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Saturday, May 31, 2014

How to Pick Sunglasses That Look Good on You

I ran across a short article at Golf Digest's site about choosing sunglasses. It's called (not surprisingly) How to Pick a Sunglass Frame That Looks Good on You. But I was a little disappointed because basically all it said was to pick frames that are a different shape than your face -- that is, pick frames with angles if your face is rounder, and vice versa. Not good enough!

So I decided to find some sites that would be more help. Otherwise, how would you know if these Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer Cosmos are right for you? Of course, we don't want to be overwhelmed with info, so I'll keep it to a couple of helpful sites.
Ray-Ban Wayfarers
We'll start at the Sun Authority's website with their Choosing the Best Sunglasses for Your Face Shape guide. (They also have an interactive tool to help you out, if you prefer.) It shows you how to identify your face shape (one of 4 different outlines) and then shows you what frame shapes tend to work best with that shape. The guide is short but it's far more helpful than the Golf Digest article.

The United Shades website takes it a bit farther with their Choosing the Right Sunglasses for Your Face page. This page makes frame recommendations for 6 different face outlines, but also gives some tips on how your hairstyle affects the way the frame looks on your face AND how your skin's complexion should affect the frame color you choose. A very cool page!

That's enough to give you some guidance. I've tagged this page as "fashion" but also as "equipment," simply because sunglasses are more than a fashion statement for golfers -- they're a necessary form of eye protection. Every golfer needs sunglasses...

But it doesn't hurt if they make you look cool as well. ;-)

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Ladies Are Playing in New Jersey

This week the LPGA heads north from the southeastern state of Alabama to the northeastern state of New Jersey for the ShopRite LPGA Classic, a long-running tournament that's missed only 3 years (pre-Mike Whan, in 2007-2009) in its 29-year history. Karrie Webb is the defending champion.

Karrie Webb

Tony Jesselli has (as usual) done a preview of the event. He says this is one of the strongest fields of the year -- which is expected, as this event has always been popular. Most of the big names will be there, so you'll probably have a chance to see your favorites play at some point this week.

Of course, the big buzz continues to be Inbee Park's tenuous hold on the Rolex #1 spot. Here's how LPGA.com sums it up:
The battle for No. 1 is as heated as ever with Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, and Lydia Ko all within .3 points of each other in the Rolex Rankings.
SCENARIOS ABOUND FOR NO. 1
The 59-week run of Inbee Park at the No. 1 spot is in more jeopardy this week than at maybe any point since it began with both Stacy Lewis and Lydia Ko nipping on Park’s heels. Ko, currently No. 3 behind Park and Lewis, has only 31 events feeding into her Rolex Rankings because of when she turned pro, so her finishes are more impactful to her ranking than Park’s and Lewis. In turn, she’s actually more of a threat to take over Park’s No. 1 than Lewis this week. If the two finish tied for second or tied for third together then Ko would actually be No. 1.
For Lewis to take over No. 1
- Solo 2nd place or a win as long as Park or Ko don’t win.
- Solo 3rd place as long as Park and Ko finish worse than 5th.
- 9th or better if both Park and Ko get cut.
For Ko to take over No. 1
- Tied for 2nd or better as long as Park or Lewis don’t win.
- Tied for 3rd as long as Park or Lewis finish tied for 3rd or worse.
- 12th or better if both Park and Lewis get cut.
It's ironic, isn't it? Lydia actually has an easier job of taking #1 than Stacy, even though she's #3 and Stacy's #2... and it's all because of how the rankings work. No wonder fans get confused!

The page at that LPGA.com link also details the new KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the major which will take the place of the now-defunct Wegmans LPGA Championship (since Wegmans withdrew their sponsorship). KPMG and the PGA of America (the teaching pros' organization, not the PGA Tour) are stepping in as co-sponsors with the LPGA for the new event.  What I find most interesting about the new event is that, according to this PGA.com announcement, the PGA is running it and the word merger is being used to describe the new PGA-LPGA relationship. (Both have teaching professionals, after all.)

It appears this new arrangement is very popular with the LPGA, so don't be surprised if we see more joint efforts between the two coming in the future... and I don't mean just tournaments.

In the meantime, you get to watch golf. GC's coverage begins at noon ET today.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Welcome to Jack's Place

Now that the NCAA Division 1 Men's Golf Championship is done -- congrats to the University of Alabama on defending their title and to Stanford's Cameron Wilson on winning the individual title -- now that they're done, we can move on to Muirfield Village and the Memorial Tournament.

Adam Scott

Jack's Place always attracts one of the best fields of the year, and many players are looking for success this week as a predictor of US Open success in a couple of weeks. Players we haven't seen for a while, like Jason Day, are back in action. Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy come in fresh off wins this past week. And Phil Mickelson comes in on a wave of uncertainty, having still failed to put four good rounds together in the same week.

But that's the sort of thing that makes the rumble at Jack's Place so interesting. You KNOW everybody wants to win the Memorial and shake Jack's hand Sunday, but they can't help but think about that next major just around the corner...

One player who won't be at either Muirfield Village or Pinehurst is Tiger, who -- surprise, surprise! -- still hasn't recovered enough from his back surgery to make either tournament. He called Jack to apologize for the first and posted the second on Wednesday... as if any of us are surprised. His recovery is going to take some time, and I for one don't expect to see Tiger at a major until next year. (And I expect him to be a very real threat when he gets there!)

But for all of you Jack fans out there, GC has a nice lead-in to the tournament today:
  • At noon ET they're running Masters Highlights 1986: Jack Nicklaus. (NOON UPDATE: Apparently GC changed the programming from what's listed in my program guide. Inside the PGA Tour and Champions Tour Learning Center are now being advertised.)
  • At 1pm ET they're running the Feherty episode where he interviewed Jack. (NOON UPDATE: GC says it will repeat the noon schedule.)
Then, as usual, Golf Central comes on at 2pm ET with tournament coverage beginning at 2:30pm ET.

I'm very interested to see how Adam does this week. Not one of PGATOUR.com's experts picked Adam as the likely winner. Out of 13 experts:
  • Matt Kuchar and Justin Rose each got 3 votes
  • Rory McIlroy got 2 votes
  • Dustin Johnson got 2 votes
  • Jason Dufner, Kevin Chappell, and Phil Mickelson got 1 vote each.
The World #1 might take a bit of exception to that. (In his photo above, taken from the Experts' Page, he certainly appears a bit miffed by the snub. Don't you think so?) It's okay, Adam -- I'll pick you!

This should be a very interesting week!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mike Bender Gets a Grip

Another quickie tip today, this one from Golf Magazine's Top100 Teacher Mike Bender.

Every pro golfer and instructor seems to have his or her own sure-fire method for getting a good grip on the club. However, almost all of them involve setting the club head down on the ground. Bender has a really simple method that keeps the shaft parallel to the ground!



Not only is this a simple method, but Bender gives you some secondary checks to make sure the grip is really correct. He also says it will help you make better use of your wrists and not wear out so many gloves. Check it out!

In case the video didn't embed properly, you can find the original at this golf.com link.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Advice from Paula Creamer

Today I'm just including a link to a new Golf Digest piece on Paula Creamer. It's an interesting piece (3 pages) with her thoughts on improving your game, as well as some interesting tidbits about her. Did you know she has a pink pool table with pink chalk?

Paula Creamer

The first page of the article also has a number of links to other Golf Digest articles about her and more of her tips, like her basics on how to hit approach shots with hybrids. That article also includes this video, although it only covers part of what the article covers.



And don't forget that Paula is playing in the ShopRite LPGA Classic this week. It's only a 3-day event, and GC is broadcasting the first round live on Friday at noon ET.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Limerick Summary: 2014 Crowne Plaza Invitational

Winner: Adam Scott

Around the wider world of golf: WOW! What an awesome weekend of golf! Rory McIlroy came from 7 strokes back -- his best rally ever -- to win the BMW PGA Championship on the ET; Colin Montgomerie held off a charging Tom Watson to get his first ever US win -- and his first major -- at the Senior PGA Championship on the Champions Tour; Jessica Korda got her 2nd win of the season at the tightly-contested Airbus LPGA Classic (the Constructivist has more details); Koumei Oda won the Kansai Open Golf Championship on the Asian Tour; Kylie Walker won the Deloitte Ladies Open on the LET; Mallory Blackwelder won the 2014 Symetra Classic on the Symetra Tour; Byron Smith won the Web.com Tour's Rex Hospital Open; Julian Etulain won the Lexus Panama Classic on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; and Sun-Ju Ahn won the JLPGA's Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open (the Constructivist also has details on this one).

And, in case you missed it, Duke University won their 6th NCAA Women's Golf title while the University of Southern California's Doris Chen won the individual title. Way to go, gals!

Adam Scott

Well, pardners, I guess we should have expected it after such a wild weekend of golf. First Rory McIlroy's rally from a 7-stroke deficit to beat Thomas Bjorn at Wentworth got everybody excited. Then Colin Montgomerie won what is probably the most prestigious major on the Champions Tour as Tom Watson pressured him down the stretch. There were as many as 6 players tied for the lead at the LPGA event -- and they were shooting 67s and 66s -- until Jessica Korda put it away with a 65.

So why shouldn't the Crowne Plaza come down to a playoff between 2 major champions, one of whom had just become the World #1? And a quality playoff at that -- no balls in the water or missed tap-ins this week!

After Adam Scott barely made the cut and charged up the leaderboard to deprive Henrik Stenson (playing over at Wentworth) any hope of taking the World #1 spot himself, he and Jason Dufner put on a three-hole playoff that could have been an exhibition. If you're interested, there's a stroke-by-stroke summary of the playoff at the Tour Report link at the end of this post. But here's the quick summary:

After pars on the first playoff hole (18), Adam put his tee shot to the par-3 17th just a bit long while Dufner stuffed it in close, then Adam drained the long putt for birdie and Duff topped him. And on the third hole (18 again) the roles were reversed with Dufner leaving a long birdie putt (that he nearly made) while Adam stuffed it close to take the one title in Texas that he hadn't won.

That's right, Adam Scott is the only golfer to ever corral all four so-called "Texas Slam" events:
  • The Valero Texas Open
  • The Shell Houston Open
  • The HP Byron Nelson Championship
  • The Crowne Plaza Invitational
And in the process he proved he's #1 with a bullet. Going into Memorial next week and the US Open a couple of weeks after that, he's clearly going to be the favorite. Look out, you mangy cowpokes -- there's a new sheriff in town!

So now that Adam done "cowboyed up" and rounded up all four of these little Texas titles, I reckon I'll salute him with a gen-u-wine Limerick Summary. Yee-haw, pardner!
In his first week as World Number One,
Adam found his game under the gun.
But he’s now the first man
With the Texas Grand Slam
‘Cause it spurred him to get the job done.
The photo came from the tournament's Tour Report page at PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Is Inbee's Reign About to End?

There was a buzz coming into the Airbus LPGA Classic this week, the same buzz that's been heard for the last couple of weeks or so. With world #1 Inbee Park not playing quite as well as she did last year -- despite being second on the LPGA in Top10 finishes -- there have been players with a realistic chance of taking the top spot away from her.

Suzann Pettersen was one of them. She was second in the rankings until back problems forced her to miss a few weeks. Now at #4 she's fallen back a bit.

By the end of April Lydia Ko had closed the gap, reaching #2. However, despite a recent win, she too fell back and currently sits at #3.

That left Stacy Lewis, the current #2. She leads the LPGA in Top10 finishes and she picked up a win in Texas just a couple of weeks back. And that's where the story gets interesting...

Stacy Lewis

You see, Inbee did the unthinkable this week -- she missed the cut at the Airbus. All Stacy needs to do is finish solo 3rd or better, and she'll wake up Monday morning as #1 in the world.

That, as it turns out, is easier said than done. For some crazy reason, the gals on the LPGA are shooting ridiculous scores this week. (Maybe they found some new golfer's drink, like GoLow Cola or a special red tea.) Here's what the scoreboard looks like as they enter the final round today:
  • -16 Anna Nordqvist
  • -15 Catriona Matthew
  • -14 Stacy Lewis
  • -13 Michelle Wie, Jessica Korda, Charley Hull
  • -12 So Yeon Ryu, Jodie Ewart Shadoff, Eun-Hee Ji, Jenny Shin
There are 33 players at -7 or better and, given how many 66s and 67s got posted Saturday, one stumble means those leads aren't safe. (Matthew posted a 64 Thursday, so there's probably a really low round out there today.)

As you can see, Stacy Lewis is currently solo 3rd -- just what she needs to dethrone Inbee. But I don't think it's going to be that easy...

GC's coverage of the Airbus LPGA Classic begins at 3pm ET today.

And in a related note... Jerry Foltz & Company have been talking about how Stacy Lewis is using a new AimPoint technique for reading putts. It involves using her fingers. Jerry said she looked like Dr. Spock; I assume he meant Mr. Spock from Star Trek, rather than the famous children's doctor. (He probably meant the Vulcan "Live long and prosper" gesture.)

Anyway, I tried looking it up to see what it's all about and here's what I found. This Golf Digest article describes the basic AimPoint technique, which involves finding what they call the Zero Line (basically, a string of points from which you can make straight putts) to determine which direction your putt will break and then uses a chart to determine the amount of break based on green speed and slope.

Then this blog post describes how the AimPoint Express technique gives you a quick and dirty read with fingers and no chart. (Shall we call it a "Break well and vanish" gesture?) And there's an advanced course that teaches you how to "let your fingers do the walking" through a chart, which is probably what Stacy is doing.

Of course, these links don't tell you how to do it because the courses that teach you such arcane practices cost money. But at least now you'll know what they're talking about during the broadcast.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Glory of Wentworth

Some courses tend to overshadow the events they host. Augusta National. Pebble Beach. TPC Sawgrass.

The West Course at the Wentworth Club.

the 18th hole at Wentworth Club

Wentworth is a private club just outside London. It's the headquarters for the PGA European Tour. Although it has three 18-hole courses and a 9-hole par-3, it's probably best known for the West Course where most of the modern events are held. And trust me, it's had its share of high-profile events:
  • 1953 Ryder Cup (back then it was a 2-day event with only 12 matches)
  • 1956 World Cup (Ben Hogan & Sam Snead won the team event, Hogan won the individual)
  • 1964-2007 HSBC World Match Play Championship (now it's the Volvo World Match Play Championship, and just about every great player from Arnold Palmer on has won it)
And since 1984 it has also hosted the BMW PGA Championship, which is going on this week. It's the ET's "Flagship Event," which makes it the counterpart to THE PLAYERS on the PGA Tour.

The West Course is unusual in tournament golf because the final two holes are both par-5s... and 18 is laced with water hazards, as you can see in the photo above. If you want a "guided tour" of 17 and 18, you can check out this short video with RE/MAX World Long Drive champion Joe Miller.

The BMW PGA gets a lot of world ranking points, so Henrik Stenson -- who sits T5 after the second round -- has a really good chance to catch Adam Scott and take over the #1 spot this week. And Thomas Bjorn is in position to grab yet another big title.

Make no mistake about it. Although it doesn't get a lot of attention over here in America, the BMW PGA is a big title. But then, Wentworth has rarely hosted anything that wasn't a big title. It's one of the overlooked jewels of the golfing world.

This week is your chance to appreciate it.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Golf Magazine's Wedge Test

While Golf Digest gets a lot of publicity for their Hot List tests, Golf Magazine's tests often get overlooked. Here's a link to their test of 12 different wedge models.

Picture of the 12 wedges <b>Golf Magazine</b> tested

The Golf Magazine tests are different from the Hot List because they're done by 40 golfers, not by magazine staffers. There's a short video on the linked page that features some of those golfers telling what they liked about the clubs, as well as showing how the wedges actually look when you're standing over them at address.

There are also individual links to "group" reviews of each wedge, containing the combined wisdom of all the testers. One thing I like about these pages is that there's a list of every loft/bounce combination they tested for each wedge, along with the main technological innovation that each company is touting for that club. You also get a pretty comprehensive list of the pros and cons for each wedge as compiled by the testers.

Unlike the Hot List, you don't get a hierarchical ranking of the clubs -- you know, which wedges rate 5 stars vs which ones rate 1 star. However, since those rankings rarely tell me which club will work best for me -- and as the video shows, each of the clubs was the preferred choice of some of the testers -- that doesn't bother me.

If you're in the market for a new wedge, comparing these rankings with the Hot List should give you a pretty good base of information to begin narrowing your search.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

And Today's LPGA Event Is...

With the whole world seemingly abuzz about the demise of Wozzilroy, I decided to write about this week's LPGA event instead. I hope you guys don't mind.

Stacy Lewis

The Airbus LPGA Classic is making its 6th appearance -- this is its 7th year but it wasn't played in 2009 -- and Jennifer Johnson is the defending champion. It's being played at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Magnolia Grove, The Crossings (boy, that's a long name for one course) in Mobile, Alabama.

You can read Tony Jesselli's preview at this link. And here is the official LPGA tournament page where you can read the interviews, link to the scoreboard, and all that stuff.

As I see it, there are 3 major storylines this week:

1) Yani Tseng made some major strides last week at Kingsmill, finishing T2 for her best finish of the year. If she's finally regaining her game, she could make another run up the Rolex Rankings -- you don't lose your talent, after all, and Yani's proved she's got plenty of that -- so things could become very interesting over the next few months.

2) The race for #1 is probably the biggest storyline this week. Inbee Park believes she had food poisoning and then caught a cold. She skipped Kingsmill so she could rest, and now feels like she's ready to play. And she'd better be ready because...

3) Stacy Lewis is a mere .38 of a point behind Inbee Park and, while both are playing this week, Stacy has won here before (2012). With Lydia Ko out of the picture this week, this may be Stacy's best chance to grab the top spot. GC ran a list of scenarios where Stacy can jump to the top; here's the list from LPGA.com:
  • With a win regardless of other finishes
  • With a solo second and Inbee finishes T4 with two or more players or worse.
  • With a T2 with one other player and Inbee finishes 9th or worse
  • With a T2 with two other players and Inbee finishes 17th or worse
  • With a solo 3rd and Inbee finishes 26th or worse
It should make for some interesting viewing this week.

The first round of the Airbus LPGA Classic airs tonight on GC starting at 6:30pm ET. (I can't find two listings that agree on when it comes on or how long it lasts, but that's the start time GC gave during Golf Central Wednesday night.) It'll be tape-delayed but after so many years with little if any LPGA coverage, I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What Do You Know? Another Champions Major!

After winning the Regions Tradition last week, Kenny Perry is after yet another Champions Tour major -- this time, the Senior PGA Championship.

And Perry is probably the best story this week as well.

Kenny Perry

You see, Kenny Perry has had his issues with the PGA, both on the regular PGA Tour and on the Champions Tour.

Last year he was in position to win the Senior PGA. He was 3 shots ahead with 6 holes to play, only to crash and burn while Kohki Idoki chased him down from 5 shots back.

And back in 1996 Perry had a single shot lead on the last hole of the "regular" PGA Championship. He took a bogey and ended up in a playoff where he was beaten by Mark Brooks.

That PGA was held in his home state of Kentucky, at Valhalla Golf Club -- the same place this year's regular PGA will be held. If Perry could manage to win this week, he'd punch his ticket back for another chance at the one that got away.

Of course, although most of his fellow Champions Tour players certainly feel for him -- many of them have felt the same heartbreak -- you can be sure they have no intention of letting him get his 4th consecutive Champions Tour major.

Oh, yes. There are a lot of storylines at this week's Senior PGA, such as the continued search for a major on any tour by popular players like John Cook, Rocco Mediate, and Colin Montgomerie; or Hale Irwin's attempt to win at age 68; or the continued battle for supremacy between Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, and Jay Haas in the Charles Schwab Cup race. (Perry's win last week vaulted him into the running as well.) But there's no story quite as exciting as a tale of redemption...

Or a quest for revenge, if you prefer. Kenny Perry's out for both.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How Far Should You Stand from the Ball?

I found a brand new video from teachers Bill and Craig Harmon -- just posted Monday! -- over at golf.com. It addresses the problem of how far to stand from the ball when you set up for a drive.



Here's what I think is the key position in the video:

Harmons addressing a drive

Essentially they're taking an athletic stance -- knees flexed, torso tilted forward slightly -- and pointing the butt end of the club toward their belly buttons. Billy says this should get you within an inch or two of the proper position. The video demonstrates a couple of ways to get into this position quickly.

It's a pretty good guideline for shots off the turf as well.

I know this sounds like elementary stuff, but it's the basics that tend to mess us up. As Billy says, "People who stand too far away from the ball at the start stand too close to it after they hit it." Don't be that guy!

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Limerick Summary: 2014 HP Byron Nelson Championship

Winner: Brendon Todd

Around the wider world of golf: We had quite a few firsts this weekend. Miguel Angel Jiménez become the first over-50 winner on the European Tour when he won the Open de España; Lizette Salas got her first LPGA win at the Kingsmill Championship (the Constructivist has details); Brett Drewitt won his first title at the Wuhan Open on the PGA TOUR China; and Max Homa got his first win at the Web.com Tour's BMW Charity Pro-Am. Also, Marcus Both won the ICTSI Philippine Open on the Asian Tour; Kenny Perry won his third straight Champions Tour major start at the Regions Tradition (but this isn't a first, as Gary Player has also won three in a row); Michael Buttacavoli won the Dominican Republic Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; and Bo-Mee Lee won the JLPGA's Hoken No Madoguchi Ladies (the Constructivist has details on this one too).

Brendon Todd

Nobody gave Brendon Todd much chance on Sunday. After all, he was tied with Open champ Louis Oosthuizen; Masters champ Mike Weir was right on his tail; and there were still more players like Gary Woodland, Graham DeLaet, James Hahn, Dustin Johnson, Boo Weekley, and Matt Kuchar waiting in the wings.

And Brendon had never led a tournament on the weekend until Saturday. He simply wasn't likely to win. It just made good common sense.

Which just goes to show how much good common sense means where golf is concerned. All Todd did was shoot a bogey-free 4-under 66 despite his lack of experience leading a tournament to win by two.

In addition, he gave us one of the coolest scrambling shots I've ever seen -- a chip played with the back side of a long iron (it's at the 1:35 mark in this video from PGATOUR.com):



Brendon Todd became the 8th first-time winner -- and 5th Georgia Bulldog (for those of you not up on your college teams, the 5th graduate from the University of Georgia) -- to win on Tour this season. Which also makes him the 5th Georgia Bulldog to get a Limerick Summary this season. I wonder if the colleges are competing to see who gets the most of these?
Inexperience proved no deterrent;
Though the pressure from chasers was urgent,
Brendon couldn’t be caught!
His pursuers all thought
They were up to the task… but they weren’t.
The photo came from this golfweek.com article.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Meanwhile, Out at the Kingsmill Championship...

There are a couple of big stories brewing out in Williamsburg, Virginia. (That's meant to be funny, folks. For those of you who don't remember, once upon a time the PGA Tour played the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic, then the Michelob Championship at the Kingsmill River Course -- the same site as the LPGA's Kingsmill Championship.)

Lizette Salas

The first story concerns Lizette Salas, who has been on the verge of winning for a couple of years now. Just this season she's had a T3 at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic and a runner-up at the Kia Classic. When the third round had ended Saturday, she was at -13 and had a 3-shot lead over Hee Young Park and was 5 shots ahead of Lydia Ko, Katherine Kirk (formerly Katherine Hull), and Stacy Lewis.

And she posted her best round of the year to do it -- a bogey-free 6-under 65 (par is 71). She birdied 3 of the last 5 holes to do it. (You may remember the 18th hole. Back in 2012, Jiyai Shin and Paula Creamer played it 8 extra times before Jiyai won the 9th playoff hole the next day... on the 17th. Even the tournament organizers were tired of the hole!)

If Salas continues to play the way she has so far this week, she should finally get her first LPGA win. She decided to approach the event differently this year, as she told the Associated Press (as published in the Miami Herald):
"I took a different approach this week," Salas said. "I only played the pro-am. I've seen the course several times. It's my third year here. I didn't want to think too much about the golf course and just hit my targets. Last week, I had a good practice session at home, so I was feeling good coming in."
This sounds remarkably like what Martin Kaymer said about his win at TPC last week -- he tried not to overthink things, but just go out and play the shots.

The other story is that Inbee Park may be about to lose her #1 position in the Rolex Rankings. Both Stacy Lewis (#2) and Lydia Ko (#3) can take over with a win this week. (I believe Lewis can also take it with a two-way tie for second-place finish.) Since both are at T3 and just 5 shots back, a little weather and a stumble from Salas could shake things up.

And although it's not exactly a big story, this is still worth noting: Paula Creamer missed the cut, ending her streak of made cuts at 75. She had last missed a cut at the 2010 Safeway Classic. I believe that's the most ever for any LPGA player. According to golf.about.com, on the PGA Tour the only made cut streaks beating Creamer's are:
  • Tiger: 142
  • Byron Nelson: 113
  • Jack Nicklaus: 105
  • Hale Irwin: 86
That's some pretty heady company.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Johnny Miller on Flat Swings

One of my requirements for a good swing is that it doesn't hurt your back. It seems that more and more players are developing back problems these days.

Johnny Miller video intro

Johnny Miller played "back in the day" when high hands and upright swings -- and reverse-C finishes -- were the way to play. But Johnny says that's no longer the case, and he did an article and video for golf.com explaining why it's changed and how to make the change to a flatter swing if you want to see how it works.

Johnny notes that the most accurate players have tended to have flat swings (a la Jim Hardy's one-plane swing) -- even back in the 1980s -- and such swings allow you to turn through the shot faster without hurting your back. If you're thinking about changing your swing, this might be something you'd want to consider.

You'll still hear instructors recommending high hands if you want to get more distance with your swing, but the flatter swings of Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson aren't all that short. This article and video are short. Give them a quick look. Johnny demonstrates the swing near the end of the video.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Beware of Injured Golfers

Well, pardners, I don't guess no golfers is been shot down thar in Texas... but they sho is a lot of gimpy horses at that rodeo.

Okay, enough with the bad cowboy lingo. Let's get down to it -- there are a lot of injured players at the HP Byron Nelson. A LOT.

David Duval

The tournament is being led by Peter Hanson, who has been undergoing decompression treatments for a bad back.

David Duval didn't even know if he could play because he's got pain in his right elbow. (Sounds like the tennis elbow-type pain that gave me trouble at the golf course last week, although David's is clearly much worse.) Since he's gotten so few sponsor invites he decided to try and play anyway. Now he's just one back of the lead. In fact, I understand that this is David's best position after the first round in 12 years.

Tim Herron is recovering from knee surgery. He's 3 off the lead. So is Louis Oosthuizen, who's still dealing with his chronic back pain.

Patrick Cantlay is finally back playing after nearly a year of back problems. He shot even par.

Briny Baird is also dealing with back problems that forced him out of THE PLAYERS after only 27 holes. He's 2-over.

And as it stands right now, everybody but Baird -- if you'll pardon the pun -- is in pretty good shape. (Baird is T89 after the first round; Cantlay, by comparison, is T45.)

Will any of these guys win? Who knows? But one thing is for sure... it makes you wonder if there isn't some truth in that old adage, "Beware of the wounded golfer."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The First Champions Major

There are several notable events going on this week -- the LPGA at Kingsmill, Web.com in Greer SC, the PGA Tour stop in Irving TX, and the European stopover in Spain. But only one tour has its first major this week...

Welcome to the Regions Tradition, the Champions Tour event in Alabama. The Shoal Creek Golf Course where this major is held hosted both the 1984 and 1990 PGA Championships, so this is a tough track.

David Frost

Defending champion David Frost heads a strong field this week. Jack Nicklaus won this event 4 times back in the 1990s, and it has a reputation for big names and multiple winners. In addition, this is the first of back-to-back majors -- next week is the Senior PGA Championship -- so a good finish this week can set you up for a very good season.

The favorites coming in this week have to be Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, and Colin Montgomerie. Bernhard has 6 Top3s (2 wins) in 7 events so far this season; Freddie has 5 Top5s (1 win) in 5 starts; and Monty has 6 straight Top10s this season, with 21 straight rounds of par or better. The field just doesn't get much stronger than it is this week!

GC is loaded with 5 golf broadcasts today. The Champions Tour broadcast window is from 12:30pm to 2:30pm ET today. (That's following the ET Open de España coverage which starts at 9:30am, and it's followed by the PGA Tour Byron Nelson Championship coverage, the Web.com Tour BMW Charity Pro-Am, and the LPGA Kingsmill Championship.)

It'll be interesting to see if David Frost can become the newest defending champion at this event. At any rate, as the first event this season with double Charles Schwab Cup points at stake, he should have some serious competition this week.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tom Watson on How to Make More Breaking Putts

Alright, today you get a quickie. ;-) This is a very simple tip from golfdigest.com that Tom Watson explains very simply. The question: How do you make more of those nasty breaking putts?


When you play a breaking putt you don't aim at the front of the hole because the ball is going to turn during the last foot or two and go in the side. Because of this Tom says you have to use ALL of the hole, especially if you like to die the ball into the cup. And, based on the demonstration Tom gives in this video, "use all of the hole" means that you probably want to try dying the ball at the BACK of the hole rather than the front.

Simple enough but it trips up lots of players.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Debut of the HD Rule

Although it was talked about often on Sunday, all of the circumstances surrounding the "Rose Decision" weren't consistently repeated during every report. I want to make sure everybody understands why Justin Rose's 2-shot penalty was rescinded Sunday... and why the precedent it set should work without problem in the future.

You can read golf.com's article about it at this link.

Justin and Sergio

During the third round at THE PLAYERS, Justin Rose was preparing to play a chip at the 18th green. As he addressed the ball he thought he saw it move, so he backed off and asked Sergio, his playing partner, to come take a look. There was a large video scoreboard by the green and both watched the replay -- which would have been a pretty large replay! -- and Sergio didn't think it moved. After a brief discussion they decided that it must have "oscillated" (wiggled back and forth), which is not a violation of the Rules.

I only heard this mentioned during one of the discussions about what happened, but oscillation would explain why Rose thought he saw movement but Garcia didn't think it had moved. They didn't call a rules judge because the ruling seemed pretty simple, but Rose says he would do so in the future. (Once again the Rules may result in slow play.)

After the round but before Rose signed his scorecard, officials went to several TV trucks in an effort to determine whether the ball had moved or not. After finally magnifying the video 50 times its normal size -- Rose said it looked like a Lego ball (the pixels forming the image were so big they looked like squares) -- officials determined that the ball actually had moved some infinitesimal amount and Rose received a two-stroke penalty. One stroke was for causing the ball to move, the other stroke was for not replacing the ball.

Before Rose teed off Sunday, the on-site rules officials contacted the USGA and the R&A to see if the new Decision 18/4, aka "the HD Rule," could be applied. It was decided that Rose's situation was exactly what the new decision was created for, and Rose's penalty was rescinded.

Here's the logic behind the new rule and why the precedent it sets shouldn't cause any problems:

One of the things we claim to be most proud of in golf is how the players police themselves. However, there's a certain amount of logic at work here -- namely, the information players need in order to police themselves should be easily available to those players, so they can make an informed decision. Here's what Justin Rose did:
  • He called on his playing partner to help him make a decision, because his partner's opinion would help "protect the field."
  • They made use of what technology was available to them, which in this case was a large electronic display replaying the chip in question.
His playing partner's decision was that the ball had not moved, and the oversized replay was used to make that decision. That should have been enough.

In the process of overruling their decision, the officials had to visit multiple TV trucks and enlarge the video to an extent far beyond what the technology is reasonably capable of -- the "Lego ball" that Rose referenced -- and I would argue that such an extreme use of the technology rendered the officials' decision inconclusive because an accurate representation of a golf ball should be round, not a "Lego ball." When the image of the ball has been distorted so badly by the technology, how can you be sure that any perceived movement of that distorted ball isn't a distortion as well?

That's why the new precedent everyone is worried about shouldn't be a problem at all. When the movement in question is so small that extreme measures are required to see it, the movement is not sufficient to impact the game. Had the movement been clearly visible, Justin and Sergio would have called the penalty themselves, Justin would have replaced the ball, added a stroke penalty, and all would have been fine. That's what our players do!

I would like to see the original Rule rewritten to say that, if the movement is so small that the players themselves can't determine clearly that the ball moved or that watching a simple undistorted video replay doesn't clearly show that the ball moved, the movement should be automatically deemed an oscillation and play should continue without penalty. That would speed up the game considerably without affecting the integrity of the game.

But the "HD Rule" is a good stopgap solution. At least we eliminate rulings based on "Lego balls."

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Limerick Summary: 2014 THE PLAYERS

Winner: Martin Kaymer

Around the wider world of golf: Daniel Brooks won the Madeira Islands Open on the ET; Valentine Derrey won the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open on the LET; Wei-Ling Hsu won the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic on the Symetra Tour; and Misuzu Narita won the Salonpas Cup on the JLPGA (the Constructivist has the details).

Kaymer sinks par putt on 17

Jim Furyk may have been Mother Nature's favorite, but Mother's Day belonged to Martin Kaymer.

While Jordan Spieth and Martin Kaymer fought it out around the turn at TPC Sawgrass, Mother Nature allowed Jim Furyk to get all the way to the end of his round before interrupting the day's play. Perhaps it was her way of reminding Martin that there were bigger movers and shakers around than him on the course.

And after the rain delay ended, it looked as if she just might get her way. (It was Mother's Day, after all.) Jim posted at -12 and Martin calmly double-bogeyed the 15th. He entered Sawgrass's final gauntlet at -13 and, after a couple of squirrelly shots at 17, it looked as if he might drop another. Instead, Martin calmly curled in a long par putt and made a relatively easy par on 18 to win. (Well, it was easy if you didn't mind putting in the dark.)

Personally, I'm glad to see Martin Kaymer back in the winner's circle. He's one of those players I enjoy watching, and he's been gone from the top of the game for too long. He's one of only 4 players with a WGC, a TPC, and a major (the other three being Tiger, Phil, and Adam). This win should jumpstart his return to the top of the OWGR, where he'll no longer be #61 when the new rankings come out today.

So this week's Limerick Summary salutes the Germanator's return to the big stage. (Remember when they gave him that nickname, after his PGA win?) Wonder what his game will look like in a month... at Pinehurst?
The thunder at first came from Kaymer…
Then Ma Nature gave him a primer!
She rained on his party
But, in the end, Marty
Is back as a World Rankings climber.
The photo came from the tournament wrap-up page at PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Why Is No One Talking About John Senden?

Yes, yes, I know. Martin Kaymer has a major and Jordan Spieth has "it," and both are tied for the lead. Sergio already has one TPC and is only 3 shots back, a very real threat today.

But why is no one talking about John Senden? He's just 3 back too!

John Senden

John Senden is #54 in the OWGR and #15 in FedExCup points. He won the Valspar Championship in mid-March. This season he's #16 in Ballstriking, #43 in Scrambling, #22 in Strokes Gained Putting and #8 in Total Putting... and he's doing even better this week. Only 3 players scored better than him on Saturday -- and none of them were named Jordan, Martin, or Sergio.

And he'll be going out in the next-to-last group with Sergio, just ahead of Jordan and Martin. He could really make some noise there.

So why isn't anybody talking about him???

Here's a short video interview he did after his round. (If it didn't embed properly, you can find it on the PGATOUR.com video page. You can also click his name on the leaderboard and get a link to it.) He doesn't sound uncomfortable in this position:



Look, I'm not predicting anything. Three shots is a lot to overcome on the last day of THE PLAYERS, and there are lots of players capable of going low today. But it's not unusual for someone to come out of the pack and shoot, say, 66 in tough conditions and steal the thunder.

John Senden has gotten himself into position and nobody is talking about him. I'm just saying...

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Getting Our Bearings

It's shaping up to be a confusing weekend at THE PLAYERS. And since it's pretty much the only game in town this week, let's see if I can put things in a little perspective.

Jordan Spieth

Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth have -- for the moment -- separated themselves from the field. Kaymer leads at -12, Spieth is at -11, Russell Henley is a few back at -8, and the next closest pursuers are at -6. However, those pursuers are better described as a hungry pack of sharks:
  • Jim Furyk
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Lee Westwood
  • Gary Woodland
  • Justin Rose
That's a formidable leaderboard. While several of the expected sharks didn't make the cut -- Phil being the most noticeable -- and several others barely made the cut at even par -- pencil Rory in on that line -- this tournament is far from over.

However, Kaymer and Spieth can make this very difficult for the chasers. If either can manage to shoot, say, -6 for the final two rounds, closest pursuer Henley would need to shoot -10 to catch them. If the course continues to firm up, he's looking at something like 67-67 or 69-65. That's doable but it would be a challenge. The field will probably need some help to close the gap.

In addition to the tournament proper, we've got a race for #1 in the OWGR going on. With Tiger out of the picture, 4 players have a chance to leap to the top:
  • Matt Kuchar needs to win. (He's currently T37 at -2.)
  • Bubba Watson needs a solo second. (He's currently T25 at -3.)
  • Henrik Stenson needs 6th. (He's also currently T25 at -3.)
  • Adam Scott needs a T16. (He's currently T64 at E.)
Of these, Stenson seems to have the best chance... assuming Kaymer and Spieth take care of business, that is. If they start to back up, Adam probably has the best chance (it's easier to get a T16 than a 6th, after all). But I wouldn't bet on Tiger losing his spot this week; the candidates for the "Most Likely to Succeed" award don't look that sharp to me.

I don't understand exactly how the points are awarded. (I looked at the explanation at the OWGR site, but that didn't really help...) However, I think Spieth is likely to be the big winner this week -- even if he doesn't win, I think he may leapfrog over Jason Day into 6th place with just decent play.

This will be our chance to see if Jordan Spieth learned anything from his run at the Masters, and whether Martin Kaymer's swing changes (really, his return to the old swing that won him the PGA) can stand up under pressure. (Isn't it great to see him back in form again?) In either case, this should be a very interesting weekend.

We finally have a stacked leaderboard at a big tournament! HOORAY!!!

Friday, May 9, 2014

So Much for Hard-to-Putt Greens

Before THE PLAYERS began, problems with the greens monopolized the news.

Well, that turned out to be much ado about nothing. Most of the pros had no trouble with the greens... and Martin Kaymer had the least trouble of all.

Martin Kaymer

All Kaymer did was tie the tournament low-round record Thursday with a bogey-free 63 (-9). Oh, and he set a new record for lowest nine-hole score with a 29 (-7). That's all. Ho-hum, another day at the office.

Of course, Kaymer wasn't the only one having his way out there. You could point to Russell Henley, who shot 65 with a double bogey. Or Sang-Moon Bae shooting 66. Or Lee Westwood with a bogey-free 67. (Or Jordan Spieth or Sergio, who were both in that huge group of 67s.) Even Justin Rose, who has a fairly hideous record at TPC Sawgrass, posted 67.

True, there were horror stories as well. Phil shot 3-over and Adam Scott shot 5-over, just for starters. But both of them have been spinning that story quite a bit this season, haven't they? It's not such a shock for most of us. (Undesirable, yes; shocking, no.)

THE PLAYERS seems to have found something that no other tournament has had this year: Big names in contention. It's still early in the week but it's been a pleasant change

However, as much as I enjoy seeing the new guys break through for their first wins, wins tend to have more meaning when they're won against established stars. We haven't seen those stars excel very often this season (Bubba being the primary exception) and, when you add the injury-related absences of top players like Tiger and Jason Day, it does seem a bit anticlimactic. I'm looking forward to seeing an established player step up and win this one.

But established star or not, there was one common refrain amongst them all: Receptive greens. I guess when you can hit the ball close to the hole and stop it there, greens don't need to be all that smooth! I wonder what the Tour thinks about that? I don't know about you but I don't want them to just give this event to somebody.

But I doubt the soft conditions will last much longer. We won't be seeing any "better than most" moments if it does... and I doubt the Tour wants that anymore than it wants invisible stars.

And after all, it's hard to complain about the greens after you tore the place up for one round.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I Tried Playing Like J.B. Holmes

Yesterday I did a post about how J.B. Holmes swings, using a video lesson from instructor Brian Manzella. I also included some GC footage of Holmes from a Playing Lessons with the Pros episode, comparing the two. At the end I wrote "As you can see, you don't have to make the moves quite as big as Manzella does... but it might be fun to try it with your driver."

J.B. Holmes hitting one

Little did I know that I would end up doing just that the very next day. Here's the tale:

I occasionally play golf with a friend who used to be a Tour caddie (and was a pretty good player himself) but had to stop caddying due to medical problems. Tuesday (the day I wrote the Holmes post) he invited me to play with him on Wednesday. I haven't had a chance to play since December -- we've had some awful weather here -- but I've been swinging in the backyard when weather permitted, trying to work out a more classic swing based less on strength. (I'm in my mid-50s, in case you're curious, and had lost some distance using a modern swing.) I figured this would be a good chance to see how the new classic swing actually worked under real life conditions.

The problem is that I've developed a bad case of tennis elbow, courtesy of walking our very large dog who's been getting friskier as the weather improves. It's in my lead elbow (I'm right-handed so that's my left elbow), but I figured I'd just swing easier and I'd be okay.

WRONG. I'd barely hit more than a handful of balls before the round when I realized I couldn't get the ball up in the air -- not even with my 7-wood, which is my favorite club and which I almost always hit well. Every time I hit down on the ball, the shock turned my lead elbow into jelly. (Painful quivering jelly. Even with the ball teed up.)

At the last moment I decided to try the Holmes swing, which would use my trailing arm more. I only had time to hit one more shot before our tee time and, despite the dramatic rerouting of the club on the way down, I hit the ball solid, nice and high and without much pain. Although many people may think of the Holmes swing as a modern swing, I approached it almost like a classic swing, with my arms doing a lot of the work. It seemed to work (after a fashion) with what I had been practicing, so...

So there I went, out for 18 holes with a swing that I'd never practiced and a sore elbow. Let me say upfront that I don't recommend this but damn, I wanted to play some golf! To do it, I had to make some allowances:
  • I've already mentioned that I had to slow my swing down. I simply didn't have the strength in my lead arm to swing fast, especially with that reroute move. For those of you who don't know what I mean by "reroute," the club starts back on a fairly upright plane, then drops (reroutes) onto a lower plane on the downswing. It also causes you to lay the club off; Manzella explains it in the video on the other post. Yes, the Holmes swing is a two-plane swing.
  • Because I had to concentrate on getting the rerouted club face to hit the ball, I couldn't make a full shoulder turn. (Bigger shoulder turn = bigger reroute.) That also cost me some power.
  • I had to have even more patience than usual. Because I hadn't used this swing AT ALL before I hit the course, I had to figure out how to control the ball on the fly. That meant I hit a lot of squirrelly shots I normally wouldn't.
I used the driver for around 6 holes. I averaged driving the ball around 220 yards, remarkably well given all the problems. I also used the Holmes swing for my shots from the fairway, and was amazed how solidly I hit them... although, as with the driver, I was considerably shorter than normal. On the 5th and 6th holes, however, I started hitting the driver fat and my elbow was getting tired. I dropped back to a 3-wood.

The 3-wood lasted maybe 5 holes before I started "dropkicking" those drives as well (hitting fat and bouncing into the ball). At that point I went to my 7-wood, which I hit pretty well for the rest of the round. My score was horrible -- hey, I had tennis elbow, hadn't played for 5 months, and had to use an improvised swing! -- but I was pretty impressed with how easy this swing was to use. After my elbow improves, I plan to work with this swing some more and see just what it can do.

For those of you who want to try the Holmes swing, I can now give you some concrete guidance on what problems you may face as well as some of the benefits I see.
  • Although I've used a slightly strong grip for years, I had to go back to a neutral grip with the Holmes swing. That reroute move adds more wrist movement than I really like to the swing, with the result that you can flip the face closed at impact if you use a stronger grip. I actually hit some good shots early on (before my elbow got tired) using a weak grip.
  • Ball position is very important. I tended to hit the ball higher than normal off the tee with the Holmes swing, and attempts to find a spot where I hit it lower were tricky. If I moved the ball forward in my stance, sometimes I would hit a pull hook; when I moved the ball back a little, I tended to hit a slight push fade. I didn't settle on a good position but that's probably because my elbow was getting so tired I couldn't hit the ball consistently.
  • How close I stood to the ball caused almost as many problems. When hitting the ball off the ground, I heeled a number of them -- not hitting the face off-center toward the heel, but actually hitting the ball with the heel of the club like a reverse shank (the ball bounced away like a pulled shot rather than a pushed one). That happened often enough for me to think it might be a tendency with this swing since I only hit one ball off the toe of the club all day. You may need to stand a couple of inches farther than normal from the ball with this swing.
  • I also had a tendency to set my weight too much on my trailing foot during address; that might have contributed to those pull hooks off the tee I mentioned earlier. I might not have that problem as much once my elbow heals up and I can make a fuller shoulder turn, but I certainly had it during Thursday's round.
  • Finally, given how much power this swing can potentially develop, I didn't feel any stress in my back at all. Will that change once my elbow heals and I can make a bigger turn? Maybe, but given my experience Thursday, I don't expect it.
If any other things come to mind, I'll add them to this post. But that's all I can think of today except...

Except that J.B. probably has no worries that I'll be mistaken for him.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The J.B. Holmes Baseball Swing

This may be one of the most unorthodox swing lessons you'll ever see. Perhaps that's why I love it! Golf Magazine's Top100 Teacher Brian Manzella has a most unusual take on J.B. Holmes and how he hits a drive so far.



Let me see if I can get these 3 keys correct:
  1. J.B.'s position at the top of his backswing looks like a baseball player at the plate, complete with flying elbows. It's not a long swing like, say, Phil Mickelson or even Adam Scott.
  2. He starts his downswing by pulling his trailing elbow down to his side, seriously flattening his swing plane. This gets his arms down into a strong position where he can really unleash one!
  3. He has the ball pretty far forward in his stance so the shaft is almost vertical when he hits the ball. This gives him the maximum loft from his driver.
This would take some practice to get where you can hit a ball off the ground with your other clubs, but it might be interesting to try it off the tee. However, you should bear in mind that Brian is exaggerating the move a bit. Here's a segment with J.B. from an older GC show for comparison:



As you can see, you don't have to make the moves quite as big as Manzella does... but it might be fun to try it with your driver.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My 5 for THE PLAYERS

Ah yes, it's time once again for me to peer into my crystal ball... and prove I can't see a damn thing. Where'd I put that polishing cloth?

The 1st hole at TPC Sawgrass

This week the PGA Tour visits TPC Sawgrass for THE PLAYERS. Whether you think it's "the 5th major" or not, the fact remains that it probably boasts the strongest field of any event all year. And TPC Sawgrass is one of those rare courses where accuracy actually matters, where the winner won't necessarily be the guy who can hit it the farthest.

That makes picking 5 potential winners difficult because this tournament allows more players to have a chance. But it's even tougher this year; Tiger and Jason Day are out with injuries and Miguel Angel Jimenez is out with a honeymoon. Besides that, few of the top players have distinguished themselves from the field; only Matt Kuchar has managed a win among the rest of the favorites. (And it took him 4 attempts to get that one!)

Nevertheless, I shall attempt to pull a rabbit out of my hat and come up with some feasible contenders.
  1. Jim Furyk: After a reasonably strong start to the year and that flashy runner-up at Quail Hollow this past week, I think Jim has to be the favorite. This is a course that fits his game, and I'm surprised he's never won it... but that could change this week.
  2. Matt Kuchar: While Kuch is coming off a win, he's not my favorite simply because he's had a chance to "cool down" and may be a bit tired from too much celebrating. However, he won this thing back in 2012 so it's clear he can get it done.
  3. Jordan Spieth: After letting the Masters get away, he wants this one. If any first-timer can get it done, Spieth's the one.
  4. Sergio Garcia: He's been playing well and he's a past champion as well, back in 2008. If his girlfriend shows up on his bag, my expectations will be even higher!
  5. Steve Stricker: This is my flier pick. The family's medical problems caused Stricker to start his year later than expected (only 4 starts in 2014), but he's been making cuts and he's had three weeks off to practice. I look for good things from him.
I heard that Mickelson figured out his putting problem Monday, and I know that Luke Donald is coming off a runner-up at Harbour Town. Still, these two haven't shown me any consistency yet so I'm wary of picking them this week. After all, accuracy still means something at THE PLAYERS.

Which means, knowing how this year has gone so far, that Jonas Blixt -- ranked 166 in Driving Accuracy -- will probably miss half the fairways and still win the thing.

Expect some surprises this week. We always get some at THE PLAYERS.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Limerick Summary: 2014 Wells Fargo Championship

Winner: J.B. Holmes

Around the wider world of golf: Stacy Lewis finally broke through for her first win this season at the North Texas LPGA Shootout (the Constructivist has details); Min Seo Kwak won the Chico's Patty Berg Memorial on the Symetra Tour; Yuki Ichinose won the CyberAgent Ladies on the JLPGA (the Constructivist has details of this one too); Heath Reed won the Coca Cola Morobe Open on the Australasian Tour; Bernhard Langer won the Insperity Invitational on the Champions Tour; Felipe Aguilar won the Championship at Laguna National on the ET; Amy Boulden won her first LET title at the Association Suisse de Golf Ladies Open; Sam Chien won the Buick Open on the PGA TOUR China; and Blayne Barber won the Web.com's South Georgia Classic.

J.B. Holmes at the final hole

Many fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective engage in something they simply call "the Game." It's an attempt to figure out details about Sherlock Holmes that are either not told or are not entirely clear from the stories and novels. The Game provides more than ample excitement for these fans, as deduction is a challenging game.

Likewise, fans of yet another Holmes found themselves involved in their own version of the Game. As each of the obvious suspects fell by the wayside -- the unpredictable Lefty, the debonaire Rose, and the enigmatic Irish half of the duo known as Wozzleroy -- others sought to challenge J.B. after he surged to the front of the pack Saturday. None of them could mount a sustained assault...

None but one, and he was -- as always -- a formidable adversary.

Rather than the notorious Professor James Moriarity, another James -- Furyk, to be exact -- emerged from the shadows to perplex Holmes. Just like the plot of a Conan Doyle tale, Furyk's plan was in motion long before Holmes reached the climax of the story. An eagle at the 15th was unexpected, and Furyk's trap was sprung. Even as Holmes approached the clubhouse and the final hole played out we wondered, "Can Holmes triumph over his adversary?"

But as Holmes's fans know, the Great Detective is a master of weapons -- yes, the Robert Downey Jr. movies had that correct -- and once again Holmes stood in the winner's circle. Indeed, the two now stand ready to do battle again this week, as the Holmes win assured a rematch at TPC Sawgrass.

And perhaps -- perhaps -- Holmes has attracted the attention of one Mr. Watson, who might be considering him for the Ryder Cup. (Couldn't let that one go unused, now could I?)

Since the Wells Fargo Championship put me in an unusually literary mood this week, it seemed only appropriate (elementary?) to let Sir Arthur Conan Doyle "take a swing" at writing this week's Limerick Summary. I dare say, however, that his grasp of golf strategy is somewhat disappointing. (But what else can you expect? He killed Holmes in "The Final Problem" because he got tired of him, then had to bring Holmes back so Holmes's fans wouldn't kill him as well!)
If Conan Doyle penned these reviews,
Of the Game he would proudly deduce,
“Why, it’s quite elementary—
Holmes fundamentally
Beats them with clubs till they lose!”
The photo came from the tournament wrap-up page at PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

So You Want Some Suspense in Your Golf Today?

Then you've got a choice to make because both the PGA and the LPGA events could end up being shootouts.

Phil lights it up

By now you know that Phil and Rory shot the lowest scores of the day (63 and 65, respectively) Saturday at the Wells Fargo Championship and got themselves back in the mix. Phil finished in solo 3rd, a mere two strokes back of leader J.B. Holmes, and Rory sits 7 shots off the lead. Holmes and Martin Flores are one and two on the board but neither has won in a while... and that's basically the story of the leaderboard. Other than Justin Rose (4 off the lead) you have to think Phil and Rory are the favorites.

Assuming that they can back up one good round with another, that is. Neither has done that very well this year.

At the North Texas LPGA Shootout you have essentially the same situation... except that 17 players are within 4 shots of the lead! Stacy Lewis and Meena Lee (who hasn't won since 2006) hold the lead, Suzann Pettersen is one back, Cristie Kerr is two back, Inbee Park is three back, and Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson are four back.

Some of the other players haven't won yet, but there are several like Lee -- players who have won before but haven't been in the winner's circle for a while. Check out these names: in addition to Lee, you have Na Yeon Choi, Natalie Gulbis, Christina Kim, Jennifer Johnson and Julieta Granada. And don't forget Jenny Shin, who has never won but is playing some of the best golf of her career (she was third last week, behind Lewis and Ko).

Unlike the PGA Tour event where Phil, Justin, and Rory are the clear-cut favorites and only 6 players are within 4 strokes of the lead, the LPGA leaderboard is not so clear. Assuming that just some the favorites play well, you could easily have 5 or 6 players contending over the last few holes.

So pick your poison, golf addicts! I know I'll be flipping back and forth between the two... or maybe I'll bring up one on my computer and one on the TV...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Dave Pelz and His Foolproof Chipping Method

I've mentioned this in several past posts, but Dave Pelz has finally done a video describing why it's easier to chip with a short iron than a wedge -- in this case, an 8-iron. This is a 4-minute video that can save you a lot of strokes!



I'm not going to repeat everything in his video, but here's the gist of it:

When you use a short iron and move the ball back a bit in your stance, you eliminate unpredictable backspin (will the ball bite or not?) and the possibility of flipping the club, which causes a mis-hit. Dave puts the ball off his trailing ankle and angles his feet toward the target, which makes it look like the ball is waaaaay back in his stance. (That automatically delofts the club, btw.) Then he uses his arms and shoulders to make a smooth motion -- a deadhanded shot, which we've talked about before.

Look, there are lots of ways to chip and pitch. Sometimes you need to use the bounce and your hands a bit to get backspin on a pitch (we've talked about that before, such as in this Azinger post) and sometimes you just need a straightforward chipping motion. This really is an almost foolproof way to hit decent chips without worrying about hitting them fat.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Trump Gets His Major... and Then Some

Say what you want about Donald Trump, the man has proven that he has a heart for golf as well as land development. And now he has a men's major to go with it.

Trump with PGA officials at announcement

Thursday the PGA of America made what most of us already knew official: Trump National GC at Bedminster, NJ will host the 2022 PGA Championship. Not only that, they announced that Trump National GC at Washington DC will host the 2017 Senior PGA Championship.

The PGA will be hosted on Trump Bedminster's Old Course. Let me just quote from the PGA's announcement at their site:
Trump National Golf Club -- Bedminster, built on the 600-acre former estate of sports car magnate John DeLorean, features two courses -- the Old and New Course. The Old Course, designed by Tom Fazio, which will host the 2017 U.S. Women's Open and the 2022 PGA Championship, opened for play in 2004 and plays to 7,560 yards. It has received rave reviews and since 2005 has been ranked among the Top 100 Golf Courses in America by GOLF Magazine and many other rating systems. It is considered one of this country's great golf courses and has the capacity to hold massive numbers of spectators.
Am I the only one who loves the irony the PGA playing a major on a Fazio-designed course located on the old DeLorean estate? That is just sooooo Hollywood!

But Trump's biggest coup may be just a matter of time because something else is official, folks -- Donald Trump finalized his deal to buy the Turnberry Resort in Scotland on Monday night. Does anyone doubt that he'll eventually get an Open Championship?

I have said in the past that I think Trump's involvement is good for golf. He has continued to invest in golf, even when the economy scared off most other investors. And consider what golf.com reported: "Trump said that he wasn’t looking specifically to buy the Open venue on Scotland’s west coast, but he couldn’t pass it up after an inquiry revealed it might be on the market."

Trump has now rescued both Doral and Turnberry. I think the golf world should be pretty damn grateful!

And lest you're worried that Turnberry will be renovated, you can relax. While he intends to make the hotel "the finest golf hotel in the world," he made his feelings about the legendary course very clear:
“Some of the greatest championships in the history of golf have taken place at Turnberry,” Trump said. “And the golf course itself is considered one of the greatest in the world. Some rate it as the best in the world. I’m not going to touch a thing unless the Royal and Ancient ask for it or approve it. I have the greatest respect for the R&A and for Peter Dawson. I won’t do anything to the golf course at all without their full stamp of approval.”
Like I said, you may question Donald Trump about a lot of things... but the man has a real heart for golf. I think I can forgive him if he decides to call his newest toy "Trump Turnberry."

The photo came from the PGA.com article listed above. In addition to the two articles I linked to in this post, you can read more about the 2022 PGA announcement here.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lexi's Back in Action

Attention, Lexi Thompson fans! The first major winner of the year is back in action this week at the North Texas LPGA Shootout.

Lexi at Kraft Nabisco

If you're interested in what Lexi's been doing since her victory, here's the pre-tournament interview posted at LPGA.com. (There are also interviews with Inbee Park and Michelle Wie on that page, in case you're interested. And with Stacy Lewis being one of the big names in this field, you can find Stacy's interview here.)

Tony Jesselli has his usual preview posted, complete with some extra tidbits about the LPGA season so far. And here's the LPGA's official tournament page for the event.

I want to call attention to one of the notes Tony added at the bottom of his review because it makes this event somewhat unusual:
I should mention that this tournament is very unique in the fact that it has two cuts. The field will be cut to the usual 70 on Friday, and then it will be reduced to 50 on Saturday. The players that make the first cut and miss the second one will not be charged with a missed cut and will receive part of the purse.
The Saturday cut reduces the field by nearly 33% more, which gives a whole new meaning to the term "moving day."

And since Tony did his preview, So Yeon Ryu has withdrawn with an undisclosed illness so Louise Friberg is taking her place. Paula Creamer (who Tony does list as a WD) withdrew simply because she's tired. Nine events in a row will do that to you...

The first round starts today at 12:30pm ET on GC. Only two hours of coverage today and Friday, but they list 3 hours of coverage Saturday and Sunday.

The photo came from this espn.go.com article.