Trip to Mizuno Factory sparks Phoenix win for Donald
Luke Donald’s pilgrimage to Mizuno’s Osaka HQ proved to be the boost needed to claim his first win on Japanese soil.
Making the most of his visit to Japan, Donald squeezed in a trip to meet the craftsmen behind his new MP-64’s at the revered Yoro factory - before engaging in a thorough testing session with Mizuno’s R&D department.
Donald was the crowd favourite at Miyazaki Prefecture’s Phoenix Country Club, with his signature ‘LUUKE’ chant heard throughout the week. The home support and Donald’s class proved a powerful combination as he finished -16 with a comfortable five-shot win after a final round 68.
Since placing the MP-64s into his bag at The Barclays at the end of August, Donald has claimed four top-ten finishes in seven events and not finished worse than tied 28th. And they were key to victory at Phoenix Country Club as Donald topped the greens in regulation chart on 80.56%.
The irons, which were originally known as the ‘Donald iron’ during development, are made from Japanese steel and forged at Mizuno’s exclusive facility in Hiroshima. They were specifically designed with Donald’s input over a two-year period.
“Luke has settled into the MP-64s very quickly, as soon as the first set was ready, they went straight in the bag,” said Mizuno’s Tour operations manager for Europe Andy Kikidas. “It’s nice to think they’ve already played a part in his success.”
The win continued Donald’s international legacy – his third of the season, all on different tours, following his successes at the PGA Tour's Transitions Championship in March and the European's Tour BMW PGA Championship in May.
Donald’s win was the first with his new MP-64 irons and moved him back to 2nd in the latest world rankings. It also continued a strong run for Mizuno in Japan, with JPX user Stacy Lewis claiming the Mizuno Classic crown earlier in November.
“It means so much to Mizuno that both Luke and Stacy came to Japan. Luke's visit to our Yoro factory was an honour for all the staff. We hope it gave Luke a boost to see how many people were behind him. The Japanese crowds gave Luke such great support and would love him to come back in the future.” Akane Fukasawa – Mizuno Japan.