Brooks Koepka Drops Srixon (Ball and Driver) at the U.S. Open
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Brooks Koepka Drops Srixon (Ball and Driver) at the U.S. Open

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Brooks Koepka Drops Srixon (Ball and Driver) at the U.S. Open

If you follow Golfweek’s David Dusek on Twitter, you saw this news flash about Brooks Koepka and Srixon.

Yep, on U.S. Open week, Koepka switched his driver and golf ball. According to Dusek, the two-time Open champ is going back to the 2017 Titleist Pro V1x (the ball he used to win all four of his majors) and his old TaylorMade M5 driver which he used to win the 2019 PGA Championship.

Koepka signed a full bag and ball deal with Srixon-Cleveland last year that included the Srixon ZX7 driver and the new Srixon Z-STAR Diamond golf ball. Srixon proudly announced at launch that the ball was actually designed with Koepka in mind.

What does it all mean? Why would Koepka do such a thing? Is this bad for Srixon?

The Details

According to Dusek’s article for Golfweek, Koepka was seen practicing with his old Pro V1x at the Country Club’s short-game practice area. Later, Koepka was seen pulling out his old TaylorMade at the driving range, even though it still has a Srixon headcover.

When MyGolfSpy contacted Srixon, we were given the following statement:

“In this early stage of our partnership, Brooks Koepka has validated the performance of the Srixon driver and golf ball. Though performance has been promising, the characteristics are not a perfect fit, yet.

“To work through this adjustment period most efficiently, we decided to focus our energy on fitting Brooks into the next-generation Srixon driver and golf ball prototypes that will debut on Tour in the near future—products developed with Brooks’ input and needs in mind.

“While we get this organized in the next couple of months, Srixon is temporarily allowing Brooks to use his previous ball and driver. Of course, he will continue playing Srixon irons and Cleveland Golf wedges. Both parties are fully committed to the partnership and we are confident Brooks will be back in a Srixon driver and golf ball soon.”

On face value, it seems reasonable. You can quibble about “validated the performance” versus “the characteristics are not a perfect fit.” Still, the fact Brooks isn’t dumping his irons and wedges into the Charles River is telling.

Srixon Z-STAR Diamond

What Does It Really Mean?

Given the discussion on our most recent episode of No Putts Given, conjecture is easy is this proof Brooks hates the ball and driver and made a huge mistake? Does Srixon have a ball problem? Is the relationship in trouble?

At best, Brooks’s switcharoo is embarrassing for Srixon. The company proudly announced his signing last November and was especially excited when he used the Z-STAR Diamond in his Thanksgiving grudge match with Bryson.

It’s not like Koepka has been a non-factor with his new ball and driver. He has a pair of top-five finishes this year along with a T12 at the Valspar. But he did miss the cut at the Masters, the PLAYERS and the Genesis and he finished in a tie for 55th at the PGA.

While Koepka is ranked 18th in driving distance this season, he’s 179th in driving accuracy. He’s 75th in Strokes Gained off the tee and 123rd in Strokes Gained tee to green. On the other hand, he has played in just 10 events since January. And one can make the case that, regardless of equipment, Koepka hasn’t been the same golfer since the 2018-19 season when he had three wins and nine top-10 finishes. In 47 tournaments since, he has one win and 15 top-10 finishes.

Statistically, is there proof the ZX7 and Z-STAR Diamond might not be perfect fits? Koepka ranked seventh in Strokes Gained off the tee last season and 28th the season before. He’s generally in the top 25 in Strokes Gained off the tee so this year’s results are an aberration. However, as far as driving accuracy goes, Koepka’s highest ranking in the last six years was 102nd in 2018-19.

Srixon ZX drivers

Best Case for Srixon

As mentioned, the best-case scenario for Srixon is a short-term disappointment. The ZX driver (along with the rest of the line) is in the final stretch of its two-year life cycle so it’s reasonable to presume the 2023 prototypes are ready to show up on Tour. The Z-STAR balls are on the same cadence and Srixon was clear in saying Koepka has been involved in the development process.

The Z-STAR Diamond did seemingly come out of nowhere last fall. It was billed as a tweener between the Z-STAR and Z-STAR XV. And even though it was ostensibly designed for Koepka, it’s reasonable to assume it might not be 100-percent right.

The timing of Koepka’s change is very curious. Even though it seems out of the blue, it’s important to note that Koepka hasn’t played since the PGA last month. Sure, he got married (and it looked like a hell of a party!) but to think he, out of the blue, decided just this week to switch his driver and ball is silly. And to think Srixon was blindsided by this yesterday is sillier. They may not have been ready for the social media publicity this sparked but you have to believe they knew.

Srixon Z-STAR Diamond

Worst Case for Srixon

After the short-term embarrassment subsides, the best case for Srixon is that Koepka moves into a new prototype driver and that he takes to the new prototype ball. Srixon balls work for Matsuyama, Lowry and Bradley so there’s no reason to think Srixon can’t perfect something for Koepka, as well. The driver may be a little touchier, as Matsuyama has had an on-again/off-again relationship with Srixon and TaylorMade for his metalwoods. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be precedent-setting if Koepka decided to stick with a different driver.

The next to worst-case scenario for Srixon is actually ironic. If Koepka turns it around and wins (or threatens) this week in Brookline, maybe he decides to stick with his M5 and ProV1x, at least for the time being. At that point, good luck getting either out of his bag for a while. That might require some contract adjusting.

Srixon ZX drivers

What’s the worst-case scenario? It’s that Koepka pulls a Justin Rose and gets out of his deal with Srixon. That, however, is highly unlikely as all outward signs point to a solid working relationship between Koepka and Srixon. While many think Rose dumped Honma because the equipment sucked, there are two sides to that tale.

It’s easy to jump to conclusions and point out inconsistencies in messaging and there are a few in Srixon’s seemingly rushed statement. It’s also easy to pile on and claim Srixon can’t make a decent driver or golf ball. But remember, Srixon staffers have won majors with Srixon balls and drivers.

Maybe, just maybe, Koepka is like the rest of us. When things aren’t going well, we blame the equipment.

The only difference is our switcharoo doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of social media hits.

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John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John is an aging, yet avid golfer, writer, 6-point-something handicapper living back home in New England after a 22-year exile in Minnesota. He loves telling stories, writing about golf and golf travel, and enjoys classic golf equipment. “The only thing a golfer needs is more daylight.” - BenHogan

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      Walter S

      2 years ago

      With players moving to the LIV for big money, I would not be surprised to see more players playing equipment they want vs. playing because of an endorsement deal.

      Reply

      Matt Gallo

      2 years ago

      I agree, when you’re getting a 9 figure deal to go play there, you probably care less about your sponsors.

      Reply

      Mike

      2 years ago

      Brooks had 1 good round (-3) & 3 lousy ones. Me thinks it ain’t the driver or the ball.

      Reply

      Joey5Picks

      2 years ago

      Exactly. As Mickelson has shown us, in the Saudi League you don’t have to be good to get paid. Maybe the Saudis don’t want their players playing Japanese equipment?

      Reply

      Alex

      2 years ago

      IIRC, didn’t Tiger struggle with his Nike equipment (even going back to an old Titleist driver for a major or two)? Rory also struggled with Nike equipment for awhile.

      Just wonder how healthy Brooks is– didn’t he use some old Mizuno irons to win at least one of his majors?

      Reply

      Brian

      2 years ago

      Wouldn’t the driver switch be embarrassing for TaylorMade as well? I mean, he can use any driver he wants if he’s not using his contract driver, and he’s not going with the carbon face Stealth because he thinks the M5 is better?

      Reply

      Mike

      2 years ago

      Can’t wait for the naysayer crowd on MGS to start crying, “wow, if Brooks has a problem, maybe something’s wrong!” Folks, his game is so incredibly different than 99.9999999% of golfers out there & also, his game is unique to him & his style of play. BTW, he hasn’t really won anything in the past 2+ years, I think injuries and/or bad play have contributed to that more so than his equipment. Maybe he jumped too soon to sign on with them for a full big deal, who knows. But as a recreational golfer, this news means absolutely nothing to me in terms of whether I would use Cleveland/Srixon equipment. Nothing.

      It’s unfortunate for the company in that they now have to do unplanned damage control right PR right before the US Open. But let’s see what happens with him using the different driver & balls, not just in the US Open but the rest of the year.

      Reply

      Carolyn

      2 years ago

      If one of the best players in the world is having problem with your ball and driver it may tell you how good those are for the weekend player….Wasn’t it John Daly that called out his Wilson Driver even after he won the British and Wilson cut him loose and spent years loosing sales?

      Reply

      HARRY P

      2 years ago

      Based upon the US Open, it’s Brooks and not the equipment.

      Reply

      Max

      2 years ago

      I never really understood “full bag” deals for pros. I have never been/will never be at that level, and Im sure its a bit different when you have a cadre of folks that can tweak gear to the nth degree to suit your tastes, but in average joe land, I think we all know there are some companies excel at making irons, others excel with drivers/fairways, yet others with wedges…etc.

      I guess it’s different in the rarified air, but I can totally understand liking Srixon irons but wanting to play a ProV

      Reply

      Bob

      2 years ago

      When you are not playing well it is easier to blame equipment.
      Sometimes an equipment change is needed.
      After the Open, if Koepka doesn’t play well, practice maybe in order.

      Reply

      C

      2 years ago

      Who needs practice when you got LIV money?…

      Reply

      Joey5Picks

      2 years ago

      Exaclty. As Mickelson has shown us, in the Saudi League you don’t have to be good to get paid. Maybe the Saudis don’t want their players playing Japanese equipment?

      jeff

      2 years ago

      Exactly. It’s always the arrows that are the problem, never the indian loading them into the bow.

      Also the same reason caddies get fired. Players who are playing well rarely fire caddies. The inverse is also true.

      Reply

      Chris Nonis

      11 months ago

      A good tradesmen never blames his tools.🤔

      Reply

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