Royal Liverpool Golf Club is witnessing a resurgence in the use of long irons by professional players as they prepare for The Open Championship. Taking a page from the playbook of past champions like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who replaced their highest lofted fairway woods with long irons in previous victories at this esteemed event, current contenders are seeking greater control off the tee.
The strategic move to switch from 5-woods to 2-irons is driven by the demanding layout of Royal Liverpool. With its internal out of bounds, challenging wind conditions, and a staggering 81 penal pot bunkers scattered throughout the course, precision and accuracy are essential for success. Tiger Woods, in his memorable 2006 triumph, demonstrated exemplary accuracy, hitting an astounding 86% of fairways and sparingly employing his Nike SasQuatch driver.
This year's tournament is expected to emphasize accuracy over raw distance once again. Rory McIlroy has already equipped himself with a TaylorMade P-760 2-iron, embracing the strategy that has proven successful in the past. McIlroy's decision to opt for a long iron is echoed by other top-tier players.
Jordan Spieth, who claimed victory at the 2017 Open Championship held at Royal Birkdale, is set to make the transition to a new Titleist T-150 3-iron at Royal Liverpool. The T-150 iron model is yet to be released to the public, but Spieth's trust in its flight, feel, and control makes it his preferred choice, especially when handling challenging cross breezes.
Max Homa, known for using a Titleist TSR2 7-wood, is also embracing the trend and likely shifting to a Titleist T200 2-iron. Although Homa experimented with a T100S 3-iron, he found the T200 to offer better ball speed while still maintaining excellent ball flight, allowing him to gain valuable distance on the fairway.
Several other notable players are also considering similar long-iron switches. Sam Burns is contemplating the Callaway X-Forged UT 16-degrees, while Collin Morikawa is exploring the possibilities with a TaylorMade P-790 3-iron.
As the anticipation builds for The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, it becomes evident that players are keenly aware of the course's challenges and are adopting a strategic approach to navigate the fairways successfully. Emphasizing accuracy over sheer power, these professionals are taking inspiration from past champions like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who demonstrated that long irons can be potent weapons when precision is paramount. Will history repeat itself at Royal Liverpool, with another long iron-wielding champion hoisting the coveted Claret Jug? Only time will reveal the answer, as the world's best golfers tee off and take on the challenge of this iconic championship.