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Monday, August 19, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 BMW Championship

Winner: Justin Thomas

Around the wider world of golf: Thomas Pieters broke his winless streak with a victory at the D+D Real Czech Masters on the ET; in only his second Champions Tour start, Doug Barron won the Dick's Sporting Goods Open; Derek Barron (no relation) won the Players Cup on the Mackenzie Tour; Ssu-Chia Cheng won the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship on the Symetra Tour; Andrew Dodt won the Sarawak Championship on the Asian Tour; and Andy Ogletree won the US Amateur Championship.

Justin Thomas with both BMW trophies

It appears that the pressure of the Playoffs is nothing compared to being a Twofer Tuesday pick! This week I had Webb Simpson (T24) to win and Rory McIlroy (T19) to Top10. I thought the pros knew how to deal with pressure?!
  • Winners: 2 for 33
  • Place well (Top10): 16 for 33 (9 Top5s, 7 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 27 of 66 (14 Top5s, 13 more Top10s)
Pressure didn't seem to bother Justin Thomas, however. A six-shot lead tends to make anybody second-guess themselves -- you don't want to be the guy who lost with a big lead, and it had already happened to JT once -- but a slow front nine was wiped away with fast back nine.

Second place finisher Patrick Cantlay started fast -- and also finished fast -- but he was just a bit too far back to start the day. JT managed to pull out a three-stroke win and get his first victory of 2019.

Cantlay did make him think about it, though.

Both guys showed Brooks a thing or two as well, bumping him out of first place in the FedExCup points list all the way down to third. Cantlay now finds himself in second place while JT sits, as we say here in the South, "in the catbird seat."

But JT will have plenty of time to think about that when he gets to East Lake. For now, I'm sure the only thing that matters is getting another Limerick Summary for his growing collection.
Once JT’s course record was done,
The vict’ry was pretty much won.
He shot to the top
Of the points list; next stop?
Down to East Lake, where he’ll be The One.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Butch Harmon on NOT Using a Wedge (Video)

This is so simple but very few players ever listen. Let Butch explain it...



The concept is simple: A less-than-full swing is easier to control than a full swing. Perhaps the pros like to hit wedges as hard as they can, but that doesn't mean YOU should. Despite hours of practice, the pros still mis-hit those full shot very often.

But they don't mis-hit the short shots like chips and pitches nearly as often, do they? That's what Butch wants you to understand.

The technique is equally simple. Just choose a 9-iron instead of a wedge, position the ball slightly ahead of the center of your stance and make a three-quarter swing with a cut-off finish. That keeps the ball flight down and makes it easier to get the ball on line to the target.

And while Butch says to use a 9-iron for this shot, the concept works for longer shots as well. There are shots where you currently try to hit a 7- or 8-iron that might give better results using this technique with a 5- or 6-iron. When distance isn't a problem, it's usually best to choose accuracy over power.

You might be surprised at how many strokes this tip can save you during a round. After all, Butch knows what he's talking about.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Tom Stickney on the Dreaded Double-Cross

Golf Tips Magazine posted an article about a month ago on how to avoid a double-cross off the tee. This is an article worth reading.

Setup for a normal draw

While most instructors describe a double-cross as aiming to play a fade but hitting a pull-hook instead, Stickney says the double-cross can also be a draw that turns into a push-slice.

As a result, this is an article that can help you with all kinds of unintentional tee shots that don't go where you intended.

However, it also means I can't really summarize it because there's too much information. But I can tell you what Stickney says are the main causes of both shots:
  • The fade that hooks is usually caused when you stay too long on your trailing foot and close the clubface.
  • The draw that slices is usually caused when you stand up during the shot and open the clubface.
He then gives you drills to help correct both problems.

It seems to me that the info in this article might help anybody struggling to create a specific shot shape off the tee. Changing your mechanics won't necessarily help correct the problem unless you understand why you have the problem in the first place. Stickney's advice just might give you the insight you need to get the results that you want.

Friday, August 16, 2019

David Leadbetter on Your Driver's "Eyes"

This Golf Digest article from David Leadbetter talks about something I've mentioned on this blog before, but his take is a bit different. He wants you to pretend your driver has eyes.

Keeping the driver face on target

Here's part of what he says:
If a round of golf for you is constant guesswork of where the ball might end up, you can improve your accuracy if you fix the cause and control the clubface better through impact. It starts by making a better takeaway. No more whipping the club inside. Instead, pretend the clubface has vision, and its job is to swing back while keeping its eyes on the ball. In the photos above, my club starts squarely behind the ball and does not rotate open in the takeaway. Copy this move. I want you to keep it staring at the ball as long as you can when you take it back. [my emphasis]
Now doing this may cause you to make some awkward moves during your swing -- you may twist your forearms into an extreme closed position if you get over-zealous -- so do this as a drill before you take it to the course.

Still, the concept is sound. If you want to be more accurate with your drives -- with all your shots, actually -- you need to be aware of where your clubface is "looking" at impact. A better takeaway always helps, and you know I'm a big proponent of the one-piece takeaway. But however you do it, you need to become aware of where the club is facing when you actually contact the ball.

If you know the clubface is "looking" at your target at impact, you can make the ball go where you want it to go regardless of what your swing looks like. So that should be a major focus of your practice.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Katie Rule's Chipping Tips (Video)

A month or so back I posted Katie's power tips. Today she looks at the other extreme of the game -- her tips on better chipping. While she says she's talking specifically to women, her tips are good for any player.



Her first tip is something many players never think about.
  • Choose where you want the ball to land first.
Unless you do this first, you don't have a good frame of reference for choosing the best club for the shot. Pick your landing spot, give the area from there to the hole a quick study, and choose your club with that knowledge.

Her second tip is all about setup.
  • Narrow your stance so you have only a clubhead's length between your feet, and place the ball off the big toe of your trailing foot.
This is narrower than many players ever consider, but this combination of narrow stance and ball position guarantees that you'll hit the ball first with a downward stroke. That's important from the rough.

And her final tip is fairly natural for most players.
  • Grip down on the club, almost to the shaft.
A shorter shaft is easier to control, especially from the rough.

Simple tips, but we all need to remind ourselves of the basics from time to time if we want to keep our games sharp.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Korn Ferry Finals Start

I couldn't make up my mind. The D+D Real Czech Masters is going on in Europe this week, and the DICK'S Sporting Goods Open will keep the Champions Tour busy. But the Korn Ferry Tour Finals start this week, with players fighting for their PGA Tour cards. Guess which won out?

Defending champion Robert Streb

The Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship in Columbus OH is the first of three events in the Korn Ferry Finals. Robert Streb is the defending champion -- and unfortunately for him, he WILL be trying to defend, as he is in the field this week.

Rather than just copy-and-pasting the information, I'm going to link you to the pgatour.com pages that give you all the details on how the Korn Ferry Finals work. I'll just remind you here that 50 PGA Tour cards will be given out -- 25 last week at the WinCo Foods Portland Open, and an additional 25 through these finals.. All 50 compete in the Finals to determine their exact order of priority.
GC will of course be carrying all three Finals events. The first round of the Nationwide starts Thursday at 11:30am ET. (No PGA TOUR LIVE streaming for this event.)

The Korn Ferry Finals are interesting for the struggle, but it's a different struggle than the one going on in the FedExCup Playoffs. It does help put things in perspective though, to have them both going on at the same time when the stakes are so much different.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: BMW Championship

It's the second of three FedExCup events. It's everybody's last chance to make the TOUR Championship. It's the BMW Championship... and it's Twofer Tuesday.

Defending champion Keegan Bradley

Last year's champion Keegan Bradley defends at Medinah, the scene of the "Miracle at Medinah" in the 2012 Ryder Cup. Ironically enough, there have been two PGA Championshps played at Medinah (1999 and 2006)... and both were won by Tiger Woods.

So the only player in the field to win a major at Medinah #3 is Tiger... and he's not really on anybody's favorites list. But I've taken a look at the list of 24 pros at the 2012 Ryder Cup, and I think some of them have possibilities.

Of course, I can only pick two. Here they are.
  • My Top10er, once again, is Rory McIlroy. I think Rory has something to prove in these Playoffs because, despite how well he's played this year -- perhaps his most consistent year ever -- he's still being treated as something of an also-ran. I look for him to put that chip on his shoulder this week and make yet another run at a title. Since Medinah #3 can play over 7600 yards, his driving prowess should serve him well. In many situations, I'd consider him a sure thing.
  • Nevertheless, I've found sure things to be less than dependable this season... so my winner is Webb Simpson. Webb has also played extremely well this season, with three runner-up finishes in his last six events. While the extreme length of Medinah works against Webb, he should have good memories from 2012, winning two out of three points -- and those were fourball matches, so he can play this course well enough.
GC's coverage begins Thursday at 3pm ET while PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at 10am ET. (Not as early as usual but there's only 70 players in the field this week.) With the cut to 30 coming on Sunday, it will be interesting to see how many players from the "lower 40" manage to make the leap.