Senin, 24 Desember 2012

The Limerick Summary: 2012 Mayan Apocalypse

Winner: All those tired golfers!

Around the wider world of golf: There wasn't a wider world of golf. The world ended last Friday -- didn't you hear?

Charlie Brown Mayan parody

As there was no golf this past weekend, I figured I might as well take a look at the reason.

That's right. There was no golf this past weekend because of the Mayan apocalypse. Golf courses were empty, as nobody had a tee time. Why set a tee time when there would be no time? There might not even be any golf courses left!

And obviously, without fans to buy tickets and line the fairways, sponsors saw no need to put up prize money. Therefore, there were no pro golf tournaments on any major tour this week.

I was amazed to discover how quickly Wikipedia updated articles on the 2012 Phenomenon and the Mayan calendar to confirm that "Doomsday" was in fact a misinterpretation. A brief portion of the later article states:
Misinterpretation of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar was the basis for a popular belief that a cataclysm would take place on December 21, 2012. December 21, 2012 was simply the day that the calendar went to the next b'ak'tun, at Long Count 13.0.0.0.0. The date on which the calendar will go to the next piktun (a complete series of 20 b'ak'tuns), at Long Count 1.0.0.0.0.0, will be on October 13, 4772.

Sandra Noble, executive director of the Mesoamerican research organization Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. (FAMSI), notes that "for the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle". She considers the portrayal of December 2012 as a doomsday or cosmic-shift event to be "a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in."
Presumably none of us will have to deal with the uproar that may happen on 13 October 4772.

I decided that, since there were no tournaments this past week, I would use this Limerick Summary to expose the true significance of b'ak'tun 13. Consider yourself enlightened!
Those researchers made a mistake;
Rumors of our demise were a fake!
Here’s the deal: Ancient science
Made clear to the Mayans
That golfers would need Christmas break!
The picture came from comicsbeat.com.

Minggu, 23 Desember 2012

Poulter Plans to Play Hyundai

Mayan golf schedules may have been disrupted when the world didn't end as scheduled on 21 December 2012, but Ian Poulter went ahead and made reservations for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in 2013 anyway.

I don't know how many of the "big names" are going to show, but PGATOUR.com is already listing a few of the confirmed players like Snedeker and Dufner. (There's no complete field listing yet. I checked.) Still, this bodes well for the ToC.

As we all know, it's become something of a trend for the top players to skip the ToC each year. Poults did play there back in 2011, but generally he skips it as well. For him to come back is important because, whether he's high in the OWGR or not, he's a big name in all the ways that matter to golf fans. (Of course, his game is somewhat apocalyptic as well. Just ask the US Ryder Cup team.)

Will Tiger, Phil, or Rory play? I'm inclined to guess that they won't. Still, if the other major names in the game show up in Hawaii, it will both help the Tour's relationship with its sponsors and grab the fans' attention early in 2013.

For those of you who were disappointed not to be annihilated Friday in true blockbuster film style, I hope this gives you something to look forward to.

Sabtu, 22 Desember 2012

Hank Haney on Chipping from Thick Rough

Today I have a video tip from Hank Haney about a problem we all have at some time or another -- chipping from thick rough.



I like this tip because Haney covers everything, even identifying your ball. Notice that he's using a sand wedge and playing this mostly like a sand shot.

Please note that it's mostly like a sand shot. Haney specifically says this is a chip shot from rough that's close to the green, not far away. That's why he's using an abbreviated followthrough, rather than the long followthrough most pros recommend from a bunker. Thick rough isn't likely to act like sand, so you don't want to hit the ball too hard and send it shooting across the green.

Also note Haney's key point: Try to keep the face open. You want to make sure the ball goes up high, not low left (or low right if you play left-handed). That's your best chance of getting the ball to land soft and trickle to the hole.

Jumat, 21 Desember 2012

The Kids of 2012

In my last retrospective of 2012, I want to look at the PGA Tour. (I include the Web.com Tour in this as well, since several of the players jump back and forth.) And ironically, it may be the shortest of the three posts I've done.

That's because 2012 is going to be a tough act to follow. It seemed like every week we had new storylines, new drama, new names stepping into the spotlight. We had Tiger's reemergence, monster comebacks in final rounds (typically 6-7 strokes), blow-out wins (Rory's 8-stroke win at the PGA), dramatic first-time wins (Bubba's wedge to win the Masters), controversy over belly putters, and rookies who showed up the veterans.

So what can 2013 possibly offer us?

The most likely highlight will be a Tiger-Rory rivalry. Tiger appears to have his game to the point where he can focus on fine-tuning, and Rory seems to have figured out how to balance his personal and professional lives enough to play high-quality (if not consistent) golf.

As things stand now, I think Luke Donald and Lee Westwood will continue to round out the Top 4 in the OWGR. Louis Oosthuizen and maybe Charl Schwartzel could make it a Top 6, although that remains to be seen. Louis could have won 6 or 7 times in 2012 had he played just a few holes better. Charl seems to finally be healed up. The two of them have shown streaks of brilliance over the last two years, but are lacking some consistency. If they put things together though, watch out.

The rest of the Tour isn't likely to challenge this group consistently. I don't mean we won't see some high-quality play from a lot of players; I just mean it'll be a lot of players that change from week to week, not a few consistent challengers.

And I won't be surprised if "Wozzleroy" becomes an engaged couple sometime during the coming year. I don't think it will have a big effect on Rory's play, just that it could be the big news story of the year. (Yes, even bigger than belly putters. That issue will be more emotional, though.)

Speaking of belly putters, look for some new technologically-advanced putters. I don't think they'll really help, but the manufacturers will come up with something to become the new cash cow.

After all, if you're reading this, the Mayans were wrong and it looks like you're going to have to learn how to putt after all. ;-) At least we've got a new year of golf to look forward to... and it could be a pretty good one.

Kamis, 20 Desember 2012

The Elders of 2012

Today I'm looking back at the Champions Tour... but this will be a fairly short post. Why?

Because I don't expect much to change in 2013.

Most of the big names of 2013 -- Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Michael Allen, and Fred Funk lead this pack -- will just keep doing what they've been doing. We'll see some up-and-comers like Roger Chapman and Kenny Perry continue their rise, and I'm looking for Peter Senior to join the fray after his win in Australia this month. And Steve Elkington will probably make some noise when he joins the Champions Tour in 2013.

Vijay Singh has made no secret that he plans to continue focusing on the PGA Tour. I don't expect to see him in a Champions Tour event unless (1) it's a major -- which may not matter to him either, or (2) there's no PGA event that week and he wants to play anyway.

You may wonder why I haven't mentioned Tom Watson and Fred Couples. Tom should be obvious. Having been named the 2014 Ryder Cup captain, I expect him to play a bit more on the PGA Tour... and when he isn't, I suspect he'll be a bit too distracted to play at the same level as usual on the Champions Tour. That seems to happen to everybody who becomes captain.

As for Freddie, I think his back is becoming a bigger issue than he's letting on. I believeI heard that the back treatment he's had to go to Germany for is going to be made legal in the US, so it will be more readily available... but it seems to have been less effective in the last few months. I can only assume that's due to deterioration in his condition. I hope I'm wrong, but he did cut back on his playing schedule as 2012 wound down.

All-in-all, it will be business-as-usual for the older set... and I'm not sure that will be particularly newsworthy. The Champions Tour still needs something to give it a unique identity, and I'm not sure we'll see that arrive in the coming year....

But we can hope.

Rabu, 19 Desember 2012

The Ladies of 2012

Well, it's that time of year again -- the time when we get inundated with "Best of 2012" shows and retrospective looks at what did and didn't happen. Although I don't plan to do anything in-depth (there's plenty of that being done already), I do want to take a look back at 2012 and pick out a few of the major players and events -- and look ahead to what we may see in the future.

Today I'm looking at the ladies. What does 2013 hold for the LPGA and LET?

Clearly things have changed since January. While Yani Tseng is still #1 in the Rolex Rankings, I don't think anybody expects her to stay there. Granted, she might get her game back to where it was 12 months ago... but that remains to be seen.

I think it's fair to say the two new stars on the LPGA are Stacy Lewis and So Yeon Ryu, both of whom seem to have their games in good shape going into the new year. Inbee Park has also resurrected her career after a long quiet spell. Shanshan Feng is a bit streaky but is playing well even when she's a bit off. And Na Yeon Choi has quietly had a very consistent year. I suspect these five players will be the big movers in 2013.

Several players who have been top players in years past now seem to be fighting inconsistency -- Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr, Jiyai Shin, Paula Creamer, and Ai Miyazato come to mind. Some of that has been the result of injuries and some of it simply because they're trying too hard. They aren't "washed up" by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't look for their frustrations to go away in the next few months. I think they need to get in a rhythm, and that's hard to do when the playing schedule remains a bit sporadic and requires so much country-hopping.

Some of the Euro players like Mel Reid, Azahara Munoz, Caroline Hedwall, and Sandra Gal are in the same boat. When you're trying to get to that elite level consistently, it's easy to try too hard. They're going to face the same problems as the girls in the last paragraph.

Finally, I need to mention Michelle Wie. While several of the typically good players (like Morgan Pressel) have struggled and gotten a pass because of major life changes like getting married, Michelle hasn't. I still think folks are underestimating how disorienting it's been for her to leave the hectic schedule she had at Stanford for five years and try to set up new routines focused purely on golf. I believe Michelle is going to make a serious comeback around middle-to-late 2013.

As for the tours in general, the main thing I expect is for serious talks to start about holding a major in Asia. As I have said in past posts, I expect the LPGA Championship to become a joint LET/LPGA Championship and perhaps rotate throughout Asia. That would give the women two majors in the US, two in Europe, and one in Asia. Although I clearly don't expect it to happen in 2013, I do expect talks to begin.

The LPGA is truly a world tour now and has demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with the other women's tours around the world. That trend is only going to continue in 2013, and so the women's game will evolve more than any of the men's tours going forward. It should be interesting to see what the world of women's golf looks like in 12 months!

Selasa, 18 Desember 2012

Watch Charl Move

Since Charl Schwartzel has won twice in as many weeks, I thought it might be good to take a new look at his swing and see if there's one thing that you guys could put into immediate use. And since he's been so accurate lately -- and since this footage is from only about 4 months ago -- I wanted something that would help your accuracy. Take a look...

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I've tagged this post "weight shift" because it illustrates an error so many weekend players make but the pros don't.

Charl is clearly "shifting his weight" during his swing but he's not moving nearly as much as most weekend players. If you watch his right (trailing) knee during his backswing, you won't see it move to his right very much... but you can see that it twists enough to "point" a little to the right. That's caused by his right hip moving backward -- away from the camera -- as his body turns. His hips don't slide away from the target, they turn.

Likewise, on the downswing it looks like he slides toward the target... but take a close look. Stop the video when his left arm is parallel to the ground during the downswing (it's pretty easy to stop it there around the :28 second mark) and take a good look at his body. His spine is still pretty much vertical and just slightly ahead of the center of his stance. In fact, his left shoulder is still inside his left instep at this point!

Charl isn't moving a lot. You might find it easier to get this kind of movement if you think about squatting slightly on the downswing, which was Sam Snead's trademark move. Not a big squat, mind you -- just think about starting your downswing by planting both feet flat on the ground. Because your shoulders were turned at the top of the swing, this mini-squat will start your shoulders turning just fine.

If you're having trouble hitting down on the ball, this move will also help that problem.

And it will help you stay more centered over the ball, so you should hit the ball more solidly.

It's certainly been working for Charl.

Senin, 17 Desember 2012

The Limerick Summary: 2012 Alfred Dunhill Championship

Winner: Charl Schwartzel

Around the wider world of golf: Sergio Garcia won the Iskandar Johor Open on the Asian Tour; Daniel Popovic won the Australian PGA Championship on the Australasian Tour; Teresa Lu won the Taifong Ladies Open on the LAGT; Davis Love and his son Dru won the PNC Father/Son Challenge; and Ariya Jutanugarn is leading the LET's Q-School going into its final day.

Schwartzel with trophy

These kind of tournaments drive me crazy. You know -- the tournaments that get played in 2012 but count on the 2013 season. I'm listing this one as 2012 because it IS 2012, dammit!

Fortunately for Charl Schwartzel, it doesn't seem to matter what year it is. After struggling most of 2012 with a variety of swing problems (both physical and otherwise), Charl seems to have hit his stride the last few weeks. After two high finishes in tournaments that he didn't win, he took last week's Thailand Golf Championship by 11 strokes and backed it up this week with a 12-stroke victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship down in South Africa.

What can you say about such dominating performances? True, the biggest names in golf aren't playing right now and the other "high-rankers" are scattered around the globe. But winning anywhere is hard, winning two weeks in a row even harder, and going 49-under in those two weeks -- beating the rest of the field by 23 strokes total -- is just unbelievable.

If Charl is finally back in the form that gave him the 2011 Masters title, there could be some bleak days ahead for any field he plays in... and the guys at the top of the OWGR might not be exempt from the pressure.

So this week's Limerick Summary welcomes Charl back to the winner's circle -- he needed this ET win to qualify for my own RGWR -- and takes a quick look into the old crystal ball:
This is two weeks straight Charl’s been the victor.
If December is any predictor
Of Twenty-thirteen,
Going this deep might mean
He’ll squeeze fields like a boa constrictor.
The photo came from this page at europeantour.com.

Minggu, 16 Desember 2012

Backing into Your Putts

This was such a fascinating piece that I just had to pass it on.

reading putts by walking backwards

Over at golftipsmag.com I found an article by Susie Corona of the LPGA called Blind Reading. It discusses a tip she picked up from a blind golfer for getting a better feel for the break of your putt. The short description is that you walk backward from the hole for a few feet, but the reasoning behind the tip is what I found so interesting.

It's a short article, and worth a couple of minutes. You'll have to think about it a little to really understand why it would be better than walking forward, but I think it'll be worth your time.

Sabtu, 15 Desember 2012

Hitting an In-to-Out Fade

I found this Golf Digest tip video based on some instruction from Mike Bender. It's on that somewhat confusing technique where you hit a fade using an in-to-out swing -- the method most of us think of as a hook move:



The video is pretty self-explanatory. I'd just like to point out that, while the swing path is in-to-out relative to your foot line, it's still out-to-in relative to your aim line. In other words, you actually aim farther to the left (for a right-hander -- a left-hander aims farther to the right) for this shot to make sure the club head still travels across your aim line.

This is part of the reason I think Ben Hogan developed the idea of connection. It helped him get this in-to-out swing path at all times. (I have several posts on connection, but the link sends you to a post with a video of Nick Faldo demonstrating the technique. This link shows Jimmy Ballard demonstrating it, but Ballard is only connecting the lead arm in his video.)

Hopefully this will help you become more consistent at hitting a power fade.

Jumat, 14 Desember 2012

Forget "Grease" -- "Scotland" Is The Word

So Tom Watson got the 2014 US Ryder Cup captain's gig. One thing that became very obvious in all the coverage on Thursday was that the location -- Scotland -- was the overriding factor in this decision.

True, Tom Watson was the last US captain to win an "away game" and his 10-4-1 Ryder Cup record certainly played a part.

But so did his popularity over in Scotland. Clearly it's hoped that his status over there -- he was described at one point as" the most popular Yank since Bobby Jones" -- will help overcome some of the home crowd advantage. (Lee Trevino suggested that Tom's presence may also encourage more Americans to travel to Scotland, which would help even more.)

Tom's knowledge of how to play overseas -- which I believe is a huge factor in the American team's trouble in "away games" -- is also expected to help. He won 4 of his 5 Opens in Scotland, you know. And all that ability to play in less-than-ideal weather -- Scottish weather, of course -- is knowledge he can pass on to his players.

I found it most interesting that the PGA started thinking about Tom as the 2014 captain all the way back in October-November 2010, and that they started talking to Tom about 13 months ago or so. Davis Love was apparently aware of it during his captainship. Which means the media completely missed the boat on this one, as Tom was never discussed as a possibility. It also means that the PGA let all that talk go on without giving any indication that things were going to be done differently this time.

Frank Nobilo noted that this was something of a coup for the PGA, as the Euro team could have trouble finding somebody with enough stature to compete -- publicity-wise, that is -- with Watson, and that may have given the US team a headstart on it all.

Personally, I think it was a smart move just from the standpoint of getting a legend to head the team. Tom is both contemporary with the young players, who seek him out for advice and practice rounds, and yet separate enough to engender a certain level of respect that younger captains might not get, no matter how popular they are.

But in the end, the guys still have to hit the shots... and Tom Watson, captain or not, can't do that for them. I'll be interested to see how he manages to overcome that little problem.

After all, it's been lack of execution that killed US hopes in the past and it'll be execution that finally gets it done... IF it finally gets done.

And that's still one very big IF.

Kamis, 13 Desember 2012

Rabu, 12 Desember 2012

The Ryder Cup Shuffle

Thursday morning is when the PGA will announce the American captain for the 2014 Ryder Cup team. And according to GC, we could be in for a big surprise.

Here's why: Apparently the PGA usually gets in contact with their choice well before the announcement is made... and apparently none of the expected choices has been contacted yet.

At least those folks "in the know" about these things don't think they have.

The frontrunners in this little race were thought to be David Toms, Tom Watson, and Larry Nelson. Toms most closely fits the recent profile -- an active Tour player between 40 and 50 with major wins. But he says the PGA hasn't contacted him about anything.

Larry Nelson has been a "sentimental favorite" for some time. I won't go into the whole story, but Nelson gave up a chance to be captain back in the 1990s so Lanny Watkins could do it, having been told he would get another chance. He never got it. There's been a big campaign to make him captain this time... but Nelson says the PGA hasn't contacted him either.

Tom Watson said last week that he'd love to repeat as captain if the PGA would let him. But if they've talked to him, he's staying mum on the subject.

And despite being the Presidents Cup captain, many think Fred Couples might get the job. But Freddie hasn't said anything about it... not that I think he would.

Personally, I think it's going to be Freddie. He's closest to the criteria the PGA has been using for the last couple of decades and, as we all know, he's been very successful as the Presidents Cup captain. Of course, that would mean that Freddie's becoming a professional captain, a position that could curtail his playing somewhat. But given his back problems, that might not be a bad thing for him.

At any rate, I suspect the PGA decided they have only one real criterium for the US Ryder Cup captain -- they want a winner. Of all the potential captains currently available, Freddie is probably the most obvious choice.

We'll find out tomorrow. It's going to be announced on The Today Show on NBC, and GC will then run a special about the choice at 10am ET.

Selasa, 11 Desember 2012

Get More from Your Hybrid

I found an interesting article at golftipsmag.com called 4 Ways to Score with a Hybrid. It's a good source for ideas on how to get more use from your hybrid.

Sole of hybrid club Here are the 4 ways to score that the article covers:
  1. Sand shots
  2. Bump & Run
  3. Downhill Green Shot from Light Rough above the Hole
  4. Ball against the Collar of the Green
You'll also see plenty of tiny pictures scattered through the article. Click on them and they "blow up" so you can see more details.

There's a lot of good info here on how ball position affects these shots, which is often the most important (and least often considered) detail when setting up to play a specialized shot.

The instructor who wrote this article, Frank O’Connell, is also responsible for the Body Movin' drill that I seem to recommend every other month, so you might want to check this new article out as well. (My original post featuring the Body Movin' drill, More Indoor Practice, can be found at this link.)

The photo came from the hybrid article.

Senin, 10 Desember 2012

The Limerick Summary: 2012 Emirates Australian Open

Winner: Peter Senior

Around the wider world of golf: Charl Schwartzel blew away the field at the OneAsia Tour's Thailand Golf Championship; Shanshan Feng blew away the field at the LET's Omega Dubai Ladies Masters; Scott Jamieson won the ET's Nelson Mandela Championship in a playoff; and the team of Kenny Perry and Sean O'Hair squeaked out a win at the Franklin Templeton Shootout (aka the Shark Shootout).

Senior with trophy

When the PGA Tour isn't playing a regular season tournament, I sometimes have trouble picking what other tournament to write about. This week I had already decided to focus on the Australian Open, simply because Opens are usually important tournaments even if they don't always draw the big names. The Aussie Open had Adam Scott, Justin Rose, and Tom Watson; most of the other players were lesser-known names. But it definitely turned out to be the most interesting event.

You see, while the winners of some of this week's other events blew away their respective fields, no other tournament can say that its field was nearly blown away!

Even though there was a 3-hour delay because of high winds -- I don't know how high, but I heard there were gusts of 80km (that's around 50mph for my American readers) -- the Aussie Open still finished the event because the greens crew planned for it! They didn't cut or roll the greens and they picked easier pin positions, so the balls might wobble in the wind but they didn't roll away.

I don't think the players really appreciated it that much. Even par was a great score. A few players managed rounds of -1. The only guy to shoot in the 60s was -- no surprise -- Tom Watson, who shot -3.

But the beauty of it all was that the winner was 53-year-old Peter Senior. His final round of even par made him the oldest man to ever win the Aussie Open, beating the previous record set by Peter Thomson at the ripe old age of 43 way back in 1972.

I love it when the old guys prove they're still relevant. Maybe they aren't as flashy as the young kids, but often they're a bit sharper in tough conditions. So this week the Limerick Summary celebrates Peter Senior's newest Christmas present:
Oh the weather outside, it was frightful
And the high winds were never delightful…
But at 53 years
Peter Senior just sneers
When some blowhard says his game’s a mite dull.
The photo came from this USAToday article.

Minggu, 09 Desember 2012

Chinese Golf Is Going to Owe Shanshan Feng a Lot

After becoming the first Chinese player to win a major earlier this year, Shanshan Feng just added another big win over a strong field at the LET's Omega Dubai Ladies Masters.

Feng receives Dubai trophy

And all she did was beat the previous scoring record -- held by both Annika Sorenstam and In-Kyung Kim -- by three strokes. Her rounds of 66-65-67-67 (-21) gave her a five-shot victory over her closest competitor Dewi-Claire Schreefel... who was, in turn, four strokes clear of the third place finishers. Only one player within 9 shots of you? That's a pretty serious beating to put on the field.

Shanshan's currently #6 in the Rolex World Rankings, but I'd be surprised if she isn't #5 or even #4 when this week's rankings come out.

We all know how much of a "rock star" she became in China after she won the Wegmans LPGA Championship earlier this season. This win will only fuel the growing golf frenzy there.

And if China is able to put up a good showing at the Olympics... well, I think they're going to owe Shanshan Feng a huge debt of gratitude for being a trailblazer. As it stands -- if the Koreans are any indication -- we're about a decade from seeing a flood of Chinese professionals.

The US ladies better start practicing.

The photo came from the LET's web page about the event.

Sabtu, 08 Desember 2012

Training Aids for the Financially Challenged

Just a link for today.

Battery used for putting practice

I know some of you like to use training aids... but they get awfully expensive sometimes. This article at golftipsmag.com, simply called Homemade Training Aids, will give you some ideas on how to use things you have laying around the house to help your game.

One quick note: They suggest using a towel under your lead arm to help improve connection. Try using it under both arms. You won't be able to make as long a swing -- you may only get your hands to shoulder height -- but it will help you build a connected feel with both arms. It will also help you stop casting when you start your downswing.

Jumat, 07 Desember 2012

Maybe We Could Call It "Wiegeling"

Thursday night Golf Central showed some footage of the new putting technique Michelle Wie's trying over at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. I tried to find a photo of it but, alas, no luck. However, I can show you basically what it looks like.

Diegeling

This, my friends, is Leo Diegel, a two-time major champion from the 1920s. And this unusual putting style became known as "Diegeling." This photo is from 1924 and, yes, it's an anchored stroke.

Michelle is using something very similar, although she has her elbows close to her side rather than pointed out. I don't know if she's anchoring the putter or not; it wasn't clear from the footage I saw. Charlie Rymer questioned whether she could use the style for very long without causing physical problems.

"Diegeling" is one of the more humorous putting styles that has been used over the centuries... but it's not entirely without merit. Ignoring the anchoring and "wings" for a moment, the concept isn't too far from what Dave Pelz teaches. By leaning over so much that your spine is almost parallel to the ground, it puts you in a position where the putter can swing like a pendulum -- or at least as close as a human body is likely to get. Two-time major winner Hubert Green is another pro who was quite successful using a putting style like this.

In fact, you might notice some similarities between "Diegeling" and the putting stroke of an early Jack Nicklaus. I should point out that this was not only effective, but apparently served him well for quite a number of years:

Early Jack Nicklaus putting stroke

So when everybody is laughing at Michelle Wie -- and it's already started, judging by the GC telecast -- "Bear" in mind that this isn't such a bizarre putting concept after all.

The Leo Diegel photo came from this site, and the Nicklaus photo came from this site.

Kamis, 06 Desember 2012

I’ve Got a Driver

It's been a while since I did a song parody... and ironically, I didn't do this one for this blog. Occasionally my love of golf finds its way onto my Will Shakespeare for Hire blog, and I posted this parody there on Monday. But I liked it so much -- I've found myself singing it around the house -- that I decided to post it here as well.

I considered calling it Drive It Far since it's a parody of the Beatles' song Drive My Car, but I've Got a Driver is a line from the original song and just seems to fit the mood of the song better.

I hope you guys like it. Since we're in the lull between golf seasons, it seemed like a good time to have a little fun.

I’ve Got a Driver (with apologies to the Beatles)
My caddie said, “You should listen to me:
I’ve done this job for a decade or three.
The fairway’s narrow and there’s too many trees;
I know what you’re thinking, but won’t you please
Leave that big stick in the bag –
Yeah, I know my plan’s a drag –
But leave that big stick in the bag,
You’ll hit the ball better.”

I ought to listen; my friends say he’s good.
If he says “Hit an iron,” I know that I should.
There’s water short of the green if I dare…
But I’ve got a driver. I could get it there!
He says, “Leave that big stick in the bag –
Yeah, I know my plan’s a drag –
But leave that big stick in the bag,
You’ll hit the ball better.”

I disregarded my caddie’s advice,
Took out the driver and I hit a big slice.
My ball’s in the water, my score’s in the tank…
And I’ve got a driver and myself to thank.
Took that big stick from the bag –
Didn’t want to be a drag –
Took that big stick from the bag
And hit the ball badder…
Uh-oh, splish-splash, no
Uh-oh, splish-splash, no
Uh-oh, splish-splash, no

Rabu, 05 Desember 2012

No Question Mark Concerning This Award

The PGA Tour finally announced its remaining awards... and there were no real surprises.

It's certainly no surprise that Rory McIlroy won Player of the Year. Four PGA Tour wins, including an 8-shot win at the PGA, the money title, and the scoring title will do that for you.

John Huh photoAnd, in my opinion, the Rookie of the Year winner was no surprise. While there was a lot of debate, particularly about Jonas Blixt's late-season run, I never thought anybody should have gotten it besides John Huh, the notorious Question Mark. He was the fastest to the winner's circle (at the Mayakoba in February), he had a runner-up (at Valero), and he was the only rookie to make it to the Tour Championship, finishing 29th in the FedExCup standings and booking a trip to the 2013 Masters. He's currrently #71 in the OWGR.

Barring someone else having multiple wins, I don't know how anybody could overlook his accomplishments.

Huh also becomes the first Korean player to win Rookie of the Year -- at least, on the PGA. I know that doesn't figure into the voting for ROY, but it's another first for him.

For my money, the Tour got it right this year. There was no question mark in my mind who should have been Rookie of the Year... and now the Question Mark has it.

Selasa, 04 Desember 2012

The Die Is Cast

The Q-Schools are over. In the LPGA Q-School the primary surprises were Christina Kim getting only conditional status and Mel Reid missing the cut. But we'll be seeing both of them a lot, I suspect -- Kim is popular and Reid still has her LET membership.

But there were quite a few surprises at the PGA Q-School. You can see the full results at this link -- 26 players got Tour cards -- but I'll just point out a few of the more interesting results. Bear in mind that the winning score for the 6 rounds was -25.

Kris Blanks got his card quite easily after missing most of the season with injury. He was so gung-ho to play that I'm not sure his finish was ever in doubt. He finished T4 at -23.

Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton put on a run the last two days to finish T7 at -22. His story is the kind that sportswriters love, and it helps that he's just such a nice guy.

And I have to mention Mr. Monday, Patrick Reid. Finishing right on the number -- T22 at -17 -- he said his fiance will be on his bag again next year. Except she'll be his wife then; they're getting married later this month.

I can't even begin to list all the surprises who missed out on a card. Yeah, I know there's only so many cards to go around and there's always a lot of name players who end up missing out... but multiple event winner Camilo Villegas (T32)? Morgan Hoffman, who was near the lead after 2 rounds (T73)? ET Tour players like Oliver Fisher (T27 -- missed by a single stroke) and Alex Noren (T73)? Nick O'Hern, the "Tiger Killer" in match play (T104)?

Many of the players who missed out will get Web.com Tour cards... or have European Tour cards... or will find other ways to get in events. (Jerry Kelly used a one-time exemption so he wouldn't have to go to Q-School at all.)

But any way you cut it, the die is cast. Everybody knows what they have... or don't have, as the case may be. What surprises will 2013 have for them... and for us? I can't wait to find out.

Senin, 03 Desember 2012

The Limerick Summary: 2012 World Challenge

Winner: Graeme McDowell

Around the wider world of golf: Not much this week, as we're entering the so-called "Silly Season." Arnond Vongvanij won the King's Cup on the Asian Tour; Pornanong Phatlum won the Hero Women's India Open on the LAGT; and Martin Kaymer won the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

McDowell and 'Tiger'

I may start calling Graeme McDowell "Irish Ice" because he's got ice water running through his veins when the pressure is on, yet he always seems to be smiling. He certainly knows how to close out a tournament once he gets the lead.

Granted, he hasn't been too impressive as a closer this season. (The last two seasons, in fact.) He's gone through equipment changes, injuries, some swing changes, relocation, engagement, and a business start-up... and now he seems to have it all working again. He showed signs earlier in the season with some good finishes in majors, but he just couldn't seem to get 'er done.

This week, only Keegan Bradley was able to challenge him... but he just didn't have enough to wipe the smile from those Irish eyes. He just couldn't keep pace with the man who grew up playing in damp weather -- a man who, by the way, has racked up two wins and a runner-up finish in his only three starts at Tiger's tourney.

Graeme will be taking around ten weeks off -- he still has business concerns and such to attend to, as well as just needing a vacation. But 2013 certainly looks bright for him, and this week's Limerick Summary celebrates his victory as well as my new nickname for him.
Let’s just call Graeme McDowell “Irish Ice”
‘Cause he’s cool under pressure, precise
When it counts, and he’s smiling
So wide ‘cause he’s piling
Up cash. Few win this event twice!
The photo came from the front page of PGATOUR.com.

Minggu, 02 Desember 2012

Hitting the Driver

Today I found a new video from instructor Karen Nannen about hitting your driver at golftipsmag.com and decided some of you might find it helpful. After all, you hit the driver with an upward stroke -- not downward, as you do with an iron.



Yes, I've done posts about driving technique before. But I never know when one of these new videos might make the technique clearer to some of you, and since I like short video lessons that get right to the point...

One thing I want to point out -- and this goes for any face-on video you may look at -- is that spine angles can be a bit deceiving from this view. It looks as if Karen is leaning backward when she swings upward, but she isn't. Because she's bent forward at the hips --that is, tilted toward the ball -- it can look as if she's pushed her hips forward and curved her back more than she actually has. Bear that in mind when you make your swing; otherwise, you might unintentionally add a slice by tilting your spine backward too much. If you do that, you might leave the club face open.

Sabtu, 01 Desember 2012

The Pressures of Q-School

While the main news from this week's Q-Schools has been about the players in contention, I've been more interested in the players who aren't playing as well as expected. Some of their scores are quite shocking. And after three rounds, the PGA has only three more to go, the LPGA only two. Things are getting tight.

For example, Morgan Hoffman dropped from T5 to T44 when he shot 74 on Friday. Even worse, Daniel Chopra dropped all the way from T5 to T66 with a third-round 76. Nick O'Hern and Rod Pampling are all the way back at T75 -- not shooting over-par rounds, but just not getting anything going. With the current leader at -18, the best of these players is 10 shots back!

And they only have 3 days to make up ground. Hoffman is barely hanging on to a Tour card right now at -8. (Yes, 10 strokes back.) For what it's worth, Hoffman's chances might be pretty good. In past years, averaging -3 each round has generally been good enough to lock up a card.

A lot of familiar names are even farther back in the pack. I was shocked to find Patrick Reed, the guy who Monday-qualified for a number of events this year, all the way back at -3 (T98). And ET winner Alex Noren is even par (T132). I never would have expected that.

At the LPGA's Q-School, the big shocker for me is Mel Reid. Mel is T95, an unbelievable +10 while the leader's at -13. With only two rounds left in their qualifier, I don't see how she can possibly make that up.

All of these players are at least "good" players, and some are outstanding... yet, to paraphrase Shakespeare, Q-School makes cowards of us all. Of course, Hamlet was musing about the fear of death, not golf...

But when you're talking about Q-School, perhaps that's an appropriate analogy.

Jumat, 30 November 2012

Watney's Power

Since Nick Watney leads Tiger's World Challenge Tournament after round one, I thought I'd post a video with some tips concerning his swing. Here's a Golf Digest Tips Plus video from a couple of years ago with some of his teacher Butch Harmon's observations:



The video is pretty self-explanatory, but I just want to point out that basically what this video talks about is one of my pet fundmentals, the one-piece takeaway. Although I go into much more detail about these things in my Quick Guides, this video does give you some basic guidance on the way a good swing works. If you watch this video and compare it with the post I've linked to earlier in this paragraph, you should get a good start on improving your swing.

Unless you're 6'2" like Watney, you're probably not going to develop the kind of power he does. But that doesn't mean you can't get a lot out of your swing with the proper fundamentals.

Kamis, 29 November 2012

My Take on the Proposed Rule Change

Wednesday I listened to all the back-and-forth about the USGA and R&A's proposed new anchored stroke ruling. It's been very interesting, and I'm sure we haven't heard the end of it. After all, the two ruling bodies announced it Wednesday in order to get three months of reactions to the actual proposal, as opposed to the rumors we've been hearing. I think I have an different perspective on this, one which I heard touched on only by Brandel Chamblee (very well, I might add) and that I want all of you to think about as this goes forward.

And let me remind you that I personally don't have a problem with long or belly putters. Despite what many people say, I don't think they make putting easier and I believe that, all else being equal, a player who knows how to use a short putter will beat a player who knows how to use a long putter more times than not. If you want to use a putter that I believe limits your potential, you're just giving me an advantage. So I have no reason to want anchored putting outlawed.

Having said that, let me tell you why this proposed ruling isn't as bad as everybody seems to think.

one-page PDFFirst, let me give you a couple of important links. The first one is a USGA news release about the proposed ruling. The second one, shown in miniature here, is a downloadable one-page PDF that shows some of the allowable grips under this proposed ruling. (I keep saying "proposed ruling" because I'm afraid we forget that it hasn't been finalized yet.) The second link shows you the PDF online as well as giving you a link to download a copy -- just check the upper and lower left corners of the page.

One thing to be noted is that this affects more than putting. This affects any stroke you might make, which in most cases includes short game strokes. You can't anchor a driver like a belly putter when you're chipping, for example.

While much has been made of the fact that belly and long putters will still be legal equipment -- quite useful when taking drops from hazards! -- equally important is just how many different grips are still allowed.

The key to understanding the rule is essentially ELBOWS. In many cases, your elbows are the dividing line between legal and illegal grips. While the club itself is not allowed to touch your body, it's allowed to touch your forearms. You'll see that Matt Kuchar's grip is still allowed, as well as the old "hold the handle against your forearm" grip once used by Bernhard Langer with a short putter. But the club, your hands, and your forearms cannot be anchored against your chest or in your armpits or under your chin.

Here's why I think that players are going to be pleasantly surprised when they finally get past the initial shock. Let me tell you a short story.

Many of you have read my book Ruthless Putting and know that a large portion of the book is devoted to understanding yips and several approaches to beating them. Back in 2008-2009 when I was writing it, I actually wrote a chapter that never made it into the book, a chapter on what I called "Body Putting." As part of my research I developed several putting strokes that either minimized or removed the small "twitchy" muscles -- in some cases, the larger muscles as well -- while still allowing you to hit solid putts with reasonable feel. But at the last minute I decided not to include it in the book. At the time I felt it would just confuse players.

At the time I couldn't have predicted the explosion in long putter use nor this proposed ruling.

I mention this because, when I looked at the PDF, I found that the grips I used in the strokes I created are still legal under the proposed ruling! In fact, I got some new ideas just looking at the variety of examples they included in the PDF.

As far as I can see, despite all the gloom and doom talk, the USGA and R&A have written the rule in such a way that it still allows players to get the benefits of belly putters but without anchoring... and I believe many of these ways are not just better than anchoring, but will give far superior results.

So, as the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe proudly proclaimed in large friendly letters inscribed on its cover, DON'T PANIC. This may not turn out to be the bad situation everybody expected after all.

Rabu, 28 November 2012

So What's the Verdict?

It's still several hours away as I write this, but the USGA and R&A are supposed to have a teleconference this morning at 8:30am ET. GC is going to carry it during Morning Drive, in case you want to see it.

But it'll probably be all over the news today. Although the topic hasn't been announced, almost everybody I've heard expects it to be about belly putters... or more specifically, about anchoring any club.

I'll be doing a post about it after we know what's what. In the meantime, just remember that time --  8:30am ET on GC's Morning Drive. I suspect it'll be repeated at 10:30am ET as well (Morning Drive usually gets repeated).

Selasa, 27 November 2012

School Is Almost in Session

Q-School, that is. Tomorrow is the first day of the final stage of both PGA and LPGA Qualifying Tournaments. The two are slightly different, yet nauseatingly the same.

At least, I'm sure that "nauseatingly" is the adjective most of the participants would use.

Rather than trying to rehash all the info on the official Q-School sites, I'm just including links so you can delve into them all you want.

The primary LPGA Q-School page is at this link. The LPGA Q-School lasts for 5 days, Nov 28 - Dec 2. It will take place on the LPGA International Golf Course at Daytona Beach, FL -- although I understand that's actually 2 courses, the Champions Course and the Legends Course -- with 126 players teeing it up. You can see the complete list of pairings and tee times for the first round here.

If you just want the basic info about it, you'll want to check this page which explains who gets what category of exemption, etc. The basic deal is this: The Top20 get full status while 21-45 get conditional status. Two of the big names looking for Tour cards are Mel Reid and Chie Arimura.

And no, I couldn't find any TV listings for the LPGA Q-School. GC apparently plans to focus on the PGA Q-School.

The primary PGA Q-School page is at this link. (The links for pairings and such are prominently displayed on that page.) The PGA Q-School lasts for 6 days, Nov 28 - Dec 3. It's being held at PGA West in La Quinta, CA, on the TPC Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament courses. PGA West used to be considered a real bear (no Nicklaus puns intended) when it opened back in 1986. TPC Stadium was designed by Pete Dye -- do I need to say anything more?

As best I can tell, there are 172 players in the field, and the Top25 and ties get their PGA Tour cards. Although 5 European Tour players made news by announcing that they would join the PGA Tour, other ET players will be at Q-School -- like Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Rafael Cabrera Bello.

GC's PGA Q-School coverage starts Thursday at 2:30pm ET with the PreGame Show, then tournament coverage starts at 3pm ET.

Yes, it's time for the annual live broadcast of sports-induced nausea... the original reality TV show. Enjoy it -- none of the participants will.

Senin, 26 November 2012

The Limerick Summary: 2012 DP World Tour Championship

Winner: Rory McIlroy

Around the wider world of golf: Obviously it's a bit slow this week as the last of the major tours finished up the 2012 season. Jake Higginbottom won the BMW NZ Open on the Australasian Tour, and Jake Roos won the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open on the Sunshine Tour.

Rory wins everything

There's not a lot to say, really. The World's #1 showed everybody why he's World #1! After 13 holes of uneven play in his final round, Rory McIlroy knocked out 5 birdies in the final 5 holes to take the DP World Tour Championship title.

To go along with his Race to Dubai title, of course.

Luke Donald, the guy most seemed to think would be his biggest challenger -- I know I did -- just didn't have it Sunday. After 102 straight bogey-free holes at Dubai, he bogeyed not only the 3rd but the 12th hole as well. In addition, he could only manage 3 birdies. A round of -1 in the final round just isn't going to cut it at the Jumeirah Golf Estates. Luke finished in a tie for third.

No, the surprise challenger was Justin Rose. He blasted through the course with a 10-under 62 and said, as he finished his round, that he thought he might have done enough. Instead, he lost by 2 strokes. This could bode well for Justin going forward, but it just wasn't enough this week.

As for those who questioned the "validity" of Rory winning the Race to Dubai without winning a European Tour event -- the PGA Championship may count on the ET, but it's clearly in the USA -- Rory shut them up as well by winning the richest, most European talent-laden event on their Tour. Enough said, eh?

So what else can I say? As Rory heads out, presumably on vacation with the lovely Caroline Wozniacki -- and around €9million, according to this Irish Sun article -- all I can do is post yet another Limerick Summary in praise of his victory:
Though the big boys went low in Dubai,
Buoyed by hopes understandably high,
Rory got his fifth win –
An appropriate end
As we bid this golf season good-bye.
The photo came from the tournament page at europeantour.com.

Minggu, 25 November 2012

A Fitting End to the 2012 Season

At the time I'm writing this, the final round of the DP World Tour Championship has started but over half of the players have yet to tee off. It may be finished by the time you read this post, although GC will probably be showing the final round twice more before Sunday is over. It should be worth watching.

After a season where we've seen more great storylines than we imagined possible, the last big tournament of the year comes down to this: The World #1 and #2 paired together, tied for the lead, with 2 other major champions -- one of whom has been just short of magnificent this year -- in the second to last group.

Does it get any better than this?

Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald are tied at -17. According to GC, Donald has played his last 100 holes at this course (going back to last year's tournament) without a single bogey. Rory's a bit under the weather, yet he's still managing to match Luke's score.

Right behind them at -14 are Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen. But for a handful of shots this year, Oosthuizen would have won the Masters and 5 or 6 other tournaments. Schwartzel has been recovering from rib and ab injuries this year, but has been showing signs of returning to form.

I don't know what's going to happen, but one thing is clear...

After this year, the 2013 season is gonna have some mighty big shoes to fill.

Sabtu, 24 November 2012

Sergio is Laid Back and Laid Off

After Sergio blitzed the field at Dubai with that bizarre little 64 that included 2 eagles, 9 birdies, 2 bogeys, and a triple-bogey (no pars at all on the back 9!), I figured some of you might be curious what makes Sergio's swing different. Here's a down-the-line view -- complete with Peter Kostis analysis -- that shows the trademark Sergio move:



That looping drop at the top of his backswing -- he's not just dropping his hands, he's redirecting the direction in which the shaft points -- is called "laying off" the club. It's common in two-plane swings like Sergio's. A two-plane swing means the plane of the backswing is different from the plane of the downswing. When players talk about in-to-out or out-to-in swings, they're usually talking about two-plane swings.

I called it a looping drop. If you watch the head dropping as he starts his downswing, you'll notice that the shaft is also becoming more parallel to the ground. Because the shaft gets roughly back on the "shaft plane" that Kostis has drawn on this video, the club head comes in very low to the ground. This encourages the low draw that Sergio likes to hit.

A note of warning if you want to try it: See how much Sergio turns his hips toward during his downswing? See how much his left knee has moved to the left (left in this view) when he hits the ball? You wouldn't be able to see some players' left knees at this point. Without all that leg and hip rotation, he'll tend to flip the club head and hit a duck hook.

This move is responsible for much of Sergio's power, but it's a more complex way to do it. It can be harder to control because of all the looping. That's a large part of the reason Sergio's game isn't consistent from day to day.

You'll see this move in the swings of a number of Tour players if you just look. Most of them will be pretty long off the tee... and most of them will be fairly inconsistent. It's not a bad move, it just takes more practice to keep it working well.

And as Sergio showed Friday, when it works well it's a thing of beauty.

Jumat, 23 November 2012

Well, Dubai Had a Few Surprises Left After All!

The Race to Dubai is a done deal, but at least there's a little excitement brewing in the desert. After the first round, OWGR #2 Luke Donald led the tournament by one stroke over #1 Rory McIlroy. As I'm writing this, the second round is barely underway and neither man has teed off yet.

This battle between #1 and #2 fascinates me because of how different the two players are from each other, yet neither really stands out from the rest of the players on tour. Let me explain that a little more, because I think it may help some of you who are worried that your game isn't good enough to compete against... well, whoever you choose to play against.

Neither man is above average height -- both are listed at 5'9" on the ET site. Most of the guys up near the top of the ranks are 6' or taller.

Rory's fairly long off the tee -- listed at 302 this year. Yet Luke, listed at 288, can score with the best of them. The distance difference is offset by the accuracy difference -- Rory's at 59% while Luke's at 69%.

Rory's better in GIR this year -- a little over 79% vs just under 72% for Luke.

Luke's total putting strokes per round is two strokes better than Rory's -- 28.5 vs 30.5.

How do these differences work out in stroke average? It's ridiculously close, with Rory's 69.98 average barely edging out Luke's 70.12. That means Rory outscored Luke this year by just over a half-stroke... for an entire tournament! A half-stroke over four rounds is basically what separates #1 from #2. (Last year Luke edged Rory by .04 strokes per round, or a sixth of a stroke over four rounds.)

GC did a comparison of the two on Golf Central which showed another difference. The main difference between the two -- other than Rory winning 4 times vs Luke's 3 -- was that Luke missed one cut while Rory missed 5. (That's for both tours.)

All-in-all, Luke held #1 for 24 weeks during 2012 while Rory held it for 22 weeks.

My point is that there's more than one way to win at this game. Rory is more "explosive" while Luke is more consistent. Luke's Driving Accuracy and GIR were off this year compared to 2011, which may have cost Luke that #1 spot more than Rory's wins did. But what you need to see is that you can win with either power or accuracy -- it's rare for anyone to have both for any period of time. Build your game around your strengths and you'll be surprised how well you can score.

It'll be interesting to see if Luke, who's clearly rediscovered some of his accuracy over the last few weeks, can beat Rory's power at Dubai. He's certainly off to a good start.

Kamis, 22 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

I realize that Thanksgiving is primarily an American holiday. But since I live in America, I'm off to visit relatives and celebrate. So no post today. I'd just like to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving -- no matter where you live!

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Woodstock celebrate Thanksgiving

Rabu, 21 November 2012

The Last ET Event of 2012

Last week ended the LPGA season, this week ends the European Tour season. Officially called the DP World Championship, Dubai -- it's not a World Championship; rather, it's sponsored by DP World -- it's to be played at the Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. (And yes, Jumeirah is the name you've been seeing on Rory's cap.)

Of course, the tournament's a bit anticlimactic this year since Rory locked up the money title a couple of weeks ago. It seemed to me that the men who might have challenged him simply abdicated the title -- they all either went to play in Australia or didn't play at all. (I'll give Poulter a pass on that one, simply because he was the defending champion at the Talisker Masters and it was only an outside chance that he could have caught Rory. But had he known Rory would miss the cut, would Ian have skipped Australia? Hmmm...)

So why should you even bother to watch? Well, there is one very interesting twist to this tournament. You see, we have the potential for several possible back-to-back winners! Luke Donald won in Japan last week, Henrik Stenson won in South Africa, and Miguel Angel Jimenez -- the Most Interesting Golfer in the World -- won in Hong Kong. All three are in the field.

And yes, as much as I like Luke Donald, I'm rooting for the Mechanic to get His Most Interesting Win of the Year. ;-)

For those of you who are interested, the home page for the Dubai tournament is here. This page has links to the leaderboard and all of the other info about the event. GC will begin televising the event tonight (technically, that's Thursday morning) at 3am ET.

Rory may have taken the money title, but I'm not so sure he can get another win this year. I don't think the other players are ready to concede that to him.

Selasa, 20 November 2012

The Swing of the Most Interesting Golfer in the World

Yes, Miguel Angel Jimenez is often likened to the Dos Equis guy. He alternately gets called "The Most Interesting Golfer in the World" or "The Most Interesting Man in the World," depending on who you hear. And since winning the UBS Hong Kong Open this past weekend made him the oldest winner on the ET, I thought it worth taking another look at his swing. (Yes, I've posted about the Mechanic's swing before.)

The reason is because, perhaps more than any other golfer on any tour, Miguel is a normal guy. He likes fine wines, cigars, and fast cars -- the latter being the source of the Mechanic nickname. He clearly doesn't spend hours in the gym -- he's just a normal guy of average height and weight (roughly 5'10" and 183 lbs). Yet he hits the ball around 277 yards off the tee, which is about 10 yards short of the PGA Tour average. (I don't know the ET average, but he's ranked 204 there.) I know that doesn't sound impressive in this day and age... but do you consistently average over 275?

Here's a video of his swing, both face-on and down-the-line:



The big thing I want you to notice here is how much his hips turn during his swing, which makes it look like he's moving around much more than he is. Most instructors want you to restrict your hips movement, to develop more power by getting a big shoulder turn without a lot of hip turn. Jim McLean calls this "the X-Factor," and I've mentioned it in several past posts if you want to use the search box to find them.

But the Mechanic proves that this restricted hip move isn't necessary to good golf. As long as you don't move off the ball during the backswing, you can still get good distance and accuracy. I want you to note how Miguel achieves this. If, while watching the face-on view, you place the tip of your mouse pointer on his right hip, you'll see that his hip never moves to the left of the pointer. (You'll see the same thing if you place the pointer on his trailing knee.) But he keeps that trailing knee flexed all the way through his swing.

We call that "keeping a firm trailing knee," and you can practice it by putting something under the outside of your trailing foot -- a golf ball is commonly recommended for this drill -- to teach you how to keep your weight on the inside of your trailing foot, to stabilize your trailing knee.

This is a natural move, and it's certainly helpful for those of us who aren't as flexible as those flatbellies who spend every spare moment in the gym. I can't promise it will make you the most interesting golfer in your foursome, but it sure might help you score better... and that's what it's all about, isn't it?

It sure works for the Most Interesting Golfer in the World.

Senin, 19 November 2012

The Limerick Summary: 2012 CME Group Titleholders

Winner: Na Yeon Choi

Around the wider world of golf: Adam Scott won the Talisker Masters (formerly the Australian Masters) on the Australasian Tour; Luke Donald won the Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Tour; Miguel Angel Jimenez won the UBS Hong Kong Open on the Asian/European Tour; and Henrik Stenson won the SA Open Championship on the Sunshine/European Tour.

NYC kisses trophy

Alas, the LPGA season is officially over. The ladies who qualified for the CME Group Titleholders -- three players each from each official tournament of the season -- played some pretty spectacular golf over the last few days.

But in the end, as is usually the case, it isn't a round or two of spectacular play that gets the job done. Rather, it's a consistently good level of play.

Na Yeon Choi didn't post any course records. In fact, her scores got a little worse each day. She shot 67-68-69-70. But when your worse round is -2, you're not doing bad at all!

She began the day with a one-shot lead. After a rough start -- her front 9 had a double-bogey, a bogey, a birdie, and an eagle -- she did what she often does when she has a lead. She closed it out, shooting a bogey-free -2 on the final nine to win by 2.

NYC (aka "the Big Apple") got her first major this year at the U.S. Women's Open, which is generally considered the most important tournament on the Tour -- especially for the Asian players, since it was in that tournament where Se Ri Pak broke through. (It also has the biggest paycheck.) The Titleholders has the second largest check, so she racked up the two biggest events of the year. She had 3 other runner-up finishes as well, so this win was no fluke finish.

The Rolex Rankings are already posted for this week, and NYC moved up to the #2 spot, just over 2.5 points behind Yani Tseng. Remember earlier this year when we thought Yani was almost untouchable? Remember just recently when we figured it would be Stacy Lewis who caught her? I have a feeling it may be the Big Apple who takes a bite out of the rankings in the next few months!

In the end, Na Yeon didn't win any of the major awards of 2012... but I suspect a lot of LPGA players would have gladly taken her year instead of their own. So this week's Limerick Summary salutes the "big city girl" with the even-bigger game:
They're the biggest wins of her career.
Na Yeon Choi's made it perfectly clear
With her first U.S. Open
And now this, she's hoping
She'll conquer the Rolex next year.
The photo came from the wrap-up page for the tournament at lpga.com.

Minggu, 18 November 2012

The Duel

If you didn't get to see Ian Poulter and Adam Scott's duel at the Talisker Masters (the Australian Masters, if you prefer) late Saturday night, you missed a great one. If you don't want to know what happened because you're going to watch the replay today and want to be surprised, STOP READING NOW.

Oh, you're still reading? Then I'll get on with the post. Bear in mind that Ian Poulter was also the defending champion at this tournament, so this was exactly the type of finish the crowds wanted -- the defending champion against a big-name Australian player.

Ian led Adam by a single stroke after some great play during the third round, so the two were paired for the final round. It was really cool because the crowds were walking the fairways behind them, just like in some of the old golf tournaments in the early 20th Century. At one point they were about 10 shots ahead of the rest of the field, so it really was a duel.

And the two of them traded blows all during the first 9 holes. Ian would get one ahead, then Adam would get one ahead, then Ian, then Adam... you get the picture. They didn't tie a hole until the 9th.

The back 9 was where things changed. On the par-5 12th both men went in one of those weird bunkers they have at Kingston Heath... and Ian got a little greedy. He didn't clear the lip and ended up bogeying the hole. After that it got worse. He bogeyed the 14th, birdied the 16th, but bogeyed the 17th.

Adam simply parred the entire back 9. He went to the 18th with a 3-shot lead... and then birdied the 18th for a 4-shot win.

Adam Scott has had a couple of chances to win the Australian Masters in the past but couldn't get the job done. This time he did, and I suspect it feels pretty good. (Adam has said winning this tournament has been a goal of his.) Although it won't count in my RGWR until he wins a tournament on either the PGA Tour or the European Tour, it's still a pretty important win for him... especially since he had to beat Ian Poulter head-to-head to do it.

It'll be interesting to see if this win jumpstarts his 2013 the way the Ryder Cup did for Ian these last few months.

Sabtu, 17 November 2012

How to Destroy a Golf Simulator

I'm sure by now you've heard about Jamie Sadlowski's trip to GC's Morning Drive... and his subsequent destruction of their golf simulator. In case you missed it, here it is:



Note that Gary says Jamie had expressed some concern before hitting his drive; he didn't believe the net would stop the ball. And clearly it didn't, as the ball punched a hole through the net, through the screen, and then ricocheted some 15 or 20 yards left of the simulator. As I understand it, the ball finished on the practice putting green... proving, I suppose, that Jamie Sadlowski can drive almost any green.

And as J.B. Holmes says about the ball in his Callaway commercial, "I'm pretty sure it has a dimple on it now."

I'm certain more than a few of you are curious as to how Jamie did it -- so you can avoid doing the same thing, of course. ;-) For you, I found an analysis of Jamie's swing by Peter Kostis that shows the "lengths" some guys will go to in order to crush a golf ball:



Bear in mind that most power hitters have slightly more than a 90-degree angle when their hands reach waist high on the downswing. Jamie has something like 35 to 45 degrees of wrist cock. Added to that ridiculous shoulder turn -- probably around 110 to 115 degrees from his address position -- it's no surprise that he generates 140mph club head speed and well over 210mph ball speed.

One interesting thing to me is that he "chicken wings" his followthrough. I guess he has to do that to keep the club head from flipping over and duck-hooking the ball. I also wouldn't be surprised if he had to do it in order to keep from slamming his back with the club shaft!

So there you have it. Now you know why, if Jamie Sadlowski asks to use your golf simulator, you should follow the advice of former First Lady Nancy Reagan and "just say no."

Jumat, 16 November 2012

When Number 1 Feels Like Number 2

For my international readers who may not be familiar with the term, we Americans sometimes jokingly use "Number 2" to refer to... how shall I put this delicately? How about excrement... or dung... or maybe manure? At any rate, I'm sure you get the picture -- if someone says "I feel like Number 2," they mean they aren't feeling very good.

Today I found myself musing about Number 2 -- the position, that is. Just how bad is it?

After Rory blamed his poor first round at the UBS Hong Kong Open on mental exhaustion -- feeling like intellectual Number 2, if you please -- he followed up with a second round that was almost as bad. Missing the cut with a +5, he'll have plenty of time to recuperate before next week. But since he was the defending champion, this is clearly a case of #1 feeling like Number 2.

Of course, scorewise it's not so bad to be Number 2... as long as you're not several shots back. At most of the events I checked there are ties for the lead so, technically, nobody is Number 2. With so many of the best players scattered around the world -- for example:
  • Adam Scott and Ian Poulter in Australia
  • Matt Kuchar and Matteo Manassero in Hong Kong
  • Charl Schwartzel and Martin Kaymer in South Africa
  • Luke Donald and Ryo Ishikawa in Japan
I'm not really surprised that so many players are tied for leads. Apparently being Number 2 isn't particularly popular.

One player who's tied for the lead but probably still feels like Number 2 is Sun Young Yoo, the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship winner. She was -9 after 16 holes at the LPGA's CME Group Titleholders event before going double-bogey/bogey on her last two holes to finish at -6. She's tied with Suzann Pettersen and So Yeon Ryu for the lead. Cristie Kerr's in a group one shot back.

Ironically, there are two actual Number 2s in the world. These are, of course, Stacy Lewis (#2 in the Rolex Rankings) and Tiger Woods (#2 in the OWGR). Stacy had made it to a group that was two off the pace, but bogeyed 15 and 16 to finish four off the lead. She probably doesn't feel real good about that.

But Tiger's not playing this week. Ironically, he may be the only Number 2 in this post who doesn't feel like it.

I guess the only thing left to do is remind you all that today is Friday, the day when the golf world is filled with Round Number 2s. I wonder how many leaders will play like it today?

Kamis, 15 November 2012

The Last LPGA Event of 2012

Yes, today is the start of the CME Group Titleholders, the Tour Championship of the LPGA. It's somewhat unique in that the winner gets a full third of the total purse -- a half-million dollar winner's check from a $1.5 million purse. There are, by my count, 73 players in the field and no cut.

It should be interesting, as there's no reason to play safe!

Tony Jesselli over at Mostly Harmless has put together a preview of the event, so I won't duplicate his work. But I would like to note a few players to watch coming into this event.

Stacy Lewis has already been named Player of the Year (unlike the PGA, the LPGA uses points not votes) and So Yeon Ryu has won Rookie of the Year. It's the first time an American has won POY since Beth Daniel back in 1994. Stacy has 4 wins this year and So Yeon has 1. Needless to say, both of these players are playing well.

Inbee Park is coming off an incredible run since June. She's won twice, plus had 6 runner-ups and a third. One of those seconds came last week, so she's definitely in good form. In addition, she leads both the money list and the scoring average -- two awards that have yet to be determined.

Cristie Kerr broke a two-year winning drought last week. I'd be surprised if she doesn't have a little extra pep in her step this week.

At the other end of the spectrum, Paula Creamer is still in a two-year winning drought and Yani Tseng is playing better but hasn't won in months. Plus, as Tony points out, Stacy Lewis is now less than 3 points behind Yani for #1 in the Rolex Rankings. Obviously Paula and Yani are motivated to play well... and with the prize money set up the way it is...

Look for a shootout this week. Coverage runs today on GC from 1:30pm to 4pm ET. (Finally, some live coverage!)

Rabu, 14 November 2012

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: November 2012

It's halfway through November, and the PGA Tour season is officially over. As I said last week, I held off doing the RGWR until this week so I could wrap up the PGA. Next month I'll finish up the European Tour season, then we won't have a RGWR until February. After all, I don't count most of the off-season events in my rankings.

By waiting until the PGA season finished, I ended up with some clear winners and losers in the rankings this time. Ironically, most of the "big tournament" winners -- besides Rory, that is -- did little else over the last year. Because of this, Top5 finishes figured in heavily this time. There were some big changes!

And here are the RGWR criteria:
I focus on the last 12 months of play -- that's long enough to see some consistency but short enough to be current. Every player in the RGWR won at least once on either the PGA or European Tour. The OWGR rates consistency over the last 2 years, so I see no reason to rank that; my RGWR says if you're a top player, you've won somewhere recently. My priority list (based on quality of field) looks like this:
  1. majors, TPC (PGAT), BMW PGA (ET), and WGCs
  2. FedExCup playoffs and prestige events (like Bay Hill and Dubai), the latter often determined by the history and difficulty of the course
  3. other PGA and ET events
I put extra emphasis on recent form -- 2 wins separated by 6 months don't carry the weight of 2 wins back-to-back -- and I make some allowance if you're recovering from injury or serious sickness. Also, remember that I count Top5s as a separate category from wins; if you see a player has 3 Top5s, those are seconds through fifths only.

I assign points to tournaments this way:
  • Majors: 10 points
  • TPC & BMW PGA: 8 points (yes, I'm calling them equals!)
  • WGC: 7 points
  • Prestige events: 5 points
  • Regular wins: 3 points
  • Top 5 finishes: 2 points
  • Other wins: 1 point
I give full credit (not in point value, but they carry the same weight as "official" victories) for wins on the "minor" tours like the Nationwide and Australasian Tours provided the winner has a current win on the PGA or European Tour. These wins will count only as "regular" wins and not "prestige" wins, no matter how prestigious they may be for their tour, because they generally don't have the field strength of a regular PGA or ET event.

I'm not counting the Grand Slam of Golf as a win in my rankings. I've decided that 4 players isn't a large enough field to give it the weight of a win against a larger field. However, I do take a win there into consideration in my rankings, much as I do money title or scoring awards. Other limited-field events (up to maybe 24 players or so) are counted as wins if the player also has an official win on the "big tours" but they only get a single point. The OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup (the 2-man team event) counts in this category.

And because of a strange quirk on the ET site, I've decided I have to specifically state that a tournament win can only count once. Therefore, to avoid possible confusion, I'm just telling you that the RGWR says you can only win a tournament once at a time.

As usual, although the point totals (and even the number of wins) a player has affects my rankings, they don't override my personal opinions. It's my ranking system, after all:
  1. Rory McIlroy: 5 wins (1 major, 3 prestige, 1 other, 2 awards), 7 Top5, 44 points. It's no surprise that Rory remains on top, is it? And he added 2 awards -- the money titles on both tours. (Well, he locked up the Race to Dubai, even if it's not official yet.)
  2. Tiger Woods: 4 wins (3 prestige, 1 other), 6 Top5, 28 points. Likewise, Tiger is so firmly entrenched in second place that it's going to take some work for anyone to catch him.
  3. Branden Grace: 4 wins (1 prestige), 1 Top5, 16 points. Branden hasn't been as consistent as most of the other players in this month's rankings, but how can you argue with 4 wins in a single year -- especially when it's your rookie year?
  4. Lee Westwood: 3 wins (2 others), 7 Top5, 19 points. Lee moves up this month because he continues to play well, even if he isn't adding more wins yet. But now that he's finished relocating to the US, I expect his play to start improving.
  5. Ian Poulter: 2 wins (1 WGC), 8 Top5, 24 points. Poulter has been quietly posting a very consistent year; he just needed some more wins to break into the RGWR. His win at the last WGC did it! In fact, Poulter has more Top5s than any other player in the rankings, including Rory. That's quite an accomplishment!
  6. Luke Donald: 2 win (1 TPC), 5 Top5, 27 points. Luke's been a little off-form lately, but he's still playing better than most players. I suspect he'll have a better 2013.
  7. Louis Oosthuizen: 2 wins, 6 Top5, 18 points. Louis, like Poulter, has had a deceptively good year. If you saw the little piece GC did on him last week, you realize that he had the lead going into the final round of 6 different tournaments this year! Louis was only a few strokes from beating out Rory for the title of Top Dog. It's only a matter of time...
  8. Peter Hanson: 2 wins (1 prestige), 7 Top5, 22 points. Another player who was largely under the radar all year. Look at all those Top5s!
  9. Jason Dufner: 2 wins (1 prestige), 4 Top5, 16 points. Mr. Cool just keeps on racking up the scores. He added 2 more Top5s in the last month or so, and he's giving us no reason to think he's going to stop anytime soon..
  10. Brandt Snedeker: 2 wins (1 prestige), 3 Top5, 1 award (FedExCup), 15 points. No change in Brandt's stats this month, but he continued to put himself in contention -- including shooting a 60 that was nearly a 59 at the WGC.
Players to watch:
  • Nick Watney finally seems to be out of his slump and playing better. (Two wins will do that for you, I guess.) I'm waiting to see if his consistency picks up..
  • Paul Lawrie seems to be re-energized by his improved play from earlier in the year.
  • Since Nicolas Colsaerts has his PGA Tour card for next year, look for him to make some waves. Some very lo-o-ong waves.

Selasa, 13 November 2012

Beljan's Not Over-the-Top

I could only find one video of Charlie Beljan's swing on YouTube. For those of you looking for a secret to getting the distance he gets, you can find that on his bio page at PGATOUR.com -- Charlie is 6'4" tall, which gives him a huge swing arc. Likewise, his caddy told Golf Central that when Charlie keeps his swing "smooth and silky" -- which means he doesn't jerk the club down from the top of his backswing -- he hits it long and straight. When he "goes after it" -- when he jerks the club -- he pulls it to the left. (Charlie's right-handed; a leftie would pull it to the right.)

But there is something valuable I can teach you with this one short slo-mo video. First, here it is:



Charlie has an out-to-in swing. Although many instructors use the term "out-to-in" synonymously with "over-the-top," the two are not the same. This down-the-line shot of Charlie shows the difference very clearly.

Charlie reaches the top of his backswing right at the :07 mark in this video. If you start at the :06 mark and watch his change of direction carefully, you'll notice that his hands reach the highest point of his backswing BEFORE they start moving forward over his backswing plane. After he hits the ball, the club goes very much to his left -- you can see on the video that, in the followthrough, his hands are moving to the left below his left shoulder. That's an out-to-in swing.

In an over-the top swing, the followthrough looks similar. However, the start of the downswing would look much different. The club would start moving forward before it ever reached the top of his backswing -- putting his hands much more toward the ball -- then start moving steeply downward.

The little diagrams below may help explain this more clearly. Note that the over-the-top swing goes higher, loops forward as it nears the top, then drops down more sharply:
                         over-the-top
out-to-in
*
* * *
* * * *
* * * *
* * * *
* * * *
* * * *
The reason for this is two-fold. In the out-to-in swing (that's the good one!) the trailing knee stays bent and the trailing elbow stays closer to your side as you start down. That keeps the club much closer to your body -- lower and inside -- so the downswing plane is much shallower and you hit the ball solidly below its equator. That gives you the maximum use of the club's loft.

But in the over-the-top swing, the trailing knee straightens and the trailing elbow moves away from your side as you start down. That throws the club much farther away from your body -- higher and forward -- so the downswing plane is much steeper and you end up hitting more on top of the ball. That causes the ball to squirt out lower.

In other words, joints straighten too much in the over-the-top swing.

Just watch Charlie. See how his trailing knee and trailing elbow stay flexed during his change of direction. You can't suddenly grow to 6'4" but you can certainly keep your joints flexed during your swing! That will help keep you from coming over-the-top.

Senin, 12 November 2012

The Limerick Summary: 2012 Children's Miracle Network Classic

Winner: Charlie Beljan

Around the wider world of golf: Cristie Kerr came from behind to win the Lorena Ochoa Invitational on the LPGA and end a two-year win drought; Matteo Manassero beat Louis Oosthuizen in a playoff to win the Barclays Singapore Open on the ET; and Oscar Fraustro won the Dominican Republic Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.

Charlie and friend

It was to be the last Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic... and possibly the last PGA event at DisneyWorld, as no replacement sponsor has been found yet. I guess it was only proper that it be sent out with a bang.

Or rather, an ambulance siren.

I wrote in Saturday's post about Charlie Beljan's unexplained bout of illness in Friday's round. Personally, I don't believe it's a panic attack, which is the explanation most of the announcers seem to have settled on. The doctors found that Charlie's body was low on a number of minerals -- electolytes -- that would have given him those symptoms. It was noted that Charlie was drinking sports drinks, not water, during Saturday's round -- a round during which he got progressively better. As for feeling badly on Sunday morning, the man played Saturday on one hour of sleep. I'm not surprised he crashed!

As you can guess, I believe any panic attacks were caused by feeling bad, not the other way around. Having experienced the electrolyte problem before, I believe that explains all his symptoms -- including the unexplained episodes earlier in the year.

At any rate, Charlie himself says the events of the week -- while not desirable -- probably helped him deal with the pressure of leading. After all, he had bigger problems! But winning wasn't one of them. No one ever really challenged him; he won by 2 strokes after a bogey on the final hole.

This was Charlie's rookie year on Tour. He got married earlier this year, then came close to winning at the Greenbrier Classic, and then became a dad 7 weeks ago. It's probably all felt like Fantasyland to him anyway, so getting his first win at Disney just seems appropriate.

Anyway, this week's Limerick Summary salutes Charlie Beljan and his... eventful win after a somewhat Goofy week at Disney:
As Charlie endured Friday's terror,
He wondered if he'd made an error
By going eighteen –
But his toughness might mean
He's become Disney's last trophy bearer.
The photo came from the front page of PGATOUR.com.

Minggu, 11 November 2012

A Wee Bit More About Wie's Play

Yeah, I know... the final round of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational has yet to be played. And, barring a shockingly low round by someone like Stacy Lewis (-8, T6), who's 7 shots off the lead, this looks to be a 4-girl sprint to the finish:
  1. Inbee Park, -15
  2. Cristie Kerr,-13
  3. So Yeon Ryu, -12
  4. Angela Stanford, -11
I know anything's possible this year, given the number of come-from-behind wins we've seen. Heck, Stacy Lewis won the Mizuno Classic last week by shooting -8 in the last round while the leader could only manage even par. But this is Inbee Park we're talking about here, who's been out of the Top 10 only twice since early June and has 2 wins and 4 runner-ups in that period. It's hard to believe anybody outside these four has a realistic chance to catch her.

But I'm greatly encouraged by Michelle Wie's showing so far this week. So Michelle merits two posts from me this weekend.

Friday I wrote about how I feel she's been hammered a bit too hard for her poor play this year, as well as how proud I am of the way she's handled it. I said I was happy to see her post another good round -- a bogey-free 66 (-5) on her first round, giving her a share of the lead -- and while I didn't know if she could bring it home for a win, I thought it was a good sign.

Her second round wasn't as good -- a 75 (+3) littered with 4 bogeys and a double, against only 2 birdies -- but she came right back in the third round with another bogey-free round of 67 (-5), tying her for sixth place with Stacy Lewis, Candie Kung, and Hee Kyung Seo (aka "the Supermodel of the Fairways").

I know it's only one week, but improvement has to start somewhere. Unless she shoots some ridiculous score like +6 today, I think she's going to walk away from this week with a really good taste in her mouth. She may not be consistent from round to round yet, but she IS starting to put entire rounds together now rather than just a few holes. Added to the trend of improvement she's shown over the last few tournaments, this looks like good new for Michelle.

As for the tournament itself, I'm unwilling to award it to Inbee Park yet. As well as she's been playing, Ryu -- who's become a perpetual good pick, as far as I'm concerned -- is putting the best of the leaders by far (only 80 putts for 3 rounds) as well as making the fewest bogeys (only 2). And Kerr has both matched Ryu's bogey count and managed to get one stroke ahead of her despite putting the worst of the leaders (89 putts). This tournament is still up for grabs.

But I'll be pulling for Michelle Wie today. If she just keeps going out and trying to play well, 2013 could end up being a resurgent year for the Big Wiesy. And I for one will be very happy to see it.

Sabtu, 10 November 2012

Charlie Beljan Plans to Play

I'm not sure DisneyWorld was the happiest place on earth for Charlie Beljan Friday. He shot -8 and has the lead by 3 strokes, but they had to carry him off on a stretcher and, after several minutes of care at the course, took him to the hospital.

You can click here to hear the 5-minute phone interview he did with GC later in the evening. And if you'd rather read the original GC post written before the interview, click this link.

Just to get you up-to-date on the situation: Charlie's had this problem before -- elevated heart rate, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and feeling faint. The doctors don't know what's causing it, and apparently they can't predict when it's going to strike. Talk about a bummer!

Charlie struggles near the end of his round

The paramedics had to check him out on the range before he went out to play because he didn't feel well, and they followed him around the course. They really didn't like his blood pressure readings at the 10th hole, and Charlie says he doesn't remember much of the last third of his round.

Given that Charlie's just about the longest hitter on Tour, it may not surprise you that he made two eagles during his round. Chalk one more up for that old saying, "Beware the wounded golfer." I'm sure that wasn't written about players who need an ambulance in order to finish the round, but...

Charlie said that, unless the doctors tell him he's in danger, he plans to play today. With his best chance to get his first win, it's hard to blame him -- as he said, it's a dream come true.

Hopefully some of the Disney magic will rub off on him and he'll have a healthy finish to his week -- healthy for both his body and his trophy case.

The photo came from the GC post listed earlier.