2016 FedEx St. Jude Classic

After a thrilling finish at the Memorial that saw TaylorMade’s William McGirt capture his first PGA TOUR victory, attention shifted to Memphis and the FedEx St. Jude Classic—the final tune-up before the U.S. Open.

Considering many of our staffers take the week off to relax, practice, or gear up for the U.S. Open, significant equipment changes this close to a major tournament aren’t abundant. Most adjustments include fine-tuning lofts and lies, grinding wedges to optimal specs, and dialing in their bags. However, one of the most prominent changes on Tour this week involved reigning Rookie of the Year Daniel Berger.

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Daniel Berger hits off the 12th tee during the second round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind on June 10, 2016 in Memphis, Tennessee.

After a practice round at Oakmont on Monday, Daniel Berger showed up to the Tour Truck on Tuesday in need of a new driver. In addition to another R15 driver—which he’s played for well over 18 months—the Tour team built him an M2 driver on request. Specifically, a 10.5° model set to one-click lower with a Fujikura Pro 53X shaft.

On the range, Berger put on a display that surprised even himself. In just a few swings, he knew he was working with something that was outperforming his R15—and the numbers proved it. According to our Tour team, Berger usually hovers in the mid-170s with his ball speed. With M2, he was approaching 180, maxing out at 179 on numerous swings. He knew what flight he could expect with his familiar R15 driver, but said the M2 was even more consistent than his former R15 gamer. Using M2, he was able to work the ball both ways more consistently and more effectively.

Under the hot Memphis sun, Berger was hitting drives that were repeatedly carrying 315 yards, with some travelling as far as 335 yards. At the end of his range session, it was just about a given that he’d put it into play… and sure enough, he’s got it in the bag and currently sits atop the leaderboard through his second round.

In addition to his M2 driver, the team built Boog an M2 3HL fairway with a UST Mamiya Elements Chrome 75X shaft, with the expectation it would replace his JetSpeed fairway that he’s played for more than a year. With the M2, Berger was hitting a 260-275 yard carry and took note of how the club helped him hit his low cuts, which is his preferred shot shape. After a few dozen swings under the watchful eye of the Tour team, Berger was sold on the improved performance of the new club and officially made the switch to the M2 fairway.

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Daniel Berger hits off the 13th tee during the second round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind on June 10, 2016 in Memphis, Tennessee.

While Berger’s switch is certainly the most notable equipment news out of Memphis, some of the other changes at TPC Southwind took place ahead of Thursday tee times:

Seeking a bit more distance, more controlled flight, and accuracy, Shawn Stefani asked the Tour team to build him an 8.5° M2 driver with both a Matrix Ozik TP6HD and TP6HD3 shaft (both with D4 swingweight) to test. During the week, he practiced with both and ultimately put the TP6HD into play. It looks to be working well for him, as he’s currently on the first page of the leaderboard.

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Shawn Stefani hits off the 18th tee during the second round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind on June 10, 2016 in Memphis, Tennessee.

A longtime player of the M1 fairway, Camilo Villegas came into the truck talking about the hype around the M2 he was hearing and was interested to see what it was all about. With Camilo, odds are, if you pop into the Tour Truck sometime during the week, he’ll be in there working on his own equipment. On Tuesday, he built himself a 17.5° M2 Tour fairway with a Matrix Code 8 shaft tipped 1.5”. In testing on the range, the M2 was definitely a few yards longer for him. While we didn’t expect him to put it into play immediately, we’re anticipating Camilo seeing the M2 fairway in the bag within the next few weeks.

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Lastly, winner of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Vaughn Taylor asked the team to build him both a 15° M1 and an 18° M2 fairway to test against his Stage 2 fairways. In testing, he enjoyed what he was seeing with both, citing consistency and distance as noticeable benefits during his session. We expect him to practice with both clubs over the course of the next few weeks and wouldn’t be surprised to see one or both end up in his bag at some point in the near future.

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