Bubba Watson changes driver at 2022 PGA Championship

TULSA, Oklahoma — This was the call Kenton Oates dreamed of but never thought would happen. Two weeks after the Masters, Bubba Watson, who was tied for 39th, called Oates, Ping Golf’s PGA Tour representative and Watson who helped secure a lifetime contract with Ping one of the people. Happy with his club.

“On a Wednesday in New Orleans, Bubba called me and said, ‘Hey man, send me three or four regular graphite shafts. I want to try something lighter and make the back of my bat pop more ,'” Oates recalled.

Watson has been happy to try new drivers over the years, and it’s usually easy to switch to Ping’s latest model. These days, he’s using a Ping G425 LST, but he’s been using the same pink Grafalloy Bi-Matrix X prototype shaft for over a decade.

Color aside, it’s unique in that the top and middle sections are graphite, but the lower third of the shaft is steel, so it’s pretty heavy by today’s standards. It weighs about 88 grams, according to Oates, about 30 grams heavier than many graphite shafts used by elite players on the PGA Tour.

“We’ve been down this road before,” Oates said. “The last time we tried this with Bubba, we remembered that there are so many shafts today that are very stable and they allow you to hit the ball with underspin and not bend like it used to. So we added a little bit more The loft, put some weight on the toes to make sure the ball will cut for him because if Bubba can’t hit his cut, he won’t hit the club.”

Bubba Watson tests a shaft with Ping’s Spenser Rothluebber (left) at the 2022 PGA Championship on Tuesday. (David Dusek/GolfWeek)

Oates sent the shaft to Watson, which included a 60-gram Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black 60 TX, and Watson texted him within a few days that he liked it.

Stunned, Oates and the Ping team next had two challenges to overcome, getting a custom pink HZRDUS Smoke Black shaft from Project X and getting the Bubba’s grip just right.

“The moment he told us he liked that, we hit the horns at True Temper with David Wilson [Project X’s parent company] And say, ‘Hey, can you buy us a pink one? ‘” Oates said. “To their credit, when we got to Byron Nelson, they gave us a pink [three weeks later]. “

Meanwhile, the club builder for Ping’s tour division in Phoenix, known as the Ping WRX, has managed to pull off one of the most difficult things in club assembly: getting Bubba Watson’s driver to hit the two-wheeler. Grips the way the 2000 Masters champion prefers. Watson needs 11 layers of tape under the upper hand and 13 under the lower hand of his Ping Gold grip, and the cord in the grip needs to be in the right place.

“The Bubba Watson grab instruction takes up an entire row in an Excel spreadsheet on our truck,” Oates laughs.

Pink Project X HZRDUS Black Driver from Bubba Watson

Bubba Watson’s pink Project X HZRDUS Black 60 TX shaft (David Dusek/Golfweek)

But after pinging the Project X shaft to Byron Nelson, Watson didn’t like the feel of holding it, like it was on a black shaft. With Watson, it’s all about feel, and something isn’t quite right with the pink shaft grip.

“The black shaft is set to the perfect openness,” says Oates. “If you put the Bubba Watson driver in play position, hold the grip so the ribs feel square in your hand, the clubface will point 7 to 10 degrees to the left, which is open for lefties of.”

Spencer Rothluebber, who built the clubs in Ping’s PGA Tour van, didn’t hit the majors, but encouraged Watson to opt for the black shafts and re-hold the pink shafts within a week.

That advice has proven solid as Bubba Watson leads the field heading into the final round of the 2022 PGA Championship, leading in strokes to the green from the teeing ground and averaging two tee shots. The average distance measured is 331 yards from the hole.

“He’s like a kid again,” Oates said.

Maybe it’s worth waiting for that call.

Bubba Watson’s Driver – $549 Bubba Watson’s Golf Equipment in Southern Hills

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