Collin Morikawa: “I’ve seen some increases”

If you’ve ever wondered what Collin Morikawa’s game would look like with a little extra length off the tee, you may find out this week. Morikawa has put TaylorMade’s new Stealth Plus in the bag for this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, and the club has given him approximately 3 mph in extra ball speed. It’s the first time in nearly two years that Morikawa has switched drivers. The Stealth Plus and its carbon face are replacing the SIM driver he used to win both of his major titles. Morikawa’s iron play always earns attention. He led the PGA TOUR in Strokes Gained: Approach last season, but if you can say there’s a shortcoming in the game of the world’s second-ranked player, it’s a lack of length compared to his peers. Morikawa ranked 112th in driving distance (295.2 yards) last season.

Collin Morikawa, statements

“I’ve actual seen some increases in ball speed. … This is the first time where I’ve actually seen that jump, which has been great,” Morikawa said Wednesday from Kapalua. “Any time you can get a little more ball speed, get a little more distance, it’s going to be helpful.

“I haven’t gotten that much stronger, I haven’t gotten that much bigger — but to get that just little extra out of it, it’s going to be beneficial sometimes on certain holes.”

TaylorMade’s Stealth line gained attention when Tiger Woods put it in the bag for last month’s PNC Championship. This is the first week the club is being used on the PGA TOUR.

The new line uses 60 layers of carbon in its red-and-black face instead of the traditional titanium. Woods also used a Stealth Plus, which is the line’s lowest-spinning model and has a sliding weight track on the sole to allow players to control shot shape.

“The feel is there, which is great. … The first two things that we look at is feel and sight,” Morikawa said. “The red face took me five hits. (I) don’t even think about it anymore, I think it looks so clean. The carbon, it creates a feel that normally you would feel off a titanium face.”

Ryan Ressa, TaylorMade’s Senior Manager of Player Development, said Morikawa’s ball speed with his previous driver was approximately 170-172 mph. Now it’s around 174.5-176 mph. Morikawa’s spin rate with both clubs ranges between 2,200-2,400 rpm and his launch angle is still around 10 degrees.

“It’s almost the same as his driver he’s loved for the last two years, but a bit faster,” Ressa said. “The big thing is he’s seeing his stock left-to-right shot on command. His control with it is really good.”

Said Morikawa, “Knowing that I can trust a driver that’s not … going to go left, I can hit my left-to-right cut shot and just be able to hit that everywhere we go, it’s really crucial for me. … So far what I’ve seen in this short, short time it’s already beaten what I’ve had in the past.”

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