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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Cathy MacPherson's Full Swing Trigger (Video)

I'm giving you another type of trigger that can work with MacPherson's full pre-shot routine.



The MacPherson trigger is to breathe in and out, then swing. This is a great physical trigger for many people. It forces you to slow down and not snatch the club away from the ball. If this works for you, by all means use it. There's more than one way to make a good swing!

I'm going to give you a slightly different trigger, one that may feel a bit odd when you first try it. But I guarantee that it will help you 'gather yourself'' as you make your change of direction at the top, and it's a good way to keep the same swing tempo each time you swing.

You can breathe in and out as many times as you like while you prepare to swing, but I want you to breathe in a way that matches the way you expend energy at impact.
  • Start breathing in as you start your takeaway. That's right, inhale as you start your backswing. You aren't putting effort into your takeaway; it should feel relaxed. And you'll find that inhaling as you swing to the top helps you make a wider swing, simply because it's easier to breathe that way.
  • Then exhale as you start your downswing BUT you want to keep it pretty smooth until your hands are around waist high...
  • And at that point, exhale hard as you swing into impact. You want to feel as if you're focusing the effort of your swing on the back of the ball.
Now if you follow those instructions, you won't feel as if you make a slow exhale followed by an explosive exhale. What you will feel is a gradual acceleration from the top of your backswing down to impact.

Why is that important? Because the biggest problem most players have -- even the pros -- is that they get quick at the top and try to jerk the club down. All they do is throw their swing plane off, which typically causes a slightly over-the-top swing which, for the pros, results in a double-cross (left going left) and for lesser mortals results in a bad pull-slice.

Timing the motion of your swing to your inhale and exhale forces your body to slow down just enough to keep your rhythm smooth. This is a trick that weightlifters and other "grunt force" athletes use to maximize their efforts without hurting themselves. (This is the natural way to breathe when you do something hard. If you breathe wrong, your muscles are working against each other.)

So give this idea a try. Take a few swings on the range to get used to the feel -- as I said, it may feel a bit weird at first because most of us aren't naturally athletic -- and see if you don't develop a better rhythm to your swing.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The BMW PGA Debuts in Its New Spot

Yes, it was in May back in 2018 but with all the tours shuffling schedules to accommodate the Olympics and such, the ET's BMW PGA Championship has moved to September.

Defending champion Francesco Molinari

I have always considered the BMW PGA as being just below a major, and in my old point system this event carried the same weight as THE PLAYERS. That's because this is a flagship event for the ET and the history of Wentworth alone gives this tournament substantial weight.

Now, even though the World Golf Hall of Fame doesn't give this event the same weight as THE PLAYERS, I rank it above the WGC events and still consider it a near-major. In my opinion it's the kind of event that can predict a future major winner.

Francesco Molinari, the defending champion, is just one example of that.

This event is a who's-who of world golf, although it doesn't include a huge number of big American names. Patrick Reed appears to be the main one, but Billy Horschel is also getting a lot of attention with his first appearance. He expressed his desire to play there a couple of years back and has finally made good on it.

But the rest of the field is the world's best. Not only because of Wentworth's stature as a venue but because this is the stretch run for the Race to Dubai. We're going to see a number of stacked ET events leading up to their Tour Championship!

One note: I have to amend my Twofer Tuesday picks as I thought I saw Viktor Hovland on the Sanderson Farms field list when he's actually playing the BMW PGA. So I'm changing my Top10er there to Corey Conners, last year's runner-up, and will change it in the Twofer Tuesday post.

GC's coverage begins Thursday morning at 5am ET and runs until 1pm ET. That's eight hours of live coverage! Clearly GC feels as I do about this event. Nice!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Sanderson Farms Championship

Twofer Tuesday heads down to Mississippi and the Sanderson Farms Championship, which is a full month earlier this year due to the schedule changes.

Defending champion Cameron Champ

The Country Club of Jackson is hosting the event for the sixth consecutive time, with Cameron Champ being the defending champion. The course is a par-72 layout and has been stretched to nearly 7500 yards, its longest in those six years. And we can probably count on some heat; it's not unusual to see temperatures in the 90s F. Last year the field averaged just over 71 on the track and it's reasonable to figure the greens crew will aim for the same results this year.

As far as my Twofer Tuesday picks go, the key thing that stands out about this event is ROOKIES. Yes, as you may have guessed, all six of the last Sanderson Farms winners have been rookies. (Of course, this event usually doesn't have as many vets as other events, so that probably plays a part as well.) That fact doesn't mean this year will follow suit but it's worth being aware of it!
  • My Top10er this week is -- surprise! -- Viktor Hovland. I'm still not sure Viktor is ready to win on the big stage yet, but he has tied the record for 17 consecutive rounds in the 60s. Even if he doesn't set a new record, I'm guessing he'll play well enough for another Top10 as he gains experience on the Tour. [UPDATE: Hovland is playing the BMW PGA this week, so I'm going with Corey Conners, last year's runner-up.}
  • And my winner is Scottie Scheffler. He's struggled with his swing a bit lately, but I don't think that will continue for long; he played too well on the Korn Ferry Tour this year for that. It's just a question of when things start 'clicking' again for him, and this week is as good a time as any for him to rediscover his groove.
In what has become something of a routine, GC's coverage begins Thursday at 2pm ET while PGA TOUR LIVE begins streaming select groups at 8am ET. I'm expecting some hot action this week, even if it's just from the weather!

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Greenbrier

Winner: Joaquin Niemann

Around the wider world of golf: Suzann Pettersen announced her retirement from tournament golf by sinking the winning putt on the 18th hole of the final match to give Europe the Solheim Cup, 14.5-13.5; Jerry Kelly won the Ally Challenge on the Champions Tour; Patrick Fishburn won the Canada Life Championship on the Mackenzie Tour; Quincy Quek won the Haikou Classic on the PGA TOUR China; Yosuke Asagi won the ANA Open on the Japan Golf Tour; Sergio Garcia won the KLM Open on the European Tour; and Rory Hie won the Classic Golf and Country Club International Championship on the Asian Tour.

Joaquin Niemann with the Greenbrier trophy

It's a new season for my Twofer Tuesday picks and at least half of them got off to a good start. I had Tom Lewis (MC) to win and Viktor Hovland (T10) to Top10. At this point I'll take whatever encouragement I can find.
  • Winners: 2 for 37
  • Place well (Top10): 17 for 37 (9 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 30 of 74 (15 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
Perhaps I should take some consolation that I have picked a number of players just a few weeks (or months) before they broke through for a win. I had picked Joaquin Niemann to win earlier this year, but it looks like I was ahead of the curve again. He needed a few months to get finally get it together.

And boy, did he ever get it together at the A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier event! He stomped the field by six shots, finally putting Chile on the golfing map. Of course he's only 20 years old and -- in "the old days" anyway -- nobody would expect too much at this point.

But this is the age of the instant success story, and the pressure must be huge for the youngsters who need a bit more of a learning curve before they can truly hope to make a mark. And when you carry the hopes of an entire country on your shoulders...

Joaquin doesn't need to worry about that anymore. He's got his first PGA Tour win with all the assorted perks, and he made history to boot. But listen up, Joaquin, I've got some more news for you -- you're also the first golfer from Chile to take home a Limerick Summary. Life is looking good, my man!
Becoming the first man from Chile
To win should make Joaquin a really
Big sports star back home.
His potential’s been shown—
When you win by six shots, that’s revealing!
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

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.