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Monday, September 30, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Safeway Open

Winner: Cameron Champ

Around the wider world of golf: Victor Perez got his first ET win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship; Mi Jung Hur went wire-to-wire at the LPGA's Indy Women in Tech Championship; Marta Sanz Barrio won the IOA Golf Classic on the Symetra Tour; Kirk Triplett won his third PURE Insurance Championship on the Champions Tour; Shad Tuten won his first PGA TOUR Latinoamérica title at the 66 JHSF Aberto do Brasil; Carlota Ciganda won the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open on the LET; Toshinori Muto won the Panasonic Open Golf Championship on the Japan Golf Tour; and Yuxin Lin won his second Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship title in three years.

Cameron Champ with the Safeway keg

A so-so week for my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Justin Thomas (T4) to win and Ryan Moore (MC) to Top10. Although JT didn't win, he did add an overall Top10 to my stats.
  • Winners: 2 for 39
  • Place well (Top10): 17 for 39 (9 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 31 of 78 (16 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
As has been the case for the last two events of the new wraparound season, our winner this week was unexpected. Cameron Champ has won before, of course, but his game hasn't been particularly sharp since his first win. Add to that his grandpa's current battle with stomach cancer and Cam's daily visits to visit him in hospice care -- for those of you unfamiliar with hospice, it's not a good sign -- and you just wouldn't expect him to have his mind on golf.

So it probably comes as no surprise that Cam defied our expectations and got his second Tour victory. It was a tight finish; Adam Hadwin went crazy on the back nine and Cam went to the 18th tee tied for the lead. But after struggling with his driver -- traditionally the strongest club in his bag -- Cam piped it down the 18th fairway and let his short game -- traditionally the weakest part of his game -- do what it had done all week.

The one-stroke victory left Cam in tears as he talked about his grandpa, the man who is responsible for his career in golf. Perhaps it was the perspective of what's important that had evaded Cam lately, I don't know. But I know that he found the proper balance between golf and life this week.

And he also found a second Limerick Summary to add to the rest of his tournament swag, along with my best wishes to his grandpa.
After drives to see Grampa all week,
A drive on 18 let Cam sneak
Just past Hadwin to win
On the Tour once again—
A real bright spot when life has seemed bleak.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, September 29, 2019

David Ogrin's Axe Handle Drill (Video)

Former PGA Tour winner David Ogrin has a neat drill to help you stop topping your fairway woods. I'm going to help you understand how it can help you... and how to avoid hitting slices with it.

The chopping motion of this drill may seem a bit counter-intuitive to you. While you can see how it will help you learn to measure the distance to the ground -- and thus allow you to hit down on the ball more consistently without hitting it fat -- you may wonder if you're going to hit wild slices this way.

It's a logical question. To get that chopping motion during your downswing, you have to uncock your wrists down the target line. And if you do that, aren't you opening the clubface too much?

One of the problems of using any drill is that the full range of motion you use while performing the drill often isn't explained because, to the instructor, that range should be obvious to the student. But if it isn't, the student -- even when that student is a Tour pro -- can focus too much on only one part of the swing, and then fall into other errors.

Let's make sure that doesn't happen with this drill!

The chopping motion is exactly the same when you make your swing as it is when you just tap the ground behind the ball -- that is, the club is moving vertically in front of your body. If you drew a line across your shoulders, the club is moving perpendicular to that line. It's obvious when you're just tapping the ground.

But it's doing the same thing when you make your swing. The difference here is that your shoulder line has turned 90° from that original 'tapping' position. Your lead arm extended outward when you made your shoulder turn, and you have to let it return to the position it had when you started your backswing. This is why so many players practice with a glove tucked in their lead armpit -- it helps then maintain that original connection between upper arm and chest.

If your upper arm returns to that connected position, your shoulders will continue to turn to their original address position. That means the 'chopping' motion is still moving perpendicular to your shoulder line and not down the target line. And that means the clubface closes as you hit the ball, so you don't hit slices.

I know this sounds a bit strange and, as I said earlier, counter-intuitive. But that's because we are only thinking about our arm and hand motion and not the motion of the clubhead. The clubhead is traveling on an inclined plane -- that's a pure Hogan basic of the swing -- and if you think about it, you'll realize that the clubhead can only travel on that plane if the clubhead moves farther away from you than your hands do. The closer the clubhead gets to the ball, the farther out from your body it MUST move.

Think about that. Simple physics says that, unless you let that lead arm disconnect from your chest as you hit the ball, your hands have to gently close the clubface as it nears the ball. At impact, the clubface should be as square as it was at address. If it isn't square, you did one of two things:
  • You pulled your trailing elbow in closer to your body on the downswing than it was at address, or
  • You let your lead elbow rise higher away from your body than it was at address. (That's what happens when your lead arm disconnects.)
In fact, if you'd like a drill to help you feel -- in an exaggerated way -- how a proper downswing should feel, here's what you should do. As you reach the lower part of your downswing, intentionally straighten your trailing elbow and bend your lead elbow as you swing from waist high to impact. Do it SLOWLY! This is only to help you learn how the squaring motion works, how returning the clubface to its square address position feels.

Once you get the hang of it, you can try to work a less exaggerated version of that feel into your practice swings on the range. This isn't something you want to have to think about when you're actually playing a round, and you don't want to incorporate a big version of this feel into your swing because then you'll start hooking the ball too much. This is just a way to gain an awareness of where the clubface is pointing at impact, which is key to improving your ballstriking.

Again, we're not really trying to make this motion as we swing on the course. If we do, we'll tighten up our muscles and cause problems. We just want our upper body to return our arms to roughly the same position they were at address. (I know it won't be exactly the same. But at the speed we'll be moving at impact, it will feel close.) But your body rarely makes a motion your mind can't understand. We just want to teach our minds the basic concept and then let it figure out how to apply it.

Try my drill if you dare. It might revolutionize your game without making any major change to your swing.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Some Quick Thoughts on Tony and Phil

Neither Tony Romo or Phil Mickelson made the cut at the Safeway Open, but I think the reasons are very different.

Phil Mickelson

First, I'm giving Tony a passing grade. I know it's popular with golf fans to complain when Tony gets a sponsor invite, but it's easy to forget that Tony's struggles come in part because of fan complaints when he was still a quarterback. Cowboy fans complained that he spent too much time playing golf -- he was trying to qualify for the US Open back then -- so Tony backed off to focus on his football. (And, as it turned out, on recuperating from football injuries that eventually ended his career.)

Tony was pretty good back then. Now he's trying to get back to where he was before the refocus and the injuries. This week he had his best showing yet. The fact that he's showing improvement after just four starts is encouraging to me. (Bear in mind that his improvement in the celebrity events is even more marked.) And it was pretty clear from his post-round interview that the pressure to make the cut after his best tournament round yet got to him.

It just happened at a venue where everyone was going low. It's not all that often that the cut is -2.

I'll give Tony a pass on that. He'll learn to deal with it soon enough, just as he did when he was a quarterback.

But I think Phil's problem is much simpler, though it's a lot harder to fix.

Surely you've all noticed how much better Phil is looking these days. He's really trimmed down and I suspect he's a lot healthier. But we also know that when players make noticeable changes to their bodies, their games also change... and not always for the better.

There are exceptions for sure. I'd point to Scott Stallings as an example of someone whose body changes had a positive effect on his game. But Scott's game was suffering before the changes.

Not so for Phil. He's always had a great swing, and I suspect the slimmer body has thrown his timing off considerably. Among other things, when you lose weight you tend to become a bit more flexible; there's just less padding to obstruct your movements. The effort that used to turn you about this much now turns you a little farther, so your feel has changed just enough to mess you up.

Will Phil get it fixed? Perhaps. Some players successfully work through it. Many players end up just putting the weight back on, either because they decide that will give them their game back or just because they got depressed and started eating everything in sight! But either way, don't be surprised if Phil struggles for a while.

At least he won't struggle this weekend. I'll be interested to see how he plays next time he tees it up though.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Maybe Tony Romo Is Learning

Tony Romo's 2-under 70 at the Safeway Open merits a shoutout.

Tony Romo

I'm not going to recap his round; you can read about it and see his scorecard at this GC link. But after a few poor showings, Tony managed to be the low scorer in his threesome and even beat some of the name players in the field.

Will he make the cut this time? I don't know. But five birdies and only three bogeys is a much improved performance for him, and I think he bears watching.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Patrick Cantlay's Back-Saving Swing (Video)

This is an interesting video from Dr. Greg Rose. It shows how Patrick Cantlay's back injuries actually came from an overdone combination of being very flexible and starting his downswing with his lower body.

I'll let you study Rose's video because that's the best way to understand what happened. But I think it's important to realize that the dramatic lower body move many instructors recommend for starting your downswing can actually cause back problems.

Equally interesting is how Patrick reduced that lower body action -- actually incorporated more of a classic swing move into his backswing -- without losing any clubhead speed.

This is a good video to help you see why you don't need exaggerated movements in your swing to create clubhead speed, and that using less dramatic leg action can help save your back without sacrificing distance.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The LPGA Goes Back to the Races

Of course I refer to the Indy Women In Tech Championship, held at Pete Dye's Brickyard Crossing Golf Course -- which is part of the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway race facility, aka the Brickyard, where the Indy 500 race is held.

Defending champion Sung Hyun Park

Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event at his site -- as usual -- which you can pop over and read to get more technical details. I simply love the fact that this event is played at a famous race track, especially this track. The Indy 500 is the world's oldest car race -- yes, open cockpit race cars, similar to Grand Prix cars for my overseas readers. The Brickyard 400, a NASCAR stock car race, is also held there. And that doesn't even include the motorcycle racing and other types of races that are or have been held there.

And the winner of the golf tournament gets to take part in the traditional Indy 500 victory celebration, which includes kissing the bricks, dousing herself in milk and taking a victory lap. Pretty cool!

Sung Hyun Park finished last year's event in a dead heat with Lizette Salas, then beat Salas on the first playoff hole. It will be interesting to see how things finish this year, especially since the LPGA's dominator, Jin Young Ko, and last week's winner in Europe, Nelly Korda, are taking the week off.

GC's coverage begins Thursday afternoon at 3pm ET, leading into the Safeway Open. I'll leave all the drinking and driving jokes to you readers out there; I'm just going to enjoy the golf.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Safeway Open

This week Twofer Tuesday hoists a keg for the Safeway Open, where Kevin Tway is the defending hoister.

Defending champion Kevin Tway

The North Course at Silverado Resort & Spa is pretty familiar to us all by now. Johnny Miller's baby -- he updated the course in 2011 -- is a par-72, 7166-yard track in the midst of California's Napa Valley (that's very scenic wine country, for those of you unfamiliar with American geography) that rewards first-timers as often as Tour vets. Defending champion Kevin Tway is a classic example.

While past history is no guarantee of future performance, either in financial vehicles or golf picks, I'm going to gamble on the vets this week. I can't do any worse than I have recently.
  • My Top10er this week is Ryan Moore. Wine country seems to set well with Ryan as he has played well here the last few years, culminating in a playoff loss last year. He hasn't played since the BMW Championship so he might be a bit rusty, but Silverado is a great place to knock off that rust.
  • And my winner is Justin Thomas. While he hasn't played this stop in a couple of years, he's been in good form this year with a win at the BMW and a T3 at the TOUR Championship. And while he's never won here, those last two stops here were Top10s. This could be where he gets the new season off to a roaring start.
Since this event is on the West Coast, we get some primetime golf. GC's coverage starts Thursday evening at 5pm ET and PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at a later-than-usual 10am ET. Let's see who hoists the keg this year!

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Sanderson Farms

Winner: Sebastián Muñoz

Around the wider world of golf: Danny Willett won the BMW PGA Championship on the ET; Nelly Korda won by 8 shots at the LET's Lacoste Ladies Open de France; Rocco Mediate won the Sanford International on the Champions Tour; Chandler Blanchet won the São Paulo Golf Club Championship on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Laura Restrepo won the Guardian Championship on the Symetra Tour; and Jbe Kruger won the Shinhan Donghae Open on the Japan Golf Tour.

Sebastián Muñoz with Sanderson Farms trophy

Not a good week for my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Scottie Scheffler (T16) to win and Corey Conners (MC) to Top10. Ironically, I had originally taken Viktor Hovland as my Top10er, then found out that he was playing in Europe; he finished T11 against a much stronger field.
  • Winners: 2 for 38
  • Place well (Top10): 17 for 38 (9 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 30 of 76 (15 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
Before we get to the hero of the story, let's spare a thought for Sungjae Im. The 2019 Rookie of the Year came so close, posting the clubhouse lead with the third-best round of the day, only to have our hero pull off some heroics -- that's what heroes do, after all -- on the last hole to make a playoff and then win that playoff on the same hole. You have to believe Im will get that win eventually.

But Sunday wasn't the day.

Sebastián Muñoz won the second PGA Tour event of the new season. But in doing so the week after his friend Joaquin Niemann won the first one, Latin Americans have now won every event in the 2019-2020 wraparound season. (I know that's only two events, but it still makes history.) And given that Sebastián barely got a card for this season -- his finish at the Wyndham put him 124 of the 125 who made it -- this win wasn't expected at all. No wonder he was pretty much speechless!

But even better for Sebastián, the Sanderson Farms Championship is no longer an alternate-field event. That means he got all the perks, including a PLAYERS invite as well as a Masters spot.

Yes, life is good for the rookie. But it gets even better, because he gets his first Limerick Summary. Hmmm, all the Limerick Summaries this season have been won by Latin Americans. I wonder if this is the start of a trend...
At Wyndham he barely slipped by—
Placed one-twenty-four and that’s why
It was such a surprise
When he picked up this prize.
Now Sebastián’s one jubilant guy!
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, September 22, 2019

So You Want to Speed Up Play? Try This! (Video)

Golf Monthly's tech editor Joel Tadman shows off this new 'golf cart' from Sun Mountain.

My American readers may think this is a little crazy but ebikes are more established in the UK and the tech is more common and standardized there. The irony is that these ebikes are being tested at golf courses here in the US rather than in the UK. (Although I'm pretty sure I saw another one being used on the course in this video, around the 5:25 mark.)

The video not only shows you the bike but demonstrates its use on the golf course.

I think I could get used to these!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Garrett Froggate on Minimizing Tension (Video)

GCA coach Garrett Froggate has the right idea here, but I'm not sure it will work all the time.

The idea, of course, is reactive motion -- that is, you don't want to 'freeze' over the ball. And what he wants you to do is mentally stay in motion with this routine:
  • Count 1: Look at the hole
  • Count 2: Look at the ball (let's be more specific and look at the back of the ball)
  • Count 3: Take the club back
  • Count 4: Stroke the ball toward the hole
The reason I'm not sure it will work all the time is because, although you're moving your head and changing your focus -- both good ways to keep your mind moving -- the rest of your body is pretty much locked in place.

And when you're locked in place, tension can easily sneak in.

While you don't want to start moving back and forth over the ball, I think you should add a little bit of leg motion. You don't need much, maybe just flex your trailing knee a bit as you look at the hole and then straighten it again when you look at the back of the ball. It'll be a small motion but it will keep you from locking your muscles during your routine.

Remember: Relieve the tension with motion, no matter how small. Then you won't freeze over the shot.

Friday, September 20, 2019

No Golf Post Tonight

Had to take a friend to the emergency room with a kidney stone. He's fine but it was too late when I got home. So much for today's post!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Cathy MacPherson's Full Swing Trigger (Video)

I'm giving you another type of trigger that can work with MacPherson's full pre-shot routine.

The MacPherson trigger is to breathe in and out, then swing. This is a great physical trigger for many people. It forces you to slow down and not snatch the club away from the ball. If this works for you, by all means use it. There's more than one way to make a good swing!

I'm going to give you a slightly different trigger, one that may feel a bit odd when you first try it. But I guarantee that it will help you 'gather yourself'' as you make your change of direction at the top, and it's a good way to keep the same swing tempo each time you swing.

You can breathe in and out as many times as you like while you prepare to swing, but I want you to breathe in a way that matches the way you expend energy at impact.
  • Start breathing in as you start your takeaway. That's right, inhale as you start your backswing. You aren't putting effort into your takeaway; it should feel relaxed. And you'll find that inhaling as you swing to the top helps you make a wider swing, simply because it's easier to breathe that way.
  • Then exhale as you start your downswing BUT you want to keep it pretty smooth until your hands are around waist high...
  • And at that point, exhale hard as you swing into impact. You want to feel as if you're focusing the effort of your swing on the back of the ball.
Now if you follow those instructions, you won't feel as if you make a slow exhale followed by an explosive exhale. What you will feel is a gradual acceleration from the top of your backswing down to impact.

Why is that important? Because the biggest problem most players have -- even the pros -- is that they get quick at the top and try to jerk the club down. All they do is throw their swing plane off, which typically causes a slightly over-the-top swing which, for the pros, results in a double-cross (left going left) and for lesser mortals results in a bad pull-slice.

Timing the motion of your swing to your inhale and exhale forces your body to slow down just enough to keep your rhythm smooth. This is a trick that weightlifters and other "grunt force" athletes use to maximize their efforts without hurting themselves. (This is the natural way to breathe when you do something hard. If you breathe wrong, your muscles are working against each other.)

So give this idea a try. Take a few swings on the range to get used to the feel -- as I said, it may feel a bit weird at first because most of us aren't naturally athletic -- and see if you don't develop a better rhythm to your swing.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The BMW PGA Debuts in Its New Spot

Yes, it was in May back in 2018 but with all the tours shuffling schedules to accommodate the Olympics and such, the ET's BMW PGA Championship has moved to September.

Defending champion Francesco Molinari

I have always considered the BMW PGA as being just below a major, and in my old point system this event carried the same weight as THE PLAYERS. That's because this is a flagship event for the ET and the history of Wentworth alone gives this tournament substantial weight.

Now, even though the World Golf Hall of Fame doesn't give this event the same weight as THE PLAYERS, I rank it above the WGC events and still consider it a near-major. In my opinion it's the kind of event that can predict a future major winner.

Francesco Molinari, the defending champion, is just one example of that.

This event is a who's-who of world golf, although it doesn't include a huge number of big American names. Patrick Reed appears to be the main one, but Billy Horschel is also getting a lot of attention with his first appearance. He expressed his desire to play there a couple of years back and has finally made good on it.

But the rest of the field is the world's best. Not only because of Wentworth's stature as a venue but because this is the stretch run for the Race to Dubai. We're going to see a number of stacked ET events leading up to their Tour Championship!

One note: I have to amend my Twofer Tuesday picks as I thought I saw Viktor Hovland on the Sanderson Farms field list when he's actually playing the BMW PGA. So I'm changing my Top10er there to Corey Conners, last year's runner-up, and will change it in the Twofer Tuesday post.

GC's coverage begins Thursday morning at 5am ET and runs until 1pm ET. That's eight hours of live coverage! Clearly GC feels as I do about this event. Nice!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Sanderson Farms Championship

Twofer Tuesday heads down to Mississippi and the Sanderson Farms Championship, which is a full month earlier this year due to the schedule changes.

Defending champion Cameron Champ

The Country Club of Jackson is hosting the event for the sixth consecutive time, with Cameron Champ being the defending champion. The course is a par-72 layout and has been stretched to nearly 7500 yards, its longest in those six years. And we can probably count on some heat; it's not unusual to see temperatures in the 90s F. Last year the field averaged just over 71 on the track and it's reasonable to figure the greens crew will aim for the same results this year.

As far as my Twofer Tuesday picks go, the key thing that stands out about this event is ROOKIES. Yes, as you may have guessed, all six of the last Sanderson Farms winners have been rookies. (Of course, this event usually doesn't have as many vets as other events, so that probably plays a part as well.) That fact doesn't mean this year will follow suit but it's worth being aware of it!
  • My Top10er this week is -- surprise! -- Viktor Hovland. I'm still not sure Viktor is ready to win on the big stage yet, but he has tied the record for 17 consecutive rounds in the 60s. Even if he doesn't set a new record, I'm guessing he'll play well enough for another Top10 as he gains experience on the Tour. [UPDATE: Hovland is playing the BMW PGA this week, so I'm going with Corey Conners, last year's runner-up.}
  • And my winner is Scottie Scheffler. He's struggled with his swing a bit lately, but I don't think that will continue for long; he played too well on the Korn Ferry Tour this year for that. It's just a question of when things start 'clicking' again for him, and this week is as good a time as any for him to rediscover his groove.
In what has become something of a routine, GC's coverage begins Thursday at 2pm ET while PGA TOUR LIVE begins streaming select groups at 8am ET. I'm expecting some hot action this week, even if it's just from the weather!

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Greenbrier

Winner: Joaquin Niemann

Around the wider world of golf: Suzann Pettersen announced her retirement from tournament golf by sinking the winning putt on the 18th hole of the final match to give Europe the Solheim Cup, 14.5-13.5; Jerry Kelly won the Ally Challenge on the Champions Tour; Patrick Fishburn won the Canada Life Championship on the Mackenzie Tour; Quincy Quek won the Haikou Classic on the PGA TOUR China; Yosuke Asagi won the ANA Open on the Japan Golf Tour; Sergio Garcia won the KLM Open on the European Tour; and Rory Hie won the Classic Golf and Country Club International Championship on the Asian Tour.

Joaquin Niemann with the Greenbrier trophy

It's a new season for my Twofer Tuesday picks and at least half of them got off to a good start. I had Tom Lewis (MC) to win and Viktor Hovland (T10) to Top10. At this point I'll take whatever encouragement I can find.
  • Winners: 2 for 37
  • Place well (Top10): 17 for 37 (9 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 30 of 74 (15 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
Perhaps I should take some consolation that I have picked a number of players just a few weeks (or months) before they broke through for a win. I had picked Joaquin Niemann to win earlier this year, but it looks like I was ahead of the curve again. He needed a few months to get finally get it together.

And boy, did he ever get it together at the A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier event! He stomped the field by six shots, finally putting Chile on the golfing map. Of course he's only 20 years old and -- in "the old days" anyway -- nobody would expect too much at this point.

But this is the age of the instant success story, and the pressure must be huge for the youngsters who need a bit more of a learning curve before they can truly hope to make a mark. And when you carry the hopes of an entire country on your shoulders...

Joaquin doesn't need to worry about that anymore. He's got his first PGA Tour win with all the assorted perks, and he made history to boot. But listen up, Joaquin, I've got some more news for you -- you're also the first golfer from Chile to take home a Limerick Summary. Life is looking good, my man!
Becoming the first man from Chile
To win should make Joaquin a really
Big sports star back home.
His potential’s been shown—
When you win by six shots, that’s revealing!
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Sunday Solheim Cup Singles Pairings

Danielle Kang leads off the singles matches

You can read the entire article from Randall Mell at this link, but here are the pairings for quick reference. All times are ET.
  • 6:40am: Danielle Kang (USA) vs. Carlota Ciganda (EUR)
  • 6:52am: Nelly Korda (USA) vs. Caroline Hedwall (EUR)
  • 7:04am: Lexi Thompson (USA) vs. Georgia Hall (EUR)
  • 7:16am: Annie Park (USA) vs. Celine Boutier (EUR)
  • 7:28am: Angel Yin (USA) vs. Azahara Munoz (EUR)
  • 7:40am: Megan Khang (USA) vs. Charley Hull (EUR)
  • 7:52am: Lizette Salas (USA) vs. Anne Van Dam (EUR)
  • 8:04am: Jessica Korda (USA) vs. Caroline Masson (EUR)
  • 8:16am: Brittany Altomare (USA) vs. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (EUR)
  • 8:28am: Marina Alex (USA) vs. Suzann Pettersen (EUR)
  • 8:40am: Ally McDonald (USA) vs. Bronte Law (EUR)
  • 8:52am: Morgan Pressel (USA) vs. Anna Nordqvist (EUR)
GC's coverage is set to begin at 6:30am ET. And since the teams are tied 8-8 going into the singles, this could be a wild finish!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Steve Elkington on the Knockdown Shot (Video)

You'll have to scoot over to to see this video, but it's a simple thing that you might find helpful. Elk says this is an easy way to get your trajectory down without changing your swing.

What do you do? Just address the ball normally and then move an inch or two closer than normal. You don't change your ball position or anything else. You will have to lean the shaft a bit more forward in order to make your normal swing -- that's how you give your hands the extra room they'll need -- but doing so will automatically deloft the club a little and make the ball fly lower.

And just for your information, it will probably put a bit more spin on the ball as well.

As I said, it's a simple tip that could make knockdown shots much easier for you. You can thank Elk next time you see him.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Rory VS Brooks

The battle is done. Brooks got the PGA Player of the Year while Rory got the PGA Tour Player of the Year.

However, the discussion is just beginning.

Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka

I wanted to take a quick look at this somewhat unexpected turn of events -- even Rory is on record as expecting Brooks to take both awards. Still, I think this 'split decision' is just an indication of how difficult it is to say one player is definitely better than another. I'm not certain that either player should have won both of these awards but I think this is an indication that players are beginning to question what's really important in their careers.

Before we go on, let's get one thing clear. The PGA Player of the Year is determined by a point system while the PGA Tour Player of the Year is determined by player vote. Some are suggesting that the players may have voted on personality or popularity, and that the point system is therefore a more objective approach. But I believe you can make the opposite case as well -- namely, that the player vote indicates that not everyone agrees on whether the points are being given for what's really important.

That being said, let's compare Brooks and Rory's seasons and try to understand why the awards were split.

First, let's tackle the elephant in the room: Majors. Part of the discussion says that Rory's win devalues the importance of finishes in the majors. Brooks finished T2-1-2-T4 while Rory finished T21-T8-T9-MC. Brooks clearly played better and had one major VS Rory having none.

But the World Golf Hall of Fame has to be considered here. According to the criteria at their website, the WGHoF gives THE PLAYERS equal weight to a major:
A [male] player must have a cumulative total of 15 or more official victories on any of the original members of the International Federation of PGA Tours (PGA TOUR, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour and PGA of Australasia) OR at least two victories among the following events: The Masters, THE PLAYERS Championship, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship.
Two PLAYERS carry the same weight as any two majors. So whether you call it a major or not, the WGHoF considers a PLAYERS win as having equal value and that has to be taken into account. Clearly, many players did so.

Each player won three events. Giving equal weight to their 'majors' this season, let's compare the other two wins:
  • Brooks: CJ Cup & WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
  • Rory: RBC Canadian Open & TOUR Championship
Analysts are saying that players gave more weight to the PGA Tour 'majors' -- that is, THE PLAYERS and the TOUR Championship -- but my guess is that there's a bit more at play here.

The CJ Cup really doesn't carry the weight of a WGC, the TOUR Championship or a long-running national championship like the Canadian Open, which is the third-oldest continuously running tourney behind the OPEN and the US Open, respectively.

In fairness, the RBC is also the only PGA TOUR-run national championship. But you can still make an argument that Brooks's two non-majors are slightly less 'valuable' than Rory's.

In terms of consistency:
  • Rory played 19 events with 14 Top10s and two missed cuts
  • Brooks played 21 events with 9 Top10s and one missed cut
In terms of money:
  • Brooks won the money list by nearly $2mil over Rory
But Rory did win the TOUR Championship, finishing #1 while Brooks could only finish #3 after leading the FedExCup points list nearly all season.

I don't know that any of this is conclusive proof that one player is better than the other. In the end, Rory was more consistent and 'showed up' much more often than Brooks. Conversely, Brooks played better in the majors than Rory and you can chalk up his money list win almost entirely to those four finishes, because those events paid the largest purses.

Ultimately, that's the crux of the argument as it is being framed.

Not being mentioned in any of this, however, are three other awards Rory won this season:
  • the FedExCup champion (that is an award for season-long excellencee)
  • Vardon Trophy (for best scoring average, minimum 60 rounds)
  • Byron Nelson Award (for best scoring average, minimum 50 rounds)
And perhaps these three -- the FedExCup award, the Vardon Trophy and the Byron Nelson Award -- are what finally tipped the scales for Rory. The fact that Rory won all three despite how Brooks played in the majors is a statement of sorts. The big argument for Brooks is the majors -- and yes, he had a monumental year there -- yet he didn't play sufficiently well to beat Rory for any of these awards.

Rory's three awards are the definition of dominance, and that may have been enough to sway the PGA TOUR players to give Rory their POY award.

In the end, I'm glad both men won a POY award. Those awards were given on the basis of different criteria and both Rory and Brooks had 'best of' years, depending on which criteria are most important to you. But that isn't going to stop the debate over whose year was THE best.

And that's probably as it should be. I'm not sure sports fans know how to enjoy a sport they can't argue about.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Cindy Miller on Ball Position (Video)

There are two parts to ball position -- how far forward or back in your stance that you place the ball, and how far away from it you stand. Cindy Miller has a tip for the latter.

Cindy's description of this position as 'partial puke and bow' is certainly graphic enough to make it memorable! But the idea is simple enough.

After you stand up in a relaxed position with your hands at your side and the club's handle in your lead hand, you simply lean slightly toward the ball and grip the club with both hands. Let your arms hang down, with your upper arms lightly against your chest, which should put your hands more or less under your chin. That should put the clubhead the proper distance from your body, and that's where you want to place the ball when you take your actual address position.

Not every player will find this tip to be comfortable; it depends on both your normal posture and your swing technique. For example, if you hold your arms fairly straight like Bryson DeChambeau does, this tip won't necessarily help you. But the beauty of it is that, if you do feel comfortable using it, it works for every club in your bag -- except your putter, which is always a challenge, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Solheim Cup Is Here!

Of course there were the normal lost clubs and baggage at Gleneagles, but the Stacy Lewis news was unexpected.

Morgan Pressel with the Solheim Cup

Stacy's back tweak resulted in Ally MacDonald replacing her as Juli Inkster's second Captains Pick. Doesn't look to be too much of a disruption, of course -- Ally has some team experience from the 2014 Curtis Cup, where she and Annie Park played a successful fourball together. (Ironically, Ally and Annie are in different pods so they probably won't play together this week.) But Ally was #9 on the points list anyway, so she barely missed making the team on her own.

The weather at Gleneagles is currently expected to be milder than usual, which should help level the playing field against Team Europe. I know a lot of analysts say Team USA is the favorite, but I have to agree with Laura Davies -- home field is a HUGE advantage and, coupled with the number of veterans on the Euro team, Team Europe really should be the favorites.

This link takes you to a page at with all the major info you'll need about the Solheim Cup, particularly the players on each team and the TV times here in the States. I'll just note that GC's coverage begins Friday morning at 3am ET and runs till 1:30pm ET. The Solheim Cup is always fun as well as competitive, and I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: The Greenbrier

After a two week hiatus the PGA Tour is back. Although this event has been officially renamed "A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier," I'm going with the shorter title and trusting you'll all remember the military tie-in.

Defending champion Kevin Na

The Greenbrier sat out last season so it could assume its new position as the first event of the PGA Tour wraparound season. Physically it remains a luxury resort located in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. It's a place that many of the Tour pros have moved to, and it's one of the stops where families have plenty to do while Dad whacks the old dimpled ball around.

The Old White TPC is the only Tour course with a par-3 finishing hole. At 7292 yards and a par of 70 -- and that gorgeous mountain scenery -- it's a reasonably challenging start to a long season, one that frequently gives us surprise winners. (And on occasion, very low scores.) Kevin Na is the defending champion.

As the first event of the new PGA Tour season, there are a number of newly-minted pros teeing it up after graduating from the Korn Ferry Tour. And I'm looking to them this week, in hopes that they will change the fortunes of my Twofer Tuesday picks.
  • My Top10er is Viktor Hovland. After ensuring his card at the Korn Ferry Finals, he skipped the final event to prepare for this start. I've had high hopes for Viktor since he turned pro -- some of you will remember that I picked him to win at the Deere -- and I haven't lost my enthusiasm for his future. However, I think he may (like Justin Thomas) take a bit longer to hit his stride and get his first win. That doesn't mean he can't chalk up his first Top10 as a Tour member though.
  • And my winner is Tom Lewis. The 28-year-old Englishman took a flier at getting his Tour card at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship... and promptly won his only Korn Ferry start to lock up a card. Perhaps he'll suffer the letdown so many players seem to experience after a first win but I'm willing to take a flier myself and pick him to win his first start as a carded PGA Tour player.
GC's coverage starts Thursday at 2pm ET, with the PGA TOUR LIVE stream beginning at 7am ET.

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Porsche European Open

Winner: Paul Casey

Around the wider world of golf: Taylor Pendrith got his second Mackenzie Tour victory at the Mackenzie Investments Open; Alejandra Llaneza won the Garden City Charity Classic on the Symetra Tour; Sang-Hyun Park won the Fujisankei Classic on the Japan Golf Tour; Yikuen Chang won the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship on the Asian Tour; and the US team blitzed the GB&I team in singles to retain the Walker Cup, 15.5-10.5.

Paul Casey with the Porsche European Open trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks looked good for a day or so, but... I had Xander Schauffele (T46) to win and Thomas Pieters (T20) to Top10. It appears my luck is no better overseas than it is here at home.
  • Winners: 2 for 36
  • Place well (Top10): 16 for 36 (9 Top5s, 7 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 29 of 72 (15 Top5s, 14 more Top10s)
Paul Casey had no such troubles in Germany. He calmly -- and uncharacteristically -- stated that he felt dangerous this week and that the field should be looking over their shoulders, because he had nothing to lose and was playing free.

Uncharacteristic bravado, yes. But definitely on point! The weather had been tough on the field, forcing a scoring average that was two or three strokes over par some days. But on Sunday Paul ran down the leaders, shooting a 66 to beat leaders Bernd Rithammer and Robert MacIntyre by one.

And surprisingly enough, it was Paul's first ET victory in five years. Where did his confidence come from? Clearly it was his improved play over the last year or so -- highlighted by a win at the Valspar, a fifth place in the FedExCup and rising to 17 in the OWGR.

While I'm bummed that my picks didn't play well, I have no trouble being happy for Paul Casey. He's earned the rewards he's seeing this year... and I'll gladly add yet another Limerick Summary to his 2019 haul.
Paul said he felt dangerous, right?
The field should glance backwards with fright
As he charged from behind;
His stars had aligned—
So he took the top prize with delight.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Walker Cup Drama

Maybe the last Walker Cup (in 2017) wasn't close -- 19-7 in GB&I's favor -- but Sunday is shaping up to be a dogfight.

GB&I's Alex Fitzpatrick and USA's Cole Hammer

Golf Digest has a nice summary of Day One, which ended with a rally by the US to trail by only two points, 7-5. All but one of the 12 matches went to the 17th hole.

The US team feels they always have an advantage in singles, which they will play today, but the GB&I team seems to be firing on all cylinders right now. While two points certainly isn't insurmountable, GB&I have the home turf advantage and all the crowd support that comes with that.

Unfortunately we won't be getting any live coverage of the final day. That Golf Digest article lists the times for each of the foursomes and singles matches today (all in ET) if you want to try and follow the matches online. Otherwise you'll have to settle for a summary show on GC tonight at 11pm ET. But it's definitely going to be a battle today, well worth watching if you can find it.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Phillis Meti's Driving Drill (Video)

This Extra Credit video from Martin Hall has long drive champ Phillis Meti practicing her drives... with an iron and a putting grip?!?

I don't mean she's gripping the club as if she was putting. No, I mean she's using a flat-sided putting grip that's been installed on a 7-iron that has been set an extra 5° upright. What's the deal?

This strange piece of practice equipment makes it easy for her to match her driver setup with the shorter club, and the flat side of the putter grip lets her be sure that the clubface is square to her aimline.

In other words, the grip helps her make sure she isn't flipping the club at impact or leaving it open. She says it was her teacher's idea, so she can work on this while she's on the road without him.

Just goes to show that understanding what you're trying to do when you swing can help you better design a practice drill that focuses your effort more effectively.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Now DJ Visits the Doctor

Last week it was Tiger, this week it's Dustin Johnson. And yes, it's the left knee.

Dustin Johnson quoted this statement from DJ's management team that was sent out Thursday morning:
“Earlier today, Dustin Johnson underwent arthroscopic surgery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to repair cartilage damage in his left knee. He is now resting comfortably and is expected to make a full recovery before returning to competition later this fall.
The procedure is considered routine and similar in nature to his prior right knee surgery in December of 2011. Both were performed by renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. George Caldwell.”
"Later this fall" almost certainly means the Presidents Cup at the latest.

Artheroscopic surgery is no big thing these days; sometimes I think players approach it the same way they approach routine blood tests and cardiograms. But if a player needs to have a knee 'cleaned out' and doesn't do it, it can certainly affect their performance.

So now it will be interesting to see if DJ's play improves. We're used to him being so consistent but we haven't seen that from him lately. Perhaps this is the reason.

At least it will give him and Tiger something to commiserate about over the next few months.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

John Jacobs on Chipping Feel (Video)

No, it's not the legend. But this John Jacobs from Golf Monthly has a couple of drills that might help you to better judge distance when you chip.

That first drill -- let's call it the bowling drill because the arm motion is similar to throwing a bowling ball -- may or may not help you, but you should try it. Some players need a more mechanical trigger to develop feel, and this bowling drill is definitely all feel. I tend to make this motion when I'm trying to get a feel for a chip, but I used to bowl a lot during high school so it's a familiar motion for me.

John's clock face drill is far more similar to the technique Dave Pelz teaches and that I teach in my Accurate Iron Play Quick Guide. However, John is using more wrist flex than my book taught. I'm not against that, not by any stretch -- but whether it will work for you depends on how mechanical you need to be when developing your sense of feel.
  • Some players learn better if they don't flex their wrists much at all. That's a method that Lee Trevino swears by, and nobody ever accused him of having a poor short game!
  • Some players learn better if they use just a small amount of flex, which is my preferred method for normal chips.
  • And some players learn better if they use their wrists quite a bit when chipping. You can certainly learn to chip just as well that way as any other.
The thing with John's clock method and "looser" wrists -- if you choose to use that method -- is that he doesn't actually move his arms quite as much as he says. If you watch him closely, you'll see that his 7 o'clock and 8 o'clock positions are nearly identical and his 9 o'clock position is nowhere near parallel to the ground. But to him it FEELS as if his lead arm is in those positions, and that's the key you must remember:
His stated positions are not his actual mechanical positions, but rather how he feels them.
I wanted to pass this method on to you because, for some of you, this may be exactly what you need in order to improve your chipping. There is no one correct way to play golf but there is probably a way that works best for you, based on how you learn things most easily. Don't let anyone bind you to a mechanical method if a feel method gives you better results, or vice versa.

Don't be afraid to learn the way you learn best. Tailoring your game to your own natural abilities is how YOU will get better.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Critter Does It Again! (Video)

Today it's just a shout-out to Jeff "The Critter" Crittenden for winning his second World Drive Championship - Masters Division in just three years.

Jeff is from Greensboro NC -- around 30 minutes east of me -- and I'm always pulling for him. It's great to see him get another win!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Korn Ferry Tour Championship

Winner: Tom Lewis

Around the wider world of golf: Hannah Green got her second LPGA victory of the year (and her career) at the Cambia Portland Classic; Patty Tavatanakit won the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge on the Symetra Tour; Sebastian Soderberg got his first ET win at the Omega European Masters; Wes Short Jr. won the Shaw Charity Classic on the Champions Tour; Kazuki Higa won the RIZAP KBC Augusta on the Japan Golf Tour; and Miguel Carballo won the Bank BRI Indonesia Open on the Asian Tour.

Tom Lewis with the Korn Ferry Tour Championship trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks took a last minute hit after I made my choices. I had Scottie Scheffler (T7) to win and Anirban Lahiri (WD) to Top10. Lahiri withdrew on Friday -- well after my picks -- because his family was in Hurricane Dorian's way (my Disney trip was cancelled because of Dorian as well, so I certainly understand his reasons) and while Scheffler finally ran out of gas, he did at least finish in the Top10.
  • Winners: 2 for 35
  • Place well (Top10): 16 for 35 (9 Top5s, 7 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 29 of 70 (15 Top5s, 14 more Top10s)
The winner's story seems almost unbelievable, doesn't it? Tom Lewis wasn't even planning to play -- he had his ET card for 2020 -- but his agent said he had enough FedExCup points to qualify so why not give it a shot? Then Tom comes in for the very last event of the Finals, rips the field apart and walks away with a PGA Tour card, doing so in record-setting fashion. This is the hardest course on the Korn Ferry Tour and all Tom did was win with a -23 total, after the last two years had seen winning scores of -6.

Alright... to be fair, the course was a bit soft and 32 players shot -7 or better. But Tom was five shots clear of the runner-up, which is impressive in its own right.

It's pretty easy to pass this off as playing with a lack of pressure since Tom already had a tour to play next season, but he's had his share of problems to overcome such as chipping yips. Now he has another problem, given that he has to balance playing time on two tours. They say he talked to Justin Rose about it and was told that the balancing act is tough.

We've also heard that Tom really likes warm weather. ;-)

While Tom sorts out the pluses and minuses of his various options, I'll just congratulate him with this Limerick Summary that asks the burning question on all of our minds.
In America or overseas?
We need to know, Tom—and don’t tease!
Is the PGA Tour
Or your homeland the lure?
We have to know NOW! Tell us, please
The photo came from this page at

Monday, September 2, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Porsche European Open

I know it's weird, but the Limerick Summary has to wait for the Korn Ferry Tour Championship to finish today. Hence, today becomes Twofer Tuesday by default. Don't worry, you'll survive.

Let's head out to this week's ET event, the Porsche European Open.

Defending champion Richard McEvoy

Defending champion Richard McEvoy (from England) leads the field at the Green Eagle Golf Courses in Hamburg, Germany. It's his first-ever title defense so you can be sure he's looking forward to it.

With the PGA Tour season in the books, several American players have flown over to join the ET's cast of regulars as well -- Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele. Given the number of ET winners this season who are already there, we're looking at a really strong field for this event.

Of course, while I'm familiar with a large number of those players, I'd hardly consider myself a good judge of who has the best chance to win this week. Then again, knowing the US players better hasn't helped me so far this season, has it?
  • My Top10er this week is Thomas Pieters. Thomas has been struggling for a few years now but seems to have finally refound his form. He won a couple of weeks back at the D+D Real Czech Masters, then followed up with a T12 at this past week's Omega European Masters. He has so much potential when he is on form that I'm willing to ride along with him for another week.
  • And my winner is Xander Schauffele. The ET players I think are in the best form right now are taking the week off and, while Xander didn't play particularly well at THE OPEN and hasn't played any other ET event this year, he has played well over there in the past and has been reasonably consistent in the US this season. In my opinion, this season's ET winners have been somewhat unpredictable so I'm going to take my chances on Xander.
As best as I can tell, GC's live coverage starts Thursday in two shifts -- 5am-7am ET followed by another at 9am-noon ET. Since the ET's Race to Dubai is approaching their home stretch, this should be a hard-fought battle.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Luke Peterken's 5-Minute Punch Shot Lesson (Video)

This Golf Monthly video is actually less than five minutes long, but hey, it's their title! This is the basic technique for hitting an accurate punch shot.

Let me list the key points from the video on how to lower your trajectory.
  • Shorten your backswing and followthrough, which creates less clubhead speed. This automatically lowers your trajectory some.
  • Lowering your trajectory causes the ball to roll more when it lands, so choose your target appropriately.
  • Take more club. You're creating less clubhead speed so you need a longer club to cover the distance.
  • Set up for a fade. That's because you...
  • Open your hips BUT keep your shoulders square to your aimline. This allows you to move your lower body more freely without spinning your shoulders, which might make you flip your hands and pull the shot. (This tip is something you often don't hear from instructors, but it makes a lot of sense.)
  • Move the ball back slightly in your stance, to hit the ball more cleanly while lowering the trajectory a bit more.
The key here is that this is how you create a controllable, accurate punch shot. Whether you're punching out of trouble or just need to keep the ball down to avoid trouble, controllability is the name of the game.