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Tyler Duncan fires 65 despite losing his driver head during tee shot

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Well, that’s one way to switch into a new driver.

Tyler Duncan had been testing out the new Titleist TSR driver since the West Coast swing, but he’d yet to officially put it in the bag in favor of last year’s TSR model. Even after cracking his gamer head in the lead-up to last week’s Valspar Championship; he used the new driver in the pro-am before a buddy overnighted him an old clubhead for the tournament.

“We’ve been working to get the new one right … and I have a lot of trust in it,” Duncan said. “It’s just my other one was so good there was no reason to change.”

Now, Duncan doesn’t have a choice.

That replacement head that he got mailed last week? It lasted 14 holes and one shot on Friday at the Corales Puntacana Championship, where Duncan fired a second-round,7-under 65, finishing the round with 13 clubs and one head-less shaft, to pull to within three shots of the lead, held by Matt Wallace.

After making contact with his tee ball on the par-4 15th hole, Duncan’s driver head broke off from the shaft and flew down the fairway.

“I've never seen that or experienced that before,” Duncan explained. “And I didn't know what happened, I didn't even know it at first. I hit the shot and I felt something weird happen, and then I had no idea where the ball was, never saw the ball flight … and then I look back, and I catch the driver head like dribbling off the grass into the sand.”

Duncan's driver head flies off on No. 15 in Punta Cana

Duncan's driver head flies off on No. 15 in Punta Cana

Duncan failed to locate his detached clubhead. As for his ball, it found the fairway.

“It was perfect,” Duncan said. “It was right where it would have gone like a normal drive.”

Duncan ended up birdieing the hole for his eighth and final birdie of the round. Earlier in the day, he tied a tournament record with six straight birdies, at Nos. 4-9. Unable to get his backup driver, the new model, in time, Duncan hit 3-wood at Nos. 16 and 18, the latter a 500-yard hole into the wind, where Duncan had 4-iron in and managed to save par.

"It was just get it in play and then figure it out from there," said Duncan, who will put the new TSR in play for the first time on Saturday.

Duncan has good memories in the Dominican Republic. In 2017, when this event was still a Korn Ferry Tour stop, Duncan tied for third while playing on conditional status. He'd earn his PGA Tour card for the first time that year, and he's been in the big leagues ever since.

"This is kind of where my career started taking off," Duncan said. "I finished third here on that tour when I had conditional status. ... Without that I probably wouldn't be here."