Ryder Cup Week…Pressure, Pressure, Pressure

September 22nd, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

ryder cup 14 logo troRyder Cup: the most pressure in all of golf. It’s Ryder Cup Week and for twenty four of the world’s best golfers it is the most pressure they will ever experience in the game.

The stories that golfers tell of their feelings on the first tee of the Ryder Cup show just how nervous these seasoned professionals can get when teeing it up for their country.

Some are so nervous they can’t place the ball on the tee. Others have been unable to speak while some are so shaky that they have changed their game plan on the opening tee and made their partner hit the first tee shot. And we won’t even discuss the extra trips to the men’s room for so many anxious players.

Player after player will tell you that the Ryder Cup tee box is the scariest place in golf. Certainly, starting The Masters, The U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the PGA will get a player’s heart rate going but nothing makes their knees knock, their hands shake and their bowels work overtime like Samuel Ryder’s little trophy.

Each week on their respective tours these golfers are playing for millions of dollars this week they play for no money. But to a man they will tell you this is the most important week of their season. Playing for your country will do that. Playing for your teammates will do that. Playing at the Ryder Cup is the ultimate for any professional golfer. This week will make someone a hero and maybe a goat or two. It’s a week that these players will remember for the rest of their lives.

It’s Ryder Cup Week…the most pressure in golf.

Here are some great Ryder Cup resources to get us through the week and keep us up on all things Ryder Cup.

The Ryder Cup Team websites are filled with great info on the teams and history. The team USA site has a nice hole by hole preview of the Jack Nicklaus designed Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course.

The European Team’s website has a Europe vs. USA statistical break down that may surprise you. And speaking of pressure David Feherty says that the Euro’s are the one under the most pressure this year.

Much has been made of the “home field” advantage that the Europeans will have over the Americans. But it is really only as it relates to the fans. Certainly the raucous European faithful will cheer for their team but as far as the course favoring the Euro’s that‘s debatable.

It’s not a links course but rather a parkland layout that will seem familiar to the Americans. And not many European Team members have seen Gleneagles that often, other than Stephen Gallacher who lives 35 miles away. Alistair Tait gives us the inside dope on the home course advantage.  ryder cup tv

Golf Digest has published some insightful videos on our favorite team event. The one below tells us just how much pressure these players are under. Click here for the rest. 

Play starts early Friday morning at 2:30 EST. Get some rest and join me as one of the crazies that gets up early to watch this thing.

It’s one of the best weekends in golf and for sure the one with the most pressure.

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Saturday Swing Tip: Shift Gears Like Rory McIlroy…Or Try to

September 13th, 2014 No comments

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Miller, Kostis, Phillips: Simple Fixes for Our Game

September 12th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

The October issue of Golf Magazine hit my mailbox yesterday and yes I still subscribe to the archaic, old school, printed media. One of the advantages of getting the print version is that many of the articles in the magazine don’t appear on the Golf.com website for awhile and some not at all.

In this month’s The Golf Magazine Interview Cameron Morfit doesn’t have one interviewee but three. Hall of Fame golfer and analyst Johnny Miller, CBS analyst and teacher Peter Kostis and top 100 teacher Dave Phillips dish on a bunch of subjects.

They discuss who’s the best driver, should amateurs worry about launch angle, Tiger’s swing, Rory’s driver, the best putter ever and more.

Their responses to one interesting question posed by Morfit gives us hackers plenty of info on how we can better our game. It’s all so simple but so overlooked by all of us.

Question: What’s the most common mistake you see weekend players make?

Kostis: The typical golfer is always trying to hit the perfect shot. He’ll hit ten 7 irons and the longest one goes 155, so he’ll feel like every 7 iron should go 155. The Tour player is more respectful of mis-hits. 

Miller: I’ve played with amateurs for a million years and they just don’t hit many flush shots. I asked Tom Watson one time “Do you always hit the ball that flush?’ He said he once went five years without mis-hitting one shot- no thin shots, no fat shots. I advocate the brush-brush drill. Everybody works on their body or their posture. Just brush the grass, taking your divot after the ball. Do that and you’ll drop five shots in a week. 

Kostis: Johnny’s 100 percent right, but you can’t do that if you swing too hard, swinging out of your butt. 

Miller: Take more club and just hit the ball flush. It’s very hard to do-it takes a lot of coordination. 

Phillips: Agreed. Most people under-club dramatically and don’t know what to work on. They also want to hit the driver farther, which is fine-but they’re the worst putter or chipper in the world. Work on your weaknesses. 

So here are their tips: take more club, hit the ball first, swing under control and practice the short game. Now where have I heard that before?

It sounds so simple.  Maybe we should take their advice.

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PGA Tour’s Tribute to Arnold Palmer

September 10th, 2014 2 comments

by Jeff Skinner

The PGA Tour has put together a wonderful tribute to Arnold Palmer as he celebrates his 85th birthday today.  Jay Haas, Tom Watson, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus narrate a poem that hangs on Arnie’s office wall.  It speaks to Arnie’s indomitable will and the way he lived his life.  A very classy tribute by the tour for sure.

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LPGA Rolls Into the Final Major…The Evian Championship

September 10th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Golf’s major championship season ends this week as the LPGA travels to France and The Evian Championship.

Mike Whan’s LPGA Tour has had a memorable season and he hopes that continues at The Evian.

U.S. Women’s Open winner and the most popular player on tour, Michelle Wie returns from a month off due to a wrist injury. She has only been practicing for a few days but she’s anxious to get back on the course. Whether she can compete against a very strong field on a few days of practice may be too big a challenge.

Suzann Pettersen is the defending champion and will be trying to join Wie, Inbee Park, Mo Martin and Lexi Thompson as 2014 major champions.

Stacy Lewis hasn’t won a major this year and the world number one wants to change that in a big way.

Lydia Ko has found great success on the LPGA and would be the young major winner in history if she can manage her way over the hills of The Evian.

Inbee Park has regained her form and would like to be the only two time major winner in 2014.

So will Lexi Thompson who broke through for her first major at the Kraft Nabisco earlier this year.

The field is stacked at the picturesque Evian Resort Golf Club and it should be a great week in the mountains of France. But when The Evian rolls around to me it means one thing… The Evian Roller Babies. This one never gets old.

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The King Turns 85…Happy Birthday Arnie

September 10th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

apArnold Palmer turns 85 today and golfers and golf fans everywhere should take a second today to wish Arnie a happy birthday and thank him for making golf the game it is.

Without Arnie and his swashbuckling attitude televised golf wouldn’t be what it is today. It was “The King” that happened to be at his peak when golf first appeared on television.
He was the star of the show. Women wanted him and men wanted to be him.

Much is said about the debt today’s professional golfer owe Tiger Woods. They play for a million dollar paycheck each week but if there was no Arnold Palmer there might have been no Tiger.

It was Arnie that made golf cool. It was Arnie that played every shot as hard as he could. It was Arnie that truly made the majors the majors. It was Arnie that invented the modern Grand Slam. It was Arnie that brought golf into mainstream American life. It was Arnie that shook every hand and signed every autograph and built his army of fans. It was Arnie that that became the first true athlete pitchman as he showed what an incomparable endorser he could be. It was Arnie that engaged his fans in a way that no one ever had. It was Arnie that paved the way for all of today’s professional golfers.  arnie autograph

Just about anyone that touched a club has an Arnie story but one of the best is that of golf pro Jason Gore. As a golf obsessed eleven year old he conned his mother into driving him to Arnie’s country club in Latrobe. They entered the club and asked for Mr. Palmer and low and behold Arnie comes by and spends an hour with a kid who happened to be trespassing on his country club. It changed Gore’s life. Arnold Palmer changed many lives.

Happy birthday to The King and many more.

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10 Things I Think

September 8th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

1.  That is what they call a great bounce-back. Billy Horschel was ripped by many for “choking” when he chunked his approach at the 18th in Boston last week. Well there was none of that this week as he rebounded to win the BMW Championship. He said he didn’t let things like that bother him and knew it was just one bad swing at the wrong time. Call it redemption, call it payback or call it karma. He played some solid golf this week.  BillyHorschel1

2.  Some others may be hearing the “C” word thrown their way this week. Ryan Palmer shanked one into the creek on 13 and then lost five strokes to par over the last six holes. Sergio Garcia played ping-pong across the 17th green when he “Vin Scullied” one into water for a triple bogey. Ouch.

3.  We all want to play like the greatest players in the game and it seems to be getting easier for us to imitate the world’s best. Case in point is world number one Rory McIlroy. On Saturday he four putted the par three 13th hole. To prove that a hacker lies deep within even the best golfers he followed that up with another four putt on the very same hole on Sunday. See, you can play like Rory.

4.  One of the reasons the PGA Tour started these FedEx Cup playoffs with the 10 million pot of gold at the end was to get the best players on the course after the major season and to avoid the start of the NFL season when golf loses millions of viewers. This season, with no break in play it seems that some players are struggling with their conditioning and motivation. Oh, and of course the opening week of the NFL season just demolishes everything else.

5.  Tom Watson was brought back to captain the Ryder Cup to shake things up and break the hold that Europe has had on the cup. But from the look of his captain’s pick’s it appears shaking things up wasn’t on his mind. Old Tom is an “Old School Dude” and he went with experience, experience, experience. Well, of the three players only one has played on a winning Ryder Cup Team, Hunter Mahan in ’08 but the last time he made the Ryder Cup he chunked his chip at the Belfry to lose the Cup to Graeme McDowell. Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley both made their first teams in ’12 when the USA blew the large lead on Sunday and lost the cup. Shaking it up would have been getting some new, fearless blood on the team. Tom went with experience…we’ll see.

6.  Speaking of the Ryder Cup …Tom’s boys had a mixed week at the BMW as they try and win the FedEx Cup and save themselves at the same time. Bubba Watson finished in second, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler were T4. Jordan Spieth finished T8 and Jimmy Walker was T20. Zach Johnson T43, Matt Kuchar T46, Simpson and Patrick Reed finished T53 while Mahan finished 59th.

7.  Missing from that list were Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. Missing because the both withdrew from the BMW under fairly controversial circumstances. Bradley cited a drop he took for an embedded ball on Friday and after a night to think about it he said he questioned if it was done correctly, even though a rules official had instructed him to do so. He felt unsure and his conscience told him it was better to withdraw than to continue under these circumstances. Really? His pal Philly Mick didn’t fabricate any story about his conscience or feign injury like so many would. He was honest: he was out of contention, had no chance at winning or heading to the Tour Championship and was exhausted. He said he wanted to “concentrate on the Ryder Cup.” He gets credit for honesty but boy I bet Tim Finchem will give him an ear full about bagging it during his playoffs.

8.  And something tells me that if Phil hadn’t decided to forsake the playoffs and rest up for the Ryder Cup that his Ryder Cup protégé and partner Bradley wouldn’t have felt that pang of guilt that forced him to withdraw. I’m just saying.

9.  Morgan Hoffman had some great week at Cherry Hills. He shot 62-63 on the weekend to finish third and catapult up the FedEx Cup leaderboard to 21st place. This from a player that barely made the playoffs at number 124 out of 125 to qualify for The Barclays. That just shows how volatile these playoffs actually are.  rory 2 trophy

10.  Going into the Tour Championship at East Lake here are the top five on the FedEx Cup Points List: Chris Kirk (1 Tour win & a win at The Deutsche Bank) Billy Horschel (T2 at Deutsche Bank and a win at The BMW) Bubba Watson (1 Tour win, The Masters and 2nd at The BWW) Rory McIlroy (Open Championship, WGC, PGA Championship) and Hunter Mahan (a win at The Barclays). All these players control their own destiny: if they win the Tour Championship they will clinch the 10 million and the FedEx Cup. I know these are the “playoffs” and the tour wants to generate some excitement but the points for winning a Playoff event are so great now it seems almost too volatile.

Extra Point.  This I know for sure…there isn’t any golfer in this field that wouldn’t trade their entire season including that FedEx Cup Championship for the season that Rory had. Ten million buys a lot of stuff…two consecutive majors gets you immortality.

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Billy Horschel Wins The BMW Championship

September 7th, 2014 No comments

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Phil Mickelson Quits at The BMW Championship

September 6th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

This PGA Tour Playoff season just got a bit more controversial. In a very surprising move Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the BMW Championship.

Mickelson didn’t cite any specific injury or illness for his early morning withdrawal but rather stated his need to focus on the Ryder Cup.

“Without a chance to contend at the Tour Championship,” he said “the most important thing for me now is to prepare for the Ryder Cup.” 

What? Ryder Cup in the middle of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs. I can’t imagine Commissioner Tim Finchem is pleased with one of his most prized attractions quitting in the middle of the playoffs.

Phil the Thrill wasn’t thrilled about his play and the fact that he sat in 63rd place out of 69 golfers at Cherry Hills. With no chance of moving on to the Tour Championship he packed it in.

This is like a ten year old who is losing at checkers and he flips over the checkerboard. He looks like a kid losing at a game of HORSE so he takes his ball and goes home.

There is no other way to put this but Phil Mickelson quit.

Phil has always marched to his own drummer and certainly has voiced opinions on Tour matters he didn’t like but this is so out of character for Phil.

Unlike many players Phil knows the value of maintaining positive relationships with sponsors, his and the tour’s but this withdrawal on its face is a bad move.

We love Phil but unless he is suffering physically and hiding that fact he screwed the pooch on this one.

Jason Sobel gives his opinion on Phil’s disappearing act.

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Saturday Swing Tip: Stop the Fairway Wood Grounders

September 6th, 2014 No comments

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