan Helminen. Good luck, gentlemen, we hope to see you on the weekend.