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Bullseye spotted! Ryuji Imada on his unique gear setup, return to the PGA Tour

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After a nearly seven-year hiatus, Ryuji Imada has finally returned to the PGA Tour; he’ll be teeing it up this week at the 2022 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

The last time we saw Imada play in a tour-sanctioned event in the United States was back in 2015, and while he played in the 2021 Zozo Championship in Japan, he’s largely stepped away from the professional game.

Imada, who was born in Japan and is currently 45 years old, captured his lone PGA Tour victory in 2008 at the AT&T Classic in a playoff against Kenny Perry; Imada also won the 2000 Buy.com Virginia Beach Open and the 2004 BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs on the then-Nationwide Tour.

During Tuesday’s practice round day at Pebble Beach, Imada was greeted with hugs and hellos from fellow players and caddies; he was all smiles catching up with old friends.

He also showed up with a bag full of unique clubs, including an old Titleist Scotty Cameron Bullseye, a new set of Proto Concept (Proto-C) irons, and a lob wedge with a particularly unique grind on it. When Imada arrived to the range on Tuesday, he was carrying a handful of new fairway woods and drivers to test out, too.

While he was knocking some of the cobwebs off on the range at Pebble Beach, GolfWRX caught up with Imada to see what he’s been up to since we last saw him.

“To tell you the truth, not really much,” Imada said. “Been spending a lot of time with my daughter, and that’s about it. Just taking her to school, picking her up, taking her to other after school activities, and by then pretty much the day’s over.

“But yeah, I am [excited to be back out here]. I haven’t played an event in the U.S. in about 6 or 7 years. It’s good. It’s very fresh. Seeing all the old faces I can, it brings back memories.”

Speaking of old faces and memories, Imada still has the same putter in the bag he used throughout the majority of his PGA Tour career: a classic Titleist Scotty Cameron Bullseye.

“I think I got that putter about, I wanna say at least 15 years ago,” Imada said. “I can’t remember where I got it, but I think I just saw one on the putting green and I started putting with it, and it felt really good. I asked to have it, and it’s been in my bag ever since. I actually have another putter that I switch to sometimes – I switch between two putters – and the other one is probably a little bit older. Every time I feel I’m not putting well, I just switch over. But yeah, the [Bullseye] putter has been good to me.”

Of course, not every club in Imada’s bag is 15+ years old. At Pebble Beach this week, he’ll be gaming all-new Proto-C C01 blade irons and a custom Proto-C lob wedge.

“I’ve known (Masashi Kamoda, brand rep from Proto Concept) for a longtime, and he’s been a good friend of mine. He asked if I wanted to give the product a try, and as soon as I hit em, obviously they’re great looking clubs and they setup perfectly for me. I’ve always used blade irons growing up, probably up until almost 30 years old. They’re great looking, and surprisingly they’re very forgiving. I’d been playing cavity backs for the last 10 or 20 years, but these are probably more forgiving to me than the ones I’ve had before. I get more height with the middle irons, a little bit more spin, and they feel really good, they look good, and that’s all I can ask.”

The Proto-C C01 blade irons are unique because they incorporate a 25-gram titanium rod into their forgings, helping to enhance feel and sound. Also, since the titanium rod helps shift CG in the heads – to Imada’s point – they help induce higher launch angles and more forgiveness.

While Imada is playing stock C01 irons, his wedge grind is far from typical. To learn more about his special grind, I caught up with Kamoda, who represents Proto-C and works with Imada on his equipment.

“He’s picky on the wedges…he likes 61.5 or 62 degrees of loft, even though it says 60. He doesn’t like to have bounce on the back of the wedges, but he wants bounce on the front. It’s like 12-14 degrees of bounce on the front, but on the back it’s negative bounce. He likes to have light swing weights, around C7 or C8, and a shorter length: 34.5 inches.”

Being that most lob wedges are around D2-D5 swing weight and 35 inches in length, Imada’s wedge is especially short and light.

As for the rest of his setup, Imada fills out his bag with Jucie wedges (47 and 51 degrees), NexGen fairways (3 and 5 woods), NexGen hybrids (3 and 4), and his driver is still undetermined.

“I’ve been pretty much out of the golf business for awhile, so I’m gonna find out [what driver I’ll be using],” Imada said. “I’ve heard good things about Stealth. I know they’ve done really well this year ever since they came out. TaylorMade’s always made good stuff, and I’ve been using TaylorMade drivers the past 8-10 years or so, so hopefully it’ll be an easy switch for me. I haven’t even seen the head yet. When I found out I was coming, I wanted to give them a try so I got in touch with some TaylorMade people and asked if I could try some out.”

It’s been a long time away from the PGA Tour for Imada, so we’ll give him some time to test the new stuff out. Should we see Imada again, though, we’ll make sure to get an update on how the driver testing went.

With new perspective on life inside the ropes, Imada is tampering expectations when it comes to his results this week. When I asked him how his game is at the moment, he replied, “That, we’re not going to talk about. We’ll see how it goes. If I can make a few birdies, it’ll be a good day.”

Birdies or not, Imada will certainly have one of the most interesting gear setups in the field this week.

To see Ryuji Imada’s full bag setup at the 2022 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, click here!

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Henry R Fitzgerald

    Feb 25, 2022 at 12:19 pm

    Who can forget this guy.

    After all, Scotty Cameron made one of the ugliest ‘Inspired by’ putters after this guy.

    Flash in the pan without seasoning, lol….

    Now, the Bullseye is cool.

  2. BobbyN

    Feb 4, 2022 at 12:58 am

    Bullseye is as pure as the driven snow boys.

  3. Justin

    Feb 2, 2022 at 2:47 pm

    Imada has always been one of my favorites out there. That Del Mar putter with the face weights?? Amazing stuff. Super interested in those Proto C irons… Hopefully he has a shot at making the cut!

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Equipment

What is the benefit of using a wedge instead of PW or GW from the iron set? – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the pros and cons of using a pitching or gap wedge from an iron set. WRXer ‘jpark0221’ kicks off the thread, asking:

“What is the benefit of doing this instead of using PW from the iron set, which is essentially 10i? I see a lot of pros using wedges from different brands (e.g. Vokey) instead of PW from the same set.”

And our members have been sharing their thoughts in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • North Butte: “The only way you’ll know is try a different (specialty) wedge instead of the one marked P and see how it works. Give it a couple of dozen rounds, you can’t really tell whether a wedge has an advantage until you get used to playing various shots with it. My point being…they play those wedges because it’s what works best for their game. And you ought to play what works best for your game too. Your best choice won’t necessarily be the same type of club as someone else’s.”
  • Jc0: “If you look a little closer, you’ll notice that most pros who have a specialty 46/48 wedge usually play cavity backs. The speciality wedge is more blade-like to allow a little more control and the ability to play shots a little easier than the PW that matches their set would provide. If a pro plays blades, they usually have the same blade for PW.”
  • PureStrikes54: “Flighting shots lower, getting additional spin for stopping power and to hit it shorter, and minimizing the chance of hitting flier moon balls you can sometimes get with even players cavity irons. At that level, very few players want to be hitting their pitching wedge more than 150 yards. The wedge is a scoring club and is almost always being used to hit knockdowns to tweener yardages.”

Entire Thread: “What is the benefit of using a wedge instead of PW or GW from the iron set?

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Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (12/7/22): Nike VR Pro Combo CB irons

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At GolfWRX, we are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways.

It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing we all love – buying and selling equipment.

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a set of Nike VR Pro Combo CB irons

From the seller (@bdawg983): “Nike VR Pro Combo CB irons 4-PW. They have Project X 5.5 flex steel shafts and Golf Pride Tour Velvet Midsize grips. Project X shaft bands have been removed. 4 and 5 are standard length, 38.5 and 38. They have P stamped on the hosel. 6-PW are .5 inch short (37, 36.5, 36, 35.5, 35). Played the last few seasons. They have A stamped on the hosel. A few dings and groove wear from regular play, but no browning. $300.”

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Nike VR Pro Combo CB irons

This is the most impressive current listing from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

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TaylorMade unveils all-new P770, P7MC, and P7MB irons

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TaylorMade Golf has today announced the latest evolution of its acclaimed P700 Series with the all-new P770, P7MC, and P7MB irons.

TaylorMade P770 Irons

The all-new P770 irons feature a thinner top line, less offset in long irons, and a shorter blade length when compared to the P790. With its hollow body construction and forged L-Face, the 2022 P770 is designed to provide elevated distance, forgiveness, and excellent feel in a smaller sized head.

The P770 features FLTD CG, a strategic design that positions the center of gravity (CG) lowest in long irons and progressively shifts it higher throughout the set to the shorter, weaker lofted irons. The tungsten weighting scheme in the long and middle irons has been redesigned, shifting more weight to the longer irons’ low tungsten mass and a reduction in the middle irons’ tungsten, resulting in an ascending CG through the set.

The aim behind the FLTD CG strategic design is to create easier launch and playability in the long irons while optimizing trajectory and spin in the scoring clubs. 

The P770 irons feature SpeedFoam Air, a technology introduced in 2021 with the launch of the P790. SpeedFoam Air dampens sound and strategically supports the face with a material 69 percent less dense than SpeedFoam, which was seen in the prior generation of the P770.

In addition to the added speed made possible by the thinnest P770 face TaylorMade has produced, the Thru-SlotSpeed Pocket and Inverted Cone Technology aim to help unlock increased ball speed across the face and forgiveness low in the face, where mishits happen most commonly.

“P700 Series irons need to be technical, elegant and timeless and the new P·770 design has all of that in spades. We wanted to take as much performance and hide it on the inside of the iron to where you look at it and it looks like a clean and classic iron with the pearl satin chrome finish and hint of mirror on the toe. On the inside, the technology we have poured in to this iron creates a product that we believe is truly one of one in this space.” – Matt Bovee, Director, Irons Product Creation

Specs, Availability & Pricing

  • Specs: P770 is offered in 3-PW/AW and comes equipped with KBS Tour Steel shafts (X130g, S 120g) as well as Golf Pride Z-Grip 360 in Grey/Black
  • Availability: Pre-order on December 6 at TaylorMadeGolf.com and at retail beginning January 20, 2023
  • Pricing: $1299 USD (steel) and $1499 USD (graphite)

TaylorMade P7MC Irons

The tour-inspired P7MC iron features minimal offset and perimeter weighting.

A narrow sole and tight leading edge aims to ensure consistency through the turf, while TaylorMade’s Compact Grain Forging process uses 2,000 tons of pressure, more than double the industry standard, with the additional force giving TaylorMade engineers precision control at a micro level, producing a tighter grain structure for the best possible feel and strength properties.

Compact Grain Forging seeks to deliver a refined composition inside and out, with the sophisticated craftsmanship coming to life with a satin finish and forged “Metal-T” within the cavity back.

Per TaylorMade, precision in P7MC is paramount, which is why the face of this iron is continued to be machined. Machining the face aims to ensure precision and quality with TaylorMade’s most aggressive score line geometry for exacting shot making.

“There’s no better feeling than a solidly hit forged iron. For pure ball strikers, the consistency of P7MC rivals anything in the marketplace today and has been a favorite among skilled golfers. For players who choose to combo, our cohesive design language allows you to seamlessly pair it with either P770 or P7MB. No two golfers play the game exactly alike, and one of the things I love about our P·700 Series family is the ability for golfers to personalize a set to match their needs and maintain aesthetic unity.” – Matt Bovee, TaylorMade Golf, Irons Product Creation

Specs, Availability & Pricing

  • Specs: P7MC is offered in 3-PW and come equipped with KBS Tour Steel shafts (X130g, S 120g) as well as Golf Pride Z-Grip 360 in Grey/Black
  • Availability: Pre-order on December 6 at TaylorMade Golf.com and at retail beginning January 20, 2023
  • Pricing: $1299 USD (steel) and $1499 USD (graphite) as seven-piece sets

TaylorMade P7MB Irons

As a result of detailed feedback from testing with Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa, the P7MB features a shorter blade length, brand new sole geometry, and progressive offset to create a minimalist profile that’s designed to control shot shape and trajectory.

The sole of P7MB is one millimeter narrower than the previous generation, meaning TaylorMade engineers had to add slightly more bounce to the leading edge which creates a completely different sensation through the turf. Total effective bounce is a combination of sole width and bounce angle, which engineers were able to perfect by increasing the bounce angle to keep the sole from getting caught in the turf.

The shorter blade length of P7MB allowed TaylorMade engineers to create an updated backbar using symmetrical geometry. This allows for more mass to be positioned directly behind the face to support the point of impact and elevate feel.

In addition, the P7MB also features the Compact Grain Forging and machined face and grooves that are also seen in the P7MC irons.

“The narrower sole width of P7MB is a direct result of testing and feedback from Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa and our TaylorMade Tour pros. Rory and Collin worked with us to identify the right sole geometry and bounce to match what they were looking for and we perfected that with P7MB. Having two of the best players in the world being a driving force behind the design of this iron have us extremely excited to bring it to the marketplace.” – Matt Bovee, Director, Irons Product Creation

Specs, Availability & Pricing

  • Specs: P7MB is offered in 3-PW and come equipped with KBS Tour Steel shafts (X130g, S 120g) as well as Golf Pride Z-Grip 360 in Grey/Black
  • Availability: Pre-order on December 6 at TaylorMade Golf.com and at retail beginning January 20, 2023
  • Pricing: $1299 USD (steel) and $1499 USD (graphite) as seven-piece sets
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