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Saturday, November 30, 2013

All He Needs Is One More Good Round

It borders on the ridiculous. If Adam Scott can post just one more good round at the Royal Sydney Golf Course, he will have won the Australian Triple Crown and helped win the team portion of the World Cup of Golf in just 4 weeks.

Adam Scott

Add that to his wins at the Masters and the Barclays, and he's got a pretty decent year under his belt.

I know people are going to argue that these aren't "elite fields" he's playing against. I'll grant you that. But I would argue that winning like this against ANY field is impressive... and let's not forget that only one Australian has ever won the Triple Crown in the same year. (That man is Robert Allenby, way back in 2005.) These are the three majors in Australian golf -- their PGA, Masters, and Open -- so these aren't weak fields by any stretch of the imagination. It's a tough assignment.

And Adam isn't just squeaking by, either; he doubled his lead during the third round. Adam (-16) is now 4 strokes ahead of his closest pursuer, who just happens to be Rory McIlroy (-12), who seems to have finally found his game and is, in turn, 4 strokes ahead of the third-place players. And Adam's done it in windy conditions... plus his second round was the bad end of the draw, so he got cold wet windy conditions.

Adam finished -14 at the PGA, -14 at the Masters, -7 (3rd) at the World Cup -- largely because of a +5 score on one hole during the first round (he was -12 in the final 3 rounds!) -- and now he's -16 after 3 rounds this week. And he's doing it on courses that are recognized as some of the most difficult in the world, under the pressure of being on a "victory tour." (Remember, this is his first trip home since becoming the first Aussie champion at Augusta.)

If he pulls this off, I just may have to rank him above Tiger in next week's RGWR. Australian golf was hoping for some kind of a boost from Adam's play... and it looks like they got a full-blown rocket.

The photo came from Adam's profile at the Open website.

Friday, November 29, 2013

How to Do... Everything!

Now that you're stuffed with turkey and all the assorted accoutrements of a huge Thanksgiving dinner, you need some exercise. It's time to go play some golf!

But maybe you've got a few questions about... well, any number of things that happen on a golf course. Then Golf Digest has just the thing for you. They've done a web-only article called How To Do Everything In Golf that you can find at this link. It's a massive 43-frame slideshow that covers all sorts of things:
  • etiquette questions like how to tend the flag or rake a bunker or use your phone on the course;
  • rules questions like how to take relief (that's the slide below; there's text beside it in the slide show);
  • playing questions like how to practice vs how to warm up, or how to practice in your backyard;
  • diverse questions like how to yell "fore," how to avoid losing balls and how to stretch;
and more besides.

How to take relief slide

And the text that accompanies each slide, while brief, is very informative.  You'll probably learn something you didn't know just by flipping through it. (For example, I didn't know that whole grain bread is a better energy source on the course than multigrain bread. That's on slide 30, "How to eat and drink during a round.")

It's a pretty impressive little guide that gives you quick guidance on a wide variety of things that can make your round more enjoyable. So, if you've got a little time, take a quick flip through it. You might pick up something really useful.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm taking the holiday off to spend with friends and family. You should too -- take time to be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!

Snoopy and Woodstock share Thanksgiving

The picture came from WIRED's site.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Thanksgiving Golf Tournaments

No matter how often it happens, it always seems a little strange to talk about pro golf being played on Thanksgiving. I guess it shouldn't; other pro sports play on Thanksgiving -- although there are no NBA basketball games on Thursday, there will be 3 NFL football games. (Seriously -- how can it be Thanksgiving if there's no football? That's almost unAmerican!)

No matter how weird it may seem to me, we've still got 2 tournaments to watch this week.

Adam Scott

The first one -- and certainly the most interesting IMO -- is the Emirates Australian Open which starts broadcasting tonight at 8pm ET on GC. The event is returning to the Royal Sydney Golf Club for the first time since 2008 when Tim Clark won it. In many ways Royal Sydney is like Royal Melbourne; the wind and bunkering make it very difficult, so this should be a very competitive event.

Of course, the main reason this event will draw attention is Adam Scott's attempt to win the Australian Triple Crown (Australian PGA, Masters, and Open) in a single year. Jason Day is also playing -- in the same pairing with Scott and Kevin Streelman, in fact -- and Rory McIlroy is also in the field.

You can check out the Emirates Australian Open website at this link. (The photo is from this site.) And you can get to the live leaderboard with the "Scoring" button just under the header.

The other tourney is the European Tour's Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa. The big question here is whether Charl Schwartzel -- who won this thing by a whopping 12 strokes last year -- can find his game again. It's not like Charl is playing horrible golf but lately it seems that he gets in contention, only to have one or two holes derail his game. He's won this tourney twice though and with that 12-stroke victory last year, you've got to figure this is a good place for him to break through again.

The Alfred Dunhill Championship tournament main page is here. The leaderboard isn't showing yet, so just use the button on this page to get there once the tourney starts. (And yes, that button is labeled "Leaderboard.") And the event itself starts broadcasting Thursday morning at 6:30am ET on GC.

So we'll have plenty of chances to watch golf before stuffing ourselves with turkey, and plenty more opportunities after we get stuffed. I guess that's something to be thankful for as well.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jason Day: Swing Sequence

Golf Digest did a swing sequence of Jason Day for their November issue -- ironic, given Jason's performance this past week! It seems appropriate to do a post about it now, don't you think?

The link above takes you to a summary page that gives you some general info on Jason, including some of the things he works on. If you click the "VIEW SLIDESHOW" box at the bottom, it takes you to a series of photos you can click through to see Jason at various points in his swing, from face-on and down-the-line, the latter both from behind and in front. I found a couple of photos I want to call to your attention.

This first photo shows the top of his backswing. Although Jason is considered a long hitter, I want you to notice how far short of parallel his swing is -- even with a driver as you see here.

Jason halfway through downswing

Likewise, in this next photo when he's halfway down to the ball, notice that he doesn't have 90° (or an even smaller angle) of wrist cock the way some players do. His wrists look slightly "uncocked," the way most weekend players do.

Jason halfway through downswing

My point is that you don't have to stress out trying to get every little thing you can out of your wrists. Jason is 6 feet tall, which gives him a slight advantage on us mere mortals, but he still hits it around 300 yards. Club head speed is created by your entire body, not just your wrists.

So don't tighten those wrists in an effort to cock them more. Focus on staying as relaxed as you can; you'll be able to move faster and create more club head speed that way. (At least that's Jason's approach. His teacher says Jason's workouts focus on "...core strength, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance.")

The whole swing sequence is well-done. It's worth taking a look.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf

Winner: Jason Day (individual), Australia (team)

Around the wider world of golf: Shanshan Feng won the CME Group Titleholders, the final LPGA tournament of the year; Luke Donald defended at the Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Tour; Morten Ørum Madsen won the South African Open on the ET; and Rikako Morita won the Daio Paper Elleair Ladies on the JLPGA (the Constructivist has details).

Scott and Day with team trophy

I wrote at length about Jason Day in yesterday's post, so today I'll limit myself to the overall tournament. In fact, since you can read a very in-depth article here, I'll limit myself to one particular aspect of it.

Overall, I think the most amazing thing about the World Cup wasn't Jason Day's win -- come on, he was waaaaay overdue -- nor even how badly the Australian team beat the US team. (I would hope the Australians had an advantage at Royal Melbourne. Such a tricky course almost demands familiarity to play it well in tough conditions.) Even the fact that Australia is the first host team to claim the Cup since 1996 wasn't that big a shock.

What truly amazed me was Adam Scott's solo third in the individual competition.

Scott has had an incredible run since returning to Australia for his "Masters victory tour," his first time home since becoming the first Australian to win the Masters. He'd already won the Australian PGA and the Talisker Masters back-to-back, and the hero worship had done nothing but grow stronger with each passing day. Everybody Down Under expected him to be Superman in the World Cup.

Instead, he shot an unexpected 4-over 75 the first day. There were 45 players who shot better; only 14 who shot as bad or worse. For all practical purposes, he had shot himself out of the tournament.

Or so it appeared. He followed that poor first round with two 3-under 68s and a final round 5-under 66 (only one other player shot as well that last day, and they were two shots ahead of the next best). Do you realize that he shot -11 in three days? Jason won with -10 over four days!

And Adam Scott shot his best scores during the most difficult conditions. There were no more than three scores better than his in any of those last three rounds. It was an absolutely amazing performance that, IMO, moves him ever closer to taking #1 from Tiger.

Nevertheless, Jason Day gets the Limerick Summary this week. Adam's had a couple already this year, and Jason did win the big prize. So bask in the glory, Jason -- you deserve it!
The swashbuckling duo Down Under
Caused Aussie fanatics to thunder!
They rooted for Adam
But Jason Day had ’em
All oohing and aahing in wonder.
The photo came from the World Cup home page.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A New Day Dawning?

Yeah, I know it's a corny post title... but it's appropriate.

In case you didn't stay up to watch the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf (which I did -- the victory is so fresh that it hasn't even hit the web as I write this), Jason Day won the individual title over Thomas Bjorn by two strokes and, after Adam Scott posted an unbelievable round of 66 -- tied for the low score of the day and 4 better than anybody else in the Top10 -- the two Aussies blew the field away in the team competition, winning by 10 shots over the second-place US team.

As we like to say over here in the US, Jason just double-dipped.

Adam Scott and Jason Day before tournament

The Aussie commentators were talking about how this win would become the defining win of his career. Normally I think you have to wait a while before making that kind of pronouncement, but it may be justified in Jason's case. And it's not just because Jason hasn't won in a couple of years. This win didn't come in a vacuum.

When it comes to majors and huge tournaments, Jason Day has been posting some of the most consistent scores of any player. He simply hasn't been able to get over the hump in the final round -- not because he played poorly, but because someone else just played better. When you keep falling short over and over, it can get in your head a little because you question whether you have what it takes.

This week Jason answered every challenge that came his way. He only shot -1 in the final round, but this time he outlasted his challengers. He now knows he has enough in the tank to get the job done.

This is the same course where Jason fell victim to his own emotions a couple of years back in the Presidents Cup. This is a major-caliber course, and can anyone argue that he ever played under more emotional pressure than he did this week? After losing family in the Philippines before the tournament, to play this well under the tough course conditions of the final round has to have a huge effect on his confidence. He now knows he not only has enough in the tank to get the job done, but he can control the incredibly powerful emotions that would prevent him from doing it.

That's huge, folks. Some people NEVER learn that. Jason now has a weapon that most of his competitors only dream of having, a weapon that no sports psychologist can give you. To paraphrase an old commercial, you can only get this weapon the old-fashioned way. You have to earn it.

When Jason heads out for the majors and other big events in 2014, he's not going to be the same player he was before this week. This is a man whose entire perspective on golf and life has been dramatically changed. After this, majors will be relatively easy.

So the players on the PGA Tour better prepare themselves. I don't know exactly how this is going to play out -- such a dramatic epiphany is going to drain him emotionally for a while, so he's going to need some serious rest after this victory to process everything and recharge his emotional batteries. But when he finally recovers, I suspect this new Day will be blindingly bright.

The photo came from this page at the smh.com.au site.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sprinters

While it's still too early to pronounce any tournament winners this week, there are clearly a couple of players -- on opposite sides of the world, no less -- who seem ready to post wins in their respective tournaments.

Sandra Gal

In Florida (USA), Sandra Gal has a 3-shot lead after two rounds of the CME Group Titleholders event. After struggling most of the year with swing changes, she blistered the Tiburon course with a 64 in the first round and followed that with a 69 Friday. (It was much windier during the second round.) It's interesting to hear what she's been working on; in her after-round presser she talked about it:
Q.  Sandra, I know at the beginning of the year you weren't happy with your swing and you were really searching.  Can you talk about how your confidence has evolved since then and maybe how much Gary Gilchrist has to do with that?
SANDRA GAL:  Yeah, definitely.  I started working with Gary in April and he simplified a lot of things, just kind of shortened my swing a little bit and then worked on a lot of ball shaping.  So if you watch me warm up in the morning, that's all I do is hitting just draws and fades and high, low.  I think it really suits this golf course and I think from this kind of more of a childlike attitude just playing more, seeing the shot, reacting to it, that gave me a lot of confidence.  Less thinking.
"More of a childlike attitude, just playing more." Rather than practicing so much, I suppose. It certainly seems to be working -- especially on the par-5 17th, where she hit it deep into the trees and still managed a birdie:
Oh, well, I hooked it into the trees and I was happy to find my ball, and I had a swing, which was very happy.  So it was pretty much like bubba golf -- you have a swing, you're happy.  I got it down there and then I just had an 8 iron in and I was thinking, okay, 8 iron, that's go range so let's go for the pin and I almost holed it out.  It just pitched right on the edge of the cup and then I made the putt.  So it was very simple.  I mean, never in doubt.
Most weekend golfers aren't that confident in their swings, but it's definitely a mindset that we should be working toward. It'll be interesting to see if it can carry her to her first win since the 2011 Kia Classic.

Jason Day

Meanwhile, down in Melbourne (Australia), Jason Day is doing much better than most of us expected. As you probably know by now, Jason lost 8 family members to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. (His grandmother, uncle, and 6 cousins.) I'm sure it helps that his mother and his sisters have come to Melbourne -- he said he hasn't seen them in nearly a year.

Let me rephrase that: I'm certain that it helped. All Jason did in the third round was post a 66, tying the best round of the day. It gave him the individual lead by a single shot over Thomas Bjorn and gave the Australian team (with struggling partner Adam Scott) a one-shot lead over the defending US team as well.

Barring any surprise collapses, the team competition is between the USA at -10 and Australia at -11. (Third-place Japan is at -4, fourth-place Denmark at -2.) And Jason has never won a tournament in his homeland, so I suspect his fourth round will be something of a challenge, knowing that two trophies are within his grasp. But Jason has been playing well all year and, with his family there to watch and support him, I wouldn't bet against him.

And wouldn't that be a popular win?

The photos came from here (Gal) and here (Day).

Friday, November 22, 2013

Getting Your Spine Tilt at Impact Correct

I found this video by Brian Manzella over at the GOLF Magazine site and was absolutely fascinated by the concept it teaches. (Manzella is one of their Top100 teachers.) Here, take a look at it and then I'll discuss it. (And if the video didn't embed properly, just click on the link at the beginning of this paragraph. That will take you to the original video at golf.com.)



One of my pet peeves on this blog and in my books is the way weekend golfers tilt their spines away from the ball too much during their downswing. As a result, they tend to hit push-slices. Manzella talks about that, and then suggests the drill in this video to help prevent it.

The whole idea of using the position of your lead hand and lead knee to prevent this problem is a creative one. It forces you to push your lead hip back, away from the ball, as you make your downswing rather than sliding it toward the target and leaning away from the target. Instead, as your lead knee moves toward the target, you're forced to keep your head and shoulders more over the ball.

But it does more. If you keep your lead hand on or close to your lead knee, you won't stand up during your downswing. That means you keep your knee flex and therefore keep your distance from the ball more consistent throughout your swing. No more thin shots!

Try doing the drill a few times without hitting balls; you're just trying to get a feel for your body position as you near impact. Next, take your normal grip and make some easy practice swings while feeling you're swinging with the same posture. Finally, try to hit a few balls this way. Again, please start off swinging easy; you may have some balance problems at first if you've been standing up during your downswing.

This may feel really awkward at first, but it should help you learn to keep your spine angle more consistent throughout your swing... and that should translate into more solid shots.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Teamless Team Play

If you watched any of the World Cup of Golf on GC Wednesday night, you may have gotten a surprise. (The tournament is at Royal Melbourne in Australia this year, so Thursday "started early" there -- at least, early for the East Coast of the USA.)

Kuchar and Woodland -- 2011 winners

Namely, the team aspect that has characterized the WCoG in the past is a thing of the past. To quote an AP article from ABCNEWS.com:
The format has been substantially changed this year to make it primarily a stroke-play competition and, in essence, a very early "test event" for the 2016 Olympics, where golf will make its return to the program. The World Golf Ranking was used as the deciding factor in who plays this week at Royal Melbourne, and that and eligibility for numbers of players allowed from each country will also be used at Rio in three years. Rio won't feature a team competition, which is being retained here as part of the original World Cup format.
As a result, there are both teams and individual golfers playing in the event this time since several countries didn't have two eligible players. The article says there are "25 two-man teams and eight to 10 individual golfers."

The "team competition" mentioned in the article is just the combined total of the individual scores of the two-man teams from each country. It's nothing like the team play of past World Cups.

I can see the logic behind this move. If golf is to successfully survive its test appearance as an Olympic event, organizers need to find a good way to determine who will actually compete. Will the OWGR give the participating nations a fair representation at the Games? It's better to find out now while there's still time to tweak the selection process, and they can't use a regular Tour event since participation there is a matter of Tour membership.

Still, I miss the team play. We don't get to see much fourball or foursome play as it is, and the World Cup has been the main yearly event that provides it. From a viewer standpoint, now it's just another 72-hole stroke play event. Maybe they're return it to the original team format once the Olympic complications have been figured out.

I certainly hope so. At least the players get world ranking points this time... but I'm not so sure they wouldn't prefer a teammate to help read the tricky greens at Royal Melbourne.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The USGA and R&A Are at It Again

While everybody awaits 2016 January 1 -- the day anchored putting dies (perhaps Don McLean will write a song about it) -- the USGA and the R&A didn't want us to get bored. Tuesday morning they announced more rule changes.

These will take effect in a little more than a month, on 2014 January 1. You can read about the changes in this news release at usga.com. There are a total of 87 changes. Technically these are changes to the Decisions on the Rules of Golf rather than the Rules themselves, but they include changes that will effect all golfers (amateur or pro) playing in a tournament.

If you're curious, those 87 changes include "...three new Decisions, 59 revised Decisions, one re-numbered Decision and 24 Decisions withdrawn."

The news release specifically mentions 4 of those decisions, 3 of which will affect lots of golfers:
  • You can now walk up to 50 yards from the tee without forfeiting your right to go back and hit a provisional. Presumably this is so you can make a better determination as to whether you need to re-tee or not, thus saving time.
  • You're now allowed to use a smartphone to access weather reports during a round. They specifically say this addresses a safety issue.
  • And there's a section with pictures to clarify when a ball is embedded.
But as you may have guessed, it's the fourth decision they mention that's getting all the attention. It specifically affects the pros. Here's what the news release says:
New Decision 18/4 provides that, where enhanced technological evidence (e.g. HDTV, digital recording or online visual media, etc.) shows that a ball has left its position and come to rest in another location, the ball will not be deemed to have moved if that movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time. 
Yes, the governing bodies have finally decided that video technology is affecting the game enough that they should address it. (Really? I hadn't noticed...) And GC reported that they intend to make more far-reaching decisions concerning video technology, presumably for the 2016 Rules of Golf.

But I fear that this decision may have merely muddied the waters a bit. The problem is the phrase "reasonably discernible to the naked eye," which seems rather vague to me. How much movement is that? If the player didn't see it but the officials are aware of it because they saw hi-def video, isn't there a danger that their perceptions have already been colored a bit? We all know that a camera lens can make an area appear to be more brightly lit than it actually is to the naked eye. How will the officials determine what the player SHOULD have actually been able to see?

That bothers me. With no concrete criteria to determine what is "reasonably discernible" and what isn't, this may open a bigger can of worms than we have now. Some players already contend that the big names get preferential treatment; I don't even want to think about the potential complaints that may come from this!

I still think the easiest short-term solution to this problem is to simply assume the player didn't see the movement -- add the penalty to his or her score and eliminate the DQ penalty for any such infraction discovered on video after the player has signed his or her scorecard. (As I have mentioned before, if the penalty is a DQ regardless of when the infraction is discovered -- and there are a few of those -- the player would still be DQ'ed. I'm talking about infractions where the player could avoid a DQ by correcting the scorecard before signing it.) That is the biggest problem created by technology, and the Rules still don't deal with it.

Let me give the USGA and the R&A credit for at least admitting that technology has become an issue that must be dealt with. This -- plus their decision to allow on-course weather reports via smartphone -- is a big step forward, compared with their past inaction.

But still... couldn't they have at least allowed rangefinders during rounds? That would have sped up the game considerably.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: November 2013 (Sort of)

I haven't done an RGWR in about 3 months... and there won't be a regular one before the first of the year. Here's the deal: I was using a program on an older computer which was my main computer when I started my rankings. Then the computer died and I'm having to completely redo the file in a new program that I'm still learning. That's going to take a while.

In the meantime I wanted to explain the current RGWR Top5 in the sidebar because it's something I've never had in the rankings before -- three players who are essentially tied for #1 in the rankings. How did this happen?

Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods, and Adam Scott

Tiger Woods has led the RGWR for several months on the strength of his 5 wins:
  • Farmers Insurance Open
  • World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship
  • Arnold Palmer Invitational
  • THE PLAYERS Championship
  • World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational
He didn't play particularly well after Bridgestone in early August (he did manage a T2 at the Barclays). While I give a bit more weight to recent play, I'm cutting him a bit of slack because of his back problems. The fact is that the RGWR measures the last 12 months, and Tiger had a TPC, 2 WGCs, and 2 prestige wins during that time. That should be enough to make him the undisputed #1.

But it isn't. Two other players have come on late in the year to challenge Tiger's domination of my rankings.

Adam Scott is 1a in my rankings. He has 4 worldwide wins so far:
  • The Masters
  • The Barclays
  • The Australian PGA Championship
  • The Talisker Masters
He also had Top5s in 2 other majors -- the Open Championship (T3) and the PGA Championship (T5) -- as well as a T3 at the WGC Cadillac. The major counts big because he's the only one of the three with a major this year, plus he made history with that win (first Australian to win the Masters).

You could argue that the two latest wins were against lesser fields, but I would argue that they were played under enormous pressure -- after all, this is Adam's first trip back home since winning the Masters and it's a victory tour of sorts. Under that pressure he won the Aussie PGA (completing the Triple Crown -- only 6 Aussies have ever done that) and defended his title at the Aussie Masters. This puts him in position to win the Triple Crown in a single year, a feat accomplished only once before. All done under the pressure of being the "hometown hero."

In other words, Tiger has more strong wins but Adam's might be more impressive. And bear in mind that Adam is still playing well.

Henrik Stenson is 1b in my rankings and he may be the most interesting. His run begins the latest in the year, although he does have a win from last December. He also has 4 worldwide wins so far:
  • South African Open
  • Deutsche Bank Championship
  • TOUR Championship
  • DP World Tour Championship
Like Adam, he also had Top5s in the Open Championship (2nd) and the PGA Championship (3rd), and he added a T3 in the Scottish Open. And we mustn't forget that he's the first man to win both the FedExCup and the Race to Dubai in the same season.

Although Henrik has the fewest wins, you can argue that most of them were against the toughest fields -- he won the Tour Championships on both tours! Injury has forced him to withdraw from the SA Open this week, so he won't be defending his title and it could interrupt his run of good play for a while. Still, you can make a decent argument that Henrik is playing better than anybody right now.

That's why you see three players tied for #1 in the RGWR. These three have separated themselves from the rest of the pack... but not from each other. If Adam can win the Aussie Open -- the 3rd leg of the Triple Crown -- in a couple of weeks, he'll have made a very real case for being solo #1 right now. But I don't expect a clear winner to emerge before sometime in January or February 2014, after all three have had a chance to tee it up in some big tournaments.

In the meantime, I suspect there will be some serious debates going on!

The photo came from this page at golf.com.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 OHL Classic at Mayakoba

Winner: Harris English

Around the wider world of golf: Lexi Thompson got her second LPGA win in four events at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational; Henrik Stenson became the first man to win both the FedExCup and Race to Dubai by winning the DP World Tour Championship on the ET; Adam Scott successfully defended his Talisker Masters title on the Australasian Tour, giving him a shot at winning the Australian Triple Crown in a single year; Liang Wen-chong won the Resorts World Manila Masters on the Asian Tour; and Sakura Yokomine won the Ito-En Ladies on the JLPGA (the Constructivist has details). Oh, and Inbee Park locked up the LPGA POY race when she beat Suzann Pettersen by one stroke.

Harris English

It was Harris English's first time in Mayakoba, and he stayed in a place called Playa. Am I the only person who finds this somewhat amusing?

Harry tied the final round low score with a 6-under 65. It was enough to win by 4 strokes. And paired with his win at the St. Jude back in June, he joins Rory McIlroy as the only 2 active players under the age of 25 with multiple PGA Tour wins. A playa indeed!

And he did it on a course that got 4 inches of rain in just 3 days (Wed-Fri) and was plagued by rain delays and long days. It certainly puts him in a good frame of mind to end this stretch of the 2013-14 wraparound season. I guess it will be a green Christmas (as in $$$$ green) for Harry this year.

In the meantime, I'll give him an early Christmas present of my own -- his second Limerick Summary of the year. I don't give out many of those, so I hope you appreciate it, Harry!
Harry thought getting one win was nice
But he wondered, “Can I do it twice?”
So he ran the field over
In wet Mayakoba.
Now he wonders… “Can I do it thrice?”
The photo came from the front page of PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Some Days I Amaze Myself

Yeah, really, I do. It's rare that things play out the way I expect on the course, let alone when I predict the way I expect them to go. But I came pretty close in yesterday's post with my predictions for the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

I said the wet conditions favored the long hitters, Gerina Pillar and Lexi Thompson. Gerina struggled but Lexi shot a bogey-free 67 (tying the low score of the day) to take the outright lead by one stroke at -13. Lexi could get her second win in 4 weeks if she pulls this off.

Lexi

And which player is one stroke back? I.K. Kim, who I mentioned as being the only past winner to have shot the score I projected as a likely winning score (they're still on pace for that -18, btw), and because of that I said she was still close enough to be a threat.

So Yeon Ryu was only -1 on the day so she's 3 strokes back in solo 4th, a stroke behind Stacy Lewis. While I didn't think Stacy could win POY, I did say she could make it hard on Suzann's efforts. I also said I thought the conditions favored Ryu, and there she is, well within striking range.

I can't remember the last time I was right about 4 different players in a single post! (Or in multiple posts for that matter.) I hope this doesn't put the famous Ruthless Golf curse on all 4 of them. If it does, I think that would be a record also.

For those of you who are interested, here's the link to Lexi and Inky's press interviews after the round. Since this tournament isn't being broadcast, it's one of the few ways to keep up with what's going on.

As for Sunday's prediction... Here's all the pertinent info: Lexi, Inky, and Stacy all shot 67 on Saturday although only Lexi had a clean round. Inky's not hitting a lot of greens in regulation. Lexi's not hitting a lot of fairways although she's so much longer than the others that it doesn't seem to be hurting her. So Yeon is hitting the most fairways and greens, and only Inky has taken fewer putts. And Lexi has led in both LPGA tournaments that she's won. So...

I think it's going to be a showdown between Ryu and Thompson. If So Yeon can get her putter going, I think she wins; otherwise Lexi's length off the tee will give her the win.

Oh, and that POY race? Inbee and Suzann are tied at -8 (T7), 5 off the lead. Unless Suzann gets really hot in the final round, I think Inbee's got POY locked up. I thought Suzann just might pull it off, so I probably missed that one.

That doesn't amaze me at all.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The LPGA Heats Up in Guadalajara

The word is that the Lorena Ochoa Invitational might be televised next year. It's too bad they couldn't get that worked out for this year!

Earlier this week I wrote about the race for Player of the Year on the LPGA. I dealt primarily with Inbee Park and Suzann Pettersen, since Inbee leads but hasn't played as well lately while Suzann has been on a run. As it turns out, other players may have a bigger say-so in the finish than I originally thought. (You can check out the LPGA leaderboard here.)

After 2 rounds there's a 3-way tie for the lead at -9. Anna Nordqvist, So Yeon Ryu, and Pornanong Phatlum (who hasn't won yet) are playing very consistent golf -- that is, they're shooting roughly the same scores each day -- which puts them on pace to shoot around-18. This is significant, based on the winning scores of the past winners:
2012    Cristie Kerr    67 - 69 - 67 - 69 = 272 (-16)
2011    Catriona Matthew    69 - 68 - 68 - 71 = 276 (-12)
2010    I.K. Kim    69 - 68 - 68 - 64 = 269 (-19)
2009    Michelle Wie    70 - 66 - 70 - 69 = 275 (-13)
2008    Angela Stanford    68 - 66 - 72 - 69 = 275 (-13)
Note that only I.K. Kim has shot that low before. (And she needed a 64 in the final round to do it.) If one of the leaders can post -18, there's a good chance she'll win... and that would seriously affect the available POY points.

There's also a 3-way tie for 4th at -8. Inbee Park is in this group, and she has also shot very consistent scores. Gerina Pillar and Lexi Thompson, however, posted 65 and 64 respectively in the second round. Lexi's coming off a win and, if she or Gerina manages to go low again, it could make things very interesting. (The course is already very wet and both players are bombers.)

I.K. Kim and Lizette Salas are at -7. Since Inky has the lowest winning score on this course, she's close enough to be considered a threat.

Suzann is in a 4-way tie at -6. Stacy Lewis is also part of that 4-way tie. I don't think she can catch Inbee but she could certainly make it harder for Suzann to catch her.

Here's my point: Suzann started the week 38 points behind Inbee in the POY race. I figured she had a good chance of catching her, but now I'm not so sure. The course conditions favor the bombers (Gerina and Lexi) and I believe they favor So Yeon Ryu as well, given that she won her US Women's Open on a very wet course and is currently tied for the lead. Suzann's only 3 strokes off the lead but, unless Inbee stumbles, the conditions and number of contenders ahead of her may mean she's too far back.

Keep a check on that leaderboard, folks. The POY might be determined this week.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Toe Chips?

Ever get caught in a really bad lie -- deeeeeep rough or in a slight hole just off the green -- and you don't know a shot that can dig it out?

This bizarre little shot that I found over at golftipsmag.com just might be the answer. Lee Huntley (LPGA/PGA teacher) did the video. I'll add a few observations underneath it.



Pretty nifty little shot, eh? I've heard instructors talk about it, but this is the first video I've seen that went into any detail about how to hit it.

Okay, here are a few things you should keep in mind:
  • When you get the club up on its toe, the face may be a little open. Practice this shot a little on the range so you know how much; it'll make it easier to aim the shot.
  • Lee says to keep your hands quiet but it looks like she's cocking her wrists, doesn't it? The face-on view at the end tells the tale. Your lead wrist stays flat -- that is, your lead forearm and the club shaft form a straight line throughout the shot -- but your trailing wrist cocks a little to create power. She says to put a bit more weight on your lead leg; this helps create the downward motion.
  • NOT MENTIONED BUT IMPORTANT! This is primarily an arm swing. Your shoulders don't turn very much. Why is this important? The less your shoulders turn, the less you swing around your body. The less you swing around yourself, the easier it is to make solid and accurate contact. Shoulder turn is for creating power, and you don't need much power here at all; you need an accurate strike. All you want to do is dig the ball out of the hole, not pitch it 40 or 50 yards.
This can be a very useful shot when the ball is just off the green but sitting down in the rough or a depression. Just make sure you practice it a little before you try it on the course or you may find yourself in a similar problem on the other side of the green!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nine Dogs and Only One Bone

The Race is on. It's nearly half past midnight here in North Carolina, and 16 players are on the course at the DP World Tour Championship. Stenson and friends won't tee off for another 3 hours or so.

Stenson with media

According to the ET website, only 9 players still have a chance to win the Race to Dubai. Those players (in order from 1 to 9) are:
  1. Henrik Stenson
  2. Justin Rose
  3. Graeme McDowell
  4. Ian Poulter
  5. Jamie Donaldson
  6. Gonzalo Fdez-Castaño
  7. Thongchai Jaidee
  8. Richard Sterne
  9. Victor Dubuisson
Of course, you have to figure only the Top4 have a realistic chance to win. Donaldson is almost as far behind Poulter as McDowell is behind Stenson... and both McDowell and Poulter need help to catch the Stensonator.

As far as I can see, the big question this week is whether Stenson's injured wrist will determine his fate. Justin Rose has been playing extremely well the last few weeks and played well at Dubai last year. He's probably the favorite this week. But the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates can play to 7675 yards (7017 meters), which should favor Stenson if his wrist holds up.

You see, not only is Stenson long but he lives in Dubai as well.

Can Stenson win the Race to Dubai to go with his FedExCup? I don't know, but if I was a betting man I'd put my money on Stenson. We'll know the answer soon enough.

The photo came the European Tour photo page.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The LPGA POY Debate

GC's Golf Central had an interesting segment Tuesday night concerning the LPGA's Player of the Year race. Karen Stupples and Randall Mell debated whether Suzann Petterson should get POY instead of Inbee Park -- a very real possibility since, unlike the PGA Tour's vote, the LPGA POY is determined by points.

Suzann and Inbee at 2013 US Women's Open

In case you don't know, here's how it works: You get 30 points for a win, 12 points for second, nine points for third, seven points for fourth, six points for fifth, five points for sixth, four points for seventh, three points for eighth, two points for ninth, and one point for tenth. If you heard the debate, Stupples made it sound as if majors count the same as regular events, but -- unless things have been changed -- they're actually worth double points. (The Tour Championship -- now called the CME Group Titleholders -- is also worth double points.)

Inbee Park has 290 points, Suzann Petterson has 252 points -- a difference of 38 points. There are two events left -- this week's Lorena Ochoa Invitational, a regular event, and next week's Titleholders. That means there are 90 points still up for grabs.

Mell argued that winning three majors in a row -- something not done since Babe Didrikson back in 1950 -- should be enough to lock POY. Stupples argued that Inbee wasn't Player of the Year but rather Player of the Half Year; Suzann had been far more consistent.

And each had a valid point.

When a player makes history, it certainly seems that should count for something. And even if Suzann wins both events -- tying her and Inbee with 6 wins apiece -- Inbee will have 3 majors versus Suzann's single major and Titleholders. Close, but you'd think Inbee had the edge.

However, Inbee has virtually vanished since her win at the US Women's Open, posting a single Top10 since then (a third in early October). Suzann posted 6 Top10s during Inbee's dominant half-year. In all, Suzann has 14 Top10s versus Inbee's 9. Suzann was clearly the most consistent over the entire year.

Stupples doesn't believe the points system should be tweaked, and even Mell conceded that it has worked almost flawlessly over the years. The big question is a simple one: Should a historical performance be a factor in choosing the POY? As it stands, the LPGA says no and I suspect many fans (like Mell) have a problem with that.

But there's another factor that neither Stupples nor Mell considered... if Suzann does manage to play well enough to grab the POY trophy, she'll likely play well enough to win the Vare Trophy (for scoring; she's a mere .05 of a stroke behind leader Stacy Lewis) as well as becoming the new Rolex #1. That was INCONCEIVABLE back in June when Inbee snagged her third major in a row!

Sounds like a historical accomplishment to me.

Perhaps the folks who designed the LPGA's point system knew something we don't...

The photo is from sbnation.com.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Some Tips from Rickie Fowler

With Rickie Fowler posting a solo second behind Adam Scott's dominating performance at the Australian PGA Championship, this seemed a good time to get some help from Rickie. This article, titled 4 Keys to Go Low, appeared in the October issue of Golf Digest.

photo for Rickie's first tip

Because Rickie isn't overly caught up in mechanics -- but he doesn't work with an instructor, so you know that he's aware of what he's doing -- his tips are useful no matter what your swing looks like.

The article is divided into 4 sections, which I would label aim, setup, change of direction, and followthrough. Each of those 4 sections is divided into "body" and "mind," which should help you with that old problem of knowing what to think about in order to get the results you want. There are photos with each section, and there's a short video at the end where Rickie discusses alignment.

In addition, there are links to several other instructional articles that Rickie has done for the magazine.

All-in-all, an article with a large number of very helpful tips that doesn't take very long to read. It's worth checking out.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 McGladrey Classic

Winner: Chris Kirk

Around the wider world of golf: Victor Dubuisson got his first ET victory at the Turkish Airlines Open; Adam Scott completed the Australian Triple Crown with a victory at the Australian PGA Championship on the Australasian Tour; Mohd. Siddikur won the Hero Indian Open on the Asian Tour; amateur Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong (I think I spelled that right) won the PTT Global Chemical Thailand Ladies Open on the LAGT (Pornanong Phatlum got the money); and Teresa Lu won the LPGA/JLPGA Mizuno Classic (the Constructivist has details).

Kirk with trophy

Alas, poor Briny Baird! He continues to seek his first PGA Tour win. The McGladrey Classic was his 365th start -- a year of starts, if you please. Perhaps leap year will be luckier for him.

At least he gets some consolation. Playing on a medical exemption after surgery on both shoulders, he made enough cash to keep his card and he got his 6th runner-up finish. And it's not like he played badly; he was undone by a 3-putt par and one bad drive. Not bad for someone who's played very little golf in the last year or so.

But it would have been a lot better for him if Chris Kirk hadn't showed up for the final round. Despite a bogey on the 14th hole, and despite rinsing his ball at the 15th hole with his second shot (and hitting a bad chip with his fourth shot), he still managed to escape with a bogey and a par. They kept him in touch with Baird, a mere shot ahead after the 3-putt par.

And then Kirk birdied 17 and Baird bogeyed 18 (because of the bad drive). Game over.

While it was Kirk's second PGA Tour victory, it was the first-time trip to the Masters that had him most excited. The tournament wrap-up at PGATOUR.com has more interesting bits of info if you're interested. In the meantime, this week's Limerick Summary salutes the newest new guy at Augusta:
His hybrid at fifteen was jerked
To the left, making this round more work
Than I’m sure Chris intended.
Still, when it all ended,
He won. (And Augusta’s a perk!)
The photo came from the front page of PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

doo-bwee-SOHN: Remember the Name!

At the time I'm writing this, the final round of the Turkish Airlines Open hasn't begun. Victor Dubuisson, the 23-year-old Frenchman who's leading Ian Poulter by 5 strokes and Tiger & Friends by 6 strokes, has a big opportunity ahead of him.

Victor Dubuisson

GC commentators Brandel Chamblee and Aaron Oberholser have both said they don't think Victor can get it done. I doubt that they're alone in that thought. Even with a 5-shot lead, it's going to be a challenge to beat Poulter, Woods, Stenson, and all the other big names chasing him.

But I'm going out on a limb here. I think he gets it done.

Back in June 2011 I did a post about the PowerPlay Golf tournament. If you've forgotten what PowerPlay Golf is, I'm not surprised. Apparently everybody else has as well, as I haven't heard anymore about the format. You can check out that post if you want to know about it. However, at the end of the post I wrote the following.
And just as a sidenote, keep your eyes on Victor Dubuisson. He's a French rookie on the ET. He finished solo 5th in this tournament and he's got some serious game. Once he acclimates a bit more to Tour life, he could become an outstanding player.
In the time since then, Victor has gradually continued his improvement. He had won the 2009 European Amateur and was the #1 ranked amateur that year. He then got his 2011 European Tour card at the 2010 Q-School and has kept his card since. And this year he's had 3 Top5s. That's not shabby, not by anybody's measure.

This week he's made only 3 bogeys in three rounds... and none while shooting Saturday's 63. There are 5 par-5s at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course and he leads the field in par-5 scoring at -13. (Only Poulter is anywhere close to him at -11.) His three rounds of 67-65-63 show -- despite what everybody says -- that Victor CAN follow a good round with another one.

I think that, if he struggles in the final round, he can still shoot a 4-under 68. (Most of the leaders have managed at least that, even when they struggled.) And if he does, that means Poulter has to shoot 63 just to tie him... and the players behind him must do even better.

I don't believe he'll struggle the way everybody else thinks he will. I believe Victor will get the job done.

And I believe golf fans better get used to his name. We may be hearing it a lot over the next few years.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Tom Watson on Fairway Bunker Play

Hey, a brand new tip from Tom Watson! This piece at golfdigest.com is part of the December 2013 issue, and it's on how to hit full shots from fairway bunkers.

I've included the photo (showing proper setup) from the article below, but Tom includes a short video that recaps all the info in the article as well as including a demonstration. (And yes, the photo says you should have more weight on your lead foot at setup. He suggests kicking in your trailing knee to make it easier to do.)

Watson photo

He also recommends using a hybrid rather than an iron because hybrids don't get stuck in the sand.

Tom made this tip so succinct that I can't even summarize it without rewriting the entire article! Just click on the link above and read the article. It's only 4 paragraphs with a 90-second video.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Catching Up with the Ladies

The LPGA is playing this week although it isn't being televised. The event is the Mizuno Classic, a co-sponsored event between the LPGA and the JLPGA. It has a fairly long history; it's taken place every year since 1973. I guess that makes this the 41st edition. I've included some photos from the Pro-Am Gala (you can find a lot more at the tournament site). The first shows a group of the girls; Stacy Lewis is in the middle of the back row, Jiyai Shin at the left end of the front row. (I think that's Karrie Webb at the right end.)

Players at the pro-am gala

As usual, Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event at his blog and the Constructivist has a post about who's hot going in. In addition, Tony's post includes a list of 12 players he thinks have a good chance while TC has a separate post listing his 12. (Apparently they're participating in a competition at the Seoul Sisters site. You can check out the PakPicker link in TC's last post.) Here's Christina Kim and Danielle Kang, neither of whom was picked by my colleagues. Kang is just two off the lead. ;-)

Christina Kim and Danielle Kang at pro-am gala

The first round (only 3 this week) is just about finished as I write this, and you have one leader (at -4) with 9 players a shot back in second. The LPGA leaderboard is here. I think both Tony and TC have two players in this Top10... but TC would have done better to take the 5 players in his "who's hot" post. Three of them are in the Top10!

Stacy Lewis at pro-am gala

For my American readers, the only American in the Top10 is Brittany Lincicome (-3). Danielle Kang, Brittany Lang, and Austin Ernst are T11 (-2). And Stacy Lewis, the defending champion, is T20 (-1). (That's Stacy in the photo.)

If you're interested in the ladies, don't forget to check the LPGA leaderboard this weekend. The Mizuno Classic finishes up on Saturday night -- at least it'll be Saturday night here in America -- and since this event doesn't have a large number of LPGA members playing, it's entirely possible the winner could grab a Tour card.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Say Hello to Julia!

Yes, in case you missed it, Lorena Ochoa is a mommy again! Pedro has a little sister named Julia. My Spanish isn't great but, based on her tweets, it looks like Lorena gave birth at 3:30pm Tuesday.
"Tenemos la felicidad de compartirles que hoy a las 3:30 Pm nació nuestra hija Julia, gracias por sus buenos deseos!"
This is the photo Lorena tweeted. Julia already seems bored with paparazzi:

Lorena's new baby

I think the big question now is whether Lorena will play in her Lorena Ochoa Invitational tournament next week. I doubt it.

But I suspect Julia will make an appearance. It's clear she's addicted to the attention.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tiger Kicks Off This Week's Big Event

With all due respect to the McGladrey Classic, the big event this week is the Turkish Airlines Open on the European Tour. Tiger kicked it off with a quick drive into Europe.

Tiger making history

It was the first time any golfer has ever hit balls from east to west off the Bosphorus Bridge, although one wonders why any golfer would have tried for any other reason than to publicize a golf tournament. You can get more details about the drive from this link at europeantour.com. (The photo came from there as well.)

The Open itself is the last event before the DP World Tour Championship, where the winner of the Race to Dubai will be determined. After their great finishes behind Dustin Johnson this past weekend, the trio of Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, and Ian Poulter have really put the screws to Henrik Stenson's bid to become the first Euro winner of both the FedExCup and the Race to Dubai. In fact, McDowell is a mere €145,865 behind Stenson now.

You can get more details on the Race to Dubai standings at this europeantour.com page. But you don't need any links to know that the Race is on... and Stenson appears to be gasping for air. The Turkish Airlines Open is the must-see event in this week's golf.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

No More Broken Simulators

Well, it looks like GC finally got their simulator toughened up enough for the long drivers. Monday morning they had new RE/MAX champion Tim Burke in to officially "break" it in. (GC had already brought him in to help during the rebuild.)

Apparently the upgrade worked. Here's Tim giving it a workout while Gary and Holly get the skinny on just how hard he pushed it while helping the upgraders:


As usual, Damon Hack picked his brain, hoping to find something that would help his game. After you finish laughing at Damon -- yes, this is HILARIOUS -- maybe it'll help you.


And here's Charlie and Notah challenging the "Big Gun" for the title of long drive champion. Well, that's what they said, anyway...


So GC is now RE/MAX capable. It looks like Sadlowski's record for broken simulators will remain intact after all.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 WGC-HSBC Champions

Winner: Dustin Johnson

Around the wider world of golf: Kenny Perry won the Charles Schwab Cup but Freddie Couples won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on the Champions Tour (his first victory this year); Gwladys Nocera won the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open on the LET; Bo-Mee Lee won the Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Weider Ladies on the JLPGA (the Constructivist has details); and the US Team won the Spirit International, the big amateur event that got shortened to 54 holes because of weather. The US won the men's division while France won the women's. You can get full details about all the winners (including the individual titles) from this supersport.com article.

Dustin's 8th trophy

The big boys all showed up for the duel in Shanghai. And I mean they showed up! The final round turned into a shootout between Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter (the defending champion), and Graeme McDowell. Sergio shot a 63 to grab solo 4th, Justin Rose took solo 5th, and even Rory McIlroy managed a solid week to finish T6. But it was DJ, Ian, and Graeme -- all playing in the final group -- who really put some fire into the WGC.

Each of the three players shot 66. No one could shake the other two until DJ shot a 31 on the closing 9. I guess you could call it an impressive debut for the new season. (Say, isn't that what DJ did last season -- win his first start?)

Of course, the commentary concerned Dustin's somewhat uneven career: What will the man who can overpower courses at will do next? Will he go on a tear, winning every time he tees it up? Or will he vanish for a while, as he has in the past? Will he finally get a major or crumble in the final round? Will he even stay healthy enough to get to the majors? The questions are never-ending, it seems.

And DJ doesn't really seem to care what people say. (Hey, if I was engaged to Paulina Gretzky, I don't think I'd care either. But I digress...)

For the time being, I think I'll join him in his disinterest about those questions. Instead, I'm just going to congratulate Dustin on being the under-30 player with the most wins. (The European Tour site's summary of the event says Dustin is 38 years old. I wonder if Paulina knows?) DJ, here's your very own personal Limerick Summary:
A win each year since college; Dustin’s run
Includes this Shanghai win, his biggest one.
Some say a major’s next
While others are perplexed—
Is Tiger’s reign a fair comparison?
The photo came from the WGC-HSBC page at worldgolfchampionships.com.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

About the First Priority Reshuffle

One interesting twist to the new wraparound PGA Tour season is that the priority reshuffles begin sooner. According to this article about the reshuffles at PGATOUR.com, the first one comes right after the OHL Classic at Mayakoba -- a mere two weeks from now (November 17).

If you click on the link above, you'll be taken to a table showing the current (October 28) position of the 52 players from the Web.com Tour. (It contains more than the Tour grads. Several of the players at the bottom of the list are on medical extensions. More on that later in this post.) You'll also see their FedExCup point totals and projected movement in the priority list if the reshuffle had happened last week.

I found it very interesting. You wouldn't have expected so much to happen so quickly.

Clearly the big winners here are Ryo Ishikawa and Will MacKenzie, who would move up to #1 and #2 respectively. Ryo is the only player on this list playing in the WGC this week, though he's not doing particularly well. But I expect he'll still be projected #1 since no one else from the list is playing.

Despite being in the mix at the Frys.com event, Chesson Hadley is projected to drop 3 spots from his current #1 spot. And Seung-yul Noh, the current #2, is projected to drop 21 spots!

Two big surprise movers are Ricky Barnes, projected to move up 23 spots from #31 (into the Top10), and Kevin Tway, projected to move up 24 spots from #44. Ricky's been struggling this year and Kevin is a true rookie. For them to make such a big move against some experienced players who were doing fairly well is not something I expected.

If you take a look at the table you'll get a good preview of just how dramatically your life can change on the Tour when you aren't fully exempt. Remember, the lower you are on the list, the less you get to play and the less control you have over your schedule. (You won't see either Michael Putnam or John Peterson on this list. Both won fully-exempt Tour cards through the Web.com Tour.)

And in case you're curious about how the exemptions are determined -- there are a bunch of different categories -- and just who holds each of those exemptions, you can check this very thorough list from PGATOUR.com. Putnam and Peterson got the Category 22 exemptions. Categories 25 and 26 are the ones shown in the reshuffle table.

If there are players whose status you want to keep up with, you'll want to bookmark the reshuffle link in the first paragraph. Of course, I'm sure all the guys listed on that page know exactly where they are.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hitting the "Under Over" Shot

Another tip from over at the golftipsmag.com site. I've talked about hitting knockdown shots several times, but I found this cool video that not only demonstrates the technique but also includes tips for things like choosing the right club to keep the ball low. (In case you need to keep it under tree branches, for instance.)

Here's PGA teacher Jeff Johnson with the demonstration:



Here's the big key, folks: You aren't swinging out of your shoes trying to hit the ball hard. You're taking more club than normal -- at least one or two clubs, according to Jeff. You're keeping your weight forward, more on your lead leg -- that forces you to hit down on the ball. And you make a shorter backswing and finish, which makes you generate less backspin so the ball stays lower.

A knockdown shot often makes more sense than a full shot, even when you can make the full shot without trouble, simply because it's a more controlled shot. But knowing how to hit the knockdown is critical when you have to keep the ball low.

And don't forget -- you can also get an idea which club will give you the right trajectory by using this tip that came from GC's Charlie Rymer. It's so simple that I'm amazed more teachers don't teach it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Wraparound Season Seems to Suit Rory Just Fine

As I'm writing this, the WGC-HSBC Champions in China is only halfway through the second round... but Rory is still looking good. After his first round of 7-under he's picked up 2 more in 13 holes. It's not a certainty that he'll win but after his struggles this year -- or was it last year? I get confused -- he finally seems to have found something solid.

Rory during the first round

GC's broadcast team noted that Rory has a new driver and ball in play -- the ball is softer so his short game is better, but he still hits the ball farther. (They didn't say, but presumably the extra spin helps him keep the ball in play with the driver as well.) They've also noted that Rory seems to have eliminated the strange rerouting move he had picked up over the last year or so, a change to which Rory is attributing the improvement. At any rate, he played well against Tiger in their exhibition match and now his game appears to have traveled to the WGC.

That's good news for Rory fans... and for Rory as well, I suppose.

But some other players seem to have found something as well. Among the players right on Rory's heels, Dustin Johnson is playing well; right now (as I'm writing this, that is) he's tied with Rory for the lead.

And just a shot behind them is Jordan Spieth, who found "Jonas Spieth" on his locker's nameplate. (He tweeted that he must have a new nickname in China.) But while the Chinese sponsors may not be sure who the locker belongs to, Jordan's game clearly has no doubts. If this is any indication, Jordan may escape the "sophomore jinx" that hits so many young players.

Hideki Matsuyama wasn't so lucky. He had to withdraw before the second round with back problems. I can't remember for sure but I seem to recall him having some pain at the Presidents Cup. Hopefully it won't become a chronic problem.

But the big news right now is Rory's improved form. He already holds a share of the course record at Sheshan International Golf Club. It'll be interesting to see if he can finally get himself another PGA Tour victory there as well.

The photo came from this USATODAY article.