With Woods returning to competition this week at the Genesis Invitational, eyeballs will once again shift to his equipment — and apparel, if we’re being honest — to determine if anything has changed. In most cases, we’d have to wait until Woods steps foot on Riviera’s grounds to get visual confirmation. But this week is different.
According to Bridgestone, the Genesis will mark Woods’ first competitive round with its 2024 Tour B X ball following extensive testing at home.
“I am always seeking more distance off the tee and more control around the green, that’s the Holy Grail, and what Bridgestone’s delivered with the new Tour B X,” Woods said.
Before 2022, Woods had played Tour B XS, a softer ball with more spin, to work the ball both directions and get the necessary zip around the green. But everything changed when Woods began testing the Tour B X on his at-home simulator and noticed an uptick of nearly 10 yards of additional carry, which amounted to roughly one less club into the hole on approach shots. (The Tour B and Tour B XS are both three-piece balls geared for swing speeds over 105 mph, but the firmer X is built to lower flight and spin.)
With Bridgestone shifting to a softer cover and adding a mid-layer with the ’24 Tour B X, Woods was re-fit for his ball and found the Tour B X to still be the best model for his game.
“I tell people all the time how important it is to get ball fit, and if you’ve been fit, to get fit again,” Woods said. “Bridgestone re-fit me into the new Tour B X, and it’s got a little more pop off the tee and the control I need around the greens.”
Even Bridgestone’s product team admitted they were surprised to see Woods make the jump to Tour B X after playing the Tour B XS recipe for more than two decades.
“When we signed Tiger Woods, there was no way I would have guessed he’d play the Tour B X,” said Elliot Mellow, Bridgestone’s golf ball marketing manager. “But the fact that the cover continues to get softer each generation, now [Tour B is] his golf ball. It’s a testament to the work we’ve done on the cover construction.”
It’s not often pros get the opportunity to switch putters in the middle of the day — but Friday at the WM Phoenix Open was anything but your average day. With cold rain and wind wreaking havoc on the field during the first round, Thomas was forced to finish Day 1 on Friday and turn around 30 minutes later to tee off for his second round.
While 30 minutes doesn’t seem like much time to get things right, it was enough for caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay to suggest a potential putter setup tweak
“It was more of a setup thing than anything,” Thomas said. “I think my hands were getting a little behind it and Bones mentioned something and it was something my dad saw earlier in the week, too, so just put a little bit more of an emphasis on that and really just tried to get good speed and made some nice ones.”
Thomas switched putters during the first round to an updated version of the Scotty Cameron X5 he’s used for years, but nothing seemed to click as he lost 1.06 strokes on the greens (99th in SG: Putting). Instead of giving it another shot, Thomas went back to his faithful X5 and gained 1.89 strokes en route to a six-under 65.
“The putter I went back to the second round is my gamer, the one I’ve used for a long time and had a lot of success with,” said Thomas. “The one that I used this morning was just the new model of it. I had no intention of using it, but honestly, my putter felt so bad the first couple days this week after Pebble last week that I just — I was putting with it, and it felt good. My speed was good with it. I was starting it on line. I felt like I had a lot better chance of making putts with that than the other one.
“I have full faith I would have putted the same with the other putter, but there’s something about using something you’re comfortable with.”
In the search for a new putter, Cameron Champ found an old Ping Sigma G head that helped him feel the putter head during the stroke. According to Ping Tour rep Dylan Goodwin, Champ was originally put onto Sigma G after testing one that was built for fellow Ping staffer Chandler Phillips. (Champ and Phillips both went to Texas A&M University.)
“We matched as close to that swing weight as possible,” Goodwin said. “We went shorter to 34 inches initially but circled back to 35.5 inches. [He] felt more comfortable with it longer. That’s roughly where he’s been the last couple years.”
Champ also preferred the larger Sigma G profile and overall head weight, which was increased by an additional 15 grams.
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Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at email@example.com.