What a week! The new Mizuno workshop pulled into Wentworth on a wet Sunday evening with no sign of the drama that was set to follow.
Chris was keen to make a small change to his MX-700 3 woodThe workshop started out 8 or 9 months ago as a blank piece of paper - we had no idea how much time and effort it would take to complete the trailer. It was all worthwhile though and I’m really happy with the final result. The new facilities are fantastic. In the “office” area we now have HD Sky, a PS3 and Blu-Ray player so the players have a great place to relax when they’re waiting for their clubs. In the workshop area we have an array of new machines and everything has been designed to improve the efficiency of the way we work and how we hold our stock (and the funky blue lighting really comes into its own when the sun goes down!). We carry about 3,000 shafts, 8,000 grips, 100 sets of iron heads plus drivers, fairway woods and hybrids. In addition we now carry a lot more soft goods as well – storage space had to be built in for waterproofs, brollies, headwear, towels, headcovers, tour bags, stand bags, our Bio Gear and Breath Thermo that we carry. The huge windows provide a great view and our site on the side of the range gave us just that.
Tuesday was a big day as we had the Official Opening of our new Workshop. George O’Grady (Chief Executive of the European Tour) said a few words and Neil Coles (the Chairman) cut the ribbon. It was great to have Neil there as he, along with Barry Willett, had the original idea of putting a mobile workshop on tour. George heaped praise on Mizuno for their support of the tour which has nearly reached the 25 year mark. A few glasses of bubbly were consumed whilst the guests had a look around - everyone was suitably impressed. Donald, Wood and a few of our other players were on hand for photo opportunities whilst the tour’s cameras were there to record the event for the European Tour Weekly programme (aired this week).
Luke was the first player onto the workshop on Monday. He’d just picked up a new set of 62s in America and wanted us to check the loft and lies. He’s in Europe for 3 weeks to play in Madrid and Wales so it’ll be good to see a bit more of him. We hadn’t seen him for a while and were surprised to see how much muscle he’d put on – very impressive! He ordered some new running shoes so is obviously working very hard in the gym. His irons were pretty good (only a couple of minor tweaks) – so he collected them and went off to explore the new course.
Fresh from picking up his 2009 Rookie of the Year award at Tour Dinner, Chris was keen to make a small change to his MX-700 3 wood – he wanted it to sit a little more open for the soft cut needed for tee shots when his MP-630 Driver was too much. We did that and he went off to play the new layout, though having never played Wentworth in competition before, the changes weren’t playing heavily on his mind.
The course changes were certainly the main topic of conversation for the week. Some loved it and some were not so sure. What was certain is that it is definitely tougher - the general view was about 2-3 shots harder. Tree lined courses always produce a few broken shafts once the event starts and McIlroy was in on the Thursday having the shaft in his lob wedge replaced that he’d bent on the 10th (although I’m not entirely sure it was a tree that he’d wrapped it around!).We also had to build Vancsik a new 5 iron after he’d ruined the sole of it off the path on the 4th.
We walked the course on Sunday afternoon (the workshop having left for Madrid) to support Luke and Chris. They were in the last two groups, so we were able to keep in touch with both of them. Chris hit some beautiful shots but nothing really happened for him. A few putts stopped just short of falling in and a couple of lip-outs didn’t help either. He was T3 in Italy, T5 in Mallorca and T6 here. He works so hard and he’s doing all the right things. Winning from the front in such a big tournament was always going to be tough. He’ll be better for the experience – that first win isn’t far away.
Luke not winning was probably more frustrating for all of us. We really thought he was going to do it. His short game was immaculate all day – must be the best in the world from sand (not sure people realise how good he is). With 2 par-5s to play we’d guessed he would go on to win by a shot. Just shows you can’t get ahead of yourself in this game. The changes mean the 17th is a beast and even with a perfect tee shot getting up in 2 is almost impossible. As you saw Luke blocked it right and ended up making 7. A tough break – I’ve seen many guys in there before who had been fortunate enough to get a decent lie. Luke’s been criticized for not putting himself into contention – you couldn’t level that at him this week. The third shot into 18 showed how much he wanted to win it. For a split second we thought he’d holed it.
It was a great week overall though. The weather was spot on, BMW were excellent sponsors and the Wentworth Club was beautiful – changes and all. There was a real energy amongst the Mizuno guys this year. With Chris Wood and the new workshop helping Luke out to promote our brand, it seems we’re back at the heart of this tour again.
If Luke and Chris can push on to make the Ryder Cup squad (even as a pairing) it could be the start of a magical year.
Take a look at our pictures from the week on the Mizuno Forum.
Professional pictures to download on our Gallery.