The Loop

The Spectacle that is Shingo

April 12, 2009

AUGUSTA, Ga.--You want a pre-game show? We give you Shingo Katayama.

Katayama, five strokes off the lead entering the final round of the Masters, never disappoints. Bouncing onto the practice tee an hour and 15 minutes before his 2:05 p.m. tee time, Shingo was hard to miss, sporting his usual cowboy hat that he made famous in the golf world while tying for fourth in the 2001 PGA Championship. In addition to the hat, Katayama sported a pink crewneck shirt, pink belt, white pants and an attempt at a beard that doesn't quite qualify as "second cut" at Augusta. All he needed was a pair of pink chaps and golf shoes with spurs, but if you didn't notice him by appearance, Katayama has some range-rat drills and swing-aid gadgets that are worth a look.

Start, for instance, with a little tempo work, turning the driver head upside down and hitting serviceable tee shots left-handed like a metrodome at five-second intervals as his caddie places a new ball on the tee like a factory line worker. From there it's a steady progression to beach balls, one-handed swings and putting aids, but the stuff appears to work: Katayama has won 26 times in Japan. Katayama started his round with a difficult two-putt par at the first before hitting the par-five second in two shots and running a long, treacherous eagle putt along the fringe for a tap-in birdie.

Others were making bigger charges; none did it with the same style.