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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Here's the Story on the LPGA Today...

Or perhaps I should say stories. The top of the leaderboard at the Pure Silk Championship is a very interesting one. In case you haven't kept up with it, here's what we've got for the final round.

Final round pairing: Bronte Law and Nasa Hataoka

Third from final pairing:
  • Madelene Sagstrom (-10): Madelene has three Symetra Tour wins and is looking for her first LPGA win. She's missed four of eight cuts this year and her best finish is a T33 back in February. This is an unexpectedly good week for her, as she comes off a T67 and a MC in her last two starts.
  • Carlota Ciganda (-11): Carlota has several wins, two of which came on the LPGA. She's playing well this year, with three Top5 finishes.
Penultimate pairing:
  • Jennifer Song (-12): Jennifer has two Symetra Tour wins and is looking for her first LPGA win. She lost in a playoff at last year's ANA Inspiration, but has struggled this season. Her last two tournaments were a MC and a T55.
  • Brooke Henderson (-12): Brooke is clearly the favorite in these three pairings. She has eight LPGA wins including one major, and has won once already this year. Notably, a win today makes her the winningest Canadian golfer (male or female) in history. She is coming off a MC though.
Final pairing:
  • Bronte Law (-13): Meanwhile, Bronte is clearly the least experienced in these groups. She has no professional wins of any kind so she's looking for her first LPGA title. She has three MC so far this year and only one Top10, but that was a playoff loss at the LPGA MEDIHEAL, her last tournament, so she's definitely in form to win.
  • Nasa Hataoka (-13): Finally, the youngest of these players has three LPGA wins, including a win earlier this season. She's proven she can close.
Every single one of these players is a valid storyline, and I only took the top six on the leaderboard! I tend to think the winner will come from one of these players, simply because they have all played well every round. And given that conditions will be tough today -- the heat is supposed to be particularly bad -- it will take something special for a player to come out of the pack and catch the leaders.

GC's coverage of the final round starts at 4pm ET today. It could be a race to the finish.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Bronte Law's Hip Decel Drill (Video)

Yes, you read that correctly. This is a hip DECELERATION drill that Bronte was using as she prepared for the pro tours -- I don't know if she still uses it or not. But since she's tied for the lead at the halfway point of the Pure Silk Championship, I thought you all might be interested in it.



After hearing so much instruction about how you have to drive your trailing hip toward the target, this idea of slowing your hip turn in order to create more clubhead speed probably sounds like heresy. But let's think about this for a moment.

The traditional idea is that, because your swing is a rotary motion and so many players are trying to hit the ball as hard as they can while leaving the clubface slightly open (to get that slight fade the big boys swear by), you need to turn as fast as you can so your hands won't pass your hips. If your hands pass your hips, so the logic goes, you'll flip the clubface closed and hit a doublecross.

But all the technology we have now is telling us that your clubhead reaches its peak speed just before impact. And if you've paid attention to all those swing analyses of players like Rory, you'll know that his hips stop during his downswing and actually move backward a bit before they finish their turn through the ball.

That's basically what Bronte's drill does. Throwing that medicine ball straight down at the ground stops her hip turn -- in the drill, that is -- so she can speed up her hands and arms to create more speed.

During your real swing, your hips won't actually stop; they'll just slow down a bit. That's why this is called a decel drill and not a stopping drill. It also stabilizes your swing, so you don't slide too far forward during your downswing, which would cause you to just "wipe" the ball and hit a weak push or slice.

And -- this is very important -- it also teaches you to hit down on the ball instead of lifting up and hitting it thin. You can't slam that ball into the ground if you don't move down!

So this is a simple drill that can help the mechanics of your swing in a lot of ways while giving you a simple swing thought ("slam that ball!") that makes those mechanics happen almost automatically. The less you have to think about mechanics, the more consistent you'll be.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Mike Malizia on Lifting Your Lead Heel (Video)

GCA Lead Coach Mike Malizia did this video about whether you should lift your lead heel or not. Here, take a look:



The key here is that you don't decide to lift your heel or keep it down. Rather, it's your flexibility when you turn that causes your lead heel to lift. Lifting your heel isn't a decision you make; it's just a reaction you have. As Malizia says, the less flexible you are, the more your lead heel will lift. If you stay relaxed, your heel will just be pulled off the ground naturally and the sequencing will be correct.

And when your heel is pulled off the ground, you'll get a very natural weight shift. To start down, you just let your lead heel settle back down onto the ground and -- as I said -- the sequencing will be correct.

But I disagree with Malizia on one point. Just because you're flexible enough to keep your lead heel on the ground doesn't mean you should. I'm flexible enough to keep my heel on the ground... but when I do, my lead hip drops a bit and it changes my spine angle from the way it was at address. Trust me, you have to make a compensation on the way down to correct that! You don't want to make compensations if you can avoid it.

My advice is to just make your hip turn and let your lead heel raise if it wants. Depending on how flexible you are, it may only lift a little... or it may lift a lot. But don't try to make it do either one. Just let it happen naturally and you'll get a more consistent swing motion.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Congrats to the Duke Women's Golf Team!

I have to take a moment to give the gals at Duke a shout-out for their win over Wake Forest at the NCAA Women's Championship.

The victorious 2019 Duke Women's Golf team

The finals were particularly cool for me because both teams are from North Carolina. I live about ten minutes outside Winston-Salem, where Wake is, and Duke is a bit less than two hours east of me in Durham, near Raleigh. I was going to be happy regardless of which team won, which doesn't happen to me very often!

And if you missed it, it turned out to be a very close competition. Duke won 3-2, but only one of the matches could be called a blowout. One match finished 1-up and three others went extra holes -- including the match that decided the winner.

Although I know the Wake team is disappointed, they have come so far in the last year or so that I'm still very happy for them. They had a lot of success this season and have a lot to build on next year.

But you'll be hearing the parties at Duke for a while, I guarantee. Enjoy them, girls -- you earned it!

Now on to the Men's Championship!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Dale Abraham on Reading the Rough

I found this short article over at golftipsmag.com on how to read your lie in the rough and make the proper adjustments.

Two balls, one sitting down in the rough and one on top

Although the article is short, PGA instructor Dale Abraham tells you what questions you need to ask in order to read a lie in the rough and then explains what sort of adjustments you need to make, as well as how those adjustments will affect the ball flight.

Because the article is so short and yet has several photos to illustrate what he tells you, there's really not a lot I can reprint from the article without reprinting the whole thing. Basically:
  • If the ball is on top of the rough you can usually take your normal setup and expect to get a normal shot.
  • If the ball has settled down into the rough, your normal setup will likely result in a topped shot. You'll need to make adjustments.
The two balls shown in the photo above are his examples, and he provides photos (with explanations) showing how you adjust your setup and how the changes will affect your swing.

This is a remarkably informative and helpful article, especially given how short it is. I suspect you'll not only want to read it but also save the page in your browser for future reference. It really communicates a lot of useful instruction in just a few paragraphs.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Charles Schwab Challenge

In 2017 it was the Dean & DeLuca Invitational; in 2018, the Fort Worth Invitational; this year, the Charles Schwab Challenge. But you know the venue -- the legendary Colonial Country Club.

Defending champion Justin Rose

This event is an invitational with a limited field of 120. The defending champion Justin Rose is in the field, but the runner-up -- some unknown named Koepka -- is taking the week off this year. Big surprise, huh?

Colonial itself is a par-70 measuring just over 7200 yards and its main defense is the Texas wind, expected to be around 15mph this week. It's one of the courses bearing the moniker "Hogan's Alley" because Hogan won here a total of five times. And it has the record for being the longest-running host course at any non-major, having done so since 1946.

In other words, this course is a known quantity for anybody who's ever played it. Familiarity with the layout is no problem.

However, after a tough week at the Black, I'm not sure how anybody is going to play. The guys coming from the PGA may very well be gassed while the pros who didn't play last week may find their games a bit rusty for a course that tends to favor good ballstrikers. So I'm going to throw caution to the wind, throw the dice and just hope for the best.
  • For my Top10er I'm taking Graeme McDowell. He doesn't play here very often and, in his last visit (2017) he finished T29. But the Irishman has a win this season and after a T29 last week (+5) Colonial will probably look like a relaxing resort course. Plus, with the Open Championship in his sights I think he'll be motivated to improve his current OWGR position of 115.
  • And for my winner I'm taking Jordan Spieth. I know, one good T3 finish doesn't mean he's ready to win yet. But that T3 came at the Black, and he showed signs that he's beginning to just play shots instead of micromanaging them. Like Graeme, I think he'll find Colonial to be a welcome change. And this is almost a home game for the Texas boy, so why wouldn't he?
After all the excitement of last week -- and the relief that they won't have to face down the four-time major winner in back-to-back weeks -- I'm thinking these two may relax a bit and just play golf. If they do that, they could both do some serious damage to the field.

GC starts their coverage at 4pm ET on Thursday while PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at 8am ET. It should be quite interesting to see how the field recuperates from the thrashing Brooks gave them last week!

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 PGA Championship

Winner: Brooks Koepka

Around the wider world of golf: Robby Shelton won the Knoxville Open on the Web.com Tour; Evan Harmeling won the BMW Jamaica Classic on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Luke Kwon won the Qinhuangdao Championship on the PGA TOUR China; Helen Alfredsson won the US Senior Women’s Open Championship on the LPGA Legends Tour; Leona Maguire won the Symetra Classic on the Symetra Tour; Céline Herbin won the La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational on the LET; and Seong-Hyeon Kim won the HEIWA PGM Challenge on the AbemaTV Tour (that's part of the Japan Golf Tour).

A tired Brooks Koepka with the Wanamaker trophy

Well, my Tuesday Twofer picks did better this week. I picked Jon Rahm (MC) to win and Dustin Johnson (2) to Top10. I had such a strong gut feeling about Rahmbo when the week started; apparently it was only indigestion. But DJ lived up to expectations and even had a chance to win.
  • Winners: 2 for20
  • Place well (Top10): 11 for 20 (6 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 21 of 40 (11 Top5s, 10 more Top10s)
In the end, though, the story was about Bethpage Black. After a few days of slumber the old girl woke up, shook the sleep out of her eyes and began to terrorize the poor mortals who had dared to challenge her.

Even the hero of the script, Brooks Koepka, wasn't immune to her rage. After three days of setting records and humiliating the rest of the field, Brooks learned he wouldn't escape without a fight. On Sunday the Black began stealing back all the strokes he had stolen from her, even putting his victory in jeopardy.

And to whom did she offer it? Why, Dustin Johnson, of course! Had DJ simply managed to go -1 on the last three holes he could have forced a playoff.

But the Black was merely toying with him, it seems. In the end, all Brooks needed was a hard-won bogey on the final hole to defend his title and become the first player ever to defend two titles and hold their trophies at the same time -- in this case, the PGA and the US Open.

Now all eyes will be on him at Pebble. Can he possibly pick up a third US Open in a row? Perhaps the better question is... can anybody possibly stop him?

As of today, the answer is in doubt.

Brooks has broken too many records for me to list here, and he may break more before the year is out. All I know is that he made Brandel Chamblee eat his words -- the photo came from a golfchannel.com article citing Brandel's admission of defeat -- and he challenged me to make him a suitable Limerick Summary. I think I did a decent job. Do you?
His back-to-back majors made history.
His length off the tee and his wizardry
‘Round the greens is so strong
That, unless Brooks goes wrong,
How another might win is a mystery.
The photo came from this page at golfchannel.com.