Monday, December 22, 2014

The Limerick Summary: 2014 Dubai Open

Winner: Arjun Atwal

Around the wider world of golf: Nothing to report this week that I'm aware of.

Arjun Atwal with trophy

While a Darren Clarke win at the Asian Tour's Dubai Open would have been a surprise, it probably wouldn't be a bigger surprise than Arjun Atwal's win. Arjun hasn't played a full schedule on the PGA Tour since 2012... but even counting that season, he's missed the cut in more than half of his starts.

Some of that can be attributed to health problems. Arjun has had back and hip problems for at least the last two years. In 2014 he had only 4 starts on the PGA Tour (he missed 3 cuts) and one start on the European Tour (he missed that cut as well).

But this week -- this week -- in Dubai he played much better. After a slow start with a 73 he posted rounds of 65, 68 and 66 to finish at -16. He beat 19-year-old Wang Jeung-hun by a single stroke, posting a birdie on the par-5 18th when Wang could post no better than bogey.

It was Arjun's first win since his only PGA Tour win, at the 2010 Wyndham Championship.

Christmas is going to be a lot brighter for Arjun Atwal this year because he gets a nice shiny Limerick Summary to place under his tree. (Well, the win -- and prize money -- probably feels pretty good too.) Perhaps this is the harbinger of a brighter 2015 to come. Merry Christmas, Arjun!
Arjun Atwal brings much Christmas cheer
From Dubai’s final tourney this year.
Over there, he was hot
Though at home, he was not.
Could this win get his season in gear?
The photo came from the tournament wrap-up page at asiantour.com.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

An Irish Surprise in Dubai

Today's post is short but it's definitely newsworthy.

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke shot a third-round 64 at the Asian Tour's Dubai Open and is now just a single shot off the lead.

Darren Clarke

South African Jbe Kruger also shot 64, which snagged him a piece of the lead -- a four-way lead featuring Kruger, Korean Wang Jeung-hun, and Indians Arjun Atwal and Shiv Kapur. And just to make things more interesting, Wang is only 19 years old versus Clarke at 46.

You can read the Asian Tour's summary of the third round at this link and keep check on the leaderboard at this link. But this is definitely turning out to be a tournament worth following, and today's final round could end up being a very nice Christmas present for Darren Clarke.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

There's Golf This Week?

Yes, believe it or not, there's golf being played this week over in Dubai. The Asian Tour event -- which apparently isn't being televised here in the States -- is the inaugural Dubai Open.

Shiv Kapur

Shiv Kapur from India -- you may recognize his name, as he plays the European Tour a lot -- is tied for the lead at -7 with Thai golfer Pavit Tangkamolprasert after 2 rounds. There are a number of other Asian golfers near the lead whose names you might recognize, like Gaganjeet Bhullar and Prom Meesawat.

More familiar to American golf fans is Indian player Arjun Atwal, one of Tiger's close friends and also a PGA Tour winner -- of the Wyndham Championship, just about 30 minutes or so from where I live. Atwal is only one shot off the lead.

Some other names you might know -- players who made the cut but aren't particularly close to the lead -- include Darren Clarke, Jeev Milkha Singh, Daniel Chopra, Thaworn Wiratchant, Richard Finch, and Jbe Kruger.

Let's face it, the Asian Tour isn't big news here in America. (At least, not unless somebody like Bubba or Jordan Spieth is in the field, as they were in Japan a few weeks back.) GC may air a summary show sometime in the next week or two... or they may not; they're kinda hit-and-miss that way. Events like this often slip right under the radar, especially this close to a holiday like Christmas.

Still, if you're interested, you can read a summary of the second round here (the photo came from this article as well). You'll be able to find links to the latest articles on each round here at the Asian Tour homepage (there's also a link in my blog's sidebar under "Live Leaderboards") or you can go straight to the Dubai Open leaderboard at this link.

If you need a quick golf fix this weekend, this may be the only game in town.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Butch on Ego Mistakes

Butch Harmon has a new short article at golfdigest.com about "ego mistakes." You know, the shots you mess up because you wouldn't accept your limitations or because you're trying to prove something. Everybody makes them; even the pros do so at times.

Butch's article focuses on two especially common ones:
  • not using enough club when you hit into the green and
  • using too much loft when you chip and pitch around the green.

Butch in midswing

Although I'm oversimplifying here, to fix the first mistake Butch says you should take one more club and swing at something less than full speed. That will help you hit the ball more solidly.

And on the second one, he simply advises trying different clubs for shots around the green. Don't just grab your lob wedge. (Yeah, I know that's what Phil does -- he plays every shot with the same wedge. Butch knows that too. But you're not Phil yet, are you?)

He also reminds you to avoid flipping your hands at impact when pitching with a wedge. You can refer back to this post featuring a video with Paul Azinger's pitching technique if you need more help. (Butch's technical advice in this article is better for chipping than pitching, at least if your ball is sitting down a bit in the rough. Just think about all those guys stubbing pitches at the Hero World Challenge.)

I'm sure many of you will say, "This is basic stuff. I already know this." But spend any time watching players on the golf course and you'll realize that knowing what to do is different from actually doing it. Butch knows we all need reminders -- that's what makes him such a great teacher.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Better Way to Practice

This is one of the cooler articles I've seen lately... and it originated with a clarinetist. (That's somebody who plays the clarinet, in case you wonder.) I'll 'fess up -- I found out about her work because golfdigest.com wrote about it.

Golfers often listen to music when they practice. And apparently both musicians and golfers approach practice all wrong -- at least, they do if they really want to see lasting improvement.

Dr. Christine CarterAccording to the bio on an article by Dr. Noa Kageyama at bulletproofmusician.com, Dr. Christine Carter has played at a number of places like "Carnegie Hall, the ancient cloisters in Avignon France, the Sydney Opera House, the Heritage Theatre in rural Newfoundland, and a Baroque Palace in the South of Germany. She completed her Doctor of Musical Arts at Manhattan School of Music, where she now teaches the Woodwind Lab." Those are pretty good credentials.

What she says, in golfing terms, is that standing on the range and shotgunning balls with the same club until you get it right isn't an effective method for improvement. Musicians often practice the same way, playing a difficult passage over and over until they get it right. In both cases, you think you're making progress because you eventually get it right during practice. It sounds logical.

But according to Dr. Carter, "Practicing in a way that optimizes performance in the practice room does not optimize learning." That's NOT the way you actually perform, either on a stage or a golf course, so the skills don't necessarily carry over. She recommends mixing it up with what she calls a blocked or interleaved practice schedule. As Dr. Kageyama puts it in his original article:
"In a random practice schedule, the performer must keep restarting different tasks. Because beginnings are always the hardest part, it will not feel as comfortable as practicing the same thing over and over again. But this challenge lies at the heart of why random practice schedules are more effective. When we come back to a task after an intervening task, our brain must reconstruct the action plan for what we are about to do. And it is at this moment of reconstruction that our brains are the most active. More mental activity leads to greater long-term learning."
So next time you head to the practice range, don't just hit wedge after wedge, then 9-iron after 9-iron, etc. Don't hit the same club twice in a row; instead, mix them up the way you would playing a regular round of golf. If you would normally hit each club 10 times, you can still do it; just don't hit the same club twice in a row.

Dr. Kageyama's article, Why the Progress You Make in the Practice Room Seems to Disappear Overnight, can be found at this link.

And the Golf Digest summary article, You've Been Practicing Golf All Wrong, and There's Science to Prove It, can be found here. But I'd advise reading them both, as the original article is far more detailed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bubbaclaus. Need I Say More?

In case you missed it, here's the full version of Bubba Watson's first solo rap video -- called, appropriately enough, "Bubbaclaus."



All I can say is... it looks like Gumby's been eating the cookies and milk that were supposed to be left for Bubbaclaus. Took his bling, too. Maybe that's why Bubbaclaus didn't bring him any real golf clubs for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Getting Stronger to Stop Your Slice

A couple of weeks back I posted a golfdigest.com video on strength training to help you finish your swing better. Apparently they're doing a number of these videos, and I found another one I really like on exercises to help you stop your slice.

There are a couple of easy exercises here -- the one-armed bent-over row and the Lateral Heisman.


The one-armed bent-over row is a standard weightlifter's exercise that's pretty easy on your back because the straight arm helps support your upper body during the workout.

I've never seen the Lateral Heisman before (so called because it duplicates the pose of the figure on the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded to the US college football player voted as the athlete who best represents the excellence and spirit of the game) but I really like the looks of this exercise. Obviously you can use any weight you can hold, not just a medicine ball, and it looks like a good core strengthening movement.

Hey, many of you are stuck inside because of bad weather. Might as well get a headstart on getting in shape for next year!