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Friday, January 24, 2020

Matt Wolff's Power Keys (Video)

I don't know that many of us will be swinging like Matthew Wolff -- his swing is definitely his own -- but in case you're wondering how he creates so much distance...



Simply enough, Matt has a key for his backswing and a key for his downswing.

His backswing key is to create a full turn with his hips. He says you don't have to lift your lead foot, but it's obviously easier to get a full hip turn if you do.

And his downswing key is to use the ground -- you know, squat down a bit as you swing down and then push upward at impact. You really have to turn through the shot to do that, which means you want to get your belly button pointed toward the target as the club swings up to waist high.

Now, you don't have to exaggerate these moves as much as Matt does in his swing. The bigger you make the motions, the more likely you are to get out of position and make poor contact. A longer shot won't help you at all if you lose the ball over in the trees.

Still, just making an effort to create a longer swing -- that's the end result of what Matt does, after all -- while keeping your balance should help you hit the ball longer. And if you keep your balance and hit the ball in the middle of the clubface, you should be hitting your next shot from the fairway. That always helps the ball go farther!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

A New LPGA Event in Florida

The first of two new LPGA events in Florida debuts today, the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio.

Boca Rio Golf Course

Gainbridge, the sponsor for this new event, is an annuity and life insurance agency. The Boca Rio course, a par-72 at just over 6700 yards long, is in Boca Raton FL. And as this is an inaugural event, there is no defending champion. The purse will be $2mil USD, with $300,000 going to the winner.

And the field should be pretty good. Six of the Top10 in the Rolex Rankings will be there -- Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Nasa Hataoka, Sei Young Kim, Brooke Henderson and Lexi Thompson -- and all but two from the last Solheim Cup teams will be there (Lizette Salas and, of course, Suzann Pettersen).

Inbee Park will also be there, continuing her campaign to make the Korean Olympic Team this summer. Inbee is currently #14 in the Rolex, up two spots from last week, and needs to be one of the Top4 Korean players in the Rolex Top15 by June 29th. (There are five Koreans ahead of her right now.)

The new event will be broadcast on GC today starting at 11:30am ET. And since this is the first full-field event of the 2020 LPGA season, we should see 108 very excited players!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

More Golf in the Desert

The desert in Dubai, that is. It seems that a lot of the big names who aren't teeing it up at Torrey Pines are at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau

The Emirates Golf Club at Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) hosts the second of the three events that comprise the European Tour's Middle East Swing. Bryson DeChambeau is the defending champion, seen in the photo above with that really cool-looking trophy that looks like an Arabic coffee pot called a 'Dallah.'

Bryson is there, of course, as is newly-crowned Abu Dhabi champion Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia, Matt Fitzpatrick and Shane Lowry -- as I said, a lot of the big names who aren't at Torrey this week.

The good thing about this is the TV coverage. GC begins their coverage tonight (Wednesday, January 22) at 11pm ET, so there won't be any conflict between the ET and the PGA Tour. We can watch them both!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: Farmers Insurance Open

This week Twofer Tuesday makes a stop at Tiger's Alley, aka Torrey Pines.

Defending champion Justin Rose

The Farmers Insurance Open has been, as noted, pretty much owned by Tiger. The Big Cat has seven FIO wins as well as the US Open held there in 2008. The first two days are split between the North Course (7258 yards) and the South Course (7765 yards, its yardage increased from last year), with the South Course hosting the final two rounds. Justin Rose is the defending champion.

This week's field will likely be the strongest we've seen at any tournament since 2020 started, so I'm not getting cute with my picks. No, I'm going chalk this week... although, to be honest, even chalk picks come with some questions.
  • Tiger Woods makes his 2020 debut at Torrey and, given his past dominance here, seems an easy pick. But even Tiger has struggled over the last few years at Torrey -- blame it on his back -- and while he seems to have a handle on that now, there's still the early morning chill to worry with. For you readers around the world who may not realize it, the US is in the middle of winter now, complete with short days and cool damp mornings. Tiger's ability to manage those back-stiffening conditions is still in question. However, if he can endure his early draw in the first two rounds and play well, he could have late tee times (and warmer weather) over the weekend. I can't help but expect at least a Top10 from him this year.
  • Rory McIlroy also makes his 2020 debut this week, and there's a question for him as well. Although he posted a T5 in his first appearance last year, a win this week would vault him to #1 in the OWGR. I'm sure Rory knows that and remembers that Brooks said there was no rivalry since Rory hadn't been #1 since he made his own appearance in the rankings. I'm sure Rory would like to make Brooks eat those words... and that could be a problem. When Rory wants a title too much, he has tended to get in his own way (see the 2019 Masters and 2019 OPEN for examples). That could happen this week... but this isn't the same Rory we saw early last year. I think Brooks may be in for a surprise.
GC's coverage begins Thursday at 3pm ET. With so many of the big boys showing up this week, I'm looking for some fireworks and maybe -- possibly -- some movement in the Ruthless Golf World Rankings.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 American Express

Winner: Andrew Landry

Around the wider world of golf: Tommy Gainey won the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour; Lee Westwood got his 25th ET victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship; Miguel Angel Jimenez won the Mitsubishi Electric Championship on the Champions Tour; Matt Kuchar won the SMBC Singapore Open on the Japan Golf Tour; and Abel Gallegos became the first Argentinian champion of the Latin America Amateur. And while John Smoltz defended his celebrity title at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, the LPGA's playoff between Gaby Lopez and Nasa Hataoka is yet to be determined and will continue Monday morning at 8am ET on GC. [UPDATE: Gaby won on the seventh playoff hole.]


Andrew Landry with AmEx trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks struggled again this week. I had Rickie Fowler (T10) and Kevin Kisner (MC). Rickie got me excited after two rounds but lost his putter over the weekend, and Kevin left his whole game back in Hawaii. But at least I got one out of the two right. (Thanks, Rickie!)
  • Top10s: 3 for 6 (1 Top5, 2 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 0 for 3 events
It's been a couple of years since Andrew Landry got his first Tour win. Two years ago he forced a playoff with Jon Rahm at this event but lost, then got his first win later that year at the Valero. He's been pretty quiet since then.

Sunday he came out of the gate like a madman, going six-under and bogey-free for the first 12 holes, racing away from his nearest competitor, Scottie Scheffler. But Abraham Ancer, who started the day farther back, matched his pace although it looked as if he would merely grab second.

Then Andrew stumbled. Bogeys on 13, 14 and 15 plus a par on the scoreable par-5 16th, coupled with Ancer's continued bogey-free charge, left him tied for the lead with only two holes to play. But Andrew stepped up big, posting birdies on both 17 and 18 while Ancer could manage only a single birdie on those two holes.

Andrew almost made the win look easy.

Now that he's back in the winner's circle -- with all the bonuses and bling appropriate for a winner -- it looks as if he could be in line for another great year. And just to make sure he remembers it, I've got this memorable new Limerick Summary to help!
Starting Sunday, he outraced the pack;
At the turn, he gave all his lead back!
Though it took him a while
Andrew won it in style
And this win put his game back on track.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Gary Player on Facing -- and Beating -- Our Fears

Don't Choke book coverIn his book Don't Choke, Gary Player has a lot to say about overcoming failure. This short section from a chapter called Play Your Own Game has an interesting perspective on how to win when you're afraid of what you're facing.
Fear is crippling. The fear of being overshadowed by someone else's achievements is a tremendous obstacle in business. That's when you need to shift the focus away from the other person and back to your own plan. No matter what others are doing, stick to your own plan.

Golf teaches you this like no other sport. Over the four rounds of a Major championship, you cannot play just one man because there are so many factors that go into overall success. You have to deal with the playing conditions, the golf course, and a whole field of competitors. If you teed off the first hole in a Major focused on just beating one man, you would surely lose sight of all the other elements that can prove to be your undoing. Similarly, you cannot control what the rest of the field does. You can control only your own game.

You can't stop somebody from shooting a 64, but you can stop yourself from producing your best performance on the day by being so fixated with somebody else's game. To stick to your plan, you need to have confidence in that plan. Then you need to have the patience to see that plan through. Your chance will come, and when it does you'll be ready to take it. So stick to your plan. [pp128-9]
This is a foreign idea to many of us, this idea that having a plan and following it is a way to beat fear. Yet that's exactly how Gary says he often faced challenges successfully in his own career -- not only in golf but in business and life as well.

Having a plan of attack gives you a fighting chance to not only beat the problems you know about, but also the unexpected problems that come your way. Plans help you anticipate some problems while giving you a sound foundation for adapting to changing conditions.

It's early in the new year -- in a new decade, for that matter! -- so this is a great time to start thinking about how we're going to face the challenges ahead of us. It doesn't matter whether we're trying to knock shots off our score, achieve some new goals at work or just make our personal lives better.

Your plan doesn't have to be perfect, but it should be sound. Make the best plan you can, then be prepared to follow it. You might be surprised how much easier it is to succeed when you have some idea what that success will look like! That's what Gary says and if anybody knows what success against the odds looks like, it's Gary Player.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Tom Stickney on Avoiding One Side of the Course (Video)

Instructor Tom Stickney has a simple three-point plan for avoiding the side of the course where the trouble is.



First, set up on the side of the tee where the trouble is and aim away from the trouble. That seems simple enough but most people don't do it. Why? Because they instinctively want to get away from the trouble so they set up as far away from it as they can. But that doesn't leave them enough room to aim away from it, so they end up hitting toward the trouble. You need to set up near the trouble and aim away from it.

Second, you want to pick an aim point that's only a couple of feet in front of the ball. You don't want to be looking up at the trouble. By picking a point on the ground that's close to the ball you don't have to see the trouble at all, plus it's easier to hit the ball over a point that's close to you rather than one that's farther away from you.

BTW, Jack Nicklaus used this one all the time. He didn't miss many fairways!

Finally, make sure the last place you look is at the safe side of the course, not the dangerous side. Just as a driver tends to steer their car in the direction they're looking -- that's one reason they tell you not to stare at accidents in the other lane -- you'll tend to hit the ball toward the point you're looking at, whether you want to hit it there or not. It's just the way the human mind works.

These three tips are likely things you've heard before but simply went "yeah, I know that." Still, if you make these three things a habit on the tee, you'll end up in trouble a lot less often.