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Friday, February 11, 2011

7-Under

Well, now we know. The answer is -7.

The question, in case you forgot yesterday's post, was "1 + 2 + 3 = ?"
  • OWGR #1 Lee Westwood carded a -3.
  • OWGR #2 Martin Kaymer carded a -3.
  • And OWGR #3 Tiger Woods carded a -1.
Hence, an earth-shattering -7.

Well, it might have been earth-shattering if OWGR #7 Rory McIlroy hadn't carded a -7 all by his lonesome. He led the tournament Thursday, which is the only number that really matters this week.

By comparison, Westwood and Kaymer are T10. Tiger sits at T27.

But are any of those scores really any better than the bogey-free -5 carded by OWGR #79 Sergio Garcia?

Sergio's resurgence is good news for us fans. He's still so young... and yet he's so old. Sergio has been playing professionally for maybe 15 years now, yet he's only 31 years old. It's no wonder he's gone through a period of burnout.

His putting has been fingered as the main source of his troubles over the last few years, and most attribute his improved scoring to a new putting grip. I managed to find this picture of the new grip (click it to go to the original posting):



It was taken at the Volvo Golf Champions a couple of weeks ago, where he placed 30th. It looks like a claw grip -- a grip I don't care for much, simply because I think it locks your wrists too much. But Sergio appears to be keeping his "claw" hand very relaxed, almost as it he wasn't gripping the club at all... and it does appear to be working for him. Ultimately, that's all a player can ask.

But is Sergio's improved play really because of his new grip? To be honest, I don't think so -- at least, not for the reasons most folks believe. According to his ET stats, this is his worst putting year since at least 2005. What I see is his best year for both Driving Accuracy and GIR combined (66%/75%). His Putting per GIR stat is virtually the same from year to year, so I'm inclined to believe he's simply hitting more greens.

As I've pointed out before, if you hit a lot of greens, you don't have to putt as well to score well. All things being equal, if you hit all 18 greens and take 32 putts per round, you score -4. But you'll beat the snot out of somebody who took only 28 putts and hit only 12 greens in the process. They'll end up with a score of -2... assuming they didn't get lucky and chip a couple in.

But perhaps this new stroke has given Sergio some badly-needed confidence. Charlie Rymer suggested that Sergio may have spent his time off seeking a less-volatile state of mind in which to play the game. Sergio's attempts to deflect expectations that his game has suddenly turned around certainly seem to back up that idea.

But whatever he's done, it's worked. As I said, he placed 30th at the Volvo Golf Champions a couple of weeks ago, 9th at last week's Qatar Masters, and Thursday he had the second-best score in the field at Dubai.

Maybe he'll get a 7-under of his own on Friday. I'll be rooting for him.

5 comments:

  1. The grip isn't new - he's used it several times over the last 5 or 6 years - even tried it during his belly putter period.

    How about the "Super Group" ? Six rounds among 3 guys over 2 days and they got 1 excellent round out of it.

    Sergio's problem isn't his putting or his full swing or his short game. Sergio's problems come from his head and his heart. I hope you're right and this is really a resurgence and not just a couple of good rounds. He used to be one of the most exciting players to watch.

    Toss it on the pile of other failed artificial pairings/groupings for Thursday and Friday.

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  2. My G.I.R. percentage is currently a dismal 15.73. Not good for scoring. I'm on a constant scramble. Sergio is looking good and like Court, I hope it isn't just a few good rounds.

    I never really thought about the "burnout" theory. He has been on the scene for a long time. I think because golf is not as "physical" a game as basketball or football we sometimes forget that the mental aspect of the game of golf can be just as taxing on overall performance.

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  3. Just imagine if you spent 15 years running all over the world, your every move under media scrutiny, and constantly criticized for not living up to everybody's expectations... ugh.

    To paraphrase the comedian, "Golf is easy. Notoriety is hard." ;-)

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  4. oh come on Mike - Sergio was a tireless practicer. Even when relaxing by the pool, he found a way to work on holing out shots...with the hot brunette sitting next to him. :-)

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  5. Maybe that was the problem: visualization. If he had imagined a tanned navel instead of a hole... ;-)

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