Why Jeev Milkha Singh has two drivers in his bag - Hindustan Times
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Why Jeev Milkha Singh has two drivers in his bag

ByJoy Chakravarty
Feb 27, 2024 04:22 PM IST

The Indian veteran has one of the most unique sets of clubs in men’s professional golf.

In addition to all the decisions he needs to make before hitting his tee shot – gauge the wind direction and speed, chart out the yardages, think of a shot shape, making sure his routines and processes are in place – Jeev Milkha Singh also has to decide which of his two drivers he should hit.

Jeev Milkha Singh (Asian Tour)
Jeev Milkha Singh (Asian Tour)

The Indian veteran has one of the most unique sets of clubs in men’s professional golf. From a 4-iron to a lob wedge, his first 12 clubs look like any other golf set. But he is a rarity in world golf because his 13th and 14th clubs are the two drivers.

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The first is a Callaway Paradym 9.5 degrees, which he hits off a tee. The second, which he lovingly calls ‘Chhota Pappu’, is a TaylorMade 11.5 degrees Mini Driver, which he hits off the deck and from the fairways when he has to hit a shot around 270 yards.

Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson, who is well known for experimenting with his clubs, is the other player who has carried two drivers in his bag. However, unlike Jeev who has used the same set-up for every tournament for the past 10 years, Mickelson has done it only in certain tournaments.

On a wind-swept golf course like last week’s Al Mouj Golf Club in Muscat, where Jeev was playing the $2 million International Series Oman on the Asian Tour, the Mini Driver comes out quite often. The two-time Asian Tour No1 can hit high and low shots with the 9.5-degree driver, but the Mini Driver off the deck gives him more control and the shots come out low enough to stay under the wind.

There is a difference of nearly 20 yards in carry between the two clubs, which is because of the difference in the loft, and also because he uses the TaylorMade without a tee.

Jeev has taken out the 3-iron from his set to accommodate the second driver.

“It is unique, but as they say, what matters is how it works for you. This works for me and I’m comfortable playing with such clubs. It’s very important for a player to recognise that. You should use only those clubs that you are comfortable with,” said Jeev.

However, our chat took me back to a time when the Indian ace had to change his clubs to something that he wasn’t very comfortable with.

It happened in 2007. Jeev was doing well in his debut Masters appearance and was inside the top-15 after three days. He played the final round paired with Vijay Singh, and on that Sunday, he had a nightmarish start with a quadruple bogey eight on the treacherous opening hole of Augusta National.

The contours of that first green are so severe that if you miss it on the wrong side, it is almost impossible to chip it close to the flag. Jeev needed to chip it thrice, and then three-putted to finish the hole after missing the green by no more than a couple of yards.

That was when Vijay noticed Jeev was using his sand wedge to chip.

“Later in the round, he told me: ‘Jeev, you’ve got to put a lob wedge in the bag, especially when you are playing in the US. Some of the pins are so tucked and the greens so severe, you need to land it extra soft’,” remembers Jeev.

“That was the first time that I put a lob wedge in my bag…in 2007. And it quickly became one of my favourite clubs.”

Unlike Jeev, Mickelson used two drivers for a different reason in 2006, when he won the BellSouth Classic by 13 shots, followed by the Masters in successive weeks using the dual driver strategy.

His thought then was that he would have one driver that helped him fade (slight left-to-right ball movement) the ball by keeping the shaft slightly short and have a fade bias through internal weighting. His other driver was set up for a draw (slight right-to-left ball flight) by moving the centre of gravity and changing the face angle. Mickelson thought those two drivers gave him a good chance to attack Augusta National, which has several dogleg holes.

Mickelson later used two drivers in another of his major wins, at the 2021 PGA Championship win at Kiawah Island. This time, his thinking was more like Jeev.

His Callaway Epic Speed driver, with just six degrees of loft, was for extra distance, while he also had a TaylorMade Original Mini One 11.5-degree driver for greater control.

The following article is an excerpt from this week's edition of Fairays and Greens. You can subscribe here.

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