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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

A Quick Hop Across the Pond

Finally! The LET joins in on the fun as they and the LPGA tee it up at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open.

Defending champion Mi Jung Hur

The Renaissance Club in Scotland -- the same course that hosts the Men's Scottish Open -- will once again host the Ladies Scottish Open. This is the first of two events in Scotland, the second being the newly-renamed AIG Women's Open at Royal Troon.

We still aren't free of the pandemic's effects, of course. Defending champion Mi Jung Hur won't be defending this week, and you can be sure several other players won't risk catching the virus.

Nevertheless, the field should be pretty good. World #2 Danielle Kang, fresh off back-to-back wins in the first two events of the LPGA restart, will be joined by past champions Ariya Jutanugarn and Mi Hyang Lee, as well as major champs Hannah Green and Hinako Shibuno.

GC's coverage starts early on Thursday at 7am ET. It will be interesting to see how Danielle does as she has posted three wins, one second-place finish and two third-place finishes in her last seven LPGA starts.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: Wyndham Championship

Twofer Tuesday heads home to North Carolina for this week's tournament, the Wyndham Championship.

Defending champion J.T. Poston

Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro is a classic Donald Ross design, the only Ross design that regularly hosts a Tour event. It's just a par-70 playing 7127 yards. And it's not unusual for first-time winners to get that first win here, as defending champion J.T. Poston did last year.

There's a lot on the line this week, as this is the final event before the FedExCup Playoffs and all the different points lists (and money prizes) will be finalized on Sunday. That means the real interest this week will be centered around the guys making the cut and hopefully the playoffs. And the Wyndham Rewards Top 10 competition will also get a few pros' attention.

But Twofer Tuesday is about the Top10 at this event, so let's get to it.

  • Webb Simpson is one of those players who got his first Tour win at this event (2011), and he already has two wins this season. Given that he's been T3 or better each of the last three years, and T11 or better eight of the last ten, you know who I'm picking. I need to get my stats up!
  • And I'm falling back on a player I've often picked to win when he's playing well, only to have him plagued by bad luck. Paul Casey is playing some of his best golf in quite a while, and an old-style course like Sedgefield suits him. Coming off his runner-up finish at Harding Park, I like his chances to put up another strong finish.

GC's live coverage begins Thursday at 2pm ET. It's always fun to watch the guys try their luck on a classic course and, with the loaded fields we've seen since the restart, combined with the last-minute pressure of the points lists, this should be a killer week to end the regular season.

Monday, August 10, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 PGA Championship

Winner: Collin Morikawa

Around the wider world of golf: Danielle Kang went back-to-back with a victory at the Marathon LPGA Classic; Andy Sullivan won the English Championship on the ET; Lee Hodges won the WinCo Foods Portland Open on the Korn Ferry Tour; the KLPGA team defended the OrangeLife Champions Trophy over the combined LPGA/JLPGA team; Sung Hyun Kim won the KPGA Championship; and Rose Zhang beat Gabriela Ruffels in 38 holes at the Women's Amateur.

New PGA champion Collin Morikawa finds the Wannamaker trophy has a mind of its own

Perhaps in the future my Twofer Tuesday picks should avoid municipal courses. I had Brooks Koepka (T29) and Justin Thomas (T37), who were clearly puzzled by the shots we weekend athletes have to contend with on a regular basis. Perhaps they were confused by the lack of spectators...?

  • Top10s: 15 for 38 (6 Top5, 9 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 1 for 19 events

Granted, Brooks did start the final round on the first page of the leaderboard. He simply didn't stay there. But there were plenty of players eager to take his spot.

Collin Morikawa appeared to be more eager than most.

In a field dominated by bombers -- and yes, Bryson DeChambeau proved his body changes would indeed improve his play in the majors by getting his first Top10 -- two of the Top3 finishers weren't bombers at all, but rather shotmakers and good putters. Paul Casey tied for second...

And Collin just went freaking crazy in the last five holes. A chip-in birdie on the 14th and an eagle on the par-4 16th put him out of the reach of the rest of the field.

With two victories in a month -- one at Muirfield Village and the other a major -- he takes over the #1 spot in my Ruthless Golf World Rankings. He's also only the fourth 23-year-old, behind Jack, Tiger and Rory, to win a PGA Championship. Think about this, folks: Collin Morikawa now has as many majors as he has missed cuts. That's unusual these days for sure!

Even the Wanamaker Trophy didn't know how to handle it, as illustrated in the photo above.

But I know how to handle it for sure. I just pump out another Limerick Summary. Collin's building a nice collection of them for someone so early in his career! [UPDATE: And please forgive me, Collin -- you aren't the only guy to bobble the prize! I accidentally put UCLA when I should have put Cal Berkeley. I hope this corrected Limerick Summary works for you!]

Just like Rory and Tiger and Jack,
For Collin there’s no looking back.
Went from Cal-Berkeley play
To his first PGA
At just age 23. He’s no hack!

The photo came from this page at golfweek.usatoday.com.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Homemade Training Aids to Improve Contact (Video)

I know some of you really like to use training aids to improve your swing, so here's GOLFTEC's Nathan Morris with some ideas on how to create your own training aids. Maybe it will give you some ideas on how to design your own custom training station.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Chipping from Thick Greenside Rough (Videos)

Since the pros at Harding Park struggled so much from the rough on Friday, I thought it might be worthwhile to look at chipping out of really thick greenside rough.

I've linked an article at pgatour.com that describes the basics of "thick rough chipping", but apparently they didn't care enough about it to keep links to the photos that are referenced in the article. Still, the description is very thorough and hopefully a couple of videos will provide the necessary visuals.

One thing you want to remember when reading this article is that they assume you're righthanded. Anywhere you see the word 'left' you should mentally substitute the word 'lead.' That way, you lefties out there can follow the instructions as well.
We'll start with a brief video from Bradley Hughes.

The other video is from Kelly King and goes into a bit more detail.

The main keys you need to remember are:

  • You want to keep your iron shaft more vertical than normal so you can use the toe of the club to hit the ball. That way you don't get caught up in the rough so badly.
  • This means you want to keep the grip more in the palm of your lead hand.
  • The net result of these two keys is that you're going to make a putting motion without a lot of wrist break. (The grip simply won't let you use a lot of wrist action.) That will make for a more consistent contact as you hit the ball.
  • At address the ball should be in the middle of your stance or just slightly back of that and the shaft should point at your belly button. Your weight should stay on your lead side all the way through the swing from start to finish.
  • And make sure you swing hard enough that the club doesn't stop in the grass. You have to swing hard enough to get the club all the way out of the grass; if you just stick the club in the grass, the ball isn't going to come out. For shorter shots use more loft; for longer shots use less loft. The loft will determine how high the ball flies coming out of the rough; learning how much to use is just a matter of practice.

If you follow these keys, the ball will "squirt" out of the rough and run across the green to the hole. That's what you want!

Even the pros struggle when faced with thick greenside rough. That doesn't mean it has to wreck your score if you just keep the basics in mind.

Friday, August 7, 2020

The Chunk and Run Shot, Part 2 (Videos)

Yesterday I posted Dave Pelz's instructions for hitting a chunk and run shot from the bunker. Today I've got four short videos from four different teachers, each demonstrating their approach to the shot.

Each of these chunk and run shots uses the basics of the Pelz shot, but each has that teacher's own twist on the technique. Between the Pelz instructions and these four demos, you should be able to find a technique that works for you.

The first video is from Sandy Jamieson.


The next video comes from Scott Mahlberg.


Here's one from Anne Cain.


And this video is from Mitchell Spearman.

Four different teachers, four slightly different approaches. Try them all and pick the one that suits you best!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Chunk and Run Shot

The chunk and run shot is simply a sand shot that's hit fat on purpose. I found this Golf Magazine article where Dave Pelz explains the basics.

Dave Pelz hitting chunk and run sand shot

Here's a summary of what Dave says in the article.
  • This is a 20- to 40-yard greenside shot for use in a shallow bunker. If the lip is too high, this is the wrong shot. And you need room between the bunker and the hole for the shot to run.
  • Don't use your sand wedge. Dave recommends a 7- to 9-iron.
  • Use your normal setup and open the clubface only a little, just enough to keep it from digging into the sand.
  • Make your backswing about half its normal length and hit four or five inches behind the ball. Remember, you want to hit it fat on purpose!
  • Dave says you're pushing the sand into the ball, not slipping the club under the ball to throw the sand upward. So don't flip your wrists.
  • For a 20-yard shot, finish with your hands around waist high. For a 40-yard chunk and run, make a full finish.
  • Let that baby RUN to the hole!
This is a shot that takes some practice but, hey, how hard can it be to hit the ball fat? Just experiment a little and find out which club works best for you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The LPGA Plays the Marathon Classic After All

We weren't sure this event would even be played as little as a month ago, and the virus has left its fingerprints all over the Marathon Classic.

Defending champion Sei Young Kim

We'll start with the obvious: There will be no spectators at this event. That nearly killed the event, as sponsors draw most of the charity dollars from the pro-ams and such that can't be played this year.

Defending champion Sei Young Kim will not defend. She's still in Korea due to travel concerns.

An interesting fact: US players have more wins at this event than any other country (13), but no American has won since 2008 (Paula Creamer). That could change this year, given that many of the international players have -- like Kim -- chosen not to risk the travel. But that doesn't mean the entire field will be US players. A quick glance at the field list shows a large number of international players will be in action.

The field will be headlined by World #2 Danielle Kang and #3 Nelly Korda. Also notable is Ana Belac, a player from Slovenia via Duke University who is making her first Tour appearance on a sponsor's invite. (Is she the first Slovenian player to play at an LPGA event? I'm guessing she is.)

Finally, this note from the LPGA website.
The Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana is the final opportunity for LPGA players to earn a full exemption into the 2020 AIG Women’s Open; after 72 holes, the top 10 LPGA Members not already exempt will earn a spot into the major championship
GC will carry three hours of live coverage starting Thursday at 1pm ET. For those of us who missed women's golf, it's nice to know the LPGA is getting some live coverage amidst all the other tours.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: PGA Championship

Twofer Tuesday is trapped in a time warp! A trip to the 2020 PGA Championship takes us to roughly the same time of year as the 2018 PGA!

Defending champion Brooks Koepka

Well, I suppose we'll survive, given that the same guy won in 2018 and 2019. This time Brooks Koepka defends at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco CA.

The difference, of course, is the pandemic. This PGA will have no fans -- or at least none but perhaps the significant others of the players involved. There is a belief among some commentators that this may open up the potential for an unexpected winner, an inexperienced player who may benefit from the lack of fans. Fewer people on site watching, less pressure on the participants -- or that's how the theory goes.

We'll see about that. Majors carry a pressure all their own, regardless of how many fans are watching.

In the meantime I have to pick two players to finish in the Top10. Forget untested theories -- I'm going chalk.
  • After a near miss last week at the WGC, it's hard not to believe Brooks Koepka will find a way to get it done yet again. The chance to win a fifth major, as well as make history with a three-peat -- that's just too much for a gamer like Brooks to pass up. The massive improvements in his game last week lacked only one thing -- a dependable fade. I bet he'll have one of those this week!
  • Let's see now, who were the last three PGA champs? Brooks won in 2019 and 2018... and Justin Thomas in 2017. The only three-time winner this season is coming off a WGC win where he beat... defending champ Brooks Koepka? Sure, he's been a bit erratic but he's got a win and a runner-up in his last three events. Sure sounds like a recipe for success to me!
ESPN and CBS split the coverage duties this week. If you've got the ESPN+ streaming service, you can watch from 10am-4pm ET on Thursday. But whether you've got that or not, ESPN will air the event from 4pm-10pm ET Thursday. Bear in mind that both will likely be live, as there's a three-hour time difference between the East and West Coasts.

I'm interested to see if the "no pressure" theory actually plays out in San Francisco... but I wouldn't bet on it. I'll be shocked if the winner doesn't come from the Top20 in the world rankings.

Monday, August 3, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude

Winner: Justin Thomas

Around the wider world of golf: Sam Horsfield won the Hero Open on the ET; Jim Furyk won the Ally Challenge on the Champions Tour; Richy Werenski won the Barracuda Championship, the PGA Tour's alternate field event; Seth Reeves won the Pinnacle Bank Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour; Danielle Kang won the LPGA Drive On Championship; and Hae Ran Ryu defended her title at the Jeju Samdasoo Masters on the KLPGA.

Justin Thomas with WGC-FedEx St. Jude trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks struggled in Memphis. I had Collin Morikawa (T20) and Webb Simpson (T12). Webb almost gave me a T10 until late Sunday, when the course took its toll on almost everybody. Oh well...
  • Top10s: 15 for 36 (6 Top5, 9 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 1 for 18 events
Justin Thomas had his mind on a high finish this week. After some uneven play since the restart, he was talking about his desire to return to #1 in the world and noted he'd like to spend at least two years there by the time his career ended.

Guess who's back?

Jon Rahm's time at the top ended quickly after a T52 in Memphis but JT's return to the top of the OWGR wasn't a done deal. He started the final round in fifth place -- he'd never come from that far back -- and he was four strokes down, tying the largest deficit he'd ever overcome. And while he made up ground quickly, at one point there were eight players within a single stroke of the lead.

One of those players was Brooks Koepka, also rediscovering some form after a few weeks of struggle. It appeared for a while that he might be back on point and ready to defend his last WGC title... but then he hit the final three holes and the roller coaster took its toll:
  • JT took a two-stroke lead after making birdie on 16 while Brooks bogeyed.
  • Brooks cut the lead to one with a long birdie on 17 while JT could only par.
  • And then Brooks dumped his tee shot on 18 into the water for double-bogey and JT"s par gave him a three-shot victory.
So now Justin Thomas heads to California for the PGA Championship, the major he's won once already and at which Brooks is again the defending champion. But he'll head out well-armed with both the #1 spot in the world rankings and yet another Limerick Summary.
The first man to three wins this season
Leaves Memphis with one major reason
To play well in Cali:
For JT, it’s how he
Finds World Number One so damn pleasin’!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Jon Rahm on the Short Game (Video)

This year-old video is absolutely loaded with Jon's thoughts on the short game. There's a lot here if you take the time to listen.



I think the most useful tip he gives is his preference for shots that don't spin. Jon says that your best chance to make a short game shot -- if it's a shot that you can use, given the conditions -- is to make the shot without spin so it will hit and roll to the hole.

As I said, there's a lot of good thoughts in this video. Given that his approach took him from #8 at the time of this video to #1 now, those thoughts are definitely worth trying out.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Before You Buy Your Next Set of Clubs...

This Golf Monthly video helps you prepare for the potentially expensive procedure of getting a new set of fitted clubs. Check out the ten questions you should ask before you buy!


I have listed the ten questions below but you'll want to watch the video to understand the full importance of each one.

And yes, I know I numbered them backwards. That's just how the HTML coding for the post works!
  1. What is the weakest part of your game?
  2. Where do you play?
  3. Are you taking lessons, and is your handicap coming down?
  4. How important are the look and the feel of the golf clubs to you?
  5. Is the makeup of the set likely to change?
  6. Do you have one consistent shot shape, or do you prefer to hit lots of different types of shots?
  7. How much are you willing to spend?
  8. What would make a bigger difference to your scoring -- hitting it longer or hitting it straighter?
  9. What is your go-to shot?
  10. Where do you most commonly miss?
So if you're getting ready to buy new clubs, take the time to run through these questions. They just might make the difference between a good fit and a less-than-successful fit.