Equipped To Win
Brooks Koepka played flawlessly over the final round of the U.S. Open at Erin Hills Golf Course in Erin, Wisc. posting his second 67 of the week and overpowering both the course and field. The Florida native’s play was no surprise to anyone watching him the past several months starting with the Ryder Cup last fall when, as a rookie team member, he finished with a 3-1-0 record contributing to the U.S. win.
Koepka does not have an equipment contract having decided to pick and choose his clubs after former sponsor Nike Golf bailed from the club and ball business last year. He does though retain an apparel deal and sports a Nike swoosh on his bag. His Mizuno irons, the JPX 900 Tour model, were specifically created for him by Mizuno back before his January 2016 Nike signing after his contract with Titleist ended to attract him to a deal with Mizuno. That didn’t happen and last August when Koepka became a free agent, at least as far as equipment is concerned with Nike leaving the business, Mizuno again approached him.
JPX 900 Tour irons ($1,200) are forged from boron steel alloy producing a soft feel and undergo a special heat treatment for added strength. The sole design has lots of camber with rounded leading and trailing edges so they interact with the turf consistently plus the sole is the thinnest Mizuno has ever used in a JPX family iron. The heads have a power frame design which moves weight to the corners for better stability and the top line is reinforced to give a better sound at impact.
Given the way they performed this week they would seem to have a permanent slot in Koepka’s bag.
THE CLUBSS THAT WON THE 2017 U.S. OPEN:
Driver: TaylorMade M2 2016 9.5 degrees (Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana D+ 70 TX)
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M2 2017 15 degrees (Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana D+ 80 TX)
Irons: 3-iron Nike Vapor Fly Pro (Fujikura Pro 95 Tour Spec); 4-iron through 9-iron Mizuno JPX-900 Tour (True Temper Dynamic Gold X100), pitching wedge (True Temper Dynamic Gold S400)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM5 Raw 52 and 56 degrees, SM4 Raw TVD 60 degrees (True Temper Dynamic Gold S400)
Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 SLT T10
Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
U.S. Open Clubs by the Numbers:
Titleist says 102 of the 156 players in the field played their Pro V1 or Pro V1x ball compared to 17 using their nearest competitors plus Titleist irons were also the most played with 41 sets and 151 Vokey Design wedges (approach, sand and lob) were the highest number of any brand. Fifty-five Scotty Cameron putters topped the flat stick list.
Speaking of putters, the TaylorMade Golf Spider Tour was the most used single model at the Open with, among others, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm using it. However with the exception of Garcia all these marquee toursters missed the cut. McIlroy’s Spider Tour, which he just added to his bag, is a Red color model with an added top alignment line. The new flat stick replaced an Odyssey Prototype model. TMaG again dominated the driver count. Besides being in Koepka’s bag, for the 17th Open in a row their drivers were number one with 56 in play versus 31 for Titleist, 27 for Callaway and 24 for Ping.
G400 Driver: Ping is scheduled to have a new driver this fall, having received approval from the USGA for the G400. Twelve of the company equipment endorsers playing at Erin Hills had personalized drivers built for them by the techs in the Ping equipment van and put them in play. Bubba Watson was seen with a special pink model. Reports say there will be three different configurations similar to those available in the current G30—standard, LST low spin for better players and SFT with anti-slice weighting. The G400 family will include fairway woods and a Crossover.
Wilson Staff Limited Edition PVD D300: Using the same FLX Face Technology as the standard D300s Wilson has brought a limited edition model to market with a patriotic PVD finish. Priced at $1,200 they also make use of Wilson’s design of Power Holes filled with urethane to let the face to flex upon impact. Heel and toe weights pods positioned on the perimeter on the club head increase forgiveness.
Steelhead XR Fairway woods: Callaway’s original Steelhead fairway woods sold over 2.3 million units and now with an updated head shape they are back under the XR label. There’s a lighter J-36 carbon crown so weight could be redistributed lowering the center of gravity for easy launch with low spin and the well-known Hyper Speed Face Cup. Offered in a 3+, 3, 4+, 5, 7, 9 and Heavenwood, each is priced at $229.
In Case Anyone Asks: Wisconsin native Steve Stricker was refused an exemption by the USGA into the U.S. Open field so he gained a spot through regional qualifying in Memphis and the 2017 Presidents Cup U.S. Team captain not only made the cut but finished in a tie for 16th at five under par.
In the third round Justin Thomas tied the lowest U.S. Open score ever of 63 and the first ever U.S. Open round of nine under par. Johnny Miller had the first 63 (which was seven under par) at Oakmont in 1973 and interviewed by the Golf Channel was less than gracious in his praise of Thomas’ accomplishment saying, “A 63 for a par 72 is a heck of a score even if it was the Milwaukee Open.” The Milwaukee Open, previously a stop on the PGA Tour had a history of very low scoring.