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Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Sunday Solheim Cup Singles Pairings

Danielle Kang leads off the singles matches

You can read the entire article from Randall Mell at this link, but here are the pairings for quick reference. All times are ET.
  • 6:40am: Danielle Kang (USA) vs. Carlota Ciganda (EUR)
  • 6:52am: Nelly Korda (USA) vs. Caroline Hedwall (EUR)
  • 7:04am: Lexi Thompson (USA) vs. Georgia Hall (EUR)
  • 7:16am: Annie Park (USA) vs. Celine Boutier (EUR)
  • 7:28am: Angel Yin (USA) vs. Azahara Munoz (EUR)
  • 7:40am: Megan Khang (USA) vs. Charley Hull (EUR)
  • 7:52am: Lizette Salas (USA) vs. Anne Van Dam (EUR)
  • 8:04am: Jessica Korda (USA) vs. Caroline Masson (EUR)
  • 8:16am: Brittany Altomare (USA) vs. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (EUR)
  • 8:28am: Marina Alex (USA) vs. Suzann Pettersen (EUR)
  • 8:40am: Ally McDonald (USA) vs. Bronte Law (EUR)
  • 8:52am: Morgan Pressel (USA) vs. Anna Nordqvist (EUR)
GC's coverage is set to begin at 6:30am ET. And since the teams are tied 8-8 going into the singles, this could be a wild finish!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Steve Elkington on the Knockdown Shot (Video)

You'll have to scoot over to golftipsmag.com to see this video, but it's a simple thing that you might find helpful. Elk says this is an easy way to get your trajectory down without changing your swing.

What do you do? Just address the ball normally and then move an inch or two closer than normal. You don't change your ball position or anything else. You will have to lean the shaft a bit more forward in order to make your normal swing -- that's how you give your hands the extra room they'll need -- but doing so will automatically deloft the club a little and make the ball fly lower.

And just for your information, it will probably put a bit more spin on the ball as well.

As I said, it's a simple tip that could make knockdown shots much easier for you. You can thank Elk next time you see him.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Rory VS Brooks

The battle is done. Brooks got the PGA Player of the Year while Rory got the PGA Tour Player of the Year.

However, the discussion is just beginning.

Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka

I wanted to take a quick look at this somewhat unexpected turn of events -- even Rory is on record as expecting Brooks to take both awards. Still, I think this 'split decision' is just an indication of how difficult it is to say one player is definitely better than another. I'm not certain that either player should have won both of these awards but I think this is an indication that players are beginning to question what's really important in their careers.

Before we go on, let's get one thing clear. The PGA Player of the Year is determined by a point system while the PGA Tour Player of the Year is determined by player vote. Some are suggesting that the players may have voted on personality or popularity, and that the point system is therefore a more objective approach. But I believe you can make the opposite case as well -- namely, that the player vote indicates that not everyone agrees on whether the points are being given for what's really important.

That being said, let's compare Brooks and Rory's seasons and try to understand why the awards were split.

First, let's tackle the elephant in the room: Majors. Part of the discussion says that Rory's win devalues the importance of finishes in the majors. Brooks finished T2-1-2-T4 while Rory finished T21-T8-T9-MC. Brooks clearly played better and had one major VS Rory having none.

But the World Golf Hall of Fame has to be considered here. According to the criteria at their website, the WGHoF gives THE PLAYERS equal weight to a major:
A [male] player must have a cumulative total of 15 or more official victories on any of the original members of the International Federation of PGA Tours (PGA TOUR, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour and PGA of Australasia) OR at least two victories among the following events: The Masters, THE PLAYERS Championship, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship.
Two PLAYERS carry the same weight as any two majors. So whether you call it a major or not, the WGHoF considers a PLAYERS win as having equal value and that has to be taken into account. Clearly, many players did so.

Each player won three events. Giving equal weight to their 'majors' this season, let's compare the other two wins:
  • Brooks: CJ Cup & WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
  • Rory: RBC Canadian Open & TOUR Championship
Analysts are saying that players gave more weight to the PGA Tour 'majors' -- that is, THE PLAYERS and the TOUR Championship -- but my guess is that there's a bit more at play here.

The CJ Cup really doesn't carry the weight of a WGC, the TOUR Championship or a long-running national championship like the Canadian Open, which is the third-oldest continuously running tourney behind the OPEN and the US Open, respectively.

In fairness, the RBC is also the only PGA TOUR-run national championship. But you can still make an argument that Brooks's two non-majors are slightly less 'valuable' than Rory's.

In terms of consistency:
  • Rory played 19 events with 14 Top10s and two missed cuts
  • Brooks played 21 events with 9 Top10s and one missed cut
In terms of money:
  • Brooks won the money list by nearly $2mil over Rory
But Rory did win the TOUR Championship, finishing #1 while Brooks could only finish #3 after leading the FedExCup points list nearly all season.

I don't know that any of this is conclusive proof that one player is better than the other. In the end, Rory was more consistent and 'showed up' much more often than Brooks. Conversely, Brooks played better in the majors than Rory and you can chalk up his money list win almost entirely to those four finishes, because those events paid the largest purses.

Ultimately, that's the crux of the argument as it is being framed.

Not being mentioned in any of this, however, are three other awards Rory won this season:
  • the FedExCup champion (that is an award for season-long excellencee)
  • Vardon Trophy (for best scoring average, minimum 60 rounds)
  • Byron Nelson Award (for best scoring average, minimum 50 rounds)
And perhaps these three -- the FedExCup award, the Vardon Trophy and the Byron Nelson Award -- are what finally tipped the scales for Rory. The fact that Rory won all three despite how Brooks played in the majors is a statement of sorts. The big argument for Brooks is the majors -- and yes, he had a monumental year there -- yet he didn't play sufficiently well to beat Rory for any of these awards.

Rory's three awards are the definition of dominance, and that may have been enough to sway the PGA TOUR players to give Rory their POY award.

In the end, I'm glad both men won a POY award. Those awards were given on the basis of different criteria and both Rory and Brooks had 'best of' years, depending on which criteria are most important to you. But that isn't going to stop the debate over whose year was THE best.

And that's probably as it should be. I'm not sure sports fans know how to enjoy a sport they can't argue about.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Cindy Miller on Ball Position (Video)

There are two parts to ball position -- how far forward or back in your stance that you place the ball, and how far away from it you stand. Cindy Miller has a tip for the latter.



Cindy's description of this position as 'partial puke and bow' is certainly graphic enough to make it memorable! But the idea is simple enough.

After you stand up in a relaxed position with your hands at your side and the club's handle in your lead hand, you simply lean slightly toward the ball and grip the club with both hands. Let your arms hang down, with your upper arms lightly against your chest, which should put your hands more or less under your chin. That should put the clubhead the proper distance from your body, and that's where you want to place the ball when you take your actual address position.

Not every player will find this tip to be comfortable; it depends on both your normal posture and your swing technique. For example, if you hold your arms fairly straight like Bryson DeChambeau does, this tip won't necessarily help you. But the beauty of it is that, if you do feel comfortable using it, it works for every club in your bag -- except your putter, which is always a challenge, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Solheim Cup Is Here!

Of course there were the normal lost clubs and baggage at Gleneagles, but the Stacy Lewis news was unexpected.

Morgan Pressel with the Solheim Cup

Stacy's back tweak resulted in Ally MacDonald replacing her as Juli Inkster's second Captains Pick. Doesn't look to be too much of a disruption, of course -- Ally has some team experience from the 2014 Curtis Cup, where she and Annie Park played a successful fourball together. (Ironically, Ally and Annie are in different pods so they probably won't play together this week.) But Ally was #9 on the points list anyway, so she barely missed making the team on her own.

The weather at Gleneagles is currently expected to be milder than usual, which should help level the playing field against Team Europe. I know a lot of analysts say Team USA is the favorite, but I have to agree with Laura Davies -- home field is a HUGE advantage and, coupled with the number of veterans on the Euro team, Team Europe really should be the favorites.

This link takes you to a page at lpga.com with all the major info you'll need about the Solheim Cup, particularly the players on each team and the TV times here in the States. I'll just note that GC's coverage begins Friday morning at 3am ET and runs till 1:30pm ET. The Solheim Cup is always fun as well as competitive, and I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: The Greenbrier

After a two week hiatus the PGA Tour is back. Although this event has been officially renamed "A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier," I'm going with the shorter title and trusting you'll all remember the military tie-in.

Defending champion Kevin Na

The Greenbrier sat out last season so it could assume its new position as the first event of the PGA Tour wraparound season. Physically it remains a luxury resort located in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. It's a place that many of the Tour pros have moved to, and it's one of the stops where families have plenty to do while Dad whacks the old dimpled ball around.

The Old White TPC is the only Tour course with a par-3 finishing hole. At 7292 yards and a par of 70 -- and that gorgeous mountain scenery -- it's a reasonably challenging start to a long season, one that frequently gives us surprise winners. (And on occasion, very low scores.) Kevin Na is the defending champion.

As the first event of the new PGA Tour season, there are a number of newly-minted pros teeing it up after graduating from the Korn Ferry Tour. And I'm looking to them this week, in hopes that they will change the fortunes of my Twofer Tuesday picks.
  • My Top10er is Viktor Hovland. After ensuring his card at the Korn Ferry Finals, he skipped the final event to prepare for this start. I've had high hopes for Viktor since he turned pro -- some of you will remember that I picked him to win at the Deere -- and I haven't lost my enthusiasm for his future. However, I think he may (like Justin Thomas) take a bit longer to hit his stride and get his first win. That doesn't mean he can't chalk up his first Top10 as a Tour member though.
  • And my winner is Tom Lewis. The 28-year-old Englishman took a flier at getting his Tour card at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship... and promptly won his only Korn Ferry start to lock up a card. Perhaps he'll suffer the letdown so many players seem to experience after a first win but I'm willing to take a flier myself and pick him to win his first start as a carded PGA Tour player.
GC's coverage starts Thursday at 2pm ET, with the PGA TOUR LIVE stream beginning at 7am ET.

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Porsche European Open

Winner: Paul Casey

Around the wider world of golf: Taylor Pendrith got his second Mackenzie Tour victory at the Mackenzie Investments Open; Alejandra Llaneza won the Garden City Charity Classic on the Symetra Tour; Sang-Hyun Park won the Fujisankei Classic on the Japan Golf Tour; Yikuen Chang won the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship on the Asian Tour; and the US team blitzed the GB&I team in singles to retain the Walker Cup, 15.5-10.5.

Paul Casey with the Porsche European Open trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks looked good for a day or so, but... I had Xander Schauffele (T46) to win and Thomas Pieters (T20) to Top10. It appears my luck is no better overseas than it is here at home.
  • Winners: 2 for 36
  • Place well (Top10): 16 for 36 (9 Top5s, 7 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 29 of 72 (15 Top5s, 14 more Top10s)
Paul Casey had no such troubles in Germany. He calmly -- and uncharacteristically -- stated that he felt dangerous this week and that the field should be looking over their shoulders, because he had nothing to lose and was playing free.

Uncharacteristic bravado, yes. But definitely on point! The weather had been tough on the field, forcing a scoring average that was two or three strokes over par some days. But on Sunday Paul ran down the leaders, shooting a 66 to beat leaders Bernd Rithammer and Robert MacIntyre by one.

And surprisingly enough, it was Paul's first ET victory in five years. Where did his confidence come from? Clearly it was his improved play over the last year or so -- highlighted by a win at the Valspar, a fifth place in the FedExCup and rising to 17 in the OWGR.

While I'm bummed that my picks didn't play well, I have no trouble being happy for Paul Casey. He's earned the rewards he's seeing this year... and I'll gladly add yet another Limerick Summary to his 2019 haul.
Paul said he felt dangerous, right?
The field should glance backwards with fright
As he charged from behind;
His stars had aligned—
So he took the top prize with delight.
The photo came from this page at europeantour.com.