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Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Texas Wedge

Chances are good you've heard of the Texas Wedge but aren't quite sure what makes it different from any other putt from off the green. Here's a couple of videos from Michael Breed and C.J Goecks explaining how to use it properly.





The Texas Wedge isn't particularly close to the green. This is a shot where the ball has to go through a lot of grass just to get there. And bear in mind that since the fairways are often hard and fast in Texas, those are the kind of conditions you're looking for when you make this shot. It's a shot that's common in links golf, and that's why Texans like Lee Trevino have often played very well in the Open Championship.

Very important: Don't try the Texas Wedge if the grass is growing into you! That will give you too much resistance. If the grass is into you, use a lofted club.

I like Goeck's suggestion to aim for a spot about 5 to 10 feet beyond the hole and just pretend it's a regular putt. That should give you an idea of how hard to hit the putt.

Make practice swings that mimic the distance you want the ball to travel. In this respect, it's no different from any other putt.

Be sure you hit this putt solidly in the center of the face of the putter. Since you're going through so much grass, it's imperative that you make good contact. If the ball is sitting down in the grass where you can't make good contact, use a different shot.

Personally I think using a hybrid in this situation is less risky. But under the right conditions the Texas Wedge just might save you a shot.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Missing Links

What happened to Car-nasty? Whoever heard of double-digit scores under par after only two rounds? Caroline Masson is 11-under, and both In-Bee Park and Meena Lee are tied at 10-under. Two players -- In-Bee Park and Se Ri Pak -- tied the Carnoustie scoring record with second-round 64s. Back in 1999 Jean van de Velde would have paid for those scores!

During interviews even the women sound disappointed. Yani Tseng said that majors aren't supposed to play this easy. Paula Creamer actually said she wanted some bad weather. And the other women echoed their thoughts. So what's happened to the Carnoustie we all love to hate?

Simply enough, the Scottish torture test has had a spell of bad weather -- well, bad for links golf. Mild winds and very little rain constituted "the bad side of the draw"; you could see Suzann Pettersen smile as she used the phrase. Carnoustie is set up 900 yards shorter than when the men play it, all in anticipation of the weather. Instead, all of the par-5s are reachable for almost all the women.

Just because the weather has been pretty good doesn't mean Carnoustie has played easy. Last week's winner Ai Miyazato didn't even make the cut. Yuri Fudoh, Juli Inkster, Wendy Ward, and Sherri Steinhauer are just a few of the good players and past champions of this event who couldn't make the cut even in clear weather. In fact, very few players have been able to string two good rounds together. Here are the players at the top of the leaderboard, along with their scores for the first two rounds:
-11, MASSON, Caroline, 68 - 65

-10, PARK, Inbee, 70 - 64
-10, LEE, Meena, 65 - 69

-8, PAK, Se Ri, 72 - 64
-8, CHOI, Na Yeon, 69 - 67
-8, SCHREEFEL, Dewi Claire, 70 - 66

-7, TSENG, Yani, 71 - 66

-6, MIYAZATO, Mika, 69 - 69
-6, HEDWALL, Caroline, 69 - 69
-6, LINCICOME, Brittany, 67 - 71
-6, YANG, Amy, 68 - 70

-5, CREAMER, Paula, 69 - 70
-5, GUSTAFSON, Sophie, 68 - 71
-5, WESSBERG, Linda, 73 - 66
-5, GIQUEL-BETTAN, Sophie, 71 - 68
-5, MATTHEW, Catriona, 70 - 69
-5, HURST, Pat, 70 - 69
Personally, I don't see why the R&A LGU doesn't just set the course a bit harder. If the winds and rains come, the scores will go up noticeably... and perhaps give the ladies a taste of the real Carnoustie.

As it is, it looks like this weekend will be a shootout rather than a survival test. Granted, that could change; the weathermen say it may finally toughen up a bit Sunday.

But don't tell Paula Creamer. I don't want to get her hopes up... ;-)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sting That Tee Shot!

Ok, maybe the Women's British Open is the last links tournament we'll see for a while -- at least until the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in late September -- but that doesn't mean we won't need to hit a low tee shot into the wind sometime soon. Tiger used to do this a lot -- it was called a "stinger" and he usually used a 2-iron for the shot.

We mere mortals use a 3-wood.

Appropriately enough, I've got a video from Irish pro John Kelly teaching how to hit a 3-wood stinger.



Kelly teaches this a bit differently from some teachers, but I chose it because it's a simpler way to get the same results. Let me give you a little extra guidance here.

Tee the ball back in your stance. He says halfway, but it doesn't really look like it, does it? The camera angle is a bit misleading here -- the ball isn't really halfway back, but it's well inside his forward heel. Let's call it "under his left ear." If you're a lefty, that'll be your right ear.

Note that the ball is still teed fairly high. We don't want to hit down on the ball; we still want to sweep the ball from the tee. This will eliminate a lot of the backspin.

Put your weight a bit more on your forward side. Again, we aren't going to hit down on the ball. We put a bit more weight on the forward foot to keep us from moving behind the ball. If we did that, we'd either hit it thin or pop it up when we went under it. Neither results in a good stinger!

Your hands are over the ball at address, not ahead of it. Let me say it again: We aren't going to hit down on the ball. We're delofting the club, which will will help us hit the ball lower.

Picture showing what an uncocked wrist looks likeNow I'm going to depart from what Kelly is saying because I don't think it accurately describes what he's doing. (I'm sure he's describing the way it feels, but we need to know what we're doing.)

Go ahead and make your regular one-piece takeaway and a full swing. We want all the clubhead speed we can get. Kelly says he makes his swing less "wide" but then he tells you keep it wide on the downswing. Let's keep this simple, ok? Your backswing will probably feel a bit shorter because of the next key.

Don't cock your wrists... EVER. Some teachers tell you to shorten your swing, but they cock their wrists. If you don't cock your wrists, you don't have to shorten your swing because you won't create as much clubhead speed. You don't have to lock your wrists tight either. Bear in mind that if your hand is straight in line with your wrist -- as if you were throwing a punch -- a club sticking out of your hand will look like it's cocked about 45 to 60 degrees. That's an uncocked position.

The combination of those last two tips -- full backswing with uncocked wrists -- will probably get your hands above your shoulders with the club pointing over your shoulder at an angle BUT NOT parallel to the ground.

Finally, make your downswing. You'll sweep the ball off the tee, then finish somewhere between waist and shoulder height. Your wrists should stay uncocked the whole time. This is the familiar "shorten your followthrough" advice everybody gives you when you hit into the wind.

Relax -- it's much simpler to make the stinger shot than describe it. It's basically just a slight setup change and a "wristless" swing -- a punch shot hit from a tee. The combination of these moves.will launch the ball at a low angle and it will roll a lot when it hits the ground.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's Car-nasty Time!

The Ricoh Women's British Open starts today -- and early -- so I'll make this post quick.

As with the Open Championship and the Senior Open Championship, the Women's British Open is being carried on ESPN. Please note that this is apparently being carried LIVE, which means these are morning times:
  • Thursday, July 28: 9am - noon ET
  • Friday, July 29: 9am - noon ET
  • Saturday, July 30: 10am - 1pm ET
  • Sunday, July 31: 8:30am - noon ET
Again, that's ESPN -- not ESPN2, ESPN Classic, or any other ESPN you might find wandering around your cable system. (Although the Constructivist says that ESPN3 will be carrying some bonus coverage. That's online and starts at 6am.)

The defending champion is the Empress of the Tseng Dynasty, Yani Tseng, and she's going for her 5th major. (Man, I still can't quite get my mind around that -- she's only 22 but she's going for her 5th major. Wow.) And the tournament is being played at Carnoustie this time -- a first for the women. As you may recall, this is where Jean van de Velde lost to Paul Lawrie back in 1999. Cristie Kerr's experience of Carnoustie has already acquainted her with this bit of history -- she met and talked to van de Velde last week (she says they talked mainly about wines) and she's staying in the Paul Lawrie Suite at Carnoustie.

I'm hoping she takes after Lawrie this week.

As for any "introductory" information you might need, I'm just going to refer you to two of the web's experts on women's golf:
I hope you enjoy this as much as I will. While I'll be checking in on play at the Greenbriar (Tom Watson is playing there, along with Phil) and the U.S. Senior Open, the women get so little airtime in comparison to the other tours that their events always get priority in my TV schedule.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More Thoughts About 5 LPGA Majors

Last week I did a post about the Evian becoming the 5th LPGA major, Since the announcement some people have taken exception with the announcement -- for example, Stacy Lewis commented over the weekend thatshe didn't care for the change, and John Feinstein has also been less than enthused. Because of this, I thought I'd take a deeper look at how this brave new world might work.

Stacy had two problems with the change:
  • Personally she's more of a traditionalist and believes there should only be 4 majors.
  • More importantly, how do you say no when other countries want a major?
I won't reprint everything I said in that other post here because you can just click the link and read it, but let me summarize:

There's nothing sacred about the number 4. In its history the LPGA has had as few as 2 majors, and at least 7 different tournaments have been majors at one time or another. The idea that 4 majors is somehow an "ideal" number probably originated with the "Impregnable Quadrilateral" of Bobby Jones, aka the Grand Slam. That was little more than journalist O.B. Keeler creating a catchy hook to describe Jones's feat -- nothing wrong with that -- but somewhere along the line it became gospel. It's not traditional... just old.

I should also point out that those 4 majors encompassed 2 professional and 2 amateur majors, which is what made the Jones accomplishment so amazing, If any number of majors is traditional, it's 2.

As an aside, in case you didn't know, when tournaments become (or cease to be) majors, the changes are not retroactive. That means that players who won, say, the Women's British Open Championship (which didn't become a major until 2001 and is being played this week at Carnoustie) in 2000 or before did not suddenly get credited with another major. Likewise, players who won the Women's Western Open (a major from 1930 to1967) didn't lose that major from their records in 1968.

One thing I didn't mention in that other article is Karrie Webb's unique position as the only player to win the "Super Slam." She has won the Kraft-Nabisco, the U.S. Women's Open, the LPGA Championship, the Women's British Open Championship, and the now-defunct du Maurier Classic when it was a major. (She won the Women's British twice three times, both as a major in 2002 and a non-major in 1995 and 1997. Only one counts in her major total.) Should she manage to win the Evian in 2013 or after, what will they call the only player with a 6-major career slam?

Anyway, the point is that no existing records will change here. Ai Miyazato will not suddenly be credited with 2 Evian majors, nor will players like Paula Creamer, Jiyai Shin, Karrie Webb, or Juli Inkster suddenly add majors as a result of this change.

Stacy's second objection is a valid one. However, I think the LPGA had already set a precedent in this case. All the LPGA is doing is recognizing a major that already existed as a major on the LET. I covered this at some length in the other post. I also said in that post that I thought the LPGA may be clearing the way for the LET to recognize the other 3 LPGA majors without having to merge the LPGA and LET.

How could this help the LPGA deal with requests from other countries for their own majors? Let's look at the setup of the soon-to-be 5 majors.
  • The Kraft-Nabisco deal runs out soon. Michael Whan has already said he intends to find a way to keep it going; but it's a logical assumption that if he can't find a way to keep it going as a major, the Evian would take its place as the 4th major. There is already a precedent for this, since the du Maurier Classic was "downgraded" to a regular tournament -- it's now the CN Canadian Women's Open -- and replaced by the Women's British Open. But assuming Whan can keep the KN as a major, it's centered on a single course in California and is frequently considered the LPGA's version of the Masters.
  • The U.S. Women's Open moves to different courses around the continental U.S.
  • The new Evian is centered on a single course in France, like the Kraft-Nabisco.
  • The Women's British Open moves to different courses around continental Europe, like the U.S. Women's Open.
  • That leaves the LPGA Championship...
Suppose the LPGA decided to take their organization's second-oldest event international? One year it's held in America, one year in Europe, one year in Asia, one year in Australia. Maybe they use a specific course on each continent, or perhaps they move it around like the Ryder and Solheim Cups, but once every four years your continent gets a major. It could be renamed as the LPGA World Championship or -- if the LET wants to recognize and co-sponsor it -- as the LPGA-LET World Championship.

The beauty of this is the flexibility the tour would gain with this setup. Africa and South America could be added to the rota as more players come from those continents without any further change to the schedule. And it's fair to assume that this could become far and away the biggest of the majors in terms of money and TV coverage, since we're talking about giving this event a World Cup feel.

In effect, you create 4 majors and a super major.

It would probably be overkill for a purely U.S.-based tour but given the global growth that Whan seems to be targeting, this is a workable plan. And because his first move in this direction is the recognition and improvement of an existing LET event, it's a clear invitation to the LET to team up with the LPGA -- as equal partners but not a merged tour, which is important -- in making this move. As I said in the other post, a rising tide lifts all boats, and both sides stand to gain big from this. The more resources that women's golf can pull together, the better their chances of breaking into the casual sports fan's consciousness... and that may be the key to the recognition they want.

So yeah, the more I think about it, the better the 5 major concept sounds. In time even Stacy Lewis may come to like it.

As for John Feinstein... he remarked in one of his Golf Central commentaries that a major is a major because of tradition. I was particularly interested because he cited the Kraft-Nabisco (originally the "Dinah Shore") as a shining example of this self-evident tradition argument. In doing so, John actually supports my belief that a major is a major because somebody with influence said so. Here are the facts:
  • The Dinah was created in 1972 with the intention of making it an event -- Michael Whan referred to this, for those of you who care to go back and review his comments about David Foster (you can read more at this link about Whan's Evian announcement.)
  • The Dinah was declared a major in 1983. That means it had a massively huge "tradition" of 11 years when it became a major.
  • It had a huge sponsor with the money to invest -- Colgate-Palmolive -- and an immensely popular figurehead for the tournament -- Dinah Shore.
  • It has had a single course since its inception -- the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.
  • The players were treated extremely well and they enjoyed playing there.
So how does the Evian compare to this "self-evident tradition"?
  • The Evian Masters was created in 1994... and apparently Evian has made no secret that they wanted their tournament to be an event.
  • It will become a major in 2013. That's 20 years -- OMG! That's even longer than the Dinah! (Oh yeah, it will have only been recognized by the LPGA for 13 years when it becomes a major -- OMG! That's still longer than the Dinah!)
  • Evian has a huge sponsor with the money to invest -- namely Evian, owned by Danone Group in France. I'll grant you that there is no immensely popular figurehead for the tournament -- unless you count the Evian babies -- but most other majors don't have one either.
  • It has had a single course since its inception -- the Evian Masters Golf Club in √Čvian-les-Bains, France. In fact, Evian is putting up between $5M and $7M to get the course up to the LPGA's standards.
  • The players are treated extremely well and they enjoy playing there.
  • And here's one extra point that the Dinah could never claim: The Evian Masters was already a major on the LET. This tournament was a recognized major before Whan declared it for the LPGA.
You know, it sounds as if the Evian has as good a claim to being a major as the Dinah... and maybe better. John has gone back to the argument that the value of anything in golf is a measure of how old it is. According to this way of thinking, neither the U.S. Open nor the Open Championship would have ever become majors because -- I can't bear to even think it -- they were once young tournaments. UGH!

To be honest, in this economy I'm not so sure the Kraft-Nabisco will survive as a major. If KN can't see the value of what they have -- a well-defined sports icon in a competitive advertising marketplace -- they probably don't have the vision to stay in and capitalize on it. I'd be surprised if Whan hasn't weighed that into his decision. In another few years this whole debate may prove useless as we find ourselves still playing only 4 majors, with the Evian replacing the KN and Michael Whan being hailed as the man who kept the majors intact.

But John's obvious distaste for Karrie Webb getting credit for winning 5 different majors -- despite there never being more than 4 at one time -- makes me doubt that even that outcome would appease him. He bolstered his argument about age and tradition by saying that the U.S. and British Opens are recognized on every tour -- thereby making them "legitimate" majors -- while ignoring the fact that the LPGA didn't recognize the British as a major until 2001 and that the tournament itself didn't even exist before 1976! That hardly classifies as being "steeped in tradition." It seems clear that John simply doesn't like the way majors are chosen or reckoned. The LPGA is fortunate that he isn't in charge, as the record books would probably need to be rewritten every few years -- assuming the LPGA survived his tenure. ;-)

In any case, 5 majors isn't the end of the world either, as those pessimistic naysayers would have you believe. Our world has changed in the last 40 years, and this move offers the LPGA possibilities not even imaginable 40 years ago. And just for the record, in 1971 the LPGA had only 2 majors -- the U.S. Women's Open and the LPGA Championship, both begun in the 1950s. The Women's Western Open (started 1930) had been dead since 1967; the Titleholders Championship (sporadic since its start in 1937) had been MIA since 1966 and would be played only once more, in 1972; and the other 3 majors hadn't even been "born" yet. Welcome to the 21st Century and the economics of tournament golf, my friends.

And I didn't forget them -- here are the Evian babies in their most notorious commercial spot:



Those kids look pretty major to me. I rest my case. Smiley

I have to credit Wikipedia for the dates of the various LPGA and LET majors.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Alex Noren on... Alex Noren's Swing

This is one of the most unusual looks at a winner's swing I've ever done. Alexander Noren, the runaway winner of the Nordea Masters this past weekend, actually uploaded a YouTube video about his own swing!

If you saw any of the European Tour coverage, you may have heard the commentators mention that Alex has a somewhat unusual swing. In this video uploaded a couple of years ago by an obvious fan (who else uploads a video called "Swing of a God"?), you can see a slo-mo version of his swing at the :33 mark:



Obviously the Noren move is a slightly overlong backswing, followed by dropping his hands noticeably behind him on the downswing. This isn't too different from Sergio, although this looks to be more exaggerated.

Apparently Alex decided this move needed to be changed, so he began making changes sometime in 2010. Fortunately for us, he uploaded a video showing what he's been working on. There's an explanation of the changes, some slo-mo comparisons from 5 weeks earlier, and some pitching imitations:



As you can tell, Alex has a bizarre sense of humor. I suppose three days of practice (that's what it says at the beginning of the video) will do that to you. Anyway, apparently Alex has been working primarily on shortening his swing in hopes of improving his accuracy. It certainly worked at the Nordea Masters!

And while watching the video I discovered something interesting that I didn't expect -- Alex has been working on the very same things I've suggested would help all of your swings. Jump ahead to 1:20 in the video where Alex explains what he's been working on:
  • Setup
  • A one-piece takeaway
  • Hands basically in line with his shoulders at the top of his backswing
  • Simple downswing
Can you say fundamentals? And if you compare the slo-mo footage, you'll see that while his swing doesn't really look any shorter -- not to me, at least -- he certainly seems much more stable over the ball throughout his entire swing. Those simple changes stood him in good stead this past weekend -- in fact, they've worked twice this year, as he also won the Saab Wales Open in May.

It's definitely worth your time to consider copying Alex's swing. Well, maybe not his pitching motion from the end of the video -- stick with his full swing, ok? ;-)

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Limerick Summary: 2011 RBC Canadian Open

Winner: Sean O'Hair

Around the wider world of golf: Ai Miyazato broke her winless streak at the LPGA's Evian Masters in France; Russ Cochran won the Senior Open Championship on the Champions Tour in England; and Alexander Noren won the Nordea Masters on the ET in Sweden. Amateur Harris English had to settle for a win in America -- the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational on the Nationwide Tour.

O'Hair holds RBC Canadian Open trophy

Let's be blunt about it. Sean O'Hair's year so far has sucked big time. He's missed the cut ten times and his best finish is a T16. He had fired his swing coach and his caddie. (BTW, did you know both were Canadian?) He didn't qualify for the U.S. Open and he got cut at the Masters and again at the Open Championship just last week. Perhaps sucked is too gentle a word. At any rate, 2011 has not been O'Hair's year so far.

That is, until Sunday. HIs freefall dropped him right into the jetstream above Canada.

I'm sure he's still a bit bummed about the whole thing. Yes, he won... but it wasn't pretty. But then again, nobody played a particularly pretty tournament this week. The course was tough enough to make this the U.S. Open's younger brother -- which it is, since they're the two oldest tournaments in North America. That meant scores were all over the place. O'Hair's 69-73-66-68 wasn't bad at all... but he won the playoff against Kris Blanks with a bogey. A BOGEY! That's probably not going to sit very well with a driven player like Sean.

But you know, a win is a win. Sean O'Hair gutted it out on a course that simply beat the players up. I'll grant you that the playoff hole was a little ugly, but when a player has been as down on himself as Sean has been, it's a major accomplishment to overcome his own attitude and get the job done. As he said, "Wednesday night was my worst point of the whole year. I was lost on Wednesday. To be sitting here, I just really appreciate this win."

Hopefully this will turn 2011 around for Sean O'Hair. He's too good not to be staking his own claim to some titles. So here's a Limerick Summary for the new high-flying champ:
Once a high-flier, young Sean O'Hair
Needed more than a wing and a prayer.
Though his game had gone south,
The Canadian route
Sent him soaring above his despair.
The photo and quote came from this article at PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Incompleat Hybrid Chipper

Almost all of us carry hybrid clubs these days to replace long irons (and even mid-irons). Hybrids are also very useful for chipping, especially since they have flat faces like irons rather than rounded faces like fairway woods. But we often find that their long shafts give us problems.

Today I offer you an incomplete guide to hybrid chipping -- some enterprising player will always find new ways to use their clubs! But here are two common situations where a hybrid comes in handy.

First, teaching pro Mark Woods shows you the basic technique for a normal chipping situation, where the ball isn't buried in the rough:



In this normal situation you want to put the ball forward in your stance, take a typical short game stance with your weight a bit more on your forward side, and let your wrists flex a bit on the backswing. (Quite frankly, the length of the club makes it difficult not to have a little wrist flex.) Your body does most of the work, so you just need to hold the club. You'll notice that Mark doesn't specifically say to use a putting grip, although he does say you don't want your hands ahead of the ball. This is more of a sweeping stroke than a putt.

Now teaching pro Jeff Ritter shows you how to use a hybrid in a problem situation -- the ball has rolled up against the collar around the green:



For this stroke you do the exact opposite of the first technique. This time you want to hit down on the ball to avoid getting the clubhead caught in the rough. In fact, we're using a hybrid because it has a larger head and the grass won't wrap around the shaft. Therefore you put the ball back in your stance, take a typical short game stance, use a putting grip, and put your hands ahead of the ball.

Note this: The big secret to chipping well with your hybrid is to use your body to swing the club, not your arms. The extra length of the shaft means you don't have to make as big a swing to get results, so this "body swing" works really well. You can rest your upper arms lightly against your body to help keep the club steady.

One other personal note: I find that a hybrid is often easier to handle with a split grip -- that is, a putting grip with one hand at each end of the rubber grip and a gap between them. Separating my hands like that also helps make it easier to keep the club from wiggling around during the swing. That's purely a personal preference, but you might want to try it if your regular grip feels a bit weird when you try this chipping technique.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What Rough? This Is Hardpan!

At the end of my post about playing from greenside rough I joked that "'if the weather stays this hot, I may have to post a tip on playing hardpan... or maybe cracked mud." Dexter commented that many of the courses he played were already to that point.

You -- my readers -- ask, I answer. Here's a post on playing hardpan.

I've got two vids on the subject here, one by teaching pro Greg McClure and one by some guy named Haney. ;-) It's neat because I don't often get videos that show the same shot from both left and right, but it also demonstrates just how simple and how difficult one shot can be.

After the videos, I'll give you a simple technique that will encompass the best of both teachers' approaches:





Ok, you see what I mean. Let's look at the basic problem both teachers addressed.

The driving principle is simple: If you play from hardpan, you have to hit the ball first. Quite frankly, this isn't much different than hitting any other shot except for one thing. A shot played from a cushion of grass gives you a margin for error. If you hit just a bit fat, the club doesn't bounce as bad. If the lie is thick enough, the club might even slide right under the ball. That's why you sometimes play very deep lies as if they were bunker shots.

We don't get that forgiveness here. If the club hits the ground first, it bounces up hard and fast! So if we make an error, it has to be that we hit down too sharply on the ball. McClure's warning about bounce comes into play here. So the second principle is clear: The more bounce your club has, the more critical it is that you hit the ball first.

What's the best way to do this? Principle #3: Play hardpan shots -- even full shots -- with a short game setup. Think Stack & Tilt, baby! Put the ball back a bit in your stance, lean the club shaft forward so your hands are ahead of the ball, set your weight a bit more onto your leading side (right side for lefties, left side for righties), and keep it there throughout the stroke!

BTW, this is why Haney is talking about hitting a cut shot. Many players open their stance and play cut shots when they use a short game setup. It gives them a bit more room to swing the club without hitting their hands against their leading hip. You don't have to play a cut shot if you don't want or need to, but that's why Haney suggests it.

Final principle: Make sure you hold the club firmly. When you hit down into the ball and that ball squirts off the lie, the club is going to hit hard ground. It's going to hit hard. It won't be comfortable, and if you aren't holding the club firmly you might hurt yourself and then add insult to injury by mis-hitting the shot as well. You don't need a death grip or anything, but you need to hold the club a bit more firmly and be ready for the jolt.

Like most things in golf, this shot just isn't that "hard" (sorry, couldn't resist) but you need to understand what to do. Set up for a normal short game shot, hit the ball first, and be ready for the jolt when the club hits the ground. Do that, and it's basically just like any other chip or pitch.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ruthless Putting Ebook Finally Available at B&N

Well, it seems like it's taken forever, but the EPUB version of Ruthless Putting is finally available for the Nook at BN.com.

In case you're confused by the double listing there, the one dated June 29, 2009 in the listing is the "official" EPUB version I did for the Nook and the other dated May 12, 2011 is the EPUB version Smashwords creates and distributes to BN. Personally I think the official version is laid out a bit better (I created a version designed specifically for the Nook, while the Smashwords EPUB is generated from a generic Word file), but both have the complete text and diagrams.

The Nook EPUB is exactly the same as the EPUB you order from my site, except my version doesn't have the DRM that limits it to a single reader.

And yes, the Ruthless Chipping bonus ebook available when you buy the book direct from me is also available if you buy from BN.com. The download instructions are in the book.

I'm Stuck in the Greenside Rough

Today I've got a video about pitching from the rough beside the green. I like this video not only because teaching pro Jay Golden shows two different ways to pitch, but because his rough looks more like what we're all playing lately... BROWN!



To sum up, here are the key points for the two techniques:

The low running pitch (more of a chip):
  • Ball back in stance
  • Hands in front of the ball
  • Square clubface
  • Chop down
  • Short followthrough
The high flop shot (like a sand shot):
  • Ball forward in stance
  • Hands behind ball
  • Open the clubface a lot
  • Slide clubface under the ball
  • Long followthrough
And remember, you need to make a longer swing on the flop or it won't go very far.

Of course, if the weather stays this hot, I may have to post a tip on playing hardpan... or maybe cracked mud...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thoughts on Williams & Evian

Wednesday gave us a couple of news stories that have everybody buzzing... so I thought I'd add my own two cents!

The one getting the most airplay is the split between Tiger and Steve Williams. Tiger's announcement sounded very businesslike while Steve's response sounded somewhat hurt. Here's what I've put together from various sources:
  • Tiger told Steve about this in person back at the AT&T National, so it's only us mere mortals getting the news late. This announcement didn't surprise Steve, so the comment that he was "shocked" is probably a reference to his initial reaction at Aronimink, not to Wednesday's announcement.
  • Tim Rosaforte talked to Steve and he indicated that Steve believes his request to caddie for Adam Scott at the U.S. Open was what caused Tiger to drop him.
  • Who will be Steve's replacement?
    • In the past it has been rumored that Billy Foster (Lee Westwood's caddie) might get the job if Steve left, but Lee's probably playing too well now for that to happen.
    • Some are speculating that Tiger might go after Tony Navarro, who's currently working for Angel Cabrera.
    • But the word is that Tiger would like to get Joe Lacava, Fred Couple's caddie who's now working for Dustin Johnson. If that one's true, this could get messy.
  • The only things that everybody seems to agree on are that Tiger clearly already has someone in mind and that Steve (who is now officially Adam's caddie) will probably have a much more peaceful life and may even help Adam get over the hump and start winning.majors. He certainly knows how to do it!
The other bit of news concerns the Evian Masters. Michael Whan, commissioner of the LPGA, announced that it will be renamed as simply "the Evian" and become the 5th LPGA major in 2013. The course is going to be completely redesigned, with stadium seating for the final four holes, and receive both increased funding and increased TV coverage.

Ironically, this bit of news has been controversial. Why? Because it's going to be a 5th major. I understand that some people have a problem with the concept, although I've heard way too many people simply complain because it isn't traditional. Sometimes tradition is over-rated, people -- there's nothing sacred about the number 4. As long as they're spaced out and not run together, 5 majors isn't worse than 4, anymore than 4 is better than 3 or even 2... and if you know your LPGA history, you know that the number of majors each year has varied between 2 and 4. In fact, 7 different tournaments have been majors at one time or another.

But there is one objection that I think is valid and deserves a response -- namely, the idea that too many majors diminish their importance applies here. I don't think so -- in fact, I think this may be a stroke of genius -- and I'll tell you why.

The men's majors are officially recognized by both the PGA and the ET, although technically only 3 majors are PGA events and 1 is a European Tour event. Every major you play in counts toward your required tournament count on both tours.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the LPGA and the LET. Up until 2000 the LPGA had 4 majors:
  • The Kraft Nabisco Championship (aka "the Dinah Shore")
  • The LPGA Championship
  • The U.S. Women's Open
  • The du Maurier Classic
The LET had two majors:
  • The Evian Masters
  • The Women's Open Championship
And neither tour recognized the other tour's majors.

When the du Maurier Classic lost its sponsorship (it was originally sponsored by a tobacco company), it ceased to be a major and became the Canadian Women's Open. The LPGA decided to replace it in 2000 with the LET's Women's Open Championship, which is now recognized by both tours. In the same year the LPGA began to co-sanction the Evian Masters. However, the LET still has only 2 majors, since they don't recognize the other 3 LPGA majors.

By making the Evian a recognized LPGA major, the LPGA has now recognized both LET majors. The fact is, many if not most LPGA players played the Evian Masters and even referred to it as "the 5th major." (Sound familiar, TPC fans?) It would do no good to place an LPGA event opposite the Evian Masters, since the best players would go to France anyway.

And this is something I believe is on Michael Whan's mind in making this decision. This deal not only recognizes both LET majors -- which helps players with dual membership more easily fulfill their obligations -- but helps raise the profile of both the LPGA and the LET with increased TV coverage, etc. The LET already deals with a problem similar to that the LPGA had -- namely, their players come play in the LPGA majors even though the LET doesn't recognize them. By making this decision, I think Whan is setting the stage for the LET to reciprocate and recognize the 3 LPGA majors. It will benefit both tours by giving them 5 huge co-sponsored events that might appeal beyond the hardcore golfing public to casual sports viewers worldwide.

In other words, I think Whan is looking beyond just the LPGA to women's golf in general. A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say, and Whan is positioning the LPGA for increased visibility by making it a global property that doesn't mind helping others as well -- even if those others could be viewed as competitors for the same market. It's thinking so far out of the box that you're guaranteed to either fail horribly or look like a genius.

I think Whan will look like a genius before it's all over. After all, everybody wants to be friends with the rich guy who's willing to share the wealth.

And that's my two cents for today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Clarke VS Watson: A Comparison

I haven't done a swing comparison in a while, but this one was too good to ignore. Here we have two players with widely divergent swings -- Darren Clarke with a swing built on the windy links of Northern Ireland and Tom Watson with a classic swing built in the heartland of Kansas -- and yet both excel in that tricky Open Championship.

As it turns out, while searching for YouTube footage to use in yesterday's post about Clarke's swing, I discovered some footage of both Clarke and Watson taken at the same tournament!

First, here's the footage of Darren taken at Dubai in February 2010 (I also used this footage in yesterday's post):



Now here's some footage of Watson from the same tournament:



Both men are playing irons, so it's a pretty good comparison. There are a few fundamental things both men do:
  • They both use one-piece takeaways, which is why they get those big shoulder turns.
  • Both men cock their hands fairly late in the backswing. While a late wrist cock isn't necessarily a fundamental, it does indicate that they're keeping their arm muscles relaxed during the swing. That helps with both accuracy and clubhead speed.
  • Both turn their bodies fully to the finish, so their belt buckles face the target or even a bit to the left of it.
  • And both have good rhythm to their swings.
None of these things are enough to explain good wind play. After all, fundamentals belong in every swing.

But you don't need an educated eye to see some very noticeable contrasts:
  • Tom's swing is much longer than Darren's. Tom gets the club all the way to parallel at the top while Darren has almost a 3/4 swing.
  • Tom's hips turn a lot more on the backswing, his left knee breaks more toward the ball, and his left heel comes much more off the ground.
  • Darren's head moves a lot more during his swing, especially on the downswing.
  • Darren finishes standing straighter than Tom.
  • Tom releases his hands much more in his finish, so Tom gets a higher ball flight.
Despite these differences, both men play well in the wind. Why? Simply enough, both hit what some call a "heavy ball" -- that is, they consistently hit the ball solidly in the center of the clubface. When you do that, the ball will bore its way through the wind like a mole through turf. You can play decent golf even if you don't hit the ball that solidly... but you won't be a good wind player.

Ironically, you can't learn to hit the ball that solidly without good fundamentals. Good fundamentals don't make you a great player, but you can't become a great player without good fundamentals.

Lesson: There's always more than one way to play this game. Darren and Tom have very different swings -- and Tom hits the ball higher than Darren even when playing in the wind -- but both are great wind players. Just as good wind play is a function of more than just low ball flight, good golf is more than just tricks and "secrets." But without the fundamentals of a good swing you'll never develop the real skills that distinguish the great players from the merely good ones.

Focus on your fundamentals. That's the key to developing useful skills with minimal practice.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Swing Like the Prince of Darkness

Darren Clarke got his nickname "the Prince of Darkness" from his physio coach because of his tendency to get down on himself when he didn't play up to his expectations. Because the last few years of his career have been sidetracked by his late wife Heather's battle with cancer, it's easy to forget that Clarke was a major force on the golf scene 10 years ago. Some of you may not know that he bears the distinction of winning 2 WGCs during Tiger's most dominant years, including an Accenture Match Play win in 2000 where he beat Tiger 4&3 in the 36-hole final.

It's hard to believe Darren could ever play badly enough to get down on himself, given how simple his swing is.

I had decided to do this post (and tomorrow's) early Monday before Michael Breed covered some of the same material on The Golf Fix. As a result, I'm not going to rehash everything he said. Rather, I just want to point out a couple of important things I see in Darren's swing. To that end, I've included 5 different videos so you can just watch it. I think that's the most stunning evidence of just how good his swing is.

First, a driver face-on:



From this angle you can see how relaxed he is. He moves slightly away from the ball on the backswing and slightly forward on the downswing, but it's not a huge move. He doesn't dip his head and he doesn't get quite to parallel with the driver, although he proved at the Open he could move that ball out there a bit.

Next, a driver down-the-line:



Darren does bend his right elbow a bit early, but that's because he has a flatter swing than many players. Note that this doesn't keep him from getting his hands so his club shaft nearly crosses his shoulder as it points toward the target. And there are no fancy moves on the way down; it reminds me of someone throwing a Frisbee hard. There's no wasted energy.

I chose this 3-wood shot because of the unusual angle:



That's just a simple move toward the target. Notice how he turns fully toward the target. Although Darren's a big guy, he still gets quite a bit of shoulder rotation both away from and through the ball. He holds nothing back.

Here's an iron face-on, a similar angle to the 3-wood:



Note that although the swing is almost as long as the woods, he doesn't move away from the ball as much on his backswing. Look at how stable he is as he moves into the finish!

And finally, an iron down-the-line. The plane line that's been added is interesting -- it shows the flat plane he swings down on, not the plane he swings up on:



Notice that, although Darren has a fairly flat swing, his hands actually move in a very upright manner -- from below the line to above it, then down that plane to hit the ball. That means that there's just a little downward loop at the top -- that seems to be quite common in the swings of Scottish players, probably because they need to keep the ball under the wind. Breed pointed out that the club is taken up pretty upright as well -- notice that the head of the club never drops below that line as he swings up to the top.

This is a swing that was built on Scottish links courses. It takes the club up quickly but keeps a fairly low profile as it actually hits the ball. To hit it low, all you need to do is shorten the followthrough, as Darren did often over the weekend. One reason his swing held up so well in the wind is because there's so little excess movement to catch the wind. A simple swing for a simple man.

Only the players he beat are calling him the Prince of Darkness this week. I think Darren feels more like the Light Bearer right now.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Limerick Summary: 2011 Open Championship

Winner: Darren Clarke

Around the wider world of golf: This was a week for Americans to come in second at the Open and at the Women's FIFA World Cup, but some Americans did come in first elsewhere. Chris Kirk got his first PGA Tour win at the Viking Classic; Russell Knox got his first win at the Nationwide Tour's Chiquita Classic (CORRECTION: Knox is Scottish -- my bad!); and Brittany Johnston won the ING New England Golf Classic on the LPGA's Future Tour. Elsewhere, if I read the translation correctly, Chie Arimura won the Stanley Ladies on the JLPGA. I suppose she'll be celebrating with Japan's World Cup team.

Darren Clarke holds the Claret Jug
I wonder how much Guinness the Claret Jug can hold? In Darren's case, I bet it won't be enough...

I'll admit that, even though I was pulling for an American to win, I'm absolutely elated that Darren won -- he's been a favorite of mine for years. I could wax eloquently about what a great guy he seems to be, but I'm sure you've already either seen or read all you need to know about his win at Royal St. Georges. Instead, let me just give you my views about how all the other "storylines" played out:

Phil Mickelson's "new attitude": Say what you like, I think Phil should get a passing grade this week, despite the apparent blowup on the last 6 holes. When I saw it, my first thought was that Phil realized Darren wasn't coming back to the pack and he started to press. And indeed, that's exactly what Phil said in his post-round interviews. That 6-under in a 10-hole stretch during the worst conditions of the week (that was Tom Watson's assessment, and he should know) may have been the best stretch of golf Phil has ever played. He even said he didn't panic when he bogeyed 11 because he remembered Greg Norman bogeyed a par-3 on his way to victory in 1993. And since his tie for 2nd is his best ever finish in an Open, who am I to criticize?

Dustin Johnson's third failure: This wasn't like Dustin's last two final-round stumbles. Essentially, he chose a decent shot but mis-hit it. One bad shot during an entire round played in hard conditions is... well, just being human should entitle you to that. Granted, it happened at the worst place at the worst time, but it was still only one shot. And since his T2 is his best major finish ever, I'm going to give DJ a pass as well.

Rickie Fowler's T5 finish: The Orange Man got his first Top5 in a major, and he played some seriously good golf. Given his success in Walker Cup and Ryder Cup play, I wonder if we're not seeing the beginnings of another Tom Watson-like player who plays his best in the Open. (And speaking of Tom Watson, another T22 finish is a sign we may not have seen the last of him yet.)

Sergio Garcia: A T9 and a round of 68, tying Mickelson for best round on Sunday. Best of all, Sergio was all smiles this week -- he even handled things better than Rory! This is just continuing evidence that we may not have seen Sergio's best yet. HOORAY!

Thomas Bjorn: Granted, a win at RSG would have been the storybook ending to his week. Nevertheless, his 4th-place finish continues his return to form (he's won twice in the last year or so, in case you hadn't noticed).

Of course, all of these storylines had to settle for the Silver Salver. The Claret Jug goes only to the winner.

But Darren Clarke's win is not just a "feel good" story, it's a "feel great" story. One of the coolest things I saw was a tweet from Darren that said:
"John Newton, my physio, called me the prince of darkness a few years ago and chubb and wayward loved it!!...hence it has stuck."
You've got to love a teddy bear nicknamed "the Prince of Darkness" because of how much he gets down on himself. (And given Darren's... uh... "bearish profile," I can't imagine what kind of workout he does that requires a physio coach. Isn't lifting all that Guinness enough?) Anyway, after Sunday's round I don't think he'll be kicking himself much anytime soon!

Let's face it -- Darren Clarke gives weekend golfers hope. So this week's Limerick Summary salutes not only the new Open champ but all his soon-to-be grossly inebriated fans:
For 19 years he's missed the mark
But 20 gave Darren the spark.
His victory Sunday
Means workers out Monday
'Cause Guinness will flow deep and dark!
The picture came from PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hitting It Low

Since those soggy boys at the Open Championship are doing a lot of it, I thought I'd put up a couple of thoughts on keeping the ball low when hitting into the wind.

First, here's a video by PGA player Bob Byman. It shows a couple of different approaches to hitting it low:



Another tip comes from author John Andrisani, who's written books on the playing styles of several players like Jack and Tiger. In his book The Bobby Jones Way, he tells about how Jones battled the wind in the 1930 Open Championship at Hoylake. Andrisani writes:
"...Jones realized that a strong headwind magnifies errors in striking, so he concentrated on hitting the ball straighter and not harder. In fact, after setting up with his feet square to the target, the ball back only slightly, and the hands just slightly ahead of the ball, he swung the club back inside the target line and at a slower pace than normal to enhance control.
"On the downswing, Jones chased the ball with the clubhead for a longer period through impact, then employed a shorter finish. To help you swing the correct way, think of brushing the grass with the clubhead, in the take-away and hitting area. This swing will help you create a wide backswing arc and swing the club into the ball on a low trajectory to ensure an extremely solid strike. The shot you hit will bore into the wind and stop fairly quickly on the green." (pages 60-61)
Jones would have "swung the club back inside the target line" anyway since he tended to hit a draw most of the time, so I don't know if I would exaggerate that. But I want to draw your attention to one fact: You DON'T want to hit down on the ball, since that makes the ball jump up in the air. That's why you move the ball only slightly back and put your hands only slightly ahead at address. However, I may have an image that will help you in your attempts to "chase the ball" through impact.

Imagine that your club is actually a small broom. What you want to do after you make contact with the ball -- and yes, that contact is slightly downward; you want to hit the ball first, you just don't want much of a divot -- after you make contact with the ball, imagine you sweep the line in front of the ball for a foot or two before finishing with your hands low. You aren't helping the ball up into the air; the sweeping image will help you move the club forward rather than up so quickly.

Finally, you may have heard Tom Watson telling TV viewers an old saying he once heard, "Hit with ease into the breeze." Regardless of what approach you choose, this advice always seems to come up. And when one of those sources is the patron saint of links golf himself, you better listen! ;-)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Game Is Finally Afoot

Well, the cut is made and the Open leaderboard is about as packed as it has ever been. No one is more than 7 shots back -- I believe Paul Lawrie made up 10 shots in one round when he beat Jean van de Velde at Carnoustie. I don't know that anyone could have predicted this:
  • Three of the top 6 are in their 40's.
  • Tom Watson sits 6 shots back and, with bad weather predicted, I bet more than a few players are nervous that the 61-year-old made the cut.
  • Phil's a mere 3 shots back, the best he's ever been after 2 rounds.
  • Both world #1 Luke Donald and #2 Lee Westwood missed the cut. World #3 Martin Kaymer is only 1 shot back, giving him a chance to snag 2 majors in 12 months.
  • Masters champ Charl Schwartzel is 2 back, with the chance to snag 2 majors in only 4 months.
  • Rory and Rickie are tied at even and paired together for the third round.
This is shaping up to be a wild ride.

And on the outside chance you missed it, let me post the latest viral golf video -- Miguel Angel Jimenez's answer to P90X:



The Mechanic is truly the most interesting man in golf.

BTW, 3 of my 4 picks are stil alive!
  • Steve Stricker, E
  • Sergio Garcia, E
  • Jason Day, +1
This must be some kind of record for me.

Finally, don't forget that the Open is being broadcast on ESPN this weekend, not on any of the standard channels. Bad weather is coming, so the carnage should be supremely entertaining!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Everything But Snow

At least, that was the report at Royal St. Georges on Thursday. Wind, rain, hail, fire and brimstone, drought, even a little nuclear fallout...

Thomas Bjorn at the media centerOk, maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but the draw (as usual) turned out to be very important... unless your name was Thomas Bjorn, that is. Bjorn's 5-under 65 in the worst of the conditions was clearly the round of the day, even if amateur Tom Lewis did tie him playing late in the better weather.

The surprises, though expected at RSG, were many. Lucas Glover and Webb Simpson as low Americans? Check -- anybody could see that one coming, right? Darren Clark tied for 6th? Unexpected, but definitely unexpected in a pleasant way. You could have picked almost anybody in the under-par group and went "huh?"

Perhaps the most unexpected turn of events is that my picks are still viable after the first day:
  • Steve Stricker: -1 (early)
  • Sergio Garcia: E (late)
  • Jason Day: +1 (early)
  • Luke Donald: +1 (late)
After I regained consciousness, I checked their Friday tee times (in the parentheses after their scores). As I'm writing this, I'm hearing that the early tee times will have the best of the draw. If we don't get a sudden storm of fire and brimstone, those guys are probably the favorites among my picks.

Of course, sudden storms of fire and brimstone aren't out of the realm of possibility at RSG. Among the less destructive types of precipitation, I suspect most of the players might even welcome a little more rain to slow down those humpy lumpy fairways.

Except for Thomas Bjorn. I don't think he cares at all. He certainly didn't on Thursday.

The picture is from this newstimes.com article.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Ruthless Golf Open Picks

Well, it's time for me to make a fool of myself again with my major picks. Granted, I think I did pretty good for the U.S. Women's Open -- I doubt if either So Yeon Ryu or Hee Kyung Seo was on anybody's radar, and I picked third-place finisher Cristie Kerr and T6 Karrie Webb -- but the men's majors have completely flummoxed me so far. Hopefully I can change my luck this week.

I won't count on it though. ;-)

I'm going to pick a top World player, a top American player, and a couple of dark horses. My choices are seriously influenced by the fact that Royal St. Georges is considered just plain weird by most players and is thus likely to give us an unexpected result. Remember, Ben Curtis won the last time the Open was played there. It was his first major and he'd never played links golf before.
  • Top World Player: I'm going with Luke Donald yet again. Hey, the guy has 3 wins this year -- more than any other player -- they're all against pretty strong fields and the last one was on a links course, for Pete's sake! It was wet (what an understatement) and the rough was much thicker than at RSG. If Donald's going to win an Open, this could be just the kind of quirky course where his short game (especially his sand play) comes up big. I think the other two favorites -- McIlroy and Westwood -- will contend but not win. While Westwood has the game for any major, I still think the PGA is a better chance for his breakthrough win, and I think McIlroy is in for a surprise at just how much pressure he's going to face this week.
  • Top American Player: Again, I'm going against common logic. I like Steve Stricker this week. I know he's been so-so in Opens, but this is RSG where inexperienced players like Curtis can win. Stricker, like Donald, has multiple wins this season and a great short game. And like Donald, he seems to be recreating himself this year. This could be his time.
  • Dark Horse #1: First on my list is Sergio Garcia. Yeah, Sergio's on record that he doesn't like RSG and most people view that as a bad thing. I like the fact that he doesn't like it and doesn't care who knows it! That means Sergio's expectations shouldn't be very high -- just the kind of situation he needs in order to break through. 
  • Dark Horse #2: My other dark horse is Jason Day, who I just believe is ready to get one of these babies. Even Rory singled Jason out as someone who's ready to win... and he should know, don't you think?
So there you have it. May the bad bounces off the lumpy fairways of RSG aid my choices on their way to victory!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

R-yu: Experienced

Pardon the bad Jimi Hendrix pun, especially since So Yeon Ryu's last name is pronounced like "you." (Although it's possible we just have trouble pronouncing that "ry" sound in English and "you" is as close as we can get. For example, there is no "i" sound in Korean. The Hangul characters used to spell my name are pronounced "mah-eek." My blog is a treasure trove of information, isn't it?)

U.S. Women's Open Champion So Yeon RyuToday we'll look at the swing of the new U.S. Women's Open Champion and -- in case you haven't heard yet -- newest LPGA Tour member, So Yeon Ryu. At first glance it isn't much different from runner-up Hee Kyung Seo's swing, but there are a couple of significant differences between the two. And while I stated in the Seo swing post that those differences don't make one swing better or worse than the other, I do think the differences favored Ryu in last week's major. You'll understand why in a moment.

First, let's take a look at Ryu's swing. This video has both face-on and down-the-line views of her swing, in both full speed and slo-mo:



The face-on view of Ryu's swing looks almost identical to Seo's. Both are very stable over the ball, and both use an early wrist cock. However, Ryu moves to her right a bit more during her backswing, and she doesn't arch her back the way Seo does. (Seo's ball is also farther forward in her stance than Ryu's, but I'll come back to that.) These are minor differences, but they have a noticeable effect: Seo has a longer swing, but she's in a less powerful position to begin her downswing. If you look at both players when their hips have returned to their setup position and their left arms are parallel to the ground (in the first Seo video, that's at 1:05, while it's at :56 in the Ryu video above), Ryu has much more wrist cock. Result: More potential clubhead speed.

But there's another difference visible in the down-the-line view -- namely, Ryu's swing plane is much more upright. (Reminder: An upright plane puts the hands and left forearm higher than the right shoulder at the top of the backswing.) It's easier to hit down on the ball with an upright plane, and you can make a good argument that an upright swing develops more power because the lats and triceps are more involved in the swing. Although it isn't always the case, most power players have tended to have upright swings -- think Nicklaus and Norman. Ryu also drops her hands just a bit to start her downswing (some teachers call that "re-routing the club"), which helps her keep her wrist cock a bit longer.

At any rate, upright swingers tend to hit the ball higher, which is why I think Ryu hit the ball so much farther than Seo in Colorado Springs. She was better able to take advantage of the altitide. The ball position further emphasizes this difference. With the forward ball position, Seo was "sweeping" the ball off the tee and getting a lower launch angle while Ryu was hitting more down with the ball farther back in her stance.

Let me re-emphasize that both swings are good swings, and I'm not saying Ryu's swing is better than Seo's. All I'm saying is that Ryu's upright swing allowed her to get more distance in the high altitude and on the wet course where the Open was played. Had they played at sea level, or had the course been dry, the results might have been very different. Under normal circumstances, I'd guess Ryu would get more carry while Seo would get more roll.

For now, as the post title says, Ryu is now the more experienced player -- at least as far as LPGA majors is concerned. These two women have been rivals for a while, and with Ryu's acceptance of her LPGA membership, we can probably look forward to more playoffs between the two. (For the record, Ryu is now up 2-0 over Seo.) But both women have great swings, and you would do well if you imitated either.

The picture came from this post at ESPN.com.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Swing Like a Supermodel

Let's take a look at the swings of both of the South Korean players in the U.S. Women's Open playoff. Today we'll look at runner-up Hee Kyung Seo, aka "the Supermodel of the Fairways."

Seo's picture from LPGA.comFirst I'd like to address something Johnny Miller pointed out during the broadcasts -- namely, that Seo didn't hit the ball very far. Seo's stats say she averaged around 255 yards off the tee last week while eventual winner So Yeon Ryu averaged about 270 yards. Of course, most players were hitting the ball 5-10% further at the higher altitudes of the Broadmoor East Course, so Seo would be really short. However, this stat is somewhat misleading.

Seo's season driving average on the LPGA is 250 yards, virtually identical to her Open stat! I think this is because of differences in the two players' swings. I couldn't find Ryu's season stats, but I suspect her swing allowed her to get more yardage in the thin Rockies air than Seo's did -- you'll see why in today and tomorrow's posts.

Since Seo normally averages around 250 yards, is she really that short off the tee? In a word, NO. Wikipedia lists her at 5' 7", and it's true that several shorter players -- Cristie Kerr, Ai Miyazato, and Jiyai Shin, for example -- all hit the ball about the same distance although they're 4-6 inches shorter. But it's also true that several taller players -- like Paula Creamer and Anna Nordqvist -- also hit it about 250. In fact, 250 seems to be about average for LPGA players, just as 280 seems to be about average for PGA players.

Besides, I bet that even a lot of you men out there can't consistently hit the ball 250 yards... especially not if you keep it in the fairway. Seo's hit the fairway 76% of the time this season.

Enough said. Let me show you a swing well worth copying. There are quite a few videos of Seo, both with a driver and an iron, but I'll focus on the driver in this post:



Brandel Chamblee (who agrees with me that the women are better models for most weekend players than the men are -- SHOCK!) made a big point about the consistent rhythm and solid fundamentals of Seo and Ryu's swings. Look at how relaxed and fluid her movement is! There isn't much movement "fore and aft" -- she stays pretty centered over the ball. Her lower body stays relatively quiet while she turns around her spine -- it may look like her shoulders move off the ball, but see how steady her head stays? That's because her spine is nearer the surface of her back, not the middle of her body, so it looks like her body moves more than it actually does.

Seo cocks her wrists very early in her swing. Because of that, she doesn't increase her wrist cock on the way down, which many of the bigger hitters do. (You can see Cristie Kerr delay her wrist cock and increase it during her downswing, which is why I dubbed her "the Blonde Bomber" in an earlier post.) Seo gives up a bit of distance by doing this, but gains some accuracy; that "downcock" is another opportunity for your swing to get off-kilter.

Golf is a game of trade-offs, folks. To get an advantage in one area, you pick up a weakness in another. Seo has chosen to sacrifice a bit of distance to gain some accuracy, and it nearly paid off last week.

Now let's check out her swing down-the-line:



See how relatively flat Seo's swing is? (A reminder: A flatter swing means her left forearm is about shoulder-height at the top of her backswing.) I think that's why she didn't see much gain from the altitude. A flatter swing gives her a lower shot, so she doesn't get all the advantage of extra hang time. The trade-off here is that normally her shot would have a lot of roll, but that was also offset by the wet fairways. As a result, her distance was about the same as it's been all season.

It's not a question of being good or bad. It's simply the way it is.

A big key to Seo's accuracy is how she unwinds in her downswing. Although her lower body starts her downswing (it can't happen any other way from her position at the top), she doesn't push her hips out ahead of her body. It looks almost as if her upper and lower body start in unison, so she doesn't lean backward on her downswing. It gives her a very smooth unwinding motion that enhances her accuracy. She makes a very full swing and she finishes it balanced on her left side.

Very simple, very smooth, and very repeatable. That's why she nearly took home the trophy.

So often we talk about model swings. This is truly a "Supermodel" swing.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Limerick Summary: 2011 John Deere Classic

Winner: Steve Stricker

Around the wider world of golf: The OWGR #1 solidified his spot as World's Top Dog -- Luke Donald won the rain-shortened Barclays Scottish Open with a final-round 63. Jeff Sluman won the Nature Valley First Tee Open on the Champions Tour, and Cassie Cathrea won the Juniors competition. As for the marathon better known as the U.S. Women's Open, Hee Kyung Seo (aka "The Supermodel of the Fairways") finished Sunday in the clubhouse at -3, but So Yeon Ryu at -2 has 3 holes and Cristie Kerr at -1 has 2 holes yet to play. You can catch the last of the final round Monday morning on ESPN2 at 10am ET.

Stricker is a bit happy after his win
"THREE TIMES? Did you say I won it THREE TIMES?"

Oh my gosh -- is that Steve Stricker actually getting excited about a win?

GC dubbed it the "Tractor Triple." Whatever you want to call it, Steve Stricker breathed some rarified air when he won the John Deere Classic for the third straight time. He might as well put a John Deere nameplate on his forehead -- apparently nothing runs like a Stricker. (And yes, I've used that joke before, but I never get tired of it.)

It's not like Stricker had it easy. Granted, it looked like he would when he finished the front 9 with a 5-stroke lead. I never took him for a drama queen, but apparently he couldn't live with himself if he just calmly chalked up three wins in a row. No, he had to bury his ball in bunkers -- twice -- and fall 2 strokes behind rookie Kyle Stanley before he could bring himself to finish it off.

But did he just birdie the last two holes with his typical well-placed approaches and simple putts? Of course not! If you're going to be a true drama queen, you've got to drive it into a fairway bunker on the 18th, leave yourself an impossible sidehill-downhill lie with no place to stand, then nail that sucker around a tree and over water fronting the green so you can pop it in from the fringe for the win. And when asked what he learned from this win, Stricker calmly said that he now knew he could come up with a shot when he needed one.

Ho hum. Just another day for the quiet Cheesehead we all know and love. Brandel Chamblee was probably right -- the other pros will be talking about this performance for a while.

Don't lose any sleep over Kyle Stanley's loss, though. His finish got him into the Open Championship next week, so he'll be just fine.

And so will Stricker... after he stops jumping around like that. John Deere is known for putting people on tractors, big guy, not in traction!

So this week's Limerick Summary immortalizes Stricker's amazing shot from the sand. Not that Steve needed it, but I'm pretty sure Deere has an attachment for that:
At the John Deere, Steve's always a factor
But on 18 he needed a tractor
For that lie in the sand.
He cemented his brand
With that shot and the way that he smacked 'er.
The picture came from this article about the win at thenewstribune.com.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Miyazatocracy

It appears that the House of Miyazato has risen to challenge the Empress of the Tseng Dynasty!

Well, it should be pointed out that Yani hasn't really offered any resistance this week. Given her struggles on the greens, she probably feels like that obnoxious 5-year-old at the local Putt-Putt could beat her right now. But when Ai and Mika (no relation) both shot to the top of the leaderboard after the 2nd round of this rain-plagued U.S. Women's Open, I think it shocked a lot of people. But it shouldn't have...

Miyazato, in case you didn't know, is Japanese for "We hit lots of fairways and greens."



Mika's picture from LPGA.comAi's picture from LPGA.com
The Miyazato on the left is Mika. The Miyazato on the right is Ai.
Informed viewers always keep their Miyazatos straight.
They're not related, you know.



We can't forget that I.K. Kim is in 3rd place. I probably should have seen this coming when, early in the week, ESPN mentioned the length of the golf course to her and she made some joke about being tired already. Besides, haven't Koreans proven to be quite dangerous at this major? (Three have won since 2005.) Inky herself has 3 Top4s in the last 3 U.S. Opens. That's worth considering.

It's also true that there's a whole group of Americans and South Koreans (plus a lone Australian) hot on the Miyazato clan's trail, including Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer, the two most recent non-Korean winners.

Here's the leaderboard after round 2. I've included the years when past winners won:
  • -5: Mika Miyazato
  • -4: Ai Miyazato
  • -3: I.K. Kim
  • -1: Stacy Lewis, Ryann O'Toole
  • E: Lizette Salas, Paula Creamer (2010), Angela Stanford, Wendy Ward, Eun-Hee Ji (2009), Sun Young Yoo
  • +1: So Yeon Ryu, Cristie Kerr (2007), Karrie Webb (2000, 2001)
This isn't to say that players farther back are out of the running. Far from it! But you can check the official LPGA leaderboard yourself for the full listing.

Given how volatile the weather has been in Colorado Springs, it certainly looks like we'll be watching the ladies on Monday. One good bit of news is that ESPN will be covering the action early Sunday morning, starting at 9am (that wasn't the original plan), and then NBC will pick up the coverage at 3pm. With a little luck we'll actually get to see some live golf instead of "taped earlier today" golf.

And we just might see a Miyazato march to victory. I understand they have lots of hilly golf courses in Japan, where they practice playing in full Samurai battle gear in preparation for just such an opportunity.

BTW, Miyazatocracy means "ruled by Miyazato." And if you can't say it, try putting the emphasis on the "toc." Better practice -- one of them might win!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Half-Set Challenge

I've been thinking about this for a while, and I've decided it's time to put this idea out and see what happens.

There's a lot of talk about how to make the game more popular -- creating new course formats, changing the length of the courses, etc. -- but hardly anybody talks about the biggest drawback of all. Let's face it, our game is too hard and too expensive. Unless we find a way around these problems, we're going to be fighting an uphill battle.

Although ultimately I think we have to change the way we teach the game, we can address both problems to some extent simply by changing our ideas about equipment. The average weekend player carries far too many clubs to really have fun, and I think most of us could actually improve our game if we simply reduce the number of clubs we carry. I call this idea the "half-set challenge."

When I first learned how to play, I couldn't afford clubs and put together a set from some old clubs my uncle gave me. I had a 3-wood, four irons -- 3, 5, 7, and 9 -- and a putter I already had from playing putt-putt. And since I couldn't hit the 3- or 5-irons very well, I ended up playing with just 4 clubs most of the time. But I had a blast! I think most weekend players could benefit from carrying fewer clubs as well.

Here's how it works: I want you to try playing some rounds using a half-set of clubs. That's right, only 7 clubs. How you choose the clubs is up to you, but let me give you some guidelines and a few sample half-sets to try.

Obviously you'll need a putter. That's one of your clubs.

Forget your driver and pack the 3-wood. I'd personally like to see a 3-wood with a driver-length shaft become the standard long club in an amateur's set. Unless your swing speed is considerably above 90mph, you'll probably hit your 3-wood as far, if not farther, than your driver. And most weekend players hit their 3-woods better anyway, so you'll be in play more often. At any rate, your 3-wood becomes your second club.

That leaves spots for 5 more clubs, and you should choose these clubs based on what you hit best while still giving yourself as much variety as possible. Some sample setups will give you some ideas.

Here's what you might call a "traditional" half-set:
  • 3-wood
  • 7-wood
  • 5-iron
  • 8-iron
  • PW
  • SW (some of you might prefer LW)
  • Putter
Many weekend players struggle with mid-irons, so I included only one -- the "traditional" 5-iron. Even if you don't hit full shots well with it, it's useful for partial swings, especially when you want to keep it low under branches, and for some chipping.

You may look at this set and say, "Hey, there are too many gaps between clubs!" There are good reasons for this:
  • It speeds up play. You don't have to choose between so many clubs. Is it a hard 9 or an easy 8... or maybe a half 7? No questions this way -- only the 8 will work, so that's the club you use.
  • It increases your creativity. You'll learn to manufacture shots. And the more you learn to think about your shots, the better you'll play. And remember, you can always choke down on a long club for a shorter club's distance.
  • It's easier on the body. If you walk, you have less to carry. You don't use all of those clubs anyway, do you? I for one never use my 6-iron... so why carry it?
The gaps are actually a benefit. They'll help your game improve.

Here's another half-set -- I'll call it a "gradiated" set because I've tried to eliminate some of the gaps and make the transitions between clubs more gradual:
  • 3-wood
  • 4-hybrid
  • 6-iron
  • 8-iron
  • PW
  • SW (or LW)
  • Putter
While there's a gap between the 3-wood and 4-hybrid, the rest of the set is pretty evenly spaced out.

Finally, here's a half-set that's based on those used by some of the LPGA players. It assumes you don't have the strength to get a lot of use from the straight-faced mid-irons or hybrids:
  • 3-wood
  • 7-wood
  • 11-wood (aka "trouble wood")
  • 7-iron
  • 9-iron
  • SW (or LW)
  • Putter
That 11-wood is a very useful club, not just for middle-length shots but also for digging the ball out of the rough. I like to use an 11-wood myself; the head is small and heavy, and it doesn't get caught in the rough like an iron.

Give the half-set challenge a try. At least every once in a while, pick 7 clubs from your existing set and go play 9 holes using just those clubs. I bet you'll have a lot of fun... but I also bet it'll help your game improve. With fewer clubs to choose between, the weaknesses in your game will be easier to see. Then you won't waste your practice time hitting balls aimlessly -- you'll know what to work on.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Putting Tip from the Constructivist

The Constructivist did a couple of posts about a new visualization technique he's been using in hopes of eliminating some "overthinking" during his putting. You can read his original post about the technique here and the results of his testing here.

Essentially, what TC does is pick a point to put to (or over) and get a clear picture of it in his head. He makes that the last thing he sees before he returns his eyes to the ball and strokes the putt without any delay. As he puts it, "Look, visualize, putt." There are no words involved at all; he just wants to see his target.

If you're into right brain / left brain theory, you'll understand the logic of this. Your right brain is responsible for processing visual info (pictures) and abstract concepts (like metaphors), while your left brain is responsible for processing aural info (words) and concrete concepts (like putting technique). To eliminate an over-emphasis on technique, you focus on what your target looks like.

For feel putters, this is a valuable concept. And it's possible to take the concept even further. Since many view me as an extremist in my approach to the game, it probably doesn't surprise you to know that I have done just that. ;-)

I learned a long time ago that I have the same problem TC does -- a tendency to get too obsessed with mechanics on the putting green. When I'm anywhere between the tee and a few yards of the green, I'm a numbers guy. I want to know yardages and I talk to myself, deciding first what shot to play and then telling myself how to play it. It's almost a black box approach -- punch in the numbers, get a swing.

But once I'm close enough to the green to take in the full shot with my eyes, I try to eliminate my "verbal mind" entirely. I may walk the distance between the ball and the hole, but I don't count the steps or estimate the footage. I don't tell myself how the ball will break. I don't "hear" anything at all in my head. I just look at the line, try to feel how much to swing the putter so the ball reaches the hole, and then I stroke the putt.

Other people have told me that they have trouble putting that way, but I find it gives me much better results. It's very similar to what TC is doing, only "drawn big," so most of you may find TC's method easier to apply to your own game. By all means stop by his site and check out the two posts I linked to in the first paragraph.

And don't forget to keep a relaxed grip on your putter. No matter how you choose to focus on your target, a light grip will always help you stroke the ball more smoothly.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Picking a Winner for the U.S. Women's Open

Well, it's finally time to make the Ruthless Golf picks for this week's major. I've actually made two, and -- surprise! -- neither of them is the Empress, Yani Tseng.

First of all, here's the basic info you need about the course, taken from LPGA.com and Broadmoor.com's East Course page:
  • Course: The Broadmoor, East Course
  • City: Colorado Springs, CO
  • Par: 71
  • Yardage: 7047 (can play 7355)
  • Altitude: 6400 feet
Although this is very long for a women's course, the altitude makes it play shorter... but at a cost. Most of the women say the distance varies with the type of shot. Players interviewed by GC typically said uphill shots played about 5% shorter and downhill shots 10%, with flat shots in the middle. However, higher-trajectory shots may fly much farther than lower ones, resulting in some inaccurate yardages.

I think this minimizes some of Yani's length advantage -- the USGA does generally try to set up Open courses to give the shorter hitters a chance -- and heavy rains Wednesday evening may have made the rough virtually unplayable. No matter how long your drive is, you may not be able to reach the green if you miss the fairway.

While any of the women could be the winner this week, I think the experienced players may have a greater than normal advantage. Coupling this with adequate length and putting, I think two players stand out in the field. Both of them drive the ball over 250 yards with decent accuracy, and both are good putters.

It's probably no surprise that Cristie Kerr is one of my choices. Cristie hasn't won yet this year, but she hasn't been out of the Top 3 in her last 4 tournaments. In addition to the stats mentioned earlier, she's hitting over 71% GIR. And Cristie also played at the 1995 Open at the Broadmoor as an amateur, giving her a bit of personal knowledge the other players may lack.

My second choice has been all but forgotten as the Empress has pressed her dominion over the Tour. Nobody remembers that Karrie Webb has won twice this season! Granted, she hasn't played particularly well in the last few LPGA events, but she has two Opens under her belt and she's a streaky player capable of going off at any time. Tough conditions could play into her hands this week.

So those are my choices for the week. Make me look good, girls!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Just a Few News Notes

In case you missed them, today I just have a few news tidbits I've heard over the last few days:

Of course -- is this really news? -- Tiger won't be playing in the Open Championship next week. I don't think any of us thought he would, but he finally made it official.

Lexi Thompson has petitioned the LPGA for early membership... and it has been granted. The Tour normally requires their players to be at least 18, but Lexi will be allowed to enter Q-School this year in hopes of getting a card for 2012. For those of you wondering, this isn't a precedent -- other players (like Morgan Pressel) have applied for and received membership at the age of 17. Lexi will turn 17 in early February.

The U.S. Women's Open is this week at the Broadmoor (where Annika won in 1995), and defending champ Paula Creamer will be paired with the reigning Empress of the Tour, Yani Tseng, and the 2010 Women's Am champ, Danielle Kang. Their tee time is 1:36 pm, and they'll be going off the first tee.

In the "you knew it had to happen sooner or later" department, it has finally been announced that Gary Player will join Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus as the honorary starters at the Masters next year. "The Big Three" is back together at last!

And while it's not news, I've been wondering about this for some time now:

You've probably seen the Barclays commercials with Phil Mickelson talking about integrity. This one in particular has been driving me nuts:



I only want to know one thing: Did Phil make sure the guy counted that double-hit chip at the end of the commercial on his scorecard? Smiley

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Compton Effect

In quantum physics, the Compton Effect involves a high-energy photon colliding with a target. This causes an energy release that defies all the commonly-held beliefs about what should happen.

A better explanation of Erik Compton's golf career has yet to be found.

Although it's a week late, I wanted to take a quick look at Erik's swing simply because... well, Erik doesn't get to practice much. After two heart transplants, there's just not a lot of energy available to make clubs collide with range balls. That doesn't stop Erik -- at a mere 5'8" tall and 150 lbs, he crushes the ball an average of 290 yards while still hitting both the fairway and the green about two-thirds of the time. That's a swing worth looking at!

Ironically, Jim McLean has done a couple of videos breaking down Erik's swing over the years. I'm going to include both of them here, plus a recent video I found.

First, Erik's swing in 2001:



Jim downloaded these swings from 2003 just this past Sunday:



And here's a more recent video from another source, although I don't know the date it was shot:



Look, I only know one word to describe why Erik's swing works so well: simple. There are no fancy power moves, no peculiar swing tendencies, no bizarre positions -- this is just a simple, straightforward swing that takes the club back and then through.

You should note that he does use a one-piece takeaway. Although his right elbow bends a bit earlier than some players, it doesn't bend until his hands are above his waist. His hands stay in front of him throughout the swing, as McLean points out in the first video. You can't keep your hands in front of you unless you have a one-piece takeaway. If your elbow bends too early, you'll move the club behind you instead of "on plane."

And there's no hip slide forward on the downswing -- his hips just turn as he comes down. There's no slide and turn, and there's no holding back -- it's just a relaxed swing through to the finish.

If you don't get a lot of time to practice, Erik Compton should have your full attention. He doesn't do anything fancy, but he can hold his own with the big boys. Keep it simple, and you could make a quantum leap in your own game.

The basics of that other Compton Effect are explained on this page at About.com's Physics site.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Limerick Summary: 2011 AT&T National

Winner: Nick Watney

Around the wider world of golf: Happy 4th of July, everybody! We have a celebrant who hasn't been to the winner's circle in a while -- Frenchman Thomas Levet won the Alstom Open de France on the ET. Celebrating her very first win is Tiffany Joh, who won the rain-shortened South Shore Championship on the LPGA's Futures Tour. (UPDATE: The Constructivist let me know this is actually T-Joh's 2nd win.) And we've also got some repeat offenders -- Ayako Uehara won the Nichi-Iko Ladies Open on the JLPGA (her 3rd victory, about which the Constructivist has details), Caroline Hedwall won the LET's Finnair Masters (her 2nd this year), and John Cook won the Montreal Championship on the Champions Tour (which I believe is his zillioneth win, or something like that).

Nick Watney looks happy at the AT&T National

Well, for a while it looked like the story at Tiger's tournament might be "Choi Story 2," but in the end it was "What knee? Watney!"

Although the continued uncertainty about Tiger's knee dominated the tournament early in the week, Saturday's scoring barrage and Nick Watney's course record 62 (breaking Chris Kirk's record 63 set earlier in the day) stole the show. And when Watney finished the third round in a tie with Rickie Fowler... well, Sunday had all the makings of a Young Guns shootout.

But Rickie stumbled right out of the gate with a double bogey on the second hole and never contended. Watney was ready, however; a birdie on the same hole launched the chase. Several players made runs at him, but Watney never gave up a shot, forcing those players to press their hands. Although there were a few low scores to be had -- Chris DiMarco posted a -6 -- Aronimink was set up to play much harder on Sunday. By the 14th tee, Watney had only two real challengers left -- Jeff Overton and K.J. Choi. The 14th hole started Overton's downfall; three bogeys and a birdie left him in a tie for third place.

K.J. was another matter entirely. After a dicey start, Choi birdied the 14th and stepped onto the 15th tee tied with Watney. But a poor bunker shot and a chunked chip resulted in a double on the 15th, and Choi didn't have enough holes left to make up the two-stroke deficit.

It didn't help that Watney could do no wrong. His Saturday back 9 (27) and Sunday front 9 (32) totaled 59 for 18 holes. He put nearly 70% of his 320-yard drives in the fairway, and one of the ones that missed got the "spectator draw" and bounced onto the short grass. His GIR was nearly 71%, he was #2 in Putts per Round (27.8) and #3 in Putts per GIR. He one-putted a lot of greens. And he made only 9 bogeys all week! That's what you call "fireworks."

This was Watney's second win of the year. With a WGC (Doral) under his belt, this prestigious win will jump Watney up to about #6 in my Ruthless Golf World Rankings (I'm certain Nick was on pins and needles wondering about that) and probably cause many to see him as a favorite at the Open in two weeks.

Among the rest of the Top 5, Charles Howell III managed to qualify for the Open because of his T3 finish and Adam Scott's T3 continues his improvement this year. Assuming Steve Williams will still be on Adam's bag at Royal St. Georges, that pair might be worth watching.

Having said that, this week began and ended with knees. So here's a Limerick Summary with all the knees I could muster:
Tiger sat out with his shot knee
And Aronimink fell to Nick Watney.
No one knew what to say!
All the breaks went his way
And he holed putts with blinding monot'ny.
The pic came from the New York Times web site. Click here to read their story.