Equipment

Mizuno celebrates a major milestone

JPX900 TOUR irons played to victory at the 100th US PGA Championship

At the end of a fascinating Sunday at Bellerive, St Louis, Brooks Koepke once again proved his mettle in the pressure-laden arena of a major championship – his victory all the more sensational for the fact that a revitalised Tiger Woods almost stole the show with eight birdies in an electrifying final round of 64 (his lowest ever closing round in a major championship). This was vintage Woods, and a performance that almost certainly locks his place in the US Ryder Cup team for Paris; for Koepke, this was the vindication of his dedication and resolve, and in lowering the all-time scoring record in the US PGA to 264, the 28 year-old became only the fifth man in history to win the US Open and US PGA titles in the same season. He's in pretty good company. The only other players to have achieved this are Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen and Tiger Woods.

Mizuno celebrates a major milestone - JPX900 TOUR irons
Brooks KOEPKA (USA) during fourth round US PGA Championship 2018,Bellerive Country Club,St Louis,Missouri, USA.

At the end of a fascinating Sunday at Bellerive, St Louis, Brooks Koepke once again proved his mettle in the pressure-laden arena of a major championship – his victory all the more sensational for the fact that a revitalised Tiger Woods almost stole the show with eight birdies in an electrifying final round of 64 (his lowest ever closing round in a major championship). This was vintage Woods, and a performance that almost certainly locks his place in the US Ryder Cup team for Paris; for Koepke, this was the vindication of his dedication and resolve, and in lowering the all-time scoring record in the US PGA to 264, the 28 year-old became only the fifth man in history to win the US Open and US PGA titles in the same season. He's in pretty good company. The only other players to have achieved this are Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen and Tiger Woods.

What does he play? Well, since you ask, Koepke – a ‘free agent' in terms of his choice of club manufacturer since his apparel sponsor Nike ceased producing hardware at the end of 2016 – is currently deploying a hybrid bag that features Mizuno's JPX900 Tour irons at the heart of the action. And there lies a story. According to Jeff Cooke, Mizuno's PGA Tour manager, the irons were actually conceived and crafted with Koepke in mind as the company sought tour validation for their prototype JPX900 line. Having trialled them for just a few weeks, Kopeke played them at Erin Hills in 2017, where it was the strength and consistency of his iron play that earned the Floridian his first US Open title. One of the most powerful and longest players on tour, Kopeke also has a reputation as one of the game's purest strikers – a match made in heaven for Mizuno.

Mizuno celebrates a major milestone - JPX900 TOUR irons
Brooks KOEPKA (USA) during second round US PGA Championship 2018,Bellerive Country Club,St Louis,Missouri, USA.

Founded in Osaka, Japan in 1906, Mizuno has long held an enviable industry- and tour-wide reputation for crafting the very finest forged ‘players' irons' in the game at its exclusive facility in Hiroshima Japan, bringing golfers the ultimate blend of looks, feel and workability. Down the years the company has enjoyed multiple major successes with both contracted and non-contracted players alike and the brand is synonymous with the very best in the traditional forging process that delivers the quality and consistency of looks, feel and performance. In the hands of the man who now holds the Wanamaker Trophy, Mizuno's JPX900 Tour irons were played to a second major win of 2018 at the USPGA Championship by the same player who secured those back-to-back U.S. Open wins in 2017 and 2018. One of the most exciting players on the planet, Koepke will be fascinating to watch in the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National – as of course will Tiger Woods.

The fact that Koepke is a free agent and at liberty to pick and choose the equipment that he believes is the best for his game only adds to the kudos for Mizuno. “It's such a privilege and honour to have our irons being played by major champions,” said Testu Kanayama, Director of R&D, Mizuno. “The trend of elite players becoming ‘free agents' has given Mizuno equipment a platform back at the very top level of the game. When players choose irons based on quality and performance, Mizuno always has a much better chance of success.”

Mizuno celebrates a major milestone - JPX900 TOUR irons

“The 900 Tour is a really surprising iron. Feel wise, it's a genuine throwback Mizuno – incredibly pure at impact. But the straighter lines and reinforced framework are very current, giving the 900 Tour a really modern playable look and the ability to perform from off-centre strikes.” – Chris Voshall, Senior Club Engineer

The trend for more and more non-contracted players to turn to the brand's forged irons has become a familiar story over the past couple of seasons, and one that sends out a strong message about the desirability of Mizuno's renowned irons when top professionals have free choice. Mizuno's long-established reputation for crafting the very finest irons on the market has attracted a growing number of non-contracted players to the brand in recent years, whether the JPX Series played by the 2018 US PGA champion, or the fabled MP players' models. Indeed, last year's launch of the new MP-18s heralded a new era in players' irons, with three distinct models and head types, there is greater scope than ever before for better players to mix and match models to create the perfect ‘custom' set for their needs.

Mizuno celebrates a major milestone - JPX900 TOUR irons

The biggest dilemma for fans of this exquisite Japanese craftsmanship is likely to be the configuration of the ‘perfect' set. Ultimately that will boil down to the look and feel that suits a golfers personal preferences – feel and performance included as standard.

In the more humble settings of Europe's Challenge Tour, Finland's Kim Koivu (-21) won on home soil –  after birdieing the first play-off hole to claim the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge title.  With the win — his second of the season after taking the Belt & Road Colorful Yunnan Open — the 27 year old moves to fourth position on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah and makes serious headway towards earning his European Tour card for 2019. “Two wins on the same day for our equipment at near opposite ends of the tour, is a very good indication of where Mizuno stands within the professional game,” said Alex Thorne, Tour Operations Manager. “We've a really healthy blend of elite level equipment validation and emerging talent to stand us in good stead for the long term.”

With a fast turnaround on all new custom clubs, Mizuno has strived to “create the best products for consumers” for 112 years, and the JPX900 Series and MP-18 Series adhere firmly to that original spirit and desire, while offering the best performance benefits that modern technology can bring. #nothingfeelslikeamizuno

Mizuno celebrates a major milestone - JPX900 TOUR irons

JPX900 Tour & MP Series – a feast for the senses

Grain Flow Forged at Mizuno's exclusive Hiroshima plant, the crafted nuances of each head shape bear the signature of Mizuno's legendary master-craftsman, ‘Turbo', the man responsible for working on Nick Faldo's irons in the 1980s and 90s. “The eye for detail and the skill with which he is able to grind movement into the head shape is phenomenal,” says the six-time major champion. “The look of the MP-18 range is very much a throwback to the pure design of the 1990s – this is club making as an art form.”

For elite players the temptation to mix and match models will be hard to resist, the MP-18 and MP-18 Sc being natural bedfellows. From every playing position the two models blend beautifully as a mixed set, offering the opportunity to favour the blade in the shorter irons and complement them with, say, a 4-, 5, and 6-iron Split-Cavity model. Equally, the impressively engineered MMC model – the fruits of a three-year project led by Mizuno's master-craftsman to develop a highly stable, forgiving multi-material construction iron which also satisfied their aesthetic desires – will flow beautifully into any MP-18 split-set, the degree of offset carefully calculated to sit alongside the MP-18 and MP-18 SC (once lofts have been adjusted). Even with both lightweight titanium and heavier tungsten components sealed within its 1025E mild carbon steel head, the MP-18 MMC retains that recognisable ‘tour-ready' profile.

Mizuno celebrates a major milestone - JPX900 TOUR irons

“We literally shifted the balance of science and art with the MP series,” says Chris Voshall, Mizuno's Senior Club Engineer. “You can instantly notice a greater input from the master craftsman in that the MP-18 is more like the blades that made Mizuno famous – just more precise in its flow and manufacturing. At impact this is just about perfection.”

JPX900 TOUR : Grain flow forged using 1025E Pure Select mild carbon steel (to six times the industry tolerance), the JPX900 Tour combines authentic Mizuno feedback with advanced stability, achieved by pushing weight to the Power Frame's extreme points. An evolved look for a Mizuno player's iron, the JPX900 features a satin finish, straighter lines and low toe profile, all of which accentuate its compact appearance

MP-18 : The MP18 Muscleback represent's a lifetime's experience as Mizuno's master-craftsman, ‘Turbo', delivers a club bearing the hallmarks of the company's definitive model, with a shorter blade length, a cambered top line and signature low heel grind. Pure artistry

Mizuno celebrates a major milestone - JPX900 TOUR irons

MP-18 SC : So subtle is the transformation from muscle back to a cavity-back that the MP18-SC offers all of the aesthetic pleasures of golf's ultimate players' iron with the lower centre of gravity and peripheral-weighted benefits of a Split-Cavity

MP-18 MMC : Highly stable and dynamic, the MP-18 MMC (Multi Material Construction) delivers a beautifully engineered game-improvement iron that retains the distinctive tour profile – offering out-and-out playability while at the same time blending seamlessly into a mixed set

For further information on the Mizuno's full range of golf equipment, apparel and accessories visit: golf.mizunoeurope.com.