Japan Market Gets Exclusive Products

Japan is known as a golf-crazy country. U.S. equipment manufacturers cater to the market with some interesting Japan-only products.

Bag DropIn America, the words “hot import” would probably be most closely identified with cars bearing the names Honda, Toyota, or Lexus. The tables are turned, however, when it comes to golf clubs. The hot imports in the Japanese golf markets come from U.S. companies like Callaway and TaylorMade.

If you’ve seen the movie “Lost in Translation,” then you’ll likely remember the brief but beautiful scene in which Bill Murray’s character tees off toward the towering visage of Mt. Fuji. What kind of driver do you think the American visitor was using to put the ball in play? While it might have been something from a top Japanese golf company, like Mizuno or Bridgestone, it was quite possibly a product made for the Japanese market by a U.S. club company.

Jim Furyk Takes Cialis (Western Open by Two)

Jim Furyk ends a two-year drought and withstands a Sunday charge by Tiger Woods to capture the 2005 Western Open.

western_open_logo.gifTiger Woods made a Sunday charge and made up a three-stroke deficit on 54-hole co-leader Jim Furyk at the (cough, ahem, Cialis) Western Open today at Chicago’s beautiful Cog Hill Golf and Country Club. The downside? Woods started the day five strokes back, and Furyk’s two-stroke victory – the tenth of his career and his first in two years – was all but assured when Tiger faltered at 13 and 14 as Furyk poured in three straight birdies to retake a four-stroke lead after Tiger caught him with an eagle at the 11th.

Furyk has finished second three times this year, including last week at the Barclays Classic when Padraig Harrington holed a 65-foot eagle at the last to nip him by a stroke, but hasn’t won since taking the Buick Open in 2003. Woods reached a milestone himself, topping $50,000,000 in career earnings.

Marisa Baena is a First-Time Winner at HSBC Match Play

From 60th-seed to champion Marisa Baena wins the inaugural HSBC Women’s World Match Play Championship.

marisa_baena_hsbc.jpgIn 2004 Marisa Baena was contemplating quitting the LPGA Tour. With non-exempt status and having to Monday-qualify for several events this year Baena said she would give herself two more years before changing careers. What a mistake that would have been as she finally broke through to victory today at the 2005 HSBC Women’s Match Play Championship. Playing as Marisa stated “the best golf I’ve played all season” the 60th-seed golfed confidently today finishing with a 1-up victory against LPGA Tour rookie Meena Lee.

Baena began her quest for the $500,000 first-place check by defeating number-five seed Natalie Gulbis on Thursday. She then picked off top players Grace Park, Jennifer Rosales, Karrie Webb and Candie Kung until finally being matched with 47th-seed Lee.

When asked about how she felt after six years playing on tour without a win Baena chirped, “Amazing! I mean it’s been a great week. I have no words…I made $30,000 all last year and I just made $500,000 in a week!”

Best Pressure Bunker Shots

Does Birdie Kim’s hole-out at the 72nd hole of this year’s U.S. Women’s Open make the list of best five pressure bunker shots ever?

Trap Five LogoThis week, we’re going to take a look at something near and dear to The Sand Trap’s heart: the best pressure-packed bunker shots in golf’s history.

Finding a bunker in a tough competition is never a good thing, but in some cases, it can be a great thing if the player possesses the muster, courage, and willpower to hole the shot. With PGA Tour sand save averages hovering around 50%, pros are only getting up and down once for every two attempts. Holing a bunker shot, though not rare, is far from commonplace.

It’s even less common when the pressure of having a major championship on the line weighs on a player’s shoulders as he steps down into the bunker and digs his feet into the sand. These five shots stand out from the rest in history.

TaylorMade RAC LT Irons Review

The RAC LT irons: the perfect blend of feel and forgiveness? From TaylorMade? Our reviewer thinks so.

Taylormade RAC LT IronTaylorMade’s recent “every iron is a long iron” advertising campaign has done well for the Carlsbad fraternity. Marching to the same beat as their “own the teebox” campaign, the “long iron” campaign has drawn a good amount of attention to TaylorMade’s irons. Look inside the bags of players at your local course and you’re unlikely to find too many playing TaylorMade irons – you’ll see plenty of Titleist, Ping, and Callaway. You may even see more MacGregor (if you count the hand-me-downs), Wilson, and Nike. Despite the fact that TaylorMade ranks highly in sales numbers, their irons just don’t seem to hang around in the bags of better players very long.

Then again, TaylorMade hasn’t had a compelling line of irons for quite awhile, and a good bit of their iron sales were trickle-down from outstanding driver sales… Until now. One step down from TaylorMade’s forged RAC TP line, the RAC LT promises to merge the playability of a cavity back with the workability and sexy looks of a forged blade for the above-average player.

To help write this review I asked Ed Koster, a 12-handicap golfer, to give the irons a thorough workout. His thoughts follow.

Rocking the Cradle: How Young is Too Young?

Current LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw insists that there be an age limit to becoming a member of the Tour.

LPGAThese Girls Rock!” is a new campaign designed to inject excitement into the LPGA Tour. The LPGA website places blurbs in the upper-right-hand corner of the main page which read “Natalie Gulbis qualified for an LPGA Tournament at 14 years old” and “Annika shoots a 59.” That’s all well and good but the public really seemed to take notice when the under-eighteen set took to the fairways.

From seventeen-year old Morgan Pressel who kicked and screamed her way through eighteen holes to tie for second place at the Open to the flushed face of fifteen-year old Michelle Wie double-bogeying her way through the final round audiences caught a glimpse into the future of the Tour. Frankly, I want to see more!