Two weeks and two playoff victories for Titleist Brand Ambassadors to celebrate the start of the new year - that’s two Pro V1x golf balls and 28 Titleist clubs played to capture the first two PGA TOUR events of 2020.
This week it was Cameron Smith at the Sony Open in Hawaii who got up and down for birdie from the bunker on the par 5 final hole of regulation to force a playoff. After making par on the first extra hole to earn his second career PGA TOUR crown, and his first as an individual (his first was a team event at the 2017 Zurich Classic with Jonas Blixt).
Smith follows Justin Thomas – who captured his second Sentry Tournament of Champions — into the 2020 Winners’ Circle. Another Titleist Brand Ambassador, Webb Simpson, narrowly missed participating the playoff, finishing solo 3rd, one shot back. Simpson has played four events in the 2019-20 season with four top 10 finishes.
WHAT’S IN CAMERON SMITH’S WINNING TITLEIST BAG?:
Pro V1x golf ball, TS2 (9.5°) driver, TS2 (15.0°) fairway metal, U-500 (3) utility iron, T100 (4-9) irons, Vokey Design SM8 pitching (46.10F), gap (52.08F), sand (56.08M) and lob (60.10S) wedges, Scotty Cameron TFB 1.5 Teryllium putter.
Smith was among the first players to put the Titleist T100 irons in the bag when they became available to PGA TOUR players at last year’s U.S. Open. He prefers the custom black T100 head with Dynamic Gold Onyx shafts.
His new Vokey Design SM8 wedges have been in the bag since the Australian Open in November and as a member of the International team at last month’s Presidents Cup.
He put his new Scotty Cameron TFB 1.5 Teryllium putter in the bag for the first time at the Presidents Cup, where he went 1-1-1, including a Singles victory over fellow Titleist Brand Ambassador and Sentry T of C winner, Justin Thomas.
RECORD BREAKING WEDGE COUNTS:
To say the launch of the new Vokey Design SM8 wedges on the PGA TOUR has been a success would be an understatement. The new model – which by themselves accounted for 180 total wedges in play this week - has vaulted the already most played brand on tour for 15 consecutive years to a new stratosphere.
At the Sony Open in Hawaii, Titleist topped the gap, sand and lob wedge count with 228 in play – that is a record 57 percent for a full-field event of 140 players or more. According to Darrell Survey, the figure stands alone, eclipsing the 56 percent tallied by the Vokey brand at the 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship.
[Note: Vokey accounted for a record 62% of wedges in play at the 132-player Barracuda Championship in 2016].
To take this week’s accomplishment a step further, it also marks Titleist’s highest-ever percentage for a FULL wedge count (inclusive of pitching wedges) at 51.65%, topping the previous count of 51.60% at the same 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship. Inclusive of pitching wedges, there were 282 Vokey Design wedges in play this week compared to 61 for the nearest competitor.
Vokey Design wedge usage has steadily risen on the PGA TOUR. In 2004, Titleist wedges won their first season-long count with 30 percent in play. Vokey accounted for 49 percent of all season-long wedge use each of the past two years.
Titleist was the overwhelming leader in the golf ball category with 103 players (72%) in the field of 144 teeing up a Pro V1 or Pro V1x - nearly seven times the nearest competitor with 15.
Titleist golf club success was equally impressive, topping the driver category with 46 (32%) in play – 17 more than the nearest competitor (29). Titleist more than doubled the nearest competitor in the iron category with 43 sets in play, compared to 19 for the next closest brand. More than half of all the utility irons in play were Titleist with 39 versus 15 for the closest competitor.
Branden Grace (Pro V1x) fired a final-round 62 to top fellow countryman Louis Oosthuizen (Pro V1) by three shots to win the South African Open.
Oosthuizen, the overnight leader, carded a hole-in-one on No. 8 on Sunday, but Grace responded with four straight birdies, starting on No. 11, en route to a 9-under for the day and a 21-under 263 victory total. Grace, who started the final round three shots off the lead, finished the day with eight birdies and an eagle.
“This is the one I really wanted,” Brandon Grace said. “This means so much to any South African, winning on home soil. The guys get so behind you and it’s such an emotional feeling.”
The win marked Grace’s ninth European Tour title and first victory at the South African Open. It also secured Grace a spot in this year’s Open Championship at Royal St. George’s. Grace is now assured of making his ninth straight Open appearance, a stretch that includes a T-6 finish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he became the first player to shoot 62 in a major.
Marcus Armitage (Pro V1), who finished solo 3rd, two shots behind Oosthuizen, gave Titleist golf ball players a 1-2-3 sweep of the event. The performance also earned Armitage a spot in The Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series, where three spots were available to players not previously qualified.
Grace and Armitage are two of multiple competitive full product line players who, rather than play their golf club company’s golf ball, choose to trust the consistency of Titleist for their success.
Titleist was the overwhelming top choice in golf balls in the field of 240 with 190 players (79%) choosing a Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x - nearly eight times the nearest competitor with 25. Titleist was also the field favorite from tee-to-green, leading all competitors in the driver (72/30%/tie), fairway metal (91/33%), hybrid (27/37%), utility iron (59/45%), iron set (79/33%), and wedge (393/43%) categories.
Titleist Brand Ambassador Wade Ormsby (equip in grid) won the Hong Kong Open for the second time (2017) in four years after closing with his third straight 4-under par 66. The 39-year old, who was playing on a sponsor's invite, opened the event with a 5-under 65 and led wire-to-wire en route to a 17-under par 263 victory total. He finished a comfortable four shots clear of his nearest competitor, the current Open Championship winner.
Ormsby topped a leaderboard that included nine Titleist golf ball players who were among the 12 who finished in the top 10 and ties. Jazz Janewattananond (Pro V1) claimed solo 4th at 11-under, one better than Tony Finau (Pro V1/solo 5th).
In addition to topping the field in golf balls with 91 of 120 players (76%), Titleist was the field favorite in hybrids (27/37%), utility irons (23/32%), iron sets (38/32%) and wedge sets (54/45%).