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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Gambling Companies Finally Qualify for the Tour

With the Tour's announcement Tuesday about gambling sponsorships, it only makes sense to get you up-to-speed on what's involved. So here are a few links to articles on the topic, and a few of my own observations as well.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan

It may seem that I've limited these articles to and, but the other articles I checked seemed to be referencing these articles as well.
This short excerpt from Hoggard's article sums up the basics of the announcement:
The new policy allows players to “have sponsorships by casinos and other legal gambling companies.” A player cannot, however, have an endorsement deal within the United States with a company “whose primary purpose is sports betting.”
The examples the Tour gave players involved daily fantasy companies like DraftKings and FanDuel. Although the circuit considers both “gambling companies,” neither company’s primary purpose is sports betting so endorsement deals with these companies would be allowed.
However, a sponsorship deal with the online gambling company Bet365 within the U.S. would not be allowed, although the new policy does allow players to sign endorsement deals outside the U.S. with a company like Bet365.
My main takeaway from this is that the Tour has decided that it wants to place itself in a very specific position for gambling. Note that players won't be able to sign endorsement deals with "sports gambling companies" based inside the US, but that fantasy golf companies are fair game.

Randall Mell talked to both Graeme McDowell and Billy Horschel, and notes that Billy had the same reaction I did:
Horschel was surprised that the Tour is classifying entities like DraftKings and FanDuel as “gambling companies,” rather than companies “whose primary purpose is sports betting.” That distinction will place fewer restrictions on fantasy sports companies wanting to sign PGA Tour pros to endorsement deals.
Horschel, however, gets it.
I get it too. The Tour wants a piece of the fantasy golf pie, figuring that's where it can most profit without a lot of sticky questions. And all those ShotLink stats are tailor-made for the "safer" kinds of bets; stats, after all, are compiled independent of anything the betting participants can do. In other words, tampering will be less of a concern.

One other interesting note concerns a non-gambling area. The announcement included a ban on sponsorships with companies that create marijuana products. Even though nearly two-thirds of the US have legalized certain forms of marijuana, it's clear the Tour wants to avoid any connection with that.

Again, it makes sense. In the past, criminal groups involved in gambling have often been involved in drugs as well. Appearances do count with the Tour, after all.

So that's the short version of the new Tour gambling sponsorship rules. It will be interesting how this plays out over the next year or so, and whether any unforeseen problems show up.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Bear Trap Is Open for Business

PGA National may see fewer of the top players this week, but the Honda Classic's Bear Trap will nevertheless see plenty of victims. And the first leg of the Florida Swing should finally give us some decent weather.

Defending champion Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas is the defending champion -- note that this event was played before the WGC-Mexico last year. PGA National's Champion Course plays around 7050 yards, which is not so long but is incredibly tight, with a lot of water to navigate. In the last few years it has been the top players who tend to win this event; we've seen few surprise winners recently, but we have seen three playoffs in the last five years.

So let's get right to the Weekly Twofer. Although I see a number of players who I think can do well here, my choices were pretty obvious to me from the get-go:
  • My Top10 pick is Rickie Fowler. He won the 2017 Honda and, while he has only one Top10 this year -- and that was the Phoenix Open win -- I think getting back on a familiar track with Celebration Bermuda grass from tee to green will suit him. And maybe, just maybe, the presence of the Golden Bear himself will inspire him a bit.
  • And my winner is Justin Thomas. I know I've been riding JT hard for the last few weeks, but what can I say? He's in form. His five finishes this year are 3, T16, 3, 2 and 9. He's posted those finishes in hard conditions, and he's the defending champion here to boot. JT is due and, as consistently as he's playing, it's just a matter of time till he wins.
So those are my picks for the Honda Classic. I feel unrealistically good about them, which may be a bad sign! But I really believe that the only way I can miss this week is if Rickie wins and JT just Top10s.

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 2pm ET, with PGA TOUR LIVE starting their streams at 7am ET. Perhaps a number of big name players like Rory and Tiger are skipping this week, but there will still be plenty to see!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Last Call for LPGA Prime Time

Yes, it's the last week the LPGA will be overseas. Next week they return to Arizona here in the US... but this week we get the HSBC Women's World Championship in Singapore.

Inbee Park, So Yeon Ryu and Michelle Wie

As usual, you can get the skinny on this event over at Tony Jesselli's blog. Last year, this was where Michelle Wie got her most recent win in dramatic style with a long putt on the final hole. This is her second week back on the Tour after hand surgery and, after a good showing last week, it'll be interesting to see how well she can defend.

Inbee Park also makes her first tournament appearance since the 2018 Evian. She'll be looking to pull one of Amy Yang's tricks, as Inbee won this event in 2015 and 2017.

And So Yeon Ryu is looking to get back into the winner's circle for the first time since 2018's Japan Women's Open Golf Championship on the JLPGA last September. Her last LPGA win came last June at the Meijer LPGA Classic.

This is another limited-field event -- only 63 players -- but Tony says the Top15 in the Rolex Rankings as well as 39 of the Top50 will be there. Jessica Korda is still out with an injured forearm but sister Nelly is teeing it up, as will Ariya Jutanugarn, Brooke Henderson and Georgia Hall, to name but a few. So we should see a very competitive event!

GC's coverage begins Wednesday night at 10:30pm ET. Singapore, here we come!

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 WGC-Mexico

Winner: Dustin Johnson

Around the wider world of golf: Amy Yang won her third Honda LPGA Thailand title; Martin Trainer got his first PGA Tour win at the Puerto Rico Open, the Tour's alternate field event; Marianne Skarpnord won the Pacific Bay Resort Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville on the LET; and Jazz Janewattananond won the SMBC Singapore Open on the Asian Tour.

Dustin Johnson with the Gene Sarazen Cup

First, my results from last week: I picked Tiger Woods (T10) to win and Justin Thomas (9) to Top10. While my winner percentage isn't great, I'm doing pretty well for Top10 finishes:
  • Winners: 2 for 8
  • Place well (Top10): 6 for 8 (3 Top5 finish, 3 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 11 of 16 (5 Top5s, 6 more Top10s)
I thought Tiger might make a run on Saturday but the greens caught up with him (as they did for almost everybody except DJ). Still, I feel pretty good about my record so far this year. I remember plenty of years where I didn't fare this well, even when picking five players at majors.

I can truthfully say that I didn't even have DJ in my sights at this event. I know he won back in 2017, but that's the year he was playing so well just before getting injured during Masters Week. While he's played well since -- six worldwide wins after that WGC win -- it didn't seem to me that he was quite back in that dominant form.

His performance this week has made me reconsider. He absolutely blitzed the field, even widening his margin over Rory in the final round (five strokes over second place, ten strokes over third). His own comments after the round confirmed that he believes his game is finally ready for the majors again. And although he probably won't say it, I suspect he is already planning to wipe that confident smirk off the face of one Brooks Koepka.

No, DJ hasn't forgotten that some think "Little Brother" is better than him. Don't you dare think he has!

With his 20th Tour win (and accompanying lifetime PGA Tour membership), his sixth WGC (second only to Tiger), the fact that he'll be retaking the #1 spot in the OWGR in a week or so (he's just .64 points behind Rose now), and his apparent return to his 2017 form, DJ has clearly put himself in the "major" contender position for the Masters. But in the meantime, he'll have to settle for a WGC Limerick Summary. We'll see if he can grab a bigger one in the next few months!
His sixth World Golf Championship win
And, soon, Number One once again—
That’s DJ. I’d wager
His eye’s on a major
Or two, to wipe off Koepka’s grin!
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Why the Waltz Rhythm Is a Logical Approach

Many of you may have read yesterday's post and wondered why a waltz rhythm made any sense as an approach to golf swing rhythm and sequence -- and why it might be better than any of the other "counting" methods you've heard before.

Today I'll give you a quick explanation of the theory I believe is behind it.

Tour Tempo book coverAlthough Dr. Neal never says so, the whole idea of the golf swing being similar to a waltz rhythm comes from a book/CD combo called Tour Tempo by John Novosel. (That link takes you to Amazon, but it's just so you can see the actual book. I get no money should you decide to buy it.) I first found the book when it was released in 2004 and it really helped me when I was struggling with the tempo of my swing. Here's the basic idea:

Novosel was making a golf infomercial back in 2000 and was studying some videotape of Jan Stephenson's swing, checking the various positions in her motion. In the process he noted the frame counter on the videotape machine and saw that her backswing was taking 27 frames and her downswing to impact took 9 seconds. (In case you don't know, standard American broadcast video records 30 frames every second.)

That's a 3-to-1 ratio of the elapsed time of the backswing to the elapsed time of the downswing.

As time went on and he studied more swings for analysis, he discovered that most of the pro swings followed that pattern. For the most part, the fastest swings ran around 21/7 (Jack Nicklaus was one), the midrange around 24/8 (Phil Mickelson) and the slowest around 27/9 (like Stephenson's). A lot of them weren't exact, of course -- they would vary by a frame or two on the backswing or the downswing, but it was close enough (given the nature of videotape) to call it a 3-to-1 ratio.

Which, if you want to liken it to a dance, you can count as a waltz rhythm. OOM-pah-pah, OOM. That's 3-to-1.

Dr. Neal's approach -- with specific swing positions corresponding to the beats of the waltz -- may be a bit of overkill to most of you. But as I said in the post, you can focus on the two "OOMs" -- which is basically what Novosel's CD does in the book. It gives you click tracks that you can play while you practice to help you internalize the rhythm. That's what I did back in 2004.

But the waltz count is much simpler to use, simply because you don't need to stick earbuds in your ears. And -- always an important consideration for me -- since singing the rhythm doesn't require any equipment, the "OOM-pah-pah Method" is something you can use while you're actually out on the course.

Anyway, I just thought you might like to know why I did yesterday's post. It's just another tool, one that you can use if it helps and ignore if it doesn't. But most importantly, it doesn't cost a dime for you to find out.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Waltzing Your Way to an In-Sync Golf Swing

This is just a cool approach to golf rhythm that I found at the site. Dr. Nelson Neal suggests using a waltz count to get your golf swing in sync.

The first three counts of the golf waltz

Looking at this sequence of photos from the article, you might think this is a three-count... but you'd be wrong. This is a SIX-COUNT, with the first and fourth beats accented; these first photos only show half of the count. So let's start with the rhythm first. Printed out, it would look like this:

DA-da-da, DA-da-da

Or, using the count Neal uses:

ONE-two-three, FOUR-five-six

If you don't know what a waltz sounds like, musicians refer to it as 3/4 time (read that as "three-four time") and it's a very common rhythm in lots of songs, not just in traditional classical waltz music. You can hear in in children's songs like "Happy Birthday," religious songs like "Amazing Grace," or in pop songs like Seal's "Kiss from a Rose." Here, take a listen as the song starts:

Hear that "OOM-pah-pah, OOM-pah-pah" beat that the background singers are singing at the very beginning of the song? That's your waltz rhythm! It comes naturally to most people with very little practice -- again, we hear it in children's songs from an early age.

You'll note in those early photos that there is a half-beat between the second and third counts. I think Neal made it harder by not explaining how to count that. Each of your six beats takes the same amount of time because it's a steady rhythm: ONE-two-three, FOUR-five-six. You can add evenly-spaced "ands" in-between each of those counts, like this:

ONE-and-two-and-three-and, FOUR-and-five-and-six-and

If you count that out slowly, you can match the positions in the photos above -- and in the photos below -- to the counts. In fact, I'll print the count again under the next set of photos, but I'll put the counts in LARGE PRINT that coincide with the photos.

The fourth through the sixth beats of the golf waltz

Here's how those photos match up to the counts:


You have a lot of photos in the first few beats, not so many in the last three. That's because the downswing is much faster than the backswing. The "and" after the three beat is at waist high, the "four" beat is at impact, and the "five" beat is the top of your finish. Do it slowly as a drill, if you need to; if you match each photo to a beat, you'll get a feel for the rhythm soon enough.

But I suspect you'll get it quicker if you just focus on the rhythm of three of the main beats:
  • the ONE beat, as you start your takeaway;
  • the three beat, as you reach the top of the backswing; and
  • the FOUR beat, at impact.
After a little practice, you'll be able to just hum that "OOM-pah-pah, OOM-pah-pah" rhythm as you swing and get it right. The two stressed beats both happen right at the ball -- the ONE beat to start the backswing away from the ball, the FOUR beat as you actually hit the ball -- and the three beat at the top feels like the brief change of direction, when you should inhale in order to smack that ball on the FOUR.

In fact, you may feel as if you inhale on the three beat and exhale on the FOUR as you hit the ball.

I agree with Dr. Neal that this six-count waltz rhythm really does make a lot more sense than a two-count or a three-count. Turning your golf swing into more of a graceful dance rhythm can really simplify a lot of those hard-to-explain sequenced moves!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Paul Azinger on Connection (Video)

With Azinger well into his new NBC golf gig, I thought it might be nice to show you one of his swing videos -- especially so since it's about shotmaking and that's a skill that players in Mexico will be leaning on hard this week.

Ben Hogan is most "connected" with the fundamental of connection, but the truth is that all consistent players use it to some degree or other. And Azinger does a wonderful job of both explaining and demonstrating this simple concept in this short video.

And connection IS a simple concept. If your upper arms stay close to your rib cage most of the way through your swing, it will automatically keep your elbows pointed down to the ground. And if your elbows point downward at impact -- as they do at address -- you'll find it much easier to square the clubface when you hit the ball.

It doesn't matter whether you think of keeping your upper arms close to your rib cage, or of keeping your elbows pointed down at the ground. Either one will cause the other, so use the thought that makes it easiest for you.

One point I'd like to make here. While your lead elbow stays connected through the entirety of your swing, your trailing elbow does drift away during your backswing. You can see it happen a little in Paul's swing around the :50 second mark. It's not as pronounced in his swing because he has always had a very flat swing plane.

If you swing more upright, as the classic swingers and other upright players like Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman did, and as Phil Mickelson still does, your trailing elbow will separate more at the top of your backswing. Paul says not to do it around the :45 second mark, but bear in mind that his swing plane is flat and therefore it would be an error for him. An upright swing will look somewhat similar to what he shows as an error.

But don't misunderstand the concept. Some things stay the same, and you need to remember them.
  • No matter whether your swing is flat or upright, BOTH of your elbows continue to point to the ground throughout your swing.
  • If your swing is more upright and your trailing elbow moves away from your rib cage at the top of your backswing, THE FIRST THING IT DOES ON THE DOWNSWING is return to a connected position close to your rib cage.
  • And at the risk of repeating myself, no matter whether your swing is flat or upright, both of your upper arms stay close to your rib cage during the the bottom half of your swing, on both the backswing and the downswing. Waist high to waist high is always connected, just as in the L-to-L drill (this link goes to one of the many posts I've done about that drill).
Connection improves accuracy and, with a longer swing, can help you create tremendous power as well. And Azinger knows of what he speaks, as he was deadly accurate with his clubs. Just working on this one concept -- again, use the L-to-L drill because that's the easiest way to get used to it -- can work wonders in your game.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Watson VS Furyk? The Questions Continue...

After Steve Stricker held his presser Wednesday morning after the US Ryder Cup Captain announcement, the media still had a lot of questions. I'm going to try and answer some of them in this short post.

2020 US Ryder Cup Captain Steve Stricker

One that I didn't hear -- but deserves a quick nod because it affects the other questions -- is exactly when the US team began the changes that the team is now going through. Most think it was in 2014, when Phil Mickelson seemed to throw Captain Tom Watson under the bus for the US loss.

Actually the changes began in 2008, when Paul Azinger's team won. It was that victory that Mickelson referenced in the press conference that led to the establishment of the "task group" or "committee" or whatever you want to call it.

The PGA has tended to choose an authoritarian captain, one who would make all decisions and expect the team to just follow orders. And I suspect they viewed Zinger in that mold as well, as he has always been a bit of a rebel. But the team itself viewed Zinger as more of a facilitator, who tried to give the team members more choice while maintaining his right to a final veto if he felt they were going down the wrong road.

Zinger's pod system gave him a good way to do that, but neither Corey Pavin in 2010 nor Davis Love in 2012 were as successful in their attempts. As a result, the PGA of America gave another captaincy to Tom Watson, whose more authoritarian approach had worked well in 1993, and they hoped for a similar result. Instead, there was friction within the team that boiled over into the aforementioned presser after the loss.

I still don't believe Phil meant to blame Tom for the loss as much as he intended to make it clear that the team would no longer accept authoritarian leaders. The belief was that the Euro team had a better system and Zinger had come closest to duplicating that approach. The result was a wholesale change (for the better) to the US approach to the Ryder Cup, although it hasn't solved everything.

Let's be honest here -- US fans tend to believe their team just doesn't "jell" like the Euros while the entire US "power structure" believes the Euro system is some kind of special magic. It's worth remembering that the Euros also went through a similar process that took the better part of a decade or so back in the 1980s and 1990s, while the US not only has to deal with similar changes but the ego blow that came from no longer having such a huge advantage in talent.

The problem now, as I see it, isn't one of talent or desire or even "team spirit." Rather, it's a culture difference where the Euros grow up playing team golf from a young age and superstars have been traditionally discovered later in their development, while here in the US we focus on developing superstars from an early age and team play is something of an "add-on" in high school and college. That difference can be overcome but it's going to take the US a while yet.

Which brings us to a few questions that fascinated the media after Stricker's presser.
  • Stricker indicated that Furyk, as the past Ryder Cup captain, was expected to be a future vice captain as well. Why, they wondered, was Tom Watson left out of this loop?
    The answer is simple. Watson, as an authoritarian captain, was not viewed as fitting in with the new direction expected of future team leadership. He would have had to adjust his approach dramatically in order to fit in with the new plans. I suspect his age was also a factor -- the new process seems to be focused around a peer group of similar-aged players. But I think his input could still be very useful and I hope they do ask him for his insights (and other older captains as well), as they could still learn from them.
  • Much has been made of the fact that Stricker is the first US captain not to have won a major. Does this represent a new line of thought among the leaders?
    I sure hope so. To be blunt, the Euros have never cared whether their captains have won a major or not. Just to name a few recent captains, neither Sam Torrance, Paul McGinley nor Thomas Bjørn have won majors... but they've won Ryder Cups. Winning a major is no indication that you can win a Ryder Cup -- just ask Nick Faldo. The powers-that-be in the US have tended to see a captaincy as a reward for winning a major. That's NOT the kind of logic that wins Ryder Cups!

    To my way of thinking, this is just a case of finally realizing that you don't need a major to be an effective leader. You just need the respect of the team, some interpersonal skills and the wisdom to recognize your limitations (and pick assistants who can help you with them). It damn sure took us long enough to figure that one out.
  • The "Horschel Pick" has been dumped this time in favor of picking all four Captains choices at once on September 1, 2020. How will that help, since we might miss out on a hot player?
    As Stricker himself noted, while the late pick did help them discover Tony Finau, it didn't give them time to figure out how he fit in strategically. This time the team will have time to work out ALL the pairings before they go to Whistling Straits.

    Besides, had they made their final pick at the same time they made the other three picks, they still would have gotten either Finau or Schauffele. Don't see as either would have been a bad pick. Do you?
Finally, although the media never approaches this subject directly, I think it needs to be addressed. We need to recognize that team play is a strategic skill of its own. You don't need the most talent to win a team event, although that can certainly help you in singles. You can't send two alpha dogs out as a team and expect them to make good team decisions without some serious effort, because it's just not what they're used to doing.

When one alpha dog doesn't pull his shot off, the other alpha dog's reaction is to hit the hero shot because he believes he WILL pull it off. In a team situation, the proper response is to hit a safer, less aggressive shot that still offers opportunities. The problem is that fans will criticize players for making such a decision, and most alpha dogs believe they aren't taking things seriously unless they try the riskier shot.

Ask most players and they will tell you that there is a difference between stroke play strategy and match play strategy. But there is also a difference between team play strategy and solo play strategy, and my personal belief is that the US team won't consistently be a threat at every Ryder Cup until they learn that difference.

And that's the end of today's rant. I hope Stricks can get the boys to understand that there's more to winning a Ryder Cup than just having the "right" formula. Ultimately you have to play good shots -- not great shots, just more good shots than the other team.

The US team is capable of that. They just haven't realized it yet.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

My Picks for the WGC-Mexico

In the past I've done "5 to Watch" posts before each of the WGCs and majors, but this year I've been doing a weekly "two-fer" that many of you seem to enjoy. So I've decided to just do the "two-fers" all year and see how I finish the season.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson

Just for the record, here's how the Weekly Two-fer works. (I like that title. I think I'll keep it.)
Starting in January I began picking a winner and a Top10 finisher for each week's event, then upgrading my score the following week in the Limerick Summary post. What this does is give you my Top2 players for each tournament, which some of you may find helpful if you play fantasy... and merely funny (even embarrassing) if you don't.
I've learned that I debate whether or not to follow my gut each week. I'm currently making that choice based on the course itself, whether I think it allows for surprise winners or tends to favor particular players. Riviera favors a certain type but the bizarre weather threw a monkey wrench into the works last week.

The WGC-Mexico is played at Mexico City's par-71 Club de Golf Chapultepec, which is roughly 7350 yards long but also 7500 feet above sea level. That means the course actually plays pretty short -- by my calculations, more like 6700 yards (that's allowing for 10% longer ball flight) -- and that makes this a wide open venue for surprise winners. So this week I'll go with my gut.

And that makes for a couple of surprise choices.
  • My Top10 this week, like last week, is Justin Thomas. Given that JT's last two appearances here are T5 and last year's loss in a playoff to Phil Mickelson (something of a wildcard winner himself), and given his runner-up last week, you might wonder why I'm not picking him to win.

    Simply enough, it's JT's putting. And it's not because he had some three-putts last week -- come on, everybody did in those conditions -- but because JT himself voiced concerns about his putting. He said he's been having some problems with the flat stick. Given this course's reputation for bumpy greens, that sets off alarms for me. Maybe things change when he returns to a course he plays well, but my gut says to beware.
  • And my winner shocks even me -- I'm taking Tiger Woods to get his first win of the season this week. I am truly concerned about how tired he'll be after last week's marathon and how the altitude will affect his recovery. While technically he's won this event seven times, he's never won it on this golf course. And that means he not only has to learn the course but also figure out how the altitude will affect his shots -- something that I'm sure appeals more to Bryson DeChambeau than to Tiger.

    But Tiger finally seems to have control of his driver, and he's coming to a course where he can choose to play driver only when it gives him an advantage. His iron play, short game and putting all seemed to be in good shape last week, which will hopefully carry over to this week. And while he needs to adjust to the new course (I hear he used a Trackman to help him with that on Tuesday), the weather could make things physically easier for him and thus maybe give him an edge he hasn't had yet this year.
GC's coverage begins Thursday afternoon at 2pm ET, with PGA Tour Live streaming at noon. We'll see if Tiger can muster any motivation from Phil's win last year.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

LPGA Prime Time for Three Weeks in a Row

After two weeks in Australia, the LPGA moves to Thailand for the Honda LPGA Thailand. And once again we'll get to watch an LPGA event in prime time, starting on Wednesday night.

Defending champion Jessica Korda

Tony Jesselli's preview of the event is at this link. I'll just mention that the event is played at Siam Country Club's Pattaya Old Course and the defending champion is Jessica Korda, who pretty much blitzed the field with a four-shot victory. With Jess's sister Nelly winning this past week, it must be an odd vibe for the Korda sisters because Jess has had to withdraw from the event due to a forearm injury. (She's also opted out of the HSBC Singapore for the same reason, and hopes to be back in March at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup in Arizona.)

There are only 70 players at this event but Tony says this is still the strongest field of the year thus far by a large margin. Amy Yang is the only two-time winner in the field, and her wins came in 2015 and 2017. Might want to give her a look if you're playing fantasy golf this week. ;-)

The other two past winners in the field are Anna Nordqvist (2014) and Lexi Thompson (2016) so, even with Jess out, you've still got four of the last five winners playing this week.

Personally, I'd keep my eye on Moriya Jutanugarn this week. Her last two times at this event have resulted in 7th and T2 finishes, and she's coming off a T15 at the Australian Open, plus a T4 at the Diamond Resorts earlier this year.

GC's live coverage of the Honda LPGA Thailand stars February 20 (Wednesday) at 11pm ET. (I suspect that's live coverage.)

And, if you're interested, the US Ryder Cup captain will be named Wednesday morning at 9am ET. Probably going to be Steve Stricker, but that's when we'll find out for sure.

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Genesis Open

Winner: J.B. Holmes

Around the wider world of golf: Nelly Korda won the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open on the LPGA; Ryan Fox won the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth on the ET; Miguel Angel Jimenez won the Chubb Classic on the Champions Tour; and Mark Hubbard won his first Tour title at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.

J.B. Holmes with Genesis trophy

Let's start with my results from last week: I picked Bubba Watson (T15) to win and Justin Thomas (2) to Top10. So my totals for 2019 thus far look like this:
  • Winners: 2 for 7
  • Place well (Top10): 5 for 7 (3 Top5 finish, 2 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 9 of 14 (5 Top5s, 4 more Top10s)
If you remember my pick post from last week, I noted that if I went with my gut I'd choose JT to win and Tiger to Top10. For a while on Sunday it looked as if that might just happen and I was afraid I had overthought things again, but fortunately (for me, anyway) that didn't happen.

And it was also fortunate for J.B. Holmes, whose good play early in the week was obscured by the bizarre tee times created by all the bad weather. J.B. actually shot 63 in the first round -- the best of anyone -- but it was hard to tell how good it was at the time, given how much conditions continued to change before the cut was made. And JT's stunning play for most of the first three-and-a-half rounds made him the favorite, regardless.

But the changing weather and staggered tee times and long days and lack of sleep and, at the end, the freezing winds turned Riviera into... well, when you think of, say, the French Riviera, you tend to think of warm beaches and relaxation. This was NOT that kind of Riviera! In the end, it was all determined by whose putting was the least bad.

And when the final putt fell, Holmes was the last man standing.

J.B. hasn't won in around four years, but surviving two brain surgeries nearly a decade back has given him the kind of perspective that allows him to keep on working on his game despite the lack of wins. It's a pleasure to give him a new Limerick Summary -- especially as he'll have time to enjoy it while on family vacation this week.  Congrats, J.B.!
For days no one gave Holmes a chance
But he shot low, and made his advance
Through the field unimpeded.
In the end, he succeeded
Despite freezing winds and wet pants.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Dr. DeChambeau Opens His Practice with Bubba posted an article about Bubba and Bryson working together on the arm-lock putting style that Bubba is using (with considerable success) this week at the Genesis Open.

Bryson DeChambeau and Bubba Watson practice putting

You've got to love Bubba's take on this:
“He’s so much smarter than I am,” Watson told me [writer Andrew Tursky]. “We’re looking at it from the standpoint of, for me personally, trying to eliminate the arm movement left-to-right or right-to-left that leaves the putter open and closes the putter. So that’s how I’m looking at it, that’s the only reason I’m trying it right now. That’s the thing though, everything that I’ve asked him, and everything we’ve done, it comes down to your swing. Even putting is a swing. It comes down to how you de-loft the putter or add loft to the putter at impact. There’s no right or wrong (loft) number if that makes sense.”
The article has the specs on Bubba's putters -- yes, he's trying a different one this week -- and the Ping guys are in on it as well. (Ping sponsors Bubba so of course they're interested.) They're still trying some different shaft lengths and such, trying to find out what works best for him. As Bubba says, he's never been in the Top100 putters on Tour, so he figures he has nothing to lose.

But it also shows that Bryson's approach to the game is gaining more respect on the big stage. Regardless of how you feel about the scientific approach Bryson takes, even David Feherty has said that Bryson is good at explaining all the science in a way that less technically-inclined players can understand.

And they don't get much less technical than Bubba. If this works for him, look for Bryson to get even more attention from the rest of the field.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Bob Grissett on Straightening Your Trail Knee

There's a fairly long article over at about whether you should straighten your trail knee during your backswing or not. As you can see from the photos below, both Palmer and Nicklaus did it.

Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus at top of backswing

In fact, the article shows photos of 14 different players who won 44 majors making this very move -- including not only Palmer and Nicklaus but also Snead, Player, Hogan, Trevino and Watson among their number. So why have we been taught to keep flex in both knees during our backswing when so many of the greats have not?

Instructor Bob Grissett says it's because we erroneously believed a theory that said hip turn should be restricted during the backswing. He says it is the single most damaging idea in golf instruction ever.

One reason I'm pointing this out is because he says this is a major cause for back problems in the golf swing. He writes:
An article published in February 2019 by Michelle Roberts, health editor for BBC News online, warns of how this restricted type of golf swing could play havoc with your back and put extra strain on your spine, according to U.S. doctors at the Barrow Neurological Institute.
Dr Walker [from Barrow] said: “We believe Tiger Woods’s experience with spinal disease highlights a real and under-recognized issue among modern era golfers. Tiger was using the mechanics of the modern day swing and that places a tremendous amount of strain on the back. It’s still a theory but we are starting to see the late stages of this in some of our patients. We are seeing younger and younger elite level golfers with degeneration in their lower back.”
He said any golfer, elite or not, who experienced pain should seek expert help.
The right knee extending and the left leg flexing forward on the backswing gives the hips freedom to turn by creating “hip slants.” Another benefit of the back-leg extending is that it helps you maintain your inclination toward the ball established at address.
For those of you interested in reading the entire article, here's the link to it at It has many illustrations to make the explanations clearer.

But the point of this post is that if you want to avoid back pain, you should start by allowing your hips to turn freely in your backswing. I learned long ago that just turning your trail foot outward rather than keeping it perpendicular to your toe line allows you to turn your hips more and it takes a lot of stress off your back. That's something that many instructors have recommended to older players for a long time.

Ironically, it also tends to encourage a straightening of your trail knee as your hips turn. Who knew?

Well, now you do. Live and learn!

Friday, February 15, 2019

ISPS Handa Stays Busy!

The ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth snuck up on me this week. I wanted to mention it, but realized that ISPS Handa has been in the midst of several recent golf events. It's easy to overlook exactly how many events this single sponsor has a hand in, so I wanted to take this post to give them a shoutout.

Panuphol Pittayarat at the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth

The International Sports Promotion Society, better known as ISPS Handa, is a Japanese non-profit organization that promotes blind and disabled golf worldwide. And they are developing a reputation for popularizing a number of unusual formats for regular golf tournaments as well.

In just the last two weeks we've seen several examples in Australia:
  • the Vic Open, the first event to have the men and women play the same course at the same time for identical purses
  • the Women's Australian Open, one of the big events for all of the women's tours
  • the World Super 6 Perth, a men's event with a unique blend of medal play and match play where the ultimate winner is determined by a series of six-hole matches
And those are just in the last two weeks! This article at Wikipedia will give you a better idea of just how many events they're currently involved with, and also how many they've helped in the past. I think you'll be surprised to see just how widespread their influence has been.

For those of you unfamiliar with the rules of the World Super 6 Perth, this page at will give you a quick breakdown of the format. Basically, a full field of 156 players plays three rounds of medal play, with a cut to 65 and ties after two rounds and another cut to 24 after three rounds, then those 24 play off with the six-hole matches to determine the winner.

It's a fun format that GC covers, and ISPS Handa's involvement in the current Australian events is just another example of how they look for new and unexpected ways to spread the game. They are certainly one of the unsung heroes in modern golf.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Tiger Gives It Another Shot

I suppose you all heard the announcement that in 2020 the Genesis Open will become the Genesis Invitational, and will basically become Tiger's tournament the same way the Memorial is Jack's tournament and the API is Arnie's tournament. Complete with all the perks, of course.

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods

But that's next year. This year it's business as usual. The event is played at Riviera Country Club, aka Hogan's Alley, and the defending champion is three-time winner Bubba Watson.

Of course the biggest story -- and the biggest mystery -- is that Tiger has played Riviera a dozen times without a single win, a fact that defies logic. It will be interesting to see how Tiger's revamped swing will fare here. (Last season he was still testing his back, his swing and his equipment at this event.)

It will also be interesting to see how Phil fares after his Monday victory at Pebble Beach. Both he and Tiger have talked this week about how they push each other, and Phil does have back-to-back victories here... although that's a decade past. With both men in the field -- as well as the young fellas who must be starting to wonder if they really want to see another Tiger/Phil era after all (the old boys do have three wins in the last twelve months) -- this could be yet another week of big stories to follow.

Which brings me to my weekly picks. For those of you who have somehow missed it, starting in January I began picking a winner and a Top10 finisher for each week's event, then upgrading my score the following week in the Limerick Summary post. So far I've picked two winners out of six (which would be three of six had I simply followed my gut with Rickie at Phoenix). This is an outrageously good record for me, so I'm excited to see if I can keep it up.

Last week I lamented not going with my gut and picking Rickie, so I did take the "gut pick" with Phil and got my second winner of 2019. The logical thing to do this week is follow the same plan, which would give me Justin Thomas to win and Tiger to Top10. (I really don't think Tiger will hit his stride until he gets to the Florida Swing.)

But I won't. Unlike TPC Scottsdale and the Pebble Beach courses, where upset winners happen quite frequently, Riviera truly is a track that seems to favor certain players. And the rain will only make this course harder for a random player to win. So here are my picks.
  • For my Top10, I'm taking Justin Thomas. That may seem to contradict what I just said, but hear me out. Previous to last year, JT's best finish was something like T39 and that was in 2017 when he began to post multiple wins. Last year he finished T9 -- clearly something changed there -- and in his first three events this season he's posted 3, T16 and 3. I think JT is trending, both in his game and at this course, and with his long high ball flight I think he can capitalize on the wet conditions.
  • And as my winner, I'm going chalk. It's time for Bubba Watson to become one of Riviera's back-to-back winners. He won in 2014, 2016 and 2018, and he finished T4 at Phoenix this year, another course where he feels very comfortable. The only real question is whether his putter shows up, and that's always the question with Bubba. I think Riviera has a better than average chance of seeing that putter get hot.
PGA TOUR LIVE will start streaming the event at 9:30am ET today, but GC's coverage begins today at 2pm ET. I look for something special to happen this week, although I don't know what. But there's a buzz in the air...

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

More LPGA Prime Time Golf

The LPGA is still in Australia, which means the US gets live golf in prime time again.

Defending champion Jin Young Ko

The ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open is the third event of the LPGA season, and Jin Young Ko -- the 2018 LPGA Rookie of the Year -- is the defending champion.

Tony Jesselli, in his preview of the event, notes that this is one of the weaker fields of the year although 20 of the Top50 in the Rolex Rankings will be teeing it up. It appears to me that a number of the higher-ranked US players are skipping the event, as they did last week's. This may just be a function of having more tournament choices now, and the 15-plus hour time change may have become a bigger consideration for them.

At any rate, a number of popular US players will join the field and should have a chance to improve their rankings as a result. For one, I'm looking for Alison Lee to have a good week.

Don't be misled into believing that this won't be a good event, however. It's still got a lot of firepower in it, starting with Ariya Jutanugarn, and we should get a really good show from the gals.

GC's coverage of the event starts tonight (Wednesday) at 9pm ET. I'm really looking forward to it!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Winner: Phil Mickelson

Around the wider world of golf: At the multi-tour-sponsored ISPS Handa Vic Open (ET, LPGA, Australasian, ALPG), David Law won the men's event and Celine Boutier won the women's event; Bernhard Langer won the Oasis Championship on the Champions Tour; and Michael Gligic won the Tour's Panamá Championship.

Phil Mickelson hoists fifth AT&T trophy

First, my results from last week: I successfully picked Phil to win, but was less successful with Kuchar as a Top10 (he finished T22). My totals for 2019 look like this:
  • Winners: 2 for 6
  • Place well (Top10): 4 for 6 (2 Top5 finish, 2 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 8 of 12 (4 Top5s, 4 more Top10s)
Granted, it took Phil five days to get that win but -- like him -- I'm not complaining. It was vintage Phil, with an unexpected bogey-free 64 during that bizarre last round that boasted heavy wind, sunshine, rain, even hail. Phil's 44-win total now trails the great Walter Hagen by just one.

I should also mention Paul Casey, who, although he didn't win, secured a solo second for himself and a team win for his partner Don Colleran. That was a great finish on a course that he doesn't have a great record on and bodes well for him going forward this year as well.

There's not really a lot more I can say about this win that hasn't already been talked up in the media. A win and a runner-up in just three starts this year, and the win came on the course that's already been narrowed for the US Open, albeit a very soft course that made Phil's wayward drives a bit more playable. The big question is how Phil will handle a harder, faster course in June.

But there's no question how Phil will handle his latest Limerick Summary. This was a major achievement, without a doubt!
A warm-up for June, many thought;
So wrong! “Warm” was NOT what they got!
But nevertheless
Phil was up to the test—
Can he do it again when it’s hot?
The photo came from this page at

Monday, February 11, 2019

Eric Johnson on Putting Like Nicklaus

The Limerick Summary has to wait until Tuesday so they can finish this morning at 11am ET on GC. So here's a new putting article I found. Enjoy!

PGA instructor Eric Johnson has a cool article about the Nicklaus putting style over at It covers a number of basics about the stroke, which he demonstrates WITHOUT Jack's trademark hunched-over-and-open stance, so more of you may find some use in it.

I want to focus on what Johnson calls "The Perfect Piston" position because this is the basis of the technique.

The Vertical Piston Position

As you can see in this photo from the article, the lead forearm, hands and shaft form a straight line. Most people do that automatically. But the key here is that the forearm/shaft line is vertical and actually lines up just ahead of the lead leg as you swing through the stroke.

Other photos in the article show the ball being positioned just ahead of the center of Johnson's stance, and the lead elbow swinging away from the body when the club is in the position shown in the above photo. That's how the club moves straight down the line after impact.

Johnson also explains in the article that while this appears to be a "rocking shoulder" stroke, that's actually a bit of an illusion. You don't rock your shoulders to make the stroke; rather, you make the motion using your arms. It's the pushing of your trailing hand and arm -- the "piston" in the stroke -- that rotates the shoulders forward slightly on the followthrough.

You might find that the ball is better positioned just inside the lead foot, in front of your instep, so the club is traveling more level to the ground at impact. And, as Johnson demonstrates above, you might like a slightly closed stance rather than the Nicklaus open stance. There's a lot of room here for customizing the stroke to your body.

The important thing to note is that this is a push stroke with the trailing arm. If you try to use your shoulders too much, you'll create more of a curved stroke instead of the straight piston stroke.

There are several photos in the article, each with clear explanations. It's a nice adaptation of the Nicklaus technique for modern players.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Guess Who's Leading the Champions Tour Event?

When the week started, all the talk was about Gary Nicklaus teeing up as a pro for the first time since 2003, and about Retief Goosen making his debut as a Tour member, and about Fred Couples finally being healthy.

But headed into the final round of the Oasis Championship, all the talk is about him. Is that any surprise?

Bernhard Langer

Bernhard Langer's pursuit of Hale Irwin's Champions Tour record of 45 wins is almost as big as Tiger's pursuit of Jack's major record. With 38 wins so far, Langer is only seven wins from tying Irwin, eight from taking his record entirely. But no one has ever won that many events after their 60th birthday.

Well, Langer is 61 and on the brink of win #39. And all he did was eagle the 18th on Saturday to take the final round lead.

Langer lives only ten minutes from the course and expects the wind to be up today. He was the betting favorite when the week started... but he's always the betting favorite these days, isn't he?

There are 13 players within four strokes of Langer, and we all know that nothing's guaranteed in golf. Nevertheless, if Langer manages to close out the Oasis today and take the first full-field event of the Champions Tour season, he'll have made a statement right out of the gate. (As if his T3 at Hualalai didn't get anybody's attention!)

With all apologies to the rest of the field, we all know who the talk of the Tour is this week. And I have to wonder... if he succeeds today, what other stories might Bernhard tell in 2019?

Talk may be cheap, but I'm not betting against him today.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

What Will Phi--er, Tony Do Next?

Did you see Tony Romo doing his best Phil Mickelson impression at the AT&T Friday? It was awesome!

On the outside chance that the video didn't embed for some reason, just click the Twitter link in the tweet and you'll be taken to it.

Although the second round didn't finish because of rain, Romo and partner Jim Furyk did finish their round. Romo made four birdies on the way in and made a creative shot to the 18th at Pebble from behind a tree. The two are unlikely to win, but it was a great finish for them.

If Tony Romo keeps this up, he just might get good enough to make the Tour someday.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Brian Gay's Swing (Video)

Brian Gay is only 5'10" tall. He's 47 years old and his stats aren't the best on Tour. Yet after the first round he's tied for the lead after shooting a 64 (-7) on the Monterey Peninsula course. Let's take a quick look at his swing.

Brian's not a long hitter. On this wet course he only drove the ball 256.5 yards; his longest drive was only 269. That's not very long. If you look at his swing, you'll see that he doesn't get a lot of wrist cock in his backswing and, while he does cock his wrists on the way down, he still doesn't create a lot of angle to create clubhead speed. So why did he play so well Thursday?

Simply put, Brian made his shots count. He hit over 76% of his fairways, which is actually a little better than usual, and he hit 17 of 18 greens, which was tied for best in the field. While he doesn't create a lot of clubhead speed, those quiet wrists make it easier to hit accurate shots. And since Monterey is only playing around 6950 yards, he didn't need to be as long.

Plus he was the fourth best in putting, even though the greens were tricky. When you hit that many greens, you can get a good score if you just manage to avoid three-putts.

And that's what he did. He made eight birdies and only one bogey, the rest pars. Nothing fancy -- just a solid, workmanlike round.

My point is that you don't have to do spectacular things to improve your golf. You may not make eight birdies in a round, but it's amazing how well you can score if you just minimize the bogeys. If you're trying to improve, you might be surprised how well you can score if you just focus on hitting the middle of greens and two-putting.

That means you should work on your lag putting. You don't have to be perfect -- just get better at it. And as your lag putting gets better, some of them will start to drop.

It certainly seems to work for Brian, even though he's competing against some long hitters. Find your strengths and capitalize on them. That's the key.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Pros on the Conditions at Pebble

Just a quick link to a Randall Mell post about Pebble.


The biggest thing I saw in the article is that Jordan Spieth expects to play lift, clean and place today because of all the rain. Mell also notes that the wind will be colder and wetter than usual.

Add to that the narrowing of the fairways that's already happening as part of the prep for the US Open and you're looking at some interesting conditions this week.

Remember, GC's coverage starts today at 3pm ET.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

It's Team Time at Pebble!

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is back, despite heavy rains and high winds. It should favor the longer hitters, who will be hitting much shorter clubs into the greens AND be able to stop them even better than usual.

Defending champion Ted Potter Jr.

But I won't let simple logic bother me this week. I've been thinking about my picks too much lately. I'd have had Rickie to win last week if I'd just gone with my gut. I'm going to do that this week.

First, though, here's info about the tournament for those of you who are new to this event: This is a pro-am, meaning that not only do the pros play on their own score but also have a team score with an amateur partner, who will also get a trophy. This is the granddaddy of all pro-ams, with the longest history and some of the most popular celebrity names on the amateurs' trophy.

Three courses are used -- Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill GC and Monterey Peninsula CC’s Shore course. The cut will be held Saturday night after everyone has had a chance to play all three courses, then the survivors will play Pebble Beach on Sunday. And despite what I said about long hitters having the advantage this week, that doesn't guarantee a long hitter will win. Last year's champion Ted Potter Jr. is proof of that.

Now let's get to my two picks:
  • My Top10 pick is Matt Kuchar. Kuch has been playing consistently at a very high level this season, with two wins so far. He had a chance last week at Phoenix but his putter didn't show up on Sunday in the bad weather -- an unusual condition for Phoenix. Having said that, you can be sure Matt won't be caught off-guard this week.
  • And my winner is Phil Mickelson. He's got four wins at this event and is hitting the ball pretty long this year. I don't expect him to hit driver all the time, however -- these courses are short enough that he can use a lesser club some of the time and take advantage of the improved accuracy he'll get with the shorter club. Add in Phil's love for this event and his determination to make up for missing the cut last week...
GC's coverage starts Thursday at 3pm ET, but in past weeks they've shown some of the PGA Tour LIVE coverage (which starts at 11am ET). I expect they'll do the same this week.

Don't let me down, Phil. I'm counting on you!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Women and the Men Join Forces in Australia

The only tournament of its kind tees off this week. Both men and women compete in the ISPS Handa Vic Open, and they play for equal prize money.

The 13th Beach Golf Club

This is a new event on the LPGA's schedule and will give them a two-week swing through Australia. (It's followed by the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open.) It's co-sponsored by the LPGA, the ALPG, the European Tour and the Australasian Tour. (That's two women's tours and two men's tours.)

So today I'm primarily giving you links to articles that give you the details about the event because there is so much new about it, although the Vic Open originally started in 1957.
Something to note about this event is that it isn't an invitational event where players are guaranteed a paycheck. This is a regular full field tournament with a cut, and this is the first year that the LPGA and the ET have been involved.

This new twist to the event has the potential to create yet another new format for golf tournaments, with male and female golfers teeing off in alternate groups so that both genders are playing the course at the same time.

Tony's post lists the TV times, as GC intends to give this event around 18 hours of coverage. It begins on Wednesday (Feb. 6) for three hours starting at 11pm ET.

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 WM Phoenix Open

Winner: Rickie Fowler

Around the wider world of golf: Dustin Johnson won his first European Tour event (not co-sponsored) at the Saudi International; and Mark Anderson won the Country Club de Bogotá Championship on the Tour.

And in case you somehow missed it, the New England Patriots won Super Bowl LIII, giving them six trophies in 18 seasons. Whether you like them or not, you have to agree that it's an absolutely unbelievable accomplishment.

Rickie Fowler with Phoenix Open trophy

My picks for the Phoenix Open this week were Xander Schauffele (T10) to win and Rickie Fowler (1) to Top10. As it turned out, I had them backwards. That puts my totals for 2019 so far at:
  • Winners: 1 for 5
  • Place well (Top10): 4 for 5 (2 Top5 finish, 2 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 7 of 10 (3 Top5s, 4 more Top10s)
Ironically, when I originally wrote the post, I picked Rickie to win. Why did I change? Because while I thought Rickie, like Justin Rose the week before, would play better after a week of knocking off the rust, I felt that Rickie was less likely to jump from T66 to 1 than Rose had been to jump from T20.

Sometimes I think too much...

But for a while it looked as if I might be right. Rickie's four-stroke lead evaporated quickly in the bad weather that descended on TPC Scottsdale Sunday. A double-bogey and an unbelievably unlucky triple stripped away his entire lead and set Branden Grace alone on top of the leaderboard, as all of the last pairings were unable to do any better than Rickie.

It looked as if Rickie would come up short once again and his critics would be proved right, that he wasn't a "closer" after all.

And then something strange happened. Rickie found something deep inside, something that steadied his nerves and allowed him to rally. His usually poor performance on the final five holes turned into a two-under stretch, giving him a two-stroke win as Grace struggled to finish. It wasn't the dominant finish most expected... but then, nobody posted a dominant finish!

Rickie posted the gutty finish he needed and closed the tournament with a win.

I know the analysts will debate whether Rickie 'proved" anything Sunday or not. But I think he did, and I think it will stand him in good stead as he moves forward this year. Sunday's finish was a harder victory than a four- or five-stroke win would have been, and no critic will be able to take it away from him.

It will certainly make this Limerick Summary that much sweeter.
A four-stroke lead wasn’t enough
‘Cause TPC Scottsdale played tough
Once it started to rain.
Rickie said, “Not again—
I’ll show critics I’m no powderpuff!”
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Haotong Li's Most Extraordinary Day

Just a week after one of the new rules bit him in the you-know-what, Haotong Li got a measure of revenge. To begin with, it appears that the Arabian Desert is something of a bird sanctuary.

Specifically, for eagles. Four of them. All in the same 18 holes.

Haotong Li

And as historic as that was, only one of them came on a par-5. All of the others were twos made on par-4s. Haotong eagled the par-4 first hole, tenth hole and seventeenth hole, then capped the round off with a "normal" eagle on the par-5 eighteenth.

If that wasn't enough, Li's round included a double-bogey. Add in a couple of birdies and he managed to post an eight-under 62.

But even THAT wasn't enough. For you see, after Haotong Li managed this amazing scoring feat, the PGA Tour decided the new rule that bit Haotong had overstepped its bounds when it did the same to Denny McCarthy on Friday. After contacting the USGA and the R&A, the lawmaking bodies agreed that there was indeed a problem, rescinded McCarthy's penalty and promised to reexamine the rule.

Granted, that doesn't change what it did to Haotong Li. But it does give him a measure of vindication.

By the time most of you read this, the Saudi International will be over and we'll know if Haotong was able to capitalize on a historic performance that sends him into the final round tied with Dustin Johnson. But regardless of how the event turns out, Haotong Li has had a most extraordinary day.

And I couldn't let it pass without giving him a shout-out. Well done, Haotong! I hope you have many more days just as wonderful as this one!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Remembering Alice Dye

When news came Friday that Pete Dye's wife Alice had died just weeks before her 92nd birthday, I think a lot of people were shocked.

Alice Dye

The tribute articles are already hitting the 'Net. Here are links to one at and another at, but there are far more than that out there and I suspect many more will be up by the time most of you read this. And many of those writers knew here personally, so their tributes will say much more than mine.

Still, I wanted to pay my respects. This is the woman who came up with the 17th at Sawgrass, after all, and was herself a Curtis Cup player at age 49. She learned how to play with hickory-shafted clubs, for Pete's sake! Alice has been in golf her entire life, and was very successful in every aspect of the game.

Did you know she was the first female member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, in 1983? Or their first woman president in 1997? Or the first woman named to the PGA of America Board of Directors, in 1999?

Here's's summary of her amateur career:
Those state amateur wins in Indiana – Dye winning the last of her nine in 1969 at the age of 42 – were only part of a brilliant playing resume. Alice Dye also won the 1968 North and South Women’s Amateur; went back-to-back in both the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur (1978-79) and Canadian Women’s Senior Amateur (1983-84); and triumphed in three women’s state amateurs in Florida (1973, ’74, ’79).
In 1970, Alice Dye produced arguably the key point in the Americans’ 11 ½ - 6 ½ triumph over Great Britain & Ireland in the Curtis Cup at Brae Burn CC outside of Boston. Two down with four to play against Julia Greenhalgh, Dye rallied to win; instead of a presumed 4 ½ - 4 ½ tie, the American side scratched out a one-point first-day lead thanks to Dye, and never looked back.
Another prideful honor was being named American captain at the 1992 World Amateur team championship in Vancouver.
The article writes about her design ability:
In the 1990s, I [author Ron Whitten] asked Alice if she’d ever wanted to design a golf course by herself, start to finish. “I’ve already done that,” she said, pointing to Heather Hills in Indianapolis (now Maple Creek Golf & Country Club), billed as Pete’s first 18-hole design. She took the lead on that project while Pete was off chasing work in Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska and elsewhere. She handled the routing, negotiated with government officials, prodded lenders, supervised construction and deferred to Pete only in the contouring of its greens. Her involvement was fairly well covered by the Indiana press in 1961, where she was invariably identified as Mrs. Paul Dye. Such was the fate of a rare female golf architect in those days.
She and Pete were married for something like 70 years. And most of her time lately has been spent supervising Pete's health care, since he's suffering from Altzheimer's. Those two lovebirds have been inseparable their whole lives.

An era in golf has passed. Alice Dye will be missed.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Matthew Wolff's Swing (Video)

Since amateur Matthew Wolff is T11 (-4) with 15 other players at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and since I'm sure a number of you are unfamiliar with him, here's a slo-mo video of his swing.

Golf World did an article several months ago listing his sizable accomplishments at Oklahoma State University -- yes, Rickie Fowler's alma mater -- and after reading it you'll have a better understanding of why everybody is so excited about him.

But it's that unusual swing of his that has everybody buzzing. Wolff creates a lot of clubhead speed because he doesn't worry so much about positions. Rather, he just worries about smashing the ball with as much clubhead speed as he can generate and if it's not pretty... well, tough luck for you.

The fact is, while his swing is unusual, it's not as if we haven't seen other players with these moves before.
  • Wolff gets a huge shoulder turn because he lets his hips turn freely, even lifting his left heel high off the ground to get the maximum turn.
  • At the top of his swing he makes a big loop, rerouting the club so the shaft -- and consequently his downswing plane -- is much flatter than his backswing plane. That's why he hits a draw almost all of the time. But note that he can hit that draw really high, which many players can't, and that height allows him to stop the ball almost as fast as a fade would.
  • And like so many young players these days -- and most long drive hitters -- Wolff launches himself off the ground to create as much swing speed as he can.
What IS different is that he does ALL OF THESE THINGS AT ONCE while managing to keep some semblance of control over the ball. You generally don't see a swing with this many moves, simply because it's hard enough to find the ball when you use just one of these moves, let alone all of them!

Given his success as an amateur, it'll be interesting to see how he fares against the pros. TPC Scottsdale sets up well for his style of golf so, if he can keep the ball in play, Wolff could be a threat this week.

And if he's there Sunday afternoon with a chance to win, it'll be very interesting to see how the pros handle this lone Wolff.