The green jacket has been custom tailored, the name of the U.S. Open champ has been etched into history, and now the battle to become Champion Golfer of the Year is set to tee off.
The 147th playing of The Open Championship returns to the famed Carnoustie Golf Links as the best players from the PGA TOUR and European Tour compete for the Claret Jug and the everlasting glory that comes with it.
The Open Championship always presents a thrilling challenge where links golf is put on full display for golf fans around the world. And with the season's third major taking place in Scotland—the birthplace of golf—there is an even stronger connection to this historic major with nostalgia sweeping across every firm fairway, every looming pot bunker, and every blade of fescue.
But this contest is no time for sentimental reflection. Every athlete is here with the same goal in mind. Come Sunday, only one player will drink from the jug and mark their name among the greats the game... there are no friends at Carnoustie.
While the mission remains the same for every competitor, links golf opens itself up to creative shot-making, risk/reward decision-making, and a wide variety of strategies to be successful. So when it comes to the best of Team TaylorMade, we expect to see significantly different approaches to how they set up their bags and how they plan to navigate the course as they take their shot at history.
KEEP IT SAFE OR LET IT FLY?
As reported during The Open Championship's practice rounds, Carnoustie's fairways are playing firm and FAST. We're expecting to see a significant amount of rollout when players hit the fairway, which could easily lead to drives of well over 400 yards at times. But while pulling M3 or M4 driver may sound like a simple choice for TaylorMade's best, Carnoustie is well-defended against the long-bombers on Tour.
Strategically placed pot bunkers line the fairways and protect the greens, positioned to collect errant tee shots (and even some good ones). In many cases, finding a pot bunker can completely take birdie out of play and leave players grinding to save par. As a result, golfers are faced with the decision to lay up short with a driving iron or attempt to fly past potential hazards with driver.
Feedback from our Tour Team at Carnoustie indicates that players like DJ, Rory, and Rahm are planning on pulling their Twist Face driver whenever possible. On the other hand, they anticipate that players like Tiger, Rose, and Day will opt to hit a low-flighted driving iron (GAPR or P790 UDI) to play for position and rely on their approach to give them a look at birdie.
GAPR DEBUTS AT THE OPEN
Earlier this week during practice rounds, TaylorMade's new utility club—GAPR—made its Tour debut as players were testing the "Lo" and "Mid" models as potential driving irons for Carnoustie. With GAPR, players are looking for a more stable driving iron to deal with the crosswinds—something that allows them to navigate the bunkers and chase up to 300 yards. Our Tour athletes have been attracted to the metalwood face, which gives them more ball speed in a design that allows them to flight the ball with ease.
Most notably, Tiger Woods was seen hitting his patented stinger with a GAPR Lo (#2) on the range... and by Tuesday, it was the only driving iron in his bag as he continued to prepare.
TaylorMade's VP of Product Creation, Brian Bazzel, was on-site to support the club's integration onto Tour. Based on what he has been seeing at The Open, Tour players are quickly adopting the new utility club, which features SpeedFoam technology to deliver faster ball speeds and more forgiveness across the clubface. Specifically, with the GAPR Lo model, players are finding it exceptionally useful when it comes to shaping shots for the tricky conditions at Carnoustie.
"They like the control and flighting of the product. The turf interaction has been very good even with the hard and dry turf. The GAPR Lo is the perfect product for this event, so many are looking for something to stays low, out of the wind, and will chase. Many players speak about either keeping it in front of the bunkers or flying it over with the driver. The GAPRs are being fit for that club that will stay out of the wind and short of the bunkers."
— Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade VP of Product Creation
Keep an eye out for GAPR making its true competitive debut this week at Carnoustie. You can learn more about all three GAPR models and find out how to choose the right one for your game at THIS LINK.
WHAT'S IN THE BAG AT THE OPEN?
On Monday, we took an inside look at What (Else) is in Dustin Johnson's Bag beyond his golf clubs. Now it's time to take a deep-dive into the sticks of the world's best as the arm themselves to take on Carnoustie at The Open Championship.
The 14-time major champ looks to pick up his 4th Claret Jug this week. Tiger has historically found success on fast, firm courses and Carnoustie looks to be set up in his favor. His most recent Open victory came from a strategy where he only hit one driver off the tee—and with Tiger adding a new GAPR club as his driving iron, the stage is set for the stinger to shine in Scotland.
M3 Driver | 460cc | 8.5° | Tensei CK Pro Orange 70TX
M3 Fairway | 13° | Tensei Orange 90TX
GAPR Lo | 17° | Tensei Orange 115TX
TW Phase1 Irons | 3–PW | TT Tour Issue X100
MG Wedges | 56° and 60° | TT Tour Issue S40
Equipment Notes: Tiger prefers the flatter trajectory that GAPR gives him over his prior TP UDI 2-iron.
The World No. 1 is having another career year with two victories under his belt already in 2018. He kicked off the season with a commanding win at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and picked up another at the FedEx St. Jude Classic just last month. As his caddie/brother, Austin Johnson, mentioned earlier this week, expect DJ to use his M4 driver to his advantage and take many of Carnoustie's bunkers out of play this week.
M4 Driver | 460cc | 10.5° | Project X HZRDUS 75g (6.5)
M4 Fairway | 16.5° | Project X HZRDUS Black 95g (6.5)
P730 Irons (3-PW) | True Temper Tour Issue X100
MG Wedge | 52°, 60° | KBS Tour 120S
HI-TOE Wedge | 64° | KBS Tour 120S
Spider Tour Black Putter
TP5x Golf Ball | #1
Equipment Notes: DJ tested both GAPR Lo #2 (17°) and GAPR Mid #3 (18°).
The 2014 Open Champion also has a PGA TOUR victory in 2018 and looks to enter the winner's circle again at Carnoustie Golf Links. Like DJ, Rory has the raw power to take a lot of the trouble out of play, so keep an eye out for what strategy he employs as the week goes on. As always, control and precision are paramount in professional golf, but this is amplified even further at The Open. Last year, Rory sited his TP5x golf ball as the reason he signed with TaylorMade, and that trust has only grown over the past 16 months.
M3 Driver | 460cc | 8.5° | MCA Tensei Orange TX
M3 Fairway | 15° | MCA Tensei 80 TX
P790 UDI 2-Iron | Project X HZRDUS 105 (6.5)
P750 3-4 | Project X (7.0)
P730 Rors Proto Irons (5-9) | Project X (7.0)
MG Wedges | 48°, 54° | Project X (6.5)
HI-TOE Wedge | 60° | Project X (6.5)
TP Collection Black Copper Soto Putter
TP5x Golf Ball | #22
Jason Day enters The Open as the No. 1 ranked player in Strokes Gained Putting and No. 2 ranked player in Scrambling—two statistical categories that should be crucial to success in the season's third major. Beyond his confidence in those areas, Day is right there with DJ with two wins in this PGA TOUR season. Day has been known to mix it up between tee off with his M3 driver or relying on a driving iron for position in the fairway, so whatever route he takes, he has the long game and the short game to be in the hunt on Sunday.
M3 Driver | 460cc | 9.5° | TPT Golf Shaft (X Flex)
M4 Fairway | 16.5° | TPT Golf Shaft (X Flex)
P790 UDI 2-Iron | True Temper X7 X100
P730 Irons (4-PW) | True Temper X7 X100
MG Wedges | 50°, 56° | True Temper X7 X100
HI-TOE Wedge | 60° | True Temper S400 Tour Issue
Spider Tour Red Putter
TP5x Golf Ball
Equipment Notes: Had one day to test GAPR Lo #2 (17°). Will likely stay with P790 this week.
Justin Rose is in a unique position as one of the few players in the field to have experience at both prior Open Championships at Carnoustie. Known as the most difficult track on The Open rota, experience will be crucial when it comes to navigating around its pot bunkers and treacherous Barry Burn. Beyond experience, Rosie has the game and the major-winning mindset to overcome the challenge of Carnoustie and outlast the competition at The Open.
M3 Driver | 440cc | 9° | Tensei Orange 70 TX
M4 Fairway | 15° | MCA Tensei CK 80 TX
P790 UDI 2-Iron | UST Recoil 125 F5
P790 3-Iron | UST Recoil 125 F5
P730 Rose Proto Irons (4-8) | KBS C-Taper 125 (S+)
P730 Rose Proto 9-Iron |KBS HI-REV 2.0 135X
MG Wedges | 50°, 56° | KBS HI-REV 2.0 135X
HI-TOE Wedge | 60° | KBS HI-REV 2.0 135X
TP Collection Red Ardmore 2 Putter
TP5 Golf Ball | #99
Equipment Notes: Rosie shook up his bag makeup with new P790 2 & 3-irons, replacing his M4 5-wood and P790 4-iron. He also removed his P730 PW, bent his two MG wedges strong (1° for his 50, 1.5° for his 56), and lowered the bounce of his HI-TOE with an aggressive leading edge.
Another PGA TOUR winner already in 2018 is Jon Rahm. The young, fiery Spaniard fits the mold of an Open champion with his aggressive style of play, creative shot-making ability, and competitive drive. Rahm brings the all-around package to Carnoustie, entering the week as the No. 2 ranked player in birdie average as well as a 307-yard driving average. Rahm has been toward the top of major leaderboards before and looks to capture his first Claret Jug this week in Scotland.
M4 Driver | 9.5° | Aldila Tour Green 70 TX
M3 Fairway | 17° | Aldila Tour Green 70 TX
TP UDI 4-iron | Project X (6.5)
P750 Irons (4-PW) | Project X (6.5)
MG Wedges | 52°, 56° | Project X (6.5)
HI-TOE Wedge | 60° | Project X (6.5)
Spider Tour Red Putter
TP5x Golf Ball | #10
Equipment Notes: Like many other players, Rahm elected to lower the bounce of his HI-TOE wedge to adapt to the firm conditions at Carnoustie.
Shop the gear of all 6 of these TaylorMade athletes HERE.
2018 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP PHOTO GALLERY:
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