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Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Couple of Lessons from the Ricoh

While watching the second round of the Women's British Open (and listening to much of the commentary during and afterward) I picked up a couple of tips that may help you score better in your next round.

One concerned the Kobra, Lydia Ko. Have you noticed how easily she always seems to be swinging, no matter what kind of shot she's playing? She doesn't look like she's swinging any harder when she hits a drive than when she hits a pitch, although she's clearly creating much more clubhead speed with the drive. Andy North mentioned how she seems to be just "letting the game come to her" -- a phrase I've referred to before because it gets used quite often in regard to Lydia.

Here's an interesting note in relation to that thought: Of the players in the Top 10, only Vicky Hurst is considered a bomber -- and this despite playing in the wind! Clearly "playing within herself" and "letting the game come to her" hasn't hurt Lydia's play. It's her first time playing an Open and look how well she's doing.

And of course, the leader is Jiyai Shin, one of the shortest hitters in the field. Ironically, she doesn't try to hit special low shots to keep them under the wind. Like Tom Watson, she simply plays her normal shots. What caught my attention was somebody (I don't remember who) used the same description of her shots as they use of Tom Watson -- namely, that Jiyai gets a "heavy hit." I've talked about that before -- it simply means that they hit the ball solidly, in the middle of the clubface (in the "sweetspot") time after time after time.

I think this is part of "playing within yourself" as well. You tend to mis-hit the ball when you try to swing too hard.

Watch both Lydia and Jiyai today and see if you don't see a certain ease in the way they swing the club and hit the ball, even though you know they're putting a lot of effort into it. This is only possible if you can stay fairly relaxed -- or at least not tensed up -- during your swing. And finding the happy medium there is simply a matter of a few minutes in the backyard swinging your club. How fast can you swing without having to tense up at the change of direction? It's not hard to find that level of effort; it's just hard to keep using it when you're out on the course!

One last thought -- about the tournament in general, not swing tips -- is that Jiyai is clearly the one to beat but I haven't given up on So Yeon Ryu yet. She's at even (T11), and 9 shots may not be too far behind with 36 holes to play. When she won the 2011 U.S. Open, she opened 74-69 and then shot two 69s in a (nearly continuous) 36-hole run.

If Jiyai doesn't come out hot today, several players may yet catch her. Remember, ESPN2 is listing their coverage from 9am until 2pm ET, but Terry Gannon said they were going to cover the tournament to the end. Enjoy!

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