Sign up for our daily newsletter

Latest news, reviews, analysis and opinion, plus unmissable deals for bunkered subscriptions, events, and our commercial partners.

On the eve of the Open, there’s plenty of changes to the equipment of the world’s best.

On a Hoylake layout that rewards precision over power, many players are swapping out high lofted woods in favour of lower-lofted driving irons.

There’s also adjustments being made at the other end of players’ set-ups, with putter changes, wedge adjustments and even some new irons making their way into bags.

Here’s a closer look.

Defending champion swaps out 7-wood

Cameron Smith was a visitor to the Mizuno tour truck earlier this week, where he added a new driving iron to his set-up. The Aussie already games a Mizuno Pro Hi-Fli 3-iron, and he added the same model of club but with a 2-iron loft to his set-up earlier this week.

• New 17th “could ruin somebody’s career” says coach

Staff on the Mizuno truck told bunkered.co.uk that Smith wanted a club with a shape he was familiar with that was going to fly lower than his Titleist TS2 7-wood. The new club is fitted with the same KBS Tour shaft as his other driving iron.

Cam Smith bag tweaks

Smith isn’t the only one adding a Hi-Fli to the bag this week. LIV Golf player Thomas Pieters also a driving iron earlier this week, but with even less loft than Smith’s. The Belgian’s club is stamped as a 1-iron, but in reality, has the loft of a 2-iron. That club is fitted with a HZRDUS Smoke Black shaft.

Fleetwood testing new 3-wood

Tommy Fleetwood is considering replacing his TaylorMade BRNR Mini Driver with a 3-wood for this week’s test at Hoylake. The Englishman was testing two TaylorMade Stealth 2 3-woods during his Tuesday practice round at the Renaissance Club before the Genesis Scottish Open with TaylorMade’s head club fitter Adrian Rietveld.

• What is internal OOB (and how does it work)?

The 32-year-old felt that the option of a 3-wood will give him better turf interaction than the mini driver on Royal Liverpool’s tight surfaces. With two par-5s playing over 600 yards at the Liverpool venue, including the finishing hole, it could be a valuable move to have an option more playable off the deck.

Tommy Fleetwood 3-wood

Adam Scott and Bryson DeChambeau are others who have gamed the BRNR Mini Driver and both were seen on the practice range with the club on a wet Tuesday morning at Hoylake.

Dustin Johnson makes putter change

The former world No.1 has been struggling on the greens – he’s tied for 17th in putting from the 48 players on the LIV Golf league – and he’s put a new flatstick in the bag to try and turn it around.

The former Masters champion has a TaylorMade TP Reserve M21 in the bag for this week. That replaces the TaylorMade Spider GT that was in the American’s bag.

• R&A chief: Senior player targeted by activists

• The Open: The ultimate fan experience?

Phil taking Ping for a spin

Phil Mickelson was spotted with a Ping driver in the bag during his Tuesday and Wednesday practice rounds. The club, which appears to be a G430 LST, is a change from the Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond that the six-time major champion had been gaming.

It shouldn’t come as a huge shock, however, with the left hander ranked 45th out of the 48 players on the LIV Golf League in driving accuracy. Not a stat he wants to carry into this week.

Højgaard’s game improvement driving iron

Nicolai Højgaard made it into this week’s major thanks to a tied sixth finish at the Genesis Scottish Open. The Dane joins his twin Rasmus at Liverpool and both players are new recruits to the Callaway staff.

This week, Nicolai is set to be gaming a Callaway Paradym driving iron at his third appearance at the Open Championship. Although it says 4 on the club, the addition to his bag is bent to a 3-iron loft and the big hitting 22-year-old told bunkered.co.uk that the club gives him another option off the tee.

“I always find a utility iron can get too hot but this one is an inbetween,” said Højgaard. “I can still keep this low, but I get a lot of control with it which is so important when it’s windy.”

Another note on Nicolai, he’ll be hoping to join the growing list of players to win with the Odyssey Jailbird putter. He’s got Jailbird Mini in the bag this week.

Schenk in need of new set

More news from the Mizuno truck, as 31-year-old Adam Schenk was in need of a brand-new set of clubs. His were lost in transit on the way to Royal Liverpool, so the staff made him a new set of MP-18s (3-PW).

Adam Schenk new irons

Titleist driving irons proving popular

Among those getting in practice late on Tuesday was Max Homa. The six-time PGA Tour winner spent more than two hours on Hoylake’s range, watched by coach Mark Blackburn, and there’s a potential new addition to the bag.

The American had a T-Series driving iron out, something which he was comfortable flighting low and high, both from the ground and from a tee.

Another Titleist staffer was testing a similar club, with Jazz Janewattanond using a T-Series T200 iron in a late Tuesday afternoon session. The Thai man only put the club in the bag on Tuesday and wasn’t sure whether it will still be there come Thursday morning.

Ryder Cup hopeful Yannik Paul also has a Titleist 2-iron in play this week.

Koepka and McIlroy keeping trusty driving irons

No surprises here. Brooks Koepka still has his trusty Nike Vapour Pro 3-iron in the bag for this week’s test at Royal Liverpool.

Genesis Scottish Open winner Rory McIlroy is sticking with the club which helped him win last weekend in dramatic fashion. It was in the bag for a Wednesday afternoon range session before the 2014 Open champion took to the course.

Pete Cowen explains wedge works 

Outspoken short game guru Pete Cowen has explained the changes his students are making at the other end of the bag.

This week, from the tight lies around the greens at Hoylake, it’s low bounce wedges that are the name of the game.

“You need less bounce around here, that’s a given,” he told bunkered.co.uk. “Most players, if they’re changing the wedges this week, will be putting ones with less bounce in.

“The good thing is they all have three or four so they can vary it. You can have what you want, you can have one with low bounce, one with medium bounce and one with high bounce. They’ve all got at least three wedges in the bag.

• McIlroy pulls out of Open press conference

“All the Callaway players are seeing Roger Cleveland this week. He’s made quite a few changes to the players’ wedges, grinding the heel down, taking bounce off and relieving the heel so they can get the heel under it, especially in the bunkers.”

As for changes to technique, the Yorkshireman, who coaches the likes of Joaquin Niemann, Danny Willet and Gary Woodland, said that his players will be getting more “toe release” around the greens.

“Technique wise, I want my players this week getting more toe release. That means it’s going to come out calmer, but it will still have straight flight.

“You don’t want to be dragging it across with horrible left-to-right spin on the ball.”

The action gets underway at Royal Liverpool at 6.35am tomorrow.


author headshot

Lewis Fraser As bunkered’s Performance Editor, Lewis oversees the content that’s designed to make you a better player. From the latest gear to tuition, nutrition, strategy and more, he’s the man. A graduate of the University of Stirling, Lewis joined bunkered in 2021. Formerly a caddie at Castle Stuart Golf Links, he is a member of Bathgate Golf Club where he plays off four.

Performance Editor

More Reads

Image Turnberry green

The bunkered Golf Course Guide - Scotland

Now, with bunkered, you can discover the golf courses Scotland has to offer. Trust us, you will not be disappointed.

Find Courses

Latest podcast

The 2024 Masters Commute - Day 1 LIVE from Augusta