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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My WGC-Bridgestone Preview

The other big tournament this week is the WGC-Bridgestone, sometimes known as the WGC-Tiger Woods Annuity because Tiger has won it 7 times.

Of course, the playing field for this event is the legendary Firestone Country Club, which has hosted PGA Tour events for over 50 years. It's a 7400 yard, par 70 monster that's seen some truly amazing golf over the years -- not all of it from Tiger! The following photo, as well as a slide show showing shots of all 18 holes, is here on the course page. The slide show is called the "Course Walk," if you're looking for the link.

18th at Firestone

There's also an "expert picks" page at the tournament site, and I was amazed to see that NO ONE picked Phil Mickelson as even a possibility! Hasn't Phil taught us not to write him off anywhere he's playing?

Personally, while the experts seem to have settled on a group of about 8 to 10 players that are most likely to win -- and frankly, they're not unreasonable picks -- I have a few unmentioned names who will make up my picks for the week (in no particular order):
  1. Phil Mickelson: As I said, I am unwilling to rule Phil out as a possibility anywhere since Muirfield. I'm not so sure he'll win this week -- he's clearly aimed at the PGA next week -- and he says he's a bit rusty, but I expect him to play well.
  2. Jason Day: I can't understand why Jason is getting no love. His finishes before each of this year's majors have seemed mediocre, then he just seems to turn it on. Although he didn't play particularly well at Muirfield (besides Phil, who did?), I suspect he's going to play well this week.
  3. Jim Furyk: Furyk always seems to play well here, and I bet last year's loss to Keegan Bradley will have him motivated for one of his best performances of the year.
  4. Angel Cabrera: There's a major next week. Need a better reason for him to "show up"?
  5. Harris English: Harry had the expected lapse after his first win at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, but his finishes have been trending upward since. If his GIR is up a bit this week, he's got a real good chance at a WGC.
There are my 5 picks. We'll see who does better, me or the experts!

Finally, the TV times. GC will have the first two rounds, CBS the last two, and all are listed as starting at 2pm ET. In addition, GC will broadcast early coverage of the last two rounds from noon till 1:30pm ET.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Women's British Open Preview

We've got two big tournaments this week, so today we'll prep for the biggest -- the RICOH Women's British Open.

I won't rehash the arguments about whether Inbee Park can get a Grand Slam this week or not. I've already covered that topic in an earlier post and will stick by my belief that if an Inbee win this week doesn't constitute a Grand Slam, then golf history MUST be rewritten to acknowledge all the "Grand Slams" that have already been won. As I pointed out in my previous post, if a Grand Slam is defined as winning all the available majors in a given calendar year, then that feat has been accomplished dozens of times by men and women alike. While the term "slam" comes from bridge and connotes winning all the available tricks (13), the term "grand slam" comes from baseball and has always been associated with the number 4.

At any rate, Inbee's quest to win 4 in a row is the big story this week. Of the last Opens, Jiyai Shin has 2 (2008 & 2012), Yani Tseng has 2 (2010 & 2011), and Catriona Matthew has 1 (2009). While Yani continues to struggle, both Jiyai and Catriona are proven links players who are playing reasonably well and could certainly be spoilers.

Other players are definitely playing well. In particular, Beatriz Recari, Karrie Webb, and Stacy Lewis all have to be taken as serious contenders, as each has multiple wins around the world this season. In addition, Karrie has won the Women's British Open 3 times (though only the 2002 win counts in her majors total).

The secondary storyline is whether an American can break the now double-digit win streak of foreign players in majors. (Foreign to us Americans, of course. You South Koreans out there are saying, "Foreigners? What foreigners?")

The Constructivist has a good summary of the main storylines over at Mostly Harmless. (This post also has links to two articles by Mechelle Voepel over at ESPNW, both of which are very informative.) He also has the results of Monday's final qualifying attempts. The biggest shock to me is that Mel Reid failed to qualify.

And as usual, Tony Jesselli has a very good preview of the event over at Tony's LPGA Report.

The main tournament page at LPGA.com is located at this link.

Here are the TV times posted at LPGA.com:
  • Aug 1: ESPN2 9:00 am-12:00 pm ET
  • Aug 2: ESPN2 9:00 am-12:00 pm ET
  • Aug 3: ESPN2 10:00 am-1:00 pm ET
  • Aug 4: ESPN2 10:00 am-1:00 pm ET
Note that it's ESPN2, not ESPN. It seems that ESPN is primarily covering PGA Tour events now while ESPN2 takes care of the other tours.

That should give you most of the info you need to really enjoy watching the RICOH. And by all means take time to read the two articles by Mechelle Voepel; TC did us all a favor when he included those links.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 RBC Canadian Open

Winner: Brandt Snedeker

Around the wider world of golf: Wow, what a busy weekend! Scottie Scheffler won the US Junior Amateur and Gabriella Then won the US Girl's Junior Amateur; Michael Hoey won the M2M Russian Open on the ET; Bernhard Langer and Mark Wiebe will finish up a playoff this morning to determine the winner of the Senior Open Championship on the Champions Tour; Ainil Johani Abu Bakar won the Taiwan LPGA Kenda Tire Open on the LAGT; Karrie Webb won the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters on the LET; Olivia Jordan-Higgins won the Credit Union Classic on the Symetra Tour; and Kevin Tway (yep, that's 1986 PGA Championship winner Bob Tway's son) won a playoff at the Albertsons Boise Open on the Web.com Tour. (UPDATE: Wiebe won the playoff. I'm still in shock that Langer ended up in a playoff at all!)

Sneds gives 'em what for in Canada

This photo should be captioned, "Take THAT, all you players at the RBC Canadian Open... except for you, Hunter. Thanks for going home, buddy!"

Would Hunter Mahan have won the tournament if he'd stayed and played with the lead instead of charging back to Texas and his wife Kandi for the birth of his daughter Zoe Olivia? (In case you missed it, she was born around 3:30am Sunday morning, about 3 hours after I finished Sunday's post. Mother and daughter are doing well, by all reports.) I don't know. I doubt it, since golf would have been the LAST thing on Hunter's mind after the phone call that Kandi had gone into labor.

But RBC-sponsored player and honorary Canadian Brandt Snedeker clearly didn't mind the assist. (Brandt's caddie is Scott Vail, actual Canadian and son of the former Calgary Flames hockey star Eric ‘Big Train’ Vail.) Brandt told the media:
"Zoe will be getting a very nice baby gift from me," Snedeker said. "I can't thank Kandi enough for going into labor early. I don't know if I'd be sitting here if she hadn't. But that is a way more important thing than a golf tournament. I missed a golf tournament when my first was born, and it was the best decision I ever made. I'm sure Hunter would say the same thing."
True, but this win is important to Brandt for several reasons. Of course, it gave him his second win of the season -- pushing him into the rarified company of Tiger, Phil, and Kuchar -- as well as putting to rest any more questions about his injured ribs.

But it also moved him to 3rd in the FedExCup rankings. Did you know that no FedExCup champion has ever made it back to the finals the next year? Brandt is in good position to do that now, what with only 3 events left until the playoffs, which could mean he'll be making history. There's a huge gap between 4th and 5th place -- 1020 points -- which means the top 4 are pretty much locks for now. While the points will be redistributed when the playoffs start, all Brandt needs to do is play his normal solid game and he'll likely reach East Lake still in the top 5.

With his future in his own hands.

Brandt Snedeker seems to like it that way.

In the meantime, there's a WGC and a major to be won. Brandt is 32, just like Adam Scott and Justin Rose (and markedly unlike Phil, but that's another story), winners of the Masters and US Open earlier this year. Now if he can just convince Hunter to stay home with Kandi and Zoe until after the PGA...

In any case, this week's Limerick Summary is dedicated to the man who knows how to turn a "labor of love" into a victory:
Once Hunter flew back home to Kandi,
Brandt said, “Winning here would be dandy!
My caddie’s a local
So I’m sure these folk’ll
Be glad… Plus, the points will be handy.“
If you want to see a picture of Brandt with his trophy, you can find it here at the tournament page. Obviously, I liked this photo from PGATOUR.com much better!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hunting for a Baby

The big news on Saturday wasn't that Scottie Scheffler won the US Junior Amateur over Davis Riley. Neither was the continued low scoring at the Web.com Tour's Albertsons Boise Open, nor Bernhard Langer opening up a 3-shot lead at the Senior Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. (Although I was pretty impressed with the latter.)

No, it was Hunter Mahan's unexpected exit from the RBC Canadian Open. In case you didn't hear, Hunter's tee time was delayed by weather. He finally got out to the practice area and had hit maybe two balls when he got a phone call. His wife Kandi had just gone into labor three weeks early:



That's right -- the leader of the tournament simply left. And nobody had anything bad to say about it, either. (Brad Fritsch also had to WD because of a bad back, but hardly anybody noticed. You know what show business people say -- never work with kids or animals!)

Kandi and Hunter are expecting a little girl. (They were expecting her after the PGA Championship. Plans change!) The word is that they're planning to name her Zoe. Although I waited as late as I could and kept check on both Hunter's Twitter account and Google, it appears the child had no intention of arriving in time for me to announce her in this post.

You can check Hunter's Twitter account yourself at this link.

The original of the video above is on this PGATOUR.com page.

And you can read some of the original tweets about what happened in this USATODAY.com article.

In the meantime, I guess we'll all just have to wait for the news... and for somebody else to win the Canadian Open.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

ANOTHER 59?!?!?

I suppose I could use this post to gloat a bit about Bernhard Langer being tied for the lead at the Senior Open Championship. I only picked one player for this major, and there he is! But I won't.

I suppose I could wax eloquent about Hunter Mahan's Friday 64 at the RBC Canadian Open, which put him in the lead. It's not like he was the only player to go low -- Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey also shot a 64, and John Merrick blistered the course with a 62. But neither of them were backing up a decent first round either! Still, I won't focus on that either.

What has my mind whirling today is the 59 that Russell Knox shot at the Albertsons Boise Open... but probably not for the reasons you might think.

As far as the event goes, I'm not so sure 59 is all that amazing. Bear in mind that the Hillcrest GC is handing out low scores like condoms at a brothel. (If you'll pardon the analogy.) There were two 62s, seven 63s, and another five 64s. That's FIFTEEN scores lower than we normally see, week in and week out. So I don't think it's so unusual that we saw a 59 Friday.

At this rate, we might even see another one before the tournament is finished.

No, what fascinates me about this is that we saw a 59 just a couple of weeks ago on the Web.com Tour. Will Wilcox shot a final-round 59 at the Utah Championship. In the month of July we've seen the Web.com Tour's "59 Club" expand from 3 players to 5 -- a 67% increase!

And so I have to ask myself why. I'm not sure I like the answer.

Look, I'm not one of those guys who thinks "par means something." In my opinion, par has precisely two reasons to exist:
  1. to provide an "invisible opponent" for singles squeezing in some golf
  2. to make it possible to compute handicaps
Many of you may have read my 2009 post Why Not a Par 67 Course? where I suggested we reduce par on some of the older courses so the Tour could use them again. My reasoning is that we rarely say a player shot, say, 284 at an event any more -- we say they shot 4-under (if it's a par-72 course). If we reduced par to 67 on some of those old courses, all we'd be doing is reducing the number of shots under par... which would make the course sound harder. (If you won by shooting four 65s on such a course, you'd only be 8-under.) In actuality you'd just be eliminating some of the "gimme" strokes from the score.

The following day I did a post called Par and the Weekend Golfer where I talked about the concept of "personal par." (You'll see the name Vince Spence in the comments on these two posts. Vince used to do a blog called The One-Eyed Golfer and he was quite a historian of the game. He passed away in 2010. His death was a great loss to the golf blogging community.) I wrote something in this second post that came to mind when I saw that 59 on Friday:
For those of you who didn’t check out the comments on that last post, Greg at From the Rough voiced an opinion shared by many golfers: “…the last thing we weekend hacks would want to see is a farther separation between pros and joe's - Par is now 67 for the pros?” And my response was “…almost everybody expects the pros to birdie the par 5s with a two-putt. Doesn't that mean they're already playing a par 68... and we all accept it?”
 
The question of whether par really means anything or not is at the base of our differing perspectives.

I think one of the best things we weekend golfers can do to improve our games is to forget about par entirely… or at least reduce it to a mere suggestion of what we might expect if we play well. Many definitions of par describe it as the result of ‘perfect play.’ (Which, presumably, means that a birdie is ‘better than perfect’ and an eagle is ‘pretty near godlike.’) But par was always determined somewhat arbitrarily, and no more so than today. When par3s can measure 265 yards, par truly has become meaningless for the weekend golfer.
Have tour players really become so good that they can shoot such ridiculous scores at will? I don't think so. You see, I watched two short little courses called Merion and Muirfield totally destroy the greats of the game. In those two tournaments a grand total of ONE player shot under par. You can argue that conditions at majors are meant to be tough, and you wouldn't want to watch them every week. And I'd be the first to agree...

But I'd also say that normal tournaments should offer at least a bit of a challenge. When 15 players shoot 7-under or lower, that's not happening. We're rapidly approaching the point where shooting 59 doesn't really mean anything at all.

There's some maneuvering room between 6-inch rough and no rough. There's a happy medium between 20-yard fairways and 50-yard fairways. And most of the longer hitters seem to have problems with shorter holes. Has nobody noticed any of this?

Maybe they should. I don't want to demean what Russell Knox did Friday... but that once-magical 59 no longer means as much as it once did.

It seems to me that the tour pros are already playing par-67 courses. Call me when someone shoots 57 in an official event.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hit It Like Phil

I found this short video over at golf.com. Teacher Brian Manzella shows how to hit that little 3-wood approach shot to the 17th at Muirfield.



I like the way he keeps this so simple. You can probably get the effect Brian talks about by setting your weight a bit more on your lead foot with your normal ball position to get the steeper plane, aim slightly more to the right (or left if you're a lefty) and make sure you square the club to your intended target by using your trailing hand a bit more. (That is, straighten your trailing elbow a bit more as you strike the ball.) Pretty cool, huh?

If for some reason you can't play the embedded video here, you can go to this link at golf.com to watch it.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Senior Open Championship Times... Finally!

First of all, it took me forever but I finally found the TV schedule for the Senior Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. All four days -- ESPN2 will show it from noon till 2pm ET. It's not much, but it's all we got.

The weather looks like it's going to be much easier than it was at Muirfield last week, but that doesn't make picking a winner any easier. This is the 3rd straight major for some of the seniors, and none of them have played particularly well. Fred Couples was low man at Muirfield and he finished T32 at +9. O'Meara won there in 1998, but after two good opening rounds I wasn't that impressed with his weekend at Muirfield. It's hard to pick any of the seniors from Muirfield to show up big this week.

Likewise, while Kenny Perry won the last 2 senior majors, I don't expect him to light it up at Royal Birkdale. I could be wrong of course -- I've heard several commentators say Kenny's draw will play perfectly there. But he'll have to prove it to me; 3 straight majors for anybody not named Inbee Park is a stretch for me.

Instead, I'm going with a name no one has mentioned: Bernhard Langer. So far this season he's got 2 wins, 2 seconds, and 2 thirds... and yet nobody seems to know he exists when it comes to talking majors. I think he's due.

So remember -- Senior Open Championship, noon till 2pm ET, ESPN2. That's the ticket.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Pick the Hole Challenge

There's a good chance you've already heard about this, but here's the announcement the PGA sent me about this opportunity for fans to pick one of the hole positions on the 15th for the final round of this year's PGA Championship. It enters you in a sweepstakes to win a trip for two to the 2014 PGA Championship as well.


‘PGA CHAMPIONSHIP PICK THE HOLE LOCATION CHALLENGE HOSTED BY JACK NICKLAUS’ TO OFFER UNPRECEDENTED GOLF FAN ENGAGEMENT AND EDUCATION

PGA.com Fan Voting to Determine Specific Location of Hole No. 15 During 95th PGA Championship Final Round

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (July 23, 2013) – For the first time ever, golf fans worldwide will be able to have a direct impact on the hole location of a major championship, through the newly created “PGA Championship Pick the Hole Location Challenge Hosted by Jack Nicklaus.” The Challenge will be conducted in conjunction with the 95th PGA Championship, the Season’s Final Major, at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., Aug. 5-11.

A collaborative learning experience between The PGA of America and record-tying, five-time PGA Champion Jack Nicklaus, the “PGA Championship Pick the Hole Location Challenge” is designed to educate fans on how course setup impacts a golfer’s strategy in playing a hole; attract more people to the game; and help explain what hole location information players are provided each day.

As a result, fans are encouraged to visit PGA.com from July 23-Aug. 10, in order to vote for one of four exciting and challenging final-round hole locations for the par-3, 181-yard 15th hole at Oak Hill. Nicklaus, whose final PGA Championship victory occurred at Oak Hill in 1980, collaborated with PGA Chief Championships Officer Kerry Haigh to select the picturesque 15th hole due to the impact it will likely have on the PGA Championship’s outcome. As a result, Haigh has identified and selected each of these four distinct Championship hole locations for fans to vote. On August 11, during Sunday’s final round coverage on TNT and CBS, fans will be able to see the winning hole position that will be used on the 15th green.

“The opportunity for fans to take part in the interactive ‘PGA Championship Pick the Hole Location Challenge’ is part of a new era in engagement that connects golf fans with the Season’s Final Major in a fun and dramatic way,” said PGA President Ted Bishop. “The PGA of America is delighted to present this innovative opportunity, as we believe this is the first time that consumers have been able to make a direct and significant impact on a global sports arena. We are honored that the legendary Jack Nicklaus will lead fans as their host and teacher in understanding the nuances that the greatest players in golf consider and think about regarding course setup and hole locations—and the effect their selection will have on the eventual outcome of the 95th PGA Championship.”

PGA.com, the Official Website of The PGA of America which is managed by Turner Sports, will also offer video vignettes from Nicklaus that will educate golfers on how course setup impacts a golfer’s strategy in playing a hole.  Fans are also encouraged to follow the conversation via #pgachamp #YouPick.

“The chance for golf fans to interact with the PGA Championship and play a role in shaping the outcome of the final round fascinates me,” Nicklaus said. “It’s like being able to call the shots during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. In addition to playing a key role in the outcome of the Championship, golf fans can learn many aspects of on-course strategy, as The PGA of America and I present educational videos to enhance their golf experience. I believe this new concept will serve as an exciting hands-on learning experience for golf fans and I’m happy to be involved.”

Haigh, who has set up PGA Championship, Ryder Cup, Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, and PGA Grand Slam of Golf courses since 1989, is excited about the possibilities of the Challenge. “Now, golf fans will experience what is involved with the selection of hole locations, as well as the dramatic effect that this placement has on the game plans of the world’s best players. Accordingly, golf enthusiasts can then turn to the legendary Jack Nicklaus for his exclusive insight on golf course management.”

A sweepstakes will also be held on PGA.com in conjunction with the “PGA Championship Pick the Hole Location Challenge,” with entrants having an opportunity to win a behind-the-scenes experience for two during the 2014 PGA Championship at Nicklaus-designed Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.

The PGA Championship perennially features the strongest field in golf and is one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world. Since 1916, golf's best professionals have been competing for the PGA Championship's coveted Wanamaker Trophy, with a list of champions that includes: Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen, Walter Hagen and Nicklaus.

About The PGA of America
Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has maintained a twofold mission: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf. By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the multi-billion dollar golf industry. By creating and delivering world-class championships and innovative programs, The PGA of America elevates the public’s interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere. As The PGA nears its centennial, the PGA brand represents the very best in golf.

About PGA.com
PGA.com is the official online destination for The PGA of America and is home to the PGA Championship, the Senior PGA Championship, The PGA Grand Slam of Golf and The Ryder Cup. Beginning in 2002, Turner Sports and the PGA formed a multi-year alliance with a mission to serve the golfing public, PGA Professionals and the golf industry with products and services to grow the game of golf.  The two organizations recently expanded the deal through 2019 to include licensing with Turner’s Cartoon Network Enterprises (CNE) serving as the PGA’s licensing agent in the youth marketplace.

As a leader and innovator in broadband golf coverage, PGA.com continues to gain success for its PGA.com LIVE video presentation of PGA’s premier events. In 2012, PGA.com’s PGA Championship LIVE received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding New Approaches in Sports; in 2010, PGA.com garnered a Webby Award for Best Interactive Video for its 2010 Ryder Cup LIVE coverage. In 2009, PGA.com’s on air, online and mobile coverage of the PGA Championship was nominated for an Emmy® by the National Television Academy and was awarded a CommArts Interactive award for the PGA Championship LIVE video and the PGA Championship iPhone app.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Newest Phil Debate

No doubt you heard some of the debate on Monday; in fact, you may have been involved in the debate with your friends: With this latest win, where does Phil Mickelson rank among the elite players of the game?

It's far from having an easy answer. This post is going to give you some of the figures that shape the debate, as well as some of the other considerations that aren't so easily quantified. While I don't know if I can give you any clear answers, perhaps I can provide some extra ammunition for your own debates! The lists were either taken from Wikipedia or derived from those lists.

TOTAL MAJORS
This is the number that seems to have gotten the most attention on TV. Here's where Phil sits in the major count. Please note that I've listed players with the same number of majors in no particular order; I merely wanted Phil's position to show how many men are ahead of him. Note also that Bobby Jones is only credited with professional majors in this list; if his US and British Amateurs are counted, he has 13 majors... but he's ahead of Phil in either case:
  1. Jack Nicklaus -- 18
  2. Tiger Woods -- 14
  3. Walter Hagen -- 11
  4. Ben Hogan -- 9
  5. Gary Player -- 9
  6. Tom Watson -- 8
  7. Gene Sarazen -- 7
  8. Arnold Palmer -- 7
  9. Sam Snead -- 7
  10. Bobby Jones -- 7
  11. Harry Vardon -- 7
  12. Lee Trevino -- 6
  13. Nick Faldo -- 6
  14. Phil Mickelson (and 5 others) -- 5
By this list, Phil is tied for 14th in total majors.

TOTAL PGA TOUR WINS
When you count total wins, Phil ranks much higher among the greats. Please note that these are only PGA Tour wins, not worldwide wins:
  1. Sam Snead -- 82
  2. Tiger Woods -- 78
  3. Jack Nicklaus --73
  4. Ben Hogan -- 64
  5. Arnold Palmer -- 62
  6. Byron Nelson -- 52
  7. Billy Casper -- 51
  8. Walter Hagan -- 45
  9. Phil Mickelson -- 42
Phil is 9th alone in total wins. Note, however, that Billy Casper has only 3 majors and Byron Nelson has 5 majors just like Phil.

I wanted to do worldwide wins, but that info wasn't readily available. I can tell you that Phil has 9, giving him 51 wins on the PGA and Euro Tours combined, while Seve (who also has 5 majors) has 9 PGA and 50 ET wins, for a total of 59. I don't know how many other worldwide wins the two have, but I suspect Seve has a decided advantage there.

CAREER SLAMS
Phil's win gave him the 3rd leg of the career slam. I'm including only players with at least 5 majors here. The dotted line divides "career slammers" from "3-leggers." Phil comes in here at #12:
  1. Jack Nicklaus -- 3 career slams
  2. Tiger Woods -- 3 career slams
  3. Ben Hogan -- 1 career slam
  4. Gary Player -- 1 career slam
  5. Gene Sarazen -- 1 career slam
    --------------------------------------
  6. Walter Hagen -- 3 legs of slam
  7. Tom Watson -- 3 legs of slam
  8. Arnold Palmer -- 3 legs of slam
  9. Sam Snead -- 3 legs of slam
  10. Lee Trevino -- 3 legs of slam
  11. Byron Nelson -- 3 legs of slam
  12. Phil Mickelson -- 3 legs of slam
Note that I have placed Byron Nelson ahead of Phil. That's because he has the same number of majors but more overall wins.

MAJOR/TOTAL PGA TOUR WIN PERCENTAGE
This one shows what percentage of a player's PGA Tour wins are majors. Consider this a measure of how often the player shows up at big events.
  1. Bobby Jones -- 77.8%
  2. Nick Faldo -- 66.7%
  3. Seve Ballesteros -- 55.6%
  4. Gary Player -- 37.5%
  5. Jack Nicklaus -- 24.7% 
  6. Walter Hagen -- 24.4%
  7. Lee Trevino -- 20.7%
  8. Tom Watson -- 20.5%
  9. Tiger Woods -- 17.9%
  10. Gene Sarazen -- 17.9%
  11. Ben Hogan -- 14.1%
  12. Phil Mickelson -- 11.9%
  13. Arnold Palmer -- 11.3%
  14. Byron Nelson -- 9.6%
  15. Sam Snead -- 8.5%
This list looks skewed because some players had very few PGA Tour wins. Jones, Ballesteros, and Faldo only have 9, while Player only has 24. Without complete win totals worldwide for each player, I decided to settle for PGA Tour wins only. But bear in mind that all the majors count as PGA Tour wins, so this isn't an unreasonable decision. Jones has 6 majors in his 9 pro wins -- simply amazing!

Even with the clearly skewed percentages for the Top 4, Phil still comes in at #12. (I was very surprised at how low Tiger is on this list.)

Personally, given these figures, it seems to me that Phil can be fairly ranked at #12 all-time. If Phil can snag a US Open, completing the career slam, I think that and his win total would be enough to push him into the Top 10. Two more majors -- any two majors -- would do it for sure.

No matter where you stand in the debate, one thing is no longer in doubt: No one should underestimate Phil Mickelson anymore!

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 Open Championship

Winner: Phil Mickelson

Around the wider world of golf: Beatriz Recari won for the second time this season at the LPGA's Marathon Classic;  Ssu-Chia Cheng won the Taiwan LPGA Chung Cheng Ladies Open on the LAGT; Yumiko Yoshida won the Samantha Thavasa Ladies on the JLPGA (the Constructivist has details); Jamie Lovemark won the Midwest Classic on the Web.com Tour; and Woody Austin (remember Aquaman from the Presidents Cup?) won the Sanderson Farms Championship, the PGA Tour's alternate event, at the ripe old age of 49. (Way to go, Woody!) Neither Nicholas nor Lexi Thompson won their tournaments, but both got Top5s and Lexi won a car with a hole-in-one.

Phil did WHAT?

Phil did WHAT?!?!?

Aren't we used to seeing almost anything from Phil by now?
  • We said he couldn't play links golf... so he won the Scottish Open on a links course.
  • We said he couldn't win the Open Championship, that his game didn't fit it... then he turns in what is arguably the best final round of his life to do just that on a much tougher links course.
  • Did we mention that he absolutely defied logic by winning both links events back-to-back, when players rarely ever win the week before a major?
  • Oh, and did we mention that he made history by becoming the first man to win the Scottish Open and the Open Championship back-to-back?
  • Did we ever expect him to get the third leg of the career slam as his 5th major? Been there, done that...
I don't need to go into everything that happened -- if you haven't seen the footage enough times yet, let me just say that he started the day 5 back, then shot 4-under on the final 6 holes to win by 3. And he did it on the heels of that loss at Merion, which Tim Rosaforte reported depressed him enough that he had trouble just getting out of bed for a couple of days. This is on the scale of Rory's comeback after the Masters loss to win the US Open.

And in case you missed it, Phil proved he can even joke about it now. When ESPN's Tom Rinaldi ended his interview by saying that Phil now had 3 legs of the career grand slam, Phil quipped, "And if 6 seconds counted as a win, I'd have all 4."

Phil will jump to #2 on the OWGR today but he leaps all the way to #1 on my own RGWR. I figure anybody to who makes history and beats his own demons (both in style of play and in overcoming a personal barrier) while snagging his 5th career major -- and this IS his 3rd win this season, after all -- jumps a player whose 5 wins don't include a major. In addition, Phil has 2 big wins since Tiger got his 5th one, and more Top5s overall. This is a game of "what have you done for me lately?," after all.

This week's Limerick Summary salutes Phil the Thrill, who proved he still has a lot of tricks left in that grab bag of his:
The Merion loss left him reeling…
But from five shots back, this win was stealing!
Phil’s rush to the front
Promptly ended the hunt
For the Jug. It’s a much better feeling!
The photo came from the Open Championship page at majorschampionships.com.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Rare Brother-Sister Double

Okay... to the best of my knowledge it's not just rare, it's non-existent. No brother and sister have won tournaments on the exact same day. But that may not be the story by tonight. And the story may have slipped under your radar if you've been totally focused on the Open Championship.

Start with one popular up-and-coming young player -- in this case, US teen sensation Lexi Thompson. Lexi has an LPGA win, an LET win, and a win on a men's mini-tour (the Fuzion Minor League Golf Tour, in case you're interested). She's playing at the LPGA's Marathon Classic this weekend and she goes into the third round T3, 3 strokes behind co-leaders Beatriz Recari and Paula Creamer. If you've seen her play, you know she's got the firepower to make up the distance; all she needs is a few putts to drop.

Lexi has a brother named Nicolas who has a single win on the Web.com Tour. He's playing at the Sanderson Farms Championship -- the full-field alternate PGA Tour event -- and he's tied for the lead. And if you haven't seen him play before, he's fun to watch. His swing has a wild loop at the top... and I don't think he knows how to swing at less than 110%. He was quite literally flagging it all day Saturday.

Now, let your mind wander for a moment... as the Open Championship winds down, what if both of these players should happen to win their respective events?

Remember these faces...

LexiNicolas

Most commentators I heard Saturday said that whoever wins the Open today will change the face of golf. Lexi and Nick probably won't change the face of golf if they both win... but they certainly could make some cool history of their own before the day is done.

And best of all, the Open will be over by the time these tournaments are broadcast on GC, so you can watch to see if it happens!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Meanwhile, at the Halfway Point...

So, during the first two rounds, Muirfield proved she can be just as dreadful when it's pleasant as she can be when it's nasty. The freezing monsoon of 2002 gave way to the concrete jungle of 2013... and players found themselves sweating. I certainly can't root for the golf course... she's been a bit of a bitch the two times I've seen her!

Did anybody really expect this leaderboard? There are 9 major winners within 4 shots of the lead and a ponytailed 49-year-old leading the field. The fairways stimp out at a higher speed than the greens. And this baby is wide open!

In a rare tour de force, all 5 of my picks made the cut. Granted, neither Fred Couples nor Graeme McDowell is likely to win unless there is a MASSIVE collapse from the leaders but at least they made the cut.

At +1 both Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth still have decent chances to win. Conditions over the weekend are predicted to be about the same as Friday, so players will have a chance to adapt. Even if the R&A decides to soften the greens a bit or use easier pins (and really, do we expect that? Really?) it's unlikely that we'll see any deep scoring. I'll be surprised if the winner goes deeper than -6, and I'm thinking it'll be closer to the -3 where the Mechanic currently sits.

Despite having picked Tiger, Phil, and Jordan as likely winners beforehand, I have to like Lee Westwood and Miguel Angel Jimenez to get it done. Being 4 shots back is a lot in these conditions -- especially with the caliber of players at -1 and -2 -- so I believe Phil and Jordan have only outside chances now.

As for Tiger, he has yet to prove he can play well over the weekend at a major since his comeback, plus he's never won from behind at a major. I certainly don't see any reason this couldn't become his first time... but he's still got to do it.

On the other hand, the Mechanic has nothing to lose and Westwood is putting better than I can ever remember. I like the fact that both are playing freely, without a lot of technical things in their heads. (Westwood has been working on his full swing with Sean Foley, but Foley says it's just been alignment and posture -- not technique. Likewise, although Lee's been working with Ian Baker-Finch on his putting, IBF says Lee figured his main problem out all by himself. He was gripping too tightly.)

So who wins? If Tiger wins, everybody will say I went chalk. If Phil or Jordan wins, I'll look like a genius...

But I suspect things will turn out differently. My heart says the Mechanic becomes the oldest major champion ever, but my head says Lee Westwood will finally get it done.

Given the leaderboard, I suspect I'll be satisfied no matter what happens. At least SOMEBODY will find a way to beat Muirfield this weekend!

Friday, July 19, 2013

What the Nike Pros Are Wearing This Week

(I've made friends with some of the folks over at Function18 in the UK and they occasionally send me potential fashion articles. Thursday they sent me this little piece which I found interesting because of the attachment. If you click this link, you'll open a PDF that shows you the complete outfits that 12 different Nike pros (including Tiger and Rory) will be wearing each day at the Open. If you like to dress like your favorite player, now's your chance!)

The Open Championship is now under way and Nike Golf have released details of what each Nike athlete will be wearing throughout the tournament. With Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Nick Watney and Thorbjorn Olesen dressed head to toe in the new 2013 Nike golf collection; all eyes will be on these key players throughout the four day event.

Each of the Nike athletes will be not only dressed in the new Autumn / Winter collection for the tournament, but will also be showcasing the latest sporting technology, garments designed to provide ultimate weather protection and maximum breathability.

New A/W polo’s, outerwear and shoes will be debuted at the event next week, with each key player dressed in the new collection, still in fitting with their signature golf styles. As with any major tournament, Nike has released detail of each athletes outfit for each day of the event, a great way to showcase the new lines and their performance capabilities.

One of the new collection pieces which will be launched at the Open Championship is the innovative Nike Hyperadapy Storm-FIT jacket – If the weather changes, this garment will provide ultimate weather protection throughout the event. The unique jacket, which will be worn by Rory McIlroy, features a sweater-like stretch material and an impenetrable outer layer – with both elements working together to provide maximum protection without sacrificing performance.

Star Nike athlete Tiger Woods will sport the new Nike TW’14 footwear at the tournament, with McIlroy, Watney and Olesen wearing Nike Lunar Control footwear for maximum performance and comfort. Nike Lunar Footwear are a firm favorite for many golfers, from armatures to professionals, and are available to purchase from leading golf clothing stores. 

Merritt Richardson, Vice President of Global Golf Apparel and Footwear for Nike Golf said; “We make sure our athletes have the base layers, Dri-FIT polo’s, cover-ups and outerwear so they are prepared for a round that could see four different seasons over 18 holes.

With our breathable, lightweight fabrics, layering is key without adding weight or bulk.  Our athletes will be armed with the essentials so they don’t have to think about their apparel during their quest for a Major Championship trophy.”

With 12 outstanding Nike athletes taking place in the 2013 Championship, keep your eyes peeled for the latest autumn / winter collection from Nike debuted at Murfeild.

Online store Function18 stock a wide range of Nike Golf clothing and will shortly stocking key autumn / winter Nike Golf pieces debuted at the championship in the next few weeks. Visit www.function18.co.uk to shop Nike golf online today.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Oh Yeah, the Ladies Are Playing Too...

Look, we all know that the gals aren't going to attract many eyes this week because of the Open Championship. That doesn't mean that I'm going to ignore them.

I'm just not going to spend much time on the tournament.

The Constructivist has done a short post over at Mostly Harmless, but Tony Jesselli has the most complete preview (as he usually does) over at Tony's LPGA Report.

The fact is, even most of the ladies won't be there; they're all headed for Scotland to practice for the RICOH Women's British Open. However, defending champion So Yeon Ryu (I heard her say that some of the girls had started calling her the KangaRyu, and I love it!) will be there, as will Inbee Park, Paula Creamer, and Lizette Salas, among others.

And, according to Tony, this event is giving out Solheim Cup points so we should see some good golf.

GC will be broadcasting today from 2pm-4pm ET, which will be right around ESPN's "changeover" when they switch from their live Open broadcast to the edited rebroadcast of the early part of the round. You might find some time in there to check in on the ladies, so be ready!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My 5 for the Open Championship

(A quick link: This Friday -- July 19 -- is the Macmillan Longest Day Golf Challenge, which raises money to fight cancer in the UK. Here's a link to a story on Golfshake.com about the charity event if you're interested in participating or sponsoring.)

Yes, the Open Championship is finally here! And it's time to pick the 5 players I've decided make the most interesting choices.

This was a hard one for me because I think a lot of players could pull this win off. For example, I like Ernie Els to pull off the "double defense" as the winner of last year's Open as well as the last Open held at Muirfield... but I didn't pick him.

Likewise, I think Rory McIlroy has a decent chance to get his act together this week and win his first Open... but I didn't pick him either.

As usual, I have picked a mixture of favorites and long shots. First, from the favorites:
  • Tiger Woods. It's hard not to believe Tiger has a chance on a course where he probably won't even need his driver. I'm still a bit concerned about that elbow -- while he says it's okay right now, four days spent smacking hard links fairways with irons isn't likely to help it stay that way. Still, I think the combination of a hard course playing short and playing shots along the ground will play into his wheelhouse.
  • Phil Mickelson. Phil has already proven that, yes he can play real links courses under real links conditions. He's in a good frame of mind after the win at the Scottish Open last week, and I won't be surprised at all if he pulls off back-to-back wins.
  • Graeme McDowell. I'm predicting this may be one of his "win" weeks. At any rate, I don't expect him to miss the cut, and his last 8 tournaments say that if he makes the cut, he'll likely win.
Now for my long shots. I put a lot of thought into these two:
  • Jordan Spieth. I know, I know. It's his first Open... but he has Walker Cup experience on links courses. He won just last week... but if Phil thinks he can do it (he's done it before, after all) then I don't see why Jordan can't do it as well. In addition, he's played more consistently than almost anybody else at the Open. Jordan Spieth ROCKS!
  • Fred Couples. Yes, a VERY dark horse indeed. Freddie hasn't even played many Opens lately -- not since 2006, when he missed the cut. But when he HAS played in the Open, he's had lots of Top10s, including a T3 in 2005 (the last time he made the cut). And he's playing really well this year on the Champions Tour... I don't know. But I have to believe there's a reason he decided to play THIS year.
So there you have it -- my unfailingly accurate picks for Open Championship domination. Remember that ESPN will carry all four rounds, starting at 4am ET Thursday morning. Here's the complete listing for ESPN's various Open broadcasts this week, as well as other pertinent info. I, for one, am thrilled to know that Ian McShane will be doing voice-overs again. (I've been a fan of his since his days on Lovejoy.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

HIT IT HARD Is Finally Out!

Well, it seems like it's taken forever but the new Quick Guide is finally finished!

HIT IT HARD coverIt's called HIT IT HARD and it took so long because... well, it teaches you how to do something that a lot of instructors say can't be done.

I'm sure you've heard instructors on TV say something like this: "We like to teach kids to hit it as hard as they can when they start, and we can straighten them out later. If they don't learn to hit it hard first, it's too hard to teach them later."

That's just crazy talk. If you can teach them to hit it straight AFTER they learn to hit it hard, you can teach them to hit it hard AFTER they learn to hit it straight. And that's what this book teaches you to do -- hit it as hard as you want without losing control or the ball!

So why did the book take me so long to write? Because there are several components to hitting it hard. This book was originally going to be three different books! And when I realized they could all be combined to teach you how to hit the ball as hard as you want, it took me a while to figure out the clearest way to do it. You see, the problem for most people is TENSION, and I needed to find a way to teach a full-out swing while simultaneously teaching you how to eliminate the tension.

HIT IT HARD is a series of drills that begins with simple rotational exercises (without a club) and gradually builds, one swing element at a time, until you are swinging the club as hard as you want. Scattered throughout the book -- as in my other Quick Guides -- are detailed explanations of the mechanics of each move (yes, with diagrams).

As you can see from the cover, the drills focus on skills that you need no matter how hard you swing; it's just that doing those skills properly becomes crucial when you swing hard. The drills teach you the following basics:
  • maintaining proper posture
  • what proper lower body movement looks like
  • synching upper and lower body movement to create separation (the power component) while maintaining swing plane (the accuracy component)
  • controlling the tension that makes your swing jerky when you swing hard
In addition, there are little tricks like simple ways to check your swing plane and how to use your breathing to control tension during your swing.

I kept tweaking the book every time I tried to edit it, which is another reason it took so long. There are things that I'll probably expand on in future blog posts and probably in other books, but I wanted to make sure everything here was clear enough that you could do things properly with just this book to guide you.

The Kindle version went live Sunday night (some of you already found it!) and the PDF and EPUB versions are available for direct download from my site. The Nook version may be available later today -- although they've changed their publishing procedures and I'm not sure it didn't change the layout a little. (For those of you who want to avoid that possibility, just remember that the EPUB from my site runs on the Nook.) The paperback will hopefully be available late this week -- initially at Amazon, then at other online retailers over the next few weeks -- and the Smashwords versions, which include Apple and Kobo, also hopefully starting sometime next week. (Again, Apple and Kobo both use the EPUB format, so you can download that version direct if you want it sooner.)

Although you don't want to swing all-out all the time, there are times when you need to muscle the ball. HIT IT HARD will teach you how to do it -- and the techniques will improve your swing whether you swing hard or not.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 John Deere Classic

Winner: Jordan Spieth

Around the wider world of golf: It was a weekend for all kinds of outstanding performances! Phil Mickelson got his first-ever links golf win at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open on the ET; Hee Young Park got her 2nd LPGA win at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic with a near record breaking final score after setting a course record Saturday; Kenny Perry got his 2nd Champions Tour major at the 34th US Senior Open; and Steven Alker won the Utah Championship on the Web.com Tour though Will Wilcox stole his thunder by shooting a 59.

Spieth hoists his first trophy

I simply can't add much to the TV broadcast except to say... Jordan Spieth ROCKS!

He started the day 6 strokes off the lead. You probably saw the miracle hole-out from the bunker on 18 to make a 3-way playoff with David Hearn and defending champion Zach Johnson. (And admit it -- until then, you expected them to change the name of the tournament from the Steve Stricker Classic to the Stricker-Johnson Invitational.) Then you saw Spieth just hang in there, playing smart golf for 5 holes until he ended up with a short putt on the final hole to win it. You saw all that.

No doubt you also heard them say that Spieth is the first teenager to win a PGA event in 82 years. (The last, according to the John Deere Classic wrap-up at PGATOUR.com, was Ralph Guldahl at the Santa Monica Open in 1931.)

What you may not realize is just how much this affects his schedule for the rest of the year. Spieth had already played well enough to lock up his Tour card for next year -- he had 5 Top10s (one of them a T2) and had made around $1.4 million. But this win did more than give him immediate Tour membership.

Firstly, the win got him a spot in the Open Championship next week. Better buy some warm woolies, Jordan -- Scotland's chilly right now!

But that's not all. As a member of the Tour he now gets to play in the FedExCup playoffs. The points he would have gotten all season now become official... and he debuts at #11 in the FedExCup standings. (Yes, he's played THAT well. At 19 years old. Like I said, Jordan Spieth ROCKS!) Do you think he's going to be a Presidents Cup Captain's pick this year? I suspect he will.

So this week's Limerick Summary salutes the Texas teen who done good. And to the rest of the Tour I offer this sage bit of advice... Be afraid. Be VERY afraid...
Beware of that teenager Spieth!
That Deere-green stuff coating his teeth
Is what’s left of the field
Since he’s eaten his fill—
From the TOP of the heap, not beneath!
The photo came from the front page of PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

QUESTION: When Is 13-Under a Bad Thing?

ANSWER: When it puts you 7 strokes behind the leader with only one round to go!

That's the position Inbee Park finds herself in at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic today. It's a measure of how good she's been over the last year that we're all calling this "an off week."

Clearly 13-under isn't a bad week under most circumstances, and it's not like she's had a bad round. She's shot 65-67-68 on a par-71 course and she's only T9 with Suzann Pettersen. It's just that lots of players are playing ridiculously well this week. Let me give you a couple of examples:
  • Catriona Matthew shot an 8-under 63 in the first round, 2 shots better than she's ever shot in her career. On Friday she followed it up with a 7-under 64 -- still better than anything she'd ever shot before this week -- and set a personal record for a 36-hole score (5 strokes better than she'd ever been before). She shot a 3-under 68 in the third round and what did it get her? Third place, 2 off the lead.
  • Gerina Pillar shot a course record 9-under 62 early in the third round. Her record didn't even make it through the day, as new leader Hee Young Park shot a NEW course record 10-under 61 in the afternoon wave.
Is it any surprise that 13-under -- normally an excellent score after 3 rounds -- just isn't getting the job done?

Inbee Park's string of consecutive victories will end today at 3 -- barring any truly amazing play by Inbee and equally staggering collapses by the players in front of her -- but she got 2 majors in that string, which is pretty impressive by anybody's standards.

And given that Inbee usually has to play herself into competitive shape -- she doesn't play her best the first week she comes back out on tour -- I find it hard to believe the rest of the field is drawing any consolation from this week's performance. After all, she's currently in the Top10, she's playing next week at the Marathon Classic, and then I suspect she'll head over to Fife, Scotland to prepare for the RICOH. That's the tournament that really matters to her right now.

In the meantime, GC will have the final round of the Manulife today from 2:30pm-6pm ET. If the last 3 rounds have been any indication, it should be quite a shootout!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What Course is Michael Allen Playing???

Over at the 34th US Senior Open, something strange is going on and I have no explanation for it. It sounds more like Rory at Congressional a couple of years back than a Champions Tour event.

I mean, for the most part the leaderboard looks like you'd expect at a USGA-sponsored event. Only 9 guys in the field are under par, and another 6 are even par... and they're all names that you'd expect to see. (I have to give a shout out to Gary Koch, who's T8 at 1-under. Koch spends most of his time doing on-course commentary for NBC, and he went through all the levels of qualifying to get his chance here. He truly is "better than most.")

But sitting at the top of the leaderboard is Michael Allen. In a lot of ways, he plays like Inbee Park -- nothing flashy, just getting the job done. He started the second round in a 7-way tie for the lead at 3-under. Then, on a day when the best rounds were 3-under, Allen calmly posted a 7-under 63... 4 strokes better than everybody else! It's insanely good play on a course that's clearly been playing tough. (Tom Watson, for example, said Omaha Country Club had the worst rough he'd EVER played.) Just how good was his round, you may ask?

Michael Allen in action

Allen now holds the record for the largest 36-hole lead in US Senior Open history -- 5 strokes. That's all. And like Inbee Park, he's one of those people who just seems to fly beneath the media radar while doing it.

After a little hunting around I found a summary of Friday's play on this page at PGATOUR.com. (That's also where the photo came from.) Rather than rehash that article, I'll just recommend you read it to get the highlights of where the guys are at the halfway point.

But now Michael Allen, like Inbee Park, finds himself staring history right in the eyes... although it may not be the kind of history he'd like to be remembered for:
"Man, oh, man. The biggest lead?" Allen said with a smile. "So I can blow the biggest lead. Is that what you're telling me?"
It's not the kind of thought you'd like to have knocking around in your head while you try to win your second major.

But then again, Michael Allen has proven time and again that he's plenty tough enough to deal with it.

If you're interested in watching how he does, NBC will be doing the coverage today between 3pm and 6pm ET.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Inbee Goes for 4 in a Row

It's positively insane! If you aren't watching the LPGA event this week (GC will broadcast the second round at 12:30pm ET today), you are missing something amazing.

Here's the deal: Inbee Park is going for 4 wins in 4 consecutive starts. That's been done before, of course -- Lorena Ochoa did it last. (In 2008 I think...but her run only had one major, not 2 majors like Inbee's.) Anyway, Inbee is obviously having to deal with umpteen questions about "how do you concentrate on this tournament when you could win 4 majors in a row?" and other questions all guarenteed to make her think about that very thing. It's got to be a huge mental drain, right?

But you wouldn't know it by the first round at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic (that's in Canada, btw). She's tied at -6 with 4 other players, 2 behind Catriona Matthew and Angela Stanford. Matthew's 8-under 63 (the course is par 71) is the lowest score of her career.

By comparison, Inbee's 65 is her lowest score of the season by 2 strokes! As the announcers noted, that can't be making her fellow competitors feel any better.

The irony of it all is that Inbee said -- in response to a question about possible bad play -- that she keeps expecting a bad round. That's just the way golf is, she said, so she's ready to have a bad day or week... and then get back to playing good golf again. Everybody had a good laugh about her being ready for a bad round --although she DID make it clear that she didn't want a bad round, she was just ready for one.

Perhaps that's something us weekend golfers can learn from. Inbee is in a position to get absolutely buried under pressure, but she isn't putting extra pressure on herself. She focuses on what she can do, realizes that she won't be great every day...

And then goes out and beats her best round of the year by 2. Okay, that's not a realistic expectation for the rest of us, but it's a good plan of attack. She doesn't try to "follow up a good round with another good round"; she just tries to play the best she can each day she plays.

We should all play so well. I know I won't be betting against Inbee this week.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Martin Hall on Playing in the Wind

Wednesday's School of Golf show on GC was about the problems you face when playing links golf. This video is the "extra credit" video they do for GC's website. It deals specifically with playing in various types of wind and has a lot of good tips which are useful for anybody playing in windy conditions. This video is just over 5 minutes long, but it's loaded with good info.



A couple of simple tips from Nick Faldo that Hall mentioned on the regular show concerned lowering your ball trajectory. One was simply taking a longer club -- much longer, like 3 or 4 clubs more -- and swinging much more easily to take spin off the ball and keep it from rising in the air so much (less backspin).

Hall also mentioned some setup tips which sounded quite a bit like Jonas Blixt's setup from Tuesday's post.

And -- I thought this one was pretty neat -- one way to lower your ball flight is to alter your shoulder angle. We're usually taught to keep the lead shoulder a bit higher than the trailing shoulder and thus tilt your spine slightly away from the target. In the wind, Faldo would sometimes try to get his shoulders more level in the wind, which caused his spine to be slightly more vertical and therefore moved his weight slightly more toward his lead side. (Another way to get the "Blixt Effect.")

I had hoped to find a link to the actual show -- GC does that with some of their programs -- but couldn't find one. Here is the link to the page where this video is found; the page also has some other video clips GC thinks might be helpful. One of those clips is about the book Hall mentioned at the end of his show, by the legendary Henry Cotton:



The tip about hitting the bag is one that Carl Rabito used with me. After he taught me the correct way to coil my upper body, he had me hit a bag with half-swings for quite a while. (Like 15 minutes or so, nonstop! But it worked.) It taught me how to square my hands properly once he fixed my turn.

Perhaps they'll post the full episode later... but in the meantime, these clips should give you some help with the wind.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Getting Our Majors All in a Row

We are now in the thick of major season, so it might be good for us to get a handle on who's playing where... and perhaps whether we should even care. (More on this in a moment.)

First, the calendar, starting with this week. We have 5 majors in a row:
  • July 11-14: CHAMPIONS, US Senior Open
  • July 18-21: PGA, Open Championship
  • July 25-28: CHAMPIONS, Senior Open Championship
  • Aug 1-4: LPGA, RICOH Women's British Open
  • Aug 8-11: PGA, PGA Championship
This isn't all of the majors. The LPGA still has their new Evian Championship in September, but that's a ways off yet.

You should also be aware that the PGA will have the RBC Canadian Open the same week as the Senior Open Championship (Champions), and the WGC-Bridgestone will be the same week as the RICOH (LPGA). Overlaps like this aren't unusual, but it helps to be aware of them in case you want to watch both tournaments.

I raised the question of whether we should even care about all of these majors. It's not because we have so many of them now -- 14 in total for the 3 tours. In fact these 5 tournaments are all "major" majors, in that they're never the ones people question. We've got one US Open, one PGA Championship, and three British Opens (and since they're all played in England and Scotland this year, for now I guess it's proper to call them British Opens).

But do you know that the Senior British Open isn't currently listed as being broadcast by ANY network? Not even GC? The traditional networks (NBC, CBS, ABC) are no longer carrying as much of the majors as they used to:
  • NBC will share the US Senior Open with ESPN2 this week.
  • CBS will share the PGA Championship with TNT in August.
But get a load of this:
  • ESPN will carry the Open Championship (PGA) alone.
  • ESPN2 will carry the RICOH (LPGA) alone.
  • And NOBODY will carry any of the Senior Open (CHAMPIONS).
Are the networks losing interest in the majors? I think it's a valid question... and ESPN may be the big winner here. Over the last few years they've been rushing in to fill the void left as the "Big 3" networks have lessened their coverage.

Granted, the women have always gotten short shrift in coverage, but the big networks still wanted at least some of their major coverage. ESPN2 is going to hit the lottery this year; with Inbee Park gunning for 4 in a row, they're probably going to score big in the ratings that week.

Likewise, ESPN's solo coverage of the "youngster's" Open Championship could turn into a big score as well. Muirfield could bring a lot of popular players to the forefront.

But is everybody losing interest in the Champions Tour, even with Freddie and Tom leading the pack? That's probably a worrisome development for the Tour. And with the PGA Tour expanding their season to fill every spare minute they can find, somebody's got to lose out. In fact, the Tour had virtually NO info up about the US Senior Open when I checked Tuesday night -- just a power ranking for the top 5 players. No course info, no leaderboard... if you wanted info, you were out of luck.

Of course, this may be part of the plan for the big boys. Did you notice that Wimbledon was carried solely by ESPN and ESPN2 this year? No more "breakfast at Wimbledon" for NBC!

So the question remains. Should we care?

I can't answer that yet... but I suspect it's going to be answered for us over the next few years. Indications are that the networks are moving most of their sports coverage -- beyond NFL football and Stanley Cup hockey, that is -- to their various cable channels. ESPN, ESPN2, and TNT seem to be stepping into the breach for now. I'd keep an eye on them.

If you care, that is.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Strike Like Lightning

Blixt lightning, that is! I thought I'd take a quick look at the full swing of Jonas Blixt, and this little video from GolfWeek is perfect.



There are a number of things we could study here, but the main thing I want to focus on is his body movement... or lack thereof. He moves a lot less than many of you do.

At address his weight is slightly more on his lead side. Take a good look at his lead knee -- it's very nearly over the ball at address, and at the top of his backswing it's just barely behind the ball. His knee is actually farthest away from the ball at impact, when it's slightly nearer to the target than if was at address!

I know a lot of you aren't as flexible as Jonas, but that's not particularly important here. The technique is. This, btw, is one of the basic ideas behind Stack and Tilt -- namely, keeping your weight slightly more on your lead side throughout your swing to encourage a downward strike on the ball.

I'd also like you to notice that his upper body doesn't move a lot from side-to-side, front-to-back, or up-and-down. There IS some movement -- I don't want you to think he's holding his body rigid or anything -- but he's not lunging away from or toward the ball. He's focused on making solid contact at impact by turning his body.

You probably heard all the talk about how Jonas isn't hitting the ball particularly well, either off the tee or onto the green. I bet you also heard that he's putting well. (He did this week, but he hasn't this year -- he's only 47th on Tour.) But here's the deal -- even with all his problems this year, his scrambling has been good. In fact, he's been on Tour for two years now and has two wins... and he was 16th in Scrambling last year and he's 15th this year.

That consistency in scrambling is a result of this overall swing technique. It keeps him steady over the ball so that, even when his long game suffers, he continues to hit his short shots well. Solid contact is the basis of a good short game. (Think about the number of players you've seen lose because of flubbed chips or pitches.) Jonas never has to think about a special setup for short shots because it's the same setup he uses all the time.

So that's a simple technique you can learn from the Lightning Boy. And when your contact at impact improves, there's no telling what kind of improvement you might see in your game.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 Greenbrier Classic

Winner: Jonas Blixt

Around the wider world of golf: Alas, Graeme McDowell continued his bizarre run with a win at the Alstom Open de France on the ET (in his last 8 starts, he has 3 wins and 5 missed cuts); Inhong Lim won the Michigan PGA Women’s Open at Crystal Mountain Resort (that's run by the Michigan PGA Section); Wil Collins won the Dakota Dunes Open on the Canadian PGA Tour; Adilson Da Silva won the Sun City Challenge on the Sunshine Tour; and Young Kim won the Nichi-Iko Ladies on the JLPGA. (The Constructivist has details.)

Blixt in the dark with trophy

Some of you may have heard Jonas Blixt tell GC's Todd Lewis after Saturday's round that he had no idea where his drives were going. He was just hitting and hoping and depending on his short game.

Does this fall under that "beware of the sick golfer" thing? Because he sure seemed to do just fine on Sunday, despite the delay for lightning. Appropriate for a golfer whose name comes from the Swedish word for lightning.

After all, he sure struck often and hard during the last round. (Struck. Ha-ha.) And it's not like it was that easy -- take a good look at that trophy photo, folks. It's DARK.

Johnson Wagner (sans mustache) walked off the 9th green with a two-stroke lead at -14. He came home in 3-over, continuing the Greenbrier's tradition of 54-hole leaders NOT leading after 72 holes. But the Lightning Boy apparently shocked everyone with his sudden surge up the leaderboard. (Lightning, shock, surge... is there a pattern developing here?)

Blixt, as you may recall, won the Frys.com Open last year but that event didn't get him into the Masters as he had hoped. Then he'd struggled this year. Wow, what a difference one week can make.

As a result of this win, Jonas gets to play in the 2013 PGA Championship and the 2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the 2014 Masters Tournament, AND the 2014 PLAYERS Championship. Plus, as I understand it, he'll jump up very near #50 in the OWGR, which should make him an alternate for the Open Championship in a couple of weeks. And he jumped up around 100 spots in the FedExCup race.

No wonder he was so emotional after the win, standing there in the dark.

So this week's Limerick Summary salutes the Swede who just turned his year completely around in a single strike. Just what you would expect from Jonas Lightning:
Time to finish on Sunday was tightening
‘Cause the round got delayed due to lightning.
Then Lightning Boy Blixt struck!
He said that his drives sucked;
Don’t you think the field finds that MORE frightening?
The photo came from the front page of PGATOUR.com -- Jonas had a bigger smile in that pic!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: July 2013

The next major comes up in a couple of weeks so here at the Ruthless Golf World Rankings I'm paying particular attention to players' current form. I think Merion knocked the wind out of a lot of the big boys' sails, and they'll be looking at Muirfield for possible revenge.

Given the struggles I'm seeing, some of them better start looking hard...

As usual, behold the mighty RGWR 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), the latter often determined by the history and difficulty of the course
  3. other PGA and ET events
I put extra emphasis on recent form -- 2 wins separated by 6 months don't carry the weight of 2 wins back-to-back -- 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
  • Other wins: 1 point
I give full credit (not in point value, but they carry the same weight as "official" victories) for wins on the "minor" tours like the Nationwide and Australasian 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 field strength of a regular PGA or ET event.

I don't count the Grand Slam of Golf as a win in my rankings. I've decided that 4 players isn't a large enough field to give it the weight of a win against a larger field. However, I do take a win there into consideration in my rankings, much as I do money title or scoring awards. Other limited-field events (up to maybe 24 players or so) are counted as wins if the player also has an official win on the "big tours" but they only get a single point. The OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup (the 2-man team event) counts in this category.

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, although the point totals (and even the number of wins) a player has affects my rankings, they don't override my personal opinions. It's my ranking system, after all:
  1. Tiger Woods: 5 wins (1 TPC, 1 WGC, 2 prestige), 5 Top5, 38 points. After the poor showing at Merion, nothing changed for the World #1. But his wins are current -- he last won in May, unlike Rory, whose last win came last November.
  2. Justin Rose: 1 win (1 major), 7 Top5, 24 points. Even with the recent major this may seem like a huge jump for a guy with a single win. But look at all those Top5s! Only Tiger and Rory have more points over the last year, and they both have fewer Top5s. Additionally, only Justin seems to be playing consistently. In my opinion, Justin earned this spot.
  3. Matt Kuchar: 2 wins (1 WGC, 1 prestige), 2 Top5, 16 points. His win last month keeps him here. 
  4. Rory McIlroy: 4 wins (1 major, 3 prestige, 3 awards), 4 Top5, 36 points. Rory continues to struggle. If he doesn't snap out of it soon, he'll start falling down the rankings.
  5. Graeme McDowell: 3 wins (1 prestige, 1 other), 3 Top5, 16 points. Graeme is in feast-or-famine mode, either winning or missing the cut. He's in position to win this week at the French Open; if he wins, he'll just continue the trend... and move up the rankings, despite losing 2 Top5s this month. Wins are wins, baby!
  6. Matteo Manassero: 2 wins (1 BMW, 1 prestige), 3 Top5, 19 points. No change since last month, but that ranking included his big BMW win in May. He's no longer leading the Race to Dubai since Rose won the US Open, but he's still in second place.
  7. Ernie Els: 2 wins (1 major, 1 prestige), 2 Top5, 19 points. While his 2012 Open win drops off this month, for now he still has two wins after grabbing the BMW International -- not the "big" BMW that Matteo won, but big nevertheless. I like the way his play seems to be improving as the Open approaches.
  8. Phil Mickelson: 1 win, 7 Top5, 17 points. Despite his struggles, Phil continues to add Top5s. That's better than a lot of the players "down here" at the lower end of the rankings.
  9. Brandt Snedeker: 2 wins (2 prestige), 5 Top5, 1 award (FedExCup), 21 points. Sneds continues to slide. He lost another Top5 this month.
  10. Adam Scott: 1 win (1 major), 2 Top5, 14 points. Adam lost another Top5 as well, but he's still in the "grace period" I give players to readjust after winning a major.
Players to watch:
  • Bill Haas picked up a win at the AT&T National. Apparently he's now working on his swing with his dad Jay. If it helps this much, I hope he keeps it up!
  • Paul Casey finally won after 2 years fighting injuries. He says he feels good; if he'll just stay off that snowboard, we may see him start a winning streak again!
  • Ernie Els just won again. Enough said!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Clothing Sale at Function18

As you all know, I don't do a lot of posts about sales -- even if they're my own books. (I tend to announce titles when they're released and I figure you guys can see the cover images in the sidebar.) That's because I hate being pestered by salespeople as much as you do.

However, on occasion I get info about a sale that I think you readers might want to know about, especially when it won't be going for long and it's one of those "first come, first serve" things. That's the case with this sale from Function18. They're an online golf retailer in the UK, so some of you might not be interested... but I've been wrong before. ;-)

They sent me a press release about the sale -- the clothing is up to 50% off, which is the main reason I decided to post about it. (Waterproofs can get expensive, and apparently there are a number of them included in this sale.) For those of you who are interested, that can add up. In addition, I contacted them for some specific extra information and they were kind enough to provide it. As a result, I'm posting the main part of the press release, followed by the extra info they sent me.

First, the release:
Online golf clothing store Function 18 has today announced the launch of their anticipated summer sale.

With up to 50% off everything from golf clothes, shoes & accessories, Function 18's sale is not to be missed for golf enthusiasts.

Ideal for topping off that professional playing look without having to break the bank, Function18 have big discounts on top golfing brands including Oscar Jacobson, Nike Golf, Puma Golf, Adidas and Galvin Green. The sale features the very latest designs from these brands, which are sure to make sure you always look the part – both on and off the course.

The sale also now includes a range of waterproofs, perfect for being prepared in unpredictable UK weather. With so many waterproofs to choose from including jackets, trousers and shirts with waterproof properties, you can say goodbye to having to call off a game just because of a spot of rain.

With so many famous golf brands and high street brands to choose from, the Function 18 sale is the perfect place to get your hands on your favourite brands – and take advantage of discounted prices too - visit www.function18.com/on-sale.html.
That left me with several questions, so here's the extra info they provided:
  • The sale started on the 1st July and will end when all stock has been sold (estimated around 1 month).
  • There is free delivery on all UK Orders.
  • Shipping to Ireland is available at a flat rate of £5.95.
  • Shipping to all other countries within the European Union is available at a cost of £9.95 and will take approximately 3 working days.
  • Shipping to the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and all other countries outside of the European Union is available at a cost of £14.95. The shipping time to these countries is 5 working days but this can be extended due to delays in customs. (For my American friends, that's $22.28 at the current rate of exchange.)
In addition, I've been told that IJP has the widest selection of clothing in this sale. That's Ian Poulter's company, in case you don't know, so if you really like Ian's designs you might want to take a good look at what's available. And yes, you can search the sales by designer, as well as sizes and color. (The price search probably won't help much, as it just gives you items above or below £100.) You'll have to hunt for the waterproofs, though.

So if you're looking for some new golf clothes, it might be worth taking a look even if you live outside the EU. If you find a few items you like, that $22 shipping fee isn't out of line -- even compared with some of the American retailers I've seen.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Rory VS the Robot -- Full Version

I'm posting this because, until a day or so ago, I didn't know this video was so long (almost 4 minutes). I had only seen a short version of it, used as a commercial for the European Tour. I also hadn't realized that there's a live audience watching the competition between the two, which makes it even funnier.

This is way better than the one with Padraig Harrington hitting the ball cart. If that golf thing doesn't work out, perhaps Rory and the robot should consider a stage act...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July!

It's my nation's birthday so I'm taking the day off to join the celebration.

Statue of Liberty and fireworks

Happy Fourth of July! I'll resume regular posts tomorrow.

The picture comes from imgace.com, an image site.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What Is a Grand Slam, Anyway?

It seems that I've been doing more opinion posts lately. Perhaps that's because I feel some simple things are either getting overlooked or simply being blown out of proportion.

Inbee lifts US Women's Open trophyOne of those things is the debate over whether an Inbee Park win at the RICOH Women's British Open -- giving her 4 majors in a row in the same calendar year -- constitutes a "Grand Slam." After all, there are 5 majors in the women's game this year, as the Evian Championship becomes the fifth this September.

Apparently the whole argument revolves around the dictionary definition of a grand slam, as in The Oxford Dictionary:
"the winning of each of a group of major championships or matches in a particular sport in the same year, in particular in tennis or golf."
But I think this overlooks the real question: Regardless of what the dictionary says -- bear in mind that the term was originally lifted from the game of bridge in the 19th century (you can read that at the dictionary page) -- has the term "Grand Slam" become directly associated with the number FOUR?

I think I can make a sound case that it has.

First, aside from the original bridge game (with its 13 tricks to be taken), what number is most commonly associated with a grand slam of any kind? The dictionary definition page I referenced above mentions baseball:
Baseball: a home run hit when each of the three bases is occupied by a runner, thus scoring four runs.
It also mentions tennis, which has four majors -- the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.

Moving to Wikipedia we find some other Grand Slams listed. Here is a sampling of those for sporting events with specific numbers of events listed:
  • Rugby Union: The winner of the Six Nations Championship (5 wins) has a grand slam. This is a fairly recent change, however; previous to 2000 there were only 5 members, making 4 wins the Grand Slam.
  • Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (from 1986): Award for one registered person's finishing the four specified annual 100-mile footraces in the U.S.
  • Grand Slam (shinty) (from 1947): One club's winning four specific annual shinty trophies. (Shinty is a predecessor of ice hockey.)
Ironically, there is a Grand Slam of Hollywood show business (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards) and of Beauty Pageants (Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss Earth, and Miss International).

And of course, there are other types of Grand Slams listed which are different -- for example, the Explorers Grand Slam involves reaching the North Pole, South Pole, and all of the Seven Summits for a total of 9 accomplishments.

However, the number 4 shows up more often than any other. Four is the most common number of anything in a Grand Slam.

But I think we could make an equally solid argument from golf itself. So the dictionary says that a Grand Slam means you won ALL the majors in a single calendar year? Very well then, we'll need to amend our history books because...
  • Babe Didrikson Zaharias won the Grand Slam in 1950, as there were only three majors in existence.
We also need to add:
  • Sandra Haynie (1974)
because there were only two majors that year and she won them both -- hence, the Grand Slam. But wait, there's more! Add these women as well:
  • Lee Mida (1930)
  • June Bebbe (1931, 1933)
  • Jane Weiller (1932)
  • Marian McDougall (1934)
  • Opal Hill (1935, 1936)
  • Patty Berg (1943)
  • and Babe Didrickson Zaharias adds 1944 and 1945, for a total of THREE Grand Slams!
You see, there was only one major in each of those years so, if we're going by the dictionary definition, those winners all get credit for a Grand Slam.

If we move to the men's game, the list gets MUCH longer. While Bobby Jones captured the original "Impregnable Quadrilateral," he was an amateur and two of those events were amateur events. Since professionals weren't eligible for those events, they don't count toward a professional Grand Slam. Indeed, the number of professional men's majors has varied wildly over the years:
  • From 1860 to 1894, the only professional event was the Open Championship (British Open). It was held every year except 1871, so any professionals who won during that time have Grand Slams.
  • From 1895 to 1919 there were no more than 2 pro majors (and some of the war years had none), but nobody won both of them during that time so there were no Grand Slams.
  • We should note that Bobby Jones gets the Grand Slam on a technicality. You see, he didn't play in the PGA Championship that year since he wasn't eligible for it, so it doesn't count against his total. Nevertheless, the PGA Championship has been played all but 3 years since 1916 and would count for any pro.
  • Finally, both Bob Hamilton (1944) and Byron Nelson (1945) get credit for Grand Slams since there was only one major held each of those years.
And since the British Amateur wasn't started until 1885 nor the US Amateur until 1895, any amateurs who won the Open Championship before 1885 also have Grand Slams. (If Jones counts, so do they.)

Which means that winning a Grand Slam is no big deal after all, SINCE DOZENS OF PLAYERS HAVE WON AT LEAST ONE.

At least, according to the dictionary they have.

Tell me this, people: Do we really want to open this can of worms? I don't think so.

The women probably have the best solution to this problem. Because of the nature of their majors -- they've not only had various numbers of majors each year, but they weren't always the same majors (8 different ones total, in case you're interested) -- and because no one has ever won four majors in one year, they speak of career slams (all 4 majors) and "Super Slams" (5 different majors, with the duMaurier Classic or the RICOH Women's British Open being the fifth, depending on which was the fourth one when your career started). I think this is the best way to think of this now.

If Inbee Park wins the RICOH, I say she has the Grand Slam; if she also wins the Evian, she gets the single year Super Slam. (By my definition, a player who didn't win the first major of the year -- the Kraft Nabisco Championship -- but won the following four would just have a single year slam. And yes, there might be a valid debate over whether you need to win the first major of the year to have a Grand Slam.)

Otherwise, we're going to have to rewrite golf history... and personally, I think I'll leave that to Inbee Park.

The photo came from this USAToday page.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Goodbye, Anchoring; Hello... Lawsuits?

In case you missed it, the PGA Tour Policy Board announced Monday that it will abide by the USGA and R&A's decision to ban anchored putters, effective 2016 January 1. ESPN has a detailed article about the decision at this link.

That wasn't really a surprise to anybody. Tim Finchem & Co. made sure they went on record as opposing the ban -- in support of their players -- but also said that it wasn't worth getting a terminal case of bifurcation over. They did ask the ruling bodies to consider extending the time for amateurs past the 2016 deadline. They also didn't rule out the possibility of bifurcating other rules in the future, however; that was clearly a message to the ruling bodies of golf that they wouldn't just accept ANY rules simply because the USGA and R&A said so.

The issue may not be dead yet. Although the lawyer who's been advising the 9 most vocal players who oppose the ban said there would be no group lawsuit, he didn't know if any of those players might file individual lawsuits. Of the lot, I believe Tim Clark would be the most likely because of physical limitations; you may remember that he has trouble rotating his forearms. The ban could be construed as an unfair barrier to his participation, especially since anchored strokes have been allowed for so long.

Personally, I've grown tired of it all. I'd like to see fewer rules, not more.

On the whole, I don't believe in bifurcation. It not only complicates an already overly-complicated game, but it sounds like something that would have gotten you stoned or burned in another century: "Player X, you have been found guilty of bifurcating on a public golf course with your caddy. Will you repent, or must we commit your bodies to the flames?"

But if the USGA and R&A really want to protect the game, they would probably do more good by eliminating a huge number of the rules and simplifying the rest. This is 2013, after all, not 1913; the game needs streamlining, not more time-consuming regulations. (Don't forget, this anchoring ban institutes yet another penalty, as described in this USAToday article -- two strokes in stroke play, loss of hole in match play. How much time do you think players will waste arguing over possible breaches? How much time will the lawsuits waste?) As it stands, I'm afraid that "protecting the game" is becoming little more than an exercise in increasing the size of the rulebook.

caricature of Rodney Dangerfield by Rocky SawyerI'm sure the ruling bodies would say that they ARE working to speed up the game, even as they cram yet more rules into these supposedly shrinking rounds. Well, I have just three words for them...

"WHILE WE'RE YOUNG?"

The caricature of Rodney Dangerfield came from Rocky Sawyer's blog. Check it out -- he's awesome!