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Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Second Tour Sunday Start

Last week it was the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic. This week it's the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic.

Zecheng Dou

China's Zecheng Dou won the Great Exuma last week and will be looking to make it two in a row at the Abaco Club on Great Abaco Island. And the PGA Tour seems to think he might -- at least, they've got him first on their Power Rankings this week. Wally Wilcox and Ben Kohles, who finished T4 and T2 respectively last week, are ranked two and three on that list.

Of course, the reason I'm telling you all of this is because the Tour is making its second Sunday start of the season. With all the excitement of the LPGA and PGA Tour events finishing up today, it can be easy to forget that the Tour coverage begins today at noon ET.

Consider yourselves reminded. ;-)

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Phil's Chipping 101 (Video)

With Phil posting a 60 on Thursday and leading the Desert Classic after Friday's round, it seems like a good time to post his micro-lesson on how to play chip shots.

Please note that Phil plays ALL his chips with a 60° lob wedge. This isn't what most instructors recommend but -- as with all things in golf and most things in life -- there isn't just one way to be successful.

Phil has three basics, as outlined in the video:
  1. Keep your weight on your forward foot
  2. Keep your hands forward
  3. Decide whether to hit the ball high or low
    • Ball in front of back foot to go low
    • Ball in front of forward foot to go high
In addition, he says you can alter the height of the shot by opening or closing the clubface, but he doesn't demonstrate that here. That's probably just as well, since you need to get good at these basics before you start getting cute with the face position. Phil's basic face position is open; I'd call it roughly 45°.

Phil does NOT mention that his stance is slightly open. That causes you to swing a bit out-to-in, which is why you open the clubface. (If you use a square clubface with this technique, you'll pull all your chips.) Just watch the video and you'll see it. That's important to this way of chipping.

He uses the front edge of the wedge more than the bounce, although I should point out that it's much easier to use the bounce on a 60° lob wedge with this technique than when you're using a wedge with less loft (like a 56° sand wedge). With Phil's technique and a lob wedge -- with the face open about 45° -- you're using the front edge for the low shot and the bounce on the high shot.

Should you use this technique instead of a multi-wedge technique? It's all a matter of what you feel comfortable with. Phil has been more successful than many players with his short game simply because he uses the method that he feels most comfortable with. That's a choice you can learn from... and Phil's method is about as simple to remember as any.

You will need some practice to use it well, of course. But isn't that the case with everything in golf?

Friday, January 18, 2019

Tom Stickney on "Fake" Shoulder Turns (Video)

This post could help you in some unexpected ways. Instructor Tom Stickney did this short video to illustrate the difference between a real shoulder coil and the partial shoulder turn that less-flexible players make.

I've written a number of posts about shoulder coil, and the cool thing about this video is how well it illustrates the difference between a good shoulder turn and a bad one.

In a bad shoulder turn you try to create a fuller turn by bending your elbows, which actually decreases the length of your backswing.

But a good shoulder turn allows your elbows to stay much straighter, which widens your arc.

Here's the important thing to remember: Even if you don't get a 90° shoulder turn, it's important to get that width with your arms. That's why many Tour pros can hit the ball so far with a shorter backswing -- less shoulder turn with more arm extension creates a bigger arc than a fake shoulder turn with bent elbows.

The reason I'm posting this video is so you can discover whether you're making this mistake or not. All you need to do is get in front of a mirror and look at your top of backswing position, then compare it to what you see in this video. This is a really easy way to find out what a good shoulder turn FOR YOU feels like. Once you see what a wide arc looks like, you can practice duplicating the feel and then take it to the course.

It might even help you get some more distance AND become more accurate. It works for Jon Rahm. Give it a try!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

And Now the Women Get into the Act

The LPGA tees it up today with a new event, the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

Brooke Henderson, Diamond Resorts Invitational CEO Michael Flaskey and basketball legend Ray Allen

This new event is something the LPGA hasn't had in a long time -- their own equivalent of the Sentry Tournament of Champions. It will feature 26 winners from the last two years, playing alongside 49 celebrities from business, entertainment and sport.

The scoring will be different for the two groups. The LPGA pros will compete in their normal stroke play format while the celebs will play Stableford scoring. And while the LPGA plays for a $1.2mil purse, the celebs will have a $500,000 purse of their own.

And bragging rights, of course. That carries a lot of weight with the celebs. You need only watch the Pebble Beach AT&T Pro-Am to know that.

While there are fewer pros at this event than the men had at the Sentry, this should still be a good event. Bear in mind that players like Gerina Piller and Stacy Lewis are making their first appearances since becoming mothers, while several first-time winners will get a jump on the rest of the Tour with an extra week to get in competitive shape.

Get ready to veg out on the couch, as there is a lot of golf to watch today.
  • The Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions gets underway on GC at noon ET today.
  • The PGA Tour's Desert Classic follows immediately after at 3pm ET.
  • The Champions Tour tees off at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship (in Hawaii) at 7pm ET.
  • The second round of the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open airs at 10pm ET.
  • And if you're in the mood to stay up all night, you can catch the third round of the ET's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at 3am ET.
I predict a lot of coffee in some of your futures!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

From the Deep Blue Sea to the Desert

Today we cruise into the California desert for the Desert Classic, the event formerly known as the Bob Hope.

Defending champion Jon Rahm

In case you've forgotten, the Desert Classic makes use of three separate courses at PGA West -- the TPC Stadium Course, the Nicklaus Tournament Course and La Quinta Country Club -- which makes it easier for the 156 pros to get around despite the shorter daylight hours this time of year.

The TPC Stadium Course, once nicknamed "Frankenstein" because of how tough it played, is also the site for the final round. Fans of the old Skins Game, which was played every Thanksgiving, may remember the course as the home of that event during the late 1980s. It's got some really DEEP bunkers.

Although I didn't originally plan to pick a winner every week, I think I may keep it up this year and see how I do. In the last two events I've picked a winner and another player I think will do well; so far I've got one winner (Xander Schauffele) and a T10 (Bryson DeChambeau) with my winners, and my other two picks have finished T4 (Rory McIlroy) and T10 (Charles Howell III). Let's see how I can do this week.

The Desert Classic strikes me as the first real "wild card" of the season since the variety of courses, combined with the "run and gun" aspect of the event (you generally need to go very low to win), tends to favor the player who throws caution to the win and just tries to post the most birdies. It's been a dozen years since the winning score was less that -20 (-17, Charley Hoffman in 2007) -- and that was when the event was a five-rounder. Hence any attempt to predict form is probably doomed to fail.

Nevertheless, I will. My picks are pretty simple.
  • Jon Rahm is the defending champion. He posted -22 and won in a playoff against Andrew Landry. Rahm seems to be in good form again, coming off a win at the Hero Challenge and a T8 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. I see no reason he shouldn't play well again. HOWEVER, he isn't my pick to win.
  • Given the wide open nature of this event, I'm going with Justin Rose to win. Rose had a 3rd at the last WGC in October, a win at the Turkish Airlines Open in November and a 3rd at the Hero. While he's coming off an extended holiday, that hasn't hurt him in past years; he routinely has Top5 finishes in his January appearances. Likewise, I don't expect his recent equipment changes to have much of an effect either.
So there you have it. I pick Rose to win and Rahm to make a good showing.

And don't forget that the Tour's Bahamas Great Exuma Classic finishes up today at 1pm ET on GC.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Worldwide Tours Are Back in Action!

Today, let's look at the European Tour. The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship kicks off the 2019 part of their wraparound season this week.

Two-time defending champ Tommy Fleetwood

Notably absent from this playing of the event is Rory McIlroy, who had already said that he was going to focus on the PGA Tour this year. But -- with all apologies to Rory -- he wouldn't have been the big story anyway.

No, the big gun this week is Tommy Fleetwood, who is going for a threepeat in this event. Only Martin Kaymer has won this event three times, but they weren't back-to-back-to-back (2008, 2010 and 2011). Fleetwood can make history this week and you can be sure it's on his mind. I'm excited to see how he handles the pressure.

Of course, this is the first appearance in several weeks for a number of big names -- Oosthuizen, Stenson, Poulter, Westwood, Aphibarnrat and Molinari, to name a few. In addition, Dustin Johnson and current world #2 Brooks Koepka have made the trip over

GC's schedule lists the first round of this event to begin TONIGHT -- yes, Tuesday night -- at 10:30pm ET. This is a Wednesday-Saturday event, so the time difference means we get to watch tonight. So don't forget!

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Sony Open

Winner: Matt Kuchar

Around the wider world of golf: Charley Hull won the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open, the first LET event of the season.

Matt Kuchar with Sony trophy

An ice storm took out our power and TV for nearly 18 hours on Sunday, so I only got to see Kuchar's final couple of holes at the Sony. But ultimately I guess it was his final holes that told the whole story.

Matt started the week with back-to-back 63s and finished with back-to-back 66s. He had the lead going into the final round. But three bogeys in his first five holes -- three times more bogeys than he had made in the first three rounds -- might have spelled the end of his bid before it even began.

But it didn't. Shooting five-under on the back nine put the tournament out of reach to the other players, and Matt picked up his second win in three starts.

It seems the ocean breeze brings out the shark in our quiet little Kuchar. Who knew?

Now the question becomes whether a 40-year-old Matt Kuchar is ready to chew up the competition in some big events this year. I don't know yet, although this is certainly a great start to a season where the big events come hard and fast. But one thing I do know -- two Limerick Summaries in three starts bodes very well for his limerick collection.
So Kuchar’s on top once again.
When he plays near an ocean, he grins
As he sprints to the front
Of the field. Let’s be blunt:
All he lacks is a big dorsal fin!
The photo came from this page at