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Archive for Thursday, June 16, 2011

2-iron suits Gary Woodland just right

June 16, 2011

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Approaching lightning inspired Lee Trevino to utter one of golf’s most memorable quotes when he suggested it would be safe to keep playing as long as everyone used 1-irons.

“Even God can’t hit a 1-iron,” Trevino said.

The club, too hard to hit, pretty much has gone the way of the leisure suit, and the 2-iron is becoming more and more rare by the day. Even a vast majority of the world’s greatest golfers prefer hybrid clubs to the 2-iron because they are easier to hit.

Former Kansas University golfer and Topeka native Gary Woodland carries a 2-iron, and it just might be the key club in his bag at the Congressional, site of the U.S. Open that kicks off today, one week after Woodland played 36 holes at Lawrence Country Club. Jon Zylstra was in the group with Woodland.

“I was most impressed with his 2-iron stinger off the tee that he hit out here,” Zylstra said.

Selling golf clubs out of the pro shop is among Zylstra’s duties as head pro at LCC, so when he sees a club that doesn’t look familiar to him, his curiosity is piqued.

“When he looked at the Titleist 2-irons, he picked that one out,” Zylstra said. “They told him it was designed for Davis Love, and Davis Love didn’t like it. Gary said he told them, ‘Well, I love it.’”

Zylstra quickly found out the 2-iron loves Woodland back.

“He hit it from a fairway bunker on No. 12 (at LCC), straight uphill, 256 yards to eight feet from the pin,” Zylstra said. “On No. 6, from the tips (a 406-yard hole), he hit it to just short of the 100-yard marker. A 2-iron!”

Zylstra said the club has “an extra-stiff shaft, and it’s just a rocket coming out there.”

Ross Randall, the man who recruited Woodland to KU as a transfer from Washburn University, where he played basketball, explained why Woodland prefers the 2-iron to a hybrid, or for that matter, any other club in his bag when hitting off the tee box.

“When he hits a hybrid, it goes too high and might even go too far,” Randall said. “He hits a 2 so he can control it and keep it down. He’s done with letting it rip. I told him a long time ago he would learn to do that. It’s nice to have that distance when you need it, but if you keep trying it, you’ll hit it out of bounds.”

Jason Seeman, a former KU golfer, an LCC member and the national sales manager for the Bushnell golf division, played with Woodland, Zylstra and a few others last Thursday. (Seeman and KU golf coach Kit Grove recently finished second, losing in a playoff, in the KGA four-ball tournament.)

Seeman, who also carries a 2-iron, shared a Woodland tidbit that shows just how straight his head is screwed on these days. Woodland’s agent had a $500,000 bonus clause from Titleist in Woodland’s contract if he led the PGA Tour in driving distance. Woodland had him take it out so he wouldn’t be tempted to use his driver too often.

“That shows how much confidence he has in his ability,” Seeman said.

It’s justified. Woodland stung a 2-iron 287 yards off the tee on his final hole of the Transitions in Orlando, site of his first PGA tour victory.

Said Zylstra: “I asked him about Congressional, and he said he played it about three weeks ago, and he felt confident. He said it’s going to be long and tight and said his 2-iron is going to be a great weapon for him.”

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