Dustin Johnson, the winner of the 2020 FedEx Cup, started his round at the 2021 Northern Trust on Thursday without having a driver in his bag.
No, Johnson is not taking a page out of Phil Mickelson’s playbook from the 2008 U.S. Open when the left-hander decided to take on Torrey Pine’s South Course without a driver. According to Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis, Johnson noticed a small crack in his TaylorMade SIM2 driver shortly before his scheduled 12:44 p.m. ET tee time. Since Johnson had not started playing, he was free to replace the club, but while Johnson travels with a backup driver, it was not being kept at Liberty National Golf Club.
So, instead of using a driver, Johnson is carrying two 3-woods in the first round of the Northern Trust. The 2016 U.S. Open and 2020 Masters champion typically carries a SIM2 Max 3-wood with 16.5 degrees of loft. The SIM2 Max does not have an adjustable hosel, the standard SIM2 titanium does and that allows players and fitters to increase or decrease the club’s loft. It is likely that Johnson’s stronger-lofted 3-wood has between 13.5 and 15 degrees of loft.
Why not grab a driver off TaylorMade’s PGA Tour truck? The vans and trucks that provide equipment services to players left Liberty National on Wednesday after lunch, which is customary, and started heading South to Cave’s Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland, the site of next week’s BMW Championship.
Most PGA Tour players bring the 14 clubs they play to use to tournaments, along with a backup driver, backup putter and oftentimes a hybrid club, driving iron and intentionally a sand wedge with a different bounce configuration than their normal wedge in case the sand conditions are firmer or fluffier than normal.
Johnson finished the PGA Tour’s regular season ranked 20th in strokes gained off the tee (0.452) and 17th in FedEx Cup points.