The opening round of The Masters is finally here! Although Augusta hasn't received any dramatic face lifts, the length and the difficulty of the course has some players looking to make some minor tweaks to get the most out of their equipment. If the course continues to play soft, there will be a premium on driving distance especially on the back nine which has some of the longest hitters hitting long iron approach shots.
Phil Mickelson has been testing Callaway's new I-Mix driver which features interchangeable shaft technology. In his Tuesday press conference, Mickelson said, 'I have been able to interchange shafts and put a longer shaft in if I want to get more distance. I'm hoping I only need one driver because I want to put an extra wedge in. But if I feel like distance is going to be a bigger factor, I'll stick a second driver in.'
Several players are tackling the distance issue by tweaking their golf balls. If the soft fairways persist, K.J. Choi has considered using Nike's lower spinning One Black ball and sacrificing some spin around the greens for the added distance the ball provides. Ernie Els is going the opposite way playing the higher spin Callaway Tour i golf ball, 'I'm actually going to use the softer Callaway ball this week, too, the i ball. I can spin it around the greens a lot better and the ball comes out a bit lower, but it spins better. So I think I'll probably use that.'
The difficult greens at Augusta are perhaps the most critical consideration. Justin Rose spent two and a half hours on the back nine fine tuning his short game with three clubs - sand wedge, lob wedge, and putter. '[I spent] a fair amount of time, probably hitting quite a few bunker shots here and there, but not hitting every area, but hitting areas I know I'm likely to miss the ball to, that's the key. For example, 11, you know that your miss is going to be right so hitting a few chips from the right side. So just kind of knowing your game and understanding your game, and, yeah, practicing from likely positions you'll be in.'
Players in the tournament get to have some fun as well with their equipment and accessories. Callaway and TaylorMade have released their new 2008 staff bags to commemorate the first major of the year. The Callaway bag is particularly impressive with it's Masters Green accents and details.
Nike and Adidas have been hard at work tweaking their apparel selections for their players. Adidas recently released the wardrobes of Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose and as expected the selections are conservative yet stylish in keeping with the tradition of The Masters.