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Monday, October 31, 2011

The Limerick Summary: CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia

Winner: Bo Van Pelt

Around the wider world of golf: Tricks and treats from all over the world! Yani Tseng got her 11th worldwide win of 2011 at the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open on the LET, for her 3rd win in 4 weeks (the other was a 2nd). In the "almost-as-monumental" category, Sergio Garcia got his second win in as many weeks at the Andalucia Masters on the European Tour. Ken Duke shocked everybody by winning the Nationwide Tour Championship and getting his ticket back to the PGA Tour, while Rory McIlroy shocked no one by winning the Shanghai Masters, which really isn't part of anybody's tour but it paid him an insane amount of money anyway.

Bo knows Malaysia

Bo knows golf. Bo knows Malaysia. And now Malaysia knows Bo.

Bo Van Pelt has struggled with third-round leads. He'd had one on four separate occasions before this week and never managed to close the deal. In fact, it appears the hole closed up on those occasions, as Bo shot some truly unexpected scores -- think par or worse, much worse -- on those occasions. He'd won before -- once on the Nationwide and once on the PGA -- but it had been a couple of years. What would he do this time?

Likewise, Jeff Overton has struggled to get over the hump. He's had several runner-up finishes, but he just hasn't gotten to the finish line yet. He didn't even think he'd be in this tournament last week, but David Duval backed out and Jeff rushed in. What would he do this time?

The answer, which we thought would be "shoot it out" because of the wet conditions, became something a bit less climactic. Jeff could only manage a couple under par while Bo blistered the already-hot course with his second 64 of the week. He managed to beat Tiger's old scoring record by 2 shots with his own 23-under.

Even Bo felt this was his finest performance ever. After all, he put up a low number in the final round to win a tournament going away. And going away is exactly what he'll be doing -- to the WGC in China this week, with a lot of good mojo in his bag...

Along with $1.3 million smackers. That's always an incentive to play well.

Bo may not have won many tournaments yet, but now he's a big name in Asia simply because he's one of the first winners of a PGA Tour event there, so this week's Limerick Summary salutes the Tour's newest international winner. Hang in there, Jeff -- in time you'll be getting one of these clever little babies too:
The course had no problem with dryness
So Bo played without any shyness,
Though Jeff played quite well
And the whole field looked swell,
This week Bo was clearly the fyness.
The photo came from the front page of PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blowin' in the Wind

While the big money plays in Malaysia and China, and Yani Tseng tries for her 11th worldwide win in 2011, I think the real stories are wind-related.

Down in South Carolina, the Nationwide Tour players struggling for their PGA Tour cards (to be awarded today!) struggled just to stand up in the winds at Daniel Island in Charleston. How windy was it Saturday? Daniel Chopra shot a course record 62 on Friday to grab a share of the lead. Saturday he shot a 77 -- 15 strokes worse -- and he's still only 2 shots off the lead! Jason Kokrak, the tournament leader, is leading and could get his 3rd win in only 7 weeks.

And over in Spain, the wind may have died down to only 5-10mph on the Valderrama golf course but it didn't make things any easier. Valderrama's short -- only 6356 meters (just under 7000 yards) -- but the greens are small. And as tough as the Ralston Creek Course at Daniel Island is playing, at least 22 of the 60 players there are under par. Only 4 -- yes, you read that right, only 4! -- of the 54 players who made the cut are under par at Valderrama. And the Mechanic aka Miguel Angel Jimenez, whom I wrote about yesterday, is still tied for 2nd, 2 strokes off the lead.

But the big story there remains Sergio Garcia. Last week he won by 11 strokes after shooting 67-63-64-63. (And I don't care how many people say, "oh, it was his home course," shooting 63-64-63 in 3 successive rounds anywhere is impressive!) This week, under much tougher conditions, he's the only player with 3 sub-par rounds -- 70-70-67 -- and he shot his best one Saturday. This is a major turnaround for Sergio, who's been unable to post low scores on the weekend until recently.

And get this: Sergio isn't exempt into the WGC in China next week... unless he wins this week, that is. It appears that our "year of the unexpected" didn't end with Luke Donald's showing in Disney last week.

Can Sergio make it two in a row? Can Kokrak make it 3 in 7 weeks? As Bob Dylan said, apparently the answer is blowin' in the wind... and this is turning out to be a pretty cool breeze. ;-)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Mechanic Makes Another Run

He's gotten more attention for his warm-up on the practice range during the Open Championship than for his game, but Miguel Angel Jimenez can play some golf. Last year he won 3 times on the European Tour. While he hasn't won this year, he has 3 Top5s so far. And he's still #49 in the OWGR and #16 in the Race to Dubai, despite a rough second half of the season.

This week he's one of only 4 players under par at the Andalucia Masters, played at the infamous Club de Golf Valderrama of Ryder Cup fame.

How does this 48-year-old manage to compete against the youngsters on the European Tour? A quick look at his swing may encourage those of you who feel that your swing isn't good enough for you to score well:



This certainly isn't the kind of swing you'd teach your kids! But I want you to see how he's turned a "flawed" swing into a threat at any venue.

MAJ has an ok one-piece takeaway. His right elbow starts to bend around the time his hands are at hip-pocket height. I'd like to see him get a little higher before it bends, but he still gets his shoulders turning early in the swing. That's the most important thing.

He has a very "connected" swing, almost to a fault. His upper arms stay so close to his chest throughout his swing that he swings very flat. If you look at the top of his backswing -- around the :19 mark -- his upper arm is very close to his side. Most teachers would call this a fault, and it would make most players end up with a short swing.

But look at his left knee at the same position. Boy, has that baby moved back behind the ball -- he's up on the toes of his left foot! But doing that lets him finish his backswing. He gets a huge shoulder turn, even with that flat swing.

As he starts down, his right arm moves away from his chest slightly, but not a lot. This is because of his hips moving toward the target. He's not "sliding" his hips, he's just replanting his left heel on the ground. This gives him a good start unwinding from the top.

And this is where his connection pays off. His right arm moves back down close to his side. He actually has a fairly steep swing plane despite his flat swing! This lets him catch the ball crisply and solidly. He doesn't stick his elbow into his side, but swings it past his hip as he straightens it late in the swing. He carries a lot of wrist cock down into the hitting area.

Then he just lets his body unwind into a full finish with his back straight. No back pain for MAJ!

All these things allow him to hit his driver around 280 yards, which is pretty typical for most 6' players who live in the gym. MAJ is only 5'10", just a player of standard height who clearly doesn't let his workouts get in the way of a good meal, a cigar, and a bottle of wine. ;-)

Nobody says you have to have a textbook swing to play good golf. Despite his unorthodox swing, Miguel has a chance this week to become the first Spanish winner at the Andalucia Masters. The ET commentators noted that, of all the players on Tour, he probably enjoys the game more than anybody else. I suspect that has as much to do with his success as anything.

Take a lesson from the Mechanic. A car doesn't have to be pretty to run well, and a golf swing doesn't have to be perfect to perform well either.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Are You Watching the Nationwide Tour Championship?

You should be.

I know you're probably tired of hearing how well Nationwide grads do when they reach the "Big Tour." And you're tired of hearing about the "human drama" of players "with their futures on the line." You may just be tired of GC, although I think their Nationwide coverage team is probably one of their best. (Jerry Foltz's relationships with the players certainly contributes to that.)

Let me give you one good reason why you should be watching this week.

As you know, there are 60 players in the field, of which 25 will get their PGA Tour cards at the end of the week. The player currently at 25, Billy Hurley III (a nice story all on his own), has $167,151 in winnings this year. (The bubble boys don't have a good record in this event. Hurley may change that.) And the player currently at 60, Roger Tambellini, has $97,307.

The Championship winner gets $180,000 and last place gets $3,000. Now I don't know the money breakdown for the rest of the field, but I can tell you that if Tambellini won he would finish with $277,307. That would put him in the current 7th spot with a $22,000 pad over 8th.

Mark Anderson, the leader after the first round, is #19 and has $182,017 going in. As a general rule, anybody above 20 going into this week is usually "safe"... especially if they play as well as Mark is!

That means that, unlike Disney where some players were just hoping to get some status, anybody playing this week can get their Tour card if they play well enough. The guy who won last year in a playoff was Brendon Steele, who was one of the first-time winners on the PGA Tour this year. He finished 6th on the Nationwide money list with $346,258... which means he started the event about where Billy Hurley III is this year!

Among the other first-time winners from the 2010 Nationwide Tour, Chris Kirk finished 2nd, Jhonattan Vegas 7th, and Keegan Bradley 14th.

This is one tournament that isn't over-hyped. The Nationwide Tour Championship really does deliver some excitement, and you might even see some of next year's PGA winners before they get there. So make sure you catch some of it this weekend.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Swinging with Your Chest

Since I took Michael Breed to task a couple of days ago, it's only fair to emphasize something he said that should help just about everybody.

On Monday night's Golf Fix Breed talked about "swinging with your chest." He talks about it periodically, and it's a single image he uses to illustrate several principles I talk about often on this blog.

The basic concept is that your arms stay in roughly the same position relative to your chest throughout your swing that they have at address. Some teachers call this "maintaining the triangle."

One of the things I mention frequently is connection, which simply means the upper part of your arms continue to rest lightly against the side of your chest throughout your backswing and downswing. Note that it's your upper arms, not your elbows. Your trailing arm may come off briefly at the top of your backswing. If it doesn't, your swing may end up being much too flat (that is, like swinging a baseball bat). It doesn't stay off very long though.

A connected swing is the basic idea behind swinging with your chest. Whichever term you choose, doing it makes your swing much easier to repeat because your body helps your arms repeat the same path each time.

Since your upper arms stay lightly against the sides of your chest when you swing with your chest, it helps you make the one-piece takeaway that I talk about until you're all sick of it. :-) Swinging with your chest forces you to coil your upper body and turn your shoulders early in your backswing... and that always makes good things happen!

It also helps keep your lead elbow pointed down at the ground throughout your swing. This helps avoid both leaving the clubface open at impact (which causes a slice) and "chicken-winging" on your finish.

And swinging with your chest also helps you "keep your hands in front of you," which helps you stay on plane better because you don't lean backward on your downswing, which in turn helps you avoid a "reverse pivot." (That's when your weight doesn't move to your lead foot on the downswing.)

While I tend to focus on each of these things separately since players may do some and not others, the "swing with your shoulders" image can be a good one for helping you minimize the number of swing thoughts you have during your swing. So if it helps you, then you can thank Breeder for it. ;-)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Important: Long or Short Game?

I guess this is my week to gripe, huh? Here's another common piece of advice frequently given to weekend players:
If you want to lower your scores, work on your short game. The pros who win the most are the ones who spend the most time on their short games. Weekend players spend way too much time working on their long game, and that's why they don't seem to improve.
This advice has a grain of truth in it, and that's why you hear it so much. But, like so many other "truths" in life, it's a flat statement that doesn't take everything into account. And since weekend players don't have 10 hours a day to practice like the pros, this is an important question.

The truth is, some of you should spend most of your time working on your long game... but others of you should spend most of your time on your short game. How can you know which group you fall into?

I'm so glad you asked. Let me give you a simple guideline that you can use.

The first thing you need to do, if you don't already, is keep a record of how you play. The great Byron Nelson reportedly did this and managed to drop a full stroke from his average in just one year, which is pretty impressive when you consider how good he was to begin with! The more you know, the more prepared you will be to maximize your practice time.

What sort of information do you want to record? It can vary, depending on what your goals are. Some players get extremely detailed while others keep minimal records. At the very least, you should collect the following info on each shot:
  • what kind of shot you played
  • what club you used
  • did it go where you aimed
  • was the shot long, short, or about right
  • an accurate score for each hole
You may want to be more detailed, including things like what the lie was like, the actual distance the ball traveled, etc. But the five things I listed are the critical info you need to decide where to focus your practice.

Here's the make-or-break question: Where was I in regulation?

For those of you who are very new to the game, here's how to figure regulation. You're allowed two putts on every hole. If you subtract those two putts from the hole's par, that tells you what "regulation" is on that hole. For example, if I played a par-4, I subtract 2 (putts) from 4 (par), which gives me 2. So regulation on a par-4 is 2. And it follows that it's 3 on a par-5, and 1 on a par-3.

So let's say you're on a par-4 and I've hit 2 shots. Where are you in regulation? What will your next shot be?
  • If you're on the green, your next shot will be a putt. That's a short game shot.
  • If you're not on the green but you're nearby, that could be a putt, a chip, a pitch, or a bunker shot. All of those are short game shots.
  • If you're far enough away that you need to play a full wedge or something longer, that's a full game shot.
After your round ask this question about every hole. If the vast majority of your answers were "My next shot is a short game shot," then you need to spend the vast majority of your practice time working on your short game.

However, if most of your answers are "My next shot is a long game shot," then screw that advice about short game practice for now. You don't need to be long to play good golf. But if you're not on or near the green in regulation most of the time, then short game practice won't help you as much, no matter what the pros and famous teachers say. You need to focus on your long game. (I'm assuming, of course, that you're playing from an appropriate tee. If your best drive is 180 yards and you're playing from the back tees, the quickest route to improvement is moving to a closer tee!)

Why? Think about it. Let's make this easy and say that you weren't on or near the green on any hole in your round. Then you're playing at least 18 extra long game shots each round before you ever get close enough to make a short game shot! This isn't a problem the pros are having, so of course they need to focus on their short games. But in your case, by focusing on your long game and getting the ball on or near the green in regulation, you could chop 18 strokes or more from your game!

Once you're consistently getting on or near the green in regulation, then you should focus most of your practice time on your short game.

Let me stress that all you need to do is consistently get close to the green in regulation before you focus on short game. You don't have to be on the green every time before you change the focus of your practice.

I know what I'm talking about here. I went through a period a few years ago where I couldn't land the ball in short grass to save my life. My short game was good enough that I would hear the pros I was playing with say things like "how is he doing that?" Give me a shot within 30 yards or so of the green and I could stick it close... but I couldn't get within 30 yards of the green in regulation. Because I had lost control of my long game, I was having trouble breaking 100! Once I fixed the long game problem, my scores literally started dropping several strokes on each 9 holes I played. In a week or so I was back down near par.

So use that as your yardstick whenever you hear this advice. If you can get the ball on or near the green in regulation most of the time, then focus on your short game. But if you're frequently playing long shots after you've reached regulation on each hole, then focus on your long game. You'll make more progress lowering your score that way.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Putting Some Blues in Your Swing

I've hesitated for some time now on writing this post because it can be badly misunderstood. But after watching The Golf Fix Monday night I feel that it's necessary. For some of you -- especially you musicians and music lovers out there -- this post may seem like the Holy Grail. The rest of you... well, just try to stay with me. I'll make it as simple as possible.

Michael Breed analyzed a viewer's swing and blamed a problem on late wrist cock, which wasn't entirely correct. (I also have a problem with his contention that players have to learn to "hold the angle," when in a properly-done swing the wrist angle actually increases on the way down, but that's another post entirely.) I say it wasn't entirely correct because there are some assumptions that go into Michael's swing analysis. These assumptions highlight the differences between what we call a classic swing and a modern swing.

I'm going to try and explain them today... and I have to do it musically, so there's a few music vids on today's post. Understanding this may help you eliminate a lot of your inconsistency.

You may have heard of a product called "Tour Tempo." In fact, I've mentioned it on this blog twice -- here and here. The basic idea is that the best players throughout history have had a backswing that was 3 times longer than their downswing. That sounds like a simple 4-count (1-2-3-4) or a 2-count (1-and-2-and) doesn't it?

However, if you listen to the Tour Tempo rhythms, you'll find that that doesn't sound quite right. And they know that. Otherwise, you could just count the rhythm and save your money. You need to use their rhythms to get it right.

Here's the reason why: There are rock (or straight) rhythms and there are blues (or, appropriately enough, swing) rhythms. I'm going to teach you the difference today. Trust me, it's worth it. It will help you understand some of the apparent contradictions between teachers.

Linda Ronstadt, a very eclectic singer, once famously said that it was difficult to find a drummer who could play both rock and country swing rhythms. In a rock (or straight) rhythm, every beat is exactly the same length. You can count it as "1-2-3-4" or, if the beats are broken down even more, as "1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and." Here's a classic example, Ronstadt's "You're No Good" -- the song starts about 30 seconds in:



"You're No Good" is easily counted with the "1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and" rhythm, with the "2" and "4" beats sounding louder. (That's why they're in bold and larger type. I'll do that throughout this post to make it simpler to see.) Each "big" beat is evenly divided into two "smaller" beats.

In a blues (or country shuffle or swing, whichever term you want to use) rhythm, the beat is divided into 3 pieces. It's counted "1-and-a-2-and-a-3-and-a-4-and-a." I know that sounds tricky, but lots of music from the 1950s used it, so you're probably more familiar with it than you think. Jerry Lee Lewis ("Great Balls of Fire") and Little Richard ("Good Golly Miss Molly") are just two examples. I've chosen an old Fats Domino song, "Blueberry Hill," because you can hear the rhythm so clearly in the piano part:



Hear that "BUH-buh-buh, BUH-buh-buh" rhythm of the piano? That's what Fats is playing with his right hand, while his left hand does that walking bass line. But the bass line doesn't hit on every "buh" that the right hand plays, and that's what gives the music its "swing." (And for those of you who are interested, musicians call this a "triplet.")

You wouldn't swing your club to that rhythm as it is, however. Let's change it a bit. Here's the Jeff Healey Band playing "Hoochie Coochie Man" from the movie Roadhouse. It's the same rhythm but it sounds really different. Can you tell what's changed from "Blueberry Hill"?



If you guessed that Healey isn't playing all three of the little beats, you got it right. This rhythm looks more like this:
  • "BUH-(  )-buh, BUH-(  )-buh, BUH-(  )-buh, BUH-(  )-buh" or, if you prefer,
  • "1-( )-a-2-( )-a-3-( )-a-4-( )-a"
where those empty parentheses are the partial beats Healey left out. This is the traditional blues shuffle that most modern musicians use. You probably tend to count it as "buh, BUH-(  )-buh, BUH-( )" because that sounds more natural to you.

Now here's one more example, just to show you that you've heard this before. This is a very fast version of the shuffle Healey played in the last video, this one courtesy of Linda Ronstadt again. Remember the classic "When Will I Be Loved"?



This actually combines both of the above versions, with the drummer playing the Fats Domino rhythm as a lead-in fill, then switching to the Jeff Healey version for most of the song. That gives the song the familiar "bounce" that made it so popular. You have to count the "1-( )-a-2-( )-a-3-( )-a-4-( )-a" very fast though!

Why have I made such a big deal of this? Because the modern swing focuses on mechanics. It wants everything to fit into a very precise framework... including the rhythm. Straight rhythm fits that ideal better because it can be easily measured with a metronome.

But using a straight rhythm for your swing creates a very hard, fast change of direction at the top of the backswing. You need a lot of strength and concentration to pull it off consistently. As an example, on The Golf Fix Breed's viewer was actually letting go of the club at the top of his swing and overswinging. So, in order to make it easier for players with less strength and skill, modern teachers tend to recommend an early wrist break to eliminate that hard, fast change of direction at the top. However, since this removes much of the clubhead momentum that keeps your wrists cocked on the way down into the hitting area, teachers have to come up with other ways for you to "hold the angle" until later in the swing.

However, the modern swing developed after the advent of steel shafts. The classic swingers had to deal with much more flexible shafts that wouldn't take the stress. They had to learn how to make a change of direction that was gentler and based more on feel. Think about all the classic teachers who talk about "feeling the clubhead"; now you know where that comes from. These teachers taught the late wrist cock so they could use the clubhead momentum to keep their wrist cock during the downswing... and they used a softer, less mechanical rhythm so it wouldn't overstress the soft shafts of the time.

So these classic swingers used more of a blues rhythm to "count" their swing rhythm. How did they do that? This is why I made you sit through all those videos! Pay attention, because here's the payoff:

When you count your rhythm like Jeff Healey did above -- "BUH-(  )-buh, BUH-(  )-buh, BUH-(  )-buh, BUH-(  )-buh" -- the missing count makes it feel as if the emphasized beat before it is longer. You may remember that in the second tempo post mentioned earlier I took some ribbing because I said I sometimes counted my swing rhythm as "one-THOU-sand-one" with the emphasis on the "THOU," not the first "one" as most people do. (I was intrigued when I later heard Martin Hall do the same on one of his shows.) The reason is that, by stressing the "THOU" syllable, it makes that syllable take slightly longer to say than the others.

And that's why the Tour Tempo rhythms aren't simple "1-and-2-and-" rhythms. The players with the best swing rhythms don't count every beat the same length! Tour Tempos's findings were probably complicated by the fact that they were looking for rhythms that fit a variety of players, some of whom used classic techniques and some who used modern techniques.

The actual count, based on my own testing (which admittedly is not as scientific as the Tour Tempo folks), is that the best rhythm for feeling the clubhead is:
  • the "-buh, BUH-(  )-buh, BUH" part or, if you prefer,
  • the "a-2-( )-a-3" part
of the blues rhythm. Here's how it fits into a swing:
  1. You start the club back on the first "buh."
  2. Your hands are at around the 11 o'clock position at the first "BUH." Remember this beat is longer than the rest, which gives you time for the club to set and start changing direction.
  3. Your hands start down on the second "buh."
  4. The ball will probably be gone by the second "BUH."
Now you know why I hesitated to do this post. If you find it to be too confusing, don't worry about it. Just use a straight "1-and-2-and" count and slow your swing down until you have enough time to change direction smoothly. (In fact, I suspect that's why so many players and teachers recommend that you slow down your backswing.) Or try my "one-THOU-sand-one" count, which will slow that second beat down just a bit.

But the rest of you -- especially the more musically inclined -- may find that adding a little blues rhythm to your swing removes some of the blues from your game... and your scorecard.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Limerick Summary: 2011 CMN Hospitals Classic

Winner: Luke Donald

Around the wider world of golf: This was a week for impressive wins and hometown heroes. Yani Tseng won her 7th LPGA event (and 10th worldwide victory) this year at home in the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship; Sergio Garcia returned to the winner's circle at his home course by winning the Castillo Masters on the ET; Frances Bondad got her first LET victory at the Sanya Ladies Open; Shiho Oyama beat Paula Creamer in a playoff at the JLPGA's Masters GC Ladies (the Constructivist has details); and Gavin Coles, after a wicked string of MCs earlier in the year, won the Winn Dixie Jacksonville Open on the Nationwide Tour, pretty much guaranteeing that he'll be on the Big Tour in 2012.

Luke Donald holds one of the most collectible Disney sculptures around

Yani Tseng and Sergio Garcia both made some serious news this weekend, but the folks down at the House of Mouse still managed to steal the headlines. I just have one question: If winners go to DisneyWorld to celebrate, where do you go if you're already IN DisneyWorld when you win?

In Luke Donald's case, I guess you go home and paint the nursery. Mama's expecting any day now. I guess it's appropriate that he won the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.

Forgive me if I gloat a little here. Back in my January 2011 Ruthless Golf World Rankings post, I ranked Luke Donald #10 and wrote this:
Luke Donald: 1 win. Donald makes this list on the strength of the 9 Top 5s he's posted since February -- almost one per month! Given that he doesn't have the length of players like Westwood, this is just an amazing display of precision. He's another player who's been recovering from injury... and who may be on track to break out in 2011. I'll be really surprised if he doesn't post at least one important win this year.
Hmmm... sounds like I may have been on to something. (Dances wildly around the room for several minutes, screaming "I'M THE MAN!" at the top of his lungs.) Seriously, I felt really good about Luke's chances but this... this is just far beyond anything I imagined.

All Luke did was step up and grab 4 worldwide wins -- 2 on each tour, and he did it by posting low scores in the final rounds. Not only did he get 2 wins on each tour, but he got both stroke and match play victories on each tour -- including a WGC and a BMW, which he got by beating both of the previous world #1s before him. In fact, he's been #1 in the world for half the year, longer than anybody since Tiger... and his points lead just keeps growing. He has a ridiculous number of Top5s; Webb Simpson has only 3 besides his 2 wins -- the media's been comparing Top10s, which doesn't nearly tell the tale (tail?) of what Luke's done.

Then he came to Disney because it was his only chance to win the money title. The only way he could do it was to win the dang thing, and he did it by playing all 4 days paired with the guy he had to beat and then shooting 30 on the back 9 to seal the deal. Even Webb admitted that Luke's play was more than he expected.

And now Luke's snagged both the PGA Tour money title and the Vardon Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average. It's hard to believe he won't get POY as well.

Plus, as if all that weren't enough, he's in position to be the first player in history to win the money title on both the PGA and ET in the same year. (Tiger wasn't a member of the ET when he was leading money winner on both tours. And Tiger doesn't play as much as Luke does, so Luke did more of that tiring travel than Tiger ever does. As Big Daddy Darth would say, "Impressive. Very impressive.") So Luke will probably win Worldwide Player of the Year as well.

All that remains is for him to get a major. I'm not betting against his chances next year.

I guess this really does count as a breakout year for him. Thank you, Luke Donald, for making me look like a genius.

Forgive me for ignoring all the other great storylines that happened this week. It's just that it's so unusual for a "normal" guy who (1) hits it a normal distance and (2) can only rely on good fundamentals to make his scores to step up and say, "I'm good enough to win, and I've got the guts to do it." In that sense, Luke Donald is the poster child for what I want you weekend players to get from this blog. I hope you're listening!

So this week's Limerick Summary is dedicated to "the mouse that roared." And no, it ain't Mickey:
Folks thought that Luke was a mouse;
Now he's king of the Big Mouse's house!
The irony's funny—
He'll need all that money
For doctor bills, diapers, and spouse!
The photo came from the front page of PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Have You Seen This Man?

PGA officials are currently searching for this player, believed to be past his prime for several years. This photo was taken from a recent milk carton:

Missing golfer searches for fairway

The following information was released Saturday: Justin Leonard was ranked #23 in the OWGR in 2008, the last year that he won a trophy. Since then he has steadily fallen; he currently ranks a mere 281 in the world, bolstered by a massive .67 point average.

In 2008 he won one tournament and made 24 of 25 cuts. In 2011, he won a great deal of sympathy by making only 13 of 25 cuts. His 2011 scoring average isn't good enough to make the Top 10 on the LPGA Tour. And he has been missing for so long that, until Friday, he was unaware that he even had a PGA Tour card for 2012. (An unverified source secretly confirmed that officials hoped he wouldn't show up to claim it.) There has been no reason to believe that he would ever be seen again.

However, sightings of this missing player have been on the rise this week. It is believed that he has stolen Dave Stockton's favorite putter and fled to DisneyWorld with nefarious plans in mind.

Be on the lookout. If you see this man, please notify PGA officials immediately. It is believed he may attempt to steal the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic trophy this very afternoon!

Wouldn't that be a Goofy finale to a truly unpredictable golf season?

The milk carton photo came from this page at zimbio.com.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Can Sergio Get It Done?

To be blunt... yes, I think this may be the week when Sergio gets his career back on track.

Sergio poses after a shot

He hasn't won in three years. It's no secret that it's been the weekend -- specifically the third round -- that's destroyed his chances most often. And now he's leading the Castillo Masters by two strokes...

Going into the third round.

One of the nice things about golf -- at least when your game hasn't been its best -- is that, like investments, "past performance is no guarantee of future performance." But trends sometimes point the way, and Sergio has been trending upward.

For example, if you heard Golf Central Friday night, you heard some rather depressing stats about Sergio's play on the PGA Tour. Let me give you some that you may not have heard:
Compared to 2010, Sergio has many more tournaments where he finished under par than he did in 2010. There were 6 over-par scores in 2010 versus 4 in 2011, and the two worst ones in 2010 were worse than all 4 of the 2011 tournaments. In addition, in 2010 he had 2 tournaments of -4 or better; this year he has 8.
I'd call that a major improvement. Want some European Tour stats? Check this out:
In 2010 Sergio had 6 over-par tournaments on the ET -- 3 were +9 or +10 -- and one double-digits under par (-12). In 2011 he has had only 2 over-par tournaments --  the worst a +4 -- and three double-digits under par (-10, -14, -16).
Again, that's a pretty encouraging stat.

If you heard Sergio talking about his game Friday after his round, you also know he sounds much more level-headed about his play. He said he's still having trouble with his draw -- that's always been his best shot -- but that he's managed to get his fade under control, so he feels that he can get around courses now. And he really wants to play in next year's Ryder Cup.

All-in-all, I like where Sergio is right now. And the Castillo Masters is played on his home course, where he currently leads at -12. Perhaps this will be his 4th double-digit tournament of the year... and a win at that.

Yes, this just may be the week that Sergio makes a big step back onto the stage. Good luck, Sergio!

The photo came from this page at the European Tour website.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Luke, It's Your Destiny... to Give Us a Tip

No Darth Vader here. And it may not be Luke's destiny to win the money title and POY, but he certainly came ready to play.

Unlike his last event in Europe a couple of weeks ago, where he missed several short putts, he looked fresh and ready to go on Thursday. He hit lots of fairways and greens, and made lots of putts. And while there's a lot of guys tied with him, at least he's tied for first place. It's shaping up to be a great tournament between him and Webb Simpson.

Ironically, his play was so good Thursday that he didn't need to use his sand skills. Almost everyone agrees that Luke is one of, if not the best sand player on Tour right now. So I thought it was a good time to post one of his sand tips.



The interesting thing to me is that Luke says he leans the club shaft backwards at address for this shot. That's not something you hear many sand players recommend. You might want to try it, especially in soft sand where using the bounce is even more important.

And who knows? Luke's at Disney, where the Star Wars ride "Star Tours" is. Maybe old Darth will be right this time.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Player of the Year Race

As you probably know by now, Keegan Bradley squeaked out a win at the PGA Grand Slam... not against Rory McIlroy but against Charl Schwartzel, who I think everybody had written off after Tuesday's round. (I know I had.) Charl went absolutely freaking nuts on the course, shooting -6 and pulling within a stroke of Keegan, who could only shoot even par. And Keegan shot a much better score Wednesday than the other two major champions.

But now I find myself wondering... in the minds of the other players on Tour, the ones that vote for Player of the Year, will this win carry any weight? I know it was only a 4-man event, but McIlroy is #3 in the world and Schwartzel #13. Keegan's only #26. (Darren's #33, in case you're wondering.) In addition, Keegan was playing them all head-to-head in the same grouping.

I know it will probably come down to Luke Donald or Webb Simpson, and that will depend on what happens this week at Disney. Both have a lot of Top10s (although I'd argue that Luke's are mostly Top5s), so that's pretty much a wash, and they're #1 and #2 in scoring average. If Luke wins, he has 2 PGA wins (plus 2 worldwide) and possibly wins the money list on both the PGA and European Tours, plus the "adjusted" scoring average -- probably a POY performance. If Webb wins, that's 2 PGA wins, the money list, and the "actual" scoring average -- and that probably cinches POY for him.

Keegan doesn't have all that. He's 31st in scoring average, nearly 1.5 strokes behind Donald. He's only got 4 Top 10s. And he's only #13 on the money list, about $2.5 million behind Simpson. But 2 PGA wins, with one being a major, just seems like it ought to count more than it apparently does. It wasn't even enough to get Keegan on the Presidents Cup team, despite having earned more points in less time than anyone else.

Now he's beat Rory and Charl head's-up, although that probably won't mean anything. He'll probably get Rookie of the Year, which ought to count for something all this. And we need to remember that, as a rookie, this was all new to him. He not only had to get used to the routines of life on Tour but he was new to every venue as well, which put him at a serious disadvantage in just about every tournament he played. 2011 was a virtuoso performance for Keegan.

It may seem strange that I'm not pushing for Keegan to be POY. The fact is, I think either Luke or Webb probably should be POY. Luke should get credit for 3 worldwide wins since he played a full PGA schedule plus a full ET schedule, which is certainly tougher than just playing a lot of PGA events. And I suspect Webb will win the money title and get POY, which I can't really argue with either, since he has 2 wins. After all, nobody scored more than 3 wins on any tour this year.

I just think Keegan Bradley hasn't gotten his due for his accomplishments this year. His win at the PGA Grand Slam is just one more indication of how good his year has been. It was certainly a POY performance for a rookie.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Forgot the Grand Slam!

Although I may not have missed much -- it looks like only two of the champs came to play. Keegan Bradley and Rory McIlroy are tied for the lead at -4, while Charl Schwartzel languishes back at +3 and Darren Clarke at +6.

I ended up going to the PGA Grand Slam website to find out what happened, and it looks like Keegan was hot early and Rory made up ground late. Keegan went 30-37, Rory 34-33, Charl 34-40, and Darren 38-39.

Of course the final round is today, and I'll try to remember to watch it on TNT from 4-8pm Eastern Time. But if you want a good laugh, go to the website and click on the "Full Leaderboard" link under the scored listed on the right. The Scoring page gives you vital information. I for one am glad to know that the projected cut is the "lowest 44 scores and ties, plus those within 10 strokes of leader".

Apparently someone at the site forgot important info about the tournament as well. I just hope poor Charl and Darren make the cut. ;-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Forgotten Qualifier

Tom Lewis got a lot of attention this past weekend when he won the Portugal Masters, getting his European Tour card in only 3 starts as a professional.

Bud Cauley got a lot of attention this past weekend when he made enough money to become only the 6th "school kid" to get his PGA Tour card without going to Q-School.

But another player was also trying to get his PGA Tour card by skipping Q-School... unsuccessfully, as it turns out. But he deserves a little attention as well, since he made a pretty good showing for himself.

Hadwin at the Frys.com Open

That golfer is Adam Hadwin, a Canadian golfer who made his debut at the U.S. Open, just like Cauley. Hadwin only managed to land himself in 5 tournaments, however. Here's how he did:

6/19/11 U.S. Open $41,154.00
7/24/11 RBC Canadian Open $228,800.00
7/31/11 The Greenbrier Classic $32,485.71
10/09/11 Frys.com Open $130,312.50
10/16/11 The McGladrey Classic $8,000.00

That's not a bad showing, folks. He's got a T3 and a T7 in there. Granted, the McGladrey killed him. He had a horrible week and finished dead last in the field after shooting rounds of 68-71-72-76. He really needed the cash for a Top10, plus qualification for the Disney this week.

Still, that's $440,752 in just 5 starts. For comparison, Justin Leonard -- not a bad player by any measure -- made $445,362 in 25 starts. That's 5 times as many starts as Hadwin, but he made less than $5k more.

Unfortunately, Adam won't be in the Disney tournament this week, so his hopes of getting his Tour card without Q-School are done. But -- and this is big -- I figure his winnings put him at 145 on the money list, one spot behind Leonard. That gives him some limited access next season, and I think it's enough to skip him all the way to the last stage of Q-School.

Not bad for 5 weeks of work.

So keep an eye out for Adam Hadwin. He just might be teeing it up with Cauley (and occasionally Lewis) next season.

The final stage of Q-School runs Nov. 30-Dec. 5, 2011. It'll be held at PGA West, on the Nicklaus Tournament and Stadium course. GC will televise the last 3 days.

The photo came from this article at the Vancouver Sun site.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Limerick Summary: 2011 McGladrey Classic

Winner: Ben Crane

Around the wider world of golf: A very interesting weekend indeed! Both Jason Kokrak at the Nationwide's Miccosukee Championship and Fred Couples at the Champions Tour's AT&T Championship won by 7 strokes; Tom Lewis won the Portugal Masters on the ET, getting his Tour card in only 3 starts as a pro; Saiki Fujita won the JLPGA's Fujitsu Ladies, denying Sun-Ju Ahn her 5th title this season; and Na Yeon Choi, who finished runner-up to Yani Tseng last week, turned the tables and beat Yani at the LPGA's Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

Ben Crane needs a crane to hoist this trophy

And he did it without a snakeshaker!

He didn't even know if he'd get to finish the tournament. Ben Crane's wife is scheduled to deliver their latest child today, and he was ready to go early if the call came. Fortunately, the kid waited for a couple of playoff holes so Dad could get some hardware as well. (BTW, I hear the kid's already got all the leotards he or she could possibly want...)

While everyone talked about Webb Simpson's upcoming duel with Luke Donald for the money title -- looks like Luke's about $363k behind now -- and Bud Cauley nabbing a Tour card -- the kid picked up another $64k as well -- the old SnakeShaker himself debuted a new motto: "Make wins, not videos." The new dad-to-be posted a 63, going 7-under in his last 11 holes to take the clubhouse lead...

Where, like his wife, he waited.

Only Webb Simpson was up to the challenge. He parred in while Michael Thompson, who led most of the day, bogeyed the last to miss the playoff. Then Crane shook Simpson off his trail on the second playoff hole.

Ben Crane isn't just a funnyman, he's a magician once he gets it going. After a slow year, it looks like he's found something. (Perhaps the specter of a huge hospital bill was all the coaching he needed.) At any rate, we'll see if he can carry this mojo onward after the newest Cranelet arrives.

I know he probably won't have time to read it, but here's a Limerick Summary for the man who proved he doesn't need a leotard to get some TV time:
My friends, here's the scoop on Ben Crane:
His humor is slightly insane,
His leotard's lame,
His workouts can maim…
But his golf skills are purely arcane.
The photo came from PGATOUR.com's front page.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Get Used to Bud Cauley's Name

Not quite lost amid the usual jostling of players for their Tour cards and this year's unexpected money list battle between Luke Donald and Webb Simpson -- separated by about $69k -- another little bit of history is taking place.

Bud Cauley is about to join the short list of players to play their way onto the PGA Tour. Get used to his name and his face.

Bud Cauley at the McGladrey

First, here's where he stands as of this morning. He's made $671,150 in 7 tournaments, which is (ironically) about $69k above #125 on the money list. That's the number he has to beat to get his card. Since he currently has enough to be #114 and will add a few bucks when he finishes the McGladrey Classic today, he's pretty much a shoe-in to get his card. Here are the 12 guys currently in positions 114-125:
  • Rod Pampling
  • Nick O'Hern
  • Michael Thompson
  • Tiger Woods
  • Stuart Appleby
  • Heath Slocum
  • Bobby Gates
  • Roland Thatcher
  • James Driscoll
  • David Mathis
  • Bill Lunde
  • Matt Jones
Thompson currently leads the McGladrey by 1 shot and O'Hern is T5. Somehow I don't think the rest of that list is going to catch our man Bud.

As you may have heard by now, only 5 other players have accomplished this feat:
  • Tiger Woods
  • Ryan Moore
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Justin Leonard
  • Gary Hallberg
What you may not know -- and thanks to USATODAY.com for this info -- only Tiger and Phil got their cards in less than 7 tournaments. Phil won when he was an amateur and claimed that within a year, while Tiger won in his 5th start. The others all took at least 10 starts to seal the deal.

But get this: Bud has 2 Top5s and 1 MC in his 7 starts. But he qualified his way into 2 of his tournaments. He still has 2 sponsor exemptions left! (If you aren't a Tour member, you're allowed 7 exemptions.) That's pretty impressive in anybody's book.

Cauley fascinates me because he isn't what you'd expect in a modern Tour player. He's 21 years old and only 5'7", yet he's averaging 292 off the tee this season and he's also hitting 72% of his greens. (That puts him #1 in GIR this season.) He's 19th in that new Putting Strokes Gained stat the Tour is using now. And he hits it really close to the hole -- he's in the Top4 from 100-175 yards, and he's #1 from 200-225 yards.

After looking at those figures, I can believe what I heard on the broadcast Saturday. Apparently Bud's coach worked with Moe Norman, whose reputation for accuracy is legendary, and he said that it sounds just like Norman when Bud hits the ball.

Yeah, you better get used to Bud's name and face. I suspect you're going to be seeing and hearing about him a lot next year.

The photo came from this page.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Rest of the Way to the Top

Today we continue answering the comment Baptiste left on this post about one-piece takeaways. Here's the comment:
Do you have a video that explains the next step. When your hands are in front of your pocket. At this point, i guess there's a little action of the left wrist in order to bring the shaft to the target line and the face pointing to the sky?

Or it's only the rotation of the shoulders that bring the club in that position ?
In yesterday's post I answered some of those questions by starting with the one-piece takeaway so we would know our actual position when we started the rest of the backswing. Today we'll go from there to the top of the swing and, in the process, answer the rest of his questions.

And yes, there will be a video at the end. Two, in fact. ;-)

As I said yesterday, when we finish the one-piece takeaway our hands are about waist high -- maybe a little higher if we have an upright swing -- and our elbows are pretty straight. I also said that the first move from here is to bend our trailing elbow.

We turn our shoulders and our hips a lot during our swing, but our arms and hands don't move nearly as much as most players think. Let's imagine what it looks like if we eliminate all the turning during the swing and just watch our arms and hands. What you'll see is that your hands simply make a big V shape during the swing, and that V isn't much wider than your shoulders. Here's what it would look like:

Your hands start just below your belly button at setup. The one-piece takeaway lifts them straight up to your belly button or just above it, then your trailing elbow starts to bend. You lift your lead arm at the shoulder joint -- you have to, because your lead elbow still stays straight -- while your trailing elbow bends. At first, the upper part of your trailing arm doesn't really move. Almost all of the movement is at your elbow!

BTW, since one arm is straight while the other bends, your wrists start to cock. You don't have to make it happen. It happens automatically.

Your trailing elbow bends until your hands are at about shoulder level. Because your lead arm stayed straight, your hands move sideways a little so your hands are just to the side of your trailing shoulder. And from this point, both arms pivot up at the shoulders until your hands are about as high as your ears.

And now you're at the top of your backswing. The downswing just takes your hands back down around your setup position, then they make the rest of the V as you finish the swing and your hands move over your other shoulder.

Most of the action during your backswing is just a combination of your straight lead arm pivoting up while your trailing elbow bends. Believe it or not, this is the main motion that gets you to the top of the backswing. It also causes your wrists to cock. Your shoulders did most of their turning during the one-piece takeaway, so your hips just give you a little extra turn while your elbow bends upward. But it's the straight arm and bending elbow that do most of the work getting you to the top and pointing the club shaft down the target line.

Baptiste also asked about the face of the club. The back of your wrist determines where the face of the club is pointing. As long as your lead forearm and the back of your lead wrist stay "flat" -- that is, you could place a ruler against the back of your forearm and wrist, and it would lay flat against them -- the clubface will point where it should.

And now for some video. Here's Webb Simpson, smacking drives during a practice round at the U.S. Open this year. The second swing is slowed down much more than the first one, so it's easier to see what's happening in that one:



Webb's one-piece takeaway ends just before his hands reach his waist (the bottom of the "sweet spot" from my diagram in yesterday's post) because he has a fairly flat swing, and you can see his right (trailing) elbow start to bend. You'll notice that his elbow doesn't move much; his straight arm moves in front of it and then you can see his bent elbow beneath it, even though his shoulders aren't turning much at all at this point. Then, right at the end of this backswing, both arms make a final move up to get his hands up to his ears. (Yes, I know it looks like they're above his head, but you've got to remember that he's leaning toward the camera. His right shoulder is several inches higher than his left.)

Now, here's Ai Miyazato doing the same thing, but Ai's swing is much more upright. Notice that her one-piece takeaway doesn't finish until her left (lead) arm is nearly parallel to the ground, and that's when her trailing elbow starts to bend:



And if you look closely, you'll see that Ai's trailing elbow is never visible below her lead arm the way it is with Webb Simpson. This is because Ai's one-piece takeaway finishes so high and her swing is so upright that her elbow simply doesn't bend as much. If you could see behind her (and you can if you check out some other videos of her on YouTube), you'd see that her elbow does finally bend about 90°.

I hope that answers all your questions, Baptiste. If something's not clear, just leave me a comment and I'll try to do better. But I think it's pretty simple once you realize that, after the one-piece takeaway is complete, the move to the top is basically just a little "bend and lift" with your arms.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Top of Your One-Piece Takeaway

On one of last month's posts about one-piece takeaways Baptiste left me a comment:
Do you have a video that explains the next step. When your hands are in front of your pocket. At this point, i guess there's a little action of the left wrist in order to bring the shaft to the target line and the face pointing to the sky?

Or it's only the rotation of the shoulders that bring the club in that position ?
I wrote back that I'd do a post and to be on the lookout for it. But it's going to be more than one post, since his question is very specific and I want to make sure my answer is clear.

Actually, Baptiste asks several inter-related questions in his comment. He mentions several different things which you'll hear teachers say when they work with players. But not all teachers mean the same thing, even if they use the same words.

For example, Baptiste wants to know what to do after the one-piece takeaway gets his hands in front of his hip pocket. This is a common image teachers use, although some only use it to refer to where the wrists uncock during the downswing. Since I don't want any confusion, we'll start with this "hip pocket" image.

I'm not sure the hip pocket position is correct for everybody. It depends on how much you turn your shoulders and hips during the backswing. For example, Tom Watson turns his hips a lot more than Yani Tseng because Yani's more flexible and doesn't need as much hip turn to complete her shoulder turn. Therefore their hip pockets wouldn't necessarily be in the same place during their backswings. You can see how that might cause some confusion.

Plus a good one-piece takeaway really should carry your hands a good distance past your hip pocket. If it doesn't, you're losing power and accuracy in your swing.

Here's a diagram I drew to give you a better way to identify when you've reached the end of your one-piece takeaway. This description should be the same for all of you, no matter how flexible you are:

Diagram showing what a properly-done one-piece takeaway looks like

The bottom drawing -- the one that shows your lead arm and club shaft parallel to your aim line -- is the main one to use. As long as your elbows are pretty straight, which they should be during a one-piece takeaway, this is when you finish your takeaway and are ready to take the club to the top of the backswing. At this point you've got a lot of shoulder turn, so you can (1) make a lot of power and (2) swing on the correct plane.

The other part of the diagram -- the part labeled "the Sweet Spot" -- has to be included because upright swing takeaways finish higher than flat swing takeaways. I've used this picture of Paula Creamer before when talking about one-piece takeaways because hers is pretty typical:

Paula Creamer's one-piece takeaway

As you can see, Paula's straight lead arm puts her hands at or just above waist high. (If you could see her trailing arm, you'd see that it's pretty straight also.) You'll also notice that Paula's hands are WA-A-AY past her hip pocket! If she stopped her hands at her hip pocket, she wouldn't hit the ball very far at all. So the hip pocket image wouldn't work very well for her.

Going back to your comment, Baptiste, the rotation of your shoulders gets your hands partway to the top of your backswing. That's because the one-piece takeaway takes your hands well past the hip pocket position where you expected to end your takeaway.

Like I said, Paula has a pretty typical one-piece takeaway. That's because she has a swing that's neither too upright nor too flat. That affects how high her hands are when she finishes her one-piece takeaway.

If you look at the "sweet spot" in the diagram above, Paula's hands would be a little bit above the dotted line at the bottom of the orange box. The very bottom of the box -- just below the waist, and much closer to that "hip pocket" image -- is where flat swingers like Paul Azinger or Rosie Jones would reach the top of their one-piece takeaways.

And the top of the box, just under their armpits, is where very upright swingers like Ai Miyazato and Bubba Watson would reach the top of their one-piece takeaways. For them, their lead arms would be almost parallel to the ground, as well as parallel to their aim line.

So the first thing Baptiste needs to know is that his hands probably aren't in front of his hip pocket at all. In fact, with both arms held fairly straight, his hands will probably be in front of his breast bone, the center of his chest. You have to remember that your arms stay straight because you turn your shoulders. If your arms won't stay straight, you probably aren't turning your shoulders enough... and that costs you distance and accuracy.

I haven't forgotten your request for video, Baptiste. That will be in the next post. But you need to understand this first. Your one-piece takeaway will take your hands quite a way past your hip pocket because of your shoulder turn.

A one-piece takeaway means you turn your shoulders enough that both of your elbows can stay pretty straight. So the next step is... your trailing elbow bends. And that's what we'll start with in tomorrow's post.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Rant About Golfers and Numbers

Most of us have some difficulties when it comes to numbers. These problems can be as simple as adding two numbers in your head, or as complex as the interpretation of several interrelated statistics. And this can present a real problem for the average golfer.

What I'm p*ssed off about is how much incorrect data is thrown out in golf infomercials and during TV broadcasts. The problem is that much of this incorrect information makes a product look better than it really is. I'm not saying that the advertisers are intentionally trying to mislead us. But before we spend lots of money on their products, shouldn't we question why knowledgeable companies can't even present their own figures accurately?

Let me give you an idea of what I mean. I don't mean to pick on the Medicus people, it's just that I saw one of their ads today and it finally caused me to write this post. They certainly aren't the only ones guilty of the things I mention here.

The ad in question was for the Medicus Dual-Hinge™ Driver. At one point in the ad, 4 casual players are gathered to hit drives. Each hits 5 balls -- a total of 20 balls -- and only 4 end up in the fairway. The players then spend a few minutes working with the Medicus before trying again. This time they hit 12 balls in the fairway. So far, so good.

Now the ad emphatically proclaims a 300% increase in accuracy... and this is 100% INCORRECT!

For those of you who struggle with numbers, here's a basic lesson in percentages. Heck, first let me give you a basic lesson in common sense, which actually helps you understand numbers. I'll make this a simple yes or no question:
Let's say you tried to hit some balls into the fairway and you got 1 ball -- just 1 -- in the fairway. Now you go back out and try again... and again you only get 1 ball in the fairway. Yes or no -- did you improve?
Clearly the answer is no, you didn't improve. In percentages, you had a 0% improvement.

Now go back to the ad. Our players put 4 balls in the fairway the first time. When they go out the second time, the first 4 balls they hit in the fairway represent no improvement at all. The second 4 balls -- which brings the total in the fairway to 8 -- is a 100% improvement. (Think of it this way: The first 4 balls matched their initial effort  -- so that's not an improvement -- and then hit 4 extra balls in the fairway, which is 100% more than they did the first time.) And so the final 4 balls -- bringing the total to 12 -- therefore makes it a 200% improvement. That 300% figure is totally wrong!

Why is this a big deal? Because it makes the improvement sound more impressive than it is. The group really did make a sizable improvement, although I'd be interested to know if they could repeat that performance with another 20 balls or whether this was just one of the better results they got during their testing.

And I think that's a fair question. If you go to their website and check out the Medicus Science page, you'll find this statement:
"Three quarters of the test group gained additional swing speed, with a full third of the overall group realizing a dramatic increase. Joanne Gruskin increased her average swing speed from 53.4 to 63 mph."
I have no reason to doubt that this information is correct, and I don't want to give you the impression that I do. What I question is how the numbers are presented. Gruskin's speed improvement truly is dramatic -- almost an 18% increase -- but the golfer whose numbers they chose to highlight swung at a speed 15-25mph slower than most amateurs. It makes sense that the most dramatic increases will be made by the players with the slowest initial swing speeds.

But most buyers won't consider that, will they? It's not human nature. Rather, they'll see the possibility of an 18% increase, which may be a misleading expectation if they start with a decent swing speed.

My point is that Medicus is a reputable company. If they're presenting their numbers in a way that might be construed as slightly misleading, how many other companies do the same? And when some of those numbers are blatantly wrong, as with that 300% figure, it's more important than ever for golfers to scrutinize the vast array of numbers presented to them on a daily basis.

The old Latin phrase "caveat emptor" -- you may know it better as "let the buyer beware" -- is more important than ever.

Ok, I guess I've got that out of my system now... no, wait, there's one more thing. I'm really tired of seeing balls "horseshoe" around a hole and hearing the announcers call it a 360. When the ball lips out and comes back at you, that's a 180.

But will they ever get that one right? Don't count on it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Puma Upstages the Tiger

Will the Puma, aka Rickie Fowler, finally start winning on the PGA Tour? Was his win in Asia this past weekend a harbinger of things to come?

The jury's still out on that one, but we do know this much: The Puma is now one-up on the Tiger this year.

I know you're probably laughing at that comparison. After all, Tiger has 71 wins -- 97 counting worldwide wins -- of which 14 are majors. Rickie has one newly-minted worldwide win, and that on neither the European or PGA Tours. Not much of a comparison, is it?

But Rickie is only at the beginning of his career. And while he may never rack up the numbers like Tiger -- do we really think anybody anywhere will do that soon? -- he still has some serious potential. And as a poet once said, nobody has yet figured out how to measure what's in a human heart.

The inability of publishers to recognize what will sell is legendary among writers. For example, did you know that Rudyard Kipling was told that he didn't know how to use the English language? Or that Richard Bach was told Jonathan Livingston Seagull would never sell? (It was turned down over 140 times... and the best figures I can find say it has sold over 30 million copies in 36 languages.) Stephen King's Carrie was turned down 30 times, and J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book 12 times. Just search the web for "famous writer rejections" and you can find some really interesting ones.

How many "can't miss" companies go bankrupt? A lot of our financial problems got started in the "dot-com bust" that began this century. I still remember watching the NASDAQ go up 66% in 2 months... and hearing reputable analysts say that it was ok, that's how our economy worked now.

Most "knowledgeable" people didn't think Lee Trevino would amount to anything with that funky swing of his. Tom Brady of the New England Patriots wasn't drafted until the 6th round. (For those of you who don't know, that's worse than bad. Pee Wee Herman could probably get drafted by the 4th round.) Both of them, like many others, did pretty good for themselves.

So I'll be interested to see what happens to Rickie over the next few months. He did beat Rory McIlroy and Y.E. Yang to get his first win, and both of them seem to be pretty good players.

Maybe Tiger will consider some Asian Tour events, just for practice. I'm sure Rickie would recommend it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Phil Knows How to Chip from the Rough

Since shots from thick rough played a large part in the tournament's outcome Sunday, I thought some help on chipping from the hay might be appropriate. I was fortunate to find this segment from Phil's short game DVD. Since it's fairly long, I'm going to postpone comments on it until a later post. In the meantime, just listen to a master at escaping from the rough:

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Limerick Summary: 2011 Frys.com Open

Winner: Bryce Molder

Around the wider world of golf: We had some more first timers this week. Ricky Fowler got his first pro win at the OneAsia Tour's Kolon Korea Open, beating both Y.E. Yang and Rory McIlroy; Brad Faxon got his first Champions Tour win at the rain-shortened Insperity Championship; Lee Slattery got his first European Tour victory at the Bankia Madrid Masters; Christina Kim got her first LET trophy at the Sicilian Ladies Italian Open; and Miguel Carballo got his first Nationwide Tour win (since 2007, anyway) at the Children's Hospital Classic. And then we had a couple of old-timers -- Sun-Ju Ahn got her 4th JLPGA win of the year at the Sankyo Ladies Open; and of course the Empress won another one! Yani Tseng won the LPGA HanaBank Championship, her 6th LPGA victory and 9th worldwide victory this year! I'm pretty sure that makes her the most dominant golfer on any tour this year.

Bryce Molder kisses his first trophy

Tiger may have been the story, but Briny Baird and Bryce Molder were the show. They went 6 extra holes in one of the best playoffs the Tour has seen in a long time.

First, let's get Tiger out of the way: He finished at -7 (T30) with rounds of 73-69-69-69. I think that's the first time this year he's had 3 straight rounds in the 60s. He had only one double (on Thursday), along with 19 birdies and 10 bogeys. Overall, his swing looks pretty good and -- most telling -- his chipping and putting are much better. The rest of his short game still needs work, as does his driving -- a pitiful 48% for the week -- but hey! Two months ago nobody expected him to look this good. And he pretty much improved each day, so there's something for him to build on.

But the big show came from the two guys without wins after a decade or more on Tour. A total of 2 eagles and 42 birdies between them this week, against a mere 12 bogeys. Add another 7 birdies and no bogeys during the 6-hole playoff. Baird shot 64-67 over the weekend, while Molder shot 65-64 just to force the playoff. Molder was bogey-free over the last two rounds. And both guys hit around 80% of their fairways and greens over the weekend. It was incredible!

I admit I was pulling for Briny Baird, simply because he's been on Tour longer without a win. This is his 5th runner-up finish in his career, although he'll win soon if he keeps playing like this. He did at least lock up his card for next year.

And Molder just sounded tired at the end. He said he'd never been through anything quite like this. That's understandable -- he was 11-under with no bogeys over 24 holes! He pockets $900k and jumps to #45 on the money list (remember, the Top 30 get into all the majors next year). And he can afford a vacation now.

So today's Limerick Summary salutes the newest member of the "Hey, I don't have to worry about my card for two years!" club:
Consider the day of Bryce Molder:
He probably feels ten years older!
To post the best score
Required twenty-four
Of the toughest holes he's ever shouldered.
The photo comes from the front page at PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Another Lesson on Connection

I sometimes mention "connection" on this blog because I think it really helps simplify your golf swing. Carl Rabito taught it to me over 20 years ago, and Jimmy Ballard has been teaching it even longer than that. In fact, I did a post about Ballard and connection nearly a year ago. And I've mentioned that Ben Hogan was probably the guy most responsible for publicizing connection, although I don't know that he specifically called it that, because it's a basic part of his swing.

Since Rocko Mediate -- one of Ballard's most vocal pupils (ok, Rocko's just vocal, period) -- made news recently for criticizing what Sean Foley "is doing to Tiger's swing," I thought it might be a good time to post some new material on the concept. I have two videos, neither very long.

The first is Ballard explaining the concept to Rocko. I'm pretty sure this is from the infomercial for that swing device they promote, but the info in it is useful on its own.



The other video is the one Ballard mentions. This one shows Ben Hogan on the Ed Sullivan show demonstrating how connection works in his golf swing.



As you can see, connection is a very simple idea. Why do I like it?

For one thing, it helps you keep your hands and arms in front of you throughout the swing. With the upper part of your lead arm resting lightly against the side of your chest muscles, it's hard to "get stuck" on your way down from the top of your backswing. Basically it removes some of the "slack" in your movement, so your arms start down the moment your chest and shoulders begin to turn.

Next, it helps keep your lead elbow pointing down toward the ground throughout your swing. This does two things: It helps you square up your hands (and clubface) at impact, and it helps you avoid "chicken-winging" at impact. Yes, people, the two are related. If you have trouble squaring the clubface, there's a good chance your elbow is pointing in the wrong direction.

And finally, it makes it easier to keep your posture as you make your downswing and finish. If the upper part of your lead arm is resting lightly against the side of your chest, you're much less likely to lean backward during your downswing. And that helps you keep your swing on a better plane throughout your full motion.

The Hogan drill in that second video is a good way to get a feel for how connection works. Just remember that, in your full swing, your elbows do NOT stay tight against your body the way they do in Hogan's initial demonstration. He even says you can't make a full swing that way! It's more like your upper arms slide up and down along the sides of your chest muscles.

As long as you make a good shoulder turn (aka the ever-present one-piece takeaway!) you'll find this is a pretty easy move to make. And it eliminates a lot of swing thoughts once you get a handle on it, because so much of your swinging motion happens automatically.

Just for the record, I don't agree with Rocko that Foley is ruining Tiger's swing. But Rocko's right about connection -- even if you don't completely adopt the technique, you'll find that some connected swing practice will really help smooth out your swing and improve your ball striking.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

But at Least Tiger Made It

Patrick Cantlay certainly knew what he was talking about when he said the first round doesn't really matter.

Aat least, it doesn't matter as long as you don't shoot yourself out of the picture.

Just as he did back at the Masters, Tiger managed to put something together after a so-so first round. Two birdies, two bogeys, and one double in the first round gave way to six birdies and three bogeys in the second. It was clear that he's more frustrated than he wants to let on... but we've gotten used to that in the last couple of years, haven't we? At least we know he made the cut, which is currently sitting at +1 (Tiger's at -1), so he has something to build on.

Cantlay's future isn't quite so clear. Just as Tiger went 3-under in the second round, Cantlay went 3-over to finish right on the cut line. His round looked more like Tiger's first, with only two birdies against three bogeys and a double. In many ways, the first round truly didn't matter.

But more troubling for the amateur is the weather. A large number of players at 1- and 2-over are still on the course, due to a weather delay early Friday. Cantlay sits T70 with the other +1 players; the bunch at even are T57. Likewise, a large number of those players at even are still on the course. The cut line is still extremely fluid -- at least, it is as I write this.

It's amazing how much things can change in one round, isn't it? I guess that's why we say golf is so much like life. Like so many other things, it's not always how you start, it's how you finish.

And you may not even get a chance to finish unless you find a way to make the cut.

Now we'll get to see if Tiger's really learned anything.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cantlay Can't Miss... Tiger Can

Cantlay at the Frys.com

As I predicted, Patrick Cantlay handled the spotlight of being paired with Tiger just fine, thank you very much. On the outside chance you missed it, here's how the featured group finished their first round:
  • Patrick Cantlay -2 (T11)
  • Louis Oosthuizen E (T37)
  • Tiger Woods +2 (T86)
I don't know how Cantlay will do when he finally turns pro, but he certainly has the nerves to do very well on Tour.

As for Tiger, I'm going to withhold judgment until I see the rest of the tournament. While Thursday wasn't all that impressive, neither was it so horrible. Bear in mind that the leaders are only at -4 and Tiger's group played during the worst of the weather -- during which, of course, he posted the double-bogey that kept him from a nice round of par.

I'm not making excuses for Tiger. I just remember that, back at the Masters, he didn't start showing signs of good play until the second round... and he didn't really play well until the final round. I'm going to chalk this round up to nerves. And yes, I know that sounds like a weak excuse. But I wouldn't want to be judged on a single round either.

In fact, Cantlay agreed with me. He told Yahoo! UK Eurosport that "It's the first round of a tournament, so it doesn't mean anything."

You might enjoy reading that short article. It's entitled Golf-Amateur Cantlay Has Fun Taming the Tiger in Opening Round. Clever, huh?

I doubt that Tiger enjoyed it very much though. He's got some work to do if he wants to play this weekend.

The photo came from this Golf Channel page.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just a Quick Reminder...

In case you "forgot," Tiger tees off today at 12:10pm in the Frys.com Open. That's West Coast time; if you're on the East Coast (as North Carolinians like me are) that's 3:10pm. Golf Channel has already announced that they're going to break into their pre-game show in order to show his first shot.

And probably every other shot he hits, as well. ;-)

For those of you who are sick of hearing about Tiger, he's playing with Louis Oosthuizen (the 2010 Open Champion, who's been playing better as of late) and Patrick Cantlay, the amateur who set the Tour's low round for this year a few months ago. Since Cantlay has apparently already played a practice round with Woods, he shouldn't be too "awed" to play decently.

All-in-all, this will dominate golf coverage today. At least we'll have plenty to talk about when it's all over.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: October 2011

We've made it through the FedExCup playoffs and started the Fall Finish, and yet we still don't have a clear indication who will be the Player of the Year. We're still debating why the likely Rookie of the Year didn't make the Presidents Cup team (at least, not yet -- Stricker's possible surgery is still up in the air). And we're just about to find out whether Tiger has his swing back in shape yet. Into this great void of knowledge I offer you one great certainty -- the October RGWR.

Once again, here are the RGWG criteria:
I focus on the last 12 months of play -- that's long enough to see some consistency but short enough to be current. Every player in the RGWR won at least once on either the PGA or European Tour. The OWGR rates consistency over the last 2 years, so I see no reason to rank that; my RGWR says if you're a top player, you've won somewhere recently. My priority list (based on quality of field) looks like this:
  1. majors, TPC (PGAT), BMW PGA (ET), and WGCs
  2. FedExCup playoffs and prestige events (like Bay Hill and Dubai)
  3. other PGA and ET events
I put extra emphasis on recent form, and I make some allowance if you're recovering from injury or serious sickness. Also, remember that I count Top5s as a separate category from wins; if you see a player has 3 Top5s, those are seconds through fifths only.

I assign points to tournaments this way:
  • Majors: 10 points
  • TPC & BMW PGA: 8 points (yes, I'm calling them equals!)
  • WGC: 7 points
  • Prestige events: 5 points
  • Regular wins: 3 points
  • Top 5 finishes: 2 points
I give full credit for wins on the "minor" tours like the Nationwide and Asian Tours provided the winner has a current win on the PGA or European Tour. These wins will count only as "regular" wins and not "prestige" wins, no matter how prestigious they may be for their tour, because they generally don't have the strength of field of a regular PGA or ET event.

And because of a strange quirk on the ET site, I've decided I have to specifically state that a tournament win can only count once. Therefore, to avoid possible confusion, I'm just telling you that the RGWR says you can only win a tournament once at a time.

As usual, the point total (and even the number of wins) a player has affects my rankings but doesn't override my personal opinions:
  1. Luke Donald: 3 wins (1 WGC, 1 BMW), 11 Top5, 40 points. There is no doubt that Luke is #1 in the world. He's got 3 wins -- 2 of them big ones -- and 11 Top5s. Nobody else is even close.
  2. Lee Westwood: 3 wins (1 prestige), 5 Top5, 21 points. Lee continues to get himself into position, even with a balky putter.
  3. Thomas Bjorn: 3 wins (1 prestige), 2 Top5, 16 points. Thomas is one of the feel-good stories of the year. He also has 4 wins in the last 2 years, which may indicate this is more than just a spurt of good play.
  4. Keegan Bradley: 2 wins (1 major, 1 prestige), 3 Top5s, 21 points. Believe it or not, Keegan has quietly racked up the best record among the double-dippers this year -- more Top5s and more consistent.
  5. Charl Schwartzel: 2 wins (1 major, 1 prestige), 2 Top5, 17 points. Another month with no change for Schwartzel, but he does have that Masters win.
  6. Darren Clark: 2 wins (1 major), 0 Top5, 13 points. No change for Darren either, but he still has two wins with a major.
  7. Rory McIlroy: 1 win (1 major), 8 Top5, 26 points. Rory's begun to get his game back on track with 3 Top5s in the last month. He's playing better than anybody else at this level, but with only one win -- even though it's a major -- I can't really rank him above Schwartzel or Clarke.
  8. Nick Watney: 2 wins (1 WGC, 1 prestige), 3 Top5, 18 points. Watney picked up another Top5 this month, giving him a bit more momentum on the RGWR.
  9. Adam Scott: 2 wins (1 WGC, 1 prestige), 2 Top5, 16 points. No change this month, but Adam's had 3 extra Top10s in the last month. That barely squeaked him to #9.
  10. Bill Haas: 2 wins (1 prestige), 4 Top5s, 16 points. Why didn't winning the FedExCup put Bill above Adam? Two reasons: One of Bill's wins was last October (the far reaches of the RGWR) and since July 1st he's only managed 1 win and 1 Top5 in 10 events. (By comparison, Adam had 1 win, 1 Top5, and 3 Top10s in only 8 events.)
Players to watch:
  • In his last 5 events, Tommy Gainey has 2 MCs and 2 Top3s. The Fall Finish may be just what he needs to break through and win.
  • Martin Kaymer, Louis Oosthuizen, and Graeme McDowell all seem to be regaining some form on the European Tour. But will it last?
  • I think Aaron Baddeley may have a new spring in his step because of his Presidents Cup pick.
Of course, everybody will be watching Tiger this week, so I don't have to put him on my list. ;-)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Negative Putter Loft

Patrick (aka "Lefty") left a comment on my belly putter post about something odd Michael Breed talks about in his new putting book. The 3-Degree Putting Solution advocates using negative putting loft to improve your putting. Breed explained it some on The Golf Fix Monday night but I didn't think he was as clear as he could have been, so here's my attempt to explain it.

First, here's a diagram to help you get a quick grasp of the basic concept:

Diagram showing how negative putter loft works

Obviously, a normal putter has loft. The Rules of Golf limit you to 10 degrees; historically, most manufacturers have made 3 degrees standard, while many teachers (such as Stan Utley) recommend around 5 degrees. As you can see, Breed's -3 degrees of loft is a real departure.

Now, as Breed is explaining it, the putter doesn't necessarily have to be made with a negative loft as my diagram shows. As long as you have an effective negative loft -- which means you swing the club in such a way that the putter face is pointing down toward the ground when it strikes the ball -- as long as you have that, the concept still works.

BTW, if you've been considering a Medicus OverSpin™ putter or some such similar device, this is the basic idea behind it. You can get almost the same effect by having an existing putter adjusted to have a negative loft.

There's a second aspect to what Breed was talking about. Instead of making a stroke that stays low to the ground, you want to make an upward swing when you hit the ball -- very much the same idea you use for hitting a driver.

By combining these two concepts -- negative loft and an upward stroke -- you supposedly keep the ball from being pushed down into the grass when you strike it. If you look at the diagram above, you would expect the first two putters to drive the ball down into the grass, which would make it bounce or "pop up" and roll an inconsistent distance. The third putter, swinging upward with negative loft, should start the ball moving directly toward the hole -- not up in the air or down into the grass -- with overspin, since the putter struck the top half of the ball.

Theoretically, that is. There's a reason that putters have traditionally been made with loft, one that I think is being ignored here, and it's something I complain about periodically on my blog. Namely, this advice applies best to professionals, not weekend golfers. If you ignore that, you can actually hurt your putting. Here's why:

Pros play every week on immaculately-groomed courses, with well-paid greenskeepers and their leagues of groundskeepers attending to the needs of the course. This includes mowing and rolling the greens. Pros play on closely-mown greens that are hard and fast. The pros don't have to worry about negative loft pushing the ball down into the grass.

But us weekend players play in different conditions. The only hard and fast greens we're likely to see are at a Putt-Putt... and unless the carpet's fairly new, they may not be hard and fast either. But unless you're playing hard and fast greens, you're going to need some loft to get the ball on top of the grass so it rolls well. That's not just my opinion -- I was told that by a knowledgeable pro who adjusted several of my putters when I interviewed him for my book Ruthless Putting.

So while I don't disagree with Breeder, I think you have to take his advice with a grain of salt. The conditions on the courses where you play dictate how useful this "negative loft" approach will be for you. If you play a variety of golf courses, you may even find that you need a couple of different putters -- one with regular loft and one with negative loft -- to play them all well.

And don't forget: You can tinker with your putter's loft and your stroke all you want. But if you don't hit the ball solidly in the center of the clubface, the best putter in the world won't improve your game one little bit. I make a big deal about not twisting your forearms when you putt (or during any stroke for that matter), and Breed emphasized that as well.

So my advice is this: First worry about making solid contact with the ball. Then you can get your putter adjusted and know that it's making the best use of your stroke.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Limerick Summary: 2011 Timberlake Shriners

Winner: Kevin Na

Around the wider world of golf: We've got several first-timers this week. Kenny Perry overcame his grief over his sister's death Saturday to win the SAS Championship for his first Champions Tour victory; and Danny Lee won a playoff to snag the WNB Golf Classic, his first Nationwide Tour win. Elsewhere, Michael Hoey won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the ET; Felicity Johnson won the LET's Paris International; Yukari Baba won the JLPGA's Japan Women's Open; and Hideki Matsuyama defended his title at the Asian Amateur Championships, earning himself a return trip to the Masters.

Look who's got a trophy -- Kevin Na!

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am that Kevin Na finally won. Do you have any idea how long I've waited to do this Limerick Summary? It's been begging me to write it...

Still, I guess I should take a few minutes to talk about Kevin's win first, eh?

Not that I know what to say. Kevin's "meticulous shotmaking" is the stuff of legend now, especially since everybody has seen that wild "pull up" he does if he doesn't like a swing he's already started.

They've also seen that incredible short game and putting stroke of his. If you only saw them, you'd wonder why it took him so long to win.

The most common belief is that Kevin over-analyzes his swing. He said as much over the weekend. Then there's his obsession with winning. He told Brandel Chamblee that not a day went by that he didn't think about winning. (After so long, I think that's understandable.) And it's hard to think the constant talk about his slow play doesn't take its toll as well. The fact that he persevered until he finally got that win is a testament to how tough-minded he is.

And he needed all of that toughness. Nick Watney pushed him hard all the way, and Kevin just kept scrambling and knocking in putts until he finally put the tournament away. I can't congratulate him enough. It's about time, Kevin!

Of course, the big question is whether he can do it again. Many players say that the second win is even harder to get than the first one. Fortunately I know the very guy who can help him. Kevin just needs to get out of his own way... and this week's Limerick Summary relays the key to his future success:
Kevin struggled for years, then voilĂ !
He's victorious now. Hip hoorah!
Can he win back-to-back?
Here's the key: Caddyshack!
Ty Webb says, "Be the ball, Na-na-naaaaa…"
The photo came from the front page of PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I Got Nothing

Have you ever realized that so much bizarre stuff was happening that you couldn't figure out what to write about? That happened to me Saturday. So I just decided to link you to some of the weirder stories of the week.

On a sad note, golfing legend Dave Hill died on Tuesday, September 27. Hill won 13 times on the PGA Tour and 6 more on the Champions Tour, and was known for having a "somewhat sharp tongue." (If I remember correctly, he once compared Hazeltine to a cow pasture.) He died from emphysema.

Do you think your game has gone to the dogs? If you're a Jack Russell terrier named TeeTime, that means it's improving. Apparently this pooch has gained full course privileges.

Poor Luke Donald finally three-putted a green. His "three-free" streak only lasted 449 holes... since the Canadian Open back in July. At least he blew it on a 70-footer. (It's the little things, you know.)

Can he play or not? Apparently Tiger shot a 62 at the Medalist Golf Course down in Florida. I know it wasn't a competitive round and the course is only 7,157 yards long, but the slope rating of the course was 142. The max a course can get is 155, so it was pretty darn hard. And that 74.5 slope means a scratch player should expect to average about 2.5 strokes over par. The previous record was 64.

And finally, I have one word for you... Wossilroy. Over 81k people have looked at this picture:

Here is my new club @McilroyRory made for me.  on Twitpic

They couldn't wait for the media to give them a silly name, so they made their own! It just doesn't get any weirder than that.

There's no way I could have competed with this stuff. Of course, my Limerick Summary tomorrow is another matter entirely... ;-)