When Titleist Brand Ambassador Steve Stricker steps to the first tee Thursday afternoon at The Open Championship, he'll have a new prototype Titleist 913D3 driver in the bag for the first time.

After hitting some inconsistent drives during his Tuesday practice round at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Steve suspected he had cracked the face of his Titleist 909D3 driver, a fact confirmed by Titleist Director of Tour Promotions Chris Tuten.

The Titleist Leadership Team quickly went to work, providing Stricker immediate options in the new prototype 913 for testing Tuesday afternoon.

"I could tell that something was wrong with the driver yesterday during practice and sure enough there was a fracture along the sweet spot," said Stricker. "I'm disappointed to see the 909 go, but I worked with Chris (Tuten) the last day and a half and I am excited about putting the new 913 in play.

"The new technology is great. The 913 goes straighter, is more forgiving, has a bigger sweet spot and when I do mishit it it still goes the distance."

During an extensive fitting session, Stricker and the Titleist Tour staff dialed in his driver settings and arrived at the following optimal configuration:

  Titleist 913D3
Loft:  8.5º
SureFit Hosel Setting:  A1
Shaft:  Fujikura Tour Spec 8.2x, tipped 1" at 45"
Swingweight:  D5
Grip:  Tour Velvet Cord 58 with 1 wrap

Titleist's tour seeding and validation process for the prototype 913 drivers began just under a month ago at the PGA Tour's AT&T National event at Congressional Country Club.

Last week, 21 players had prototype 913 drivers in the bag at the John Deere Classic, while 20 players gamed the new drivers at the Scottish Open. 

This week the Open Championship returns to Royal Lytham and St. Annes in Lancashire, England. The oldest championship in golf is being contested for the 141st time and this week marks the 11th time that Royal Lytham has served as host.

The course features more than 200 bunkers and is unique among rota courses in that its first hole is a par-3 (measuring 205 yards). The home stretch of nine holes plays predominantly into the seaside wind and is sure to separate those players who are up for the challenge of links golf in a major setting and those who are not.

At last week's John Deere Classic, Team Titleist caught up with two Titleist Brand Ambassadors, who both have the short games and shot-making skills to contend for the claret jug in Lancashire. Steve Stricker, a 3-time Deere Champion and Zach Johnson, who is riding the momentum from his victory at this year's Deere, took some time to share their thoughts on preparing for the British Open.

Hear what they have to say in the above video.

Titleist Brand Ambassador Zach Johnson won the John Deere Classic with one of the best shots of his career Sunday, trusting a Titleist Pro V1x golf ball, AP2 (712 Series) irons and a bag of Titleist equipment to victory in an event so often referred to as Johnson's "fifth major."

Johnson, an Iowa native who also serves on the John Deere Classic's board of directors, triumphed in an all-Titleist golf ball playoff to earn his second PGA Tour victory of the season.

It was  one of four wins by Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x players last weekend around the world, including Pro V1 loyalist Roger Chapman's history-making win at the U.S. Senior Open. Doug LaBelle II (Pro V1x) also found the winner's circle on the Web.com Tour and Chris Killmer (Pro V1x) broke through with his first Canadian Tour victory.

Titleist golf ball players have won 96 times across the worldwide professional tours so far this season, eight times the nearest competitor with 12 and more than all other golf balls combined. A total of 11,858 players have teed up Titleist golf balls in those same events, as compared to 1,885 for the nearest competitor.

Sunday at the John Deere Classic, Johnson birdied three of his final six holes at TPC Deere Run to post a bogey-free 6-under 65 and finish regulation tied at 20-under 264.

On the second and deciding playoff hole, Johnson used a Titleist AP2 (712 Series) 6-iron to hit the game-winning shot from a fairway bunker on the left side of the fairway, 193 yards from the hole. Johnson's Titleist Pro V1x launched toward the right side of the green with a slight draw, disappearing from his view. He heard the crowd crescendo as it hit the green and ran toward the pin, stopping less than a foot from the cup.

"Well, it's one of the best results of my career. When it comes to execution, it's up there," said Johnson, who tapped in for the birdie, and the win. "It's probably way up there."

Johnson, also a winner at the Crowne Plaza Colonial in May, topped a leader board that featured 106 Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x players, nearly six times the nearest competitor with 18 and more than all competitors combined. Titleist also led the field in iron sets (38); sand, lob and approach wedges (136); and putters (64).

Titleist Brand Ambassador Scott Piercy (Pro V1x) finished alone in third at 18-under 266, with John Senden (Pro V1) another shot back in fourth place. Titleist Brand Ambassador Steve Stricker (Pro V1x) tied for fifth place, as each of the top six finishers all trusted Titleist golf balls for their success.

Here's a closer look at Zach Johnson's Titleist equipment:

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Titleist 910D2 9.5º (Diamana Blue 73)
3-wood: Titleist 910F 15º (Motore Speeder VC 7.0)
5-wood: Titleist 909F2 18.5º (ZCOM Pro 95)
Hybrid: Titleist 909H 21º (Speeder 904HB)
Irons: Titleist AP1 (4) and AP2 (5-9) 712 Series (Dynamic Gold)
Wedges: Vokey Design Spin Milled 48º, 54º, 60º (Dynamic Gold)

• CHAMPIONS TOUR: Roger Chapman (Pro V1) completed a historic double with his victory at the U.S. Senior Open in Michigan. Chapman, also a winner of the Senior PGA Championship in May, is only the fourth player to win both events in the same year.

He etched his name into the history books Sunday with a final-round 4-under 66 at Indianwood Golf & Country Club that included what he called the best shot of his career.

Leading by one shot on the tee at the 195-yard par-3 17th, Chapman hit his Pro V1 golf ball to tap-in range.

"I hit my career shot," he said.

Chapman finished the event at 10-under 270, two clear of four players, including Bernhard Langer (Pro V1), Tom Lehman (Pro V1,) and Corey Pavin (Pro V1), as four of the top five finishers relied upon Titleist golf balls for their success.

Titleist golf ball loyalists accounted for 113 of the 156-player field, more than eight times the nearest competitor with 14 and more than all other golf balls combined.

Titleist was also the choice of more players in the iron sets (41) and sand, lob and approach wedge (128) categories.

• WEB.COM TOUR: Pro V1x loyalist Doug LaBelle II rallied to win his second Web.com Tour title at the Utah Championship, rolling his Pro V1x in for par from 5 feet on the 18th hole to win by one shot.

LaBelle, who trailed by five shots at the beginning of the day, closed with a 3-under 68 for a 15-under 269 total, one shot clear of four players, including James Hahn (Pro V1x).

Labelle was one of 108 players in the field that trusted a Titleist golf ball, more than than five times the nearest competitor with 20 and more than all other golf ball combined. Titleist was also the choice of more players in the iron (47), wedge (165) and putter (64) categories.

The Utah Championship also marked the first week of seeding for new prototype Titleist 913 drivers on the Web.com Tour.  Of the 39 Titleist drivers in play, 24 were new 913 prototypes, with 17 913D3 models and seven 913D2 models.

• CANADIAN TOUR: Chris Killmer (Pro V1x) won The Players Cup in a playoff to earn his first Canadian Tour title.

Killmer, who closed in 2-under 69 for a 15-under 269 total, made par on the fourth playoff hole to earn the victory.

"I'm on top of the world right now," Killmer said. "A lot of guys played really good golf, and to call yourself the best of that field is a great feeling."

• EUROPEAN TOUR: A total of 94 players relied on Titleist golf balls for their success at The Scottish Open, more than four times the nearest competitor with 21 and more than all competitors combined.

It also marked the second week of the new prototype Titleist 913 driver seeding process on the European Tour, with 20 players putting the club in play.

• U.S. PUBLIC LINKS CHAMPIONSHIP: Titleist was the top equipment choice among the 156 players at the 87th U.S. Public Links Championship field, and the only choice of the winner.  Titleist players accounted for 121 golf balls, more than six times the nearest competitor with 19.  Titleist was also tops in the iron (55), wedge (202) and putter (54) categories.

The champion posted a 12-and-10 win in the scheduled 36-hole final, which included 10 birdies through 26 holes en route to the largest winning margin in the final match since 1985.

In addition to relying upon the Pro V1x, the winner trusted Titleist from tee-to-green, including a 910D2 9.5 driver, 910F fairway metals (15, 19), MB irons (4-P), Vokey Design Spin Milled TVD gap (52) and sand (56) wedges and SM4 lob (60) wedge, and Scotty Cameron prototype putter.

What better way to start Open Championship week than by celebrating another great event – the birthday of Master Craftsman Bob Vokey. 

Ask anyone who has met "The Voke" and they will tell you he is one of the best guys out there. Quick with a story or sage advice, The Voke is always in pursuit of perfecting his craft and dedicated to the players who trust his wedges.

Bob's success has been fueled by a tireless commitment to working closely with his R&D team and tour professionals to better understand exactly what they need in terms of design and, most important, feel. As a result, Vokey Design wedges have been the favorite among PGA TOUR players since 2004, with close to 40 percent of all sand, lob and approach wedges in play each week.

Team Titleist put together a special birthday video for Bob with the help of some of our Titleist Brand Ambassadors, which you can check out in the above video.

And to continue the celebration, we're excited to bring you another exclusive sweepstakes.

This is your chance to win a Bob Vokey autographed Titleist Vokey Design Wedges staff bag that until recently made its home on the Titleist Tour Support Van – the same van that traverses the U.S. going from one PGA Tour stop to another. 

PLEASE READ CAREFULLY: To enter the contestlog in to your Team Titleist account and then send The Voke a birthday greeting (i.e. Happy Birthday!) by adding a comment (see below) to this blog post by Sunday, July 22, at 11:59 p.m. EDT.*

Note: You must be a Team Titleist member to enter. Only one entry per person. We will randomly draw the winner from all approved entries.

(Sorry U.S. only. Here's some more info: Why are Titleist sweepstakes U.S. only?)

Happy Birthday Voke!


Congratulations to our winner, Brian K.

Thanks again to everyone who entered!

For Iowa native and Titleist Brand Ambassador Zach Johnson, winning the John Deere Classic had always been a dream, a "fifth major", as Zach described it.  

Early last week, Team Titleist caught up with Zach on the range at TPC Deere Run, where he took a few moments to share how special the tournament is to midwesterners like himself, and what a victory would mean.  Talk of winning must have spurred Zach on, as he went on to win the event in dramatic playoff fashion.  

See what Zach had to say in the video above and join us in congratulating Zach Johnson on his 9th PGA TOUR victory!