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Monday, December 9, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Hero World Challenge

Winner: Henrik Stenson

Around the wider world of golf: Jason and Bernhard Langer picked up their second PNC Father/Son Challenge victory; Matt Jones won his second Emirates Australian Open on the Australasian Tour; Rasmus Højgaard won the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on the ET; Ryo Ishikawa won the Golf Nippon Series JT Cup on the Japan Golf Tour; and Esther Henseleit won the inaugural Magical Kenya Ladies Open on the LET.

Henrik Stenson with his very own Tiger

Finally! My Twofer Tuesday picks stepped up. I had Jon Rahm (2) to win and Tiger Woods (4) to Top10. Tiger knocked the rust off just like I hoped and Jon... well, it don't get much closer than losing by one!
  • Winners: 3 for 49
  • Place well (Top10): 21 for 49 (13 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 39 of 98 (24 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
With all the debate over Tiger's choices to replace injured players in the Presidents Cup, it's pretty clear his exemptions for the Hero turned out pretty well. Chez Reavie came in 13th in his first appearance -- not bad given the tricky conditions at Albany.

And then there was Henrik...

The only player to post four rounds in the 60s walked off with the prize and then some. After all, Henrik had to be a sponsor's invite because he hadn't won this year (since the 2017 Wyndham, in fact) nor was he high enough in the OWGR (40) to make it on his own. And when you consider that the Swede had to replace his beloved 3-wood recently, perhaps the best weapon in his bag, it would seem that he was in no position to beat a field this strong.

Surprise! After playing solidly all week, he nailed a 259-yard 5-wood to 8 inches on the par-5 15th for a tap-in eagle... and the lead. He never looked back after that.

Looks like the Stensons will be having a nice Christmas. Henrik not only got the victory (and associated swag) but also a big bump in the OWGR. Sunday night his new position had already been posted, up from 40 to 26. And he got a new Limerick Summary, just to make it official.
The Swede got an invite from Tiger
‘Cause he lacked the world ranking required
To earn his way in…
But it looks like this win
Has driven his ranking MUCH higher.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Lou Guzzi on Knockdown Shots (Video)

Guzzi's approach to knockdown shots is a bit different from most instructors', and he has a useful 'feel' tip we can learn from it.



Guzzi isn't moving the ball back and using a three-quarter shot (up around ear level). Rather, he leaves the ball in its regular position and shortens his backswing to a half-shot! Then he swings to a full finish. We can get all of that from what he says.

Now let's look at that other tip we can infer from what he does.

By shortening his backswing to something between his waist and his shoulders -- I think it might be a bit longer with a hybrid or fairway wood (he's using a 7-iron here) -- he dramatically reduces the distance he hits any given club.

But how much distance does he lose? He gives us a hint. Since he's hitting this 7-iron 120 yards but he usually hits that club around 160, that's around three to four clubs less. That gives us a starting point for estimating how far we'll hit a knockdown shot with any given club.

Here's the tip: When hitting a knockdown shot, figure you'll need about three or four more clubs to get the same distance. Will it be that way all the time? Probably not. But when you face a knockdown shot, especially one that you haven't practiced, use this rule of thumb to get you in the ballpark.

Choose your target appropriately -- so that a mis-hit won't put you in trouble -- and you could improve your score dramatically.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Brad Worthington on Spotputting

This article over at golftipsmag.com covers the basics of spotputting, which is a technique more players should try.

Aiming at a spot that isn't the hole

As you can see from the photo above, the concept is simple. That 'hole' you see Brad putting toward isn't a hole at all, but rather a disc he has placed on the green to illustrate where he is aiming. The actual hole is over on the right side of the photo, and Brad has picked his 'spot' to be between him and the hole.

Many instructors teach this method. Dave Pelz immediately comes to mind, although his diagrams tend to place the 'spot' out beside the actual hole because he wants to show how much the putts are breaking.

I use this method myself, but even Brad's spot is too far away for me. I typically read the putt and choose my line, them pick a spot on that line that's no more than 12-18 inches in front of the ball. That allows me to strike the putt extremely close to the spot if not directly over it. If you pick a spot as far away as Brad has and you aim at that spot, the ball will not roll over that spot unless you actually start the ball on a line above the spot and let it curve over it.

To me, putting to a very close spot simplifies aiming quite a lot!

Regardless of how you pick your spot, this technique can improve your ability to make more putts... and leave shorter second putts when you don't make the first one.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Jake Shepherd on Proper Impact Position (Video)

FACE ANGLE. This video lesson is all about face angle, which may be the most important thing weekend players can learn.



I really like the first drill, the static drill, where you place the clubface against a heavy object and apply some pressure. It's very simple but it can do so much!

The reason many of you don't hit the ball where you're aiming is because you don't know when the clubface is aimed at your target. This drill teaches you to feel where the clubface is aimed as you enter the impact zone, as you actually hit the ball, and as you start swinging into your finish. And you don't even have to be at the range to do this drill because you aren't actually swinging the club -- you're just learning how it feels when your clubface is square!

Don't underestimate a drill like this. When your swing is less than perfect, even if your path is off, the ball will curve toward your target if the clubface is aimed at it. TRY THIS DRILL!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Peter Finch on 'Bounce Chipping' (Video)

This Golf Monthly video shows a different approach to chipping that uses the bounce to deaden the shot.



Finch's basics are as follows:
  • Use a wedge with a nice bounce on it. The short irons don't have enough bounce for this shot.
  • You want the club's grip to run up through the middle of your palm, along your lifeline instead of in your fingers. That makes the club a bit more upright and weakens your lead hand a bit.
  • Set up with the shaft a bit more upright -- more in line with your lead forearm -- so it feels as if the club is up on the toe a bit.
  • You want the ball a bit ahead of center and the butt of the grip pointing more toward your lead hip.
  • Don't use your wrists! You want to keep the club shaft and your lead forearm in a straight line. This is basically an arm and shoulder stroke, like some putting techniques.
The result of all this is that the ball pops up a bit as it comes out of the rough and doesn't roll as much.

While I don't think this method will take the place of normal chipping, it sounds like it could be very useful if you're shortsided or if you have a downhill chip. Anything that takes some momentum off a chip in those circumstances should leave you a shorter par putt.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Emirates Australian Open Is This Week...

...and I nearly forgot because I'm used to it happening BEFORE the Hero!

Defending champion Abraham Ancer

Abraham Ancer is the defending champion at the Australian Golf Club in Rosebery, which is a suburb of Sydney. This was a big breakthrough win for Ancer, who became the first Mexican winner of the event and parlayed that win -- along with some stellar play this season -- into a Presidents Cup berth. He'll be the first Mexican player in that event as well.

He'll be joined by a lot of big name players like Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen. I believe there are seven (counting Ancer) of the International Presidents Cup team playing there this week.

And if that wasn't enough, this is the first event to feature qualifying for the 2020 OPEN. Three spots are up for grabs. Don't you want to watch and see what happens? I do.

GC's coverage begins TODAY at 8pm ET.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Hero World Challenge

Tiger's event takes center stage in this week's Twofer Tuesday.

Defending champion Jon Rahm

The Hero World Challenge is played in the Bahamas, and it's very lucky that the Albany golf course was spared during Hurricane Dorian's recent rampage. The defending champion is Jon Rahm, who will begin his defense on Wednesday this year -- a concession to next week's Presidents Cup.

According to this page at pgatour.com:
The field at Albany is reserved for the defending champion, the winners of the majors since the last edition, the first 11 available in order of highest position in the Official World Golf Ranking (on Aug. 26) and two sponsor exemptions.
If Tiger hadn't qualified on his own, he would have received a sponsor's exemption since he's the host. It does benefit his foundation, of course.

Despite my recent lack of success with Twofer Tuesday picks, I am somewhat optimistic this week. Since there are only 18 players in the field, I have a better than 50% chance of picking at least one of the Top10 finishers!
  • My Top10er is Tiger Woods. Although he'll likely be focused on next week's event -- he's both Captain and player, you know -- I expect he'll still find a way to knock the rust off his game and place high in the field. At least I know he'll be well rested.
  • And my winner? The defending champion Jon Rahm of course! Like Tiger, he too should be well rested -- and riding high after winning the DP WORLD Tour Challenge to take the Race to Dubai title. Unlike Tiger, however, he won't have the Presidents Cup on his mind.
GC's live coverage begins Wednesday at 1pm ET, with the final round split between GC and NBC on Saturday. The weather looks to be good, so watching this event should be a treat for those of us caught in various degrees of winter weather here in the US!

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Alfred Dunhill Championship

Winner: Pablo Larrazábal

Around the wider world of golf: Anne Van Dam won the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España on the LET; Kyung-Tae Kim won the Casio World Open on the Japan Golf Tour; and the KLPGA beat the LPGA 15-9 at the OrangeLife Champions Trophy Park Inbee Invitational team event. (Thanks again, IC!)

Pablo Larrazábal with Alfred Dunhill trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks went pretty much like normal this week. I had Eddie Pepperell (T19) to win and Brandon Stone (T59) to Top10. I thought Pepperell just got off to a slow start in Round 1, but he crashed and burned in Round 2 and never recovered..
  • Winners: 3 for 48
  • Place well (Top10): 20 for 48 (12 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 37 of 96 (22 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
Ironically, I had considered picking Pablo Larrazábal but ruled him out because of poor play. Since his T7 at the Porsche European Open in July, he hadn't done much at all.

And let's be honest, after entering the final round with a three-shot lead, he didn't look to do much better this week. After waking up with severe blisters on his right foot, he proceeded to shoot a six-over 41 on the front nine to lose his lead and perhaps even his chance to win. Before it was over, he had taken six bogeys and a double...

Before making birdies on three of the last four holes to win by one over Joel Sjoholm.

Pablo is just the latest player to be inspired by Tiger ("I said to myself, ‘If Tiger can win a U.S. Open with a broken leg…’ and I just fought hard”) and pull out an unexpected win. Hopefully he pulled out some medicine for those blisters as well! Perhaps his first win in four-and-a-half years -- and a shiny new Limerick Summary -- will ease the pain while he heals.
The field started out three behind…
Then Pablo shot plus six for nine!
He looked to be done
But he went on a run—
Got the win and (I hope) calamine.
The photo came from this page at gulf-times.com.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Thomas Bjorn's Tips from 100 Yards and In (Video)

How can Thomas Bjorn be included in South African golf tips? Because he shot this video just a couple of weeks ago at the Nedbank!



His towel drill -- that is, hitting partial shots with a towel tucked under both arms -- isn't unusual; we've all heard a number of pros recommend this drill. But pay attention to Thomas's focus with it.

While the towel is under both arms, he makes a point of pulling back with his lead arm as he turns through. Later in the video he also talks about his focus on turning his breastbone through the shot while keeping his arms quietly tucked against his chest.

Thomas says keeping his arms quiet this way helps him control both distance and trajectory.

Now, not everybody uses the same techniques in the short game. There are players who prefer to play these knockdown shots with a handsy motion, because feel is more important to these players. But Thomas's technique is a very simple one and if it appeals to you, you'll find the mechanics are very easy to master.