Now Tiger turns to Nike irons

Swoosh! Woods opens with 66 at Buick Invitational

Bob Warters's picture
Fri, 8 Feb 2002
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Tiger Woods revealed a new set of Nike irons in his bag on his way to a first round 66 in the Buick Invitational event at Torrey Pines, yesterday.

Nike is hoping that Woods can do for its clubs what he did for its balls and having given the new forged titanium driver its debut at Pebble Beach last week, dropped a set of swoosh-branded forged blades into his bag, at the San Diego course he knows so well.

Nike irons now in Tiger's hands.

He shot a bogey-free six-under par on the less-demanding North course – he plays the tougher South course later today - but watched several putts lip out. Nike, apparently, has yet to develop a putter he likes!

Woods saved par on his finishing hole, the par-5, 548-yard ninth after hitting his tee shot behind a eucalyptus tree. Chipping out towards the adjoining fourth fairway to improve the angle, he then hit a towering 176-yard 8-iron from the rough and two-putted from 35 feet for his par.

The World No.1 first played Torrey Pines as a six-year-old, and won the world junior title here aged 15. He birdied four out of five around the turn to get to six under and missed a couple of opportunities coming home.

Woods’ change of equipment from Titleist, has wide-ranging ramifications for Nike who are reportedly paying him $100 million to play their clubs and balls and wear their clothing and shoes.

Nike are reluctant to reveal the specifications of the new clubs – used to win David Duval’s Open title at Royal Lytham last July – but, according to Sports Illustrated the new driver, is about the same size as his Titleist model, with a half-inch longer steel shaft (44.5 inches).

However, it allegedly has a thinner face and slightly more loft to fly the ball about ten yards farther.

Australian Mathew Goggin, a former regular on the European Tour, leads the Buick tournament after round one with an eight-under-par 64 over the North Course.

Good news for the UK is that 24-year-old Luke Donald, the ex-Walker Cup amateur is only one behind alongside Jay Williamson.

Phil Mickelson, who’s won his home town tournament for the last two years struggled on the North Course with a one-over-par 73.

Best of the rest among the Europeans was Miguel Angel Jimenez, desperate to retain his top 64 world ranking – he’s 63rd – for next week’s world matchplay event in California. He fired an opening 67.

Irishman Richie Coughlan had a 70 and England’s Paul Casey an even par 72 over the more difficult South Course.

 

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