Hanging out on the range at The Players, it doesn't take long to realize the heightened focus from the world's best this week.

While TPC Sawgrass might seem fun from outside the ropes (i.e. the famous par-3 island green-17th), it's become one of the game's toughest exams, featuring many treacherous targets.

"I think the fans come out in full force this week, and they have a good time," said Titleist Brand Ambassador Adam Scott, the 2004 Players Champion. "They enjoy the golf and they enjoy the risk and reward. ... I think you can feed off that a little bit, especially if you're playing well, so I enjoy that here."

Team Titleist was on the scene earlier this week in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., catching up with our Titleist Brand Ambassadors and golf ball loyalists as they prepared for a demanding week.

Click on the image below to see pictures from Tuesday's practice round and check back later in the week for more pictures from TPC Sawgrass.

How do you win the Players Championship?

With precision, says Titleist Brand Ambassador Tim Clark, the 2010 Players Champion.

TPC Sawgrass is an obstacle course guarded by Bermuda rough, small-target greens and fast, undulating putting surfaces. 

"To be in contention, you know you've played really good golf," says Tim, who discusses in the above video his keys to success at one of the toughest tests on tour.

This week, Tim will begin his title defense by teeing up a new Pro V1 golf ball, which he used to post 68 or better in six of his first eight rounds of 2011 before an elbow injury forced him to miss most of the last few months.

Team Titleist recently caught up with Tim, one of our newest Titleist Brand Ambassadors, to talk about the performance of the Pro V1 golf ball and how much making the switch has helped his game "off the tee, all the way down to putting."

Check out all of Tim's observations in the video below.

Team Titleist would like to thank everyone that logged in for our latest Titleist Golf Ball R&D Webcast, which aired live May 4 here on Titleist.com.

During the 30-minute broadcast, hosts Bill Morgan, Senior Vice President of Golf Ball R&D, and Mary Lou Bohn, Vice President of Golf Ball Marketing and Titleist Communications, discussed the facts about golf ball performance and fitting and answered some questions asked by Team Titleist members in our Golf Balls Discussions section.

Topics included:

• Titleist golf ball construction and technology;
• Golf ball design and performance attributes;
• Player testing and fitting (tour players and amateurs); and
• Common misconceptions of golf ball performance and fitting.

You can watch the entire Webcast in the videos below:

PART 1 (Product development process; Elements of golf ball design; Tour player testing and fitting):



PART 2 (Benefits of golf ball fitting; Playing the same golf ball model; Science of swing speeds):



PART 3 (Player ability vs. golf ball selection; Performance attributes of all Titleist golf ball models; Effects of temperature, time on golf ball performance): 


Thanks for watching! If you missed our New Pro V1 & Pro V1x Webcast earlier this year, you can watch it at this link.


Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf ball players combined for five victories around the globe Sunday, including a record-breaking performance from 24-year-old Titleist Brand Ambassador Kyung-tae Kim (pictured above) that moved him to No. 35 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Titleist golf ball players have now earned 47 victories across the worldwide professional tours in 2011, more than four times the nearest competitor with 10 and more than all other golf balls combined.

In total, 5,967 players have played Titleist golf balls in competition across the worldwide professional tours this season, more than six times the nearest competitor with 977 and more than all competitors combined.


ONEASIA TOUR: Kim's performance at the GS Caltrex Maekyung Open was the most dominant in the tournament's 30-year history: He fired four consecutive rounds in the 60s (67-68-66-66) for a 21-under 267 total at Namseoul Golf & Country Club in South Korea and won by eight shots.


Kim rolled his Pro V1x golf ball in for 24 birdies and one eagle over the four days, making just two bogeys over his final 31 holes.

Last season's Japan Tour money list winner, Kim birdied four of his first six holes after the turn Sunday to hold off a charge from Pro V1x loyalist Hyung-Sung Kim, who also closed the tournament with consecutive rounds of 6-under 66.

“Last year I did not win, but before this season I set my goal to win in Korea and I am delighted to be able to win this event for the second time,” said Kim, also a winner at the 2007 Maekyung Open in just his second start on the Asian Tour.

He won three times last year on the Japan Tour and has also finished T-48 or better in his last three major championship starts, including this year's Masters (T-44).

“It was difficult at the start of the second round because the players behind me made some early birdies," he said, "but I was then able to start putting better and managed to make some birdies myself."

Eight of the top 11 players on the final leaderboard were Titleist golf ball players. In total, 120 players in the field trusted Titleist golf balls, 10 times the nearest competitor with 12 and more than all competitors combined.

Here's a closer look at Kim's Titleist equipment:

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Titleist 910D3 8.5 (Graphite Design Tour AD EV 6)
Hybrid: Titleist 909H 17.0 (Fujikura Speeder 904)
Irons (3-5): MB (True Temper Dynamic Gold)
Irons (6-9): CB (True Temper Dynamic Gold)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled 48º, 52º and 58º (True Temper Dynamic Gold)


• EUROPEAN TOUR:
After earning his first European Tour title Sunday at the Open de España, Pro V1x loyalist Thomas Aiken dedicated his victory to legendary golfer and Spaniard Seve Ballesteros, who passed away Saturday at the age of 54. Ballesteros was a three-time winner in the event.

"It's been a sad week with Seve passing away. I definitely want to dedicate this win to him with it being his home Open and what he gave to his home fans and to golf," said Aiken, a six-time winner on the South African Sunshine Tour.

Players wore black ribbons during Sunday's round in honor of the five-time major champion.

“He was everything to the game of golf and I am happy to have won for him - any of us would have won for him," Aiken said.

Aiken closed with a 2-under 70 at the Real Club de Golf El Prat outside Barcelona, getting his Pro V1x golf ball up-and-down for par from a bunker on the par-4 17th. He also parred No. 18 to finish at 10-under 278, two shots ahead of fellow Pro V1x loyalist Anders Hansen.

"I don't think it's quite hit home yet," said Aiken. "I've been waiting for this for a long, long time and I've been knocking on the door. I'm ecstatic."

Titleist was the overwhelming golf ball of choice at the Open de Espana with 100 players, five times the nearest competitor with 20 and more than all competitors combined.


• CHAMPIONS TOUR: Pro V1 loyalist Tom Lehman
took home his second senior major championship trophy with a playoff victory over fellow Pro V1 loyalist Peter Senior at the Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek.

After tying Senior in regulation at 13-under 275, Lehman tapped his Pro V1 golf ball in for par on the second playoff hole to win for the third time in his last seven Champions Tour starts.

Lehman, 52, posted a bogey-free 3-under 69, his second bogey-free round of the week at Shoal Creek. Senior shot 4-under 68.

Lehman made just four bogeys the entire week, finishing the week tied for second in Greens in Regulation (77.8 percent).

"I just kind of kept the ball in play, moving it forward," said Lehman, who won the Senior PGA Championship last year in a playoff. "Hit a lot of greens. A lot of stress-free pars."

Titleist Brand Ambassador Jay Haas equaled his best finish of the season, sharing fifth place with four players, including Pro V1x loyalists Mark Calcavecchia and Kenny Perry

Titleist was the overwhelming golf ball of choice at the Regions Tradition with 53 players, more than five times the nearest competitor with 10. Titleist also was first in iron sets (22).


• CANADIAN TOUR: Pro V1x loyalist Jose de Jesus Rodriguez
birdied the first hole of a sudden death playoff with Pro V1x loyalist Roger Sloan to win the Mexican PGA Championship at Estrella Del Mar.

Rodriguez, 30, made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to force the playoff, shooting a final-round 5-under 67 to finish at 14-under 274. Sloan closed in 2-under 70.

On the playoff hole, No. 18, Rodriguez was faced with almost the same 10-footer he had missed in regulation. This time, his Pro V1x golf ball found the bottom of the cup.

“I’m really, really happy," Rodriguez said. "It feels good to finally get my first win on the Canadian Tour and I’m especially happy to win here in Mexico.”

The win was the first of Rodriguez' Canadian Tour career.


• SUNSHINE TOUR: Pro V1x loyalist Justin Walters
captured his second South African Sunshine Tour title, shooting a final-round 5-under 67 to win the modified stableford scoring event and lead a top-5 sweep for Titleist Pro V1x players.

Walters, 30, edged Pro V1x loyalist Divan van den Heever by one point, tapping in his Pro V1x golf ball for par on the final hole.

“I’ve always dreamed of having a short putt like that to win a tournament,” Walters said. “But first I had to stop my arms from shaking!”

Titleist was the overwhelming golf ball of choice at the event with 54 players, more than three times the nearest competitor with 17 and more than all competitors combined.


• PGA TOUR:
Five out of the top eight finishers at the Wells Fargo Championship trusted Titleist golf balls, including Pro V1 loyalist Jonathan Byrd, who was runner-up in a playoff after finishing regulation at 15-under 273 (66-68-67-72).

Byrd was attempting to find the winner's circle on the PGA Tour for the third time in just seven months, and the second time this season following his season-opening victory at the Mercedes Championship.

Titleist Brand Ambassador Bill Haas finished third (13-under 275), while Titleist Brand Ambassador Kevin Na was fifth (12-under 276).

Both Haas and Na notched their fourth top-10 finishes of the season.

In total, 102 players trusted Titleist golf balls at the Wells Fargo Championship, nearly seven times the nearest competitor with 15. Titleist also was first in iron sets (46); sand, lob and approach wedges (124); and putters (64).


NATIONWIDE TOUR: Titleist was the overwhelming golf ball of choice at the Stadion Athens Classic with 109 players, more than six times the nearest competitor with 18.

Titleist also was first in iron sets (44); sand, lob and approach wedges (140); and putters (67).

Team Titleist spent Monday through Wednesday of last week at the South Georgia Classic in Valdosta, Ga., hanging out with Titleist's Nationwide Tour team, an action-packed and educational experience as always.

Titleist's Bill Hughes (Senior Manager, Golf Club Promotions) and J.J. Van Wezenbeeck (Nationwide Tour Rep) were happy to show Team Titleist what happens behind-the-scenes in the Nationwide Tour Van about 25 weeks a year.

They were also gracious to take some time out of their busy schedules to answer questions submitted last week by Team Titleist members. (J.J. also e-mailed us a couple answers to some of the questions we couldn't get on video.)

You can find out all of the great info and insight in the videos below. Thanks Bill and J.J.!

• • •

Tony C. asks: Being a tour rep, what do the players request you do for them the most? Would it be changing their grips, adjusting loft and lie on their irons or even reshafting a driver?

David S. asks: Do the pros spend a lot of time in tour van?

 



Dylan H. asks:
This may be an easy question, but I'm unsure. How do I know what flex of shaft to have in my wedges? I play X-100 on irons and X-Stiff on woods. I am devoting a lot of time this summer to getting better at wedges. What shaft flex should I have? Right now I just have a 56º and 60º Vokey Design Spin Milled with the stock steel shaft in them.



Owen P. asks: How often do the guys on tour replace or alter their wedges?

Ryan K. asks: Do players change their wedges bounce depending on course conditions from week-to-week?


 
Aman M. asks: Is the equipment that tour players use a little different from what we use?



Ben M. asks: I am going to be getting irons soon, and as a junior golfer I am looking for forgiveness but also want a good amount of workability. Would I notice a difference in workability or forgiveness in the CBs from the AP2s?



Otis T. asks: What is your feedback on flighted irons? I am trying to achieve a higher flight and longer carry for my 4-6 irons; is this the way to go? I just ordered a set of AP2 irons with Project X flighted shafts. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 



William P. asks: It seems to me – and to others that I talk to – that hybrid clubs are very easy to hook too much. Is there anything you do for tour players to adjust their hybrid clubs to lessen the tendency for these clubs to hook?

J.J. writes: "William, historically if a player was having issues with a Titleist hybrid we would spend a lot of time with his club in our Tour Van bending molds or reshafting (often to heavier or stiffer shafts) to take the left out it.  With the SureFit Tour hosel, this has become a much faster process. Now we can click in a new shaft in seconds, and often moving the club to a flatter position from standard. For example, moving to the B•1 (standard loft, -.75º flat) setting can make all the difference in the world."

From Rob K.: What driver and fairway woods seem most popular on the tour: 910D2 or D3? 910F or Fd? How has the feedback been from the guys on the Sure Fit Tour Hosel?

J.J. writes: "Rob, as you can see on the Golf Channel's coverage of the Nationwide Tour, there are a lot of unique swings, setups and styles of play. Having the option of the 910D2 or 910D3, 910F or 910Fd, as well as 16 Surefit Tour hosel positions, gives us a lot of options to get the perfect trajectories and directions for these players.

"The majority of our players on the Nationwide Tour play the 910D3, mostly due to the lower spin characteristics of the D3 head as well as the increased workability. Many players out here are very high ball speed players and fight too much spin (See: Titleist Brand Ambassador Luke List, who is averaging 311 yards off the tee with his 910D3 driver). Having the option between the two heads allows our players to lock in ideal launch and spin while selecting their preferred head shape.

"On a tour-caliber golf course you also need your 3-wood to do a lot of different things – find fairways off the tee, hit high cuts into par-5s, and provide that extra gear on longer shots when necessary. This makes it a very unique and difficult club to fit perfectly. Many players like the versatility of the 910F, others enjoy the very low spin option in the 910Fd. Either way, the SureFit Tour hosel allows us to dial in the 3-wood head and setting to the player's wants and needs."

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