ORLANDO – After damaging his 3-wood on Saturday at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Viktor Hovland is using a new version of the same TaylorMade Stealth Plus 3-wood in the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational thanks to his caddie making an emergency trip to a local PGA Tour Superstore.
Hovland, who entered Sunday tied for second with defending champion Scottie Scheffler, blasted his 3-wood 311 yards at the 388-yard par-4 10th hole on Saturday and figured something was wrong with the club.
“It came out really hot and went miles. I looked at the sole and was like what the hell?” said Shay Knight, Hovland’s caddie. “I brought it to his attention right away.”
Hovland is a Ping ambassador but carries the TaylorMade 3-wood under a Ping head cover. When they looked at the club’s sole, the Speed Pocket had caved in slightly. The black rubber compound is bonded to a tiny shelf or lip on the bottom of the face. The fact that it bent inward suggests the bottom of the hitting area was getting a lot of stress, especially from thin shots.
“First time in my 16 years that I’ve ever seen anything like that,” Knight said.
As a result, they called for a rules official, who told them that Hovland could replace the club but he didn’t have a backup with him. The Tour rules official didn’t return to let them know if the club was non-conforming, but they elected not to use it again just to be on the safe side.
After Hovland wrapped up a bogey-free 6-under 66 to improve to 8-under for the tournament and a stroke off the 54-hole lead held at the end of the day by Kurt Kitayama, Knight called a TaylorMade equipment rep, who was on vacation in Maui but arranged for a local company rep to help secure the proper clubhead. It turned out that PGA Tour Superstore had the exact specs for Hovland. According to the app Waze, the PGA Tour Superstore on Turkey Lake is 2.2 miles away and Knight rushed there at 5:30 p.m. ET on Saturday to fetch it.
Knight popped the new Stealth Plus head into Hovland’s Tour-model shaft and had the club ready for Hovland to test on the range before his 1:20 p.m tee time in the final group.
“We’ll see how it goes today,” Knight said. “Luckily we don’t need 3-wood much today, maybe on No. 15 and 18.”