European Tour competition is back in Portugal this week for the third hosting of the Portugal Masters. The event is being played at the Arnold Palmer-designed Oceânico Victoria Golf Course in the beautiful Algarve region of southern Portugal. The region is a hugely popular holiday destination with golfers from all over Europe as it features a wide variety of top quality courses. Situated on Portugal’s southern coast, the region is also one of the most southerly points in the whole of Europe which ensures sunny skies and warm weather for much of the year. The Portugal Masters is the European Tour’s second visit to the region in 2009 following the Estoril Open de Portugal back in April. Those of you that follow the European Tour will undoubtedly remember Titleist Ambassador Michael Hoey’s playoff victory earlier in the year, and while Michael isn’t in the field this week, there are a number of other Titleist Ambassadors in the hunt for the title.
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One notable name in the field is that of former Open Champion Ben Curtis. Ben needs to play in two more European Tour events in order to qualify for the season ending Dubai World Championship. The Portugal Masters is the first of these two events, with the second likely to come in Singapore in two weeks time. Ben is still a well known and popular personality in Europe following his Open victory in 2003 and it was good to see him in Portugal for this week’s event.
The Titleist Tour Team had another busy week as the transition into new Titleist equipment continues for a number of our brand Ambassadors.The team is now fully equipped with the new line of Titleist irons and demand for these products has been immediate. In recent weeks a number of players have switched into one of the new Titleist iron models including Robert Karlsson (new MB), Tano Goya (new AP2) and Brett Rumford (new AP2) all of whom are featured in this week’s slideshow with their new clubs. Feedback on the new iron offerings has been unanimously positive among the players with the looks, feel and performance of the new AP2, CB and MB drawing widespread praise.Put simply, the players won’t switch if the clubs don’t work, so the amount of players making the transition into new product speaks volumes.
Another reason for the team being particularly busy at the moment is massive demand for Vokey Spin Milled Condition of Competition (C-C) Wedges. The vast majority of players are using wedges with grooves that do not conform to the new R&A rulings coming into force on January 1st 2010 for Tour professionals or amateur players competing in professional Tour events. They are therefore looking to obtain conforming wedges as soon as possible to allow them time to adjust to the new grooves during practice. Given the vast quantity and variety of Vokey wedges out on the European Tour it is quite a task to switch all of the players over to conforming wedges, but, with the TTSV fully stocked with Vokey heads, the team is able to accommodate the vast majority of requests. One player who has recently received his new C-C Vokey is Argentine Estanislao Goya. You can see a picture of his new Vokey 60-T C-C wedge in this week’s slideshow.
While irons and Vokey wedges have been in high demand there is still barely a week that goes by in which one of the team isn’t working with a player on their driver or farway metals. There seems to be a definite trend for European Tour players to want to tinker with their metals, particularly their driver set-up, in the hope of finding more distance, greater accuracy (or both!!!). This week saw two of the European Tour’s heavy hitters check in with the team as both Ross Fisher and Robert Karlsson took the opportunity to work on their driver and fairway set-ups, respectively. Fisher is one of the longest hitters in world golf and has been loyal to the Titleist 905R for a number of years. Recently, Ross has found his ball ballooning a little with his current ‘gamer’ and following discussion with Titleist Tour Representative Mattias Jelver, he took time out during practice to test a new driver. The objective was to flatten out his ball flight to create a more penetrating trajectory and the obvious candidate to achieve this was a low lofted 909D3 driver. Following a successful range session Ross took a new driver out for the practice round and early indications are that he could be as much as 10 yards longer with the new club – that Pro V1 is certainly going to know when it has been hit!!
Model: 909D3 8.5°
Shaft: True Temper Project X 7A3 X-Flex
Grip: Lamkin Crossline Cord Black (+1/64”)
Following a recent switch to the new Titleist MB irons Robert Karlsson was back aboard the TTSV this week to discuss a new fairway metal. Robert felt that he was losing a little carry with his current fairway and decided that he wanted to go back to a tried and tested formula. Robert had huge success using the Grafalloy Prolaunch Red shaft in his fairway last year and the team were more than happy to offer him a new 909F3 fitted with this shaft. The results were evident when Robert hit the range with a noticeable increase in hang time resulting in the extra yards through the air that he was looking for. Mission accomplished!!!
Model: 909F3 13°
Shaft: Grafalloy Prolaunch Red Fairway X-Flex
Grip: Golf Pride Multi-Compound Round (.600) Black/Red
With the Race to Dubai nearing its crescendo and a number of players battling hard to keep their card it is sure to be another intense weekend of European Tour competition in southern Portugal. Last week we touched on Paul Waring’s recent run of bad luck but we’re pleased to report that in spite of a lack of practice in Madrid last week he was able to post a respectable finish and move inside the top 115 on the Race to Dubai standings. With the opportunity to practice in Portugal this week Paul has posted two solid opening rounds to make the cut and will now be looking to push on over the weekend as he bids to secure his card for 2010. Good luck to Paul and his Titleist stablemates out in Portugal. The Blog will return next Friday with all the latest from inside the ropes on the European Tour but for now “adeus” from the Algarve!!!