ATTENTION, READERS in the 28 EUROPEAN VAT COUNTRIES: Because of the new VAT law, you probably can't order books direct from my site now. But that's okay -- just go to my Smashwords author page.
You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Indonesian Masters

Winner: Justin Rose

Around the wider world of golf: Angel Cabrera and his son Angelito won the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

Justin Rose with Indonesian Masters trophy

The last big tournament of the year, and what do I do? Get my numbers wrong. In yesterday's post I said that, if Justin Rose won, the Indonesian Masters would be his third win in seven starts.

It actually only took him six starts. Furthermore, he won by an amazing eight strokes, which Rose said was the biggest winning margin of his career. And if that wasn't enough, he won wire-to-wire in an event that was plagued by weather delays. (There were two in the final round alone.)

I really don't have words to describe how Justin is playing right now. He's at #6 in this week's OWGR, on the strength of ten Top10s in his last ten events (with three being wins, of course). The only question at this point is whether he can keep it up when the new year starts.

I, for one, will not bet against him. This was a dominating way to say goodbye to 2017!

Clearly his depression over losing to Sergio at Augusta is a thing of the past, so it's no surprise he's racking up those Limerick Summaries again. This is his second since late October and somehow I suspect there are more to come... very soon.
With his funk from the Masters long through
And his zest for the battle renewed,
This Rose runaway
Was an excellent way
To bid all his pursuers adieu.
The photo came fromthis page at skysports.com.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Will the Indonesian Masters Ever End?

Perhaps we'll have a winner by the time some of you read this, but -- for the third day in a row -- the Indonesian Masters was suspended due to dangerous lightning.

And I'm irritated.

Justin Rose

I guess this is a rant of sorts. I know that our game is subject to the weather because we play outdoors, but for some reason this week's delays seem less tolerable.

Maybe it was the video showing Justin Rose trying to tee off when a crack of lightning sounded in the middle of his backswing, right overhead, that bothers me. We expect that kind of activity to be noticed before it gets that close, don't we?

Perhaps it's because the event is halfway around the world from me, so I can't afford to stay up during an extended delay. Especially when I don't even know if play will resume.

At any rate, Justin Rose leads by five strokes after seven holes of his final round. Unless he just can't finish the round for some reason I don't see him losing this one. In fact, even if they have to throw out the final round (unlikely at this point) he was leading after the third round. I guess we'll find out soon enough if they're just delaying the inevitable.

And if so, that will be three wins in his last seven starts. Pretty amazing stuff.

If the round ever gets underway again. **sigh**

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Lexi Sidelined Until Mid-January

In case you missed it, Lexi has withdrawn from the Diamond Resorts Invitational in January, citing that recurring wrist injury of hers. Here's the tweet (@Lexi) she sent out:
I hope this isn't the start of a major problem in 2018. She was finally getting back on her game.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Duvals Defend in FL and Sneds WDs in Jakarta

Today's post is short. First, I want to remind you that the PNC Father/Son Challenge Pro-Am airs today at 5pm ET on GC. The main event doesn't begin until tomorrow (Saturday) at 11am ET on GC with more coverage at 4pm ET on NBC. David Duval and son Nick Karavites are the defending champs.

David Duval

And for those of you interested in the Indonesian Masters, which is airing live at midnight ET here in the US, you might want to know that Brandt Snedeker had to withdraw from the event after 11 holes. He was playing well in the second round but got dehydrated and had to WD for treatment. Sneds was trying to make the OWGR Top50 before the end of the year so he would qualify for the Masters, but now he'll have to find another way.

Justin Rose has just teed off as I write this and after two holes he's at -11, one shot back of Kiradech Aphibarnrat at -12. But Aphibarnrat has finished his round, so Rose has a good chance to really open up a lead before the day's over.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

John Daly on Being a Feel Player (Video)

John Daly was on Morning Drive Wednesday and he talked about a lot of things, but in this 7-minute video he talks primarily about how he approaches golf as a feel player.



John mentions a number of things but there are two I want to emphasize:
  • He thinks about swinging his sand wedge, even with a 5-iron. (Elsewhere I've heard him say the same thing about hitting driver. It shows in his rhythm.) John says he feels that he swings at around 85%. This keeps his swing smooth.
  • Before John goes out to play, he doesn't practice. He just swings enough to warm up, and he's not averse to starting his round without a warmup. (When you think about swinging every club like a sand wedge, you aren't going to strain yourself early in the round!)
Take the time to listen to this short video and watch John hit a few. Try to absorb the easy rhythm of his swing and take it to the course with you. You'll probably play much better, and with a lot less effort as well.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bobby Jones on Playing "Opponents Who Cannot Be Seen"

Bobby Jones is credited with a quote that says "Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course... the space between your ears." Given the records he set, you would expect Jones to have thoughts on the mental game.

In the book Bobby Jones Golf Tips: Secrets of the Master there's a section called Thoughts on the Mental Side. It focuses on statements by a player named Olin Dutra and his struggles with his mental game. I won't quote the entire thing, but Jones made a few interesting statements:
It is difficult for a person who has not been mixed up in these things to understand what it means to play a competitive round against opponents who cannot be seen. In an open championship one's imagination runs wild. A burst of applause or a cheer from a distant part of the course is always interpreted as a blow from some close pursuer, when it may mean no more than that some obscure competitor has holed a chip shot while another player's waiting gallery happened to be watching. It may not mean a thing, and even if it does, it can't be helped. But it is difficult to view it that way. One always feels that he is running from something without knowing what nor where it is.
That's certainly a problem that pros may face, though rarely would a weekend player deal with it. But then he says this:
I used to feel just at Dutra did -- that while I might make mistakes, that others would not. I remember looking at the scoreboard before the last round in the 1920 Open and deciding that I must do a 69 at the most to have a chance. Actually a 73 would have tied. I had some such lesson every year until I finally decided that the best of them made mistakes just as I did.
Reread that first sentence -- Jones used to feel "that while I might make mistakes, that others would not." That is a telling comment, and one that I think more players should consider.

You may not have thought about it, but the belief that what you do isn't good enough often has nothing to do with your ability, but with your over-estimation of another's ability. You struggle not because you're a bad player but because you (unrealistically) think everyone else is better than you. And modern golf teaching has a tendency to reinforce that mindset, telling you that unless you work your butt off, everyone else will pass you by.

I got news for you. It's simply not true. And if you try to live by it... well, Tiger Woods did that and the damage to his body has thus far cost him a few years and numerous surgeries.

I'm not saying you shouldn't try to improve. But trying to beat a nonexistent competitor, especially an unrealistically perfect opponent, is a sure way to sabotage your own game. Here's what Jones concluded:
The advice which Harry Vardon is supposed to have given to keep on hitting the ball, no matter what happens, is the best in the long run. It is useless to attempt to guess what someone else will do, and worse than useless to set a score for yourself to shoot at. A brilliant round or a string of birdies will not always win a championship. The man who can put together four good rounds is the man to watch.

No man can expect to win at every start. Golf is not a game where such a thing is possible. So the plan should be to play one's own game as well as possible and let the rumors and cheers fly as thick as they will. [p128]
Don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that setting goals is bad, nor that it's wrong to set a scoring goal for a round. Having such a goal may help you focus better, as long as you give yourself the freedom to fail. But Jones here is talking about pushing yourself to shoot an unrealistic score because 'the other guys are going to take it low.' You don't know that! And I think about what Butch Harmon said on Morning Drive last week, that Rickie Fowler's problem is trying too hard on the weekends rather than just going out and doing what he knows how to do.

So if you want to improve your game, stop measuring yourself against those unrealistically perfect opponents who can't be seen. You might be surprised at just how good you become once you stop playing with them.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The New Video Protocols

In case you missed it, on Monday the USGA and R&A finally released their new "video protocols" for dealing with -- let's be blunt here -- TV viewers calling in to report rule infractions. Here's your quick guide to what's involved.

First, here are the USGA video protocols page and the R&A video protocols page. And here is the link to the brief video clip (embedded below) from Morning Drive announcing those protocols:



Now, the short version is this:
  • One or more officials will watch the broadcast to monitor possible rules violations.
  • Nobody is going to take phone calls reporting said violations. (At least, that's what it sounds like.)
  • The only video that will be accepted is the broadcast video. No phone or camera videos.
  • And a local rule eliminating the two-stroke incorrect scorecard penalty will be enacted as a bridge to the 2019 official rule.
Sweet, simple and to the point. The language is a bit wordier than that, but that's the gist of it.

The page with the Morning Drive video also has a number of other videos related to the issue, since quite a lot of time was devoted to it. Even Thomas Pagel spent considerable time answering questions.

I see a couple of potential issues that might have to be dealt with as this protocol goes into effect in January:
  • First, I suspect the monitoring officials may end up being stationed in the broadcast trucks to better monitor all of the network cameras, in an effort to catch potential problems as soon as possible. If so, there will almost certainly always be more than one official on duty. Even if you only watch a single TV showing the broadcast, you don't want anybody getting distracted for a moment and missing the very thing they're looking for!
  • And second, I'm under the impression that any person physically at the event -- players, caddies or fans -- will be able to report things they see to the officials. If so, they may have to rethink the camera/phone video ban since that would provide instant feedback about the legitimacy of the report.
Having said that -- and knowing that every new protocol generally needs some tweaking -- this is a major step forward. Pagel said that their feedback from the pros had been mostly favorable and that the pros were in favor of infractions being reported and penalties enforced, even if those penalties had to be enforced in a later round. It's that extra two-stroke incorrect scorecard penalty that most of them found to be unacceptable.

For those of you who are afraid that some penalties will be missed, let me just say this... they will. Even in sports where the events happen on a relatively small playing field -- like a basketball court or a football field -- infractions are not only missed in real time but even in the replay reviews. Because we are human, there is NO WAY that all the infractions will be caught or even properly dealt with, and we'll just have to accept that. We'll just have to do our best and accept the results.

And once any little bugs have been worked out, I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised at how well it's going to work simply because our sport is unusual in that most of us want the correct ruling to be made, even if it goes against us. As Lexi Thompson tweeted regarding the new rule, "I am thankful that no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future."

All I can say is "amen to that."

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Omega Dubai Ladies Classic

Winner: Angel Yin

Around the wider world of golf: The team of Steve Stricker and Sean O'Hair won the QBE Shootout (aka the Shark Shootout); Horacio Leon won the Il Malinalco Classic on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; and the ET's Joburg Open finish was delayed until Monday. At the time I'm writing this, the final round has not resumed but Shubhankar Sharma has a 4-shot lead with 11 holes left. [UPDATE: Sharma did win.]

Angel Yin with Omega Dubai trophy

In case you missed Juli Inkster's interview at golfdigest.com, one of the more interesting things she said was:
I’ll be honest: If the Solheim Cup were the Americans against an International side, they’d slaughter us. Of course they’d beat the Europeans easily, too. An A team of Asian players alone would trounce either team, their B team would win handily, and their C team would be very competitive. So what do we do about that?
2017 has been a rough year for the LET. Economic problems similar to those that plagued the LPGA a decade back have taken their toll. It hasn't helped their players prepare to face LPGA players, let alone the Korean juggernaut. And it's hard to get your game in shape when you don't have enough events to gain any rhythm. Hopefully the LPGA and the European Tour, both of whom have offered their aid, will help them recover their footing soon.

But you might not have known that if you watched their year-end Tour Championship, better known as the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic. After four very competitive rounds, it came down to a three-woman playoff:
  • French player Celine Herbin, who was working to keep her card
  • Korean player In-Kyung Kim, the current RICOH Women's British Open champion
  • American player Angel Yin, who came in second in the LPGA's Rookie of the Year race
Herbin went out after doubling the first playoff hole, although she clearly wasn't too disappointed. Why? Her eight-under 64, which got her into the playoff in the first place, was a new personal best. And her paycheck was enough to make #23 in the LET's Order of Merit, which I'm pretty sure guaranteed her card for next year.

Kim and Yin both birdied the first playoff hole, then Yin won the playoff with another birdie on the second. Kim had a chance to tie, which she missed; but while she was disappointed not to win, she said she was pleased to get herself into contention. As she put it, "I think that was the best scenario that I could ever have asked for before teeing off."

As for Yin, she picked up her first professional victory at only 19 years old. And she did it in a playoff, which she said was another of her personal goals. Better get used to that smiling face, folks -- going forward, she may be reaching a lot of personal goals!

Juli Inkster made Angel a Captain's Pick in the last Solheim Cup because she saw potential, a pick that helped the US defend the Cup. But I wonder if even the legendary Mrs. Inkster saw a Limerick Summary in Angel's future?
The LET finish was wild,
A playoff of contrasting styles—
Celine felt no stress
And In-Kyung tried her best
But it’s Angel who walked off all smiles.
The photo came from this page at golfweek.com.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Nicklaus Tip You May Not Have Heard

I love finding new things about the great players that I haven't heard before... and today I have one about Jack Nicklaus.

No doubt you've heard that Jack hovered the head of his driver behind the golf ball for a smoother takeaway. I found something that contradicts that.

Some years ago John Andrisani did a number of books about different players, each with a title like The [fill in the blank] Way. Here's what I found in his book The Nicklaus Way:
He sets the clubhead behind the ball, with its face aligned precisely for the type and degree of sidespin he intends to give the shot. Let me stop for a second here and discuss two observations I have made regarding this aspect of his setup.

One secret Nicklaus never mentioned is this: he sets the club down a couple of inches behind the ball, and I believe this little nuance helps promote that smooth, streamlined straight-back takeaway action he is so famous for.

The second secret: contrary to what he has said over and over, in books and on video, he does not hold the club slightly above the grass. Rather, he rests it very gently on the grass. He does not press the bottom of the club into the grass, as amateurs do. Addressing the ball like Nicklaus will help alleviate tension in your hands and arms and allow you to make a good backswing action. Once you do that, you stand a much better chance of returning the club to a square impact position. (p9-10)
Now you might think that second "secret" -- that the club is resting lightly on the grass rather than hovering above it -- is nitpicking. I would agree although, since Jack was playing with older equipment where the ball was teed lower, it might be true. When we focus on doing something we tend to exaggerate it, and trying to hover the clubhead might cause you to hold it quite a bit higher than trying to rest it lightly on the grass would. With modern equipment this probably isn't a big deal, but it's still worth noting.

However, the first secret seems significant to me. The closer you hover the clubhead behind the ball, the more likely you would be to accidently tap the ball. Consciously leaving a noticeable space between the ball and the clubface gives you a margin for error that I believe would help you stay more relaxed at address.

This is a small tip, but often small things are a tremendous help when you need to build your confidence. I know it's something I'm going to consider doing in the future.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Juli Inkster on Chipping (Video)

This is a short clip from Juli Inkster's Golf Channel Academy show on short game. She has a couple of chipping tips that anybody can use.



Juli says you should always keep your body moving. She's talking about two different things here:
  • One, you don't want to "freeze" over the ball. You need to stay "soft" if you want good feel, and if you stand motionless over the ball you'll get tight.
  • Two, you want to make sure you keep turning your hips and shoulders well into your finish. If you don't, you'll end up flipping the club with your wrists and that creates fat and thin shots.
Then I want you to note her ball position. That's a personal thing for every player, dependent on your stroke. But Juli has the ball back in a very narrow stance, just inside her trailing foot. That helps her to hit the ball before the ground gets in the way. That's worth considering if you're having trouble and you have the ball is forward.

One other thing: Juli uses a slightly open stance and she keeps the clubface open as a result. Many of you have heard players and instructors who say to use a square stance and a square face for this shot.

EITHER ONE WILL WORK, DEPENDING ON YOUR STROKE. As long as you hit the ball before you hit the ground, and you hit the ball squarely, either way is a good way. Just try them both and use the one that feels best to you and gives you the most consistency.

Personal opinion: I've done it both ways with success, although I've noted that the square method seems to work better for me when I use a wider stance and the ball closer to the center of my stance. If I'm using a narrow stance, Juli's open method seems to be the more consistent. Just a penny for your thoughts.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Journeyman 123

Golf Digest did a short article based on a post on Phil Blackmar's blog. That post is called Journeyman 123. Both are worth reading.

Phil Blackmar

Phil's point -- which I agree with and have expressed to other people over the years as well -- is that it's not easy to be a "journeyman" and yet the word is used somewhat disdainfully to describe players who don't become the next Jack or Tiger or Jordan or [fill in the blank].

And Phil's post -- which is briefly summarized in the Golf Digest article -- shows just how hard it is to get to the Tour, let alone stay there. Here's one surprising fact from Phil's article:
Since 1980 only 324 players have made at least 250 Tour starts.
Only 324 players in nearly 40 years, folks. That's it. And Phil is #123 on that list with 443 starts -- hence the Journeyman 123 moniker.

Take a few moments to read Phil's post. It'll make you appreciate those players you may not have paid much attention to over the years. And it'll let you know just how hard it is to succeed in professional golf.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Did You Know This Rule? (Video)

This short video is from GC's digital content and it highlights a Rule of Golf that I didn't know. Did you?



With all the limitations the Rules of Golf put on "helpful equipment" like rangefinders, I was surprised to learn that a compass is perfectly legal.

To be honest, I'm not sure when you would use that kind of info. Knowing where the wind is blowing relative to the pin seems more useful than knowing whether it's an east or a south wind. But it certainly seems to have helped Dylan Frittelli, so I may be wrong.

At any rate, it's always good to know the rules.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

In-Gee Chun's Driver Swing (Video)

This video is from 2013, but it's a good video to see how simple In-Gee's swing is. There's something I want you to see that is very plain in this footage.



It's most easily seen in the down-the-line view on the left above. I want you to watch her feet and knees. The first of the side-by-side views begins around the :32 mark.

Her left (lead) knee bends and her left heel comes off the ground as she starts her backswing. When she reaches the top of her backswing and starts down, note that her right (trailing) knee starts to bend and her right heel comes off the ground. At the same time her left heel goes back down, flat on the ground.

BUT NOTICE: When her left heel goes back down, her left knee DOES NOT straighten! Instead it stays bent until the club is halfway down in her downswing. It can do this because her left hip is moving away from the ball, which causes her left knee to gradually straighten as the clubhead gets to the ball.

If you watch the face-on view at the same moment, you can see that she doesn't make a big move toward the target during her downswing. It's almost as if she had her weight mostly on her trailing foot, then she just planted her lead foot back on the ground as she stepped onto it. This keeps your body fairly steady over the ball so you can make more consistent contact. That will give you better accuracy AND distance.

In-Gee is yet another of those ladies with a simple, easily repeated swing. That's one reason she's a two-time major winner. And it's a move that's so simple, you can learn to do it too.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Short Game Tip from Bill Harmon

Golf Digest has a new article with some thoughts from instructor Bill Harmon about Tiger's game at the Hero. And he had a short game tip that I found very informative.

Tiger from the bunker

There was a lot of talk about Tiger's chipping last week, and much of it was a debate over whether his occasional problems were the result of yips. Harmon says no, it's bad technique where his club shaft had too much forward lean at impact.

We've all heard this before, right? But Harmon provided a simple drill to help get things back in sync:
If you tend to dig the leading edge in behind the ball on basic short game shots, narrow your stance and practice taking the club back halfway and coming to a complete stop. Then, without manipulating your hands to change the plane of your swing or making a big lateral shift, let the clubhead swing down to the ball. If it makes contact behind the ball, it usually means you're pulling the club behind you too much on the backswing.
Pay close attention to that last sentence. Pulling the club too much to the inside during your takeaway causes your downswing to come into the impact zone on a very flat angle. In high rough, that means you'll get a lot of grass between the ball and the clubface. On a tighter lie, the clubhead gets very close to the ground much sooner in the downswing, which will cause you to hit the ground sooner.

And in both cases, the shaft will be leaning toward the target when you contact the ball. You want the shaft to be nearly vertical at impact, in order to use the bounce on the club's sole.

Narrowing your stance helps you stay more stable over the shot, so you don't move forward as much at impact. That forward movement just gets your hands farther ahead of the clubhead, which makes the digging worse. And stopping your backswing completely helps eliminate any compensations you might be using that further flatten your downswing.

It's a simple drill to help simplify your chipping motion. And the simpler it is, the more likely you are to make a good chip.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Australian PGA

Winner: Cameron Smith

Around the wider world of golf: Rickie Fowler started with seven straight birdies and finished with a four-stroke victory at the Hero World Challenge; Dylan Frittelli won the ET's AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in a playoff; Yusaku Miyazato won the Golf Nippon Series JT Cup on the Japan Golf Tour; Bowen Xiao won the KG S&H CITY Asian Golf Championship on the Asian Tour; the JLPGA team beat the KLPGA team to win The Queens presented by Kowa on the LET; and Brady Schnell won the Shell Championship on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.

Cameron Smith with Australian PGA trophy

V is for victory. And Down Under, it's the season for victories by players named Cameron.

Last week Cameron Davis won the Emirates Australian Open. This week it was Cameron Smith at the Australian PGA Championship.

Ironically, as with last week's victor, Cameron Smith may not be very familiar to my American readers. But he is a winner on the PGA Tour -- he and Jonas Blixt won the 2017 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the newly revamped team competition. And just as the two ran down the leaders at that event, Smith made up a three-shot deficit to leader Jordan Zunic, and then won the biggest event of his young career on the second playoff hole.

He did it alone this time... and not just because it was an individual event. Blixt missed the cut and watched his friend win from the gallery. As did Smith's parents, who weren't able to see the Zurich victory in person.

Smith can now have membership on three tours -- the PGA Tour, the European Tour (which co-sponsors this event) and the Australasian Tour. He hasn't taken up the ET membership yet, but we here in the US will get more familiar with him in 2018.

In the meantime, Mr. Smith picks up his second Limerick Summary in less than a year... and he doesn't have to share it with anybody!
Mr. Smith went to Queensland alone
In the hopes he could win one at home
For his parents to see
Since his US team V
Was too far for his folks to have flown.
The photo came from this page at pga.org.au.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Learning to Roll a Roll of Pennies

I found this tip in an old Golf Magazine and a quick Google search turned up a copy of the tip online. This is so simple you won't believe it.

Putter striking a roll of pennies

Simply put a roll of pennies on the ground and try to putt it down your target line. (Yes, you can do this indoors as well.) If you hit the roll with the clubface square, the pennies will roll straight.

If the pennies spin to the left (if you're a righthander) -- you closed the clubface and the toe hit the pennies first.

Conversely, if the pennies spin to the to the right (if you're a righthander) -- you opened the clubface and the heel hit the pennies first.

If the pennies roll to the left of the hole (if you're a righthander) -- you closed the clubface and swung out-to-in across the line of the putt (a pull).

Conversely, if the pennies roll to the right of the hole (if you're a righthander) -- you opened the clubface and swung in-to-out across the line of the putt (a push).

My bonus tip: If you have a lot of trouble hitting the roll squarely, you should check your "ball position." Constant heel hits may mean the "ball" is too far back in your stance; constant toe hits may mean that the "ball" is too far forward in your stance.

Of course, you can use a roll of nickels, dimes or quarters if you're a big spender. But regardless of which one you use, it'll still be cheaper than most of the putting aids you can buy and you'll get clear feedback with no guesswork.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Tiger at the Half

It's too soon to say Tiger is "back." But it's not too soon to question how we'll know he has truly returned. Today I'd like to look at a few things that can serve as indicators of Tiger's progress.

Tiger on the green

The first indicator is simply whether Tiger is painfree or not. We should divide this into two questions -- is he painfree now, and will he remain painfree? The answer to the first one is clearly YES. We know that Tiger played nine straight days of golf before teeing it up in the Bahamas, and he's no worse for wear. That's important because you can't stay painfree until you get painfree.

But one week won't answer that second question. Tiger has rarely played more than 15-18 tournaments a year, so I'm arbitrarily setting my sights on 8-10 events. That should be six months or so; if he's still good then, I think he passes this first test.

The second indicator is how consistently well he plays. I include mental improvement as well as mechanical improvement. We should expect some rust, no more than he's played in the last couple of years. And dealing with how his body handles adrenaline now, plus his ability to adjust quickly to conditions, should both be taken into account here.

Two rounds isn't a huge sample, but Tiger seems to be playing with very little rust. (THAT should certainly give the rest of the golf world some pause, given he's only had a month or so to practice.) In addition, he made some sound adjustments to his game on Friday, based on what he did Thursday, and most of those adjustments worked. Some were mechanical, many were strategic. So I'd also give him credit for this indicator -- at least this far into his comeback.

Third indicator -- how is he mentally on the weekend? Granted, he hasn't played the weekend yet -- but I don't think we'll be able to answer this one very soon, even if he wins this weekend. Even when Tiger played so well back in 2013, it was clear that his play on a majors weekend was not as good as it was at a regular event. This one could take a year or so before we have the answer.

However, if he can close out any tournaments over the next few months, that will certainly be a positive sign. Again, you have to be able to close out a regular tournament before you can count on closing out a big tourney.

Fourth indicator -- how well does he travel? To be honest, I hope he doesn't test this one until he has a few events under his belt. He was already struggling a bit before his trip to Dubai did him in back in February; I'd like to see him successfully complete a few events over the next few months before trying any long flights.

Finally, can he keep his own expectations in check? I really like his attitude right now. Some of the analysts have suggested that Tiger is sandbagging a bit, that he knows his game is better than he lets on.

But look, the hype is already in motion -- Tiger has gone from a 100-1 favorite at the Masters to a mere 15-1. Expectations for Tiger are always at two extremes. Either fans think he'll just instantly return to top form or -- as Frank Nobilo confessed -- he didn't really want Tiger to come back because he thought he wouldn't be able to play well and he didn't want to see the Big Cat as just a ceremonial golfer. Very few of us allow Tiger to just be human and give him the same freedom to fail that we want others to give us. After all, none of us is perfect!

I find it refreshing that Tiger has (perhaps) come to grips with his own mortality. I think that will stand him in good stead going forward.

So while the Masters odds are clearly examples of jumping the gun, the signs that Tiger will once again be a force on the PGA Tour are encouraging. And while I don't expect him to win this weekend, I do think the young bulls who idolized Tiger and wanted to compete against "the legend" should be thinking twice about what they asked for.

I know I plan to keep watching because I think they may live to regret that wish!

Friday, December 1, 2017

So Yeon Ryu's Favorite Drill

This is from a Golf Digest article called The Drill You Need When Your Swing Falls Apart. So Yeon calls it the Stomping Drill, which she says fixes a multitude of problems in your swing.

So Yeon Ryu doing the Stomping Drill

Do this drill with an iron and address the ball with your feet close together. Essentially you just step away from the target with your trail foot to start your backswing, then step toward the target with your lead foot to start your downswing. That's it.

So Yeon says it takes some practice so you have to start out slow. But she also says it will cure a lot of ills in your swing.

What do I like about it? If you do this properly, you won't slide your hips and tilt your spine during the drill. That causes problems in more swings than most players realize. Give the drill a try and see what you think.