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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Guess Who's Going for a Threepeat?

I really wanted a picture with both Juli Inkster and Catriona Matthew but I guess they haven't had time for that yet. After all, they only made Juli's pick official on Tuesday. So I made my own...

Juli Inkster and Catriona Matthew

But those pics will show up soon enough. After all, both picks seem like no-brainers to me. Scottish-born Catriona is the logical choice to head the European team at Gleneagles in Scotland. (For those of you who don't know where Gleneagles is, check your maps for the PGA Centenary Course at The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland.) She's been an awesome player for a long time and she showed everybody at the last Solheim Cup that she's still got it. (And she did it on short notice too. That's what you call being "clutch.") That performance is gonna carry a lot of weight with the players on her team.

And Juli? Well, there's a reason she's the first US Captain to lead the team three times. It goes beyond the back-to-back wins for Team USA with her at the helm. It's all about "culture," to borrow the term that's popular in so many team sports lately. Juli is neither an overbearing perfectionist nor a party girl, but she has managed to juxtapose the "lunch box" mentality of the first with the "first tee dancer" of the second... and the team has responded to that.

But both are similar in what they bring to their teams.

Both still play the Tour. Both play with and are comfortable around the younger players, and both have the youngsters' respect. Of course, both bridge the gap between those younger players and the legends of the game. Both are approachable, yet both are capable of taking charge when necessary.

And I have no doubt that both will relish working with each other over the next 18 months or so as they do the mandatory publicity work their positions demand.

Isn't it nice when the powers-that-be get it right?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

Winner: Jason Day

Around the wider world of golf: Brittany Lincicome successfully defended her title at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic; Li Haotong birdied four of his last six holes to win the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the ET; Paul Peterson won the Leopalace21 Myanmar Open on the Japan Golf Tour; and Adam Svensson won the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic on the Tour.

Jsaon Day with Farmers trophy

Maybe Tiger was the big news at the Farmers Insurance Open this past week, but Jason Day also made a breakthrough -- his first win since his 2016 PLAYERS victory -- and he joined Tiger as the only player to win two Farmers titles in playoffs. Not bad for a weekend.

Okay, a weekend and a day. (Yes, I was tempted to capitalize Day, but the irony of the statement stands on its own!) Anyway, I guess we should have expected it. And it's not just that we've had three playoffs in three weeks on the PGA Tour. The leaderboard was packed tight from the first round -- heck, even Tiger had a shot at things on Sunday afternoon! We ended up with Day, Alex Noren and Ryan Palmer in a playoff. (Although Ryan only lasted one hole. But Ryan was the exception.)

The five extra playoff holes in the dark on Sunday weren't enough for Jason and Alex to settle things, but it only took one extra hole on Monday for Jason to seal the deal.

Those of you who follow my blog regularly probably weren't surprised to see Noren take Day so deep. Over the past couple of years or so, Alex has been in my Ruthless Golf World Rankings two or three times. And you should get used to seeing him here in America -- the $607k that he picked up for his T2 finish almost guarantees he'll have a Tour card next season, as it put him at #34 on the FedExCup Points list.

But Jason's the big story. He's made it clear that he wasn't just making small talk when he said he was ready to make another run to #1 in the world. This win moved him up four spots to #10, and you can't help but think he's just getting started. So he starts his new run with a win -- and, of course, the coveted Limerick Summary.
It was nip and tuck from the beginning;
Day nor Noren had won by day’s ending.
Five more holes in the dark
Weren’t enough! One more start
Monday morning sent Jason off grinning.
The photo came from this page at

Monday, January 29, 2018

Two Promising Returns to Action

The Limerick Summary is delayed because the Farmers playoff resumes this morning at 11am ET. So I'm doing Tuesday's post a day early.

Tiger and Rory

It's been at least a year since both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were healthy enough to make their presence felt on the world.stage. Now we've seen each play in two events -- Tiger in the Bahamas and at Torrey, Rory at Abu Dhabi and Dubai -- and 2018 looks promising for each.

Tiger's play at Torrey this past week has been -- and will continue to be -- analyzed ad nauseam. But the results are pretty clear to anyone willing to look. Despite problems with his full shots in general and his driving in particular, Tiger managed to make his first cut since the Windham in 2015. Who didn't make it? Here are a few names you may recognize:
  • Sangmoon Bae
  • Jhonattan Vegas
  • Ollie Schneiderjans
  • Wee Kim
  • Xander Schauffele
  • Rickie Fowler
In addition, his T23 (-3) finish tied Patrick Reed and beat Jon Rahm. Think about that -- with all his struggles, Tiger still managed a Top25 finish in his first official event back on a tough course, and at one point he was T16 at -5. (Had he held that score, he would have finished T12.) Not a bad showing!

Not only that, but he laid to rest most of the questions about his short game and putting. He also answered those who doubted he still had the will to grind, the desire to do his best no matter how hard the road. And now he has a couple of weeks to work on the things he learned this week (like bad driving!) before he tees it up at Riviera.

Yes, very promising.

As for Rory, he has a T3 and a runner-up finish in his two starts. That should end the questions about whether he's healthy or not. His game appears to be firing on all cylinders, and he -- like Tiger -- seems to have found his "happy place."

If any question remains unanswered, it's about his ability to close out tournaments... but I don't think that one will last too long. Rory has never been like Tiger -- he's more like Phil. He's streaky and tends to make the occasional bad decision that costs him the win. But he will make fewer of them as he gets back into the rhythm of a full schedule, just as Tiger will make fewer bad shots as he regains his feel for tournament golf.

It's so easy to forget how hard it is to be great, no matter what field you compete in. Tiger noted that Roger Federer picked up his 20th Grand Slam title this weekend at age 36, but 36 is old for a tennis player. Tiger isn't old for a golfer, and Rory even younger, but the challenges for all three are similar. There is always another challenger, one with a different set of skills and something to prove. No matter how talented you are, success is never as easy as it may look. Even the greats like Tiger and Rory need "reps" in order to reach their potential. January is just the beginning of their returns to greatness.

But I suspect it won't be long before the rest of the Tours wish both had stayed on the sidelines a bit longer.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Andrew Jones on Basic Chipping (Video)

Yes, here's another video on chipping technique! Why am I posting this one from Golf Monthly's Andrew Jones? Because he demonstrates something that I think is important for good chipping but is rarely stressed by instructors.

I am a big believer in staying relaxed when you play, regardless of whether you're making a full stroke or a short game stroke. And please understand that I don't just mean your hands and wrists are relaxed -- I want your entire body to be relaxed! Hands, arms, shoulders, neck, back, hips, knees -- your whole body. Tension just impedes rhythm and speed.

When I swing, especially in my short game, I like to think of myself as a big piece of elastic, stretched from the ground up to my head. Unlike a mechanical skeleton where the top part moves while the bottom is immobilized, I want my body so relaxed that all rotation is spread evenly from ground to head. Even on a short stroke, that means my knees might move a little -- not because I'm trying to move them, but simply because relaxed muscles respond to the motion easily. This way, it's easier to keep everything in sequence as I swing back and through, which is particularly important in the short game.

This video includes some unusually clear shots of what a relaxed swing looks like. Note that it's not jerky. There are no sections where the club suddenly picks up speed; all the accelerations during the stroke are smooth and gradual. This helps you keep from stabbing the clubhead into the ground. It makes it easier to get consistent contact. And it creates more speed than you might expect.

There's a lot of good instruction in this short video, but pay particular attention to the motion in the chip shot. You'll be surprised how much more consistent you'll become if you try to copy the feel of Andrew's swing.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Tiger Takes a Successful First Step at Torrey

Maybe it wasn't the glorious showing that many of his fans hoped for. But when Tiger Woods made the cut at -1 after his second round, the roar from the gallery showed they were excited nevertheless.

Tiger at Torrey Pines

I was thrilled as well. Tiger has made no secret that this week was about taking a first step toward the Masters. Making this cut goes a long way toward making that trip. And after two full rounds -- with the promise of two more -- I think we can make a few observations about his progress so far.

It certainly appears that his body is healthy and that he is in a good frame of mind, as evidenced by his interactions with the crowds and media both during and after his rounds. I think it also shows in his more realistic expectations at this point in his journey back. We aren't hearing the "I'm here to win" speech; rather, we're hearing his own uncertainty about how he can perform under pressure and his need to relearn what his body can and can't do. This is certainly different from his last attempts to regain his form.

And while his game is clearly rusty -- has he even been on a hill since his last surgery? -- it's also clear that he's made some good progress. His lag putting and short game were extremely good for a man who hasn't played four rounds at an official Tour event in nearly two-and-a-half years. His speed and general form are still looking good after a month of daily golf, even if his "sequencing" comes and goes under the pressure and adrenaline of competitive golf. That's to be expected.

But perhaps best of all, he showed that he is still capable of finding a way to score when his game isn't all that good. That tells me that he's in a good place mentally, and it's just a matter of time and practice before his confidence comes back. If he can make the cut at Torrey with the game we saw over the last two days, there's real hope that he can make it all the way back.

I'll be very interested to see how he plays over the next two days, now that the pressure of making the cut is gone and he can simply focus on trying to chase the lead. Will he catch it? I doubt it but that's not what's important at this point. What are his goals going forward?

Tiger has said it himself -- he needs to learn how his body responds on the weekend at a "real" tournament. Nick Faldo agreed. And over at ESPN Andy North said Tiger needed the opportunity to find a go-to shot, something he could only do during an actual tournament. These are all realistic goals.

Will he achieve them this weekend? Probably not... but he can make a good start toward them. And that's really all you can ask from a good first step.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Gary Player on Dealing with "First Time" Pressure

Today I have a short quote from Gary Player's book Don't Choke. All of us have problems dealing with pressure, and this particular quote addresses the problems that come when you're in a position to do something for the first time.

Gary Player

It's from the first chapter, where he talks about his first major victory in the 1959 Open at Muirfield. He was way back from the lead and finished early. He thought he needed a four on the final hole to win but took a six. It devastated him; he thought he'd lost so he went back to his hotel, only to get a phone call from the course when the rest of the field finished to tell him he had in fact won. The weather was so bad that his overall score was too low for the field to match.
Breaking through for the first time brings with it a whole different set of pressures. I understood the pressure of Major championship golf. A year before Muirfield, I had finished second in the US Open, and I'd had top-ten finishes in the Open in 1958 and the Masters in 1959. But this was new in terms of dealing with the pressure of trying to become a Major championship winner for the first time in my career.

It's a case of dealing with the nerves of realizing a dream for the first time. That can be a major obstacle when you want something so badly and have worked all your life to be at that point. The secret is to focus not on the pressure of the situation but rather on the blessing of being in a position to go for your dream. And often, at the moment when it looks as if that dream has fallen to pieces right in front of your eyes, that' s when the phone call comes. [p21]
I know that sounds terribly simple. It is, and it's very hard to do. But the point is that many of the most important things we need to learn are also the simplest things. Often our struggles come because we believe that we need to do something complicated in order to succeed... when we really just need to adjust our perspective on things to regain our mental and emotional balance.

Focus on the opportunity rather than the challenge. It's a simple concept that breeds gratitude... and we should never underestimate the power of gratitude.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Charlie Rymer Explains Callaway's Jailbreak Tech (Video)

With all the golf this week, I didn't want to write a long post. But this short video caught my eye, mainly because the Jailbreak technology fascinates me and this is the first time I've seen an actual cutaway look at the inside of the new Rogue driver.

For some reason I had imagined the bars would look a bit different than they do. But I have to admit, seeing them really helped me get a better handle on what they do.

This video won't take you away from the golf broadcasts for much more than a minute, but it does a really good job explaining how Jailbreak works.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Murderer's Row of Golf Broadcasts Starting Today

Look, there is A LOT of golf starting this afternoon, so I'm going to list the GC schedule for today and tomorrow with all the new stuff -- which includes Tiger's first official tournament back (the Farmers), of course.


Please note that all times are ET.

  • 1:30pm-2pm Golf Central Pre Game
  • 2pm-5pm Tour Bahamas Great Abaco Classic-Final Round
  • 5pm-6pm Golf Central
  • 6pm-8pm ( Tour replay)
  • 8pm-8:30pm Champions Tour Learning Center
  • 8:30pm-9pm Inside the PGA Tour
  • 9pm-11pm (Last year's Farmers Insurance Open-Final Round)
  • 11pm-midnight Omega Dubai Desert Classic
  • midnight-8:30am Omega Dubai Desert Classic
  • 8:30am-11:30am  Morning Drive PGA Merchandise Show
  • 11:30am-2:30pm Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic
  • 2:30pm-3pm Golf Central Pre Game
  • 3pm-7pm PGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open
That's a lot of new tournament coverage --  the Tour finishes up while the European Tour, LPGA and PGA Tours all start up. Sergio defends at Dubai, Brittany Lincicome defends in the Bahamas and Jon Rahm defends at Torrey. In addition, Rahm will become #1 in the OWGR if he does manage to defend.

PLEASE NOTE that the ET coverage starts tonight and continues into tomorrow. Likewise, the GC schedule isn't clear if all of that ET coverage is live or includes some re-aired stuff.

And for those of you who are interested, the Vegas bookmakers don't think Tiger is going to make the cut at Torrey BUT they think don't think he'll withdraw.

At any rate, from Tiger to the LPGA, there's something here for every fan this week.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Dave Pelz on Playing a Punch Shot

Over at the Golf Magazine site they've published a post by Dave Pelz on how to make your punch shot the most dependable trouble shot in your bag.

Dave Pelz shows three positions during punch shot

Dave describes the mechanics very simply:
" the ball two inches back of center in your stance and make a half- or three-quarter swing. The overall feeling should be "together and compact," with solid lower-body control."
There's more in the article, of course. Dave goes into considerable detail about how to choose the direction of your punch, which he says is at least as important as the mechanics. The photo above comes from this section of the article, and I should note that the two ball positions are for clarity. The ball in front of his club is his normal ball position while the ball behind the club is his punch position.

Look, it's rare that you get to read such a brief article that contains so much useful information. By all means, drop by the Golf Magazine site and check it out. You'll be glad you did!

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

Winner: Jon Rahm

Around the wider world of golf: Tommy Fleetwood defied the analysts by defending his title at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the ET; Sergio Garcia got his season off and running by running away with the title at the SMBC Singapore Open on the Japan Golf Tour; and Jerry Kelly shocked the Champions Tour players by winning the Mitsubishi Electric Championship on the final hole. The Tour's Great Abaco Classic and the Latin America Amateur Championship don't finish for a couple of days yet.

Jon Rahm with CareerBuilder trophy

Let's be straight about this: If Jon Rahm had done anything on the par-5s at the Stadium Course on Sunday -- ANYTHING AT ALL -- this event wouldn't have even been close. He was 13-under on them over the first three days (11 birdies and 1 eagle).

He was even par on them Sunday. Even par. And yet only Andrew Landry was able to make a playoff with him. This should frighten the rest of the field in any event Rahm plays.

Don't misunderstand me -- I have nothing but respect for Landry.  As I say, he's the only player to force a playoff, and then he took Rahm four extra holes before one of them could manage a birdie to win. (Don't forget, it was getting late and it's always darker on the course than we can see on TV.)

But this is Rahm's fourth win in just 12 months. (He defends at Torrey this week, where he picked up his first win.) He's got two ET wins and two PGA Tour wins now. And I suppose you can chalk part of that up to his desire to make the Ryder Cup team this year. (As if that should be a problem. He'll be #2 in the world by the time most of you read this.)

No, I refer to Rahm's struggles in the majors last year. In case you didn't notice, GC kept drawing attention to the similarities between the PGA West Stadium Course and TPC Sawgrass, home of the PLAYERS. Rahm didn't play well there last year (or at CareerBuilder, for that matter) but this would indicate that he's improved. And those who play well at Sawgrass often play well at the majors.

I'm just sayin'...

As Rahm heads out for his Torrey defense this week, he may be on the verge of a run of good play to compete with DJ, Jordan, Justin and the like. In the meantime, I better get my Limerick Summary muscles in shape, just in case...
After four extra holes, Jon had won;
Now he goes to defend number one
Of his wins on the Tour…
And we can’t say for sure
But this might be the start of a run.
The photo came from the tournament page at

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Hitting a Ball from the "Wrong" Side (video)

I found this video from instructor Jason Birnbaum's NerveWrackers series over at the Golf Digest website. I believe I've posted videos on hitting shots from the opposite side as you normally do, but I'm always up for another perspective on the task.

Here are the key points from the video:
  • Use a sand wedge because the head is large.
  • Turn the club upside down and reverse your grip -- that is, the hand that's normally at the end of the handle is now nearest the head.
  • Make a very short backswing to make sure you hit the ball in the center of the club.
  • Swing through as fast as you can without moving your head.
Here's my own thought about that last point. While you want to swing as fast as possible, you don't want to jerk the club when you start down. Rein in your desire to "explode" into the ball; try to feel as if you are slow at the "top" of your backswing and fast at impact. If you do, you'll keep your head pretty still without having to think a lot about it.

Shots from the "wrong" side of the ball are becoming more of a standard trouble shot these days. You might as well learn how to do them right.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Annika on Playing Half Shots (Video)

This is a video Annika did last January for the LET. It's a unique drill for quieting your lower body when you play half shots. (I'd just call it a pitch but hey, she's Annika, She can call it anything she wants!)

I don't think I've ever seen this cross-legged version. Note that she crosses her trailing leg in front of her lead leg. This is important because you want to quiet your body movement during your backswing, NOT your downswing -- you want your body to move freely into your finish.

Let me repeat that: You want your body to move freely into your finish. If you have trouble getting the shot on line, that's the first thing you should check. That free-flowing finish keeps the clubface from flipping over at impact.

A simple drill, but I can see how this one should help you hit the ball more crisply on short shots. And since it's Annika, you know it's got to be a good drill, right?

Friday, January 19, 2018

DJ Needs More Work on His Iron Play (Video)

I just had to post this. Both the Abu Dhabi and Singapore tournaments are letting amateurs try to hit shots closer to the pin than the pros on some holes... and DJ got beat by a 13-year-old. Take a look:

Young Oscar Murphy hit a 3-wood around 177 yards and got within 25 feet, which beat both DJ and Tommy Fleetwood. Apparently he didn't beat his hero, Rory McIlroy -- who was also in the group -- but he did get to hang out with Rory for a bit.

The coolest part of it for me? Take a listen to that solid crack when Oscar hit the ball. There's a lot of pros who would pay to hit it that solid.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ernest Jones on Creating Clubhead Speed

Ernest Jones is the source of most modern teaching on "swinging" a golf club as opposed to "hitting" with one. And most instructors tend to avoid his teaching, on the grounds that the classic swing uses centrifugal and centripetal force while the modern swing depends more on leverage.

Ernest JonesBut a swing by any other name is still a swing, and the two approaches do share some basics. So today I thought I'd pass on a thought from the Jones book Swing the Clubhead (originally called Swinging into Golf), which is generally considered a classic instruction text.

There's a truth in here that any golfer can benefit from learning, no matter what swing method he uses:
There are, to be sure, more ways than one to strike a ball. You can strike it by swinging the clubhead or by employing leverage. You can strike it harder with a swinging action than you can in any other way with the power at your command, and still retain reasonable control over your effort. The principle of centrifugal application of force guarantees this. But it is not likely that you will come to a realization of this of your own accord. To do so is not consistent with your past experiences. Your natural instinct is to try to turn the power on all at once.

A swinging action must begin smoothly and rhythmically, and the force producing it must be applied gradually. There can be no quick jerky movement at any stage of the procedure. As soon as the movement develops this characteristic, the swinging is destroyed. Steadiness, not speed, is the keynote in beginning the application of power in a swing. Speed is developed later. [p60-61]
That last paragraph -- and particularly the last two sentences -- is something that applies to any method of swinging a club. If you want to hit the ball a long way and still keep some kind of control over its direction, you have to stay SMOOTH. And Jones describes that smoothness with the word STEADINESS.

What does that mean? It means you don't try to suddenly jerk the club from the top, where it has basically stopped in order to change direction, and accelerate from zero to 100mph all at once. You have to get the club accelerating smoothly for the first foot or so of hand and arm movement. Then and only then can you try to let it go.

Or, in the words Jones uses, "Speed is developed later."

This is no different than what Hogan said when he wrote that he wished he had three right hands to create power in his swing. He made the point that you don't try to "hit" the ball until your hands are well into the downswing and your body is in position to unleash that power with balance and control. Both classic and modern swingers have to unleash their power SMOOTHLY, whether they do it through centrifugal force or leverage.

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Lots of Things I Wanted to Mention Today

I found several things that, while most didn't merit a post on their own, they were all things I found interesting. So here they all are...

First, tournaments. Several players are making their 2018 debuts this week and those events will be on TV:
  • Phil Mickelson makes his debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge tomorrow.
  • Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose make their debuts at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. That will be starting TONIGHT at 10:30pm ET on GC, so don't forget. (DJ's in this event also.)
  • Sergio makes his debut at the SMBC Singapore Open this week as well. If I saw correctly, that event will be tape-delayed starting Thursday night. (Patrick Reed and Pat Perez are in this event, as is Kurt Kitayama, a young American player who just got his card on the Asian Tour.) [UPDATE: I put Reed in the wrong event -- he's at CareerBuilder. And the GC coverage of the Singapore Open starts Wednesday night before the HSBC. I really got these events wrong!]
  • The Champions Tour itself debuts this week in Hawaii at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship. You get one guess who the defending champion is!
And the Tour's Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay did get finished on time Tuesday. 19-year-old Korean rookie Sungjae Im won going away. This is noteworthy because K.J. Choi is apparently his mentor... and apparently doing a very good job of it! If Im can get a few PGA Tour exemptions and play this well, he might be on the PGA Tour sooner rather than later.

Second... "wildlife." I don't know how else to categorize this, but I saw it over at and... well, it's two of my least favorite animals. Richard Nadler saw them "cuddling" while he was playing golf in Florida last Friday.

I can do without them in MY foursome, thank you very much.

Finally, Nick Faldo announced formation of the Major Champions Invitational on Tuesday. The link takes you to the video, in case my embedded video below won't play. The short version is this: The event will be held on March 12-14 (the week of Arnie's event) and will feature both male and female players in their teens from all over the world, each chosen by various major champions to be on their "teams."

In addition to Faldo, a bunch of major champions have already pledged their support. The link lists Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly, but Nick also mentioned Ernie Els and said that he hopes to get Jack Nicklaus and some others involved. Apparently the idea is very popular with the players Nick has talked to, so this could end up being a big junior event going forward.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dr. Gio Valiante on Making Swing Fixes

Okay, that's not exactly what Dr. Gio called it... but GC didn't post the video for it and I can't remember exactly what he called it. However, it was such a brilliant insight that I wanted to write about it anyway.

Dr. Gio Valiante

Dr. Gio did two segments on Morning Drive Monday morning. GC has only posted one of them. (I've reposted it below. The first 2:40 or so is a recap of the Diamond Resorts event, then he uses that to talk about "psychological fluctuation." Sounds weird, but it's useful stuff.) The one they didn't post included Charlie Rymer and talked about his first professional tournament in a decade or so, and what Dr. Gio said struck me as incredibly useful.

He says your golf swing is made up of three parts -- the psychological, the physical and the mechanical. But here's the cool thing: Dr. Gio says you can use any of the three as "fixes" for a problem, regardless of which area is causing it! That's because a problem in any one of those areas affects the other two, so you can attack the problem from any area.

Here's an example: Let's say your having confidence issues with your driver. You hit it fine on the range but can't keep it in the short grass during a round. If you feel anxiety when you stand over your driver, that's going to cause physical problems like raising your blood pressure, which changes the tension in your muscles or the blood flow in your hands (which affects your feel). It might also cause you to develop a mechanical problem because your flexibility is affected or you just get impatient and jerky. What are you gonna do to fix it?
  • Well, you've probably hit some good drives before. So you could try visualizing those good drives -- the rhythm and how you felt when you hit them. You've hit good drives before, so there's no reason you can't do it again.
  • Or you might attack the physical tension. You could focus on slowing your breathing or relaxing your forearms.
  • Or you might do what a lot of pros do and create a go-to, can't-miss shot. You might learn to tee the ball lower and (if you're a rightie) swing left with an open clubface. That way you eliminate one side of the course and effectively double the width of the fairway.
The first is a psychological fix. The second is a physical fix. The third is a mechanical fix. And any or all of them could be effective for you.

In other words, you don't have to drive yourself nuts trying to identify exactly where the problem originates. You can simply identify the effect of the problem and adopt a fix that you're comfortable with. Isn't that cool?

Here's the video of that first session with Dr. Gio I promised. You might also find some useful help in it.

Remember: You don't have to agonize over the exact cause of your problem. All you have to do is find a way to correct its effect on your game, and that should help you beat it.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Sony Open

Winner: Patton Kizzire

Around the wider world of golf: The European team put on a furious rally in singles to win the Eurasia Cup 14-10; Chris Paisley won the BMW South African Open for his first ET victory; Mardy Fish and Scott Parel won the celebrity and pro divisions (respectively) at the Diamond Resorts Invitational on the Champions Tour; and the Tour event in the Bahamas won't finish until Tuesday.

Patton Kizzire with Sony Open trophy

It was the longest playoff in Sony Open history. Six extra holes became the battleground for two men who simply couldn't separate themselves from each other.

The first was James Hahn, who shot a career best 62 in the final round to set the clubhouse lead at -17. Hahn has won twice before, both in playoffs, but it's been nearly two years.

The other was Patton Kizzire, who has already won once in this wraparound season -- at the OHL Classic in Mexico. The best he could do in regulation was 68, just enough to tie Hahn (who had been waiting in the clubhouse for a while).

From that point on, however, neither man could shake free from the other. They matched scores hole-for-hole, each making a heroic effort just to continue the playoff. Par, birdie, par, birdie, par... and then they reached the sixth playoff hole, the par-3 17th. Kizzire's iron shot crept off the back of the green; Hahn left himself a tricky shot nearly twice as long... and his putt from off the green came up short.

Then his putter finally let him down. He posted bogey. Kizzire two-putted for par and the win.

Patton Kizzire becomes the first multiple winner of the 2017-18 season. That also makes him the first multiple Limerick Summary winner of the wraparound season. Who will be next?
It took six extra holes for Kizzire
Because Hahn played his last round on fire!
Neither man could break free
From the other, you see,
Till Kizzire’s par won him his desire.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Todd Casabella on Stopping the Shanks (Video)

I know I post a lot of videos and tips about shanking, but that's because I know lots of you have this problem from time to time... and let's face it, one fix does not fit all. So here is instructor Todd Casabella's tip on how to stop shanking.

Now, let's get one thing straight. While shanks are often caused by standing too far from the ball, standing too close can cause them too. You need to identify which it is with you but, once you learn what to look for, it's not too hard to track down the cause. Todd's tip is for those standing too far away from the ball.

Todd says that standing too far from the ball causes you to lean forward and put your weight over your toes, basically falling toward the ball when you swing. To prevent this, he wants you to move the ball a bit closer, set up with your weight already over your toes, and "rock back" onto your heels as you make your downswing. It's not a dramatic move, but most problems in golf usually aren't. Anyway, if you're reaching for the ball at setup, this is a good thing to try.

This is only one of the things you can try if you have problems with the dreaded shank. But this is a simple fix and, if it works, it shouldn't take you long to integrate it into your swing -- this fix should be compatible with almost any instructor's swing method.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Why You Should Care about the Eurasia Cup

The second day of the Eurasia Cup -- Europe VS Asia, played in Kuala Lumpur -- is still undeway as I write this, but it looks as if the Euros could even things up or even lead when today is over. In fact, the team of Stenson and Fleetwood has just posted the first win of the session, tying the score at 3.5 points each.

Henrik Stenson and Tommy Fleetwood

The Eurasia Cup plays 6 fourball matches, 6 foursome matches (that's the current session) and 12 singles, for a total of 24 available points. As I write this, Europe leads three matches and Asia leads two.

So why should you care about these matches? Here in America, we're more interested in the Ryder Cup matches later this year, aren't we?

There are two reasons this event should be at the forefront of everybody's attention. First of all, the Euros are the players we're likely to see in the Ryder Cup later this year. It's a good chance to assess the competition (if you're American) or assess potential pairings (if you're European).

And second, the Asian team is a strong competitor for the Euros. While players will most likely be at a different place in their prep later this year, the Asians tied the first playing of this event (10-10) while the Euros devastated the Asian last time (18.5-5.5). It's worth noting that the last event was played in an Olympic year and the Asian competitors were probably more focused on that, given the extreme competition for an Olympic spot among Asian athletes.

I know I'm extremely interested to see how the Euros fare this week. This shows no sign of being a blowout, and I want a good look at what the US will be facing in France. This could be the best indicator we'll get.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Patrick Cohn on Breaking 100

Sometimes the hardest thing about improving your game is just getting out of your own way. That's especially true when you're trying to get past a scoring barrier.

Dr. Patrick CohnYou can find Dr. Patrick Cohn over at Peak Performance Sports, where he helps athletes in a number of sports. But he's become pretty well known in the world of golf, in no small part because Bob Rotella was one of his mentors. He's also written a couple of books on golf. Today I pulling some stuff from Going Low.

Cohn devotes fairly large sections of the book to breaking 100 (or 90) and breaking 80. Here's some of what he had to say about trying to break one of those first barriers and you're facing that first tee shot of the round:
A tee shot is tough enough, but it is even more difficult when this is your first shot of the day and you think everyone in the clubhouse is watching. The first tee shot can often make or break a round, because it sets up your performance on the the first hole. First-tee jitters can turn a straightforward shot into the most difficult shot you'll hit all day.

You may have experienced two different types of first-tee jitters. The first is the friendly kind of butterflies characterized by excitement and anticipation. This is a good feeling of anticipation of the start of the round. You feel excited to play and ready to get going. These butterflies can help you play better by getting you focused. You are excited, your heart is pounding faster, and your focus becomes more acute. The pros often experience this type of butterflies and interpret them as necessary for playing well.

The second kind of first-tee jitters is the type that makes you have a sinking feeling in the pit of your gut. Your mind races, your heart rate accelerates, your palms sweat, your muscles tighten, your blood pressure increases, and you get an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach. If you feel anxious or afraid, your performance suffers, because it makes you physically tense and cripples your ability to focus. A golfer feels this when he or she is afraid to hit a bad shot or embarrass him- or herself, or is afraid of losing the match on the first hole. Once you experience "bad" jitters, you become obsessed with the uncomfortable feelings, which distract you from what you need to focus on.

The first kind of jitters is helpful to your performance, but the second can be detrimental to your game. If you experience "bad" jitters, the first step is to address your fears. [p138-139]
No, that's not the entire section but it's enough to get us started.

The key here is to identify which kind of jitters you're feeling... and the difference is easier to see than you may at first believe. The first is focused on the game, the second is focused on YOU. The first is focused on the joy of playing, the second on what other people will think of you -- or rather, your worst imaginings of what they might think of you.

I am reminded of this quote from the late humorist Ethel Barrett:
We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.
She was right on the money. We all think we are the center of the universe, but most people don't give a damn about what we do... unless it affects them in some substantial way. A botched shot doesn't diminish you as a person. And if you hang with folks who think it does... well, why are you hanging with them? You need to find some friends who have a life!

If you want to break through a scoring barrier, the first step is to get a life of your own. Your value as a person isn't dependent on a golf score. Think about what Pat Perez said, that he's playing better simply because he doesn't care as much. It's not that he isn't trying to play well. Rather, he is free to try to play better because, if he fails, he knows it's just one day's score. It's not about HIM.

Once you wrap your mind around that simple truth, you've taken the first step toward breaking your personal scoring barrier.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Some Newsy Bits about Various Events

With so much golf getting underway this week, I thought I'd post a few notes I've picked up that may affect your viewing choices.

Newly redone par-5 13th hole at Waialae

First, Sony Open: The above photo is from the new tee on the redone par-5 13th hole at Waialae. The tee has been moved up so the hole can play as a 477-yard par-4. I believe they've redone three other holes as well, which should give the players at least a moment's pause to reconsider their strategies. Starts later today (Thursday).

Next, Diamond Resorts Invitational: The biggest news here is that this will be Gerina Piller's only event this year. She's 23 weeks pregnant -- most of you already knew that -- and she told the Morning Drive crew that she's taking the entire rest of the year off. If you want to watch her play, this week is your only chance in 2018. Starts Friday.

Then, Eurasia Cup: When I mentioned the BMW SA Open in yesterday's post, I forgot that the Eurasia Cup will also be played this weekend, except it starts on Friday. It's been played in Malaysia the last two times. (You guys do remember that it's a Ryder Cup-style event between Europe and Asia, right?) This is only the third edition of the event, and Europe is the defending champ. If you want to see Henrik Stenson, this is the event you want to watch.

Although I can't find it on GC's TV schedule, they did say they would be carrying it -- as I remember, right after Morning Drive. Presumably, that will be Friday morning.

Finally, Tour: The first couple of Tour events will be carried on GC. The first one, the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, starts Saturday and runs through Tuesday. This is part of the Tour's attempts to get new viewers by finishing between the other tours' events. You may remember the horrible weather that affected this event last year. That unpredictability could make for another interesting event this year.

Those are the main things I wanted to mention. Forgive me for not posting times, but I'm not certain I trust the schedule at since the Eurasia Cup isn't even listed. If they are carrying it (as they said), there have to be some incorrect listings in the schedule!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The European Tour Resumes This Week

Both the PGA Tour and the European Tour start their regular schedules this week. The European Tour kicks off 2018 with the BMW SA Open.

2017 BMW SA Open champ Graeme Storm and caddie

You may not realize it, but the South African Open is the second oldest national Open in the world (1893). It's hosted by the City Ekurhuleni (don't ask me to pronounce that) at Glendower Golf Club, a nearly 7600-yard course at Johannesburg. And the defending champion is Graeme Storm, whose win last year locked up his Tour card.

Rather than repeat a lot of information, let me just link you to a page at called Five Things to Know, which will give you all this info and more.

To be honest, the thing I find most interesting about the tournament (at least, so far) is that Rory McIlroy isn't included in the entry list. Graeme beat Rory in a three-hole playoff last year, and I thought he'd want to see if he couldn't finish one spot better this time.

GC's schedule shows their coverage of this event begins at 2:30am ET on Wednesday morning. It's listed until 9:30am ET then continuing at 11:30am ET after Morning Drive. I don't know if that's all live coverage or not... but it's definitely a bonus for us ET fans.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Golf Ball Debates Resume

Dustin Johnson's 432-yard "almost a hole-in-one on a par-4" drive at Kapalua's 12th hole Sunday has started the new round of debates over the modern golf ball and how far it flies. GC posted this piece by Randall Mell on Monday that sums up some of the issues.

I must admit that at times I find this all a bit humorous. The history of golf is filled with players who seemed to be ungodly long with a driver, regardless of the ball they used.

Jack Nicklaus in 1966

For example, in an article in The American Golfer (dated 7 May 1921) O.B. Keeler wrote:
BOB JONES is an extremely long hitter. He has been a long hitter since he was thirteen years old. At Merion, in the national championship of 1916, Bob being then fourteen, he drove some of the longest tee-shots in that tournament, and, incidentally, traveled thirty holes against Frank Dyer in a matter of four strokes under 4's, if my memory is not at fault—the best stretch of golf shot in that tournament. He hit one or two tee-shots of better than three hundred yards. [p7]
Hmmm... a 14-year-old Bobby Jones could hit one of those old Haskell rubber balls -- essentially a balata ball -- over 300 yards with a persimmon-headed, hickory-shafted driver that would have been about two inches or so shorter than the current standard. And Jones was only around 5'10", about Rory McIlroy's height. Interesting.

Even more interesting is an article Keeler wrote in the same magazine later that year, in the 17 December 1921 issue, the tenth in a series called Why These Fads and Fancies? titled simply Ballistics. Here is a short section of that article, which began on page 13 and continued on page 30:
Recently we have got the golf ball in our power in at least one direction—we have the wretched thing standardized. That is, it must not weigh more than a certain weight (1.62 ounce); and it must not be smaller than a certain diameter, which I think is that same amount in inches; while it can be as much lighter or as much larger as desired—which doesn't appear to be much.

It seems we were tending toward a pellet about the size of an old-fashioned quinine pill, with a soupcon of radium in it, or something to give it a range that would result in the scrapping of all our standard golf courses and making them over on the Great Plains of the Middle West or the Desert of Sahara, or somewhere where there was more room.

The Royal and Ancients and other golf arbiters decided something ought to be done about it—steps should be taken, resolutions adopted; measures taken, or something. It turned out to be measures; weights and measures, you might say. And now we have the standardized golf ball, with no especial sacrifice of power, velocity or range, if the advertisements may be credited.

As a matter of fact, they stopped the revision of the ball downward right about where it was; I think that a few brands were a shade smaller and a shade heavier than the present standard; but I do not recall a season with more punishment administered to long-hitting records than the past one.

So the golf courses are saved, it seems; and we moderate players won't have to battle our way with a drive and five screaming brassies to get in range of the eight hundred and nine hundred and thousand-yard holes, predicted not so long ago by the more excitable pessimists as the logical outgrowth of the smaller and heavier and higher-powered projectiles turned out year by year.

Six hundred yards will, for the nonce, remain the approximate limit — that is to say, a drive and two screaming brassies for the gentler players to get in pitching distance; for it generally is agreed that a brassie shot should not be expected to scream unless it travels more than one hundred and fifty yards.
Bear in mind, this was written in 1921. It laments the (at that time) extreme distances which the ball traveled -- note that a 600-yard hole was considered "the approximate limit" at that time, although there weren't many of them. Note that Keeler says that others before him have lamented that the situation would be even worse!

And in the modern day? A 2013 Golf Magazine article said there were 20 holes over 600 yards on the PGA Tour and included pictures of the ten longest, the longest being the 667-yard first hole at Firestone.

So, despite all the advances in golf ball design, club design, course architecture, agronomy and player size -- that last is rarely mentioned as a significant change, although I would expect 6'4" DJ to hit the ball a bit longer than most players who weren't that tall! -- despite all that, the longest hole on Tour was still only 60-some yards longer than in 1921. (Please note that, while there are longer holes in the world, they aren't par-5s.)

And other players besides Jones have been long hitters despite using "inferior" equipment. Jack Nicklaus -- the above photo comes from 1966 -- won the 1963 PGA Championship at the Dallas Athletic Club by two shots. In the long drive competition held on Wednesday that week, Jack won with a 341-yard drive. Like Jones, Jack used a balata ball and persimmon-headed driver, albeit with a steel shaft. (I found that info in both this USA Today article -- where I got the photo above -- and Wikipedia's article on the 1963 PGA.)

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not arguing either for or against how far the ball travels. Personally I'd like to see something done to keep the older courses in play. Longtime readers of this blog may remember a 2009 post called Why Not a Par 67 Course? where I suggested the (apparently) blasphemous idea that par is a relatively meaningless concept and we could set it at any number we chose. These days I don't think that would make any difference, simply because Tour events have become so large that those courses don't have enough room for all the tents and parking and such.

I'll leave those debates to the analysts and officials who get paid to debate such things.

I suspect the powers-that-be will have to put a lid on development eventually -- longer courses are simply becoming economically and ecologically unfeasible these days. But it seems to me that, when you consider just the basic issue of distance, the golf ball debate hasn't changed much in at least a century. The pros have always been cited as "proof" that the ball flies too far, while the average amateur can't even drive the ball 200 yards consistently.

Perhaps this says less about the equipment and more about our inability to make a simple swinging motion with a club.

But whatever else it means, I guess we can look forward to an increased battle over golf ball standards this year. And that's about par for the course.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Sentry Tournament of Champions

Winner: Dustin Johnson

Around the wider world of golf: I don't know of any other events this week. The year is young!

Dustin Johnson with Sentry ToC trophy

Well, yesterday I wrote that if Dustin Johnson was "on" at the Tournament of Champions, he could take the title easily. However, I thought there might be an upset in the making, simply because big leads -- especially in the first event of the year -- can be tricky to hold. My feeling was based on him possibly being rusty.

Shows how much I know. DJ posted the biggest win of his career, winning by eight shots in warm but soggy weather.

Now I wasn't the only one who considered a possible upset. Some analysts wondered if DJ's collapse at the WGC-China would eat at his confidence. They mentioned his record of 4-7 when leading after 54 holes. But THAT Dustin Johnson doesn't exist anymore.

At least, it's not a mental issue when he loses these days. It may be equipment problems or physical problems or simply the fact that nobody wins all the time. But DJ has enough positive performances in his memory banks that he isn't going to just crack under pressure.

The rest of the field might have had a chance if he did. Don't be counting on that, folks. DJ is healthy again and he knows he's not going to re-injure himself. This year may end up being the year we expected from him in 2017.

I think this Limerick Summary is only his first of the 2018 season. The rest of the Tour better buckle their seat belts -- it may be a rough ride for them!
With his back pain a thing of the past,
DJ’s lead at the start grew so fast
That the field groaned in shock—
‘Cause the golf course he walked
Didn’t play like the course where THEY crashed!
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Is an Upset Brewing Today?

Yes, I admit it -- today's final round at the Sentry Tournament of Champions tantalizes me. And yes, I think we could see an upset.

Third-round leader Dustin Johnson

Of course, if DJ takes care of business he'll easily walk off with the win. History says the Plantation Course suits his game to a tee. And he's certainly playing well enough to take this event easily.

But there is other history at work here. Rickie Fowler and Jason Dufner are five back, Jon Rahm is four back and Brian Harman is two back. In the last year Rahm has lost out to DJ once and to Harman once. And DJ was tied with Rahm in that last one, so Harmon has already beat him once as well.

Do I expect a shootout today? Yes, I do. But unlike most people, my money's on Harman. He's been playing very well for the last year or so, and all I can say is that I've got a feeling.

Then again, my brain might just be numb from the cold. I guess we'll find out later today.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Kenny Nairn on Hitting the Sweet Spot More Consistently (Video)

Instructor Kenny Nairn showed this impact drill a couple of days back on GC... and it fascinates me. This is a great example of a drill where you try to create a feel BUT your swing won't include the actual move you're practicing!

I know that 45° angle between the shaft and the target line seems unrealistic, but my testing seems to back it up. Your wrists are uncocking as you come down into the impact zone so they won't actually stay cocked that long UNLESS you're deliberately trying to hold the angle... and if you are, you're going to lose clubhead speed. However, because you are swinging on an inclinded plane extending from the ball up through your shoulders, that 45° angle is close to what you would see at some point as the clubhead approaches the ball. Do you follow me so far?

But here's the trick: If you are swinging freely, there is no way you're going to hold that shaft angle through impact as you do during this drill. What this drill teaches you is the necessity to keep turning your body until you completely finish your swing. That's why he stresses keeping your lead elbow close to your side all the way through -- this forces you to turn to your finish.

And with all the bad weather we're having this time of year, you can practice a half-swing version of this drill indoors. Just place a coin or something else small and flat on the floor instead of a ball. You can set up the entire "drill station" with just two clubs and a coin.

If you record your swing when you start swinging at full speed on the range, you won't actually see this position in your swing -- the club will be moving too fast. But trying to create this feel should help you learn to make better impact.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Real Golf at Last!

Defending champion Justin Thomas

Of course, things continued to happen in the world of golf over the holidays. For example:
  • At GC, Sean Foley and Jaime Diaz are in while Michael Breed and John Feinstein are out
  • Tiger announced his first two events of the season on the West Coast instead of in Dubai (a wise choice for his back, I think)
  • Sergio signed a new equipment contract with Callaway, probably the first of many new contracts for the pros
But the resumption of actual GOLF is what we've all been waiting for, and Thursday that became a reality as the Sentry Tournament of Champions got underway. So it's only fair that I post a few personal observations of the first round.

This is the first time in recent memory that the trade winds actually showed up as expected on Kapalua. And with so many young players in the field -- GC said the average age is 29.7, the youngest ever -- their inexperience with those winds, compounded by a little holiday rust, definitely showed. Of the 34 players in the field, only six broke 70. (Remember, par at Kapalua is 73.)

One of those players was Rickie Fowler, who got it to -3, fell back to even, then went birdie-birdie-par-par-eagle down the stretch to finish at -4. Equally impressive was Brian Harman's clean round of -5, given that Harman isn't considered a long hitter.

Likewise, Dustin Johnson didn't play particularly well but also managed a -4 round, as did Si Woo Kim. And Jhonattan Vegas posted a -5 while Marc Leishman topped the field with -6.

At the other end of the scale, Brooks Koepka (+5) and Jordan Spieth (+2) were among the day's strugglers. And defending champ Justin Thomas got it to -2 and fell back to +1 before getting it back to -2 for the day.

None of these players are out of it. The Plantation Course is known for giving up low scores and even Brooks could get himself right back in this thing with a low round today. But it will be interesting to see how quickly these guys can knock off the rust when the view is so distracting.

I'm so glad the game is afoot once again, especially since it means several hours watching Hawaiian scenery. It's cold around here!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Nancy Lopez on Using a Chipper (Video)

No, I'm not crazy. While most of you may never use a chipper, there's still some useful info in this video. Take a quick watch -- it's short.

Take note of the description of Nancy's chipper. Basically it's a putter with 7-iron loft. This is useful info because this is a club specifically designed for players who struggle with chipping. That means that, if you struggle with chipping, your 7-iron is a good choice for general chipping from just off the green.

Let's start with that and see what we can come up with.

First of all, you can use your putting grip, normal ball position and normal putting motion with your 7-iron. Personally I find that this works better with a slightly open stance than when I putt normally because, when I use my putting grip with an iron, I naturally take the club back a bit more to the inside. The open stance makes it easier to swing my iron down my intended line. You may find that a square or even a closed stance works best for you. Experiment a little to find out.

Next, I mentioned using your normal ball position for putting. That works best if the ball is sitting on top of the grass. If it's sitting down slightly, move the ball back in your stance just a little. You don't want to hit the ground first.

Finally, you have two options for how you actually contact the ball. You can set up with the sole of the club flat on the ground -- you'll need to move the ball a bit farther away from you than when you putt normally -- or you can set the club slightly up on the toe, which will allow you to place the ball at its normal distance from you when putting. Again, experiment with this a little. I find that the "toed" position works better with my putting grip and the soled position works better with my normal chipping grip.

There is no reason to keep struggling with your chipping this year. You have lots of options because you can use any club that feels good to you, all the way up to your hybrids and driver. The key is to take a technique you feel comfortable with -- putting fills the bill for most people -- and adapt it to another club in your bag. Just follow the steps in this post as a guide for experimenting, and I'm sure you'll find something tailor-made for you.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

John Webster on Practice with a Mirror (Video)

Instructor John Webster gave this lesson on GC about a month ago. It's about what to look for when using a mirror for indoor practice.

You can get the details from the video, but John mentions three important things that you should look for:
  • Your head doesn't have to stay motionless, but it should maintain the same level throughout your swing.
  • Along the same lines, you want your spine angle to stay consistent as you swing back and through. Changing your spine angle tends to raise and lower your head.
  • Finally, you want to maintain the triangle formed by your arms and shoulders -- which really means that your hands should be over your higher shoulder at the top of both your backswing and your finish.
And perhaps this will help you if you're having trouble maintaining your spine angle and head level: As a general rule, you don't straighten up your spine and lift your head UNLESS you're straightening your knees first. So if you have trouble with your levels, check that you're keeping a slight bend in at least one of your knees throughout your turn. At the extremes of your turn, one knee will tend to straighten at least a little as you brace your trailing knee on the backswing or "post up" your lead knee at impact.

If you can develop a better posture with John's mirror tips, your game will probably be noticeably better this spring.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018 Kicks Off with Prime Time Golf

The new year starts off with prime time golf -- at least it is here in the Southeastern US -- from Maui, Hawaii.

Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas

Sentry Insurance is the new host of the Tournament of Champions. The host course remains the same as in years past -- the Plantation Course at Kapalua. And the defending champion is Justin Thomas, this event having kicked off his amazing streak through 2017.

While a number of players have skipped this event in the past, the vast majority of last season's winners plan to tee it up this time -- 34 total, matching the most competitors in the past 15 years. (That sounds really impressive but there have been 34 players three other times.) I think that's all but three of those who qualified. Obviously this event means more to the younger players coming up!

It seems to me that Rickie Fowler may be the biggest story this week, simply because he's been playing so well and is coming off the Hero World Challenge win. Justin parlayed last year's win here into a blockbuster season that included his first major, and there's little doubt that Rickie would like to see the same thing happen to him. But the Kapalua course lends itself to low scores so he'll have his work cut out for him.

As I said, we get prime time golf to start the new year. The Sentry Tournament of Champions airs on GC starting at 5pm ET on Thursday with the Pre Game Show, then moving on to "official" coverage at 6pm ET. It's nice to get past the replay events of the last two weeks and see some NEW golf!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year, Everybody!

Tomorrow we get back to work. Today... WE PARTY!

Happy 2018!