Tiger Woods made a subtle equipment change this week at Sherwood Country Club before starting his defense of the Zozo Championship, and the swap probably was made with an eye toward the Masters.
Woods had been playing a TaylorMade M5 3-wood since early 2019, but this week that club was replaced with a TaylorMade SIM 3-wood. The club’s stated loft is 15 degrees, and it is fitted with a 70-gram Mitsubishi Diamana D+ TX shaft. However, the actual loft is 14 degrees. The club has a finished length of 42.5 inches with a swing weight of D4. Tiger’s old 3-wood had 15 degrees of loft and was fitted with the same shaft.
While many pros will pull a 5-wood out of the bag and go with a 2-iron or a driving iron when they play on firm courses or in windy conditions, 3-wood changes are rare. Three-woods are notoriously hard for pros to swap out because the clubs pull double duty, hitting the ball to a precise distance from both the the tee and off the fairway. When elite players find a 3-wood that does the job well, they tend to stick with it.
Woods’ decision to change into a TaylorMade SIM 3-wood, a club released in January, probably has more to do with getting used to the club in competition before the Masters than needing it at Sherwood Country Club this week.
The Masters starts Nov. 12, and the weather is expected to be colder at Augusta National than is typical for April. According to Titleist, a golf ball will fly 1.5 percent less far on a 50-degree day than it will when the air temperature is 70 degrees because the atmosphere is thicker. It also will fly higher.
According to Joe LaCava, Tiger Woods’ caddie, Woods hits his TaylorMade M5 3-wood about 265 yards in the air. A 1.5 percent decrease in carry distance would drop that to 261, but that assumes Woods maintains the same speed in his swing. In colder weather, most golfers have trouble staying loose and swing slower.
TaylorMade SIM fairway woods
Weight savings from the carbon-fiber crown and titanium face allowed TaylorMade to add an 80-gram sole plate to the SIM fairway woods. (TaylorMade)
The TaylorMade SIM fairway woods have titanium faces, like a driver, so they are lighter and flex more efficiently for increased ball speed. They also have a heavy soleplate that lowers the center of gravity and creates a higher launch angle. Combine all that with a loft that is 1-degree stronger, and in colder weather,Tiger may not lose any distance with his new 3-wood at Augusta National in November.
Former pro explains why players resented Tiger Woods when he first came on Tour.
Tiger Woods is indisputably the greatest golfer of his generation. His list of accomplishments is so long it has its own Wikipedia page (yes, really) and he forever changed the sport of golf.
But back in 1996, before the green jackets and trophies and awe-inspiring moments, Woods was just a rookie on Tour. And while he had already been anointed the chosen one to carry the torch of pro golf into the next era, he didn’t yet have any professional accolades to back up the hype. And that hype rubbed some established pros the wrong way.
“We hated him,” said former Tour pro John Maginnes on this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar. “The money — the rumor was $10 million. That was beyond what a quarterback was making. This was an astronomical sum of money, so we resented him.”
That resentment didn’t last long for Maginnes, though.
“Then I met him,” Maginnes said. “This is one of the funniest guys on the Tour. This guy is awesome. And so you immediately love him. Tiger is beloved in the locker room.”
It wasn’t just Woods’ personality that won over Maginnes, either. It was also his game.
“Once I saw the game, I knew everything that I’d ever done in my entire life was in vain,” he said.
Not long after that, Woods won for the first time in his Tour career. Eighty-one more victories — including 15 majors — would follow, and the rest is history.
Check out the entire episode of Subpar below as Maginnes dishes on what it was like playing with Woods, what it’s like to grind on Tour and more.
FORMULAR ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BIG CONTROVERSY: AN ‘INJUSTICE’ IS REVEALED AFTER VERSTAPPEN’S TITLE
Hamilton and Verstappen, a big controversy… An injustice is revealed after Verstappen’s title? Damon Hill was asked to comment on the outcome of the Formula One World Championship and said that the way Max Verstappen won the F1 title was ‘unfair’ and an ‘injustice’.
Just over a month after the dramatic conclusion of the Formula One season, the controversy over Max Verstappen’s F1 title has not abated. Lewis Hamilton has been silent since the 12th of December, which has cast a shadow over his future.
In the meantime, Mercedes is fruitlessly waiting for sanctions that aren’t happening, to be taken against the FIA and more particularly Michael Masi, the race director. Masi, whose decisions were controversial during the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and notably the management of the safety car. And according to 1996 world champion Damon Hill, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have reason to be upset.
“It’s unfair in itself”
“I think at the end of the day Lewis Hamilton’s fans feel very aggrieved because, and Lewis Hamilton may well do this and Mercedes may well do this, the way the decision has gone has put them at a disadvantage and they feel robbed.” says the former F1 Champion, who to be fair has been at the wrong end of title fight ‘injustice’ before.
“So there’s a lot of resentment, obviously. But in the Dutch camp, was it a satisfactory way to decide a championship? You have to say it wasn’t satisfactory.
“I think it may even have been unfair because if you look at it from the point of view of how the decision was made, it allowed some cars to get loose and not others. That in itself is unfair.
“The result was a focus on the two title contenders and I don’t think you can run a motor race or a championship that way – you have to apply the rules equally to all competitors,” he told Sky Sports.
Professionally Surprising: ‘What the #%@! was that?’ How Tiger Woods, in his rookie season, shocked this pro
It goes without saying, but all eyes were on Tiger Woods when he officially joined the PGA Tour in 1996. He won three straight U.S. Amateur titles from 1994-96 and signed a lucrative endorsement contract as soon as he turned pro.
Of course there was intrigue surrounding the phenom. John Maginnes vividly remembers his first up-close look at Woods, when they were paired together at the 1996 B.C. Open, which was Woods’ fourth career start as a pro. Maginnes, now a golf analyst on Sirius XM, recalled that memorable pairing when he was a guest on this week’s GOLF Subpar Podcast.
On the third hole, a par-5, Woods pulled his tee shot into the trees but it kicked back out into the fairway.
“I’m standing 10 feet away from the hardest golf swing I’ve ever seen in my life, the loudest contact to a balata golf ball I’ve ever heard,” Maginnes said. “And this ball took off and looked like a laser.”
Maginnes said just when he thought the ball was supposed to drop, it kept going. And going, and going.
“And by this point, Tiger’s already walked 40 yards,” Maginnes said. “As soon as he made contact he knew. It landed about four steps onto the front of the green and trickled to the back fringe.”
Mike “Fluff” Cowan was Woods’ caddie. Maginnes first met him the previous year at the U.S. Open.
“And I looked at Fluff, and I want to be very clear to all the listeners, I was not asking advice when I said, ‘Fluff, what the F was that?’ And he said, ‘That’s our 2-iron we carried about 275.’
“At the time I was averaging 268 off the tee, and he hit an iron 275. And I did dribble that 3-wood right on the front fringe, by the way.”
Maginnes tied for 60th. Woods tied for 3rd and two weeks later, in his next start, won the Las Vegas Invitational for his first career PGA Tour victory.