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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The BMW PGA Debuts in Its New Spot

Yes, it was in May back in 2018 but with all the tours shuffling schedules to accommodate the Olympics and such, the ET's BMW PGA Championship has moved to September.

Defending champion Francesco Molinari

I have always considered the BMW PGA as being just below a major, and in my old point system this event carried the same weight as THE PLAYERS. That's because this is a flagship event for the ET and the history of Wentworth alone gives this tournament substantial weight.

Now, even though the World Golf Hall of Fame doesn't give this event the same weight as THE PLAYERS, I rank it above the WGC events and still consider it a near-major. In my opinion it's the kind of event that can predict a future major winner.

Francesco Molinari, the defending champion, is just one example of that.

This event is a who's-who of world golf, although it doesn't include a huge number of big American names. Patrick Reed appears to be the main one, but Billy Horschel is also getting a lot of attention with his first appearance. He expressed his desire to play there a couple of years back and has finally made good on it.

But the rest of the field is the world's best. Not only because of Wentworth's stature as a venue but because this is the stretch run for the Race to Dubai. We're going to see a number of stacked ET events leading up to their Tour Championship!

One note: I have to amend my Twofer Tuesday picks as I thought I saw Viktor Hovland on the Sanderson Farms field list when he's actually playing the BMW PGA. So I'm changing my Top10er there to Corey Conners, last year's runner-up, and will change it in the Twofer Tuesday post.

GC's coverage begins Thursday morning at 5am ET and runs until 1pm ET. That's eight hours of live coverage! Clearly GC feels as I do about this event. Nice!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Sanderson Farms Championship

Twofer Tuesday heads down to Mississippi and the Sanderson Farms Championship, which is a full month earlier this year due to the schedule changes.

Defending champion Cameron Champ

The Country Club of Jackson is hosting the event for the sixth consecutive time, with Cameron Champ being the defending champion. The course is a par-72 layout and has been stretched to nearly 7500 yards, its longest in those six years. And we can probably count on some heat; it's not unusual to see temperatures in the 90s F. Last year the field averaged just over 71 on the track and it's reasonable to figure the greens crew will aim for the same results this year.

As far as my Twofer Tuesday picks go, the key thing that stands out about this event is ROOKIES. Yes, as you may have guessed, all six of the last Sanderson Farms winners have been rookies. (Of course, this event usually doesn't have as many vets as other events, so that probably plays a part as well.) That fact doesn't mean this year will follow suit but it's worth being aware of it!
  • My Top10er this week is -- surprise! -- Viktor Hovland. I'm still not sure Viktor is ready to win on the big stage yet, but he has tied the record for 17 consecutive rounds in the 60s. Even if he doesn't set a new record, I'm guessing he'll play well enough for another Top10 as he gains experience on the Tour. [UPDATE: Hovland is playing the BMW PGA this week, so I'm going with Corey Conners, last year's runner-up.}
  • And my winner is Scottie Scheffler. He's struggled with his swing a bit lately, but I don't think that will continue for long; he played too well on the Korn Ferry Tour this year for that. It's just a question of when things start 'clicking' again for him, and this week is as good a time as any for him to rediscover his groove.
In what has become something of a routine, GC's coverage begins Thursday at 2pm ET while PGA TOUR LIVE begins streaming select groups at 8am ET. I'm expecting some hot action this week, even if it's just from the weather!

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Greenbrier

Winner: Joaquin Niemann

Around the wider world of golf: Suzann Pettersen announced her retirement from tournament golf by sinking the winning putt on the 18th hole of the final match to give Europe the Solheim Cup, 14.5-13.5; Jerry Kelly won the Ally Challenge on the Champions Tour; Patrick Fishburn won the Canada Life Championship on the Mackenzie Tour; Quincy Quek won the Haikou Classic on the PGA TOUR China; Yosuke Asagi won the ANA Open on the Japan Golf Tour; Sergio Garcia won the KLM Open on the European Tour; and Rory Hie won the Classic Golf and Country Club International Championship on the Asian Tour.

Joaquin Niemann with the Greenbrier trophy

It's a new season for my Twofer Tuesday picks and at least half of them got off to a good start. I had Tom Lewis (MC) to win and Viktor Hovland (T10) to Top10. At this point I'll take whatever encouragement I can find.
  • Winners: 2 for 37
  • Place well (Top10): 17 for 37 (9 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 30 of 74 (15 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
Perhaps I should take some consolation that I have picked a number of players just a few weeks (or months) before they broke through for a win. I had picked Joaquin Niemann to win earlier this year, but it looks like I was ahead of the curve again. He needed a few months to get finally get it together.

And boy, did he ever get it together at the A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier event! He stomped the field by six shots, finally putting Chile on the golfing map. Of course he's only 20 years old and -- in "the old days" anyway -- nobody would expect too much at this point.

But this is the age of the instant success story, and the pressure must be huge for the youngsters who need a bit more of a learning curve before they can truly hope to make a mark. And when you carry the hopes of an entire country on your shoulders...

Joaquin doesn't need to worry about that anymore. He's got his first PGA Tour win with all the assorted perks, and he made history to boot. But listen up, Joaquin, I've got some more news for you -- you're also the first golfer from Chile to take home a Limerick Summary. Life is looking good, my man!
Becoming the first man from Chile
To win should make Joaquin a really
Big sports star back home.
His potential’s been shown—
When you win by six shots, that’s revealing!
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Sunday Solheim Cup Singles Pairings

Danielle Kang leads off the singles matches

You can read the entire article from Randall Mell at this link, but here are the pairings for quick reference. All times are ET.
  • 6:40am: Danielle Kang (USA) vs. Carlota Ciganda (EUR)
  • 6:52am: Nelly Korda (USA) vs. Caroline Hedwall (EUR)
  • 7:04am: Lexi Thompson (USA) vs. Georgia Hall (EUR)
  • 7:16am: Annie Park (USA) vs. Celine Boutier (EUR)
  • 7:28am: Angel Yin (USA) vs. Azahara Munoz (EUR)
  • 7:40am: Megan Khang (USA) vs. Charley Hull (EUR)
  • 7:52am: Lizette Salas (USA) vs. Anne Van Dam (EUR)
  • 8:04am: Jessica Korda (USA) vs. Caroline Masson (EUR)
  • 8:16am: Brittany Altomare (USA) vs. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (EUR)
  • 8:28am: Marina Alex (USA) vs. Suzann Pettersen (EUR)
  • 8:40am: Ally McDonald (USA) vs. Bronte Law (EUR)
  • 8:52am: Morgan Pressel (USA) vs. Anna Nordqvist (EUR)
GC's coverage is set to begin at 6:30am ET. And since the teams are tied 8-8 going into the singles, this could be a wild finish!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Steve Elkington on the Knockdown Shot (Video)

You'll have to scoot over to golftipsmag.com to see this video, but it's a simple thing that you might find helpful. Elk says this is an easy way to get your trajectory down without changing your swing.

What do you do? Just address the ball normally and then move an inch or two closer than normal. You don't change your ball position or anything else. You will have to lean the shaft a bit more forward in order to make your normal swing -- that's how you give your hands the extra room they'll need -- but doing so will automatically deloft the club a little and make the ball fly lower.

And just for your information, it will probably put a bit more spin on the ball as well.

As I said, it's a simple tip that could make knockdown shots much easier for you. You can thank Elk next time you see him.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Rory VS Brooks

The battle is done. Brooks got the PGA Player of the Year while Rory got the PGA Tour Player of the Year.

However, the discussion is just beginning.

Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka

I wanted to take a quick look at this somewhat unexpected turn of events -- even Rory is on record as expecting Brooks to take both awards. Still, I think this 'split decision' is just an indication of how difficult it is to say one player is definitely better than another. I'm not certain that either player should have won both of these awards but I think this is an indication that players are beginning to question what's really important in their careers.

Before we go on, let's get one thing clear. The PGA Player of the Year is determined by a point system while the PGA Tour Player of the Year is determined by player vote. Some are suggesting that the players may have voted on personality or popularity, and that the point system is therefore a more objective approach. But I believe you can make the opposite case as well -- namely, that the player vote indicates that not everyone agrees on whether the points are being given for what's really important.

That being said, let's compare Brooks and Rory's seasons and try to understand why the awards were split.

First, let's tackle the elephant in the room: Majors. Part of the discussion says that Rory's win devalues the importance of finishes in the majors. Brooks finished T2-1-2-T4 while Rory finished T21-T8-T9-MC. Brooks clearly played better and had one major VS Rory having none.

But the World Golf Hall of Fame has to be considered here. According to the criteria at their website, the WGHoF gives THE PLAYERS equal weight to a major:
A [male] player must have a cumulative total of 15 or more official victories on any of the original members of the International Federation of PGA Tours (PGA TOUR, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour and PGA of Australasia) OR at least two victories among the following events: The Masters, THE PLAYERS Championship, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship.
Two PLAYERS carry the same weight as any two majors. So whether you call it a major or not, the WGHoF considers a PLAYERS win as having equal value and that has to be taken into account. Clearly, many players did so.

Each player won three events. Giving equal weight to their 'majors' this season, let's compare the other two wins:
  • Brooks: CJ Cup & WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
  • Rory: RBC Canadian Open & TOUR Championship
Analysts are saying that players gave more weight to the PGA Tour 'majors' -- that is, THE PLAYERS and the TOUR Championship -- but my guess is that there's a bit more at play here.

The CJ Cup really doesn't carry the weight of a WGC, the TOUR Championship or a long-running national championship like the Canadian Open, which is the third-oldest continuously running tourney behind the OPEN and the US Open, respectively.

In fairness, the RBC is also the only PGA TOUR-run national championship. But you can still make an argument that Brooks's two non-majors are slightly less 'valuable' than Rory's.

In terms of consistency:
  • Rory played 19 events with 14 Top10s and two missed cuts
  • Brooks played 21 events with 9 Top10s and one missed cut
In terms of money:
  • Brooks won the money list by nearly $2mil over Rory
But Rory did win the TOUR Championship, finishing #1 while Brooks could only finish #3 after leading the FedExCup points list nearly all season.

I don't know that any of this is conclusive proof that one player is better than the other. In the end, Rory was more consistent and 'showed up' much more often than Brooks. Conversely, Brooks played better in the majors than Rory and you can chalk up his money list win almost entirely to those four finishes, because those events paid the largest purses.

Ultimately, that's the crux of the argument as it is being framed.

Not being mentioned in any of this, however, are three other awards Rory won this season:
  • the FedExCup champion (that is an award for season-long excellencee)
  • Vardon Trophy (for best scoring average, minimum 60 rounds)
  • Byron Nelson Award (for best scoring average, minimum 50 rounds)
And perhaps these three -- the FedExCup award, the Vardon Trophy and the Byron Nelson Award -- are what finally tipped the scales for Rory. The fact that Rory won all three despite how Brooks played in the majors is a statement of sorts. The big argument for Brooks is the majors -- and yes, he had a monumental year there -- yet he didn't play sufficiently well to beat Rory for any of these awards.

Rory's three awards are the definition of dominance, and that may have been enough to sway the PGA TOUR players to give Rory their POY award.

In the end, I'm glad both men won a POY award. Those awards were given on the basis of different criteria and both Rory and Brooks had 'best of' years, depending on which criteria are most important to you. But that isn't going to stop the debate over whose year was THE best.

And that's probably as it should be. I'm not sure sports fans know how to enjoy a sport they can't argue about.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Cindy Miller on Ball Position (Video)

There are two parts to ball position -- how far forward or back in your stance that you place the ball, and how far away from it you stand. Cindy Miller has a tip for the latter.



Cindy's description of this position as 'partial puke and bow' is certainly graphic enough to make it memorable! But the idea is simple enough.

After you stand up in a relaxed position with your hands at your side and the club's handle in your lead hand, you simply lean slightly toward the ball and grip the club with both hands. Let your arms hang down, with your upper arms lightly against your chest, which should put your hands more or less under your chin. That should put the clubhead the proper distance from your body, and that's where you want to place the ball when you take your actual address position.

Not every player will find this tip to be comfortable; it depends on both your normal posture and your swing technique. For example, if you hold your arms fairly straight like Bryson DeChambeau does, this tip won't necessarily help you. But the beauty of it is that, if you do feel comfortable using it, it works for every club in your bag -- except your putter, which is always a challenge, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Solheim Cup Is Here!

Of course there were the normal lost clubs and baggage at Gleneagles, but the Stacy Lewis news was unexpected.

Morgan Pressel with the Solheim Cup

Stacy's back tweak resulted in Ally MacDonald replacing her as Juli Inkster's second Captains Pick. Doesn't look to be too much of a disruption, of course -- Ally has some team experience from the 2014 Curtis Cup, where she and Annie Park played a successful fourball together. (Ironically, Ally and Annie are in different pods so they probably won't play together this week.) But Ally was #9 on the points list anyway, so she barely missed making the team on her own.

The weather at Gleneagles is currently expected to be milder than usual, which should help level the playing field against Team Europe. I know a lot of analysts say Team USA is the favorite, but I have to agree with Laura Davies -- home field is a HUGE advantage and, coupled with the number of veterans on the Euro team, Team Europe really should be the favorites.

This link takes you to a page at lpga.com with all the major info you'll need about the Solheim Cup, particularly the players on each team and the TV times here in the States. I'll just note that GC's coverage begins Friday morning at 3am ET and runs till 1:30pm ET. The Solheim Cup is always fun as well as competitive, and I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: The Greenbrier

After a two week hiatus the PGA Tour is back. Although this event has been officially renamed "A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier," I'm going with the shorter title and trusting you'll all remember the military tie-in.

Defending champion Kevin Na

The Greenbrier sat out last season so it could assume its new position as the first event of the PGA Tour wraparound season. Physically it remains a luxury resort located in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. It's a place that many of the Tour pros have moved to, and it's one of the stops where families have plenty to do while Dad whacks the old dimpled ball around.

The Old White TPC is the only Tour course with a par-3 finishing hole. At 7292 yards and a par of 70 -- and that gorgeous mountain scenery -- it's a reasonably challenging start to a long season, one that frequently gives us surprise winners. (And on occasion, very low scores.) Kevin Na is the defending champion.

As the first event of the new PGA Tour season, there are a number of newly-minted pros teeing it up after graduating from the Korn Ferry Tour. And I'm looking to them this week, in hopes that they will change the fortunes of my Twofer Tuesday picks.
  • My Top10er is Viktor Hovland. After ensuring his card at the Korn Ferry Finals, he skipped the final event to prepare for this start. I've had high hopes for Viktor since he turned pro -- some of you will remember that I picked him to win at the Deere -- and I haven't lost my enthusiasm for his future. However, I think he may (like Justin Thomas) take a bit longer to hit his stride and get his first win. That doesn't mean he can't chalk up his first Top10 as a Tour member though.
  • And my winner is Tom Lewis. The 28-year-old Englishman took a flier at getting his Tour card at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship... and promptly won his only Korn Ferry start to lock up a card. Perhaps he'll suffer the letdown so many players seem to experience after a first win but I'm willing to take a flier myself and pick him to win his first start as a carded PGA Tour player.
GC's coverage starts Thursday at 2pm ET, with the PGA TOUR LIVE stream beginning at 7am ET.

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Porsche European Open

Winner: Paul Casey

Around the wider world of golf: Taylor Pendrith got his second Mackenzie Tour victory at the Mackenzie Investments Open; Alejandra Llaneza won the Garden City Charity Classic on the Symetra Tour; Sang-Hyun Park won the Fujisankei Classic on the Japan Golf Tour; Yikuen Chang won the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship on the Asian Tour; and the US team blitzed the GB&I team in singles to retain the Walker Cup, 15.5-10.5.

Paul Casey with the Porsche European Open trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks looked good for a day or so, but... I had Xander Schauffele (T46) to win and Thomas Pieters (T20) to Top10. It appears my luck is no better overseas than it is here at home.
  • Winners: 2 for 36
  • Place well (Top10): 16 for 36 (9 Top5s, 7 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 29 of 72 (15 Top5s, 14 more Top10s)
Paul Casey had no such troubles in Germany. He calmly -- and uncharacteristically -- stated that he felt dangerous this week and that the field should be looking over their shoulders, because he had nothing to lose and was playing free.

Uncharacteristic bravado, yes. But definitely on point! The weather had been tough on the field, forcing a scoring average that was two or three strokes over par some days. But on Sunday Paul ran down the leaders, shooting a 66 to beat leaders Bernd Rithammer and Robert MacIntyre by one.

And surprisingly enough, it was Paul's first ET victory in five years. Where did his confidence come from? Clearly it was his improved play over the last year or so -- highlighted by a win at the Valspar, a fifth place in the FedExCup and rising to 17 in the OWGR.

While I'm bummed that my picks didn't play well, I have no trouble being happy for Paul Casey. He's earned the rewards he's seeing this year... and I'll gladly add yet another Limerick Summary to his 2019 haul.
Paul said he felt dangerous, right?
The field should glance backwards with fright
As he charged from behind;
His stars had aligned—
So he took the top prize with delight.
The photo came from this page at europeantour.com.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Walker Cup Drama

Maybe the last Walker Cup (in 2017) wasn't close -- 19-7 in GB&I's favor -- but Sunday is shaping up to be a dogfight.

GB&I's Alex Fitzpatrick and USA's Cole Hammer

Golf Digest has a nice summary of Day One, which ended with a rally by the US to trail by only two points, 7-5. All but one of the 12 matches went to the 17th hole.

The US team feels they always have an advantage in singles, which they will play today, but the GB&I team seems to be firing on all cylinders right now. While two points certainly isn't insurmountable, GB&I have the home turf advantage and all the crowd support that comes with that.

Unfortunately we won't be getting any live coverage of the final day. That Golf Digest article lists the times for each of the foursomes and singles matches today (all in ET) if you want to try and follow the matches online. Otherwise you'll have to settle for a summary show on GC tonight at 11pm ET. But it's definitely going to be a battle today, well worth watching if you can find it.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Phillis Meti's Driving Drill (Video)

This Extra Credit video from Martin Hall has long drive champ Phillis Meti practicing her drives... with an iron and a putting grip?!?



I don't mean she's gripping the club as if she was putting. No, I mean she's using a flat-sided putting grip that's been installed on a 7-iron that has been set an extra 5° upright. What's the deal?

This strange piece of practice equipment makes it easy for her to match her driver setup with the shorter club, and the flat side of the putter grip lets her be sure that the clubface is square to her aimline.

In other words, the grip helps her make sure she isn't flipping the club at impact or leaving it open. She says it was her teacher's idea, so she can work on this while she's on the road without him.

Just goes to show that understanding what you're trying to do when you swing can help you better design a practice drill that focuses your effort more effectively.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Now DJ Visits the Doctor

Last week it was Tiger, this week it's Dustin Johnson. And yes, it's the left knee.

Dustin Johnson

Golf.com quoted this statement from DJ's management team that was sent out Thursday morning:
“Earlier today, Dustin Johnson underwent arthroscopic surgery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to repair cartilage damage in his left knee. He is now resting comfortably and is expected to make a full recovery before returning to competition later this fall.
The procedure is considered routine and similar in nature to his prior right knee surgery in December of 2011. Both were performed by renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. George Caldwell.”
"Later this fall" almost certainly means the Presidents Cup at the latest.

Artheroscopic surgery is no big thing these days; sometimes I think players approach it the same way they approach routine blood tests and cardiograms. But if a player needs to have a knee 'cleaned out' and doesn't do it, it can certainly affect their performance.

So now it will be interesting to see if DJ's play improves. We're used to him being so consistent but we haven't seen that from him lately. Perhaps this is the reason.

At least it will give him and Tiger something to commiserate about over the next few months.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

John Jacobs on Chipping Feel (Video)

No, it's not the legend. But this John Jacobs from Golf Monthly has a couple of drills that might help you to better judge distance when you chip.



That first drill -- let's call it the bowling drill because the arm motion is similar to throwing a bowling ball -- may or may not help you, but you should try it. Some players need a more mechanical trigger to develop feel, and this bowling drill is definitely all feel. I tend to make this motion when I'm trying to get a feel for a chip, but I used to bowl a lot during high school so it's a familiar motion for me.

John's clock face drill is far more similar to the technique Dave Pelz teaches and that I teach in my Accurate Iron Play Quick Guide. However, John is using more wrist flex than my book taught. I'm not against that, not by any stretch -- but whether it will work for you depends on how mechanical you need to be when developing your sense of feel.
  • Some players learn better if they don't flex their wrists much at all. That's a method that Lee Trevino swears by, and nobody ever accused him of having a poor short game!
  • Some players learn better if they use just a small amount of flex, which is my preferred method for normal chips.
  • And some players learn better if they use their wrists quite a bit when chipping. You can certainly learn to chip just as well that way as any other.
The thing with John's clock method and "looser" wrists -- if you choose to use that method -- is that he doesn't actually move his arms quite as much as he says. If you watch him closely, you'll see that his 7 o'clock and 8 o'clock positions are nearly identical and his 9 o'clock position is nowhere near parallel to the ground. But to him it FEELS as if his lead arm is in those positions, and that's the key you must remember:
His stated positions are not his actual mechanical positions, but rather how he feels them.
I wanted to pass this method on to you because, for some of you, this may be exactly what you need in order to improve your chipping. There is no one correct way to play golf but there is probably a way that works best for you, based on how you learn things most easily. Don't let anyone bind you to a mechanical method if a feel method gives you better results, or vice versa.

Don't be afraid to learn the way you learn best. Tailoring your game to your own natural abilities is how YOU will get better.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Critter Does It Again! (Video)

Today it's just a shout-out to Jeff "The Critter" Crittenden for winning his second World Drive Championship - Masters Division in just three years.



Jeff is from Greensboro NC -- around 30 minutes east of me -- and I'm always pulling for him. It's great to see him get another win!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Korn Ferry Tour Championship

Winner: Tom Lewis

Around the wider world of golf: Hannah Green got her second LPGA victory of the year (and her career) at the Cambia Portland Classic; Patty Tavatanakit won the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge on the Symetra Tour; Sebastian Soderberg got his first ET win at the Omega European Masters; Wes Short Jr. won the Shaw Charity Classic on the Champions Tour; Kazuki Higa won the RIZAP KBC Augusta on the Japan Golf Tour; and Miguel Carballo won the Bank BRI Indonesia Open on the Asian Tour.

Tom Lewis with the Korn Ferry Tour Championship trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks took a last minute hit after I made my choices. I had Scottie Scheffler (T7) to win and Anirban Lahiri (WD) to Top10. Lahiri withdrew on Friday -- well after my picks -- because his family was in Hurricane Dorian's way (my Disney trip was cancelled because of Dorian as well, so I certainly understand his reasons) and while Scheffler finally ran out of gas, he did at least finish in the Top10.
  • Winners: 2 for 35
  • Place well (Top10): 16 for 35 (9 Top5s, 7 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 29 of 70 (15 Top5s, 14 more Top10s)
The winner's story seems almost unbelievable, doesn't it? Tom Lewis wasn't even planning to play -- he had his ET card for 2020 -- but his agent said he had enough FedExCup points to qualify so why not give it a shot? Then Tom comes in for the very last event of the Finals, rips the field apart and walks away with a PGA Tour card, doing so in record-setting fashion. This is the hardest course on the Korn Ferry Tour and all Tom did was win with a -23 total, after the last two years had seen winning scores of -6.

Alright... to be fair, the course was a bit soft and 32 players shot -7 or better. But Tom was five shots clear of the runner-up, which is impressive in its own right.

It's pretty easy to pass this off as playing with a lack of pressure since Tom already had a tour to play next season, but he's had his share of problems to overcome such as chipping yips. Now he has another problem, given that he has to balance playing time on two tours. They say he talked to Justin Rose about it and was told that the balancing act is tough.

We've also heard that Tom really likes warm weather. ;-)

While Tom sorts out the pluses and minuses of his various options, I'll just congratulate him with this Limerick Summary that asks the burning question on all of our minds.
In America or overseas?
We need to know, Tom—and don’t tease!
Is the PGA Tour
Or your homeland the lure?
We have to know NOW! Tell us, please
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Porsche European Open

I know it's weird, but the Limerick Summary has to wait for the Korn Ferry Tour Championship to finish today. Hence, today becomes Twofer Tuesday by default. Don't worry, you'll survive.

Let's head out to this week's ET event, the Porsche European Open.

Defending champion Richard McEvoy

Defending champion Richard McEvoy (from England) leads the field at the Green Eagle Golf Courses in Hamburg, Germany. It's his first-ever title defense so you can be sure he's looking forward to it.

With the PGA Tour season in the books, several American players have flown over to join the ET's cast of regulars as well -- Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele. Given the number of ET winners this season who are already there, we're looking at a really strong field for this event.

Of course, while I'm familiar with a large number of those players, I'd hardly consider myself a good judge of who has the best chance to win this week. Then again, knowing the US players better hasn't helped me so far this season, has it?
  • My Top10er this week is Thomas Pieters. Thomas has been struggling for a few years now but seems to have finally refound his form. He won a couple of weeks back at the D+D Real Czech Masters, then followed up with a T12 at this past week's Omega European Masters. He has so much potential when he is on form that I'm willing to ride along with him for another week.
  • And my winner is Xander Schauffele. The ET players I think are in the best form right now are taking the week off and, while Xander didn't play particularly well at THE OPEN and hasn't played any other ET event this year, he has played well over there in the past and has been reasonably consistent in the US this season. In my opinion, this season's ET winners have been somewhat unpredictable so I'm going to take my chances on Xander.
As best as I can tell, GC's live coverage starts Thursday in two shifts -- 5am-7am ET followed by another at 9am-noon ET. Since the ET's Race to Dubai is approaching their home stretch, this should be a hard-fought battle.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Luke Peterken's 5-Minute Punch Shot Lesson (Video)

This Golf Monthly video is actually less than five minutes long, but hey, it's their title! This is the basic technique for hitting an accurate punch shot.



Let me list the key points from the video on how to lower your trajectory.
  • Shorten your backswing and followthrough, which creates less clubhead speed. This automatically lowers your trajectory some.
  • Lowering your trajectory causes the ball to roll more when it lands, so choose your target appropriately.
  • Take more club. You're creating less clubhead speed so you need a longer club to cover the distance.
  • Set up for a fade. That's because you...
  • Open your hips BUT keep your shoulders square to your aimline. This allows you to move your lower body more freely without spinning your shoulders, which might make you flip your hands and pull the shot. (This tip is something you often don't hear from instructors, but it makes a lot of sense.)
  • Move the ball back slightly in your stance, to hit the ball more cleanly while lowering the trajectory a bit more.
The key here is that this is how you create a controllable, accurate punch shot. Whether you're punching out of trouble or just need to keep the ball down to avoid trouble, controllability is the name of the game.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Yves Ton-That on Putting with the Flagstick In and Out (Video)

Yves C. Ton-That from Expert Golf did this short video to answer the question: Does leaving the flagstick in help you make putts or not?



His findings are interesting and, I think, very useful. His testing method seems scientific enough because it eliminates most of the variables involved in repeating a specific putt over and over.

I know what I'm going to do from now on... and why. That's all I can ask!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Kathy Whitworth and Nancy Lopez on Solid Contact (Videos)

Yes, two videos today! They're on the same topic by two legends, but they give you slightly different ways to think about what you're doing at impact. First up -- Nancy Lopez.



Nancy says that it's not just about looking at the ball. Rather, it's about where on the ball you're looking. She suggests looking at the back of the ball but, more than that, looking through the back of the ball to the grass beneath. Clearly you don't have x-ray vision but the idea is to focus on a single point where the club will make contact with the ground, and that point will insure that you are hitting downward on the ball at impact.

Now here's Kathy Whitworth's take on the same idea. BTW, when she mentions Harvey, she's talking about her instructor, the late Harvey Penick.



She says this is the only drill Harvey ever taught her, but it's just another way of thinking about impact. She says she tries to clip the grass just in front of the ball (if the ball is on the ground) or to clip the tee beneath the ball (if the ball is on a tee). Again, this is the same idea that Nancy is talking about.

Simply put, if you want to get a solid hit that gets the ball up into the air, you must hit the ball with a slightly downward motion at impact.

Yeah, I know. It's a simple concept that you hear over and over. But if you're consistently having a problem getting the ball up in the air, then you are consistently mis-hitting the ball! Devote a few minutes to one of these "aiming" techniques each time you go to the range, and use it each time you hit a shot during a round. It won't be long before you're getting consistently solid contact.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Paul Horton on "Going Soft" for Distance (Video)

GCA coach Paul Horton's video is short and to the point. It might surprise you.



Actually, this idea of softening your hands and wrists isn't foreign to this blog. Here are links to three posts I did nearly three years ago -- two compared bunker technique to doing the Carlton Dance (this is the first post and this is the second post) and the third was on using a grass whip to learn the technique.

If you ever take martial arts, you'll learn that you create the most speed by remaining relaxed until impact. The nice thing about trying to stay relaxed swinging the club is that firming up your wrists at impact happens much more naturally than it does when you're hitting something with your fist. (Learning to firm up your fist at impact requires more conscious timing.)

Relaxation during your swing is something most players struggle with, simply because we think in terms of power rather than speed. We equate power with lifting weights and tensing up. But relaxation even feels faster, so it's a bit easier to achieve.

So take some time to revisit those older posts after watching Horton's video. Between the four of them, you just might find a little extra clubhead speed... and pick up a few extra yards.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The LPGA Heads Back to Portland

The LPGA Cambia Portland Classic is the last LPGA or LET event before the Solheim Cup starts on September 12. That makes this a very important event for several reasons.

Defending champion Marina Alex

Obviously, this is the last chance for the players on both teams to get some competitive golf under their belts before the teams hit the course in Scotland. And many players from both teams are taking advantage of that -- unless I've heard wrong, seven players from each team are in Portland, with US Captain Juli Inkster teeing it up as well.

Perhaps more importantly, this is the last chance for teammates from both sides to create some bonding experiences on and around a golf course before they actually get to the Cup. This is probably a bit more important for Juli's team since it was only finalized on Monday, but the European team hasn't had much time since their captain Catriona Matthew made her final four picks either.

At this point in the process, every extra moment together will probably help everyone involved. But I think the US has the most to gain this week as both captains picks (Morgan Pressel and Stacy Lewis) are playing, as is Juli and several other Solheim vets who didn't make the team, like Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr. With so many rookies on the US team, this last minute "cram session" can only help.

That doesn't mean the Euros won't benefit as well. Suzanne Pettersen is in the field, as are some of the other veterans like Carlotta Ciganda, Anna Nordqvist and Azahara Munoz. That will certainly benefit rookies Anne Van Dam and Celine Boutier who are also in Portland.

So I'll be interested to hear what goes on around the tournament. Will there be "test pairings" during the practice rounds or maybe team dinners? We can already see that some of the teammates have pairings for the first couple of rounds.

But as far as the event itself goes, I think preoccupation with the Solheim Cup will keep many players from focusing fully on this tournament. My money's on Jin Young Ko to maybe pick up her fifth win of the year.

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 6:30pm ET. (Yes, that's live coverage because -- for my worldwide viewers who may not know -- Portland is on the West Coast of the US, a three-hour time difference. GC's coverage will begin at 3:30pm their time.) Maybe we'll get a preview of each team's form before the actual Cup begins!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Korn Ferry Tour Championship

The PGA Tour is done for a couple of weeks, so Twofer Tuesday must look to the other tours. Next week I'll probably check out the Porsche European Open on the ET, but this week it's the Korn Ferry Tour Championship. That's where the most drama is.

Defending champion Denny McCarthy

The Korn Ferry Tour is headed to Victoria National GC in Newburgh IN. This Indiana course will be tougher than the boys have seen the last couple of years when they played the Tour Championship at the Atlantic Beach Country Club in Florida. The winning scores in FL have been in the 23-24 under range (defending champion Denny McCarthy, pictured above, was 23-under) while Victoria National winners have been in the 6-12 under category.

Perhaps a word of explanation is in order. Victoria National hosted the tour's United Leasing Championship for the last seven years. The last two years' winners were both 6-under. PGATOUR.com says of Victoria "the course has ranked inside the top-three most difficult on Tour for the past six years." So regular players of the Korn Ferry Tour should be familiar with this track.

But who will win this week? Let's see if being a Twofer Tuesday pick shakes the up-and-comers as badly as it seems to shake the PGA Tour pros!
  • My Top10er this week is Anirban Lahiri. The Indian player has struggled on the Big Tour this season but seems to have found his groove in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. In the first two events he has placed T7 and T5 respectively and sits at seventh place in the Finals 25, guaranteeing his Tour card for next year. With the pressure off and his groove on, I think he should finish well this week.
  • And my winner is Scottie Scheffler. Scheffler has played the Korn Ferry Tour all season, posting a win and two runner-ups during the regular season, giving him the #1 spot in The 25 before these finals even began. Then he won the first Finals event and posted a T11 last week. Given his form all year, I won't be surprised to see him leave the Korn Ferry Tour with a third win.
Monday is Labor Day, a holiday here in the US, so the KF Tour Championship will run from Friday to Monday. GC's coverage starts Friday at 1pm ET. It's the last chance to get a PGA Tour card and the PGATOUR.com article I listed above says there are only 13 cards still available. It should be a mad scramble come Monday!

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 TOUR Championship

Winner: Rory McIlroy

Around the wider world of golf: Jin Young Ko got her fourth LPGA win of the season at the CP Women's Open; Brandt Jobe won the Boeing Classic on the Champions Tour; Erik van Rooyen won the ET's Scandinavian Invitation; Matthew NeSmith won the Albertsons Boise Open on the Korn Ferry Tour; Carly Booth won the LET's Tipsport Czech Ladies Open; and Ryo Ishikawa won the Shigeo Nagashima Invitational SEGASAMMY Cup on the Japan Golf Tour.

Rory McIlroy lifts the trophy

I'm sure of it now. The pressure of being a Twofer Tuesday pick is just too much for most pros. This week I had Justin Thomas (T3) to win and Patrick Cantlay (T21) to Top10. The two top players in FedExCup points, one with the best scoring average of anybody around East Lake... and the best they could manage was a T3 between them.
  • Winners: 2 for 34
  • Place well (Top10): 16 for 34 (9 Top5s, 7 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 28 of 68 (15 Top5s, 13 more Top10s)
Neither Brooks Koepka nor Xander Schauffele could seem to find a way to get the job done either. No, it was Rory McIlroy who came on to win the TOUR Championship by four strokes. FOUR STROKES, people! His four-under 66 matched the low round of the day and, despite all the low scores we saw earlier in the week, that was all it took to crush the field.

I don't care what anybody says, clearly the money does mean something to these guys!

And now Rory becomes only the second player -- other than the Big Cat -- to win the FedExCup twice. And I think they said a stack of 15 million dollar bills would be around 5000 feet tall -- nearly a mile high. Now THAT'S a big stack of cash! Probably too heavy to carry around though.

Fortunately for Rory, the paper a Limerick Summary is printed on won't be nearly so heavy. This is his third of the year, you know. Wouldn't want to injure his back...
Both Thomas and Cantlay fell back
From their starts at the front of the pack.
So then Rory said, “Hey!
Since you’re giving it away,
I’ll be glad to take home the big stack.”
The photo came from the tournament page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Brian Fitzgerald on Reducing Your Slice (Video)

Brian Fitzgerald from the PGA of Australia has an interesting video on how to get control of a slice. If you struggle with a slice, this video is for you!



I'm sure a lot of you will be uncomfortable with the idea of using your hands to control where the clubface is pointed, and especially using a neutral grip to do it. You've heard repeatedly that the best golfers use strong grips and use the movement of their bodies to control the clubface.

But are you a pro? Do you fight a big hook like so many of them do? As Brain points out, if you use your body to control the club like the pros do, you'll usually create a slice. That's because they are TRYING to create a slice!

If you want to hit the ball to a spot you're aiming at, you have to be aware of where the clubface is pointed at impact. (You've read this on my blog before. It's a basic truth of the golf swing.) And to control the clubface you must use your hands because your hands are holding the club.

You're afraid you're going to FLIP your hands and hit a big hook, I know. That's what most instructors warn you about. But again... are you fighting a hook already? Then don't worry about it until it's a problem.

Brian's drill is actually a good way to learn how proper hand action teaches you to control where the clubface is pointed. If you go to the range, aim to the right side of the range (the left side if you're a leftie) and try to make the ball draw just by using your hands, it will teach you to feel where the clubface is pointed. It's going to take some practice, of course, but once you learn how to make the ball move, you'll learn how to limit how much it moves.

If you've read my blog for a long time, you'll recognize his advice to feel as if you're throwing a Frisbee® with your lead hand. (Here's a link to one of them.)

Look, even if you're uncomfortable with the idea, if you're fighting a slice then try Brian's drill. Learning how it feels when the clubface is pointed where you want it to point is a breakthrough skill for most golfers. Even the pros.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Justin Parsons on "The Haromon Code" (Video)

Justin Parsons, who is the Director of Instruction at the Butch Harmon School of Golf, did this short video about the three things that Butch tends to focus on when he works with players.



Those three keys are:
  • Lower body stability: You don't want to move off the ball during your swing.
  • A short and wide arm swing: It's easier to get a wide arc to your swing if you keep the swing short.
  • Staying square through impact: You don't want to flip the clubface when you hit the ball.
He also includes drills for each of these. I found the drill for lower body stability to be an interesting twist on the one-legged swing drill.

It's interesting that Justin emphasizes Butch's belief that not all swings should be the same. In my opinion, the short backswing is a relatively recent invention that -- for most players, anyway -- results in swinging too hard and sometimes creating back problems. I think that you should make the longest backswing you can make comfortably. The key word is comfortably. But if you aren't flexible enough to make a long backswing, then you shouldn't because you can hurt your back that way as well.

And those of you who are longtime readers know that one of my primary swing basics is that your swing should NOT hurt!

At any rate, this is the first video I've seen that clearly explains Butch's most basic beliefs about the swing. And since those beliefs have made him the successful teacher they have, they are worth knowing!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Nick Clearwater on Short Game Trajectory (Video)

GOLFTEC's Nick Clearwater has a tip on how to hit high pitches and low chips. I'm going to add a tip to his suggestions.



Notice that Nick creates high or low trajectories with ball position and a combination of elbow and wrist bend.
  • To hit a high pitch, move the ball slightly forward and, at impact, keep your trailing elbow bent and let your wrist bend forward (bow your wrist).
  • To hit a low chip, move the ball slightly backward and, at impact, keep your trailing elbow straight and don't let your wrist bend forward (cup your wrist).
If that seems a bit complicated, think about where the clubhead finishes. In both shots, your hands finish at about waist high. But...
  • when you hit a high pitch, the clubhead finishes up near your shoulders.
  • when you hit a low chip, the clubhead finishes down near your knees.
In each case, the clubface has not turned behind you.
  • With the high pitch, the clubface points up toward the sky.
  • With the low chip, the clubface points toward the target.
Use the high pitch when you don't have much green to work with, and use the low chip when you have plenty of room to run the ball up to the hole.

It's not very hard to visualize these shots. And once you can do that, you'll find that both shots are fairly easy to execute.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Second Leg of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals

The analysts have determined that players need 200 Korn Ferry Tour Points in order to guarantee a place in the Finals 25.

PGA Tour wannabee Viktor Hovland

Last week at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, Scottie Scheffler's win locked up a PGA Tour card and four other players made at least 200 points. Robert Streb, who was last week's defending champion, was one of those players who will be heading back to the Big Stage.

This week at the Albertsons Boise Open -- one of the four original events from the once-named Ben Hogan Tour -- more players will try to (at least) pass that mark.

Among the players who I'm watching this week are:
  • Anirban Lahiri (T6, 165 points). The Indian player was a star at the Presidents Cup a couple of years back
  • Viktor Hovland (T10, 130 points). I think everybody is watching him. After playing so well in the majors as an amateur this year, many thought he might win as quickly as Matt Wolff and Collin Morikawa.
  • Billy Hurley III (21, 65 points). The US Naval Academy grad has won on the Big Tour before and is out to get his card back.
There are others, of course, but these three particularly caught my eye.

The fact is, Top10 finishes this week will likely gain cards for all three. No pressure, right?

GC's coverage of this second Finals event starts Thursday at 6pm ET. Perhaps it's not flamboyant as the TOUR Championship, but the drama is easily more palpable. Gotta watch!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Brooke Tries for Two

The LPGA returns to action this week at the CP Women's Open, aka the Women's Canadian Open.

Defending champion Brooke Henderson

Last year Brooke Henderson became only the second Canadian to win this event. (The other was Jocelyne Bourassa way back in 1973, the first year this event was played.) You should also be aware that from 1979 to 2000 this event was a major, the du Maurier Classic, so this event has a sizable amount of history behind it.

Tony Jesselli's preview of the tournament notes that the field is much stronger this year than last year, with 37 of the Rolex Top50 teeing it up.

Also of interest for Americans like me -- this is the last week for the Americans to qualify for the Solheim Cup. Captain Julie Inkster is playing as well but she may be a bit distracted because, at the end of the event, she'll have to make her two Captain's picks to go along with the ten automatic qualifiers. That means that the entire American team will be set by next Monday.

Captain Catriona Matthew fleshed out her team a little over a week ago. She had eight automatic qualifiers and four Captain's picks, to allow for the difficulty of auto qualifiers coming from two different lists.

We get live LPGA golf again this week, only this time it's in the morning. GC's coverage begins Thursday at 9:30am ET. Should be interesting, especially with Solheim Cup pressure potentially affecting the Americans' play.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: TOUR Championship

Well, it's the final event of the 2018 - 2019 season. Twofer Tuesday makes a trip to the TOUR Championship.

2018 champion Tiger Woods

As usual, the TOUR Championship is being held at East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta GA, home of Bobby Jones. The defending champion, Tiger Woods, didn't make it back this year so we'll have a new champion for sure.

In addition, there will be no whiteboards with columns, columns and more columns of FedExCup point totals constantly shifting as we try to figure out who's actually leading the event. This year, the FedExCup and the TOUR Championship will have a single winner who receives $15mil.

Not bad work if you can get it!

It seems that no matter what I have tried recently, my Twofer Tuesday pics have been less than stellar performers. Players who have been on streaks suddenly fall apart once I pick them, while players who may have shown some form over the season but have not won suddenly find themselves picking up trophies.

But no matter what method of choosing I have considered for this week's picks, it has all come down to one thing for me -- namely, the players begin the event with a certain number of strokes already on their scorecards. Given the inconsistency shown by most of the best players over the last few months, I can't help but think that the new handicapping system in this year's event will turn out to be very important.
  • For my Top10er I'm going with Patrick Cantlay. Patrick has played very well all season and chalked up a big win at Jack's Place. Last week he made a very solid run at eventual winner Justin Thomas, but came up short because he started too far back the last day. He'll only be starting two strokes back this week and I think that, given his reasonably consistent form this year, that won't present a major problem.
  • And for my winner it will probably come as no surprise that I'm taking Justin Thomas.  I picked Justin earlier this season because of his performance as he came back from wrist injury, but he wasn't completely back at that point. His win at the BMW this past week shows me that his physical recovery is complete, and it's just a matter of how well his mental game has returned. I'm betting that he gained a lot of confidence with the win and may be riding that wave of confidence this week.
I confess that I debated over which of these two players I should choose as my winner. However, I found myself with little doubt that both of these players are the best picks to win. That's especially true after Brooks said he hasn't felt comfortable over the ball for a few weeks now… and his play has shown that. So let's see if these two can step out of his shadow and take home the big one.

GC's coverage of the TOUR Championship begins Thursday at 1pm ET and PGA TOUR LIVE streaming begins at 10:30am ET. Let's see if my pics can finally get the job done when there's $15mil on the line!

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 BMW Championship

Winner: Justin Thomas

Around the wider world of golf: Thomas Pieters broke his winless streak with a victory at the D+D Real Czech Masters on the ET; in only his second Champions Tour start, Doug Barron won the Dick's Sporting Goods Open; Derek Barron (no relation) won the Players Cup on the Mackenzie Tour; Ssu-Chia Cheng won the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship on the Symetra Tour; Andrew Dodt won the Sarawak Championship on the Asian Tour; and Andy Ogletree won the US Amateur Championship.

Justin Thomas with both BMW trophies

It appears that the pressure of the Playoffs is nothing compared to being a Twofer Tuesday pick! This week I had Webb Simpson (T24) to win and Rory McIlroy (T19) to Top10. I thought the pros knew how to deal with pressure?!
  • Winners: 2 for 33
  • Place well (Top10): 16 for 33 (9 Top5s, 7 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 27 of 66 (14 Top5s, 13 more Top10s)
Pressure didn't seem to bother Justin Thomas, however. A six-shot lead tends to make anybody second-guess themselves -- you don't want to be the guy who lost with a big lead, and it had already happened to JT once -- but a slow front nine was wiped away with fast back nine.

Second place finisher Patrick Cantlay started fast -- and also finished fast -- but he was just a bit too far back to start the day. JT managed to pull out a three-stroke win and get his first victory of 2019.

Cantlay did make him think about it, though.

Both guys showed Brooks a thing or two as well, bumping him out of first place in the FedExCup points list all the way down to third. Cantlay now finds himself in second place while JT sits, as we say here in the South, "in the catbird seat."

But JT will have plenty of time to think about that when he gets to East Lake. For now, I'm sure the only thing that matters is getting another Limerick Summary for his growing collection.
Once JT’s course record was done,
The vict’ry was pretty much won.
He shot to the top
Of the points list; next stop?
Down to East Lake, where he’ll be The One.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Butch Harmon on NOT Using a Wedge (Video)

This is so simple but very few players ever listen. Let Butch explain it...



The concept is simple: A less-than-full swing is easier to control than a full swing. Perhaps the pros like to hit wedges as hard as they can, but that doesn't mean YOU should. Despite hours of practice, the pros still mis-hit those full shot very often.

But they don't mis-hit the short shots like chips and pitches nearly as often, do they? That's what Butch wants you to understand.

The technique is equally simple. Just choose a 9-iron instead of a wedge, position the ball slightly ahead of the center of your stance and make a three-quarter swing with a cut-off finish. That keeps the ball flight down and makes it easier to get the ball on line to the target.

And while Butch says to use a 9-iron for this shot, the concept works for longer shots as well. There are shots where you currently try to hit a 7- or 8-iron that might give better results using this technique with a 5- or 6-iron. When distance isn't a problem, it's usually best to choose accuracy over power.

You might be surprised at how many strokes this tip can save you during a round. After all, Butch knows what he's talking about.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Tom Stickney on the Dreaded Double-Cross

Golf Tips Magazine posted an article about a month ago on how to avoid a double-cross off the tee. This is an article worth reading.

Setup for a normal draw

While most instructors describe a double-cross as aiming to play a fade but hitting a pull-hook instead, Stickney says the double-cross can also be a draw that turns into a push-slice.

As a result, this is an article that can help you with all kinds of unintentional tee shots that don't go where you intended.

However, it also means I can't really summarize it because there's too much information. But I can tell you what Stickney says are the main causes of both shots:
  • The fade that hooks is usually caused when you stay too long on your trailing foot and close the clubface.
  • The draw that slices is usually caused when you stand up during the shot and open the clubface.
He then gives you drills to help correct both problems.

It seems to me that the info in this article might help anybody struggling to create a specific shot shape off the tee. Changing your mechanics won't necessarily help correct the problem unless you understand why you have the problem in the first place. Stickney's advice just might give you the insight you need to get the results that you want.

Friday, August 16, 2019

David Leadbetter on Your Driver's "Eyes"

This Golf Digest article from David Leadbetter talks about something I've mentioned on this blog before, but his take is a bit different. He wants you to pretend your driver has eyes.

Keeping the driver face on target

Here's part of what he says:
If a round of golf for you is constant guesswork of where the ball might end up, you can improve your accuracy if you fix the cause and control the clubface better through impact. It starts by making a better takeaway. No more whipping the club inside. Instead, pretend the clubface has vision, and its job is to swing back while keeping its eyes on the ball. In the photos above, my club starts squarely behind the ball and does not rotate open in the takeaway. Copy this move. I want you to keep it staring at the ball as long as you can when you take it back. [my emphasis]
Now doing this may cause you to make some awkward moves during your swing -- you may twist your forearms into an extreme closed position if you get over-zealous -- so do this as a drill before you take it to the course.

Still, the concept is sound. If you want to be more accurate with your drives -- with all your shots, actually -- you need to be aware of where your clubface is "looking" at impact. A better takeaway always helps, and you know I'm a big proponent of the one-piece takeaway. But however you do it, you need to become aware of where the club is facing when you actually contact the ball.

If you know the clubface is "looking" at your target at impact, you can make the ball go where you want it to go regardless of what your swing looks like. So that should be a major focus of your practice.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Katie Rule's Chipping Tips (Video)

A month or so back I posted Katie's power tips. Today she looks at the other extreme of the game -- her tips on better chipping. While she says she's talking specifically to women, her tips are good for any player.



Her first tip is something many players never think about.
  • Choose where you want the ball to land first.
Unless you do this first, you don't have a good frame of reference for choosing the best club for the shot. Pick your landing spot, give the area from there to the hole a quick study, and choose your club with that knowledge.

Her second tip is all about setup.
  • Narrow your stance so you have only a clubhead's length between your feet, and place the ball off the big toe of your trailing foot.
This is narrower than many players ever consider, but this combination of narrow stance and ball position guarantees that you'll hit the ball first with a downward stroke. That's important from the rough.

And her final tip is fairly natural for most players.
  • Grip down on the club, almost to the shaft.
A shorter shaft is easier to control, especially from the rough.

Simple tips, but we all need to remind ourselves of the basics from time to time if we want to keep our games sharp.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Korn Ferry Finals Start

I couldn't make up my mind. The D+D Real Czech Masters is going on in Europe this week, and the DICK'S Sporting Goods Open will keep the Champions Tour busy. But the Korn Ferry Tour Finals start this week, with players fighting for their PGA Tour cards. Guess which won out?

Defending champion Robert Streb

The Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship in Columbus OH is the first of three events in the Korn Ferry Finals. Robert Streb is the defending champion -- and unfortunately for him, he WILL be trying to defend, as he is in the field this week.

Rather than just copy-and-pasting the information, I'm going to link you to the pgatour.com pages that give you all the details on how the Korn Ferry Finals work. I'll just remind you here that 50 PGA Tour cards will be given out -- 25 last week at the WinCo Foods Portland Open, and an additional 25 through these finals.. All 50 compete in the Finals to determine their exact order of priority.
GC will of course be carrying all three Finals events. The first round of the Nationwide starts Thursday at 11:30am ET. (No PGA TOUR LIVE streaming for this event.)

The Korn Ferry Finals are interesting for the struggle, but it's a different struggle than the one going on in the FedExCup Playoffs. It does help put things in perspective though, to have them both going on at the same time when the stakes are so much different.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: BMW Championship

It's the second of three FedExCup events. It's everybody's last chance to make the TOUR Championship. It's the BMW Championship... and it's Twofer Tuesday.

Defending champion Keegan Bradley

Last year's champion Keegan Bradley defends at Medinah, the scene of the "Miracle at Medinah" in the 2012 Ryder Cup. Ironically enough, there have been two PGA Championshps played at Medinah (1999 and 2006)... and both were won by Tiger Woods.

So the only player in the field to win a major at Medinah #3 is Tiger... and he's not really on anybody's favorites list. But I've taken a look at the list of 24 pros at the 2012 Ryder Cup, and I think some of them have possibilities.

Of course, I can only pick two. Here they are.
  • My Top10er, once again, is Rory McIlroy. I think Rory has something to prove in these Playoffs because, despite how well he's played this year -- perhaps his most consistent year ever -- he's still being treated as something of an also-ran. I look for him to put that chip on his shoulder this week and make yet another run at a title. Since Medinah #3 can play over 7600 yards, his driving prowess should serve him well. In many situations, I'd consider him a sure thing.
  • Nevertheless, I've found sure things to be less than dependable this season... so my winner is Webb Simpson. Webb has also played extremely well this season, with three runner-up finishes in his last six events. While the extreme length of Medinah works against Webb, he should have good memories from 2012, winning two out of three points -- and those were fourball matches, so he can play this course well enough.
GC's coverage begins Thursday at 3pm ET while PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at 10am ET. (Not as early as usual but there's only 70 players in the field this week.) With the cut to 30 coming on Sunday, it will be interesting to see how many players from the "lower 40" manage to make the leap.

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Northern Trust

Winner: Patrick Reed

Around the wider world of golf: Mi Jung Hur set a tournament record while winning the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open on the LPGA/LET; Bo Hoag sealed his PGA Tour card with a win at the WinCo Foods Portland Open on the Korn Ferry Tour; Hayden Buckley won the ATB Financial Classic on the Mackenzie Tour; and Robynn Ree won her second straight Symetra Tour event at the PHC Classic.

Patrick Reed with the Northern Trust trophy

So what's up with Brooks? When my Twofer Tuesday picks say he'll Top10, he wins... but if I pick him to win, he doesn't even Top10! This week I had Brooks Koepka (T30) to win and Rory McIlroy (T6) to Top10. At least Rory knows what to do.
  • Winners: 2 for 32
  • Place well (Top10): 16 for 32 (9 Top5s, 7 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 27 of 64 (14 Top5s, 13 more Top10s)
Do any of you keep up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe? If you do, you know that Iron Man was the heart and soul of that franchise, that the first Avengers movie centered around the Battle of New York and that, while Captain America fought valiantly, ultimately it was Iron Man who turned the tide and sealed the victory there.

But in the Battle of New Jersey on Sunday, golf's Iron Man (Brooks Koepka) came up short in the heroics department. Instead, Captain America landed the winning blow.

Patrick Reed has struggled for most of the last 16 months since his last victory. Not only has his game suffered, but he has also dealt with fallout from, shall we say, unwise Ryder Cup comments, among other things. However, while Captain America may have been frustrated, no one can ever say he lacked confidence. His victory in Jersey may have surprised the field but it didn't surprise him.

Now he's #2 in FedExCup points, guaranteed a trip to East Lake and trailing only the Iron Man himself. Clearly the superheroes have moved to the front of the pack. (I'm guessing Rory could be Green Lantern since the Kyle Rayner incarnation was half-Irish.) Let's just say that the Playoffs have gotten a lot more interesting!

At any rate, while I know it's not as useful as a Vibranium shield, Captain America does get a shiny new Limerick Summary that he can wave in Iron Man's face -- er, mask. That may be even more valuable to Patrick!
When Iron Man could not get it done,
Golf’s Captain America won!
Reed’s game showed up big time
When he hit the back nine;
In Jersey, he gave ground to no one.
The photo came from the homepage at pgatour.com.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Basic Hybrid Address Position

Today's tip is short and simple. This brief Golf Magazine post gives you the basic setup keys for swinging a hybrid.

Standard hybrid setup

The post has four keys.
  • Ball position: Place the toe of your hybrid against your left heel with the clubface facing your body, then place the ball opposite the hosel. That keeps you from putting the ball too far back in your stance.
  • Stance width: Stand with your feet under your armpits. That keeps you from making your stance too wide.
  • Hand position: Lean the shaft slightly toward the target. That gets your hands slightly ahead of the clubface so you get a nice downward strike, making the ball fly high and stop fast on the green.
  • Swing easy: Pretend you're swinging a wedge. That keeps you from swinging too hard.
Not very complicated at all, but it should help you get the most out of your hybrids on normal approach shots.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Brian Jacobs's Square Face Drill (Video)

This drill/game from GCA coach Brian Jacobs is good for more than improving your ability to hit solid predictable shots.



This drill -- or game, if you so desire -- will certainly help you learn to control the face better. If you gain the ability to hit the ball anywhere on the clubface that you desire, it will certainly improve your ability to control shot shapes and hit more fairways as well.

But this drill teaches you more than that. Waaaay more...

If you practice hitting the ball off the toe, off the heel and square in the center of the face, you will learn what each of those impacts feel like. And if you can recognize when you've hit the ball somewhere other than the center of the face, you'll be able to troubleshoot your swing during a round and make corrections right there on the course! This is a major skill worth having in your repertoire.

And since it's a drill you can play as a game, practice won't be so boring either. What more could you ask from a drill?

Friday, August 9, 2019

Travis Fulton on Dustin Johnson's Drives (Video)

This video is only seven months old so it's pretty recent. Looks like DJ does something interesting when he hits his drives.



Instructor Travis Fulton talks at length about DJ's bowed wrist, but I'm not focusing on that. Travis says that the bowed wrist is a "superior position," but that's not necessarily true. Depending on how you address the ball, a flat or even a cupped wrist may work better for you. You want the position that allows you to return the clubface to the ball in the same way you addressed it.

So let's move on to the interesting part.

Travis starts by talking about how DJ straightens his trailing knee on the way back. I've written about that in the past, simply because many players -- Arnold Palmer being a prime example -- used that move to create clubhead speed. But that's just part of the move; you need what DJ does on the way down as well to get the full benefit.

DJ lets that trailing knee rebend to the same position it was at address... but he doesn't slide his hips forward toward the target. Instead, he squats down slightly -- a move popularized by the great Sam Snead, so much so that it is often called the "Snead Squat."

First thing to notice: He squats straight down; he doesn't push forward toward the target.

But it doesn't stop there. DJ is also spreading his knees slightly so they are farther apart, as if he had dropped from a small height and absorbed the landing force with his knees. Again, like the squat, this isn't a big move but it clearly spreads his knees a bit farther apart. From there he can push up as he finishes his turn.

I'm making a big deal of this because this springlike movement keeps him centered over the ball during impact. He will move forward slightly as he straightens up during impact and his hips turn toward the target, but he won't move forward any great amount. As a result, he makes solid contact with the ball more consistently, resulting in longer straighter drives.

This is something you'll need to practice -- not because it's hard to do but because the temptation will be to make the move too big. You'll squat too much and spread your knees too far; if you do, you'll hit the ball fat. Rather, this is a relaxed movement that should happen more or less automatically if you don't tense up. You just need to make this a normal part of your swing so you don't overemphasize it.

Once you learn how it feels, you'll start to do it without much conscious thought. And when you do that... well, you probably won't hit it as far as DJ but you'll be longer and straighter than you are now.

That ought to help reduce your score... and impress your foursome.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Some Thoughts on Tiger's Form

We all know that Tiger hasn't figured it out yet... but will he? Can he? That's what I want to look at today, because I think a lot of important things have been overlooked by the analysts.

Tiger at the Northern Trust

First, let's start with the obvious: The 2019 schedule change has affected everybody. When Brooks Koepka sat in front of the media after the US Open and simply said he was fried, that statement should have been given more attention than it got.

Brooks is arguably the fittest player on Tour and he has done his scheduling pretty much the way everybody thinks Tiger should have done it. And we know that Brooks has a team of advisors helping him figure out the best playing schedule to help him win the most tournaments. If that schedule left Brooks overly tired, it certainly wouldn't have worked for Tiger.

Second, we have to realize that all stress wears a body down. I've mentioned this on my blog before but many of you -- especially newer readers -- may not have seen it.

Health researchers have been studying the effects of stress on the human body for many decades. If I remember correctly, the original research began in the alpine countries of Europe, to try and help Olympic crosscountry skiers improve. It's a common realm of study everywhere now.

What the researchers found is that good stress has exactly the same effect on the human body that bad stress does. (I'm not saying that they have the same mental and emotional effects, merely that they have the same physical effects.) This led to such fitness approaches as periodization, a common training technique (especially among bodybuilders) where workouts are done in cycles.

In a typical training regimen, the athlete begins a slow workout routine that builds in intensity -- frequently over a three-month stretch -- and then the athlete stops working out for a prescribed period of time so the body has time to recover and rebuild muscle. Unless muscles are given the time to completely rebuild, their potential growth is severely limited.

That also means that, if the body isn't given sufficient time to recover, no matter how well every other fundamental has been followed, the body will break down. That's why people so often get sick after a long stressful period -- when they finally get a chance to relax, their bodies automatically begin a recovery cycle which drains energy needed for normal activity. A side effect is a loss of mental drive -- in other words, you just want to rest.

I suspect that's why Tiger got sick after he won the Masters. His fused back has eliminated the constant pain he felt before (let's not underestimate that) but it makes everything a bit harder than it was before.  He had been pushing himself for at least 15-18 months by the Masters, and his body simply couldn't take anymore. Add that to the newly compressed Tour schedule and it's no wonder he hasn't seemed to be as healthy as we'd like.

And when you add in the normal letdown after a huge accomplishment -- a letdown that generally means you need time to both celebrate what you did and reevaluate what your new goals should be -- Tiger's relatively poor performance and apparent lack of energy since the Masters make perfectly good sense.

In other words, I don't think his current lack of form is a cause for worry. I think this is an expected result of his shockingly successful comeback over the last two years, and all he needs is an extended time of rest. I don't mean that he doesn't do any work on his game during that time. Rather, he just needs to noticeably reduce his workload for a while and allow his body to rebuild and regain its strength.

If I'm correct, that less intense time will result in a complete recovery from which his body will be ready to increase its strength and endurance. Don't forget -- the years during which Tiger's back kept him from his normal golf routines resulted in him losing a large part of the base fitness he built up over the years. He can regain most of that, but it's going to take longer than he wants -- probably another year or two to get where he needs to be.

In the meantime, the rest he has taken since THE OPEN may have given him enough recovery time to play two or three decent weeks during the FedExCup Playoffs. The key word here is may, because we don't know how much that run to the Masters took out of him.

But I'm optomistic about his future. If he's willing to put up with less-than-stellar performances during a small handful of events over the rest of the year, I see no reason he couldn't hit 2020 armed with a useful knowledge of how to build his schedule and a decent chance at another major -- or even two -- next year.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Last Chance to Watch Links Golf for a While

The LPGA and LET team up once again this week to present the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open. This year it's played at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick, Scotland -- the same as the men's Scottish Open -- so we'll get some "ladies' links" after all.

Defending champions Ariya Jutanugarn

Tony Jesselli has posted one of his customary excellent previews at his site, so I'm linking you to it here. I'll just note that Ariya Jutanugarn is the defending champion, albeit at a different course, and Tony is reporting that the field isn't as strong this week as it was last year. I imagine that's a response to playing two majors in two consecutive weeks. With a one week break coming after the Scottish Open anyway, this is an easy way to get two weeks off.

The most notable player to skip this week -- in my opinion anyway -- is Jin Young Ko. Jin is the hot player on Tour right now, while Ariya has cooled off after last year's torrid run. Between Jin's absence and Ariya's lull, this could be an opportune time for some of the lower-ranked players to steal a bigtime win.

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 10:30am ET, which I'm guessing will be late round live coverage.

As I said earlier, this is likely our last chance to see links golf until the Alfred Dunhill event in September, so don't miss it!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Northern Trust

The FedExCup Playoffs are finally here! First stop, the Northern Trust (formerly known as The Barclays and the Western Open).

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau

The defending champion is Bryson DeChambeau but I think it's important to note that he won at Ridgewood Country Club, not Liberty National Golf Course. While both are in New Jersey, the winning scores at Ridgewood have consistently been lower -- noticeably so -- than at Liberty, which has only hosted the event twice.

Just for the record, the defending champ for this event at Liberty is Adam Scott (2013).

Liberty National is expected to play as a par-71 measuring 7370 yards. Its slope rating is 155 vs the 130 I found on a PGA Tour scorecard for Ridgewood. Even if you don't understand slope ratings (the higher the slope, the tougher the course), you can see that Liberty is much tougher.

I think that's important here, and so it affects my picks.
  • My Top10er is Rory McIlroy. If I remember correctly, Liberty is very close to New York Harbor and doesn't have much in the way of windbreaks like trees -- giving it the appearance of a links course although it doesn't play like one -- so driving is going to be extremely important. Rory's game has been in great form all year, so his driver should be an important weapon for him this week. I like him to make a strong run for the title.
  • And my winner is... who else? Brooks Koepka. A long tough course where scores tend to be around -10 and driving is more important than usual? Sure sounds like a Koepka dream to me! And after a couple of weeks off (following his WGC win, of course) I think he'll try to eliminate all other contenders from the POY race.
GC's coverage starts Thursday at 2pm ET while PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at 7:15am ET. Let's see if I can turn in some good numbers of my own in the Playoffs!

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Wyndham Championship

Winner: J.T. Poston

Around the wider world of golf: JLPGA rookie Hinako Shibuno stunned the LPGA with her win at the AIG Women's British Open (and Jin Young Ko won the Annika Major Award); Zac Blair won the Ellie Mae Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour; Taylor Pendrith won the 1932byBateman Open on the Mackenzie Tour; Jeong-Woo Ham won the TI Challenge in Tojonomori on the Japan Golf Tour; and NHL referee Garrett Rank won the Western Amateur.

J.T. Poston hoists the Wyndham trophy

Here at the end of the season my Twofer Tuesday picks are improving. I picked Collin Morikawa (T31) to win and Billy Horschel (T6) to Top10. I missed on Collin but Viktor Hovland finished 4th, proving at least I was right in thinking one of the new guys would play well.
  • Winners: 2 for 31
  • Place well (Top10): 15 for 31 (9 Top5s, 6 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 26 of 62 (14 Top5s, 12 more Top10s)
But the best player -- by a long shot -- was J.T. Poston. All the North Carolina boy did was go record-crazy by shooting an 8-under 62 on Sunday, tying Stenson's two-year-old tournament record of 22-under 258, and becoming the first player since Lee Trevino in 1974 to win a 72-hole stroke-play event on the Tour without a single bogey or worse all week. It added up to his first PGA Tour win.

Players generally tend to be optomists, otherwise they don't last long under the grind. But even he didn't see all that coming.

I really don't have anything to add to this Limerick Summary. It was a week for crazy good play -- just look at what Hinako Shibuno did at the Women's Open (and she needed every bit of it) -- and Poston's amazing performance was just more of the same. I'll just add this Limerick Summary to his pile of prizes and congratulate my home boy for getting it done.
A magical week for J.T.!
For four rounds he went bogey-free
On his way to the win—
It’s the best that he’s been—
And he hopes he’s as good the next three.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Nancy Lopez on Trying to Win

I'm taking this quote from a longer section in Nancy's book The Education of a Woman Golfer. But it's a great piece of strategy and I just couldn't bear to pass it up.

Nancy LopezShe's talking about winning and losing, and about that bit of verse that says: "For when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name/He marks, not that you won or lost, but how you played the game."
"...the sound way to play such tournaments [stroke play] is not with the idea of beating or losing to someone, as in a match play, but essentially just to do the very best one can over the course. In other words, unless you're down to the final holes in a head-to-head scoring duel with someone, or engaged in a sudden death playoff, your real aim is to do as well against Old Man Par as you can. If you can beat him, you'll do okay, and if somebody else beats him even worse than you do, no one should feel very sorry for you, including yourself."
It's very common to hear analysts insist that players should always know exactly where they stand in a tournament, that they should watch the leaderboards and plan their play accordingly. And yet, more and more, we hear the players who are winning say that they never looked at the leaderboards during their round -- they just tried to go as low as they could and take care of their own business.

Nancy Lopez likes that mindset. Focus on beating Old Man Par because that's all you can do. At the end of a tournament, if it comes down to it, that's when you worry about the rest of the field and not before.

I know that some players want to know where they are at all times. (Brooks Koepka comes to mind, of course, although it doesn't seem to help him much outside the majors.) But the fact is this: You have absolutely no control over what other players do. All you can control is what YOU do. For the majority of players, knowing where they are actually seems to make them tighten up and make more mistakes.

And bear in mind that we're talking about the pros here, the players who should be most able to deal with that knowledge! If they have trouble with it, why should a weekend player think about what others are doing? Or, to be honest, about what Old Man Par is doing?

The best way to get around the course in fewer strokes is to forget what your opponent -- be that a person or just Old Man Par -- is doing and simply try to play the best you can. One bad hole won't ruin 17 good ones, and one great hole won't overcome 17 bad ones.

Next time you play, why not try ignoring your score and just try to do the best you can on each hole? Just total them all up at the end and see what your score is. You might be surprised at the result.