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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Shane Lowry on the Punch Shot (Video)

Okay, it's a younger Lowry -- about six years ago -- but he had already won the Irish Open as an amateur. And since he's been playing this shot to perfection (so far) this week, we should pay attention!



Very simple keys -- exactly what you would expect from a feel player like Shane.
  • Move the ball just slightly back in your stance. (There's a good still of his ball position with a 5-iron at the 0:47 second mark.)
  • Take one more club than you think you need because you don't want to hit the ball as hard as normal. That would cause the ball to fly too high in the wind.
  • Aim slightly left for a right-hander. (Aim slightly right for a left-hander.) Moving the ball back causes it to start out a bit to the side.
  • Then you just swing a bit easier, which should result in a smoother swing into the wind.
And that's how you leave your competition in the dust. He's convinced me!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Didn't I Mention This Earlier in the Week?

GC caught US Solheim Cup Captain Juli Inkster and vice-captain Pat Hurst following the US players at the Dow Great Lakes Bay International's third round on Friday.

They seemed particularly interested in Morgan Pressel and Paul Creamer.

Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer

Granted, they're five strokes behind leaders Jasmine Suwannapura and Cydney Clanton. (Have I mentioned before that Cydney is from North Carolina? Probably.) But EVERYBODY is at least five strokes back of the leaders, and Morgan and Paula are in that group.

Juli has only two Captain's picks available to her this year, and she's got a number of rookies on the team but few vets. She's gonna need some experienced players to help lead the team, but she's got too many players to choose from.

That could all change if Team Pink manages to win this event.

It's something to watch out for today.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Even Golf Pros Get the Blues

Just a reminder that golf is no respecter of persons, and a link to a Golf Tips Magazine article about the rough Thursday had by several golfers, including Rory McIlroy.

Rory McIlroy struggling at THE OPEN on Thursday

Portrush wasted no time smacking Rory around, handing him a quad on the very first hole of the day. And then a double on 16 and -- for good measure -- a triple to finish the day on 18. Perhaps this was payback for that 61 he posted as a teenager; maybe it was just the tao of golf.

And maybe it's just the result of being human. I know that feeling very well.

All I know for sure is that Tiger finished the day T144, Rory T150, and David Duval brought up the rear of the field at 156. All three got mentioned in this article. I can't help but think that it's a reflection on the new schedule, showing how much harder it is to make such a big adjustment in a single year than anyone expected.

But at the very least it's a reminder to us all that nobody has the inside track on this game so we shouldn't let bad scores define our view of ourselves.

Because even the best golf pros have days like this.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

A Surprise LPGA Storyline

The LPGA's new Dow Great Lakes Bay International team event started on Wednesday... and it gave us a surprise storyline.

And no, it wasn't the Korda team. We expected them to play well.

Nelly and Jessica Korda

Nor was it the Canadian Team of Brooke Henderson and Alena Sharp. (Although I was surprised that I couldn't find a team picture of them, despite them leading the event!)

No, the surprise is the second-place team, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel, a shot back after the first round of alternate shot. (Today they'll be playing best ball, then alternate shot again Friday and they'll finish with best-ball Saturday.) As Creamer told LPGA.com:
"We're best of friends, we've played a lot of team events together, so it's nothing new for us to be able to come out here. We haven't played alternate shot for a little while, and when we have played it in the past, it's always match play and you never have to finish. Out here you actually have to shoot a score, which is a little bit different."
Why do I say this is such a surprise?

Because this is a Solheim Cup year, and neither player is on the points list. I'm not sure they're even in the same city as the points list! But if they continue to play like this -- they're two strokes up on the Kordas, expected to be our strongest team this year -- Juli Inkster may soon find herself with a difficult decision.

Both players have been stalwarts for the US Team in the past, but neither has played particularly good golf over the last couple of years. If they continue to play well, and especially if they manage to win this event, Juli could find herself evaluating a couple of wild cards she didn't expect to have.

Granted, that would be a good problem for the captain to have. But it's certainly not one she expected... and the Solheim Cup is only a couple of months away.

Don't you just love team events?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Darren Clarke on Strategy for a Drive (Video)

With THE OPEN in Northern Ireland this week, who else would I turn to for driving advice but Darren Clarke?



Darren goes through his normal thought process on how to play a drive, but I'd like to focus on one particular decision he makes for this drive that he says is unusual.

Although he would normally hit a fade on this hole -- because the fairway slopes from right to left and he really needs to hit the fairway -- he chooses instead to play his normal draw. Why? Because it's a bit cold and the fairway is soft so the ball won't roll as much and he won't reach the "penalty area" that might cause problems under other conditions. And since he needs all the distance he can get on this long par-4, he feels it's a safe gamble.

We weekend golfers rarely pay this much attention to course conditions. We may take note of the wind or the length of the hole but that's about it..Learning to pay attention to ALL the conditions of the course is an easy way to knock strokes off the old score.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: THE OPEN

It's finally here -- the last major of the year. Twofer Tuesday hops across the pond in a search for the 2019 Champion Golfer of the Year.

Defending Champion Golfer of the Year Francesco Molinari

The current Champion Golfer of 2018, Francesco Molinari, will have his hands full at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. Not only is the layout unfamiliar to the pros, as no one has played this course under OPEN conditions since 1951, but it will be the fourth longest course in OPEN history. (Don't ask me for the numbers; I heard them and promptly forgot.) And with temps in the 60s F all week, along with the winds that normally play havoc with links players, this should be a wild week.

While Matthew Wolff isn't at THE OPEN -- his win a couple of weeks back didn't get him one of the invites -- most of the big names we'd expect to see will be there. The number of potential storylines is mind-numbing and, given how different links golf is from normal tournament golf, any of those storylines could play out if a player just gets it together for one week.

Into this madness I now go, in hopes of benefiting from the momentum of picking my first Top10er in many weeks.
  • For my Top10er this week I choose Brooks Koepka. I know the guy can't possibly win every major he enters, but he's only been outside the Top2 once in his last six majors. Whether he wins or not, I'm taking him in hopes of nabbing yet another Top10 finisher.
  • But picking my winner is a tough one. As I said earlier, links golf is a different animal from what the pros play each week and all one of them needs is one good week. So I'm stepping a bit outside the box and picking Jon Rahm to get his first major. My logic is agonizingly simple: He won the Irish Open two weeks ago. Links golf, similar weather. Asking for another win so soon is probably crazy, but in similar conditions...
GC and NBC are covering this major. GC's coverage starts Wednesday night/Thursday morning at midnight am ET. That's when Morning Drive will come on for 90 minutes, then the scheduled live coverage begins at 1:30am ET Thursday morning and runs until 4pm ET that afternoon. Golf all night and most of the day! Don't you love it?

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 John Deere Classic

Winner: Dylan Frittelli

Around the wider world of golf: Sei Young Kim won the Marathon Classic on the LPGA; Retief Goosen won the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS on the Champions Tour; Nelson Ledesma won the TPC Colorado Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour; Patty Tavatanakit won the Donald Ross Classic on the Symetra Tour; Paul Barjon won the Osprey Valley Open on the Mackenzie Tour; and Bernd Wiesberger won the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open on the ET.

Dylan Frittelli with Deere trophy

God bless Collin Morikawa! My Tuesday Twofer picks did better this week, thanks to him. I picked Viktor Hovland (T16) to win and Collin Morikawa (T4) to Top10. Hovland didn't win but he was only one shot out of the Top10 and posted yet another low-60s on Sunday, which was what I expected from him. Things are finally looking up!
  • Winners: 2 for 28
  • Place well (Top10): 12 for 28 (7 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 23 of 56 (12 Top5s, 11 more Top10s)
Viktor wasn't the only one who went low on Sunday. Russell Henley rediscovered his game and went low early, posting a 61 that put him just one off the lead at the time. I didn't think it would be good enough... but it very nearly was.

It all came down to Jordan Spieth's college teammate Dylan Frittelli, who, unlike Spieth, has struggled since coming out on Tour. He credited the win to his caddie John Curtis, whom he called the rock of his career, and to sports psychologist Jay Brunza, who he said finally helped him realize that he couldn't control anything by obsessing over it.

That bogey-free 61 came from his now-relaxed mind, making him the only player to beat Henley. By two shots, no less.

The win has certainly upset Frittelli's plans for the year, however. Now he's got to make that long trip to Ireland for THE OPEN next week, reschedule for the FedExCup playoffs, and start planning his Tour schedule for the next couple of seasons. Phew! I just hope he finds time to read his Limerick Summary!
Russell Henley made everyone quake
‘Cause his 61 wasn’t a fake…
But Frittelli was ready.
He kept his mind steady
Despite knowing what was at stake.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Katie Rule's Power Drills (Video)

Golf Monthly instructor Katie Rule says these drills are to help women, but I think they're useful for everybody.



The key to both of these drills -- the first, which resembles the baseball drill, and that unusually-named "yoga drill" -- is that they both focus on squaring the clubface.

I've seen the baseball drill recommended too many times where the swing itself was emphasized with no attention paid to the position of the clubface at "impact." When you swing a baseball bat, it really doesn't matter -- after all, the bat is round so it doesn't have a "face" that needs to be squared up. But a golf club is different. I like that Katie Rule shows the face square at impact.

The yoga drill is something new to me (as a golf drill, anyway) and I like it. In fact, I think you can also do it with your hand coming in low, closer to your actual position when you hit the golf ball, because it teaches you to keep that palm square to the target.

If you're having trouble with a slice, you might want to give these drills a try. If nothing else, they will make you more sensitive to the position of the clubface at impact. That is a skill more players need to develop!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Bobby Jones on the Pendulum Putting Stroke

These thoughts are from the book Bobby Jones on Golf, a compilation of newspaper articles Jones wrote in the early 1930s. In an article called simply The Pendulum Stroke Jones talks about the perpetually controversial teaching about swinging the putter back and then forward in a straight line, with the putterface remaining perfectly square to that line from start to finish. He says:
It has been described and expressed in different ways, but when boiled down, each demonstration resolves itself into a thing absolutely impossible of accomplishment so long as human beings are built as we know them.
While he says that such a stroke is an "ideal conception of accurate striking," he adds:
But so long as human toes stick out in front, and until a golf club turns into a croquet mallet and can be swung backward between the legs, there is little hope that this can be attained.
Clearly Jones didn't think like Dave Pelz!

It does seem to me that something close to a pendulum stroke can be made if you lean over far enough so the putter is swinging on a line out past your toes, but that requires a posture that Jones himself neither used nor recommended. He often told players to stand as tall as possible, and that advice truly would eliminate the possibility of a pendulum stroke.

But whether you believe in a pendulum stroke or not, what he says at the end of the article is something that every golfer struggling on the greens should remember:
The important considerations in putting are that the putter should be faced properly when it strikes the ball, and that, as it strikes, it should be moving in the direction of the hole. If these two requirements are met, it makes no difference in the world whether or not the club was faced properly or moved along the the projected line throughout the backswing.
Let me rephrase that in a more modern way.

As long as the putter is moving toward the hole and the face of the putter is square to that line AT THE MOMENT OF IMPACT, it doesn't matter whether it did those two things for the entire time you were making the stroke.

In other words, what matters is if the club is doing what it should when it hits the ball, not what it does when it isn't hitting the ball!

If you remember that when you putt, I think you'll find putting to be less frustrating. Whether you swing on a straight line or an arc, there is some point during your swing that the putterface is pointed at the same point you're swinging toward. Find that point by trial and error if necessary, then put your ball there each time you putt and stop worrying about your backswing. You'll make a lot more putts that way!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Instructors Reflect on Matthew Wolff's Swing

Golf Tips Magazine just posted thoughts on Matthew Wolff's swing from several of their instructors. I thought you might enjoy reading the article.

Matthew Wolff

Not surprisingly, all of them are quite happy with it, even praising its unconventionality. I don't think that's unexpected. After all, Wolff had a proven college record and has now backed it up with a PGA Tour win. I doubt anybody would take them seriously if they didn't praise him!

The main thing you can take from this is how important all these instructors believe impact is, even more important than the other mechanics of the swing. You can only affect the ball's flight at the instant of impact, brief though it is, and you'll get good results if the impact is good.

But I'll simplify this a bit more: As long as you can control where the clubface is pointed at impact, you can play this game. Impact includes more than this, of course. Impact includes the club path and the angle of attack (whether the club is headed downward, parallel to the ground or upward at the actual moment you hit the ball) as well as where the clubface is pointed. To get maximum distance and accuracy, you need all three of those things to be reasonably good.

However, if you can just make sure that clubface is aimed where you want it aimed when you hit the ball, the ball will go where you want it to go.
  • If the path is off from what you intended, the ball will still curve toward where you had the clubface aimed.
  • If the angle of attack is off from what you intended, the ball may not travel as far nor on the trajectory that you intended. But the ball will still go toward where you had the clubface aimed.
Let me repeat that: As long as you can aim that clubface where you want the ball to go, it will go there.

That's what Matthew Wolff does. And as long as he continues to do that, he'll do well at this game, regardless of how unusual his swing looks.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Rob Strano's Ball Position Drill (Video)

This is a quick drill you can use at any time to check your distance from the ball.



Unlike most of the ball position tips I find, which focus on how far forward or backward in your stance to place the ball, this one keeps you from standing too far from or too close to the ball.

It's simple enough. Take your stance, straighten your trail knee, and lower the shaft until the butt of the club just touches the top of your trailing kneecap. Sounds like nothing special, but if your distance from the ball is incorrect, your chances of hitting a shank or a toed shot are greatly increased.

I know it's nothing complicated but, if you mis-hit the ball fairly often, it could save you a few shots during a round.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Fourth Champions Major of 2019

As we noted a couple of weeks back, the final three majors on the Champions Tour come one after the other. This week they play the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship.

Defending champion Vijay Singh

When Vijay Singh won this event last year, it was the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship. Now it's the Bridgestone and has moved to the famous Firestone Country Club, where Tiger won eight WGC Invitationals.

At least the Champions Tour players don't have to worry about him yet.

The field will play the South Course, which usually plays 7400 yards from the tips at a par of 70. I have trouble believing the Champions will play it at that length though I haven't found anything that tells what yardage it will play. But Firestone has always separated the best from the rest, and we can expect the same this week.

The favorite going in is definitely Steve Stricker, who has won two of the year's three majors thus far. And with Stricker bypassing the John Deere (aka the Steve Stricker Annual Annuity Classic) to play in this event, you know he has to be feeling good about his chances.

GC has exclusive coverage of the event this week. Their broadcasts begin Thursday at 1:30pm ET.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: John Deere Classic

The last events before THE OPEN tee off this week. Twofer Tuesday visits the last stateside event, the John Deere Classic.

Defending champion Michael Kim with John Deere trophy

The defending champion, Michael Kim, beat the field by eight strokes last year to get his first PGA Tour win. TPC Deere Run measures 7268 yards and plays to a par of 71, so it's far from the longest course the pros see each year. And the guys who win are usually not the longest hitters on Tour, as evidenced by the dominance of players like Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson.

However, TPC Deere Run doesn't exactly demand precision either. Kim ripped through the field by putting like a madman. Low scores are pretty common all through the field, every year.

And once you add in the upcoming major, it can be hard to pick a favorite with any certainty. (Of course, that's the same with most tournaments on Tour lately.)

So I find myself in an interesting spot, as I have seen no logical explanation for the seemingly random group of winners we've seen over the last few months. Nevertheless, I'll take another shot at it.
  • My Top10er is Collin Morikawa. I'm not at all sure he'll be able to close the deal this week, even though he played so well last week. How much did the comfort of playing with teammate Matthew Wolff help him on Sunday? I don't know. But the experience of being in the last group had to help him, and I really like the way he came back from that rough start in the final round.
  • And my winner -- I'm trying him once again -- is Viktor Hovland. Viktor's having to go through a learning curve, but I can't get away from the fact that he's been low am in two majors recently. In addition, he's posted T13 in his last two events and -- more importantly, I think -- his lowest rounds of the week have come on Sunday. I'm convinced he'll break through sooner rather than later, and TPC Deere Run is the kind of course that suits his game.
We seem to be in a streak of young winners right now. Perhaps the established pros are struggling to adjust their schedules to the new condensed major season while the youngsters don't know anything other than what they're seeing right now. Again, I think the Deere Classic is a perfect arena for this new run of players to break through.

GC's coverage starts Thursday at 4pm ET. PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at 8am ET.

In terms of THE OPEN, I think the Scottish Open will probably give us a better idea of who the Champion Golfer of the Year will be. But the Deere could help us identify the most likely of the new breed to contend in Ireland.

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 3M Open

Winner: Matthew Wolff

Around the wider world of golf: Jon Rahm won the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on the ET; Shanshan Feng won the Thornbery Creek LPGA Classic; Ryan Brehm won the LECOM Health Challenge on the Korn Ferry Tour; Perrine Delacour won the Prasco Charity Championship on the Symetra Tour; Dawson Armstrong won the Windsor Championship on the Mackenzie Tour; and Ryo Ishikawa won the Japan PGA Championship on the Japan Golf Tour.

Matthew Wolff with 3M Open trophy

My Tuesday Twofer picks continue to struggle. I picked Joaquin Niemann (T23) to win and Doc Redman (MC) to Top10. Ironically, my picks from the week before, Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff, both finished in the Top13. Clearly I need to get my watch and calendars fixed.
  • Winners: 2 for 27
  • Place well (Top10): 11 for 27 (6 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 22 of 54 (11 Top5s, 11 more Top10s)
Matthew Wolff did much better than just a Top13, of course. In only his third start as a pro, he pulled off the biggest coup of them all. And he did it in style, with an eagle on the 18th to cap the eagle Bryson DeChambeau had just posted to take the lead from him! It used to be the more established players who taught the youngsters how to win. Now it appears that there's very little time for anybody to become established, and the youngsters are teaching the class!

To be honest, I think the thing I will carry away most from this win is seeing Matt collapse into his caddie's arms, crying. It's nice to know that, as much as he seems to thrive under the pressure, he isn't full of himself. He was still able to recognize how special his accomplishment was and how fortunate he was to get it done so soon.

That, and him giving his hat to a young fan while signing autographs, then posing with him while the young man's dad snapped a photo. It seems that Rickie Fowler's influence isn't going away any time soon!

So it's a real pleasure to give Matt a headstart on his young Limerick Summary collection. And he may very well amass a large one, given how appropriate his name appears to be.
Once, the shepherds on Tour led the way;
Now the wild things have come out to play.
Though the flock thinks they're tough,
That may not be enough—
There’s a Wolff wearing sheepskin today!
The photo came from the pgatour.com home page.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Martin Hall's Alignment Stick Trick (Video)

This Night School segment from Martin Hall strikes me as an ingenious way to use alignment sticks! But I don't think I've ever seen anyone recommend it before.



This idea of using two sticks to recreate the Jack Nicklaus method of aiming a shot is so simple and yet so sensible. In case you didn't know it, Jack recommended picking a spot on your aimline that was just a few feet -- if that much -- ahead of the ball.

Martin's suggestion of putting two alignment sticks on the same line, with a gap between them where you place the ball, allows you to actually see your forward aimpoint and get used to hitting the ball over it. It's a great way to condition your mind to see that near aimpoint without losing track of the longer aimline you originally chose before you took your address position.

While I generally prefer drills that you can use on both the range and the course -- and you can't use alignment sticks on the course -- this one can create such a strong mental image of Jack's targeting method that I like it.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Alison Curdt on Backward Shots

Technically this Golf Tips Mag article teaches two trouble shots. The first is a punch out from the trees... but it's the second shot I'm interested in.

The second shot is a backward shot, with your back to the target.

Using your wrist for a backward shot

Alison Curdt's explanation is absurdly simple, but the key to the shot really is that simple. This is a shot that is made entirely with one wrist. You can see in the photo sequence above that she isn't swinging her arm; she's just cocking her wrist upward and then using that wrist cock to strike the ball. Compare photo 5 with photo 3. It's pretty obvious, isn't it?

Will you need to practice this shot? Of course. It may take a little practice to gain confidence that wrist action alone is enough to get the necessary distance for this shot. But once you do, the actual execution is dirt simple.

And when your ball is in the junk, simple is exactly what you need.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Kerrod Gray on Playing a Lob Shot (Video)

Here's another tip from Down Under. This time, Kerrod Gray teaches you the address position for playing a lob shot.



I think what drew my attention to this video was how clearly Kerrod has described making sure your ball position is consistently in the same place so you can use the bounce of the club to get that nice high lob shot.
  • Use the the length of the head of your lob wedge to make sure your heels are the same distance apart each time.
  • Place the ball opposite the instep of your lead foot.
  • Shift your weight forward in your stance so the middle of your chest is over the ball. (He says your shirt buttons, but some golf shirts don't have buttons!)
  • Point the butt of the shaft at your belly button. (That's where your belt buckle will be if you're wearing a belt.)
These four keys make sure that you are centered over the ball, your stance is narrow enough that you won't move around over the ball, and you use the full loft of the club (and hence the bounce) at impact.

While some of you may find his "keep the cup" thought useful, I suspect many of you will be more consistent if you just think of having the shaft pointed at your belly button at the bottom of your swing -- or perhaps that the shaft is pointed straight at the ground at the bottom of your swing. Use whichever thought helps you get that shaft vertical at impact.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy 4th of July!

No post today -- just wishing everyone a Happy 4th of July on my country's 243rd birthday. The USA will celebrate today!

Statue of soldiers raising flag, with fireworks

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The St. Andrews of Ireland Makes Its Debut

Lahinch Golf Club makes its debut on the European Tour this week when it hosts the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. And yes, Lahinch is known as "the St. Andrews of Ireland."

Defending champion Russell Knox

Lahinch is a links course in Munster, Ireland. It hosts the South of Ireland Championship, an amateur tournament that started in 1895. The big talk about the course has been the 154-yard par-3 fifth hole, which is a blind shot into the wind and over a 30-foot high hill so it plays longer. I found this interesting tidbit about the hole over at turfnet.com:
The blind nature of the hole requires a large white stone be placed on top of the hill to mark the day's pin placement, as the width of the green allows for many pin placements on different lines.
So yes, this could be a very interesting hole to watch!

While the course may be new to the field, the defending champion isn't. Russell Knox has been around for a while now, with a WGC win and a couple more wins on the ET and the PGA Tour. And as a Scottish golfer, I'm sure he's played courses like Lahinch many times in his life.

All of which makes the Irish Open the perfect start to this little run-up to the Open. First the Irish Open, then the Scottish Open and finally THE Open. I can't help but feel that the players who play all three events will have a distinct advantage over everyone else.

GC lists their TV coverage starting at 5:30am ET on Thursday. It will run until 1:30pm ET if I read their schedule correctly. I hope so -- I really want to see the pros play that fifth hole!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: 3M Open

This week's event is unusual because last year it was a Champions Tour event, the 3M Championship. Now it's a PGA Tour event, the 3M Open... and it's Twofer Tuesday.

3M Championship defending champion Kenny Perry

The "defending champion" is Kenny Perry, the Champions Tour winner. But here's the fun part: Even though it's moved from the Champions Tour to the PGA Tour, the event is still at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota. PGATOUR.com lists it as a par-72 playing at 7164 yards on the Course page, but the Power Rankings page has it as a par-71 at 7468 yards. Tom Lehman, from Minnesota himself, has tweaked the course a bit in preparation for the Tour's arrival.

Still, we're potentially looking at another low-scoring winner.

Ah yes, winners. After a good stretch early on, I've not had much luck picking them over the last few months. And more than once I've picked players who were on the Field list but had WD'ed. This week I'm just going to choose from the Power Rankings since, presumably, all of those players are confirmed to play. (I won't do this every week. I'm just tired of getting fooled lately.)
  • My Top10er is Doc Redman. He won the Monday qualifier at the Rocket Mortgage, so his game is in good shape. After his runner-up finish this past week, I think he still has something in the tank.
  • And my winner is Joaquin Niemann. We've seen a number of first-time winners lately, and Joaquin hasn't won yet. And while T5s in his last two events don't guarantee a good finish this week, he's been trending upward all season. A new venue seems like a good place for a first-timer to break through.
Perhaps those are the least likely choices I could make from the Power Rankings list. But last week neither of my choices even made the weekend -- heck, one didn't even make the first tee! -- so I don't think I can do any worse.

We get holiday coverage this week. (At least it's a holiday here in the US.) GC's coverage begins at 2pm ET on Thursday while PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at 8am ET. Perhaps I'll have something to celebrate this weekend for a change.

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic

Winner: Nate Lashley

Around the wider world of golf: Sung Hyun Park won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on the LPGA; Steve Stricker made the US Senior Open his second Champions Tour major of the year; Kristoffer Ventura won the Utah Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour; Christiaan Bezuidenhout won the Estrella Damm NA AndalucĂ­a Masters on the ET; Rikuya Hoshino won the Dunlop SRIXON Fukushima Open Golf Tournament on the Japan Golf Tour; and Perrine Delacour won the Prasco Charity Championship on the Symetra Tour.

Nate Lashley with the Rocket Mortgage Classic trophy

I guess some things never change, like the fates of my Tuesday Twofer picks. I picked Xander Schauffele (WD) to win and Chex Reavie (MC) to Top10. But my field list showed Xander still in the field on Tuesday, so I'll have to stop trusting those things. And Chez? He played well on Thursday and then I guess he saw I picked him. Oh well..
  • Winners: 2 for 26
  • Place well (Top10): 11 for 26 (6 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 22 of 52 (11 Top5s, 11 more Top10s)
But for the third week in a row, I doubt this week's winner was on anybody's short list.

And I doubt few people are disappointed he won.

You probably know the story. Nate Lashley lost his mom, dad and girlfriend in a plane crash back in May 2004. If that wasn't bad enough, he's fought all kinds of problems since then and was playing on a medical exemption this week. He was the last alternate to make the field, mid-day Wednesday.

Then he blew that field away by six strokes. Only Rory had a larger win (seven strokes) this season. And Nate's sister, his new girlfriend and a dozen or more friends from Phoenix and Nebraska were waiting for him when he walked off that final green.

Of course, enough swag came with that win -- money, a two-year exemption, a trip to the Open and everything else -- to change his life dramatically.

And if that wasn't wild enough, the runner-up was Doc Redman. The medalist in the Monday qualifier changed his life as well, making this a week of miracles for two struggling pros.

Nate says he'll need some time to adjust to all the great things that have just happened to him. But hopefully he won't need long to adjust to his status as the newest Limerick Summary recipient. It's an honor that's long overdue... and well deserved.
The mem’ries of tragedy past
Could not deter Nate at the last.
As he sank those last putts
His supporters went nuts
‘Cause his play left the whole field outclassed.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

David Thomas on Spine Angle (Video)

David Thomas from the PGA of Australia has a drill to help you learn how to keep your spine angle the same during your backswing.



The drill itself is pretty much self-explanatory. But I want to talk a bit about the ball position during the drill, since it's not what you might expect.

David says to place the ball about 1.5 meters away from you, opposite the inside of your right foot.
  • First of all, for you lefties, that will be your left foot.
  • And for all my American readers who, like me, don't think in meters, 1.5 metters is roughly 5 feet. Yes, that's much too far away for you to actually hit the ball during a swing!
But that's the point here. Your hands and arms hang from your shoulders, and you aren't aiming your hands and arms at the ball. Rather, you're aiming your shoulder line at the ball. And that line will be shallower than your swing plane.

Yes, I know that's counter-intuitive. We are so used to thinking about swing planes that we often forget that there is more than one plane in a golf swing. The shoulder plane is perpendicular to your spine angle; your swing plane is steeper.

This drill will help you learn how to maintain your spine angle during your backswing and not stand up. Standing up during your swing will cause you to mis-hit the ball at impact, and we don't want that!

It's a simple drill that you can do inside, whenever you have a spare moment. Furthermore, you can do this drill quickly while out on the course during a round if you need to check your spine angle. In my book, that's a good drill.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Michelle Wie's Prolonged Break from Golf

So Michelle Wie finally decided she's had enough this year. She posted this on Instagram:


It's probably for the best. Doctors may have decided that playing can't injure her wrist any worse, but that doesn't mean she's well enough to play. After being reduced to tears by the pain at the KPMG Women's PGA, rest is what she needs.

And as much as she loves golf, it's not like she has nothing to do while she recovers. In fact, using her time to plan her wedding later this year to Jonny West may be the best therapy she can get.

We could see this coming, couldn't we? I wrote about it myself just a week back. And Golf Digest also posted an article that sums up the situation pretty well.

I'm just glad she's decided to take action... even if that means taking herself out of action for a while. Get well soon, Michelle!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Jason Sedan on Downhill Pitch Shots (Video)

Make sure you understand what GCA coach Jason Sedan did when he pitched from this downhill lie.



It's easy to see that he has set up with more weight on his lead leg BUT did you pay attention to that followthrough? There is no weight shift during the pitch!

That's a critical thing to remember. If you set up with your weight ahead on a downslope and then shift your weight even further forward, you're going to fall down the slope. If you're playing a full shot from this lie, "stepping through" the shot isn't such a bad thing.

But with the shorter swing of a pitch, that extra movement can ruin your distance control -- which is critical with a pitch shot -- as well as causing a mis-hit, creating either a fat or thin shot.

Remember that this isn't a power shot. It's a finesse shot and your "touch" will make or break the result.

Here's a bonus tip that Jason doesn't mention: While he calls this a downhill sloping shot, he focuses on the downhill part. But if you look at the down-the-line view of this shot around the :12 second mark, you'll note that the ball is ever so slightly below his feet as well. Sidehill shots often require a special setup but when the lie is only slightly sidehill, you may not need to adjust for it if you stay steady over the ball while you pitch.

You should practice this shot to see just how much slope you can safely ignore but the less you have to think about when standing over this shot, the easier it will be. Remember: The more you know about your game, the more confident you'll be on the course.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Deb Vangellow on NOT Keeping Your Head Down

This came from a very short post at golftipsmag.com. Deb Vangellow gives you a different image to use when working on impact.

Deb Vangellow at impactIf you try to "keep your head down," what you do is lock up your neck and shoulders. That stops you from making a smooth motion through the ball.

Instead, focus on simply seeing the clubhead collide with the ball. As you can see in the photo, even though Deb is clearly watching the ball, she doesn't have her head bent over with her eyes staring at the ground. Her neck is relaxed and her head is free to swivel back and forth. In fact, as her trailing shoulder moves under her chin, her neck is relaxed enough that her head can "ride along" with her shoulders and come up until she's facing the shot.

Her focus isn't on head position. Rather, it's on seeing the clubface make contact with the ball.

For some of you, the instant of contact is so short that you may not be able to actually say, "THIS is the moment the two connect." That moment may just be a blur and you hear it more than actually see it. But that's not the point. The point is that focusing on seeing the moment of contact keeps your neck and shoulders relaxed so they can move freely, not interfering with the moment of impact.

Distance comes from relaxed speed. Accuracy comes from solid contact. Keeping your neck relaxed helps both. Give it a try!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Third Champions Tour Major of 2019

If Brooks Koepka thought he was tired after three majors, just imagine if he was on the Champions Tour. Their last three majors happen every other week for the next three events! This week, it's the US Senior Open.

Defending champion David Toms

The defending champion is David Toms, but the course where he'll defend is entirely different from last year. He won at the Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs (over 6000 feet above sea level) but this week the Tour will play Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame (between 700 and 800 feet). Among other things, that will certainly affect driving distance.

While I don't know the exact figures the USGA will use this week, the Warren GC site says the championship tees usually play as a par-71 measuring 7020 yards. I won't be surprised if that's reconfigured to a par-70.

The first two majors of the year were won by Steve Stricker (the Tradition) and Ken Tanigawa (the Senior PGA). Personally, I favor Scott Parel to win this week. (And no, this isn't a Twofer Tuesday pick. I'm just saying...)

Remember that since this is a USGA event, FOX will be carrying the event. FOX1 will begin their coverage on Thursday at 3pm ET. The USGA streaming at usga.org will start at 11am ET that day.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Rocket Mortgage Classic

Time to try my luck again, I guess. This week's Twofer Tuesday picks center around the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Defending Quicken Loans National champ Francesco Molinari with Tiger Woods

The Rocket Mortgage Classic is a new event for the PGA Tour. It replaces the Quicken Loans National (same sponsor), becomes a full-field event and moves from Washington DC to Detroit MI. Technically I guess that makes Francesco Molinari the defending champion, but it's going to be a very different course.

Detroit Golf Club is a par-72 course playing over 7300 yards. It's a Donald Ross design with poa greens. (The pros have been putting on poa greens for a couple of weeks now, so they should do pretty well.) The course is actually made up of two courses -- it uses 17 holes from the North Course and one hole (the par-3 fourth for the pros) from the South Course.

So let's not beat around the bush any longer. It's time to make my picks!
  • My Top10er is Chez Reavie. I know that the guy who just had his best major finish two weeks ago (T3 at Pebble) and won this past week is probably a bit tired. But he's been playing reasonably well all year and seems to be riding a streak of confidence. As far as I'm concerned, it only has to hold out for one more week. He can take a rest later!
  • And my winner is Xander Schauffele. Xander has only played two of the last four weeks, joining Reavie with a T3 in his last start at Pebble. With two wins in this wraparound season and his last win coming in January, I figure he's due for another title run.
Since this is a new course for all the pros, this should be a pretty level playing field. We may very well see another surprise winner, given that this course shouldn't play all that long. (It's a par-72, after all.) But since my picks haven't been doing very well lately, I suppose any of my picks that pan out this time will be a surprise!

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 3pm ET and PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at 7am ET.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Travelers Championship

Winner: Chez Reavie

Around the wider world of golf: Hannah Green made the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship her first LPGA win; Jerry Kelly won the American Family Insurance Championship on the Champions Tour; Daniela Iacobelli won the Island Resort Championship on the Symetra Tour; Alex Chiarella won the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open on the Mackenzie Tour; Zhengkai “Bobby” Bai won the Huangshan Championship on the PGA TOUR China; Andrea Pavan won the European Tour's BMW International Open; Jazz Janewattananond won the Kolon Korea Open Golf Championship on the Asian Tour; and Thai amateur Atthaya Thitikul won the Ladies European Thailand Championship for a second time. The Korn Ferry Tour's Wichita Open continues their playoff today. [UPDATE: I forgot to include James Sugrue, winner of the 2019 Amateur. And Henrik Norlander won the Wichita Open playoff. So much golf this past week!]

Chez Reavie with the Travelers trophy

My Tuesday Twofer picks were both new pros so I admit I didn't have terribly high hopes. I picked Viktor Hovland (T54) to win and Matthew Wolff (MDF) to Top10. But at least I was correct that Hovland played the better of the two.
  • Winners: 2 for 25
  • Place well (Top10): 11 for 25 (6 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 22 of 50 (11 Top5s, 11 more Top10s)
But just like last week, it's hard to believe that anybody would have picked this week's winner. It's true that Chez Reavie has been playing pretty well -- he finished T3 in Pebble last week -- but he hasn't had a PGA Tour win since his original win back in the 2008 RBC Canadian Open. (That was almost exactly 11 years ago!)

It's not that Reavie is a bad player. Far from it! He's won on the Web.com Tour (now the Korn Ferry Tour) since his first PGA Tour win. It's just that, like so many other players, his career has been plagued by injury. It's hard to build any consistency that way, even though he almost won twice in that time.

But Chez never gave up. And now his work has finally paid off.

He went into Sunday's final round with a six-shot lead. And while he only shot a one-under 69, that was enough to withstand the runs put up by Zack Sucher and Keegan Bradley and give him a four-shot win. That should be enough to push him up above #48 in the OWGR, which is where last week's performance at the US Open put him.

And it's good enough to give him his first-ever Limerick Summary. (My blog didn't exist back in 2008.) And hopefully for him, it won't be his last.
Chez won back in 2008.
His health at times hasn’t been great
Though he almost won twice
On the Tour. Ain’t it nice
That his work paid off after that wait?
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Bob Strano's Milk Jug Drill (Video)

GCA's lead coach Rob Strano has an interesting drill to increase your distance, and it uses a milk jug.



This drill is simple enough but I feel I should point out something. Strano says to fill up the milk jug with water. Be aware that a gallon of water weighs around 8.34 pounds or 3.785 kilograms. When you hold that out at arm's-length, that's gonna be pretty heavy, especially if you aren't used to it!

So be careful if you try this drill. I'd recommend only filling the jug halfway when you first try it.

The idea behind this drill is that it teaches you to keep your arms extended well into your takeaway, as you can see in the video. It's just another approach to making a one-piece takeaway, which is one of the few things I consider important in a golf swing.

As you regular readers know, I've done a number of posts on this. This link takes you to my basic one-piece takeaway drill, which doesn't require any props at all. (You can find the complete four-post series I did on my Some Useful Post Series page; it's called Dexter's Coming Over the Top.)

Regardless of which drill you use, the principle is the same: You get a bigger swing arc when you extend your arms, and a bigger swing arc can create more clubhead speed. And the beauty of extension is that you can usually get a bigger swing arc this way, even if you aren't flexible enough to increase your shoulder turn very much.

No matter what kind of swing method you use, this principle always works. So if you want to get more distance, you want to incorporate a larger arc into your swing .

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Tom Blanckaert on Playing from Wet Sand (Video)

With so many tours playing in wet weather, this just seemed to be a no-brainer. How do you adjust to play from wet sand?



Tom's tips are very simple:
  • Learn how firm the sand is by taking your stance. Obviously you can't "test" the sand by digging in, moving out and then taking your stance. But in the process of taking a normal stance in the sand, you will be able to tell how compacted the sand is.
  • Use the front edge of the club, not the bounce. In wet sand the bounce will just make the club... well, bounce. You need to take a thin divot, not bounce off the sand and thin the shot. You can figure out how much less to open the face in the practice bunker before your round.
  • Hit the sand closer to the ball. Tom says if you normally take four inches of sand, cut the distance to two inches. Since you're playing this more like a chip shot than a normal sand shot, you won't need to take as much sand.
  • Don't swing as hard as normal. That's just simple logic, don't you think? Since you don't have to move a lot of sand, you don't have to swing so fast. Again, think chip shot rather than sand shot.
And don't miss the last thing Tom says. Since you aren't hitting the ball as high as a normal sand shot, the ball will roll a bit farther after it hits the ground.

Playing from wet sand isn't that much different than playing a chip shot from a firmer lie. Once you practice a little to get over the fear of it, it shouldn't be much harder than any other short game shot. Just practice a little!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Michelle Wie's Injury Battles Strike Home

If you saw Michelle Wie weeping during her interview with GC on Thursday, you'll understand why I'm writing about her today. Too many people have viewed Michelle as little more than a golf sideshow, but this latest bout of injuries should make it clear to everyone how much she loves the game... and how frightened she is about her future in golf.

Michelle Wie at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

I'm going to link you to Randall Mell's piece over at golfchannel.com about Michelle's situation, simply because he handles it so well. But I'd like to point out two things that I think many of her critics have missed:
  • Unlike Phil Mickelson's arthritis, Michelle's isn't treatable with medicine. She can no longer take cortisone treatments, the collagen seem to be having a limited effect, and the surgeries she's had don't seem to be helping much either.
  • And second, no one who has any contact with her questions either her work ethic or her love for the game.
The fact that Michelle is beginning to wonder if it's only a matter of time before her arthritis ends her career is heartbreaking. Imagine if you were suddenly unable to do the thing you most love to do and there was nothing anyone could do to help you. I'm sure she hopes for some kind of miracle, some currently elusive treatment that will give her some options, not unlike the arthritis drug that helped Phil or the fusion surgery that's given Tiger a new lease on life.

But for now, that miracle hasn't made its presence known. And Thursday that burden became pretty obvious in her after-round interview -- which, as Lisa Cornwall noted, most pros probably wouldn't have bothered to give, no matter how concerned her fans were.

For the time being, all we can do is pray for Michelle Wie... and perhaps be a bit less critical of her. Too many people view social media as a license to be cruel. We could all use a bit more of the Golden Rule in our dealings with others -- "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Regardless of how you feel about her, right now Michelle is more vulnerable and more "human" than anyone has ever seen her. Perhaps it's time the rest of us treated her better and did what we can to encourage her. It's the least we can do.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

AKA the Korn Ferry Tour

The Web.com Tour is under new management, effective immediately. Say hello to the Korn Ferry Tour!

New Korn Ferry Tour logo

Since this new sponsorship takes effect RIGHT NOW, it seems appropriate to take a moment and make sure you know who the new sponsor is.

Korn Ferry is a management consulting firm with headquarters in Los Angeles CA, and it's a BIG company. Excuse me, companies -- I counted 41 when I Googled it, and Wikipedia's Korn Ferry page says they have (as of 2018) 106 offices in 52 countries. The name may sound a bit unusual, but it's simply the last names of the two men who founded it nearly fifty years ago in 1969, Lester Korn and Richard Ferry.

And the new sponsorship deal is for ten years, through 2028. Here's GC's announcement if you're interested. Yes, friends, the PGA Tour's development tour has picked up a huge sponsor.

I suspect we'll be learning more about it as the year goes on, but for now it appears that nothing major will change other than the brand on the tour. And that's good news all around.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Third LPGA Major of 2019

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship looks to be in for a rough ride, given the weather forecasts. But that just means it'll be a tougher test.

Defending champion Sung Hyun Park

And a test it will be! This year's edition is being held at legendary Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota. It's a par-72 set up to play at just over 6800 yards. That's long for the ladies to begin with, but the northern part of the country has been battered by storms for most of 2019 -- and this week they appear to be in for more of the same.

There are, as far as I can tell, four primary storylines at the forefront this week:
  • The length of defending champion Sung Hyun Park, who won in a playoff last year, should give her a real advantage when the bad weather comes in. She's #4 in the Rolex and has one win this season (HSBC Women's World Championship) and one runner-up (T2 at the Kia Classic) but otherwise she hasn't been particularly consistent.
  • Lexi Thompson's length off the tee should also set her in good stead if the weather turns bad, but she's #2 in the Rolex and comes in with considerably better form. Her questionable play early in the year has given away to an amazing run of top finishes. Her last seven starts are: 3-MC-T4- MC-T2-1-T2. If her improved putting continues, she could be a juggernaut this week.
  • Brooke Henderson (also a long hitter) comes off a historic performance. At #5 in the Rolex, she has two wins this year -- which has made her the winningest Canadian player ever (either male or female), plus she's got a T2 mixed in for good measure. Oh, and she won this event in 2016.
  • And then there's Michelle Wie, #53 in the Rolex, making her first appearance after missing two more months with wrist injuries. She only began hitting chips and such last week, so she expects to be rusty. But she says her doctors told her that sitting out any longer won't help her heal.
Park has two majors, the other three have one each. The first three are each likely to be in the mix come Sunday evening. And while Michelle probably won't be a factor at the end, that doesn't mean she won't be a focus of attention.

And once you add in all the other players who are in form at this time of the season, it shapes up to be an exciting major. You can get more details about the event over at Tony Jesselli's preview.

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 6pm ET.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Travelers Championship

My weekly horror show is back. This Tuesday, I'm picking from the Travelers Championship field.

Defending champion Bubba Watson

Wow, has it really been a whole year since Bubba won a tournament? Indeed! Bubba's streaky play put him in the winner's circle three times in 2018, and the Travelers was the last of his streak.

TPC River Highlands lends itself to streaky winners though. A par-70 measuring only 6841 yards, it's the site of Jim Furyk's 58 in 2016. However, the shorter length isn't the only reason for the sometimes unpredictable winner. Its position in the schedule, traditionally right after the US Open, means the big names are often absent -- and their decision to rest gives the rest of the field a better chance.

This year, however, that's less of a factor. While Woodland and Rose are taking a break, Brooks Koepka has elected to give the field a collective heart attack by teeing it up again. While the Beast teed it up last year after his second US Open win, he only posted a T19. And non-major or not, you have to figure he's gonna have some pent-up energy he'll want to expend this year!

Plus he's certainly not the only big name in the field this week. Day, Spieth, Molinari, Leishman, Oosthuizen, DeChambeau -- it's a who's-who of big names looking for some respect after getting left in the surf -- er, dust last week.

So who should I pick this time? I'm stepping way outside the box with these picks...
  • For my Top10er I'm certainly stepping outside the box with Matthew Wolff. Wolff is in the field on a sponsor's exemption and I think the new pro could surprise a lot of people this week. And coming off the NCAA Division I individual title and a victorious run at the Palmer Cup, I think he'll be ready to test himself against the big boys.
  • But for my winner I'm stepping even farther outside the box -- I'm taking the newest amateur to turn pro, Viktor Hovland. In yesterday's Limerick Summary I was trying so hard to remember to mention Emily Toy's victory at the Women’s British Amateur that I completely forgot to give Viktor a shout-out for beating the amateur scoring record of 270 set by Jack Nicklaus way back in 1960... by two strokes! I don't think Viktor has to prove he can compete; his T12 finish at Pebble already proved that. But he's clearly got the game to handle TPC River Highlands, so why not show off a bit?
I realize that picking two brand new pros isn't the most intuitive way to improve my record. But when I can't even get a Top10 by picking Tiger and Phil on a course they both love, it's clear I need to try a new strategy. I certainly can't do any worse.

GC's coverage starts Thursday at 3pm ET. PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at 7am ET. And I've already started chewing my fingernails...

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 US Open

Winner: Gary Woodland

Around the wider world of golf: Brooke Henderson became the winningest Canadian golfer ever (male or female) with her win at the Meijer LPGA Classic; Jillian Hollis won the Forsyth Classic on the Symetra Tour; Xinjun Zhang won the Lincoln Land Championship on the Web.com Tour; Jake Knapp won the GolfBC Championship on the Mackenzie Tour; Cyril Bouniol won the Suzhou Open on the PGA TOUR China; Scott Vincent won the Landic Challenge on the Asian Tour; and Emily Toy won the Women’s British Amateur.

Gary Woodland kisses the US Open trophy

While my Tuesday Twofer picks didn't do so well, I wasn't expecting much. I picked Tiger Woods (T21) to win and Phil Mickelson (T52) to Top10. At least both of them made the cut!
  • Winners: 2 for 24
  • Place well (Top10): 11 for 24 (6 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 22 of 48 (11 Top5s, 11 more Top10s)
But it's hard to believe anybody picked this week's winner. Gary Woodland hasn't had the best of luck at majors, except for a couple of Top10s at the last two PGAs. Even Justin Rose and Louis Oosthuizen were outliers of a sort, since neither seemed to be in the best of form lately.

And admit it -- you had to figure that Brooks Koepka was the favorite, given that he had won four of his last eight majors (plus one runner-up finish).

But Gary had an ace in his corner -- Amy Bockerstette, the Special Olympics golfer he became friends with at the WM Phoenix Open earlier this year. He credits her friendship, along with the highs and lows of becoming a father, with helping him gain more perspective on his game. And that new perspective was on full display Sunday, as he calmly dealt with Rose and Koepka's attempts to catch and pass him on the leaderboard.

In case you didn't see the final round, Rose tied him on the first hole, then dropped back on the second hole and neither Rose nor Koepka caught him after that. And just to punctuate his victory, Gary birdied the final hole for a three-stroke victory.

The discussions have already begun. You know the ones -- will this win "open the floodgates" and Woodland begin winning at an accelerated clip? Who knows? But I do know this: Gary Woodland has just picked up his first major Limerick Summary. It may not be as shiny as his first major trophy, but hopefully he'll get some joy from it as well.
A win from the lead’s not a given,
So Sunday’s win must feel like heaven!
With Gary’s last round
He took Brooks Koepka down
And made this his first major. That’s livin’!
The photo came from this page at chinadaily.com.cn.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Talking About Making US Open History...

While Brooks Koepka tries to make history today, I decided to look at some past US Open history. I realize most of you will be watching golf today so I'm just linking you to a Golf Digest article about Francis Ouimet's victory in the 1913 US Open, which many view as the real beginning of golf in America.

Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet and Ted Ray at the 1913 US Open

Many of you will have seen a movie called The Greatest Game Ever Played -- GC plays it often enough, don't they? -- where Shia Lebeouf played amateur Francis Ouimet. Movies about real events typically aren't all that accurate, but I was surprised to learn just how much of the movie did follow the actual events of the tournament.

For example, Ted Ray really did punch out a fellow competitor at dinner one night, and fans really did pass a hat around and collect money for Ouimet's young caddie Eddie Lowery. (According to the article, they took up around $150, a huge sum at that time.)

If you have some moments to spare during the action today, I think you'll find this article to be an interesting read.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Kirk Triplett on Calibrating Your Putting Technique (Video)

If you're looking for a putting drill to help your consistency, Kirk Triplett may have just the drill for you.



The details of this drill aren't really what's important here. In fact, Kirk says it doesn't really matter exactly what techniques you use. (Which is a good thing, because if your swing is an arc, the straight shaft he uses as a guide won't work for you!)

What matters here is the methodology that you use. Let me outline the key points for you.
  • You want to pick a straight putt, roughly six feet long, for your practice putt. What he's done is pick a common length putt that you expect to make, and he's chosen a straight putt so you take greensreading out of the equation. This drill is all about setup.
  • You lay down a straight -- or curved -- guide for the impact area of your putt. This gives you a visual guide for the stroke, to insure that you make the same stroke each time. You don't want to take the putter straight back one time, take it inside the second time, and take it outside the third time. That's a sure road to inconsistency.
  • Finally, you use this guide to insure that your address position is the same each time. Place the ball at the same spot, stand the same distance from the guide each time, and take the same stance each time -- open, closed or square; weight forward, back or evenly divided between both feet.
The idea is to give your body the best chance of feeling the same each time you stand over a putt. In time, even if you don't see a difference in your setup, you'll feel it if you're setting up a bit differently than you normally do.

That's when your putting stroke starts to feel "natural," because your body is doing the same thing each time. Once you build that kind of trust in your stroke, it's much easier to make good putts.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Mark Crossfield on Putting from Deep Rough (Video)

Yes, I know he says he's chipping... but he's using a PUTTER!



This is a shot from a gnarly buried lie. It's not something you want to do unless you have to... but if you need it, it's a great shot to have!

This is definitely something you'd need to practice but, as Mark says, it's hard to get a clean strike with a wedge from this kind of lie. Positioning the ball way back in your stance -- opposite your trailing toes -- and just hitting straight down so the ball pops out and runs will at least get the ball out of the rough.

Please note that the ball is very close to the green for this shot. (Mark's only a foot or so from shorter grass.) You'll need to see exactly how far away from the green you can be and still get this to work.

Also note what Mark says: The ball comes out hot if it comes out -- this is a very bad lie, and you need a bit of luck -- and you'll have very little control. It's all about how hard you hit the ball. If you don't hit it hard enough, it won't come out. If you hit it too hard, it will rocket across the green. You'll have to practice this shot before you try it during a round!

Even with all the drawbacks, I agree with Mark -- this is a clever shot to use when you're in an otherwise impossible situation. (I bet some of the guys at Pebble this week wish they had this shot.) I wouldn't spend a lot of time practicing it, but a couple of minutes spent each time you hit the range could give you a really cool weapon for your short game.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

How a SAM Putter Fitting Works

Found this new article over at golftipsmag.com and thought it might interest some of you. I'm a big believer in getting your putter fitted, and this article walks you through a putter fitting on perhaps the most popular putter fitting system out there, better known as Science & Motion Sports, or SAM.

The SAM putting system

This five-page article details what it's like to get your putter fitted to your stroke and explains what kind of info you'll get from it. For those of you who have never considered having your putter fitted, it just might be an eye-opener.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Willie Anderson, the King of the US Open

Willie AndersonSince Brooks is trying to match the record of the great Scottish player Willie Anderson, I thought it might be nice to give you a bit about him -- especially, about his swing.

I found this article written by author Douglas Seaton for the North Berwick Hall of Fame in Scotland. It includes a brief description of his swing -- and how it seemed to fit Anderson -- and I found it very entertaining.
Anderson's accuracy was legendary particularly with his favourite club the mashie, equivalent to the present day five iron. He had a swing as flat as his nose and neither his game nor his facial features were flattering or classical. He looked more like an average middleweight boxer than a special golfer. He had bulging forearms and wide, muscular shoulders, a physique more suitable for carrying bags of coal from door to door instead of a golf bag from course to course.

Willie's unhurried move through the ball disguised effortless power and he was also a rhythmical putter but his main attribute was his unflappable demeanour. Described as a dour man who attended strictly to business and displayed little sense of humour on the course but he was a mixer off the course and popular with his fellow professionals. Golfers during Anderson's time essentially wore clothes formal enough to attend church in but not Willie Anderson. His typical attire was a tartan wool cap pulled low (to camouflage his large ears), baggy plaid trousers, a plain shirt, a cloth neckerchief (instead of a silk tie), and an old tweed jacket.
Willie Anderson in 1909I love that description of his swing being "as flat as his nose."

As you can see in this Wikipedia photo from 1909, the year before he died, Anderson was indeed a very muscular player. Despite that, Seaton notes that Anderson had an unhurried move -- no violent lashing at the ball -- and had a rhythmic putting stroke.

He sounds very much like the descriptions I've read of Ben Hogan on the course -- very much an intense, even grumpy-looking fellow who kept to himself and focused on his own game, apparently oblivious to those around him. However Seaton says he was a very social person off the course and very popular with the other players, perhaps in part because he was willing to buy the drinks.

Ironically, although he doesn't seem to have been a party animal himself, Anderson died at the young age of 31 from arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which is generally thought of as an old person's disease.

Although he is officially credited with four majors -- all US Opens, won in 1901 and the three-peat in 1903-1905 -- Anderson also won four Western Opens (the modern BMW Championship) which were considered majors at the time.

To finish out, here are a few interesting facts:
  • Anderson is the only man to win three consecutive US Opens.
  • Only Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus have matched his four US Open titles.
  • And he's the only man to win the US Open playing both gutta percha and rubber core golf balls.
This is the legend that Brooks Koepka is chasing this week. If he can catch him, Brooks will certainly inscribe his name in the history books and be well on the way to becoming a legend himself.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: US Open

The men are back at it this week... and so am I. It's time for the US Open Twofer Tuesday.

Two-time defending champ Brooks Koepka

The venue? That's Pebble Beach, hosting for the sixth time. At 7075 yards, this par-71 is the shortest of the major tests but the small greens and ocean winds can make it a real bear to score there. Right now the conditions are gorgeous, but no one can guarantee we won't see some kind of interference from the weather before this thing is done.

The two-time defending champ? That's Brooks Koepka. He finished T50 last week but that hardly means anything in the grand scheme of things. He's the two-time defending champion, for Pete's sake! A win this week will make him the first three-peater since Willie Anderson back in 1905. (Just for the record, Anderson won four times from 1901-1905.) And you can be sure Brooks is aware of that and would love to become a legend in his own time.

And he would. That's no exaggeration.

My record in the Twofer Tuesday picks has been abysmal over the last few months. I've tried everything I can think of to break out of this rut, but to no avail.
  • If I was picking on form, I'd take Brooks and DJ (which one I'd pick to win and which to Top10 would vary, depending on the day).
  • If I was a bit of a gambler, I'd take Rory to win (despite the difficulty of winning in back-to-back weeks, especially when the second is a major) and Jordan Spieth to Top10 (since he seems to be getting his form back).
  • Wouldn't it be cool to see Rickie Fowler or Matt Kuchar drop that "best player without a major" label?
  • And that doesn't even touch the international contenders like Tommy Fleetwood or Francesco Molinari!
However, none of these approaches has worked so I'm just gonna go with the best stories.
  • My Top10er is Phil Mickelson. After six runner-up finishes Phil still needs this major for the career Grand Slam. But Pebble is a great fit for him. Given the length of the course, he won't need the driver in order to hit those bombs he loves. While he admits that the US Open layout won't be the same as the AT&T Pro-Am, the fact remains that he won that event earlier this year and is very much at home on this course. And don't overlook the history here -- Sam Snead didn't get the career Grand Slam because he couldn't nail the US Open either. Phil could make some serious history this week.
  • And my winner is Tiger Woods. As much as I'd like to see Phil get that career Grand Slam, the Masters has rejuvenated Tiger's belief that he can still win majors. Pardon the pun, but the Woods irons are the key this week; since he won't need that driver any more than Phil, his distance control will determine his success. He too has a bit of history with Snead on the line -- a win this week and Tiger ties Slammin' Sam's win total, and does it at the major Sam never won. And a 16th major suddenly changes the dialogue about the Nicklaus chase.
So we'll see if pure sentimentality can get me a winner where logic and stats haven't.

Remember that FOX has the broadcast rights to all the USGA events. Thursday's broadcasts run from 12:30pm-7:30pm ET on FOX1 while USGA.org will stream from 10:30am-9:30pm ET. You can find the complete list of televised and streaming windows at this page at usga.org.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 RBC Canadian Open

Winner: Rory McIlroy

Around the wider world of golf: The Thai team of Phachara Khongwatmai and Thongchai Jaidee won the GolfSixes Cascais on the ET; Scott McCarron won the Mastercard Japan Championship on the Champions Tour; Lexi Thompson won the ShopRite LPGA Classic; Rhein Gibson won the rain-shortened BMW Charity Pro-Am on the Web.com Tour; Perrine Delacour won the Four Winds Invitational on the Symetra Tour; and Mikumu Horikawa won the Japan Golf Tour Championship Mori Building Cup Shishido Hills.

Rory McIlroy with the Canadian Open trophy

I've finally figured out the Tuesday Twofer puzzle. My picks are checking to see who I picked, then they take the week off. I picked Dustin Johnson (T20) to win and Corey Conners (MC) to Top10. My drought continues...
  • Winners: 2 for 23
  • Place well (Top10): 11 for 23 (6 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 22 of 46 (11 Top5s, 11 more Top10s)
But at least we had the satisfaction of seeing the big story of the week come to pass. Of course, I'm speaking about Graeme McDowell finally locking up that Open invite with a T8 finish.

Hey, don't laugh. Rory agreed with me, saying that he was watching the leaderboard himself to see if Graeme could get the job done.

And well he might, because there was no drama at all over who was going to win the RBC Canadian Open. And while Rory didn't get his 59... or his 60... that 61 left the field hopelessly in the dust, the closest being seven strokes back. And in doing so, he became only the sixth player ever to win the Canadian, US and European Opens. Even Jack Nicklaus couldn't do that.

When Rory was asked about the "Lucky Loonie," a Canadian $1 coin that he marked his ball with, he not only said that "every bit helps" but that he might be taking it to Pebble Beach this coming week.

The rest of the field can only hope it gets confiscated at the border. If Rory can hold this form at the US Open, Phil and Tiger don't have a chance. In the meantime, Rory gets yet another Limerick Summary to add to his collection. Luck had nothing to do with that.
On Sunday it just wasn’t fair.
While others hit balls everywhere
Rory pounded it straight
Right out of the gate…
And his chasers just watched in despair.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Michael Breed on Increasing Driver Swing Speed (Video)

I didn't pick this video for the reasons you might expect. Rather, it's because Breed gave me a great image that can help you swing better.



It's that coffee cup image. It's a perfect picture of a swing with perfect rhythm and tempo! So let me repeat it again for you.

Imagine that you're driving to work and you want to accelerate your car into traffic. The problem is, you've just bought a cup of hot coffee, you're holding it between your legs and it has no lid on it. You want to get up to speed as quickly as possible without getting a wet scalded crotch. How do you do it?

Simple. You accelerate slowly and smoothly.
  • You have to do it slowly enough that the coffee doesn't slosh over the lip of the cup.
  • But you also have to do it smoothly. You want the car to get up to speed but if you start slowly and then suddenly stomp on the gas, the coffee will still slosh out of the cup -- only it will happen after you think you got away with it.
Mess up either way and you are in pain. (And you have to buy new pants or a new skirt as well!)

Bobby Jones once said that if you swing properly, it feels like you have all the time in the world to hit the ball. That's because the change of direction at the top feels leisurely. If you do it right, the clubhead will be flying by the time it reaches the ball!

So try using this image to help smooth out your swing. Once you eliminate the jerkiness at the start of the downswing, you do more than pick up speed. You also improve your impact with the ball, and that insures that you get the full benefits of the speed you create.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Kerrod Gray on Making Better Contact (Video)

Let's go Down Under again for another video from PGA of Australia's Kerrod Gray. This short video is on making better contact.



Clearly Kerrod wants you to stop hitting the ball thin, and to do that you need to extend your arms through impact into the finish. This little drill, which uses club shaft contact with your belly button to teach proper extension, is very simple and can even be done during a round if you fall back into bad habits.

One thing I'd like to point out is that you don't want to create a reverse-C finish, which you might do by accident if you don't understand what Kerrod is telling you to do. He says you want to finish TALL, with your chest up, not leaning too far backward. He's exaggerating just a bit to make sure you shift your weight onto your lead leg. (It doesn't hurt that he's fairly tall and flexible as well!)

But note that his lead leg is perpendicular to the ground; his lead hip is not pushed out past his lead foot. This should be a stable position that you can hold easily without hurting your back.

This little drill can really help if you have a tendency to fall back onto your trailing foot during your finish -- a reverse pivot -- by teaching you what a balanced finish feels like.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Jason Sedan on Distance Control in Putting (Video)

GCA's lead coach Jason Sedan has a simple drill that might help you get better distance control with your putter.



I like this drill for two reasons.

One, you'll note that Jason says using it will help eliminate EXCESSIVE hand action. With the ball between your putter handle and your lead wrist, you should still be able to get a slight bit of wrist flex on the backswing without dropping the ball. But if your lead wrist breaks down at impact, the ball will fall out.

We don't want stiff wrists during our swing. We just don't want our lead wrist to bend backward at impact.

And the second reason? It's a major reason for choosing the drills I include on this blog: You can use them during a round without penalty. Artificial teaching aids are against the rules, but drills using your normal equipment are not. And although you can't actually hit practice putts during a stroke play round, you can use this drill to make practice strokes while you wait for your turn to putt.

It's a simple drill to help you learn proper hand action while putting.