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Monday, April 22, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 RBC Heritage

Winner: C.T. Pan

Around the wider world of golf: Brooke Henderson tied the most LPGA wins by a Canadian at the LOTTE Championship; Scott McCarron won at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic on the Champions Tour; Lanto Griffin won a four-hole playoff hole at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship on the Web.com Tour; John Somers won the Abierto de Chile on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Brendan Jones won the Token Homemate Cup on the Japan Golf Tour; and Stanford University won the Western Intercollegiate.
C.T. Pan with RBC Heritage trophy and tartan jacket

Well, in my Tuesday Twofer picks I went chalk... and ended up with a handful of chalk dust. I picked Jim Furyk (MC) to win and Webb Simpson (T16) to Top10. Unlike the Tour events, my drought continues.
  • Winners: 2 for 16
  • Place well (Top10): 9 for 16 (5 Top5 finish, 4 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 17 of 32 (8 Top5s, 9 more Top10s)
At least I've picked a couple of winners this year.

C.T. Pan picked up his first PGA Tour win when he wasn't expected to win... by anybody. DJ was the favorite and there were a number of other experienced players in contention, but they all faded (okay, some of them pull-hooked) in the windy conditions they faced this weekend. DJ's unexpected 77 opened the door for a wild scramble but only Pan walked through. The best score on Sunday was 66, and Pan was one of four players to shoot 67. However, of them all, only Matt Kuchar was in position to win.

Unfortunately for Kuch, he started the day one stroke behind Pan.

C.T. Pan almost didn't play this week but his wife convinced him to go. (Good advice on her part!) And now, after a weekend of scrambling around the Harbour Town course, he'll be scrambling to figure out his schedule for the next few weeks. I think there are some majors waiting for him...

In the meantime he gets his first Limerick Summary, to go along with his first PGA Tour win. And since Tiger is his inspiration, I decided to let the Big Cat inspire the Limerick Summary also. Well done, C.T.!
The storms and the winds on the coast
Were almost too much for the boats!
But still the pros played
And Pan showed the way—
Down the stretch, HE was “better than most.”
The photo came from this page at golfchannel.com.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Henderson Defends... and More

Since I've been shouting out special achievements this week, let me shout out Brooke Henderson who made history with her defense at the LOTTE Championship on Saturday.

Brooke Henderson holds her second LOTTE trophy

In case you hadn't heard, eight is a magic number in Canadian golf. Up until Saturday, Sandra Post held the Canadian record for LPGA wins at eight. So Brooke has tied the legend.

But it gets even better, because Mike Weir and George Knudson (whose book, The Natural Golf Swing, I sometimes refer to in this blog) hold the Canadian record for PGA Tour wins. Can you guess what it is?

You got it the first time. Eight.

Which means Brooke is one of the four Canadian golfers with the most LPGA or PGA Tour wins in history -- and she did it in style, winning by four strokes under tough conditions.

You can read the LPGA's write-up about it at this link. But this is a major milestone for Canada, and it shouldn't pass unnoticed. I'll just content myself to say, "Congratulations, Brooke. Now go get that ninth win!"

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Rudy Duran on Tiger's Current Swing

If you don't recognize the name, Rudy Duran was Tiger's first swing coach. Golf Channel asked him to take a look at Tiger's new swing, and they've published a slide show with Duran's comments on the major positions from setup to finish.

For what it's worth, before I hit the right arrow button to move to the next frame, I had to hit the refresh button on my browser each time to make the slide show advance. Hopefully GC will get that little glitch corrected.

Tiger at waist high in his backswing

This photo is the third slide in the sequence, and I chose it because... well, you guys know how I harp on the importance of the one-piece takeaway. (Yes, that's the link to the post with the drill in it.) I think it's a necessity for most players because it can keep you from coming over-the-top.

As you can see in this photo, Tiger's one-piece takeaway is textbook. See how the clubhead is sitting in the V formed by his forearms? The club shaft is pointed straight toward the camera, which means it's "on plane" and "parallel to the aimline" and all those other terms you might use to describe a club that has been swung back without any manipulation. And that means you won't have to make compensations on the way down to get it back to the ball correctly!

Given that this swing is working so well for Tiger -- despite the limitations his fused back puts on him -- I thought you all might like to take a look. Duran really likes where Tiger's swing is at this point... and why shouldn't he? This is a major-winning swing!

There's a lot to see in this brief slide show. Take some time to study it and learn from it. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, April 19, 2019

TaylorMade's Mini Driver

TaylorMade's new Original One Mini Driver just became available for pre-order a couple of days back and should hit retail outlets early next month. And if you're struggling off the tee with your regular driver, maybe you should consider it.

First let's talk some specs. I'm comparing it to a standard 15° 3-wood here.

TaylorMadeForget your 460cc big stick -- the Original One Mini has a mere 275cc head. That may sound incredibly small, but bear in mind that the M3/M4 3-wood was around 176cc while the M5/M6 is 161cc. So this mini driver is still noticeably larger than a 3-wood.

It comes in two lofts, 11.5° and 13.5°, it's 43.75" in length (a regular M5/M6 3-wood is 43.25") and it's intended to give players of all playing levels another option off the tee. Yes, it's been designed to fit between your driver and your 3-wood, should you be inclined to carry both.

I suspect this club would be a replacement for a standard driver for most weekend players. If you don't get a lot of distance with your driver because you don't generate as much clubhead speed, the extra loft should help you get that higher launch angle that normally comes from extra speed. And it's got all the same tech that goes into the regular drivers, like that twist-face all the pros seem so excited about.

Plus it comes at a lower price than the driver. At $400 it might be the way to go if you want the tech but don't want to pay for a driver that you don't hit all that well to begin with.

Obviously I don't know what would work for you and what wouldn't. But if you're considering something like this, here's the page at TaylorMade's website that has all the specs for the Original Mini One and here's the announcement of the club from Golf Tips Mag's site, which includes some guidance on whether you should consider it or not.

Personally, given how many of us prefer 3-woods off the tee anyway, I'm glad to see TaylorMade catering to that potentially large group of players.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

And Let's Not Forget the Amateur of the Week

We really should take a moment. After all, Isaiah Salinda went five extra holes to get the individual title at the Western Intercollegiate.

Western Intercollegiate individual champion Isaiah Salinda

Salinda plays for Stanford, so it's probably no surprise to you that Stanford won the team title as well.

I'm going to link you to Brentley Romine's article over at golfchannel.com for the details, but I did want to mention something Salinda's coach said because it might help some of you.

Romine writes: "Stanford head coach Conrad Ray credits the development to Salinda learning how to play well without his best stuff." He also notes that Salinda told his coach how proud he was to have won when he wasn't playing his best.

Scoring when you don't have your best stuff is mainly about strategy -- learning what you can still do on those days when your game is off and making a game plan that uses those strengths. It's also about keeping your head and not getting down on yourself.

Anybody can learn to do those things, folks. Anybody.

Ironically, the NCAA doesn't recognize playoffs so Salinda and his fellow competitor (and teammate) Brandon Wu share the individual title in their records. (Yet one more thing the NCAA needs to change.) But we all know who the winner is. Congratulations, Isaiah!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Ladies Head to Hawaii

The LPGA is back in action this week at the LOTTE Championship. Brooke Henderson is the defending champion.

Defending champion Brooke Henderson

As usual, Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event over on his blog. The LOTTE is played at the Ko Olina Resort in Kapolei, on the island of Oahu. The course is just under 6400 yards long and the winds almost always have a say in the outcome.

I can't think of much to add to Tony's preview except to mention that Paula Creamer plans to play. She hasn't played since before the Founders Cup and she gave no reason for withdrawing at the time. Whatever the reason, it appears that she's ready to go.

And there's one more important thing to know -- namely, that this is a Wednesday-Saturday event so things get underway TONIGHT. GC's live prime time coverage -- at least, prime time on the East Coast of the US -- is scheduled for 7pm-11pm ET each night. And how can you lose with all that beautiful scenery in Hawaii to watch?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: RBC Heritage

The madness of the Masters is over. While Tiger chills at home in his nice new green jacket, a number of pros will unwind at the RBC Heritage.

Defending champion Satoshi Kodaira

At least they say they're unwinding down there at Hilton Head Island. I see a Pete Dye special with extremely tight fairways and small greens and a lot of wind, thanks to its location along the SC coastline. That doesn't sound all that relaxing to me but, hey, after the complicated greens and chipping areas of Augusta National, perhaps Harbour Town GC seems more relaxing.

Or maybe they just like the laid-back atmosphere of Hilton Head and golf is just an excuse to spend a week there. I could understand that as well.

Alas, there is no rest for me. After a couple of decent picks at the Masters -- correct except for the order of finish -- I move on to Twofer Tuesday in Hilton Head. While the course is pure Pete Dye, it has proven friendly to first time winners like Wesley Bryan and Satoshi Kodaira, the last two victors.

But I'm not taking a first-timer this week, no sir.
  • My Top10 pick is Webb Simpson. Webb has rediscovered his form over the last couple of years, and his Top5 at the Masters last week was a great showing for him. I'm not sure how much that T5 took out of him so I'm not taking him to win, but his accuracy should help him place well even if he's tired. It's not like he'll have to hit the ball hard or anything.
  • And my winner is Jim Furyk. What can I say? I'm going chalk, baby! Furyk is the all-time money winner at Harbour Town and has won there twice. Given how well he's been playing this season, I can't help but feel this is a great place for him to pick up another win. By the way, did I mention his last win came here in 2015?
It's rare for someone who fared well at Augusta to play well at Harbour Town, simply because Augusta takes so much out of the players. That may be why first-timers do so well here -- often they haven't played the Masters! And Furyk didn't play the Masters this year, so...

Chalk, people. I'm big on chalk this week. ;-)