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Friday, August 12, 2011

Stricks and His Sticks

Sure, everybody will be talking about Tiger and Ryo's implosions, as well as Rory's unbelievable decision to hit a full-power shot near a tree root. Here's my quick take on each, then I'll get on to the important stuff!
  • I don't agree with Brandel Chamblee that Tiger's screwed for a long time. Tiger said his swing worked when he focused on what he called "mechanical" thoughts, so he'll just have to do that for a while until he works off the rust.
  • The general word is that Ryo just overpracticed for this major. He's young, he'll learn.
  • And in case you haven't heard, Rory strained a tendon in his right wrist and arm -- he's lucky it isn't more serious. By the time you read this, you'll probably know if he felt like playing Friday. I'm guessing he will.
Ok, now to the real story of the day, Steve Stricker.

Stricker's on top

Actually, the story is three guys -- Steve Stricker, Jerry Kelly, and Scott Verplank. Stricks leads at -7, Kelly's second at -5, and Verplank's fourth at -3. This on a day when no one expected scores lower than -2 or -3... and none of those scores from short knockers. (By comparison, our three heroes have driving distances of 288, 275, and 277 yards, respectively.)

Instead, Stricker had no bogeys while the other guys had one each. Stricker had 3 birdies in a row while Kelly had 4 in a row. And that wild 4-hole stretch from 15 to 18 that's supposed to kill everybody? Verplank was +1, Kelly was E, and Stricker was -2. (By comparison, Tiger was +5 and Ryo was +8 for that stretch.) In fact, Stricker twice had putts to set a new major scoring record of -8... and he didn't even realize it.

Are these young guns? Nope -- Stricks and Kelly are 44, Verplank's 47.

Now this is where the story gets interesting. Jerry Kelly said in his post-round interview that the three of them had played together early in the week and come to an interesting conclusion: The 7500-yard course could be had without overpowering it! Sounds entirely different from what the experts have been saying, doesn't it?

But apparently they were right. And their game plan? Stricker summed it up: "My goal was just to put it in the fairway. You can't score here from the rough or the bunkers."

Wow. Incredibly simple, isn't it?

I know I beat some things to death on this blog, but it's because we still don't understand that it's the simplest of fundamentals and strategies that help us score low. Here we are, at one of the toughest courses of the year -- in fact, that 4-hole finishing stretch is playing as the toughest 4-hole stretch on Tour all year -- and 3 guys who don't hit it all that far are in the top 4 just because they focused on hitting the fairway, so they would have good lies from which to attack the greens.

Don't overlook the basics when trying to improve your game. You might be surprised what you can do.
 
The photo was on the PGATOUR.com homepage on Thursday night.

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