The RSM Classic, the last PGA Tour event of calendar 2017 before the wraparound schedule resumes in January, was the first win for rookie Austin Cook who played a full bag of Ping clubs. He finished with three birdies in the last four holes to win by four strokes, one greater than lead he held overnight.
While the 156-man field did not have an abundance of highly ranked players there were eight inside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking: 14 – Matt Kuchar number, 26 – Brian Harman and 27 – Kevin Kisner.
Cook made effect use of his Ping G400 driver on both of the St. Simons Island, Georgia Courses at Sea Island GC—the Seaside Course and the Plantation Course–to take home the $1.1 million pay check. His distance from the tee for the week was a respectable 39th in the field at 287.9 yards but he hit almost 86% of the fairways, fourth most accurate of the week.
His G400 driver ($399) is part of the new Ping family of clubs introduced five months ago that includes fairway woods ($269), hybrids ($229) and a new Crossover ($229), a design that has features of both hybrids and irons. As has been the case for the past several years, Ping offers a choice of three configurations for the driver, the standard, the SFT and the LST. SFT stands for straight-flying-technology, i.e., anti-slice and is designed for use by typical amateurs while the low-spin-technology model LST is meant for better players. All three have a multi-material construction: cast titanium skeleton, forged titanium face, high-density tungsten back weight, aluminum/thermoplastic adjustable hosel and drag reducing crown fins Ping calls turbulators.
Cook’s S55 irons were first introduced in 2013 and are no longer available at retail. Ping’s iBlade irons (seven iron set $1,050) are the closest to the S55s in their current offerings. Both models are elite player-category irons.
Cook’s Winning Gear:
Driver: Ping G400 8.5 degrees set to 9.2, 45.25” Fujikura Speeder Evolution 661X shaft tipped 0.50 inches and D3 swing weight
Fairway Wood: Ping G400 14.5 degrees set to 13, 43” Fujikura Motore VC 7.0 shaft tipped 1” and D2 swing weight
Hybrids: Ping G400 19-degree 3-wood and 22-degree 4-wood with Matrix Altus Red X shafts and D2 swing weight
Irons: Ping S55 5-iron through pitching wedge, KBS Tour S shafts and D1 swing weight
Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 50-degree SS grind, 56-degree SS grind and 60-degree WS grind, all with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts
Putter: Ping Sigma G Tyne
BALL: Titleist Pro V1
RSM by the Numbers: TaylorMade had almost double the number of drivers in play—65–compared with Titleist’s 34. Ping challenged Titleist for second place counting 30 players while of the major brands Callaway came in fourth with 20 drivers. To no one’s surprise Titleist’s 116 won the ball count handily to the next brand that had 15. In putter count Scotty Cameron was first having 56 in play and Vokey was the leading wedge brand with 206 approach, sand or lob wedges. Titleist hybrids and iron sets also won those counts as well with 25 and 46 respectively.
In Case Anyone Should Ask: The RSM Classic was the final tournament on the PGA Tour wraparound schedule before the traveling circus takes a six week hiatus and returns Jan. 4 for the first round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Of course in between are Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years plus lots of football which is the reason the Tour takes a vacation. Look for additional scheduling adjustments in the future.
After eight events of the 2017-2018 PGA Tour season Titleist Pro V1 was played by two winners, Titleist Pro V1x by five and TaylorMade’s TP5x by one. For drivers the TaylorMade M1 has two wins as does their M2 model and the Titleist 917D2 while the Titleist 917D3 and Ping G400 each have one.
Bridgestone Wedges: The TOUR B XW-1 wedges are the latest from Bridgestone and have a Tour Grind sole, parallel milling pattern and have a forging similar to that seen in the TOUR B X-Blade and X-CB irons. The XW-1 officers a choice of two finishes, Black Oxide and Satin Chrome, and in lofts of 50, 52, 54, 56, 58 and 60-degrees. They will be in retail shops Jan. 3 for $140 each.
Cobra King F8 & F8+: For the first time Cobra has a milled forged titanium face in a driver with the King F8 and King F8+ (both $399). This produces a 3% thinner and 10% lighter face giving, according to Cobra, more ball speed across the entire face. The KING F8 and F8+ drivers and the entire F8 family of fairway woods, hybrids and irons deliver the first connected set of golf clubs using COBRA CONNECT Powered by Arccos to record data on every swing. In shops Jan 12.
Bettinardi: The high end putter and wedge company of Bob Bettinardi has announced three new lines for 2018. The BB series includes two blades, the BB1 and BB29, plus the BB39 mallet and milled BB56. Two new Inovai 5.0 putter models and the H2 303 Stainless Steel wedge complete the lineup.
Sergio’s Choice: No official announcement yet but current Masters champion Sergio Garcia seems to have settled on Callaway Golf equipment after the demise in October of his 15 year endorsement deal with TaylorMade Golf. He posted 19 worldwide wins playing TaylorMade and since the announcement the flamboyant Spaniard has been testing clubs from several makers. Garcia played last week’s the European Tour’s DP World Tour Championships in Dubai (finishing T-4) with Callaway in the bag including a Great Big Bertha Epic driver and the just released Apex MB muscleback irons.