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Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Little Fish Are Hungry

Of course, the big tournament this week is the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and I'll be devoting some posts to it over the next few days. There are so many storylines -- Tiger, Phil, Graeme, Lee, and Poults trying to make their respective Ryder Cups, for instance, or the potential battle for #1 between Adam, Henrik, and Rory. And while I'm not doing a "My 5 to Watch" post this week, I do expect Rickie Fowler to make some serious noise.

But we've also got some smaller fish to fry this week, so let's take a quick look at them.

Defending champion Gary Woodland

The newly-renamed Barracuda Championship -- I really like the new name, btw -- is better known at the former Reno-Tahoe Open, the traditional alternate-field event for the WGC-Bridgestone. And since 2012 it's used the modified Stableford scoring system formerly used at The International. You can get a full overview and history of the system at this link, but here's the basics:

You don't count strokes; you count points:
  • Double eagle (albatross): 8 points
  • Eagle: 5 points
  • Birdie: 2 points
  • Par: 0 points
  • Bogey: -1 point
  • Double or worse: -3 points
You are rewarded for taking risks and penalized for playing safe. (Shoot 18 pars and you finish with NO points; shoot 9 pars and 9 birdies, you finish with 18 points. For the same score relative to par.) Plus, if you can't make double you just pick up because you can't get worse than -3 points.

Because the Montreux Golf Course is around a mile above sea level, players can hit the ball prodigious distances. Add that to the gambling mentality and the now-appropriately named Barracuda Championship can get pretty exciting. Multiple eagles and double eagles in a round are very possible. (The International was played at Castle Rock GC, also at extreme altitude. Back in 2002, Steve Lowery shot birdie, eagle, bogey, albatross, par on the final five holes to lose by a single point to Rich Beem. Almost anything's possible with this format.)

Since this is an alternate event, the winner doesn't get a Masters invitation. However, a win is still good for OWGR points, FedEx Cup points, a two-year tour exemption, and entry into the PGA Championship next week. Not bad for players who didn't qualify to go swimming in the big pond this week!

So after you check out the sharks at the WGC-Bridgestone, you might want to check in and see what the little would-be Barracudas are doing. GC starts their coverage at 6:30pm ET today.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Johnny Miller on Tiger's Swing Evolution

Tiger swingingThis may come as a shock to many of you, but Johnny Miller doesn't hate Tiger's swing. In fact, he believes that what Tiger tries to do now could help many of you who struggle with a push shot.

In this article at Johnny claims that
the Tiger of 1994 would have outdriven Bubba by nearly 30 yards if he'd had the same equipment... but also says that swing wasn't the best way for him to compete on Tour. He then explains how each of Tiger's swing changes changed his move through the ball and how his current swing is an attempt to prevent him from getting stuck, which has been Tiger's biggest complaint over the last decade or so.

The article includes a video (which can't be embedded, so you'll have to go to the link above) in which Johnny first describes all the changes and then tells why you might get some benefits from the move Tiger is working on. He also shows you how to actually make the move, which is a controlled fade and not the big cut some analysts claim.

If you're having trouble with pushed shots, this article and video may be just what the doctor ordered. Johnny's articles and videos are generally quite good, but this one is definitely "a cut" above. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When Sakura Yokomine Swings

If you were watching the International Crown this past weekend and you had never seen Sakura Yokomine from Japan before, you may have done a doubletake when you saw her swing. Terry Gannon and Judy Rankin compared her super-long backswing to both John Daly and Jamie Sadlowski. Here's the clip from GC (the comparison to Daly and Sadlowski isn't included in this clip):

However, they only showed her swing from down-the-line once -- and that at regular speed. There's something very important that they don't get quite right but you can only see it from that angle. I found a Japanese video that shows her swing DTL in slo-mo, but embedding has been disabled so I've just included the link and captured this key position at the extreme of her backswing.

Sakura at end of backswing

See where her club shaft is pointing? Her shaft is pointed at the ball or even above it, not down at the ground as Terry and Judy implied. (I believe Terry said it almost disappears when it's parallel to her body. It does look that way from the front view but not from DTL.)

I think this is a critical reason why Sakura has been able to make this swing work despite being only 5'1" tall. (Sadlowski is 5'10" and Daly is 5'11".) Being so much shorter than the other two, her swing plane is much flatter. If she didn't keep the club on plane so well, she'd have to reroute the club quite a bit to hit the ball solidly.

As it is, she was reaching some of the par-5s in two, as she did on #12 in the GC video above.

If you're determined to get more distance by overswinging, make sure you keep your club on plane the way Sakura Yokomine does. I can't guarantee you'll be a great ballstriker if you copy her swing, but I'm pretty sure you'll struggle if you don't.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Limerick Summary: 2014 RBC Canadian Open

Winner: Tim Clark

Around the wider world of golf: Team Spain won the inaugural International Crown on the LGPA (the Constructivist has blow-by-blow details and a summary); Bernhard Langer crushed the field by 13 strokes (13 STROKES, PEOPLE!) at the Senior Open Championship on the Champions Tour; Julie Greciet won the Sberbank Golf Masters on the LET; Sadena Parks got her first Symetra Tour win at the SEFCU Championship; David Horsey won the M2M Russian Open on the ET; Zach Sucher won the Midwest Classic on the Tour; and Bo-Mee Lee won the Century 21 Ladies on the JLPGA (the Constructivist has details on this one, too).

Tim Clark with Canadian Open trophy

In many ways Jim Furyk and Tim Clark are opposites. For example, Jim is 6'2" tall while Tim is only 5'7". Both have slightly unusual swings -- Jim because of that unusual looping motion, Tim because of physical limitations in his forearms.

And yet both Jim Furyk and Tim Clark are very similar as well. Both have had rough patches over the last 3 or 4 years -- Jim with close calls and Tim with injuries. Both have played well (and won) in Canada in the past. And both are playing well now... but only one could win.

It was going to be tough either way, since both were likeable guys struggling to get their first win in a while.

The good news is that neither played badly, although Jim probably isn't happy with that 1-under round he shot. (He's pretty much locked up a Ryder Cup berth though, so he'll be happy about that.) But Tim somehow found a hot putter and rode it all the way to the winner's circle, shooting a 5-under round that centered around a 30 on his back 9.

That's some big shooting from a short knocker! (Tim only averages around 270 yards off the tee.) I guess length is a little overrated...

But what isn't overrated is the whole experience of winning. After all, if you don't win, how can you even hope to receive the coveted Limerick Summary?
In Quebec, the golf season’s too short.
And some say Tim’s too short. His retort
Is “I played the back nine
In just 30. This time
It’s MY trophy, I’m proud to report!”
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, July 27, 2014

After the Shockwaves Subside

You could hear the surprise in the broadcast crew's voices. Japan was the top point winner in pool play! The top seeds coming in, the USA and the Republic of Korea, were going to the wildcard match! The #1 seed was out of the tournament!

Inbee Park

They sent Juli Inkster down to interview the US team after they failed to qualify for the final day. (Remember, Jules is the US captain at the next Ryder Cup. She was probably the only person with a mic they would have talked to.) Even before she got there, the camera and sound crew caught Cristie Kerr telling Lexi Thompson that the problem was their play on the first day. (Clearly Lexi felt she had lost it for the team when she didn't make a birdie on the first playoff hole.) And Cristie reiterated that to Juli during the interview -- which basically was just Juli and Cristie since the rest of the team seemed to be in shock.

I'll come back to that interview in a moment. First, here are the 10 singles matches for today's final round:

Match 1 | Day 4 | 11:30 a.m.
Match 2 | Day 4 | 11:40 a.m.
Match 3 | Day 4 | 11:50 a.m.
Match 4 | Day 4 | 12:00 p.m.
Match 5 | Day 4 | 12:10 p.m.
Match 6 | Day 4 | 12:20 p.m.
Match 7 | Day 4 | 12:30 p.m.
Match 8 | Day 4 | 12:40 p.m.
Match 9 | Day 4 | 12:50 p.m.
Match 10 | Day 4 | 1:00 p.m.

Cristie had some thoughts about the format that I found interesting and wanted to comment on.

She noted that the format of the first three days was extremely hard. I'm sure that came as a shock to most of the ladies. On the surface, pool play appears to be easier since the whole "one and done" aspect of match play is mitigated somewhat. Most players hate the idea of coming to the first day of a tournament and getting bounced the same day. (As do the TV networks.) With pool play -- especially team pool play -- I think most players believe that they can beat the odds and make things work.

Of course, no matter what the players believe, on Saturday night only 5 of the 8 teams survive. Three teams will be gone, regardless of how well they play; that's the rules. And with 4-player teams, you can't "hide" a player (or players) the way you can during a Solheim or Ryder Cup. In addition, the choice to use only 4-ball matches virtually guaranteed that scores would be low. (Remember the Korea-Sweden match on Friday where the losing team shot 62?)

I think that was a rude awakening for all of the teams, not just the USA. The format was designed for drama... and it delivered.

Cristie also mentioned that they might want to change the playoff format to a 3-hole aggregate. The GC crew noted afterward that daylight might become a problem if they did, but I think that was just Cristie's disappointment talking. Team USA didn't expect to be in a playoff in the first place, and players always believe that if they just had a little more opportunity...

Here are the big lessons from the first International Crown, folks: You can't expect to go scoreless in any round and still make the finals. There are 4 points available each day; if you only average 2 points a day, don't expect better than a chance in the wildcard playoff. Every single point counts. Eight teams walk in; only five walk out. Seeding means nothing.

To put it bluntly, YOU CAN'T HIDE IN THIS FORMAT.

I don't know how the final day matches will play out. I suspect the Japan-Korea rivalry will again be a driving force, even though only one match -- Yokomine VS Ryu -- is a direct confrontation. Still, I have no doubt that Japan's 2-point lead over Korea will be a big deal to both teams as they compete today. And that passion may make it tougher for the other three teams -- Thailand, Spain, and Sweden -- to make up enough ground to catch Japan. Until the final putt is sunk, I can't say how well this last round format works.

But overall, I think the first three rounds of the International Crown have proven to be everything the LPGA hoped. The World Cup format created one of the toughest competitions on any tour, male or female, and the "both balls count" playoff format kept the pressure on. This is a fun tournament for fans to watch.

And with a little luck, the rest of the tours -- and the Olympic committee -- are paying attention.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Putt Whisperer Paperback Is Finally Out!

Putt Whisperer coverYes, it seemingly took forever but I finally got The Putt Whisperer out in paperback. (For some unexplained reason I had problems getting the cover and interior files to upload properly to the printer. We finally worked out an alternative method but it took us nearly a week longer than expected.) At this point it's only at Amazon but it should get out to the other online bookstores in the next few weeks.

Here's the link to its page at Amazon. It retails for $8.99 but Amazon's discounting it to $8.54.

The Mystery of Payback

And I'm not just talking about the USA team's play on Friday.

The Jutanugarn sisters

Sometimes it's difficult to understand how things can change so quickly in match play. Although the USA got no points on Thursday, the team from Thailand didn't do much better, getting only one point. All that changed on Friday -- the can't-be-beat teams of Spain (3 points) and Chinese Taipei (4 points) found themselves shut out by the USA and Thailand. Pool 1 now looks entirely different after 2 rounds.

Perhaps the USA hadn't taken Yani and Friends seriously enough -- GC played an interview from Tuesday where Stacy Lewis had said the Friday matches against Spain were the most important. Perhaps it was Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps shaking hands with Creamer and Lewis at the 8th green -- they won 2 of the next 3 holes. It's hard to tell what might shift the momentum of matches.

In Pool 2, it seems that being underestimated is all the Japan team needs. After grabbing 3 points Thursday, they repeated the feat Friday to take the lead in their pool. And just to rub salt into the wound, Ai Miyazato and Sakura Yokomine came from 6 down to steal a point from Sweden. Even Ai seems shocked by their good play.

I think it's time we reevaluated who the powerhouse teams are. In Pool 2 Japan hasn't done anything spectacular -- one win and one tie each day -- but they're the only undefeated team. And in Pool 1 Thailand is next best with only one loss, although their play has been more erratic. While no one has locked a place in the finals yet, things are far more fragile than anyone expected as we enter the third round today.

First of all, here are the pairings from the pairings page:

Match 1 | Day 3
Match 2 | Day 3
Match 3 | Day 3
Match 4 | Day 3
Match 5 | Day 3
Match 6 | Day 3
Match 7 | Day 3

Match 8 | Day 3

Tom Abbott inaccurately said that the Sweden/Australia matches today would be for the wild card spot. No one seems to be taking the Japan/Korea rivalry seriously, although it's a longstanding one -- there will be some juice in those matches! Should Japan hold Korea scoreless today -- certainly within the realm of possibility -- and Sweden and Australia split their matches, Korea will be dead last in the pool without any hope of making the wild card match. And should Sweden or Australia sweep their matches and Korea win no more than 2 points, they still aren't guaranteed the wild card spot.

Pool 1 has so many possible outcomes that I can't even list them all here. Any team there can lock a spot with 2 wins today.

Every team playing today has a reason to want some payback, whether it's a lack of respect or just an embarrassing reversal of fortunes. I wouldn't count anybody out yet!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Smell of Goose Eggs in the Morning

It is the nature of match play that unexpected things happen. And when they do, it's the nature of the media to focus on the upsettEE as opposed to the upsettER.

Such is the case with the first round of the International Crown. While obviously I'm a fan of the American team, I can't help but be shocked that the Chinese Taipei team is getting so little attention after they kicked our asses all over the Caves Valley Golf Club course. We were the favorites; don't they get ANY credit for shutting us out?

Just look at Yani Tseng's face in the photo below. When was the last time you saw Yani look this involved with the game?

Yani Tseng

In a way I'm not surprised that the American team stumbled coming out of the gate. As the unqualified favorites, and coming off that embarrassing loss at the Solheim Cup last year, is it any surprise that 4 players normally labeled as "grinders" played as if they had the entire USA on their shoulders? And it's probably no surprise that they're the only team to change their pairings for today's round.

By comparison, Yani and Friends were the lowest-ranked team and, quite frankly, weren't given enough credit for having qualified for the event. Despite the supposed advantage that Solheim Cup experience gave the US and Euro teams, only 3 such teams qualified -- the US, Sweden, and Spain. And of those teams, only Spain really stepped up.

And they were the 5th ranked team. We may have our hands full today.

It certainly appears that the lack of experience was overrated. Japan came in 2nd with 3 points (I know the Constructivist was thrilled about that) and are in a great position to make the Sunday rounds. Remember, points from the first 3 days carry over to the final day so these upsets are a big deal!

You can read some of the after-round interviews on this page at They talked to a large number of the players. In the meantime, here are the pairings for today's play from

If for some reason they aren't showing up, you can see them on this page.

The USA is playing Spain today. Unless they can stop grinding and start having some fun, I'm afraid the USA is going to be on the outside looking in.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Now THIS Is the International Crown!

It's finally here! The first playing of the International Crown starts today! The main purpose of this post is to link you to the appropriate pages where you can keep up with everything.

First, here's the short version of how the format works: There are 2 pools with 4 teams in each pool. The pool play lasts 3 days, with each team playing all three other teams in their pool. Wins are worth 2 points, halves are worth 1. On Saturday afternoon the Top2 teams in each pool get to the final day, as well as the best team of the other 4. (If that means a playoff, so be it!) And on Sunday, those 5 teams will play singles matches. The team with the most points overall wins the International Crown trophy, which also includes 4 individual crowns. How cool is that?

Here's the main scoring page. I think this is one of the coolest leaderboards ever posted by any of the tours. Everything is easily readable -- each day's individual matches are posted in LARGE PRINT on the right side of the page, and the scores of the teams in each pool are posted on the left side. I know most bloggers won't make a big deal of this but, given how much graphic design my projects require, this scoreboard is an amazing accomplishment.

the Jutanagurns

This News Hub page provides a variety of links focused on each team. There are newspaper links, a link to a team video, and of course a stat page for each team.

The photo came from this page about Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn, the sisters who will be playing together on Team Thailand. We haven't seen Ariya much on the LPGA because she's been recovering from a shoulder injury she got about a year ago at the LPGA Championship.

Of course, my fellow bloggers have been doing posts as well. Tony Jesselli posted an International Crown preview that also includes info on the Priority List shuffle that was done yesterday before the tournament. And the Constructivist has done two posts -- one on the Pool A competitors and one on the Pool B competitors. TC says Pool B is the "Pool of Death" but I don't know if that's because the teams are tough or just because the Japanese team is in it. (Ai Miyazato is one of his faves on tour.)

I should also add that has their own breakdown of the teams, including some interviews.

Finally, here's the TV schedule from Of course, GC will be carrying all four days.

Thursday, July 24 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ET (Live)
Friday, July 25 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ET (Live)
Saturday, July 26 3-7 p.m. ET (Live)
Sunday, July 27 3-7 p.m. ET (Live)

Please note that all four days are LIVE coverage.

This should definitely be a great tournament. In many ways this will be a test run for the Olympic event, except that this is match play rather than stroke play, as well as for next year's revamped Match Play WGC on the PGA Tour. We've never seen a golf tournament run this way before -- I CAN'T WAIT!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

They're Not the International Crown

For my money, the biggest event this week is the LPGA's inaugural International Crown, the 8-country team competition. But there are a couple of other important events going on this week as well, so let's not ignore them completely!

The RBC Canadian Open is the third oldest event on the PGA Tour (only the Open Championship and the US Open are older). It's being hosted on the Blue Course at the Royal Montreal Golf Club and the defending champion is Brandt Snedeker. You may remember that Hunter Mahan was leading this event last year but had to leave early when his wife went into labor.

Personally, I like Jim Furyk this week but won't be surprised if Graeme McDowell does well. GC will carry it Thursday from 4-7pm ET.

And then there's the Senior Open Championship, being played at Royal Porthcawl in Wales for the first time. (The photo is from this European Tour page.) It's a par-71 course that's 7021 yards long.

Royal Porthcawl

Adrian Millerick from has done a overview of the course that may help you get a handle on what to expect. Just looking at the photo, I'd say it should be a breathtaking event to watch.

While there will be a large number of good storylines -- Colin Montgomerie seeking his third straight major, Bernhard Langer seeking to give Germany an even better year in sports, and the usual cast of players like Fred Couples and Miguel Angel Jimenez giving it a go -- the real story will be Tom Watson, who's coming off a T51 at the "Young Kid's Open" and a final round 68 that beat many of the players hoping to make his Ryder Cup team.

But let's be honest here. ESPN2 will be carrying the Senior Open on Thursday from noon until 2pm ET. With the International Crown running for twice as long during the same time, will anybody be watching?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Yet Another Tip for "Perfect Pitches"

When I found this new tip from Golf Magazine Top100 Teacher Brady Riggs, it was so simple I had to post it. And if you've been paying attention to my advice about keeping your hands in front of your body and not twisting your forearms during your swing, you're already doing this one!

But Brady explains why it works:

Basically, if you keep your forearms quiet during your swing and keep your hands in front of you, the front edge of your wedge will be parallel to your spine when your finish is waist high. This will give you more consistent contact and, consequently, better distance control.

That doesn't mean there's never a time for "manipulating the face" in a difficult situation. But if you pitch this way for your normal pitches, you'll get better results more often.

And as usual, if the video didn't embed properly, you can find the original at this link.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Limerick Summary: 2014 Open Championship

Winner: Rory McIlroy

Around the wider world of golf: Kylie Walker won the Ladies German Open on the LET; Lydia Ko got her second LPGA win of the year at the Marathon Classic; Steve Wheatcroft won the Albertsons Boise Open on the Tour; Wes Homan won the Staal Foundation Open on the PGA Tour Canada; Troy Cox won the Ian Weigh Toyota Rockhampton Pro Am on the Australasian Tour; and Misuzu Narita won the JLPGA's Samantha Thavasa Ladies (the Constructivist has details).

Rory's Open selfie

Until he bogeyed the 15th, I thought Sergio Garcia just might pull it off. He had gotten himself within two shots of Rory... but that 6-shot lead to begin the day was just too much. (Sergio said later that, even before the bogey, he knew that Rory hadn't stumbled badly enough to give him a chance. It didn't stop Sergio from giving Rory a smiling congratulations at the end. Sergio has come a long way.)

And it doesn't stop me from gloating just a bit. They may not have won, but 3 of my picks -- Sergio, Rickie Fowler, and Jim Furyk -- filled out the Top4 at the Open. I rarely choose that well!

The old cliche proved to be true: Rory both drove for show and putted for dough. (And for the Claret Jug, of course!) Rory became the only European player with 3 legs of the Career Slam, with only the Masters left to go... and Phil Mickelson was probably correct when he said Rory's game was well-suited to picking up that last leg! He became the 3rd youngest player to get to the 3/4 point:
  1. Jack at 23
  2. Tiger at 24
  3. Rory at 25
And of course he set a number of other records, most of which escape me at the moment.

Of course, it seemed that the biggest news was the bet Rory's dad (and a few friends) placed 10 years ago concerning Rory winning the Open. There are a number of different reports about the bets and exactly what the bettors won, but ESPN posted the Ladbrokes official announcement on their site. Here's the short version (these are quoted from the article):

There were 3 bets:
  • One bet -- believed to be made by McIlroy's father -- was a 200-pound wager ($341) at 500/1 odds placed in 2004 for his son to win within 10 years. That bet will pay out $171,000.
  • The second bet -- believed to be made by his dad's friends -- was for 200 pounds at 250/1 for him to win The Open by 2015, and
  • The third bet -- also believed to be made by his dad's friends -- was for 200 pounds at 150/1 for McIlroy to win The Open before age 50. These last two bets will pay out a combined $136,700.
And Ladbrokes tweeted that they will be paying these bets off. These are called special odds requests and apparently they aren't unusual, although most of them never pay off. You can get the details from that ESPN article.

In the meantime, Rory will be sipping wine from his jug in celebration of his newest Limerick Summary. That's worth more than anything, right?
Three-fourths of the way to the Slam
Rory’s proved he’s a wolf, not a lamb!
There’s a smile on his mug
When he’s holding the Jug…
And on Dad’s. He’ll drink more than a dram!
The photo is the selfie that Rory sent out on @The_Open.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

How Butch Is Changing Rickie Fowler's Swing

Today's post is more about learning by seeing. Rickie Fowler's work with Butch Harmon has really shown some noticeable progress, especially in the majors. Here's a video from PGA instructor Matt Holman outlining the differences between Rickie's 2011 swing and his 2014 swing.

The video is self-explanatory so I won't duplicate what Matt says. But what Butch has been generally trying to do is get Rickie's swing on more of a neutral plane -- it was very flat before -- and eliminate a lot of the excess motion he originally had. The first half of the video explains the original swing shown on the right; the rest of the video explains the changes on the left.

The lines Matt draws showing the differences in where Rickie's hands are at the top of his backswing now may really help a lot of you learn to keep your hands "in front of you."

This video was uploaded in March, before Rickie started playing so well in the majors. When Matt says he expected these changes to make a huge difference in Rickie's play going forward, he didn't know how right he was!

Rickie said the bad shots he hit coming down the stretch in the third round were the result of the old habits sneaking back in. Tim Rosaforte told GC that Rickie had already been on the phone with Butch to try and figure out how to keep them from coming back. It should be interesting to see if Rickie can catch Rory again today and maybe even sneak past him for his first major.

After all, that's how Rickie got his other two professional wins!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Potential for Disaster

That doesn't sound like a promising start for a post, does it? But it's the real story at most Opens, and it's certainly looming this weekend.


The R&A decided to send players off both 1 and 10 tees today in hopes of missing most of the bad weather. I understand that they expect a Spanish Plume, which sounds festive but can cause extreme heat, flash flooding, hail, and even tornados. Tennis ball-sized hail from one of these plumes slammed France just over a month ago.

It doesn't sound like the best of conditions for golf. And since Rory is leading, you have to assume he'll have considerably worse weather than some of his pursuers teeing off an hour or so earlier.

Hoylake has already wrecked the hopes of some favorites like Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Bubba Watson, and Webb Simpson. Despite the carnage, the leaderboard looks like a Who's Who from the OWGR. And one man's disaster is another man's opportunity.

If Phil can put something together in the tough conditions today, he just might get himself a chance to defend his title.

While Tiger isn't playing particularly well, I find the mere fact that he made the cut with only 2 competitive rounds in nearly 4 months fairly encouraging. And three of my picks -- Sergio Garcia (T3), Rickie Fowler (T3), and Jim Furyk (T9) -- are all right there in the mix.

But the story today will be Rory. Just because he got past the second round jinx doesn't mean the third or final rounds are guaranteed -- just remember the Honda Classic earlier this season -- and Dustin Johnson is right on his heels.

Oh yes, the potential for disaster is everywhere today. But I guess that's just regular old Open golf.

One last thought: Not all disasters are necessarily weather-based. After he became the oldest man to make the cut in the Open Friday, Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson calmly told the press, "I'm thinking about picking the captain." I see some potentially disastrous effects in store for some of the team hopefuls!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Tom Watson on When to Chip, When to Putt

Tom Watson off the greenTom Watson has a new (and very short) article at about when to putt and when to chip.

While it has the standard advice you'd expect -- quote, "even the best chippers putt when they can," unquote -- this article is nice because it tells you when chipping is best and what kind of lies will give you the best chance of success with each technique. He talks about simple things we should remember but often don't -- things like making a bigger stroke to putt the ball through the fringe, or taking a club with less loft than a wedge to get the chip rolling sooner, or using your putting grip with the wedge.

Again, a simple article... but it could save you a bunch of strokes. And this is Tom Watson talking here! How can you miss if you follow his advice?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How Close Is Tiger to Jack's Record... Really?

No doubt you've heard the comparisons of Tiger and Jack this week. Their records at the same age have been watched ever since Tiger started making a serious run at the Golden Bear. Tiger was ahead of Jack's major record when he won his 14th major at the 2008 US Open. But now, unless Tiger wins at the Open this week, he'll fall behind Jack for the first time.

I understand the logic... but it's a bit misleading, folks. The story's more complex than that.

Jack and Tiger

Going into this week, Tiger hasn't won a major since the 2008 US Open. That's 24 majors -- 6 years. For the sake of simplicity, I'm going to assume Tiger won't win this week, nor will he win the PGA in Valhalla while he gets his game back in fighting shape. That's 26 majors, or 6.5 years.

Let's take a look at how Jack fared from this point onward in his record major run.

After Jack won the 1978 Open (major #15), he won a regular event the next week but missed the cut at the PGA. He didn't win a major at all in 1979 -- he was rebuilding his swing that year -- and then he won the 1980 US Open (#16) and 1980 PGA (#17). He then went winless at the majors until his 18th win at the 1986 Masters. In fact, he only won two regular events between his 17th and 18th majors, and he never won a PGA Tour event -- major or otherwise -- after that.

Let's do a little math here. Between #15 and #16 he was winless for 6 majors -- that's 1.5 years. And between #17 and #18 he went winless for 20 majors -- that's 5 more years. By my calculation, that's 6.5 winless years in the majors... just like Tiger.

But if we're comparing their records at the same age, these barren years are still in Jack's future! From this point on -- after "this week's win" at the Open, that is -- Jack has only 6 more wins of any kind. And Jack was healthy for those years while Tiger has spent his last 6 years trying to get healthy.

To me, this sounds as if Jack is actually the one who's behind. In those 6.5 winless years, Jack played every major and missed only one cut while Tiger didn't play in 6 majors and missed 2 cuts. If Tiger is indeed finally healthy and has his game in any sort of shape when 2015 finally arrives, Tiger has 29 majors left to catch Jack by the same age.

But wait... the oldest man to win a major was Julius Boros, who won the 1968 PGA at the ripe old age of 48. If Tiger could match that feat -- and you know he's aware of this record as well -- that gives him 36 more majors to beat Jack.

Granted, a lot depends on Tiger's health. But if he's healthy going forward, I sure wouldn't bet against him. In the year-to-year comparison, Jack could start losing some serious ground within the next year or two.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Smashwords Edition of The Putt Whisperer Is Out!

Putt Whisperer coverI finally got Putt Whisperer out on Smashwords. Smashwords distributes my books to Apple and Kobo's bookstores, among others, although exactly when they'll show up there is beyond my control. However, the various versions are up for purchase on Smashword's website.

Now if I could just get the paperback finished. For some reason, my printer hasn't been able to get my interior file to upload properly. But we'll keep trying...

Putter Picking for the Discriminating Player

Dave Pelz has done a brand new video for about how to pick the best putter for you. He shows you a method for comparing different types of putters, to determine which one will give you the best results.

I'm not going to repeat his testing method here, but I do want to talk a bit about his advice on how you know where to start looking.

Dave shows how he putts best in this video. It's not necessarily the way YOU would putt best; that's not his point. What he recommends is that you try different putting styles to see which one allows you to make the most putts.

Start by simply taking your existing putter to your local course's putting green, set up a "putting circuit" of holes the way he does in this video, and try different methods of putting. Let your arms hang straight down for one circuit, then try bending your elbows for another. Keep your elbows close to your side for one circuit, angle them outward for another circuit. Stand taller, bend over more, get your eyes over the ball, get your eyes inside the ball. Try a variety of different putting techniques and address positions and see what works best for you.

One nice thing he suggests is getting some impact tape and putting it on the face of your putter. That will help you see if you're hitting the ball in the sweet spot, or more toward the toe, or more towards the heel. That may tell you if your putter isn't right for you... or maybe that you just need more practice!

The important thing is to know how you do your best putting before you go shopping. It's much easier to get a good tool if you know how you're going to use it.

And as usual, if the video didn't embed properly, you can find the original at this link.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My 5 to Watch at the Open Championship

Last week it was the girls; this week it's the boys. Time to pick my "5 to Watch" at the Open!

Mickelson with the Jug

Hoylake is a different sort of beast this year than it was back in 2006. Back then it was brown and hard; this year it's green and... let's just call it "receptive." The rough is tall and thick. Players won't be able to bunt hybrids down the fairway and get 50 yards of run, especially with more rain in the forecast. It looks like our boys will have to put it in the short grass this year if they have any hope of victory.

And that's why my choices may look a bit strange. The US and European Opens have undergone something of a personality change this year, so my choices need to have shown some promise in both styles of play. Some players who have been on a hot streak, such as Martin Kaymer, don't have a particularly good EO record and thus don't get a nod. And the two most speculative golfers -- Tiger and Phil -- don't seem to be in particularly good form right now. (And yes, I hope I'm wrong and they both get into the mix.)

So let me make my least predictable choices of the year so far.
  • Justin Rose has drawn mixed reviews from the analysts. Can he possibly win three tournaments in a row? Can he do the back-to-back links wins like Phil last year? This is what I know: While his record in the Open isn't that great -- he's missed the cut the last two years -- he just won the Scottish Open and, as I recall, he's been pretty good at US Opens.
  • Rickie Fowler has a decent record at both Opens. Now that his swing changes seem to be taking hold, and given how much he loves the links, I'm looking for him to do well... especially if the weather turns bad.
  • Henrik Stenson was runner-up to Phil in both links events last year and has played well in his last 5 or 6 events this year. Perhaps this is his time...
  • Sergio Garcia simply won't get out of my mind. He hasn't played particularly well leading into this event, but I can't ignore that short game of his. He's simply due, and I see no reason that he couldn't shock the world this week.
  • Jim Furyk is my flier this year. Since Hoylake will likely play more like a US Open, the need for accuracy suits his game. And let's face it -- life being such as it is, the Open Championship seems the least likely major for him to win. Ergo, he should be the favorite.
I debated Adam Scott. Oh my, how I debated Adam Scott! He nearly won this event the last two years, holding the lead on the back 9 both times. And he's playing well in the lead-up to the event this year. But he's the obvious choice while Sergio is not... I simply can't make myself go chalk.

Will Adam Scott do it anyway and restore order in a season of constant surprises... or will another Mo Martin step up and snatch the Jug? We'll know in just a few days!

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Limerick Summary: 2014 John Deere Classic

Winner: Brian Harman

Around the wider world of golf: WOW! What a wild day of golf! Mo Martin won the RICOH Women's British Open (with an eagle on the final hole) on the LPGA/LET; Colin Montgomerie won the US Senior Open in a playoff on the Champions Tour; Justin Rose won the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open on the ET; Andres Gonzales won the Utah Championship on the Tour; and Tim Madigan won The Players Cup on the PGA Tour Canada.

And of course, Germany beat Argentina to win the World Cup. How could I possibly ignore that?

Brian Harman with Deere trophy

The Steve Stricker Annual Annuity Tournament wasn't real high on my "need to see" list Sunday. First there was the Women's British Open -- wasn't Martin's win a fun kind of shocker? -- and then there was all the flipping back and forth between the World Cup and the US Senior Open. Of course, both of those went to extra periods/holes, so the flipping went on longer than planned. (Naw, I didn't watch the Scottish Open... just checked to see who won. I'll watch those guys next week!)

Still, I tried to keep some sort of tabs on the Deere. It usually ends up as a shootout with some pretty spectacular play down the final stretch. But with Stricker just off the lead beginning the day and Zach Johnson not far back, it seemed reasonable to assume that one of those two would most likely pull it off.

Boy, was I wrong there! Although Zach played one of his best rounds this year, Stricks had an off day and Brian Harman, the leader to start the day, took advantage of the situation. First-time winners aren't unusual at the Deere -- why, just last year a certain young lad named Spieth (you may have heard of him) got his first win there. But I don't think anyone expected Zach to get clipped at the wire again.

Hark! Do I hear the sound of large shears snipping away? I believe I do!

I won't bother trying to recap a tournament of which I myself only caught snippets. (Besides, the Tour's Upshot page has a nice recap if you want it.) However, I will note that Harman picked a good time to "mow down" the field, as it gave him the final exemption into the Open Championship next week. As you know, the Deere keeps a chartered airplane ready to carry players across the pond, not just for the man who grabs that last exemption but for any other players who might consider playing the Deere instead of the Scottish Open.

Harman said he not only brought his passport but a couple of coats (and his fiance) as well. And because of his good play, he has his very own Limerick Summary to take along as well. Relax, Brian -- I understand that Limerick Summaries make it through customs quite easily:
He played with Steve Stricker the last round—
But Brian, not Steve, won the Deere crown!
And before you read this,
He’ll already be whisked
Off to England ‘cause Brian is Open-bound!
The photo came from the leaderboard page.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Leaders VS Chasers

The way things are playing out at the RICOH have got me thinking about one of the most-asked questions in golf:

Is it easier to lead or to chase?

During the third round we discovered that most of the leaders going in had trouble leading. Mo Martin, So Yeon Ryu, and Beatriz Recari all shot 3 to 6 over par and, though they aren't out of the tournament -- they're all only 3 back -- it won't be as easy as it might have been with the lead today.

And then again, maybe it will be. Would they rather lead or chase?

For Inbee Park's sake, I hope she prefers leading. Especially since Saturday was her birthday and she gave herself the lead as a present.

Inbee Park

There's no doubt which Stacy Lewis prefers. She told, "I like coming from behind versus having the lead. I think the lead’s harder when those conditions get hard.”

And I don't know which Suzann Pettersen prefers, but she'll probably shoot at most of the pins anyway.

The face of the tournament has really changed with the emergence of these three players. They all have pedigrees; they've all done this more than once; they all know how to close out the big ones. And while Shanshan Feng has only won a single major, she has demonstrated an ability to close out tournaments as well -- especially when she's chasing.

The wild card now is Charley Hull. That ridiculously low 66 she posted yesterday has put her only 3 off the lead as well... and she seems to be a natural chaser. had this to say about her:
The 18-year old fired a 66 to move up to 1-under par and from 49th to start the day to a T-7th heading into the final round. Her aggresive play and the fact she mixed in nine birdies, including twos on each of the four par-3’s helped her to get back in the tournament, just as she predicted the night before to her dad.
“I said I’m not out of this championship.” Hull recalled of the conversation. “I said to my dad: I can still win it if I have a good day tomorrow. If the wind gets up tomorrow (Sunday), even par could win it.”
There was a moment today during the press conference immediately following her round today, when she was asked if she ever doesn’t play aggresively.
“Well, I don’t know.” Hull said. “I don’t realise that I play aggressive golf but I probably do. But I suppose I do sometimes. I just hit it. If it’s a stupid pin, I’m not going to take it on, but if it’s reasonable, I just go for it.”
"If the wind gets up Sunday, even par could win it.” It appears Charley is a prophet as well as a bomber. I checked the forecast and it looks like the winds will be somewhere close to 20mph today.

The field hasn't done all that well while Royal Birkdale has been calm.

So do you go with the leader or one of the chasers? My money's on the leader, Inbee Park.

If one of the chasers don't catch her, that is.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Apparently Opens Don't Need Bad Weather

The RICOH Women's British Open has become very interesting. Royal Birkdale has proven to be a much tougher track than expected, especially given the relatively tame weather.

And amid the surprises -- or rather, on top of them -- stands Mo Martin.

Mo Martin

Most of you may know Mo because of her grandfather Lincoln Martin, since GC has mentioned his presence at many of her events. (He passed away recently at the ripe old age of 102.) She's not a stranger to winning, although her 3 victories so far have come on the Symetra Tour.

Looks like she's got some bigger goals this week. She's never shot better than 70 at the Open (this is her 3rd) but she's got back-to-back 69s this week. She says she knows she'll be nervous this weekend but that's just part of the game.

Three shots behind her are two good players who have struggled big time this year -- So Yeon Ryu and Beatriz Recari. Ryu is the 2011 US Women's Open champ and Recari won twice last year. Neither has been able to do much this year... until this week. Both are very capable of winning this.

It's ironic that the big names are struggling this week -- but then again, the reasonably good weather doesn't seem to have helped any of the long hitters. A few stars like Inbee Park and Stacy Lewis are hanging around par, and a number of favorites (like Lexi Thompson) barely made the cut. And a quite a few of the favorites didn't make the cut at all.

Michelle Wie missed the cut but, although I had her picked as a favorite, I'm not terribly surprised that she missed it. We routinely see male major winners tank for a year, ostensibly because of the increased demands being a major winner puts on their time. While I'm skeptical about the year (or more) of decreased performance, my RGWR rankings typically allow a 3-month grace period after a win to allow for the emotional drain that seems to accompany these events. Michelle won less than a month ago and simply said her tempo felt off this week -- just what I would expect after a whirlwind media tour.

The biggest shock to me was Catriona Matthew missing the cut after shooting an 83 Friday, followed closely by Karrie Webb shooting 79. These are experienced Open winners playing in relatively good weather!

From what I can find out, it appears the weather will remain pretty good until Sunday, when the wind finally jumps to around 15mph in time for the back 9. The players are having trouble hitting Royal Birkdale's narrow fairways now -- what will happen then?

Could be fun, could be carnage. ESPN2 will broadcast the final two rounds today and tomorrow starting at 8am ET. Don't you just love links golf?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Johnny Miller's 3 Tips to Lower Your Score RIGHT NOW!

A short one today. I found this video at by Johnny Miller on how to immediately improve your score with your existing swing. Of course, this is a strategy lesson... but that doesn't make it any less important.

His 3 tips are:

1) Take one more club. Johnny says he did this, even back when he was playing his best and was considered such an accurate iron player. Obviously you have to take this one with a grain of salt -- if there's trouble behind the green, it may be better to be short. He addresses that possibility with the next tip...

2) Don't shortside yourself. Shoot for the safe side of the green, especially if you don't like your lie or the club you have to use.

3) Manage risk by rating your shots. Johnny calls this a "green light, yellow light, red light" strategy. It's easy to understand:
  • Green light: The club is perfect, the distance is perfect, the lie is good, the position of the pin fits your normal shot. Go for it!
  • Yellow light: Things aren't quite the way you'd like them. You're between clubs, your normal shot curves away from the pin, the lie is iffy, etc. Use caution.
  • Red light: You're in trouble and the shot isn't something you'd normally try. Just get the ball back in play.
All three tips are very simple things that you can use right now to lower your score without having to spend one minute on the practice range. Johnny says you can chop 5 to 10 shots off your score just by following these 3 tips.

Sounds like a good deal to me. Try them for a few rounds and see if they don't help.

And if the video didn't embed properly, you can find the original here.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

So Much Golf at the Same Time

With the Scottish Open, Women's British Open, and John Deere Classic all starting today, there's a ridiculous amount of golf to keep up with this week. (And that doesn't even include the Utah Championship on the Tour.)

But I'm most interested to see the women play, simply because their tour is where the action is lately. So I'll focus on them in today's post.

Dame Laura Davies and friends

Cute picture, huh? According to, you can see (from left to right) the "newly-Damed" Laura Davies, Paula Creamer, Lydia Ko, Michelle Wie, Charlie Hull, and Rikako Morita.

Here's some things you might be interested in as you prepare to watch:

As usual, Tony Jesselli has a Women's British Open preview. has created an interesting hole-by-hole breakdown of Royal Birkdale that might help you know where the most critical action is likely to happen.

Several of the "big names" got the early-late draw so we'll probably see only their best shots when ESPN2's coverage begins. Karrie Webb, Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis, and Michelle Wie are among those early risers, along with youngsters like Holly Clyburn, Stephanie Meadow, and Charley Hull.

Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen, Lydia Ko, Paula Creamer, and Jessica Korda are some of the big names who will be in the broadcast window today.

As far as the Rolex Rankings go, only Stacy Lewis (the current #1) and Lydia Ko (the current #2) can leave Royal Birkdale as the top dog this week. Again, according to
  • Stacy Lewis will remain the Rolex Rankings No. 1 player if she finishes in a 3-way tie for 2nd-or-better at the RICOH Women’s British Open.
  • If Lydia Ko wins this week, she will take over the No. 1 ranking as long as Stacy finishes in a 4-way tie for 2nd or worse.
The weather is expected to be a bit harsh, the rough is thick and lush, and the fairways are narrow, so most of the talk on Wednesday was that even par may have a good chance to win this week. (But we always hear that kind of talk before the Opens, don't we? Unless something really bad blows in, I'm betting we'll see -8.)

All 4 rounds of the RICOH Women's British Open will be broadcast on ESPN2. Today's broadcast is from 9am-noon ET.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The NOOK Version of Putt Whisperer Is Now Available

Putt Whisperer cover The NOOK version of The Putt Whisperer has now gone live as well. Here's the link to the book's page at Barnes & Noble.

I'm still working on the other versions. I'll update you as they become available.

The Kindle Version of Putt Whisperer Is Out!

Putt Whisperer cover Well, the Kindle version of The Putt Whisperer just went live today. This is the link to the book's page at Amazon.

The other versions are in the works, but this is the only one that is available for order so far. I'll post as they become available.

What Angel Does That Most Analysts Don't Mention

Golf Digest's blog called The Loop just added a post talking about how Angel Cabrera manages to hit the ball so far. The post also has a link to a swing sequence of Angel. It's all very good stuff that will help many of you.

But there's one simple thing that none of the analysts or instructors ever tell you about Angel's swing... and I'm going to show it to you now. Here's a slo-mo video that's also included in that post:

No doubt you've heard that Angel was a caddie and learned how to swing in the caddie yard of a course in Argentina. In fact, the note on one of the swing sequence photos says: "Angel Cabrera is the last of the true caddie-yard players, his swing a rough-hewn, self-invented action steered mainly by instinct and desire."

I'm going to show you something that is typical of many caddie swings, something that goes against much of what you've been told.

I want you to look at the video -- click on that little square in the lower right hand corner so you can see it full screen -- and watch Angel's change of direction. No doubt you've been told that you need to create as much separation as possible during your downswing. Separation means that your hips start turning toward the target long before your arms start the club on the downswing.

Look at Angel's swing, folks. There's hardly any separation at all!

Angel has more of a classic swing, built off his ability to feel the clubhead at the top of his backswing. He swings it back, feels when it slows down and is just about to stop and change direction, and then he starts down. His lower body starts his downswing -- it HAS to, that's just how physics works -- but he doesn't TRY to create separation. He just lets his body turn the way that feels most natural to him. For some people, that move DOES create more separation... but it doesn't for Angel.

And that lack of separation doesn't seem to hurt him any. At 6'1" tall he tends to hit a lot of 300-yard drives.

The classic swing is Angel Cabrera's real "secret." I often call it a "gravity swing." It's the basic technique once taught by Ernest Jones and now taught primarily by Manuel de la Torre. Teachers generally teach it using a weight on a string... but in the caddie yard, Angel learned it by mimicking the swings of the players he caddied for. It's the most natural way for most people to swing.

That is, unless they've been taught that the modern swing is the only way to swing. Then they focus on moving their lower body instead of swinging the club. Isn't Angel lucky that he had to figure it out for himself?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My 5 to Watch for the Women's British Open

It seems as if these "5 to Watch" posts are getting harder and harder as 2014 moves on. And that's particularly true when it comes to the women's game. Unlike the men's game, the top women players seem to genuinely want to grind each other into the ground.

In a ladylike manner, of course! ;-)

Stacy Lewis at last year's Open

But this newfound competitiveness means that there is no single favorite. In addition, many players who haven't won yet this season have come so close that they have to be considered as serious contenders as well.

Just so you know, Stacy Lewis is the defending champion; she won at St. Andrews last year. And Royal Birkdale, the site of this year's Open, has hosted this event twice:
  • in 2005, Jeong Jang won at -16 (her coach was Carl Rabito, the pro who taught me the fundamentals)
  • in 2010, Yani Tseng won her first of two back-to-back Opens at -11
All three players are in the field for this year's event.

I wonder who I should pick? Hmmmmm...
  • I guess Stacy Lewis is a no-brainer. The defending champ also has 3 wins this season -- including the last event in Arkansas -- has a 3rd and a 2nd in the first two majors, and has 9 Top5s this season. Got to figure she's a contender.
  • Likewise, Michelle Wie is playing the best golf of her life and coming off her first major win at Pinehurst. (She also had a 2nd at the Kraft Nabisco, you'll remember.) This is her first multi-win season. And when you factor in that stinger of hers...
  • Catriona Matthew has to make my list. The 2009 champ missed the cut in 2010 but her worst finish since is T11. She's got a T11 and a T10 in the first two majors this year as well. Plus she's Scottish! (If that's stereotyping, so be it. This woman can play some serious links golf!)
  • I'm calling Jiyai Shin my "somewhat off the radar" pick. While we haven't seen her much over here in America -- she chose to stay closer to home this year -- she's a two-time Open champ and won on the JLPGA just a couple of weeks ago.
  • And Stephanie Meadow is my flier pick. The girl made her pro debut at Pinehurst and garnered solo third. (To paraphrase an old sports commercial, "she got skills.") And given that she's from Northern Ireland, I think she's probably had a bit of exposure to Open-style golf!
I'm hesitant to pick Lexi Thompson, primarily because she doesn't have much of a record at the Open -- a T17 in 2012 and a MC in 2013. If her driving is the slightest bit wild, the tall stuff will eat her up. And Inbee Park has played pretty well this year EXCEPT in the majors, so I'm not sure she's quite back on her game yet.

So there you have my "5 to Watch." Although I missed Lexi in my picks for the first major, I did have Michelle in the next major. Maybe I can go 2 for 3...

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Limerick Summary: 2014 Greenbrier Classic

Winner: Angel Cabrera

Around the wider world of golf: I.K. Kim won the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters on the LET; Graeme McDowell successfully defended his title at the ET's Alstom Open de France; Roger Sloan won the Nova Scotia Open on the Tour; and Yeon-Ju Jung won the Nichi-Iko Ladies on the JLPGA (the Constructivist has details).

Angel Cabrera celebrates eagle on 13

Angel Cabrera has a reputation as a "big game hunter." He shows up at the majors -- his only two PGA Tour wins were the 2007 US Open and the 2009 Masters -- but doesn't seem to get up for the regular events.

Sunday at the Greenbrier Classic he rewrote his history... and probably the way American fans view him. He told CBS that he was designing his schedule around the classic courses in the world and, if his performance at the Old White TPC is any indication, it's a GREAT decision!

After George McNeill ripped through the field to post a 61 and take the early lead -- an amazing performance, given that he found out just before his final round that his sister Michelle was probably going to die from cancer before he got back home (unfortunately, she did -- we're all thinking of you, George) -- and after third-round leader Billy Hurley III stumbled on the second hole and never recovered, Angel went on a tear as impressive as any of his major wins. After a flawless -3 on his front nine, he took the crowd on a roller coaster ride with 2 birdies and then an eagle on the par-4 13th, followed by 2 bogeys and a final birdie to post a final round 64.

It appears that El Pato can win something besides majors after all!

And of course, that makes him eligible for the same regular Limerick Summaries as the rest of the Tour. ¡Felicitaciones, Angel!
With the swing of an Angel (that’s “AHNG-hel”),
Seems Cabrera could do nothing wrong… well,
He missed a few putts,
Threw some bogeys in, but
Down at thirteen, that two was a bombshell!
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Kevin and the Captain

The American Ryder Cup team must be on pins and needles. Captain Tom Watson sits at -3 after 3 rounds... and is outplaying many of the players who hoped to impress him this week. Many people wondered if the young players would respect him enough. Well, when your Captain is almost 65 years old (just two months shy) and is kicking your ass, you BETTER respect him!

Kevin Stadler

Starting at #7 in the American Ryder Cup points list, here are the players (with their scores) in order through #23 (an NP means they aren't playing at the Greenbrier:
  • Rickie Fowler NP
  • Jason Dufner NP
  • Patrick Reed -3
  • Phil Mickelson NP
  • Chris Kirk -1
  • Harris English NP
  • Brendon Todd -5
  • Zach Johnson NP
  • Kevin Na -3
  • Ryan Moore NP
  • Webb Simpson -3
  • Keegan Bradley -5
  • Erik Compton NP
  • Matt Every NP
  • Kevin Stadler NP
  • Gary Woodland -2
  • JB Holmes -5
It's not particularly impressive, is it? No one is more than 2 shots ahead of the Captain... and some are going backwards. That's not good when your Captain is looking for players who can close out matches.

One name, however, may have Tom's attention despite not being at the Greenbrier. Kevin Stadler, currently #21 on the list, won't get any Ryder Cup points this week. However, he's playing at a future European Ryder Cup site (the 2018 course, in case you didn't know) and he's playing against a fairly stout field in the French Open. A few names you might recognize -- Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Victor Dubuisson and Thomas Bjorn are all players who are on or will likely be on the Euro Ryder Cup team.

Of the ones who made the cut, Kevin is leading the rest by a minimum of 4 strokes entering the final round... and has led since the first round. BTW, did I mention that no American has won the French Open since 1972?

I know that Kevin has no Ryder Cup experience. I know that he won't get any Ryder Cup points this week -- that's something that may need to be addressed in the near future if we hope to get the best Americans qualified for the team. But if he successfully pulls off this wire-to-wire win -- beating the Europeans on their own turf in an event no American has won in 42 years -- I suspect Kevin Stadler will be much higher on Tom Watson's personal list than he is on any points list.

And I suspect that will prove to be the best list to be on.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Jack and Bubba, Peter Said

A couple of weeks back during a CBS golf broadcast, Peter Kostis compared Bubba Watson's swing to that of Jack Nicklaus. Fortunately, Golf Magazine asked Peter to put his comparison in writing for them.

Jack and Bubba

On the CBS broadcast, they flipped a video of Jack's swing so he was left-handed and ran the two side-by-side. That video is included with the article and also available through YouTube. I'm also embedding it here:

One interesting thing Peter said that he reiterated again during GC's coverage of the Greenbrier is this: "By the way, I’ll never be able to figure out why keeping the left heel on the ground became a “fundamental” of modern instruction. It’s a back injury waiting to happen."

One other thing he said is this: "Let’s face it: There really isn’t anything new in golf --  just different wrapping paper on the same gift." I sometimes hear complaints that I don't teach anything new, just the same old fundamentals over and over. The reason is because we golfers continue to look for some silver bullet, some magic key that will turn us into experts overnight. But the only secret is in mastering the fundamentals -- both in knowing what to do and why to do it -- and that's what transforms our games.

It's just that sometimes those fundamentals look a bit different when different players figure out how to use them to their best advantage. Just look at Bubba and Jack.

Peter Kostis has more to say in that article about the two swings and also about how we learn to play golf. It's well-worth taking a few moments to read it.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Putt Whisperer PDF Is Finally Out!

I'm celebrating the Fourth of July by finally releasing a book I thought I'd have done back in January. At least, I'm releasing the PDF version -- the paperback, Kindle, Nook, and other versions will be coming out over the next week or so.

The Putt Whisperer cover When I wrote Ruthless Putting back in 2009, it focused on turbocharging your existing putting stroke so you could make more putts with less practice. Back then, it never occurred to me that golfers might not have an existing putting stroke. But then the USGA and the R&A announced their upcoming ban on anchored putting.

That was the genesis of The Putt Whisperer. I didn't just want to rewrite Ruthless Putting -- I personally don't like having to buy a book again, no matter how much it's been changed -- so I decided to write a book that would complement the original. Although I tried to make it a self-contained lesson, it does tell you where you can find more complete treatment of some subjects in Ruthless Putting.

The Putt Whisperer teaches you how to build a new stroke completely from scratch. I've nearly gone nuts writing it because I wanted to teach you how to build a swing you could FEEL, a swing that focused on getting the ball in the hole and not just having a technically perfect swing -- but that's easier said than done. The reason most players think they can't putt is because they're way too tied up in mechanics... and everybody feels things a little differently.

So here's the deal: The Putt Whisperer explains exactly why the belly putter appears to help some players while not helping others. It teaches you how to build a personalized putting stroke that incorporates all the necessary fundamentals. While it explains a large number of fundamentals that make a stroke work, those fundamentals are interrelated -- changing one affects a number of others -- so you can focus on the ones that you have the most trouble with. The others should be incorporated automatically when you use the included drills that teach you how a good stroke feels. I also outline a simple process that will help you put it all together without tying your brain in knots.

In essence, regardless of whether you're moving from a belly putter or just having trouble with your regular putter, this book teaches you how to incorporate all the advantages of an anchored stroke without actually having to anchor the club. Cool, huh?

But unlike other putting books, The Putt Whisperer also contains an extended section discussing what it means to have a "light grip pressure." A full 20% of this Quick Guide details the techniques you can use to adjust your grip pressure until you're putting with a repeatable stroke. This section in particular drove me crazy because each grip needs to be adjusted a bit differently to get the best results... and I covered 6 different grips in that section. But I think you're going to find it very helpful.

So the special PDF version that you can download only from here is ready to go today. The other versions will, as I said, be available by the end of next week (hopefully!) and I'll put up short posts to let you know as each one finally becomes available through its respective sales channel.

I hope you find The Putt Whisperer helpful. And Happy Fourth of July, everybody!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

From the "You Must Be Kidding" Department...

This struck me as being so ludicrous I just had to pass it on.

Yes, boys, you too can tee up your golf ball on ridiculous little naked ladies. Behold, the Dunlop Sports Nudie Tees...

Dunlop's newest Nudie Tees

You can read about them in this short Golf Digest blog post. As for me, I just don't know what to say.

However, I am curious to know if the USGA and the R&A have approved these for tournament play... and if so, how they explained that decision to their wives. If they even tried, that is. I think that would take even bigger balls than Top Flite could provide...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Harmons Behaving Badly... with Wedges

Yeah, you know how those Harmon boys are. Bill and Craig Harmon did a video for Golf Magazine demonstrating two ways to hit a wedge less than its full distance.

Craig uses a full swing but chokes down on the wedge for a less-than-full wedge shot. You need to stand closer to the ball for the choked down shot, but you don't have to change your swing. Since you've gripped down, the ball doesn't fly as far even though the swing is still a full swing.

Bill doesn't choke down; he changes the length of his swing. By shortening his swing to waist high, he also takes distance off his shot.

For the record, Bill's method is the most frequently taught method. I should point out that Craig's choked down swing is also shorter; when he bends over more, it restricts his backswing a little.

But both methods will work. You can use the one that feels most comfortable to you... and, of course, the one that gives you the best results!

And as usual, if for some reason the video didn't embed properly, you can find the original at this link.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What You Can Learn in Just Two Days

This blog tries to focus on helping weekend golfers improve their game when they don't have a lot of time to spare. So today I thought it would be fun to see just how much you could learn in a very short time period.

Like maybe two days. You know, like Tiger had last Thursday and Friday.

Tiger from the bunker

The media has been lamenting the fact that Tiger only got two days' work in... and let's face it, those days weren't that great. They think he should try getting a few more reps at another event, and it's possible that he might try to get in the John Deere Classic (yeah, like they'd say, "sorry, Tiger, we're out of spots") or the Scottish Open. He has until Friday afternoon to do so.

I doubt that he will, though. While Tiger made it clear that he wouldn't have played except for his charity, the major setup of the course made it a logical choice for a man planning to return at a major. He may have already learned enough to keep him busy until the Open Championship. Let's take a look...

Of course, first and foremost, he's learned that his back is definitely ahead of schedule. He spent two days on a major-quality layout, dealing with the effects of adrenaline, and hacking out of rough and hazards. His doctors are probably relieved that his first foray into the field only lasted two days. After all, do you really think they've let him stay on his feet for several hours very often? If he felt OK Saturday morning he's already got some serious confidence in his back's health and learned a great deal about keeping it that way at Hoylake.

He made a small grip adjustment at the pro-am, so that's been tested in the heat of competition. It's a bit ironic that his driver was pretty good while his irons were off on Thursday, but things flipped vice-versa on Friday. I suspect that gave Sean Foley something to look at -- maybe it was the result of another adjustment they made on Thursday night as an experiment, just to see how it performed?

At any rate, I'm guessing there's some stinger practice in Tiger's near future.

Growing the Burmuda rough higher at his home practice area didn't give him the results he'd hoped for in the rye grass of Congressional. I'm also guessing the sand at Congressional was different from what he practiced in down Florida way, given that he expected his short game to be sharper. The adrenaline boost may have affected that part of his game as well. In any case, Tiger knows he'll need a couple of extra days to practice short game at Hoylake.

Don't underestimate seeing how adrenaline affected his back. I'm guessing that was a huge question mark for him before this event.

And bear in mind that Open greens are never as firm as the ones here in America. I suspect Tiger isn't too worried about them yet, as his putting stroke was a bit strong. It's probably about right for Open green speeds.

Strategically, Tiger has learned what sort of limitations his back may put on his shotmaking. That one-legged shot from the creek would have told him a lot, as would all the uneven lies he played from in the rough. Back injuries affect leg strength, you know. And he's learned what his "new" tendencies might be under pressure, which he couldn't have learned at home.

Because his practice hasn't been done under major conditions, he could think his impact was solid when it wasn't quite accurate enough to get the spin he needed. As long as he knows that, he can find a way to duplicate the necessary conditions -- playing off tight lies, for instance.

There was some concern that one of Tiger's responses in the media tent indicated that he was unaware of the conditions at Hoylake. Despite appearances, I suspect he's gotten some intel from friends who have already been there. And after 16 years, I doubt that will prove to be a problem for Tiger in any case. He and Joey know how to scope things out pretty quickly, don't you think?

These are just a few things that seem likely to me, and I'm sure Tiger's experience will give him insight into many things I know nothing about. Just imagine how much a little reflection might teach you about your own game!