Billy Andrade has told bunkered how the release of the Titleist Pro V1 in October 2000 breathed new life into his faltering career.
Andrade, now 56, was in the throes of the worst slump of his career and facing up to the prospect of having to go to PGA Tour Q-School for the first time since his rookie year in 1987 when he was given a box of the prototype balls ahead of the Invensys Classic in Las Vegas.
The Rhode Islander put the balls straight into play that week – and, by the Sunday night, he was a PGA Tour champion for the fourth time.
That was 20 years ago today and, though it was Andrade’s final win on the world’s most lucrative golf circuit, it was the first of literally thousands of victories for the Titleist Pro V1.
“I remember playing a practice round with the Pro V1s and thinking, ‘You know what, I better save these because I’m 100% using them this week.’ That’s how good they were,” recalls Andrade.
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“It was a much firmer ball and the sound was a little harder than I was used to but the flight was awesome. I recovered the distance I had been giving up off the tee without sacrificing any of the feel I wanted with my irons, wedges and even my putter.
"I mean, that’s the magic potion every professional golfer wants right there.”
Andrade is in no doubt that the ball was responsible for his sudden and welcome return to form that week in Vegas.
“I went from something like 180th on the money to list to 40-something,” he said. “It really jump-started the second act of my PGA Tour career.
“You think about pieces of equipment that have made a big impact. Ely Callaway and the Big Bertha took the driver industry to the next level and that was unquestionably huge. But Titleist, with the Pro V1, elevated not just the ball but the entire game to somewhere I never thought it could go. It was a game-changer in every sense of the word.”
In a PGA Tour career that spanned 633 events, Andrade won four times, had 56 top-10s and reached a career high of 46th on the world rankings. However, despite all that, his name will forever be inexorably linked to Titleist’s most famous ball.
He laughed: “I guess, if nothing else, I’m destined to go down in the history of golf as the answer to a quiz question.”
Read the full interview with Billy Andrade in issue 181 of bunkered, on-sale next week from all good newsagents. Subscribe here. International subscriptions available.