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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Turnberry Shows Its Teeth

You expect wild weather swings in Scotland at an Open. The LPGA has certainly experienced it all so far.

Thursday the morning was fairly calm and things got a little rougher in the afternoon. All told, 52 players broke par.

Friday turned wet and nasty. To give you a comparison, the field was 28-under on the back nine Thursday. They were 539-over on Friday. Overall the course played 5 shots harder. Only 5 players broke par. Suzann Pettersen's 69 (-3) was the low round of the day until Maria McBride managed to post a 66 (-6) literally in the dark. If it hadn't been for the light from the electric scoreboard at the 18th, she wouldn't have been able to finish.

And Saturday the wind dropped a bit and the sun even came out for a while. Even with that, only 14 players are still under par.

Suzann Pettersen at Turnberry

This event is still wide open. The lead, entering the final round, is -8; after the first round it was only -7. And the weather is supposed to turn a bit nasty again today.

Once you get past leaders Jin-Young Ko and Teresa Lu, whose names may not be familiar to you -- Lu has one LPGA win and this is Ko's first major appearance -- the leaderboard is loaded with familiar names:
  • -7, Suzann Pettersen
  • -6, Mika Miyazato
  • -5, Inbee Park, Minjee Lee, Lydia Ko
  • -4, Mel Reid, So Yeon Ryu
And if any of them stumble, McBride proved a great round is out there even in the worst of it.

ESPN2's live coverage begins at 10am ET today, and there will be a one-hour wrap-up show on ABC at 5pm ET in case you miss the live coverage.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

You Say You Can't Activate Your Glutes?

I simply couldn't resist this. Ron Kaspriske over at Golf Digest posted this video of an exercise to help you learn to activate your glutes -- specifically, the gluteus medius muscles. These are the muscles that help you stabilize your hips so you don't sway or slide during your backswing.

It looks like a pretty simple exercise, and all you need is a stretch band.

Now all you have to do is learn how to keep a straight face when you tell folks you're "activating your glutes."

Friday, July 31, 2015

A Bit of Match Play

If you're a fan of match play you're probably aware that the ET has a new match play event running this week. It's called the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play and it's being hosted by -- you guessed it -- 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie.

Paul Lawrie

Unlike some of the other small field match play events that have been held on the ET in the past, the Saltire has a full 64-man field from the Race to Dubai list -- or at least it did when it began on Thursday. It uses a traditional one-and-done format with the Top32 players paired against the lower 32.

Lawrie made it past the first round and will play Chris Doak today. That could be a tough one since Doak came back from 4 down in the first round to win 1 up -- he took 6 of the final 9 holes to do it. But Lawrie won his match against Romain Wattel 5 up, so he's playing well.

There were only 2 Americans in the field -- John Daly lost his match 2 down to Jorge Campillo, but Peter Uihlein beat Oliver Wilson 2 up. Uihlein will face Matthew Fitzpatrick, the 20-year-old 2013 US Amateur champion who turned pro just last year. That should be an interesting match!

GC's coverage begins at 9am ET -- the same time as ESPN2's coverage of the RICOH Women's British Open -- but Uihlein and Fitzpatrick tee off at 7:35am ET (if I've got my time changes correct) so the two should be well underway when the coverage begins. Lawrie tees off 25 minutes after Uihlein.

This is an inaugural event so if you love match play you'll want to check it out.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

3 Swing Images from Sam Snead

This is one of those Martin's Bookshelf bits from School of Golf. You can never go wrong copying Sam Snead; the greatest players in the game have said that just watching Slammin' Sam was enough to help their game.

This video includes 3 images from Sam's instructional book Sam Snead Teaches You His Simple "KEY" Approach to Golf.

These images are:
  1. Put your hands in a holster at setup
  2. Lay the club on a bookshelf for a moment at the top of your backswing
  3. Throw an apple off the shaft at impact
You can get the details of each from the video -- and they're all extremely useful -- but I would like to mention one thing about each.
  1. The holster image is another way of teaching you not to rotate your forearms during your takeaway. If you use this image, the necessary rotation will happen at your lead shoulder and be controlled by the bending of your trailing elbow. You'll be in better position at the top, which means you'll return the club to the ball more consistently.
  2. Although Martin is demonstrating the move down with a forward hip shift, Sam actually started down with a squat -- that is, the knees flexed so that they actually separated a little (the trailing knee actually moves slightly AWAY from the target and the lead knee moves slightly TOWARD the target). This wasn't a huge squat -- it's actually very slight -- and he did shift his weight to his lead foot as he swung, but initially your body moves DOWN before moving toward the target. This is what used to be called the "modern" swing as opposed to the Hogan swing. You'll find it easier to use this image if you know that.
  3. Finally, this is yet another way to practice carrying your wrist cock later into the downswing. If you get good at this drill, you should pick up some noticeable distance.
I'm glad that Martin Hall spends some time each week sharing things from the old masters. We talk so much about golf history but we often underestimate how much useful information those old masters can still provide for us.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Billy Hurley III's Dad Is Missing

In case you missed it on Golf Central yesterday, Billy Hurley III let everybody know that his father has gone missing for over a week. Here's the report Todd Lewis filed:

Billy says he plans to play this week and hopes his dad will check in some way to find out how he's doing.

The photo of Billy's dad -- Willard "Billy" Hurley Jr. -- is in the video clip several times. He was last seen on Sunday, July 19 and was driving a dark green 1998 Ford F150 pickup, license number YWH-5898. They also know that he purchased a hotel room in Texarkana TX last Thursday. If you have any information, contact the Leesburg VA police department.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My "5 to Watch" at the Women's British Open

Three Open Championships in a row! How cool is that?

This week the ladies take their turn at links golf. Trump Turnberry may have been the source of some unwanted publicity this year but, politics aside, this is a classic track that should really challenge the women to play some of their best golf so far.

Scoreboard at the RICOH Women's British Open

The defending champion is Mo Martin, but I'm having trouble picking her to repeat. As much as I like Mo's game -- she's short off the tee but extremely accurate -- her win in last year's Open at Royal Birkdale was the highest winning score (-1) since it became a major on the LPGA. Unless they have bad weather at Turnberry, I don't see that getting it done this year.

In fact, I'm not sure there are any sure bets this year. Inbee Park, Lydia Ko and Stacy Lewis all seem a bit off their games, Michelle Wie is still injured (although she still plans to tee it up), and I'm not sure how Lexi Thompson's hand will hold up taking huge divots in hard links sand.

So it looks like time to avoid the standard chalk picks and look for hidden gems...
  • Suzann Pettersen may seem like a chalk pick but she hasn't broken into the Top5 in majors lately. And except for her win earlier this season, she's struggled to reach double digits under par. (She shot -22 at Manulife, but no better than -11 at any other LPGA event... and her best major finish was -9 at the ANA. She shot +8 at the US Open and missed the cut.) But she played pretty well in Scotland this past week and she'll be acclimated to the weather and time change, so she makes my list.
  • Gerina Piller doesn't have a good record at the RICOH but -- with the exception of the US Open -- has been playing very well lately. I'm going with form over past performance here; Gerina is due and if Phil Mickelson can pick up one of these things...
  • Morgan Pressel has three 3rds in the first 3 majors of the season. With her increased length off the tee and her ability to hit the low ball, I think she'll do well again.
  • Sei Young Kim has no record at the RICOH because she's never played it. I'm calling this one on beginner's luck.
  • And finally, Shanshan Feng was last year's runner-up and she's a Top10 machine this season. She just might get it done this time.
Of course, at least one of the big names is likely to get into contention if not win. But the RICOH is one of the hardest tournaments for any woman to build a consistent record in. And given how wild this year has been so far, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect an upset.

In fact, given Trump's recent comments, wouldn't it be really cool if Lizette Salas won? I didn't pick her but I'll sure be pulling for her!

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 RBC Canadian Open

Winner: Jason Day

Around the wider world of golf: Lexi Thompson won the Meijer LPGA Classic on the LPGA; Breanna Elliott won the Fuccillo Kia Championship on the Symetra Tour; Rebecca Artis won the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open on the LET; Marco Dawson won the Senior Open Championship on the Champions Tour; Danny Willett won the Omega European Masters on the ET; Prayad Marksaeng won the Fukushima Open on the Asian Tour; and In-Gee Chun (the US Women's Open champion) won the Hite Jinro Championship on the KLPGA (bangkokbobby has details).

Jason Day on the 18th after sinking the winning putt

No, there still hasn't been a Canadian champion at the Canadian Open in 61 years. David Hearn certainly gave it a brave run, one he can be proud of -- especially since he didn't have any previous wins to draw on when trying to win his national Open.

But, as you can see from the photo above, it was a better Day for Jason.

You know, we've all been somewhat lopsided in our coverage of Jason Day. We've documented the vertigo problems at the US Open and the amazing bad weather play at last week's Open Championship that came up a single shot short. But we haven't made much of Jason's win earlier this season at the Farmer's Insurance Open (at Torrey Pines, definitely a tough track) or his other four Top5 finishes, all done while the vertigo was still a problem.

The RBC Canadian Open is his second victory this calendar year, and he got it after a draining experience at the Open, which meant he had to make the time change adjustment with less-than-normal recovery time. He even remembered to hit that final putt hard enough to get it to the hole -- although, admittedly, the course wasn't nearly as wet this time so he probably would have gotten the speed right without St. Andrews on his mind.

But Jason picked up a big tournament with this win -- perhaps not as big as the Opens that got away, but a big one nevertheless. And so he gets an equally big Limerick Summary to help him celebrate it -- although I confess that I think ALL the Limerick Summaries are a big deal:
Two Opens evaded his grasp
But Jason found victory at last!
Could this Open portend
A big Whistling Straits win
Since the vertigo problem is past?
The photo comes from the tournament upshot page at