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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Rocket Mortgage Classic

Time to try my luck again, I guess. This week's Twofer Tuesday picks center around the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Defending Quicken Loans National champ Francesco Molinari with Tiger Woods

The Rocket Mortgage Classic is a new event for the PGA Tour. It replaces the Quicken Loans National (same sponsor), becomes a full-field event and moves from Washington DC to Detroit MI. Technically I guess that makes Francesco Molinari the defending champion, but it's going to be a very different course.

Detroit Golf Club is a par-72 course playing over 7300 yards. It's a Donald Ross design with poa greens. (The pros have been putting on poa greens for a couple of weeks now, so they should do pretty well.) The course is actually made up of two courses -- it uses 17 holes from the North Course and one hole (the par-3 fourth for the pros) from the South Course.

So let's not beat around the bush any longer. It's time to make my picks!
  • My Top10er is Chez Reavie. I know that the guy who just had his best major finish two weeks ago (T3 at Pebble) and won this past week is probably a bit tired. But he's been playing reasonably well all year and seems to be riding a streak of confidence. As far as I'm concerned, it only has to hold out for one more week. He can take a rest later!
  • And my winner is Xander Schauffele. Xander has only played two of the last four weeks, joining Reavie with a T3 in his last start at Pebble. With two wins in this wraparound season and his last win coming in January, I figure he's due for another title run.
Since this is a new course for all the pros, this should be a pretty level playing field. We may very well see another surprise winner, given that this course shouldn't play all that long. (It's a par-72, after all.) But since my picks haven't been doing very well lately, I suppose any of my picks that pan out this time will be a surprise!

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 3pm ET and PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at 7am ET.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Travelers Championship

Winner: Chez Reavie

Around the wider world of golf: Hannah Green made the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship her first LPGA win; Jerry Kelly won the American Family Insurance Championship on the Champions Tour; Daniela Iacobelli won the Island Resort Championship on the Symetra Tour; Alex Chiarella won the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open on the Mackenzie Tour; Zhengkai “Bobby” Bai won the Huangshan Championship on the PGA TOUR China; Andrea Pavan won the European Tour's BMW International Open; Jazz Janewattananond won the Kolon Korea Open Golf Championship on the Asian Tour; and Thai amateur Atthaya Thitikul won the Ladies European Thailand Championship for a second time. The Korn Ferry Tour's Wichita Open continues their playoff today. [UPDATE: I forgot to include James Sugrue, winner of the 2019 Amateur. And Henrik Norlander won the Wichita Open playoff. So much golf this past week!]

Chez Reavie with the Travelers trophy

My Tuesday Twofer picks were both new pros so I admit I didn't have terribly high hopes. I picked Viktor Hovland (T54) to win and Matthew Wolff (MDF) to Top10. But at least I was correct that Hovland played the better of the two.
  • Winners: 2 for 25
  • Place well (Top10): 11 for 25 (6 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 22 of 50 (11 Top5s, 11 more Top10s)
But just like last week, it's hard to believe that anybody would have picked this week's winner. It's true that Chez Reavie has been playing pretty well -- he finished T3 in Pebble last week -- but he hasn't had a PGA Tour win since his original win back in the 2008 RBC Canadian Open. (That was almost exactly 11 years ago!)

It's not that Reavie is a bad player. Far from it! He's won on the Web.com Tour (now the Korn Ferry Tour) since his first PGA Tour win. It's just that, like so many other players, his career has been plagued by injury. It's hard to build any consistency that way, even though he almost won twice in that time.

But Chez never gave up. And now his work has finally paid off.

He went into Sunday's final round with a six-shot lead. And while he only shot a one-under 69, that was enough to withstand the runs put up by Zack Sucher and Keegan Bradley and give him a four-shot win. That should be enough to push him up above #48 in the OWGR, which is where last week's performance at the US Open put him.

And it's good enough to give him his first-ever Limerick Summary. (My blog didn't exist back in 2008.) And hopefully for him, it won't be his last.
Chez won back in 2008.
His health at times hasn’t been great
Though he almost won twice
On the Tour. Ain’t it nice
That his work paid off after that wait?
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Bob Strano's Milk Jug Drill (Video)

GCA's lead coach Rob Strano has an interesting drill to increase your distance, and it uses a milk jug.



This drill is simple enough but I feel I should point out something. Strano says to fill up the milk jug with water. Be aware that a gallon of water weighs around 8.34 pounds or 3.785 kilograms. When you hold that out at arm's-length, that's gonna be pretty heavy, especially if you aren't used to it!

So be careful if you try this drill. I'd recommend only filling the jug halfway when you first try it.

The idea behind this drill is that it teaches you to keep your arms extended well into your takeaway, as you can see in the video. It's just another approach to making a one-piece takeaway, which is one of the few things I consider important in a golf swing.

As you regular readers know, I've done a number of posts on this. This link takes you to my basic one-piece takeaway drill, which doesn't require any props at all. (You can find the complete four-post series I did on my Some Useful Post Series page; it's called Dexter's Coming Over the Top.)

Regardless of which drill you use, the principle is the same: You get a bigger swing arc when you extend your arms, and a bigger swing arc can create more clubhead speed. And the beauty of extension is that you can usually get a bigger swing arc this way, even if you aren't flexible enough to increase your shoulder turn very much.

No matter what kind of swing method you use, this principle always works. So if you want to get more distance, you want to incorporate a larger arc into your swing .

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Tom Blanckaert on Playing from Wet Sand (Video)

With so many tours playing in wet weather, this just seemed to be a no-brainer. How do you adjust to play from wet sand?



Tom's tips are very simple:
  • Learn how firm the sand is by taking your stance. Obviously you can't "test" the sand by digging in, moving out and then taking your stance. But in the process of taking a normal stance in the sand, you will be able to tell how compacted the sand is.
  • Use the front edge of the club, not the bounce. In wet sand the bounce will just make the club... well, bounce. You need to take a thin divot, not bounce off the sand and thin the shot. You can figure out how much less to open the face in the practice bunker before your round.
  • Hit the sand closer to the ball. Tom says if you normally take four inches of sand, cut the distance to two inches. Since you're playing this more like a chip shot than a normal sand shot, you won't need to take as much sand.
  • Don't swing as hard as normal. That's just simple logic, don't you think? Since you don't have to move a lot of sand, you don't have to swing so fast. Again, think chip shot rather than sand shot.
And don't miss the last thing Tom says. Since you aren't hitting the ball as high as a normal sand shot, the ball will roll a bit farther after it hits the ground.

Playing from wet sand isn't that much different than playing a chip shot from a firmer lie. Once you practice a little to get over the fear of it, it shouldn't be much harder than any other short game shot. Just practice a little!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Michelle Wie's Injury Battles Strike Home

If you saw Michelle Wie weeping during her interview with GC on Thursday, you'll understand why I'm writing about her today. Too many people have viewed Michelle as little more than a golf sideshow, but this latest bout of injuries should make it clear to everyone how much she loves the game... and how frightened she is about her future in golf.

Michelle Wie at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

I'm going to link you to Randall Mell's piece over at golfchannel.com about Michelle's situation, simply because he handles it so well. But I'd like to point out two things that I think many of her critics have missed:
  • Unlike Phil Mickelson's arthritis, Michelle's isn't treatable with medicine. She can no longer take cortisone treatments, the collagen seem to be having a limited effect, and the surgeries she's had don't seem to be helping much either.
  • And second, no one who has any contact with her questions either her work ethic or her love for the game.
The fact that Michelle is beginning to wonder if it's only a matter of time before her arthritis ends her career is heartbreaking. Imagine if you were suddenly unable to do the thing you most love to do and there was nothing anyone could do to help you. I'm sure she hopes for some kind of miracle, some currently elusive treatment that will give her some options, not unlike the arthritis drug that helped Phil or the fusion surgery that's given Tiger a new lease on life.

But for now, that miracle hasn't made its presence known. And Thursday that burden became pretty obvious in her after-round interview -- which, as Lisa Cornwall noted, most pros probably wouldn't have bothered to give, no matter how concerned her fans were.

For the time being, all we can do is pray for Michelle Wie... and perhaps be a bit less critical of her. Too many people view social media as a license to be cruel. We could all use a bit more of the Golden Rule in our dealings with others -- "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Regardless of how you feel about her, right now Michelle is more vulnerable and more "human" than anyone has ever seen her. Perhaps it's time the rest of us treated her better and did what we can to encourage her. It's the least we can do.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

AKA the Korn Ferry Tour

The Web.com Tour is under new management, effective immediately. Say hello to the Korn Ferry Tour!

New Korn Ferry Tour logo

Since this new sponsorship takes effect RIGHT NOW, it seems appropriate to take a moment and make sure you know who the new sponsor is.

Korn Ferry is a management consulting firm with headquarters in Los Angeles CA, and it's a BIG company. Excuse me, companies -- I counted 41 when I Googled it, and Wikipedia's Korn Ferry page says they have (as of 2018) 106 offices in 52 countries. The name may sound a bit unusual, but it's simply the last names of the two men who founded it nearly fifty years ago in 1969, Lester Korn and Richard Ferry.

And the new sponsorship deal is for ten years, through 2028. Here's GC's announcement if you're interested. Yes, friends, the PGA Tour's development tour has picked up a huge sponsor.

I suspect we'll be learning more about it as the year goes on, but for now it appears that nothing major will change other than the brand on the tour. And that's good news all around.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Third LPGA Major of 2019

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship looks to be in for a rough ride, given the weather forecasts. But that just means it'll be a tougher test.

Defending champion Sung Hyun Park

And a test it will be! This year's edition is being held at legendary Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota. It's a par-72 set up to play at just over 6800 yards. That's long for the ladies to begin with, but the northern part of the country has been battered by storms for most of 2019 -- and this week they appear to be in for more of the same.

There are, as far as I can tell, four primary storylines at the forefront this week:
  • The length of defending champion Sung Hyun Park, who won in a playoff last year, should give her a real advantage when the bad weather comes in. She's #4 in the Rolex and has one win this season (HSBC Women's World Championship) and one runner-up (T2 at the Kia Classic) but otherwise she hasn't been particularly consistent.
  • Lexi Thompson's length off the tee should also set her in good stead if the weather turns bad, but she's #2 in the Rolex and comes in with considerably better form. Her questionable play early in the year has given away to an amazing run of top finishes. Her last seven starts are: 3-MC-T4- MC-T2-1-T2. If her improved putting continues, she could be a juggernaut this week.
  • Brooke Henderson (also a long hitter) comes off a historic performance. At #5 in the Rolex, she has two wins this year -- which has made her the winningest Canadian player ever (either male or female), plus she's got a T2 mixed in for good measure. Oh, and she won this event in 2016.
  • And then there's Michelle Wie, #53 in the Rolex, making her first appearance after missing two more months with wrist injuries. She only began hitting chips and such last week, so she expects to be rusty. But she says her doctors told her that sitting out any longer won't help her heal.
Park has two majors, the other three have one each. The first three are each likely to be in the mix come Sunday evening. And while Michelle probably won't be a factor at the end, that doesn't mean she won't be a focus of attention.

And once you add in all the other players who are in form at this time of the season, it shapes up to be an exciting major. You can get more details about the event over at Tony Jesselli's preview.

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 6pm ET.