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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Final Major of 2019

This is it. The women tee it up at the AIG Women's British Open at Woburn Golf Club in England.

Defending champion Georgia Hall

As usual, Tony Jesselli has posted a great preview of the event over at his blog; you can check it out at this link. I'll just mention a couple of things that I find particularly interesting.

Georgia Hall is the defending champion of the event, but Ariya Jutanugarn won tt when the Open was last held at Woburn (2016). Both should come in with good feelings, although neither has had the year they had hoped for. Georgia says she got a bit too technical after the win while Ariya has (in my opinion anyway) just had an off year, which is understandable after the barnburner she had in 2018 where she won pretty much every award that was available to her.

Also up for grabs this week is the Rolex Annika Major Award, which can only go to a major winner. There are only three players who can win it at this point -- Jin Young Ko, Jeongeun Lee6 and Hannah Green -- but Ko has a clear lead with two major wins this season. The award will be given after Sunday's final round.

If Jin Young Ko can just finish standing up, she's gonna be hard to beat. If Lee6 wins but Ko posts a Top5, or if Green wins but Ko posts a Top10, I think Ko takes it.

I know this is just her third Open appearance and she missed the cut last year. But I can't help but feel she's a different player now. Despite coming off a major win at Evian, I don't think I would bet against Jin Young Ko this week.

GC's coverage starts Thursday morning (August 1) at 6am ET and runs until 1pm ET that afternoon. I'm really looking forward to this one because, while Ko is the favorite for the Annika Award, that doesn't mean she's automatically going to win. I'm particularly interested to see if Jennifer Kupcho can put something together after her runner-up finish last week.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Wyndham Championship

For the final event of the regular season, Twofer Tuesday heads out to my backyard -- the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro NC.

Defending champion Brandt Snedeker

While the name has changed numerous times -- it was perhaps most famously known as the GGO (Greater Greensboro Open) and for Sam Snead's eight wins there -- the Wyndham's historical significance remains the same. This event has been running since 1938!

As an interesting aside, both scoring records at the Wyndham are held by Swedes -- Jesper Parnevik holds the record for scoring relative to par (-23) while Henrik Stenson holds the aggregate scoring record (258). Just in case you need some trivia for the office water fountain!

Anyway, defending champion Brandt Snedeker has won this event twice, on two different courses -- at Forest Oaks CC in 2007 and at Sedgefield CC last year. His victory last year came up just one stroke short of Stenson's record, so he knows his way around this course.

But defending a win is difficult, so I'm not going with Brandt as one of my picks this week. Neither am I taking Shane Lowry, playing his first event since winning the Claret Jug -- although I'm certainly happy he decided to come to Greensboro. And Brooks Koepka isn't in the field, so I can't take him in hopes of an easy Top10. Hmmm...
  • For my Top10er I'm taking Billy Horschel. He's been playing well all season and has a decent record at Sedgefield. But as impressive as that is, he also tends to play better as the Playoffs draw near. While I can't guarantee a Top10 from him, I think he's one of my better choices this week.
  • And as my winner I'm taking Collin Morikawa. Last week's winner at the Barracuda has played very few tournaments since turning pro but has been remarkably consistent in them. And given that his last three finishes have been T2, T4 and a win, that he's currently #46 in the FedExCup rankings and that he hasn't played the full schedule most of the other players have, I'm willing to bet there's still more in the tank. I think Sedgefield is exactly the kind of course where he could pick up another victory.
GC's coverage starts Thursday at 2pm ET, and PGA TOUR LIVE's stream begins at 7:15am ET. There's no reason to believe we won't see some more history made this week!

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 WGC-FedEx St Jude

Winner: Brooks Koepka

Around the wider world of golf: Bernhard Langer shocked the field with his fourth Senior OPEN title on the Champions Tour; Jin Young Ko slipped easily through the field for her second LPGA major of the year, the Evian Championship; Harry Higgs won the Price Cutter Charity Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour; Joey Lane won the weather-shortened 36-hole Dongguan Open on the PGA TOUR China; Jazz Janewattananond won the Kolon Korea Open on the Asian Tour; Robynn Ree won The CDPHP Open on the Symetra Tour; and Collin Morikawa joined classmate Matt Wolff as a new PGA Tour member by winning the Barracuda Championship, the Tour's alternate-field event.

Brooks Koepka with the Gary Player Cup

Perhaps it was a cheap way to pad my stats, but at least I made another good pick. I picked Justin Thomas (T12) to win and Brooks Koepka (1) to Top10. Apparently Brooks felt the need to play better after that horrible final round start at Portrush, and JT continued to play well during his comeback from the wrist injury.
  • Winners: 2 for 30
  • Place well (Top10): 14 for 30 (9 Top5s, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 25 of 60 (14 Top5s, 11 more Top10s)
As you would have gathered from my Twofer Tuesday post last week, while I thought Brooks would be a bit riled by his OPEN play and he has played well in the past at Memphis, I wasn't sure how much energy he would have and still considered him a bit of a gambler's pick. After all, Brooks himself said he was more tired than he expected after the US Open and blamed that for some of his struggles.

Sunday shaped up to be a duel between two bombers, Brooks and Rory McIlroy. Rory had found some magic himself on the range after missing the cut at Portrush, and was ready to pick up a third win this year. He had a one-shot lead on Brooks as the day started but, after Brooks made three birdies in the first six holes, a birdieless Rory never challenged again. Brooks ran off to a three-shot victory over Webb Simpson.

The knock on Koepka has been that he just can't 'get up' for any event but the Big Four. But if Brooks has truly figured out how to win tournaments that aren't majors, the rest of the Tour could be in trouble... especially with the FedExCup playoffs on the horizon. At any rate, he picks up his first Limerick Summary for a WGC win.

And also a heartfelt thank-you from me. Another Top10 for the stats!
Apparently Brooks got it worked out:
The best way to turn ‘loss’ to ‘knockout’
Is just to not let up.
He changed “couldn’t-get-up”
To “I-went-deep-leaving-no-more-doubt.”
The photo came from this page at europeantour.com.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

And Then Tom Steps Away

Just a day after going 18 for 18 Senior OPEN cuts, Tom Watson announced that this would be his last Senior OPEN.

Tom Watson at the Senior OPEN

Tom said he just wasn't long enough to compete anymore so there was no reason to keep trying. I guess I can see that. If you're used to winning and now you're just trying to make the cut, that could be a tough pill to swallow.

I suspect Mark Rolfing may have been closer to the mark though. He noted that Tom is the primary caregiver for his wife Hilary, who is fighting pancreatic cancer. The Kansas City Star posted an article last year about the battle (it says that it was updated in April) but I haven't found any recent news about how she's doing.

Still, you can't help but think he simply doesn't want to travel so much now, that he'd rather be home with Hilary. Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of any cancer, and I doubt fighting to make cuts can compete with spending every possible moment with her that he can. It's not only understandable, it's what you would expect from two people in love.

And since he said he probably won't play more than a handful of other events going forward... well, it just makes sense.

But we're all going to miss seeing Tom out on the links. Hopefully he and Hilary will get to spend even more good times together now.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Tom Watson Makes the Cut

Just over a month short of his 70th birthday, Tom Watson made the cut at the Senior OPEN at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.

Tom Watson at Royal Lytham

I imagine it's especially satisfying to him because he had a double-bogey on the par-5 7th during the first round -- something he doesn't do very often -- that put him +4 for the round. Then the weather turned a bit nasty during the second round and players struggled.

Tom shot even par on Friday, finished his round on the number, and then watched as the cut moved yet another stroke out to +5. And given that only six players are better than -2 after two days -- and most of the field far younger than him -- he hasn't played badly at all.

By the way, he's now 18 for 18 making the cut in the Senior OPEN. And he's only a month short of 70 years old.

What else can I say? The man is a legend for a reason.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Tommy Fleetwood on Chipping (Video)

This video of Tommy Fleetwood's chipping technique is about four years old. It has some interesting ideas about how he does it.



Much of Tommy's technique is pretty standard. He chips from an open stance and uses different clubs for different length shots.

But I found it interesting that he uses four different wedges for his chipping when many players would use short irons. I guess that's just a personal preference, as is the choice to use one wedge or many clubs to chip with.

But a more likely tip for you to try is this:

Tommy says that when he wants to hit his chips higher, he widens his stance. This also allows him to put more spin on the shots, and he notes that you can't really put spin on the shorter chips. This kind of knowledge could really help you when playing from difficult lies.

This is only a five-minute video, so it's worth your time to watch it and see if something in particular jumps out at you. After all, Tommy's short game is a huge part of the reason that he's become the consistent competitor that he is.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Evian Is Dry This Year!

The new position of the Evian in the LPGA schedule seems to have solved the weather problem. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

Defending Evain champion Angela Stanford

Evian-les-Bains is the same as ever, but defending champion Angela Stanford is still recovering from the effects of a rib injury she got last October. She says she thinks coming back to Evian may kickstart her game but she doesn't have any expectations this week.

There are plenty of players who DO have expectations, however. And with the Women's British Open coming next week, a player who gets hot could end up with a couple of very big trophies in short order.

I'm not picking winners here. The LPGA majors have given us one surprise after another recently, so I won't be shocked by anything that happens. But I'm keeping my eye on the Korda sisters; both of them are in good enough form to get a win this week.

GC's LPGA coverage is squeezed in around their Senior Open coverage -- the first part this morning from 5-7am ET, then again from 9:30-11:30am ET. Not as much coverage as I'd like... but then again, it doesn't look like we'll be watching rain delays. I'll take that!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Senior Open

We gets some "lasts" this week. First we get the last Champions Tour major of the year, the Senior Open.

Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimemez

Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez got his second major win last year at St. Andrews, making him the first Spaniard to win the Senior Open. This year he defends at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, where the game will be a bit different. There are no less than 167 bunkers around the course, making accuracy a necessity.

You can find the pgatour.com power rankings at this link, in case you're playing fantasy golf for this event. Jimenez is a mere 6th on the list, with recent SENIOR PLAYERS winner Retief Goosen being the favorite. And believe it or not, Bernhard Langer is 3rd on the list despite a slow year with only one win early on. (I wouldn't bet against Bernhard, but everybody has off years and I don't think I'd put him that high.)

And pgatour.com lists GC's coverage at 7am ET (2.5 hours) on Thursday, then more coverage at 11:30am ET (2.5 more hours). GC seems to have been doing split coverage for European events quite a bit lately, and it will give us some extra coverage of the last Champions major of the year.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational

Twofer Tuesday heads out to Memphis this week... but we're not sure exactly who the defending champ is!

Justin Thomas with the Gary Player Cup

Last year's WGC winner was Justin Thomas, who won the (then) WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Ohio. Meanwhile, the winner of the FedEx St. Jude Classic, held at TPC Southwind in Tennessee (this week's host course), was Dustin Johnson.

So who do we say is the defending champion at the new WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind? I'm going with Justin Thomas since this is the WGC now.

But given that DJ has six WGC titles, second only to Tiger, I guess you could make an argument either way.

It's a bit tricky making my picks this week, simply because many of the top players didn't come to the Memphis event before it became a WGC. As it stands, a large number of the field from THE OPEN has made the trip from Northern Ireland to play this week. At 7244 yards (about 200 yards shorter than Firestone), this par-70 track presents a different challenge than the players have seen. (Bear in mind that the WGC in Mexico was a short course but complicated by higher altitude.)

Big names after a major (with major travel) at a course they haven't played before... this one could be up for grabs.
  • My Top10er -- once again -- is Brooks Koepka. Brooks has played TPC Southwind a lot and has posted Top5s there. Given that a WGC is almost "major enough" to get his attention, and after that four bogey start at Portrush on Sunday, I could see him coming to Memphis determined to get a win. I'm just not sure how much energy he'll have, so I still see this pick as something of a gamble.
  • And my winner is Justin Thomas. To the best of my knowledge he's never played TPC Southwind before, but he's been improving steadily since coming back from his wrist injury and he played some of his best golf last week. (In fact, it was his best-ever finish at THE OPEN.) Again, I don't know how much energy he'll have this week but I look for him to play with some serious confidence.
GC's coverage starts Thursday at 2pm ET while PGA TOUR LIVE starts at 9am ET. There are only two events left in the regular season after Memphis, so the pressure is on to get those FedExCup points. TPC Southwind has often given us surprise winners, so it'll be interesting to see if the WGC setup gives us more of the same.

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 THE OPEN

Winner: Shane Lowry

Around the wider world of golf: Cydney Clanton and Jasmine Suwannapura easily won the inaugural Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational on the LPGA; Patty Tavatanakit made it two in a row with a win at the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic on the Symetra Tour; Kristoffer Ventura won the Pinnacle Bank Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour; Lorens Chan won the HFX Pro-Am HFX Pro-Am on the Mackenzie Tour; Jim Herman won the Barbasol Championship, the PGA Tour's alternate field event; and Max McGreevy won the weather-shortened Guangzhou Open on the PGA TOUR China.

Shane Lowry hoists the Claret Jug

Another breakthrough week for me. I picked Jon Rahm (T11) to win and Brooks Koepka (T4) to Top10. Both men were in position to make the Top10 on Sunday, but both struggled and Rahm just couldn't recover. Still, it was a good week for my picks!
  • Winners: 2 for 29
  • Place well (Top10): 13 for 29 (8 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 24 of 58 (13 Top5s, 11 more Top10s)
Nobody was going to catch Shane Lowry on Sunday. I know that big leads can be -- and often are -- lost under final round pressure, but it was hard to believe it would happen to Shane. Having lost a lead in the US Open just three years back, you could tell from his media appearance Saturday night that he had learned quite a bit from that loss.

Then the weather came in. Shane knows that weather well and he proved it. Few players went under par, and those were too far back to challenge. And once Tommy Fleetwood stumbled to a double-bogey on 14, there wasn't much doubt about who would win. As Shane pointed out, he basically just needed to find his ball on every hole.

He did.

This win isn't really a surprise. Shane has played well in big events over the last few years, and he had won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship earlier this year. The two wins easily move him into the Top5 of my Ruthless Golf World Rankings, as well as elevating his position in pretty much every ranking in golf.

And now he picks up a new Limerick Summary to celebrate his Irish pride. Way to go, Shane!
The contest was over and done
Almost before Lowry’d begun
To play the last round.
The Irish crowd drowned
Shane with cheers while he easily won.
The photo came from this page at belfasttelegraph.co.uk.

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.