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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Rick Shiels Tests the Mizuno ES21 Wedges (Video)

Another Rick Shiels test, this time of some new Mizuno wedges. Rick says he has never cared for Mizuno wedges because they don't really stand out when compared to other wedges. But these wedges have given him something to think about, primarily because of their design. And since we often see manufacturers come out with variations of successful designs, I thought you might like to become familiar with these new wedges.


Saturday, November 28, 2020

Don't Get an Unintentional Penalty! (Video)

This Golf Monthly video might save you some money on the course! Here are eight rules that golfers often break unintentionally, and they can cost you strokes or even get you DQed. It's well worth a watch.


Friday, November 27, 2020

Willett and Wallace on Spin Control (Video)

Over the last two weeks I've been so busy that some things have slipped by me. For example, I forgot about the new LPGA event last week (the Pelican Women's Championship), the ET event this week (the Alfred Dunhill Championship) and even forgot to do my typical Thanksgiving post yesterday. I'll try to do better through the Christmas holiday.

In honor of the ET event being played this week, today I've got a recent ET post featuring Danny Willett and Matt Wallace as they explain how they control spin with their wedges.


And in case you don't know the air times, GC's live coverage starts at 5:30am ET on Friday (today) and at 4:30am ET on Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

How to Chip It In (Video)

You're going to say, "Mike, this is the same old chipping techniques you've posted before!" But there's a big difference here.

You see, Rick Shiels has specifically chosen to chip from a spot where a good player would EXPECT to hole out. He's going to show you how to use those same old techniques SPECIFICALLY to try and hole out.


This video teaches you the strategy for holing chips. Don't underestimate the value of this video!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

How to Avoid Counterfeit Clubs (Video)

With Black Friday and Christmas ahead of us, you may find this video saves you a lot of grief. This 8-month old video from Golf Digest will help you avoid wasting your money on counterfeits this holiday season.


The really helpful info is in the last half of the video but you'll want to watch all the way through because there's a lot of necessary background info in the first half. Don't get cheated!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A Finish Position Drill (Video)

LPGA instructor Aimee Cho has a simple drill to help you learn a good finish position.


While this seems simple, let me explain why it might help you.

See how her finish position looks exactly like her impact position, only it's a bit farther into the followthrough? When these two positions don't match, you can lose control of the direction the ball flies even if you were aimed properly at impact.

  • If you bend your wrists more after impact, you'll hook the ball unpredictably.
  • If you let your lead arm separate from your chest as you swing through impact, you'll tend to open the face and slice uncontrollably.

Practicing this drill might be just what you need to eliminate some of your unpredictable shots. And best of all, since you don't hit the ball, you can do it in your backyard without breaking windows.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 RSM Classic

Winner: Robert Streb

Around the wider world of golf: Sei Young Kim won the inaugural Pelican Women's Championship on the LPGA; Emily Pedersen won both the individual and team titles at the inaugural Saudi Ladies Team International on the LET; Joachim Hansen won the Joberg Open on the ET; and David Pastore won the LOCALiQ Series Championship on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. In addition, IC tells me that Takumi Kanaya won the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament on the Japan Golf Tour; and Ayaka Furue won the Daio Paper Elleair Ladies Open on the JLPGA.

Robert Streb with RSM trophy

I was 1 for 2 once again with my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Zach Johnson (T6) and Webb Simpson (T37). Webb had an off week but Zach showed he's still got it!

  • Top10s: 26 for 66 (10 Top5, 16 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 3 for 33 events
Robert Streb's game has been looking up lately but I can't think of any circumstance that would have made him stand out to me as a pick this past week. But the great thing about golf is that past performance is no guaranteed indicator of future performance.

It took him six years to get his second win, and he got it at the same tournament, in another playoff, by winning on the second playoff hole.

I'm sensing a pattern here...

For those of you interested in such things, Streb has followed his own drumbeat. He doesn't use a glove but he does use a 10-finger grip. And while I suppose you could argue that his record might be better if he did things like everybody else, I'd counter that there are hundreds of others who do things the 'orthodox' way but don't have any wins at all.

Now Streb has two. And he gets a nice shiny Limerick Summary to boot. You go, Robert! Do it your way!

Since Robert’s outlasted the worst,
His fortunes have finally reversed.
Though six years apart
Robert’s two wins may start
The career he expected at first.

The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

One Approach to Hand Position (Video)

I get all kinds of questions about specifics in the setup or the swing itself. One of those questions is about where your hands should be at setup. In this video LPGA instructor Maria Palozola shows you one way of approaching this problem.


I say 'one approach' because there are so many different ways to set up at address, what works for one player may not work for another. But this idea -- that your hands will always be hanging just inside your lead thigh, no matter which club you use -- is a very simple mechanic that just might be what you're looking for.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Check Out This Putter's Aim Lines (Video)

Another Rick Shiels equipment test video -- this time, a L.A.B. Directed Force 2.1 T putter. He says Adam Scott has used it. I know he has used it in the past and he may include it in his putting practice, but I believe he currently carries a Scottie Cameron Xperimental Rev X11.


What fascinates me about this putter is the alignment system, with a line on the grip that aligns with one along the top of the face when you're holding it 'straight'. This is something that could improve the aim on any putter, so I'm wondering if we might see other manufacturers offer some version of it.

Just for the record, remember that a toe-weighted putter works better for some players than a face-balanced putter -- and it isn't necessarily a matter of whether you swing on an arc or a straight line. So even if L.A.B. has found a way to make a putter that isn't weighted to any specific orientation, that doesn't mean it will automatically work well for everybody.

Don't feel left out if you can't see your way clear to pay several hundred dollars for any putter.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Does Paint Affect a Golf Ball's Flight? (Video)

This is such an interesting theory that I had to post this video.

Rick Shiels frequently tests clubs and balls... but this is an unusual ball. Wilson claims their Staff Model R flies straighter than other balls because it isn't painted. Is that really true? Does paint make that much of a difference?


I'll be honest here. I had no idea that golf balls were painted -- I thought the finish on a golf ball just depended on the composition of the cover material. So this was an education for me.

But Rick's conclusions didn't particularly surprise me, except that the ball felt harder coming off the clubface. (I would have guessed wrong on that one.) See how well you can guess the outcomes of his tests.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Webb Simpson Talks Driving at the RSM Classic (Videos)

This short clip from pgatour.com was posted yesterday, with Webb talking about how his driving has improved and how that should help him this week at the RSM Classic.


I realize that many of you will wonder what's so great about this video, but the point here is that improving your play from the tee isn't all that difficult to understand. Compare that video with the next one, where Webb gave his advice to firsttimers at the RBC Heritage earlier this year.


Make landing your ball in the fairway instead of the rough more important than hitting it far. (It's okay to work on hitting it a little farther, of course. Just not at the expense of hitting it in the fairway.) Try to land your ball in the fat part of the fairway, and lay back a little if you need to in order to get there. Figure out where the ball needs to be in order to set up your next shot... and do what's necessary to hit it there.

In other words, Webb says you can drive it better if you just use a little common sense and accept your limitations. You can work to improve your game on the range but, when you get out there on the course, use the skills you know you can pull off.

A lot of improving your score is just learning when to back off and admit you can't do as much as you'd like right now.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Talking About Spin Control (Video)

I just wanted to post this short video from Rex Hoggard because of some numbers he gave.


Why I find this fascinating -- that Rory gets so much more spin on the greens than DJ (13000 rpm VS 10000 rpm) but it didn't really help him at Augusta -- is because Rory is usually considered a 'soft course' favorite but it actually worked against him last week.

And when the greens started drying out over the weekend I would have thought more spin would have given Rory a real advantage over DJ, who is on record as saying that he doesn't even try to get all the length he's capable of. In other words, DJ gets less spin because he doesn't create as much clubhead speed -- and he does that on purpose.

I think the lesson here is that distance control is more important than spin. You'll get a decent amount of spin if you hit the ball in the center of the clubface, but all the spin in the world won't help you if you hit the ball into the wrong spots on the green. Just look at the difference between Rory's and DJ's approaches to 15 on Sunday and you'll see what I mean.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: RSM Classic

Twofer Tuesday celebrates DJ's victory with a relaxing trip down to the RSM Classic.

Defending champion Tyler Duncan

This may feel a bit unusual for most of this week's participants -- going to the RSM Classic rather than the RBC Heritage. But both events have reputations as relaxing but challenging events and, having been hit by the double whammy of major fatigue and a lingering pandemic, the field will certainly be looking forward to this event.

The RSM will have a full 156-player field but daylight won't be as big a challenge because this event uses two courses before the cut. Defending champion Tyler Duncan will have his hands full though, as no winner has ever made a successful defense.

A number of players are resting from last week's Masters so there could be a better chance for a surprise winner this week. But I'm going with some horses for these courses.

  • Last year's runner-up was Webb Simpson, and we all know how well he's been playing this year. He's coming off a T10 at the Masters and he lost in a playoff here last year. No one's a lock in an event after a major but I like my chances with Webb.
  • My other pick is Zach Johnson. If I recall correctly, this is his stomping ground. And he had Top10s in 2017 and 2018. While Zach certainly isn't a sure thing these days, his familiarity with these courses won't hurt.

GC's coverage starts Thursday at 1pm ET. The field will be chilling out this week, but we should still see some good golf.

Monday, November 16, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 Masters

Winner: Dustin Johnson

Around the wider world of golf: Emily Kristine Pedersen won the inaugural Aramco Saudi Ladies International on the LET. Also, Ayaka Furue won the Ito En Ladies Golf Tournament on the JLPGA; Hye-jin Choi won the ADT Caps Championship on the KLPGA; and Jinichiro Kozuma won the Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Taiheiyo Masters on the Japan Golf Tour. (Thanks, IC!)

Dustin Johnson with the Masters trophy and Green Jacket

I was 1 for 2 with my Twofer Tuesday picks again, but this time it was feast or famine. I had Jason Day (MC) and Dustin Johnson (1). Jason continued to be snakebitten at Augusta but DJ gave me the best Top10 possible.

  • Top10s: 25 for 64 (10 Top5, 15 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 3 for 32 events
Let's be honest here. I expected DJ to do well, simply because he's been in good form this year and the forced layoff due to the quarantine didn't seem to hurt him much last week. He already had three wins and three runner-ups in 2020 coming into this week. But even I was shocked at how good he played at Augusta.

He became the first Masters player to post two 65s in the same week. He set a new Masters scoring record at -20. He won by five strokes, which only a handful of winners have done. He had only four bogeys all week. His final round 68 tied Tiger for the lowest by a 54-hole leader/winner. He brought his total number of wins to 24.

And he broke down crying while talking to Amanda Balionis after he put on the Green Jacket. That in and of itself made history.

I kept hearing the announcers talk about how DJ had failed to close out 54-hole leads in majors. But things change... and DJ has shaken the golf world by doing what they were afraid he would never do. With four wins this year, including a Masters and a FedExCup, he has rewritten the script going forward.

Am I saying DJ will continue to win at this pace? Of course not. Regardless of how good you are, streaks are a real thing. A refusal to accept that comes with a heavy price. Tiger played more consistently than anyone else over his career but it has cost him dearly in longevity. I don't see DJ making that mistake, and that means he'll have some bare spots... eventually.

But not right now.

Whatever happens going forward, the Johnson clan will have a great holiday season, despite the pandemic. So let's just add his newest Limerick Summary to the bling and say congratulations.

Some folks spoke his name with a smirk;
Didn’t matter how much DJ worked.
Some folks said he’s done;
Now with two majors won
Seems the whole world’s been put on alert.

The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

A Masters Reminder

Just a reminder that Masters coverage begins early today because the days are much shorter in November than they are in April.

10am-3pm ET on CBS

A November Masters means an early afternoon finish. DON'T FORGET!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Rick Shiels Tests the Wilson Staff Model CB Irons (Video)

I've posted a number of Rick Shiels videos lately because he tests a lot of equipment and I like the way he does the tests. This test (just a couple of days old) is for the Wilson Staff Model CB irons. He's even got the lofts of the individual irons in this video!


The reason for posting this is Rick's reason for testing them: He says these irons are underrated. And if these are good quality irons that you can buy for less without giving up anything, you should be made aware of them. Clubs are too expensive to overlook a good deal!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Rick Shiels VS the 48-Inch Driver (Video)

If you're curious whether a 48-inch driver could really help your game, Rick Shiels has the answer. He decided to get his DeChambeau on and had a 48-inch shaft custom fitted to his regular driver and compared the results.


I really like this video because Rick took the time to get and show the comparison measurements between the two, including a computer diagram showing his actual contact pattern with his normal driver setup so you can see how consistent his contact is with his standard length driver. You also get comparisons of swing speed, clubhead speed and carry distance.

All-in-all, this is a very informative video. It should tell you all you need to know.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Breaking 90, 165 Yards at a Time (Video)

This guy named Pat was 78 years old when he made this video. He doesn't have a pretty swing but he teaches you how to break 90 without ever hitting a shot longer than 165 yards. It's all about strategy.


For those of you who are struggling to break 90, Pat's strategy can help you do it. He says (later in the video) that if you're a better player, you won't use this strategy all the time. But this can help you get over the hump.

And if you're a better player but there's a hole or two (or three, or...) where you struggle to make no worse than bogey, this video can help you as well. Here's to lower scores!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Nick Clearwater on Fitting Irons (Video)

This GOLFTEC video has an interesting approach to fitting the lie of your irons... and it doesn't use a lie board.


This variation on the technique of using tape or spray to show where you contact the ball on the clubface is interesting. Instead of spraying or taping something on the face, you put a mark on the golf ball, position the ball so the line is vertical, and then hit the ball so it leaves a line on the clubface.

If the line is vertical, the lie is correct.

Definitely worth a try if you need to adjust the lie of your current irons or buy new ones.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: The Masters

A confused Twofer Tuesday searches hopelessly for azaleas at Augusta National as we prepare for the Masters.

Tiger in the Green Jacket

I don't really need to give you any basics about this tournament, do I? Of course not. All you really need to know is that Tiger will be defending in November rather than April, which means slightly more Bermuda on the course with a surprisingly warm (80°s F) and probably wet week.

The general thinking is that the wet weather may open up the possibilities for the shorter players, as Zach Johnson and Mike Weir (among others) have demonstrated in past rain-plagued Masters. I think that could bode well for Collin Morikawa.

I'm sure the big money will be on Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, who should probably be my picks this week. I also doubt that you would go wrong if you picked Tyrrell Hatton, Jon Rahm or Patrick Cantlay, who have all been playing well leading into this major.

And I don't think anybody will ever rule Tiger Woods out again.

But I'm a contrarian after all and have decided to pick a couple of players who, you could argue, have been snakebitten by Augusta in the past. I happen to think they may be in their best form to win the Masters that they've ever been in.

  • My first pick is Jason Day. Jason has four Top10s at Augusta -- T2 in 2011, 3 in 2013, T10 in 2016 and T5 last year in 2019. The back is always a question when Jason tees it up, but he's been playing well with four Top7s during the summer and, after a few weeks of struggle, another T7 at Houston. Players like Jason 'get up' for the Masters and I think he just needs one healthy week to make yet another run at the Green Jacket.
  • My other pick is Dustin Johnson. He too has four Top10s at Augusta -- T6 in 2015, T4 in 2016, T10 in 2018 and T2 just last year. And I don't need to tell you how well he played during the summer, or that he came back from his COVID break with a T2 last week. This could be the year he shows us what he might have done in 2017 if he hadn't fallen down steps at the start of Masters Week and had to withdraw.

The Masters (as usual) divides its coverage between ESPN and CBS. Don't forget, the hours look a bit weird this year because the days are much shorter in November.

  • Thursday: 1pm-5:30pm ET on ESPN
  • Friday: 1pm-5:30pm ET on ESPN
  • Saturday: 1pm-5pm ET on CBS
  • Sunday: 10am-3pm ET on CBS

We'll see fall foliage rather than azaleas this year, and small groups of 'significant others' rather than patrons lining the fairways. But the Masters is the Masters, so how can it possibly disappoint us?

Monday, November 9, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 Vivint Houston Open

Winner: Carlos Ortiz

Around the wider world of golf: Minjee Lee won the LET's OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic; Robert MacIntire won the ET's Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Showdown; Frida Kinhult won the Symetra Tour Championship; and Ruan Korb won the Sunshine Tour's Times Square Challenge. IC tells me that Jiyai Shin won the JLPGA's Toto Japan Classic (the pandemic kept it from being the normal LPGA event); Seung Soo Han won the KPGA's LG Signature Players Championship; and Na Rin An won the KLPGA's Hana Financial Group Championship. And the playoff between Kevin Sutherland and Paul Broadhurst (6 holes already) at the Champions Tour's Charles Schwab Cup Championship will continue Monday morning at 10am ET on GC. [UPDATE: Sutherland won it in 9 total playoff holes.]

Carlos Ortiz with Houston Open trophy

I was 1 for 2 with my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Doc Redman (T61) and Tyrrell Hatton (T7). Tyrrell played a great final round to get me a Top10.

  • Top10s: 24 for 62 (9 Top5, 15 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 2 for 31 events
I was actually shocked at how many of the top players got into contention over the weekend, given that none of them had seen this venue before. Memorial Park Golf Course hasn't been used at the Houston Open since 1963, and the course makeover meant the greens would be a bit unpredictable as well.

Despite helping with the redo, I didn't expect Brooks Koepka to have as strong a showing as he did. Nor did I expect Dustin Johnson (coming back from his COVID layoff), Jason Day (bothered by back problems since the restart), Hideki Matsuyama (who has just been struggling, period), nor the other great names who seem to have found some form the week before Augusta.

Under no circumstances would I have expected Carlos Ortiz to outlast them all. With nothing better than a T25 since the restart, and chased down the back nine by DJ and Hideki, I wouldn't have expected him to handle the pressure. While he has three Korn Ferry Tour wins, they were all back in 2014. It's just not something you expect when a player is still seeking his first PGA Tour win.

But boy, did Carlos prove me wrong! Not only did he stand up under the pressure, but he played aggressive shots and pulled them off, time after time. And when he sank that eagle putt on 18 to win by two over DJ and Hideki, I'm sure they were as shocked as I was. It's just not what you expect from a first time winner.

Now Carlos gets a trip to Augusta -- he was there last year to watch his brother play, but this time he'll be the player -- as well as his nearly three-year card and all the bling that goes with a win. And of course, he gets a Limerick Summary as well. Congrats on your first one, Carlos!

When Carlos holed out at the last,
Hideki and DJ got passed
As he beat them by two.
So what else could they do
But applaud as they stood there, aghast?

The photo came from the tournament page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Rick Shiels Tests the Top Flite Gamer (Video)

I, like many people, have used a lot of two-piece golf balls in my time. Back when Greg Norman played Spalding's Tour Editions, I tried them and liked them. Back when Nike made golf balls, they had a two-piece -- I think it was called the Power Distance Soft -- that played pretty well for me.

But I bet a lot of you remember (as I do) the original two-piece Top Flite distance balls. They were, as Rick mentions in this video, hard as rocks but they definitely gave you distance and they were easy on the wallet. That's important when you need several during a round.

In the last couple of days Rick posted this test of the new Top Flite Gamer, a three-piece Top Flite... and he likes them!


I'm posting this for a simple reason: Not all of us need super techno transdimensional golf balls with 17 layers that require a second mortgage in order to purchase them. If you have trouble keeping enough balls in your bag, maybe Rick's tests will give you another option!

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Equipment Hacks for Winter (Video)

Golf Monthly posted this video just a week or so back, showing some ways to make your equipment better suited to wet soft winter conditions. There are seven 'points' but there is more than a single suggestion with many of them.


I would add is that you can sometimes use these tips in more ways than the video mentions. For example, the first tip about adding loft to your driver to get more carry over soft ground doesn't necessarily mean you need an adjustable driver. A standard 3-wood's shaft is only 1" shorter than a standard driver's, so the added loft of the 3-wood might easily give you more distance.

My own tests have found that to be true under many conditions so you might want to try that if you have a low ball flight.

And many of the hacks just eliminate some of the frustration that comes from playing in winter weather, like switching from leather to synthetic gloves.

This video will teach you some new ways to think about your equipment. If you find only one useful tip in this video, the improvement to your winter golf just may be worth the time.

Friday, November 6, 2020

The KLPGA Hana Financial Group Championship Simulcasts

IceCat tries to keep me up on the Asian events, often sending me the winners of various events so I can post them in the Limerick Summary each Monday.

Round 2 simulcast image

On Thursday he sent me the following message with a link to the full stream of the 3-hour simulcast of Round 1 of this week's KLPGA event. Here's the note with the link:

SBS Golf in Korea is bringing back its English simulcast of KLPGA golf for this week's Hana Financial Group Championship at Sky72 in Incheon. The first round coverage is archived in this link: https://youtu.be/rD9hzzKLeTM

He also said, "Look on SBS Golf's YouTube channel at around 12 midnight EST Friday through Sunday for the live link."

So, for those of you interested in catching Round 2 of the Hana Financial Group Championship tonight, here's a link to the SBS Golf YouTube channel. The Round 2 live link is already up -- you can set the reminder to notify you when it starts.

And thanks again, IC. I really appreciate your help keeping up with these events.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

NIGHTTIME GOLF?!?!

I'm still not sure how the LET's OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic slipped up on me. It's not like it's a new tournament or anything -- in fact, I've watched it in the past.

Defending champion Nuria Iturrioz

After a little thought, I've decided I missed it because, after being played in December every year since 2007 (the first edition in 2006 was played in October), the event wasn't played in 2018 and was played in May last year, when the 'moonlight' aspect debuted.

It doesn't help that GC doesn't mention it at all in the list of events on their homepage. I found it quite by accident on Wednesday morning when the 'moonlight' part of Round 1 was being televised.

Yes, the 54-hole event is a bit different from most events because half of each round is played in the dark. This year it runs from November 4-6, it's played at the Faldo Course at The Emirates Golf Club, and the 56-player field is split into a day/night shotgun start with half of the field playing under floodlights. It's way cool!

(Just to be thorough, one of the Gulf news sites I checked only mentioned the first 36 holes being played under the lights but the official site seems to indicate it's all three. That makes more sense to me.)

Caroline Hedwall leads at -7 after the first round.

The trick is that, here in the US, GC is only showing the moonlight part of the event, with Round 2 starting at 10am ET this morning. It's possible to stream some of both the day and night parts at this link, depending on where you live, so be sure to check.

I don't understand why GC has failed to list this event on their website or post a leaderboard -- although Golf Central did do this short piece about Round 1 -- but it's a sad oversight on their part. This is, as I said, a really cool tournament.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Second Cyprus Event

The European Tour is once again using a 'trick' that has stood the various tours in good stead this year. They're holding two tournaments in a row at the same venue.

But this week's Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Shootout is a different animal from last week's Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Open.

Aphrodite Hills Golf Course in Cyprus

While last week we saw a 'normal' event, this week we get a different format.

  • We start with 105 players who will play 36 holes of stroke play.
  • At that point a cut of 32 players plus ties will be made and all scores reset.
  • The third round is a shootout between these players, with the Top16 players plus ties making the final round and all scores being reset again.
  • Then the final round is one last shootout, from which the winner will be determined.

It sounds like a fun way to mix things up so it's not just two tournaments at the same course. The only problem is that we won't have any TV coverage here in the States. (I don't know about overseas.)

So here are links to the GC leaderboard and the ET leaderboard. At least we can keep up with the scores, even if we can't see the actual play.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: Vivint Houston Open

Twofer Tuesday saddles up and moseys on down to Texas for the Vivint Houston Open.

Defending champion Lanto Griffin

Vivint is a new sponsor for the Houston Open, but the event itself has been around for quite a while. In fact, up until 2019 it always took place the week before the Masters and many players used it as a warm-up for the major. You may even be aware that the greens crew worked to make the Houston Open as much like Augusta as possible for that very reason.

But 2020 has been a year of changes and the Houston Open is no different. Although this change was planned before the pandemic, the fact remains that this year sees a change in venue to one that has been used in the past but not for a long time -- since 1963, in fact.

Memorial Park Golf Course is the new old venue, so it remains to be seen if players will get the same sort of prep for the Masters next week. Lanto Griffin will defend on an entirely different course.

But my concern is picking a couple of Top10 finishers. Here are my picks:

  • Doc Redman hasn't done particularly well by me when I've picked him lately. But in his last six starts -- extending back to the Wyndham -- he has two T3s, a T4, a T28 and two MCs. While that's definitely a hit-and-miss scenario, it also means he's been putting up a Top5 50% of the time over the last few months. I'm ready to take those odds!
  • And Tyrrell Hatton has been on a similar run himself. While he doesn't have a 50% Top5 rate, he has played some outstanding golf with a win and a T3 in the last few weeks. I actually considered taking him the week he made the T3 but didn't because of the travel following his victory at Wentworth. When I took him at the ZOZO the next week, he posted a T28. I think I'll give him another try.

GC's live coverage starts Thursday at 1pm ET. The big question mark this week concerns the decision to allow fans back on the course -- roughly 2000 a day, with masks and social distancing enforced. It might add a little of that missing 'juice' to the players' games... or it might break the bubble. We'll have to see how it plays out.

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 Bermuda Championship

Winner: Brian Gay

Around the wider world of golf: Darren Clarke finally got his first Champions Tour win at the TimberTech Championship; Callum Shinkwin got his first ET win at the Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Open; Ana Balac got her first Symetra Tour win at the Carolina Golf Classic; and Daniel van Tonder got his fourth Sunshine Tour victory in his last six starts at the Investec Royal Swazi Open. Plus, IC tells me Hana Jang won the KLPGA's SK Networks Seokyung Ladies Classic while Yuna Nishimura won the JLPGA's Hisako Higuchi Mitsubishi Electric Ladies Golf Tournament. (Thanks again, IC!)

Brian Gay with Bermuda Championship trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks struggled in Bermuda. I had Will Zalatoris (T16) and Rasmus Hojgaard (T37). Rasmus just had an off week but Will was specifically derailed by the winds with a 72 on Friday. Had he just matched his average for the other three rounds (68) he would have given me a Top5. At least he got his Special Member Status.

  • Top10s: 23 for 60 (9 Top5, 14 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 2 for 30 events

As it turned out, Brian Gay was the man on the move Sunday. Wyndham Clark jumped out to an early lead, shooting -5 on the front nine, only to stall out with a mere -1 coming home. Brian shot -3 on the front nine and blistered the back nine with another -4.

That extra birdie came on the final hole of regulation -- from the rough, no less -- while Clark could only manage a par. And on the first playoff hole Brian repeated the feat (this time from the fairway) to become the oldest PGA Tour winner since Davis Love back in 2015.

Brian Gay is known as a short hitter with a hot putter, but his iron play is really underrated. Good putts don't help you a whole lot if you don't get your approach shots close enough to capitalize on your putting! Brian did just that on Sunday, with that amazing approach from the rough on the 72nd hole and another makeable attempt in the playoff.

Gay's career is pretty amazing when you think about it. He came on Tour in 1999, after the Tiger rampage had already begun, yet he has managed to win five times in three different decades... and has never lost his card during that time. And this win comes just a month before his 49th birthday, so he'll be playing until he qualifies for the Champions Tour, should he decide to focus there.

In the meantime, Brian, you go celebrate your most recent win... and your most recent Limerick Summary.

It had been seven years since he won
But Brian is still far from done!
Though his drives aren’t that long,
All his irons are still strong
So this win shouldn’t shock anyone.

The photo came from the tournament page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Understanding the World Handicap System (Video)

Golf Monthly just did this video explaining how the new World Handicap System works. If you use a handicap, spend some time with this one!


I'm oversimplifying things a bit, but basically the new system replaces your handicap -- a single number that represents how many strokes you get -- with a handicap index, which is a number used to calculate your handicap for a particular course based on several course details that can vary from day-to-day. Those details include things like the tees you play from, the weather conditions, and even if you have an unusually good or bad round.

This video does a good job of explaining a fairly complex subject. By all means, at least get familiar with the terms used in the new system.