TOUR REPORT: 2016 WGC - BRIDGESTONE INVITATIONAL
This week, the PGA TOUR makes a stop at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio for the WCG Bridgestone Invitational. With a limited field and a cut-free format, 60 of the world’s best golfers are set to face off through the weekend for their chance at this prestigious Tour title.
Despite the shortened field, Team TaylorMade has several players on the roster at Firestone, including Jason Day, Justin Rose, and Dustin Johnson—entering competition for the first time since capturing the U.S. Open two weeks ago. Ahead of the WGC, the Akron area was already buzzing with excitement from the recent Cleveland Cavaliers NBA championship, and patrons from across the state gathered at Firestone to see who would become the next champion in Ohio.
Although the PGA TOUR season is well beyond the halfway point, TaylorMade Tour staffers continued to fine-tune their bags and make equipment adjustments to give themselves the best chance to take on Firestone and further prepare themselves for the upcoming Open Championship at Royal Troon.
Fresh of his first major victory, Dustin Johnson didn’t need to make any significant changes to his winning bag. Instead, he opted to be built a new 54° Tour Preferred Chrome EF wedge in the same specs to benefit from the added spin of fresh grooves. Teeing it up for the first time since Oakmont, the 2016 U.S. Open champion looks to continue his winning ways at Firestone. Still savoring the moment from his first major win, DJ continues to use his custom red, white, and blue U.S. Open staff bag at the WGC.
Jason Day spent some time at the practice facility experimenting with both ATV and standard grind EF Wedges to see which was performing best from the sand in Akron. He found that the ATV grind allowed him to be more aggressive with his swing and hit high bunker shots with a soft landing. He has his 52° and 60° ATV wedges in the bag this week.
In an effort to shorten his 3-wood distance—a concern reserved for the best golfers in the world—Jason also asked to be built three different fairway combinations. The Tour Truck crew crafted him a 15° M1 with a Kuro Kage 80x shaft, cut down to 42 1/4 inches (1 inch shorter than his gamer) as well as an M1 and M2 with MRC Tensei 90x shafts. The result was shorter distance as well as 300rpm less spin—an added benefit for Day. Jason currently has the 15° M2 in play at the WGC.
Day also spent part of Tuesday afternoon on the course working with TaylorMade R+D on prototype golf ball testing.
Justin Rose, per usual, went through a fairly rigorous preparation ahead of the WGC. Working closely with his trusted members of “Team Rose,” Justin appeared to be dialed in from tee to green. Striking the ball brilliantly, he was spotted spinning short, 10-yard chips back about two feet, to the applause of impressed patrons. Additionally, Rose was practicing with a heaver shaft in an 18° M2 fairway, going up from 80g to a 90g Matrix shaft. Ahead of Thurday’s opening round, Rose adjusted to a 19° M1 fairway and has it in play along with his M2 driver and 15° M2 fairway.
Billy Hurley III was greeted warmly by fellow TOUR competitors as he got back to work following his first career PGA TOUR victory at the Quicken Loans National. At the WGC, Hurley continued to work with his Spider Limited Putter on the practice green. He first put the new putter in his bag earlier this season at the Byron Nelson Championship, and the change seems to have paid off with Hurley picking up the win at Congressional last week. Hurley made one subtle change to his bag this week before taking on Firestone; he had the Tour staff bend his M2 fairway slightly more upright as he wanted to see the ball work more from right to left.
For more from the 2016 WGC Bridgestone Invitational, view an inside-the-ropes photo gallery below: