(Reuters) – Tiger Woods will use a new set of irons at this week’s Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina, the 14-times major winner announced on Tuesday.
Woods has been trying out the TaylorMade clubs for a while, and has decided the time is right to put them to the test in the heat of competition.
“Phase 1 of irons development … is complete. Looking forward to teeing it up this week,” he said on Twitter ahead of Thursday’s first round in Charlotte.
The news comes more than a year after Woods signed with TaylorMade, and after a disappointing performance last month at the U.S. Masters.
Woods struggled with his irons on the way to finishing tied for 32nd.
“I felt I hit it well enough off the tee to do some things, but I hit my irons awful for the week,” he said after his final round at Augusta National.
Woods, in his seventh start of the year after a successful spinal fusion, will be joined at Quail Hollow by a strong field that also features Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Masters champion Patrick Reed.
McIlroy and Thomas have fond memories of Quail Hollow. McIlroy recorded his first PGA Tour win there in 2010, while Thomas more recently made his major breakthrough at the PGA Championship.
The course set-up this week will be more forgiving than it was when Thomas won last August, with more grass around the greens expected to offer better lies for chip shots.
“It was really tough to chip around the greens (at the PGA) because it was so tight,” said defending champion Brian Harman, who won last year’s Wells Fargo at a different venue.
While Woods will consume most attention, fans with an eye on the future could do worse than watch Joaquin Niemann.
The 19-year-old from Chile finished sixth in his professional debut at the Texas Open two weeks ago.
“It gave me a lot of confidence,” said Niemann, who reckons his ability with the driver should hold him in good stead this week.
“Hitting fairways is one of my best parts of my game. I just need to hit fairways because the course is really long. You don’t want to hit five-irons from the rough.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ian Ransom)