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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Remembering Calvin Peete

Wednesday morning we lost yet another legendary golfer, this time to lung cancer. His name was Calvin Peete and he was 71.

Calvin Peete

Many of you may not even be aware of who Calvin Peete was, and that's a real shame. FoxSports opened their article about his passing with a simple statement about his career:
Calvin Peete, who taught himself how to play golf at 24 and became the most successful black player on the PGA Tour before the arrival of Tiger Woods, died Wednesday morning, the PGA Tour said. He was 71.
But that doesn't even begin to sum up Peete's place in history. Before Fred Funk became Mr. Accuracy, that title belonged to Calvin Peete... for 10 years. He competed against Nicklaus and Trevino and Watson and Norman during some of their most competitive years. He won 14 pro tournaments, 12 of them on the PGA Tour, and while he never won a major he did win THE PLAYERS in 1985 and what is now the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in 1986.

For me personally, Calvin Peete was the guy I tried to pattern my game after. When I took up the game in 1985, he was notorious for his ability to just wear the field out. He was an average-length hitter but he just hit fairways and greens, round after round, tournament after tournament. If Calvin Peete was playing, he was probably near the top of the leaderboard.

Here are links to three of the articles that were written about him after his passing yesterday:
and they'll give you an overview of what he did and what other players thought of him.

But for me, he was my inspiration. He made me believe that a normal guy could play against the big boys and hold his own. I'll always be grateful to him for that. Rest in peace, Calvin.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Just a Reminder

Don't forget -- the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship starts TODAY (not Thursday) and the broadcast begins at 4pm ET. It runs for 6 full hours in prime time (until 10pm ET) and then the whole thing re-airs starting at 11pm ET.

The Match Play trophy

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Final Four for the Match Play

When they determined who would be in each of the 16 groups Monday on GC's selection show, I must admit to a moment of panic.

In the past, my routine was to look at the four brackets -- typically named for famous players of the past -- and pick one winner from each, then let the one who made it through be my overall pick to win. (At that point I would pick one if more than one made it through, but that's never happened.) Faced with 16 different groups, I was momentarily paralyzed by the number of decisions I would have to make for this post.

That is, until I realized we still have only four brackets. They're just named for the Top4 players in the OWGR, because each of those players was placed in a different bracket. (You can download a PDF of the brackets from this link at Just look for the words "Printable Bracket" and click them.)

The only real difference this year is that players will now have to play 7 matches in 5 days instead of the 6 in 5 they did last year. And while the first 3 matches will be pool play, the only way to be sure you make it through is still to win all of your matches. (If you win only 2 in pool play, the best you can hope for is sudden death with only one other player. And do you really want to play for 3 days, only to have your fate potentially determined by a single hole? I think not.)

So here are my Final Four from the new brackets. As usual, the fact that I didn't pick somebody is no reflection on their ability to win this thing; I'm simply limited to picking 4 players.

In the McIlroy bracket, I'm going against logic and picking Paul Casey. Casey is finally healthy this year and has been focusing his attention on the PGA Tour, so he hasn't been traveling quite as much. Given that Casey has had a pretty decent match play record in the past -- besides his amateur and Ryder Cup records, he also won the Volvo Match Play (then the HSBC) back in 2006 -- I think he could do well this year.

In the Spieth bracket, I'm going chalk and taking Jordan Spieth. I don't think Jordan will win overall, but I do think he's likely to come out of his bracket. (Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised if Mikko Ilonen came out of the bracket, but I believe the 15-hour jetlag he's fighting will derail his chances.)

In the Stenson bracket, I simply can't talk myself out of picking Justin Rose. Although I'm concerned about fatigue -- 30 holes of golf Sunday, then all this golf starting Wednesday -- I simply can't ignore how well he's playing. In fact, I believe he'll get through simply because he won't play as many holes in each match as his opponents do.

And from the Watson bracket, I'm taking Graeme McDowell. Despite a relatively poor 2015 thus far, his match play record is too good for me not to pick him. I think a good match play tournament may be exactly what he needs to get his year kickstarted.

Last year I had my best result ever, as Victor Dubuisson was the only one of my four picks to make it through and he came in runner-up. Let's see if I do better this year.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 Zurich Classic

Winner: Justin Rose

Around the wider world of golf: Lydia Ko defended at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic; the team of Joe Durant and Billy Andrade won the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf (Larry Nelson and Bruce Fleisher won the Legends division) on the Champions Tour; Ashun Wu won the Volvo China Open on the ET/PGA TOUR China; Lee Westwood won the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters on the Asian Tour; Rachel Rohanna won the Guardian Retirement Championship on the Symetra Tour; and Hikari Fujita won the Fujisankei Ladies Classic on the JLPGA (bangkokbobby has the details).

Justin Rose

It got a bit confusing at the Zurich Classic, trying to keep track of who was really leading the tournament. I mean, is the player at -19 after 17 holes really ahead of the player at -17 after 13 holes? But that's what the threat of lightning can do to an event like this. All those suspensions of play left most players with around 30 holes to play on Sunday and there simply wasn't time to re-pair for the final 18.

Jim Herman's -19 held the clubhouse lead for a while but there were too many players still on the course to be sure it would hold up. (It didn't but it was still Herman's best-ever finish on Tour.) Then it looked like Boo Weekley might get the job done (he finally got in at -20) or maybe Cameron Tringale (who posted -21) as they neared the end of their rounds.

But somewhere between the Herman and Weekley finishes, Justin Rose snuck in a little -22 and left everybody scrambling to catch up. Jason Day, who was the unquestioned favorite when the day started, was playing in one of the day's last groupings and knew pretty early on what he would have to do. He simply couldn't do it.

Perhaps the greatest irony was that the top players all teed off on the front 9, so the final stretch became the determining factor... and only Rose managed to birdie both of the final two holes. Both Tringale and Weekley could have forced playoffs had they managed to do the same. And of the three, only Rose played the final round bogey-free. (In fact, Rose was bogey-free for all but his first 6 holes of the week!)

So, after a so-so 2015 spent battling back from a hand injury, Rose is in a good frame of mind to take his talents to Harding Park -- just a couple of miles from this week's LPGA course -- where rain and lightning are unlikely to be a problem. (California's in the midst of a long drought.) And why shouldn't he be confident? He's carrying a nice shiny new Limerick Summary with him!
Although lightning may never strike twice
Justin Rose birdied back-to-back. Nice!
On those final two holes
Where the field couldn’t close,
Justin’s strikes proved to be quite precise.
The photo came from the tournament upshot page at

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Potential Story Brewing at the Zurich Classic

I know it's still early in the tournament -- we have the better part of two rounds to finish today -- but you should still be aware of the big story that started during Saturday's stop-and-start round.

First, Erik Compton matched Jason Day's second round 65 to stay in touch with the 36-hole leader.

Erik Compton

And now, as play resumes on Sunday, Compton is tied with Day for the lead at the Zurich Classic after making birdies on 3 of his 6 holes in the third round. Day has played 3 holes of his third round in par.

Perhaps you're wondering why this is such a big deal? After all, Compton has played well at events before, with last year's US Open being the most notable.

The reason is that TPC Louisiana is basically FLAT. Compton's heart condition means he always has more to deal with during a round than most players... but this week, climbing hills isn't part of it. And that means -- if you'll pardon the pun -- that this week it's more of a level playing field.

Which could make this the best chance Erik Compton has ever had to get his first PGA Tour win. True, he'll have to play 30 holes today in that Louisiana heat to pull it off. But the flatness of the course could play a big part if they get all of the holes in.

BTW, Compton isn't in the match play next week, so he doesn't have to worry about conserving energy for that grueling event. He can go all-out trying to get this win. Jason Day, meanwhile, still has to finish this event and get out to Harding Park to defend his match play title.

It should make for some good TV today!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Guessing at Tiger's Playing Schedule

The news that Tiger will be playing in THE PLAYERS -- Tiger tweeted that out on Friday -- has everybody excited. It's also got folks wondering what his schedule might look like going forward.

Actually, if past history is any indication, we can make a pretty good guess which events he's most likely to play. Looking back at the last 10 years or so, Tiger usually plays 3 tournaments between the Masters and the US Open when he's healthy.

Next week is the WGC-Cadillac Match Play. We know Tiger won't be there because he's currently ranked at 106.

The following week (May 7 - 10) is THE PLAYERS. We know that's his next appearance, and when healthy he has played this event since it moved between the Masters and the US Open. This is typically the first of his 3 events.

The next few tournaments look like this:
  • May 14 - 17 is the Wells Fargo Championship. Tiger routinely plays here (last time in 2012) and I won't be surprised if he shows up this year. I think this will be his second event.
  • May 21 - 24 is the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. I don't know if Tiger has ever played this event.
  • May 28 - 31 is the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship. Tiger last played this event in 2005.
  • June 4 - 7 is the Memorial Tournament. Jack has already said that he talked to Tiger and the Big Cat said he intends to play. This isn't surprising because it's usually the last event he plays before the US Open. That likely makes this his third event.
  • June 11 - 14 is the FedEx St. Jude Classic. I don't think Tiger has ever played there and I have trouble believing he'll show up there this time.
And the next week is the US Open. Tiger is pre-qualified because he has won the US Open within the last 10 years (2008) and THE PLAYERS within the last 3 (2013). We KNOW he'll be there!

Will Tiger add some "atypical" appearances? That's a good question since he needs to get his world ranking up in order to make it into the WGC events later this year. If he plays well at the 3 events I expect him to play before the US Open, that probably won't be an issue. But if he adds an event, history indicates it will probably be the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship.

So that's what we're looking at right now. Probably 3 events before the US Open -- THE PLAYERS, the Wells Fargo, and the Memorial -- with a possibility that he'll add the Byron Nelson if he feels he needs either more world ranking points or more tournament reps.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Lydia Ko Is At It Again

I guess it shouldn't be a surprise but Lydia Ko is back on top of the leaderboard at the Swinging Skirts event. Of course, she's the defending champion and she's already defended at one LPGA event, the Canadian Pacific Women's Open (she won in 2013 and 2014). However, she wasn't a pro then. Last year's Swinging Skirts event was her first LPGA victory as a pro.

Lydia Ko during the first round

And after the first round she leads by one stroke. She shot a 67 (-5) on that tough Lake Merced course in fairly cool weather.

In many ways the real fun concerns what's happening behind her. For example, Juli Inkster is tied for second place right behind her (she's from the Bay Area, so she's very comfortable on the course).

Stacy Lewis is in the group at two shots back, and she has a chance to retake the #1 spot in the Rolex Rankings if she can get it together. (Inbee Park can as well, but she's at +1 -- T43 -- so she's got some work to do.) And Morgan Pressel, who's been playing very well over the last few weeks and whose game is well-suited to the tight Lake Merced course, is also at -3 with Lewis.

And that's only the tip of the iceberg. The field is loaded with top-ranked players. Even Azahara Munoz is back after her hand surgery; despite having hit full shots for only a week, she's at even par after her first round. So this could become a very fun tournament very fast.

BTW, today Lydia turns 18. The rest of the field better hope she doesn't decide to celebrate her birthday the way she did last year... that's why she's defending!

Coverage is in prime time again on GC starting at 6pm ET.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thinking Bounce Instead of Degrees

I found this short article at that outlines a different way to think about pitching -- somehow I missed it when it first came out last month -- and thought it might help many of you.

The article is by Chris O'Connell, Matt Kuchar's instructor, and it advises that you think in terms of the bounce on your wedges rather than the degrees of loft. He says:
Simply put, bounce is how much the sole raises the leading edge off the turf. A wedge with high bounce (10 to 14 degrees) helps keep the club from digging in soft conditions. A low-bounce wedge (4 to 8 degrees) is best in firm conditions, where you want the club to dig a bit. But this is an oversimplification. Good players understand bounce deeply, and usually hit the right shot. I'll show you what they know.
The article is short but very informative. I'll give you a very quick summary but you'll want to read it to get all the details.

Playing with more bounce

He's using a two-wedge system -- a 54-degree high bounce and a 60-degree low bounce -- for his examples. And his basic plan of attack is to use the high bounce bounce wedge off upslopes -- where he says the lower loft also works better -- and the low bounce wedge off downslopes. He gives some very useful directions about how to do this to best effect, which is why you'll want to read the article.

Don't let the short length of the article fool you. There is an amazing amount of info in it, and it's presented very clearly. By all means, take time to look it over -- it could save you several strokes per round!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

OK... Maybe We're Just Obsessed with Jordan Now

I found this over at and laughed so hard... I mean, really, poor Jordan must be getting a little tired of this himself!

Here's the deal: Somebody with nothing better to do went through the Masters broadcast and discovered that Jordan talked to his ball quite a bit during the final round. In fact, apparently 90 words were directed at his trusty Titleist Pro-V1x as he maneuvered his way around Augusta National on his way to the green jacket.

So enlisted Tiffany Oshinsky to give a dramatic reading of those 90 words, which somebody decided were extremely poetic. In fact, in addition to the video of her performance, you can read the "poetry" yourself, now entitled Softly.
By Jordan Spieth
hit it wind hit it wind just a little bit just a little bit
softly real soft
oh no short hit softly soft softly
ahhhh be long enough
ahhhh fore right
go be enough go
hit it wind get down
oh no
down sit down
down sit
go hard go hard go hard go
be enough just be enough
a little be good
gotta be good c’mon be good
siddown ball
bite softly soft
hit softly hit softly and it’s real good
go hard
Forgive us, Jordan. We didn't mean to go all goofy on you. It's just the way life is these days.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Blair O'Neal and the Power Fade

Ah yes, another of Golf Digest's Sexiest Shots in Golf instructional videos. This time Blair O'Neal demonstrates how to turn a slice into a power fade, which is probably one of the most desirable fixes you can make to your golf swing.

Note what Blair says: A power fade is a draw hit with an open face. Do you understand what that means? It means that you aren't lining up to swing out-to-in; you want to swing in-to-out. That means your stance is a little bit closed, NOT open. Let's look at the steps Blair gives and I'll help you get this part right.
  1. Line up your feet on the line where you want the ball to start. Align your feet for a straight shot toward the side of the fairway -- the left side if you're a rightie, the right side if you're a lefty. (Try this on the range and use a club or alignment stick to help you do it.) Now pull your trailing foot back from that line a bit. You should still be aimed to the left center (or right center) of the fairway but you'll be able to make an in-to-out swing.

    If you don't understand how to aim for a draw, go to the Some Useful Post Series page; there are a couple of series there on how to hit draws, one for lefties and one for righties and they have diagrams. Use the 3rd option and aim your alignment stick down the "dotted aim line" in the diagram -- only this time, that aim line won't be down the center of the fairway because we want a power fade and not a draw.
  2. Aim the club face where you want the ball to finish. This will be more toward the center of the fairway, at least until you feel comfortable aiming for a power fade. Note that this is not the way you aim the face to hit a draw, as described in the posts I mentioned earlier. This is a power fade! The club face is OPEN to the draw swing path, not closed as shown in the diagrams.
  3. Stand a little bit closer to the ball. That will help you swing more in-to-out.
  4. Make an inside-out swing for a draw. Just swing along your foot line.
This may take a little practice on the range because you're probably going to pull the first few shots while you learn how to aim your body, but don't give up. This will give you a much better angle of attack on the ball, and that means you'll hit it more solidly and get more distance.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 RBC Heritage

Winner: Jim Furyk

Around the wider world of golf: Weather and playoffs wreaked havoc with the golf this weekend. Olin Browne won the rain-shortened Greater Gwinnett Championship on the Champions Tour; Tommy Cocha won the 84 Abierto OSDE del Centro on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Wes Roach won the El Bosque Mexico Championship on the Tour; Kiradech Aphibarnrat won the Shenzhen International in a playoff on the ET; Sei Young Kim won the LOTTE Championship in a playoff on the LPGA; Augusta James won the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial on the Symetra Tour; and Erika Kikuchi won the KKT Cup Vantelin Ladies Open on the JLPGA (bangkokbobby has the details).

BTW, Jordan Spieth did get to the American Country Music Awards. He helped present one of the awards to singer Miranda Lambert.

Jim Furyk celebrates on second playoff hole

Well, if you doubted how hard it is to win on the PGA Tour, now you have proof.

All Jim Furyk had to do was shoot 63 -- 9 birdies and one bogey -- in regulation and then birdie two playoff holes to beat Kevin Kisner and finally break that 4.5 year stretch since his last win. That's all -- eleven birdies in 20 holes.

Since that last win -- the 2010 Tour Championship -- Jim has made 99 starts. He's had nine 54-hole leads (and hasn't closed out any of those, mostly because he ran into tough competition), 7 runner-up finishes, and 15 Top5s. We can talk about how he struggles on Sundays...

But wouldn't you struggle if 63 wasn't good enough to get it done?

Well, Jim's struggles are over. (For this week at least.) Now the work begins on getting the next win. But in the meantime, Jim can take a breath and enjoy his Limerick Summary -- it's been 4.5 years since he had one of those as well!
After four-and-a-half years of knocking,
Furyk’s win set the whole golf world talking!
First a 63 score
And then two birdies more—
Competition’s so stiff that it’s shocking!
The photo came from the tournament upshot page at

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sei Young Kim Wins ANOTHER Playoff

If you didn't see the end of the LOTTE Championship last night, don't worry. You'll be seeing it a lot!

Sei Young Kim

At the time I'm writing this there is no video available, so I'll just give you the high points.

The wind was tough at Ko Olina and it came down to 3 players -- Sei Young Kim, I.K. Kim, and Inbee Park. Sei Young was leading when the day started but couldn't hold the lead and the 3 players spent most of the day tied for the lead. That tie was finally broken on the 17th hole when I.K. Kim bogeyed. Sei Young lipped in a tricky downhill putt, sending her and Inbee to 18 tied for the lead.

Then Sei Young made a big mistake. She busted one down the 18th and it ran out of fairway, through the rough, and into the lake short of the green. After a drop, she barely got her third across the lake and had a chip from the rough for par.

Meanwhile Inbee hit her second to the back of the green, then hit an amazing putt to around 3 inches -- a tap-in for par.

All Sei Young did was chip in on top of her to send the two into a playoff.

On their next trip down 18 (first playoff hole), both players laid up off the tee. Sei Young had 154 yards left and hit an 8-iron, which barely carried the water, hopped once onto the green and then straight into the hole for eagle. Inbee then had to hole her second from 153 yards, which didn't happen. Game over.

SUNDAY UPDATE: Here's the footage from

This is Sei Young's second LPGA victory. A couple of weeks back, when Sei Young had a chance to win the ANA Inspiration, I wrote:
But I think Sei Young Kim has to be the favorite now. You see, she won the 2015 Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic -- her only LPGA win -- in a playoff, as well as four of her five KLPGA Tour victories. Do you understand? She's only got 6 pro wins, and she won 5 of them in playoffs. That should make the rest of the field a bit nervous.
She didn't win that tournament... but now she's got 7 pro wins and she's won 6 of them, including both of her LPGA wins, in playoffs. Perhaps the LPGA players will want to consider letting her lead the tournament from now on, and just making sure she's behind when they finish.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

How Jordan Got His Groove Back

Today's post is short but it's incredibly important.

Jordan Spieth

When Jordan Spieth came roaring back into contention with an 8-under 62 -- tying his own personal best score since coming on Tour -- to get himself on the RBC Heritage leaderboard, he attributed it to one simple thing. As he told the media (and recorded in this article):
“(I) found something in my ball position on the range this morning, and it made a significant difference in my ball-striking and in my putting,” Spieth said in a classic example of understatement.
When he spoke to the media he noted that he went out for Thursday's round without checking his fundamentals -- alignment, ball position, posture, etc. -- and that he found the ball position problem when he did so. It was affecting his putting as well as his full game, and that's why you saw such a dramatic change in just one day.

There are many things that distinguish Jordan Spieth from the rest of the Tour, but clearly one of the most important is his attention to the details of his game -- the fundamentals of his setup in particular. Make sure you check your fundamentals before every round. You may not shoot as low as Jordan, but you'll certainly see more consistency in your game.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Jordan Proves He's Human After All

It wasn't really a shock, was it? A day of media jaunts is much harder to deal with than multiple weeks of playing golf, and it caught up with Jordan Spieth on Thursday.

Jordan Spieth

The weather didn't help either. The expected nice weather turned into a cold wet windy day, which didn't make things any easier.

Of course the fans didn't really care. They didn't care that he posted a 3-over 74. They just wanted to see their Masters champion, and he honored their wishes. And he may yet catch his second wind and make the cut today.

But it does remind us all that Jordan -- like every other golfer -- is still human. When he remarked that Matt Kuchar had also played four weeks in a row and still "kicked his butt" with a 68, he clearly forgot that Matt didn't contend at the Masters nor did he spend two days in New York doing 25 interviews. That might have had an effect on Jordan's game, don't you think?

Nevertheless, I think he'll play better today... and I also see some serious bedtime coming next week. After he celebrates with little sister Ellie, that is.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Brian Manzella on How Jordan Squares the Clubface

Here's a new instructional video from showing how Jordan Spieth squares the face of his club during impact. (Alas, there's no way to embed it in this post. Just pop over to to see it.) Brian Manzella has a drill to help you understand how Jordan is moving.

But I think there's a bit more to this than Brian says, although he definitely shows what's happening. Let me explain.

Manzells demonstrates Spieth at impact

What I want to focus on is that bent lead elbow at impact and beyond. Everybody who analyzes Jordan's swing points out this somewhat unorthodox position; most players try to have the lead elbow straight (or nearly so) when they hit the ball. Let me show you how this affects Jordan's fundamentals.

The neutral/weaker lead hand position simply gets the back of Jordan's hand to face the same direction as the clubface.

While Manzella is correct that Jordan rotates the club a bit, it's not as much as you might think. Remember, Manzells's standing straight up when he demonstrates this; if he were bent over as Jordan would be when he turns, that 30-degree face angle would make the toe point almost straight up in the air. The angle is created by a bowed wrist, not a twisting forearm

The key is that bent lead elbow. When Jordan bends that elbow and pulls it against his side, it causes his upper arm to act like a hinge, swinging his forearm like a door. In essence, he "slams the door" on the ball so that the back of his lead hand -- and therefore the face of the club -- is pointed directly at the target. That bent elbow forces him to square the clubface. That's the key movement.

In fact, I bet you'll find that you can get the exact same result -- that square clubface -- without consciously trying to manipulate the clubface at all. By keeping that slight bend in the lead elbow, it's extremely easy to think about hitting the ball with the back of your lead hand, or the palm of your trailing hand if you prefer, or with both of them (that's what I do).

Here's a drill to try for comparison: Keep your upper lead arm close to your side and let your lead forearm lay across your chest, pointed back at that halfway position Brian is starting from. From there, don't move your upper arm -- just swing your forearm (and club) away from your body so it points straight out toward the ball. See how it feels like it's swinging on a hinge? That's the basic movement; it's just that your elbow is a bit farther from your body at the halfway down point in your actual swing.

(If that drill seems unclear, let me know in the comments and I'll see if I can't add some photos to illustrate the move.)

Think about backhanding a tennis shot -- most people instinctively bend their elbow when they make the swing to take some stress off the arm. Bending that elbow helps create the leverage to get the racket around their body so they can hit the ball. This is the same thing!

And if you try making swings this way, don't be surprised if you eventually start straightening your lead elbow more as you become more relaxed making this movement. The key here is that bending your lead elbow as you swing creates rotation at your shoulder joint -- not a twist with your forearm -- that helps you get the clubface squared up. It not only simplifies the motion, but it takes a lot less effort than flipping the club. Give it a try and see if it doesn't help.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

More LPGA Golf in Primetime

After a week off -- it's smart not to compete with the Masters, don't you think? -- the LPGA takes their talents to Southwest Beach...

The southwest beach of Oahu, that is. Welcome to the LOTTE Championship.

Defending champion Michelle Wie

This is where Michelle Wie got her amazing run underway last year and where she hopes to get things going once again. Ko Olina is Michelle's home course, and her victory there last year was her first win inside the USA. But she's been fighting various illnesses and injuries this year, so she's definitely in need of some "home cooking" to kickstart her stretch to her US Women's Open defense.

Here's the link to Tony Jesselli's preview of the event. Perhaps the most interesting thing he mentions is that, among the Top3 in the Rolex Rankings, only Inbee Park is playing. Inbee is now in third place yet is less than one point behind Ko, which should mean that she can take over the #1 spot with a win this week. That should give the event a bit of excitement despite the number of top players taking the week off.

Best of all, this event runs from Wednesday to Saturday -- which I believe is a concession to the preferred TV broadcast days in Asia -- and it will be in primetime here in the States, as there is a 5-hour time difference between Hawaii and the East Coast. GC plans to start broadcasting each night at 7pm ET, so PGA Tour coverage won't interfere.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Phil's Overload-Underload Training

Alright, it's time for the info I promised about the training technique Phil Mickelson used to increase his club head speed during the off-season.

The talk began during a media session before the Masters. Here's the primary quote, reprinted in GolfWeek:
"You have to retrain your muscles to swing it [the driver] faster, and you do that by overload-underload. So you take a 20 percent heavier driver and swing it as fast as you can, hit balls as hard as you can. Then you take a driver that's 20 percent lighter than a normal driver and swing that as hard as you can. Then you take a normal driver and swing that as hard as you can."
Phil was talking about a technique used by Tom House, a trainer who used to be a major-league baseball pitcher. Here are a couple of links to give you some more indepth info if you're interested:
Alright, here's the idea behind the technique. It's been used by Olympic athletes in various disciplines since the 1970s to improve performance. It's in the same vein as plyometric exercises, which are used to increase explosiveness.

As Phil said, you're working with three drivers -- a heavy driver that is 20% heavier than a normal one, a light driver that's 20% lighter than a normal one, and a normal driver. That 20% number is generally considered non-negotiable, although some workout programs will vary the weight by a greater percentage.

You make full-out efforts with the heavy driver (which builds strength), then full-out efforts with the light driver (which builds speed), then full-out efforts with the regular driver. You want to make each effort as perfect as possible, and Phil noted that you're actually hitting balls with the drivers, not just swinging them -- which makes sense, doesn't it? Faster swings won't help your game if you can't apply the club face accurately to the ball.

I suspect Phil just had Callaway custom-build some drivers for him, although there's a company called SuperSpeed Golf that makes weighted equipment and has included Phil's interview on their site. The equipment pictured in their site header don't appear to be actual drivers though.

Anyway, that's how Phil increased his club head speed. It looks like programs can turn out results in as little as 6 weeks -- if they're done correctly, that is. You can find all kinds of info about the technique just by typing "overload underload" into Google.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 Masters

Winner: Jordan Spieth

Around the wider world of golf: There isn't any wider world of golf this week. Don't you know that pretty much everything stops for the Masters?

Jordan Spieth dons his first Green Jacket

One old Longhorn shuffles off the stage and a younger one takes his place.

To me, that's the dominant image of the week -- a passing of the torch. Ben Crenshaw played his last Masters this week, finishing up on Friday... and then the young player he's been mentoring stepped up to the plate and put this tournament away in dominant style. Jordan Spieth thrashed through Augusta National like the proverbial Longhorn in a china shop, smashing every longstanding record he could get his hands on.

All the other storylines, as fascinating as they were, are secondary to this one. Not just because we have a new star to fawn over, or because maybe Jordan and Rory and Tiger and Phil are all potentially going to compete against each other -- a clash of generations -- for a few exciting years, or even because Jordan just seems to be a genuinely good person who deserves to win something like this.

No, ir's because more than any other major, the Masters is about history and about passing the best wisdom of each generation along to the next. Jordan gets praised for his maturity at such a young age, so it's appropriate that he gets his first major here.

Of course, we'll have plenty of time to talk about the other storylines and I'm sure we will during the coming months. But for now I'm content to let Jordan enjoy his new green plaything, as well as his shiny new Limerick Summary. Eventually he's got to get back to work on his next stated goal -- after all, this win only got him to #2 in the world:
At Augusta, old records lie broken.
And though the new champ’s quite soft-spoken
Rory found out tonight
He’s in Jordan Spieth’s sights
And the Longhorn shows no signs of chokin’.
The photo comes from the tournament wrap-up page at

Sunday, April 12, 2015

HEY -- It's a Competition After All!

Well, Rory McIlroy is unlikely to complete his Career Grand Slam this year, although I don't think anybody is really surprised by that. Something that monumental is difficult to accomplish, let alone on the first try. (In fact, I have a little sign on my desk that says "If at first you DO succeed, try to hide your astonishment.") But at least now the initial hype is past and Rory can get on with his game.

Rory McIlroy

And I doubt that Tiger Woods will shoot low enough to win today, but he too has silenced some of the hype that surrounded his return and can finally get on with his recovery. (I think Tiger has already realized that. GC reported that Tiger has headed out to the range after each round with just one club -- the driver. Nobody thought he could conquer the wedges; do YOU want to bet against him beating the Battle of the Big Stick?)

But they've still played well enough to be T5, and will play together today. As Jordan noted, there WILL be some noise coming from that gallery.

Unless Jordan Spieth stumbles, it's unlikely that anyone will catch him... but he showed us on Saturday that he's still human and still capable of the big mistake. (Granted, he bounced back pretty dramatically after making them.) But no one is betting on that.

And that means the winner will likely come from the last two groups, since they are the only ones within single digits of the lead. Would you take Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Charley Hoffman or Justin Rose? Let's take a quick look, starting with Rose.

The winner of the Masters most often comes from the final group, making Rose the most likely non-Spieth victor. And Justin has been playing well enough to catch Jordan -- or at least he would be if they were only playing the back 9. Most commentators think the pairing favors Spieth because Rose isn't seen as such an imposing threat. (Although if Spieth's game starts going south, I don't think that will matter.)

Ironically, although most players want to be in the last group with the leader, I think the Mickelson-Hoffman pairing has the best chance to get the job done if Spieth stumbles. When you play with the leader, the tendency is to get into a match play mindset -- something which most American players haven't been particularly good at recently. If Spieth and Rose should get caught up in it -- and both are pretty good at match play, you know -- it might open the door for these two.

Charley doesn't have much Masters experience, so being one group ahead is probably optimal for him. As for Phil... well, his tendency is to be heroic anyway so you don't want him overthinking things, which he probably would if he were in the final group. Playing one group ahead, Phil will likely try to set the pace and I think that gives him his best chance.  In fact, I think Phil has the best chance to be the non-Spieth winner of this major.

That is, if there IS a non-Spieth winner. I think Jordan will get it done.

But it ought to be one hell of a ride.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Assessing Tiger's New Game

Rich Lerner at GC said he talked to someone from Tiger's camp on Friday before Tiger went out for his round, and Rich said Tiger & Co. are expecting good things this summer.

Tiger Woods

It's easy to see why if you look over his first couple of rounds. Tiger has posted two rounds of 73-69 to put him at -3 (T19). Friday was his first sub-70 round since the 2014 Open. That's not bad for someone who hasn't even been able to finish a tournament for several months. And in any normal year at the Masters, he'd probably be in contention.

If you've read Ruthless Putting, you probably know I'm not too surprised that Tiger got his short game fixed in short order. Yips aren't so intimidating once you realize they're just an attempt to micromanage your swing, and Tiger's explanation that he was caught between release patterns is one way you can interfere with your natural motion. Tiger just went out and worked on it until he cleared up the confusion.

As I mentioned yesterday, all that short game work was at the expense of his long game practice, so in Friday's round he throttled back on his desire to crush the ball -- he only averaged 272 yards off the tee -- and just focused on moving it around to the right positions. That's a reasonable decision, given that he's not going to fix it all this week. As a result, he made 4 birdies and only 1 bogey to move himself well above the cutline.

For both rounds total, Tiger has posted 5 bogeys and 7 birdies. NO BIG NUMBERS, which is pretty impressive after his struggles of the last few months. He's managed to play the par-5s in 4-under -- again, pretty impressive after his struggles.

I'll be interested to see what Tiger does today and tomorrow. He's got the ability to drive the ball farther than 270 and still keep it under control, given his club head speed. He just needs to relax and trust his swing because he's got a good-looking move when he doesn't try to swing out of his shoes. With his short game back on track and his putting looking pretty good, he should still be capable of creating some fireworks.

Of course, today Tiger is paired with Sergio. I guess we'll see fireworks one way or the other!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Storylines to Watch at the Masters

I had planned to do a piece on Phil's training to increase his club head speed -- and I still plan to do so in the next few days -- but we had so many surprises at the Masters on Thursday that I want to pick out a few storylines that were either NOT emphasized on GC or ESPN or that maybe you missed.

Jordan Spieth

Of course, I guessed Tiger would most likely shoot 70... and instead he shot 73. I was correct about his short game problems being fixed. (It was nice to hear some of the talking heads on TV actually express admiration for what he had done in such a short time.) But I failed to take into account that he probably hadn't done any work on his long game while he fixed them! That definitely changed the picture considerably.

However, while some of the TV commentators mentioned that Bubba was -3 on the par-5s despite being only -1 for the round, nobody noted that Tiger was ALSO -3 on the par-5s. Tiger's struggles with the par-5s have been cited as one of the reasons for his scoring problems. If he can start getting birdies on the par-5s consistently, the old Tiger may not be as far off as most folks think. I think this stat bears watching over the next few days.

Among my "5 to Watch," the scores were pretty good:
  • Jordan Spieth, -8
  • Jason Day, -5
  • Dustin Johnson, -2
  • Bubba Watson, -1
Only Jimmy Walker was over par at +1... and he fought for that. I of course will be watching their scores over the next 3 rounds.

The two shocker rounds were Ernie Els at -5 and Tom Watson at -1. Ernie said in the press center that, although he didn't want to admit it for a long time, he thinks the repeated defeats he suffered at the Masters earlier this century DID have a bad effect on him for a long time. But he says he's been making a lot of birdies over the last couple of weeks and is seeing some putts go in. If he truly feels good about his game, he just might pull an upset this week.

And while I don't think Tom will win, he just might make the cut. If so, there is some talk that he may decide to make this his last year playing at Augusta and go out on top. I'm not so sure about that -- Tom loves to play Augusta -- but it's another story to keep your eye on.

Did anyone note the irony that Bubba Watson beat Jordan Spieth last year with a final score of -8 after 4 rounds... and Jordan ran up -8 in just one round this year??? Do you think maybe Jordan wanted to make a point?

It's still too early to think we know how this Masters will play out. When the draw gets flipped today -- and if the weather comes in after all -- the order of the players on the scoreboard may change considerably. But I'm still looking for a duel between Jordan and Jason...

And possibly Ernie. Call me sentimental!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What I Expect from Tiger Today

Ever since Tiger announced last Friday that he would be playing in the Masters, there have been no end of opinions about how he's going to do... or if he even should be teeing it up. And by Wednesday night the debates had heated up even more.


Let me give you a slightly different view of what has happened so far in Masters Week than the TV announcers are giving, and let's see if we can make a guess about what may happen today.

On Monday morning, Tiger followed his normal pre-major routine. He showed up in the wee hours of the morning before many patrons were out, got his work in and vanished before...

Oh, wait. That isn't what happened at all, is it? Not hardly.

Tiger showed up in the middle of the day, after the course had filled up with patrons and TV cameras. He calmly walked through the competitors, stopping to hug and talk with many of them, before setting up right in the middle of the practice area where the TV cameras were aimed, cranked up some music and started to boogey down and hit chips all over the place. Then he joined old buddy Mark O'Meara and played 9 holes, goofing it up with the gallery as he did.

But on Tuesday, Tiger went back to his old practice routine...

Uh, no he didn't. Again he showed up when the galleries and cameras were out, worked on his short game then played 9 more holes with O'Meara. This round was more serious than the first but that was to be expected with Thursday drawing near.

On Tuesday afternoon Tiger did his presser, which Brandel Chamblee called a tour de force, saying Woods was "almost charming" and that it was a home run. Tiger didn't shy away from questions and even talked at length about the frustrations of almost having it, only to have it slip away again.

Well, on Wednesday he must have...

Apparently after Tuesday's Champions Dinner Tiger approached Ben Crenshaw -- who you know by now is playing his final Masters -- asked who he was playing with (Jordan Spieth), and asked if he could join them.

And so it was that Tiger Woods joined one of the most high-profile practice rounds on Wednesday morning, played with them amidst the throngs of patrons and cameras, and then -- for the first time in a decade -- joined in with Fred Couples and Steve Stricker to play in the Par-3 Tournament with his kids as caddies. You realize that everybody knew ESPN would be broadcasting live, don't you?

Tiger shot -3 (T6) for the day, just two shots off the winning score on greens that most players agree are a bit tougher than the regular Augusta greens. That's why so many players play in the event! Tiger's sense of touch on his putting seems very good, based on what I've seen.

So it sounds to me that Tiger did his best to put himself in every remotely pressurized situation that the first 3 days of Master Week provides -- and according to GC's Todd Lewis, who followed Tiger virtually all 3 days, Tiger never hit a bad chip shot.

So what do I expect from Tiger's first round back at Augusta?

Typically Tiger shoots 70 or worse in the first round. (In his four wins he has three 70s and a 74.) He's only shot one or two rounds in the 60s, and I believe those were 69s.

Augusta National is a par-72 course. If he can just play reasonably consistent golf, all he needs are two birdies and then average par for the other 16 holes.

Do I think Tiger is -- pardon the pun -- out of the woods yet? No. He simply hasn't had enough time to eliminate all of his swing problems. But I do believe he's reached the outskirts of the forest and can finally see the clearing ahead.

I think Tiger has a 70 in him today... and I wouldn't be surprised if he somehow manages a 69. Let's see if his preparation was sufficient to pull it off.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My "5 to Watch" at the Masters

Last week I made some absolutely awful picks for the women's first major of the year. Can I do any better with the men this week?

Defending Masters champion Bubba Watson

I really don't know the answer to that one. Let's face it, folks -- this Masters could be won by any number of players if their games just got a little bit better this week. So, at least theoretically, almost any of my picks should be good ones.

And then again...

First, let me give the same caveat I gave last week. I am NOT saying that the players I don't pick will play horrible golf; many of them will play extremely well.  However, I only get 5 picks so I'm picking the ones I think have the best chance to win. As a result, I'm looking for reasons that players might not win.

Several players who might otherwise be favorites get crossed off my list right off the bat:
  • Rory McIlroy is making his first attempt to complete the career Grand Slam at a course where he has a habit of posting BIG numbers -- that's two things working against him -- so he doesn't make my favorites list.
  • Henrik Stenson's putter has been skipping tournaments lately, but he gets marked off primarily because he was in bed with the flu last week.
  • J.B. Holmes is long off the tee but streaky in the putting department... and on Augusta's greens the ball could end up streaking right into many bad places.
  • Adam Scott hasn't been the same since Steve Williams retired. There, I said it.
  • I like Patrick Reed as a flier, but I simply didn't have any picks left so he gets left out. Sorry, Patrick.
  • Phil Mickelson could catch fire this week. Then again, he might forget his lighter fluid. His memory hasn't been so good lately...
  • And Tiger Woods has so many questions surrounding him that I can't even pick him as a flier. Just for the record, I don't expect him to embarrass himself; I just don't expect him to win.
So who are my picks? I'm so glad you asked:
  • Jason Day 
  • Jordan Spieth 
I wrote some weeks ago that Day was my favorite and he has done nothing to change that. However, Spieth happened. A friend asked me Sunday who my favorite was and I said that, if Spieth won at Shell, he'd have 4 wins in as many months and I'd be forced to take him but if he lost, Day would remain my choice.

As it turned out, Spieth made the playoff... and in my book, making a playoff is better than just finishing outright runner-up. Consequently the two have become co-favorites on my list. The big question is which one can get out of his own way and get the win?
  • Bubba Watson
It's really hard to leave Bubba off this list despite the difficulties of defending this title. (Only 3 men have ever done so.) But Bubba is on form and the course seems to be made for him -- even Bubba says so. I simply can't ignore him.
  • Jimmy Walker
Jimmy has won more than anybody else over the last two years and is still playing well. And since he played the Masters last year -- and has Butch as his coach -- lack of playing experience shouldn't be a problem. You have to like his chances.
  • Dustin Johnson
Yes, DJ is my flier pick. I know his history at Augusta is forgettable, despite his formidable skills. But this pick isn't about DJ the golfer. It's about DJ the person, who continues to impress me with how different he seems after his sabbatical. I'm not so sure DJ's history at the Masters means a thing this week... but I believe Paulina and Tatum may have a huge effect.

And there you have my "5 to Watch" at the Masters. Now let's see if I can do any better with my picks for this major!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Final Thoughts on the ANA Inspiration

Before we leap into Masters Week with both feet, we should take a look back at the first LPGA major of the year and see if we've learned anything that might tell us what to expect going forward in 2015.

Brittany Lincicome with trophy

Clearly the pattern of one-off winners -- and most of those being unexpected winners -- continued at the Inspiration. I don't think anybody expected Brittany Lincicome to pick up her second major, even though she was right there in the mix going into Sunday. It's proving to be very difficult for anybody to put up multiple wins at this point. (Lydia Ko is the only multiple winner so far, but bear in mind that only one of her two wins was on the LPGA. The other was on the LET.)

Is this a sign of parity on the LPGA? Is it becoming too difficult to stand out from the crowd? I'm not ready to say that yet. There's a far bigger point difference in the Rolex Rankings between #3 Inbee Park and #4 Hyo Joo Kim (3.72) than there is between #3 Park and #1 Lydia Ko (.87). Ko, Lewis and Park have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the Tour and I see no indication -- as of yet, anyway -- that the gap is going to close soon.

However, it does appear that the Big 3 are feeling the heat... from each other, that is. I've voiced my concern that Stacy Lewis is getting in her own way, and I think the playoff was a good example of it. I was hoping that she had finally found a way to just let go and play, but her reactions after the bad break on the last playoff hole (the ball in the divot) were clearly pressure. The poor shot into the green was understandable but the poor chip, followed by the poor putt and that picture of her sitting in the scoring area with her head in her hands certainly screamed "I want this too much!"

But Stacy isn't alone. Lydia Ko made no secret that all the talk of scoring records was in the front of her mind, and even after the record was out of reach she still seemed frustrated with her play. (I've remarked in past posts about her uncharacteristic shows of irritation over the last few weeks.) And Inbee's putting, while it could be a matter of mechanics, is also causing her to show more frustration than usual. The Big 3 may be getting too caught up in their rivalry.

I don't expect the rest of the field to close the gap though. The normally smiling Sei Young Kim was clearly off her game on Sunday, as were most of the other players who got themselves into contention. I don't know if it's the increased money or the CME Globe points race or just the growing belief that anybody can win out there, but most of the players seem to stumble almost as soon as they get close to the lead. It's been the players who seem almost oblivious to their opportunities -- like Brittany Lincicome -- who are surprising us with wins.

Morgan Pressel, one of the most emotional players, one who has traditionally pressed too hard, seems to have found a way past that. Perhaps it's just a matter of finding some hope after several years of struggle but she finally seems to have some inner peace that's allowing her to compete without overtrying. I can remember times not so long ago when that third-place finish would have reduced her to tears; Sunday I saw a woman who was pleased that she had done as well as she had and was even happy for her friend Brittany's victory.

Watch out for Pressel over the next few months. She just might get another major before the year is out.

Finally, I don't expect the Korean domination to continue... and the reason is the Solheim Cup. Players from the US and Europe are starting to feel an urgency to make their respective teams and, if you take a good look at the leaderboard, you'll note that those players were a much larger factor in this event. This is the time of year -- in Solheim Cup years, anyway -- when the nearness of that event becomes a driving force in their preparation. Look for more American and European winners on the LPGA over the next few weeks.

And now, with their first major in the books and many of the ladies on their way to Augusta National as fans, it's time for us to turn our attention to the Masters...

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 Shell Houston Open

Winner: J.B. Holmes

Around the wider world of golf: Brittany Lincicome shocked the golf world by winning her second ANA Inspiration over Stacy Lewis in a playoff on the LPGA; and Josh Geary won the Buick Open on the PGA TOUR China.

J.B. Holmes

It was a bad week for putts catching lips.

On the LPGA it was amazing how many putts just caught the edge of the cup -- even when they were crawling so slowly that they HAD to go in -- and then inexplicably curled around and wandered off, sometimes several feet away. The number of putts Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lincicome lipped out during their 3-hole playoff defied explanation.

But it was just as wild on the PGA Tour... unless, that is, your name happened to be J.B. Holmes. Holmes must have been using one of those GPS-equipped balls from David Feherty's car commercials -- he was rolling them in from everywhere! He started with 5 straight birdies, then was 7-under after 8 holes and 9-under when he walked off the 12th green. Jordan Spieth had hit only a single shot when J.B. caught him! And even though J.B. cooled off after 12 -- he was 1-over on his final 6 holes -- the damage was done.

Give Spieth and fellow competitor Johnson Wagner some credit for hanging in there and forcing a playoff. But shooting 64 in the final round is devastating to the competition, and even more so on Sunday since you don't have to worry about backing it up! Spieth went out with bogey on the first playoff hole and likewise for Wagner on the second.

J.B. came in second at the WGC-Cadillac when he shot a 62 in the opening round and couldn't match it. Hopefully he has now learned the importance of going low when no one has a chance to make up ground. In the meantime, he also sinks the key putt for his first Limerick Summary in quite some time:
Elementary? Yes, my dear Holmes;
Next to you, your opponents are gnomes
Hitting drives far behind you…
But let this remind you
That final-round scores bring it home!
The photo came from the tournament stat page at

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sei Young Kim on What She Expects Today

Sei Young Kim goes into Sunday's final round at the ANA Inspiration with a 3-shot lead... but we haven't heard much from her because she doesn't speak much English. posted part of her post-round interview (with her interpreter) and I thought you might be interested to hear what she expects today.

I think it's interesting that she doesn't believe her ability to win in playoffs -- as I said yesterday, she's won 5 of her 6 victories (including her LPGA win) that way -- gives her an advantage when playing with the lead.  I would think it shows that she handles pressure well. Being nervous because she's leading her first major sounds normal to me though.

BTW, did you catch when they flashed up her stats for the 3rd round? She hit 10/14 fairways, 12/18 greens and took only 27 putts... and that was including the section in the middle of her round when she was a bit wobbly.

Also interesting is that Sei Young lists the victories by Grace Park and Stacy Lewis as two of her most vivid memories of this event, and when describing Stacy she says "she’s just a dominating force out there." I find that interesting because Stacy says (in the third-round summary on this about the young Koreans we're seeing win so often:
“We knew they [the young Koreans] were coming. Inbee and some of the girls were kind of telling us that there were some young Koreans coming that were pretty good. We didn’t really know what to expect, but they’ve been there. You can tell they’ve got a lot of experience from playing in Korea, and they know how to win. They know how to putt, which is most important, and I mean, they’re impressive.”
And about Hyo Joo Kim -- who beat her a couple of weeks back -- Stacy said:
“I threw everything I had at her in Phoenix and she kept responding by making putts and hitting shots. They’re not scared, not scared at all.”
So this could be a very interesting final round. Both players clearly expect the other to make a move, and both are aware that this could go either way.

But will Sei Young and Stacy get so caught up playing each other that they forget the formidable field just a few strokes back? Although the weathermen have rarely been right this week, they're predicting some strong winds for later today. Judy Rankin could be right -- someone might post a good score early and make the leaders very nervous coming down the stretch.

Unfortunately, we don't know what Sei Young Kim thinks about that. But I think that just might put her in chase mode... and we do know what she thinks when she's chasing.

It's just a guess but I'm sure that's not what the rest of the field wants her to be thinking!

The final round broadcast starts at 5pm ET on GC.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

So Much for My Major Picks This Week!

It looks like this is going to be one of those unpredictable majors. The ANA Inspiration is probably giving its new sponsors everything they could have asked for... because no one could have predicted this!

Sei Young Kim

If you had bet me that Cristie Kerr would go 27 holes without a single birdie, I would have taken that bet. If you had chosen Sei Young Kim as the 36-hole leader -- even though she won earlier this year -- I would have thought you were taking really long odds.

As it stands, Kim leads at -7, Morgan Pressel (winless for several years) is solo second at -5, and three players -- Brittany Lincicome, Jenny Shin, and Catriona Matthew -- are T3 at -4.

Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson, both of whom I thought might play well but would not win, at -3 are easily ahead of ALL of my picks:
  • Cristie Kerr did finally make some birdies on her back 9 Friday to finish at +1 (T42).
  • Hyo Joo Kim is also at +1 (T42).
  • Inbee Park sits at -1 (T22).
  • One of my fliers, rookie Alison Lee, is doing the best at -2 (T13).
  • And my other flier, Se Ri Pak, shocked me by missing the cut with a +5 score.
Lydia Ko sits at even par, her under-par streak broken at 29 and leaving her tied with Annika's record. But apparently my assessment of her being tired was accurate. Judy Rankin mentioned some unusually noticeable head dipping during her backswing that coach David Leadbetter said typically happened when she got tired. And Michelle Wie narrowly made the cut at +2, so perhaps she's still feeling the effects of several weeks of poor health.

But now, with good weather on the docket for the weekend and the course drying out quickly, the winners are even more in doubt. While the high rough will favor the more accurate (and frequently shorter) hitters like Kim, Shin, Pressel and Matthew, the hard greens will be more accessible to the more powerful high ball hitters.

An interesting note: Pressel seems to be hitting the ball higher than she used to... and she won this event once before, as have Lincicome, Lewis and Thompson. It looks like it may come down to a putting contest after all, and all of these players tend to be streaky.

But I think Sei Young Kim has to be the favorite now. You see, she won the 2015 Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic -- her only LPGA win -- in a playoff, as well as four of her five KLPGA Tour victories. Do you understand? She's only got 6 pro wins, and she won 5 of them in playoffs. That should make the rest of the field a bit nervous.

I don't think I'll be taking any more bets on this major though. It's just too hard on my wallet!

Friday, April 3, 2015

How to Skip a Golf Ball Across Water

I suppose this is a completely useless skill unless you just want to impress your playing partners... but it's such a cool skill to have (the guys try it on #16 at Augusta every year, you know) that I couldn't resist posting this.

This is yet another of Golf Digest's Sexiest Shots in Golf videos, focusing on -- what else? -- how to skip a golf ball across a water hazard. This one features Kelly Rohrbach (Sports Illustrated’s Rookie Model of the Year) and Blair O'Neal, who's done a number of these videos before.

The keys to pulling this shot off?
  • Use a low-lofted iron or hybrid. (Blair is using a 4-iron in the video.)
  • You MUST hit the ball first!
  • Open your stance slightly, open the club face slightly, and play the ball way back in your stance, off your back foot. (You aren't interested in getting loft, folks.)
Now you've got something important to practice, okay?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lexi's Swing on ESPN's Sports Science

With the ANA Inspiration starting today, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at defending champion Lexi Thompson's swing. This particular video is from ESPN's Sports Science series and looks at how Lexi manages to repeat her swing -- and what she's doing while she does.

The video is from the year that Luke Donald was #1. And yes, I know there's a blank spot at the end but since ESPN uploaded this file to YouTube I guess they didn't feel the missing audio was important.

Lexi's swing is a good example of why you shouldn't think too much about your swing. If she were consciously trying to control all of her movements -- the way many pros and many of you do -- there's absolutely no way she could reproduce her swing this effectively. That's something all of you should keep in mind when you play: You want your swing to be as unconscious as possible.

Likewise, I want you to note that Lexi's swing clocked out at nearly 103mph -- that doesn't even match some of the average male college players -- and yet that was enough to send the ball a consistent 275 yards. If you hit the ball solidly, you don't have to swing 120mph to get distance!

If you want to watch Lexi bomb a few out there, remember that GC will be showing two broadcasts. The morning wave will run from noon-3pm ET (Pre-Game starts at 10:30am ET) and the late wave from 6pm-9pm ET. Lexi should be in the morning wave.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Several News Tidbits

With so many little bits of news floating around Tuesday, I decided to do a short post listing the main ones -- just in case you missed some of them.

I guess the biggest news was that Tiger's private jet showed up at Augusta, which means he's there practicing, which means it's very likely that he WILL be playing in the Masters after all. Agent Mark Steinberg confirmed that he made the trip to Augusta and played a practice round on Tuesday with caddie Joe LaCava and two club members.

Tim Rosaforte reported that Tiger had been playing "worst ball" rounds at his home course -- yes, you play two balls and use the worst result for your next shot, sort of a reverse scramble -- and Tim said he shot a 66 on the course where he holds the record with a 62. That's encouraging news because it sounds like the short game is much better. We'll find out next week.

Jason and Amanda Dufner have reached a divorce agreement -- I admit that I didn't even know they were having problems -- and are just waiting for a judge to okay it. Apparently Amanda is getting over $2mil for a little over 2 years of marriage. I guess there there are worse ways to make a living...

Jason will be keeping two houses, and I have no idea whatsoever why that was important enough for GC to report.

Brooks Koepka's rib problem isn't serious but his doctors want him to rest. He says he may not hit any balls until he tees off next Thursday, in hopes that the inflammation will go down and he can complete the tournament. This is his first Masters, you know.

Adam Scott has announced that his broomstick putter WILL be back in his bag for the Masters. Wow, that's a shocker, isn't it?

According to, Inbee Park can take the Rolex #1 position away from Lydia Ko this week if:
  • She wins AND Lydia finishes in a tie for third or worse.
  • She wins AND Lydia finishes in a five-way tie for second
  • She finishes solo second and Lydia finishes 33rd (not counting any ties) or worse
Azahara Munoz will NOT be playing at the ANA Inspiration this week. I said yesterday that I didn't know if she would play but have since found an announcement that she would be out of action for at least two more weeks.

And finally, Mike Whan has signed a contract that will keep him in the LPGA Commissioner's seat for six more years. Heavy sighs were heard all over the world from both players and sponsors.

I think that covers all the big news.