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Archive for the ‘Chip Shots’ Category

Rickie Fowler + Red Bull = Crazy Stuff

April 24th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

I don’t know who is crazier.  Those Red Bull Pilots or Rickie Fowler. The pilots do this every day and it’s their job but Rickie volunteered to go up in that little plane and get flipped around like crazy.  Those pilots are nuts but props to Rickie for hanging tough and not losing his lunch.

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Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic: Best Tournament Name in Golf

April 24th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

The award for best name for a professional golf tournament goes to LPGA Tour for this week’s Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.  Swinging Skirts…now if that doesn’t get your attention on the course nothing will.

This is the kind of week that Commissioner Michael Whan has worked long and hard for.  He has a new event with a new sponsor in a new (sort of) market.  But first, what exactly is Swinging Skirts?wie skirts

It is a private, non-profit organization that includes 60 men and women looks to raise funds for women’s golf in Taiwan.  Their name harkens back to golf’s Scottish roots and the members both men and women don kilts and skirts to represent their organization.  So how does a charitable organization from Taiwan end up sponsoring a full fledged LPGA Tour event?  That’s Mike Whan and his team.

Last year The Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in Taiwan was co-sponsored by the Taiwan and Korean LPGA Tours.  This year they have moved to the big time on the LPGA Tour.  Young Lydia Ko won the event last year and she and 18 of the top 20 golfers in the Rolex Rankings will tee it up at Lake Merced Golf Club.

That also is another plus for the LPGA as they move back into the San Francisco market for the first time since 2010. 

The top five in the world will compete for the first place check of $270,000 and Michelle Wie will be looking to go back to back after her win at Ko-Olina.  Wie jumped ten places in the world rankings to thirteenth and will be making a home coming to Stanford for the first time since her graduation.

The Golf Channel will have live coverage of each round starting tonight at 6:30pm ET.

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Tiger Will Get Me On Merion…But I Need Help

April 24th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Last June at the U.S. Open I sat behind the green at the long, uphill par three third hole at Merion Golf Club.  I watched many a pro struggle on that tortuous hole as it played over 250 yards and was even stretched to over 270 on Sunday. Click here for My Days at Merion.Merion Basket

We amateurs like to daydream about how we would play those elite private courses.  I came to the conclusion that I would have used a three wood…twice.  And I probably still would have had to chip on.  But that’s what we hackers do: try and figure how we would play a course that we have absolutely no chance of ever getting on.  Well that was until Tiger Woods made it easy for us.

Tiger and his charity is sponsoring a series of amateur events that lets amateurs/hackers like me get on some of the best and most private courses in the country.
Doug Ferguson’s AP story details the Tiger Woods Charity Playoffs where two man teams of amateurs can play some great courses, donate to charity and even win a trip to Disney World and a private exhibition with Tiger himself.

Two-person teams can select a regional qualifying tournament with a registration fee ($500 per player on most courses), a $1,000 charity pledge and a goal of fundraising. The teams with the low net and gross score from each site, along with any team that raises $10,000 or more, qualify for the Charity Playoff Finals on Dec. 1-2.

 
Finalists gets two days of golf, two nights in the Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World Resort, a private exhibition with Woods and clubhouse credentials to the World Challenge. The team that raises the most money will get pro-am spots in the three PGA Tour-sanctioned events for 2015.

Here are the courses the events will be played on: Congressional Country Club- Maryland, Merion Golf Club-Pennsylvania, Casata-Las Vegas, Trump National Golf Club-New Jersey, Sherwood Country Club-California, Pelican Hill Golf Club-California, Innisbrook Resort, Florida and Myopia Hunt Club-Massachusetts.  Most are private and this is a rare chance to actually play some golf on these historic tracks.

The bottom line is you and your partner need to pony up $1500 bucks to play and then maybe put some effort towards a little fund raising.  That’s a small price to play for some high class golf.

So here’s the deal: Links Life Golf isn’t above begging for a few dollars and has no problem selling our soul for a shot at Merion or Congressional…heck I’d even play Trump’s place if someone wants to sponsor me.

I’ll accept any donation but the bigger the better.  Get me on Merion and I get you a souvenir like a divot or two or some sand from one of those bunkers.  Any donation over $500 will get you a heavy duty souvenir like golf towel I’ll steal from the locker room or maybe some Merion Shampoo.

Let’s not forget some extra cash for all those Philly cheese steaks, a golfer has to eat.

Click here for Tiger’s Charity Playoff website.

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Tiger Woods Back At Light Practice

April 23rd, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Tiger Woods is back on the course but don’t look for him to play in competition any time soon.  Tiger’s agent, Mark Steinberg spoke to ESPN’s Bob Harig on Wednesday and said Woods’ recovery is going well and he is putting a doing a bit of “light” chipping already.

Steinberg expects him to return to competitive play this summer: “He’s doing a little bit more and more each day,” Steinberg told ESPN.com. “He’s getting to the point of light chipping and putting and the doctors and trainers seem to be pleased with where he is. He is on schedule but we don’t know what that schedule means. I don’t know when he intends to be playing competitively.

“But I expect it to be this summer. I know that’s a wide range, but as the weeks go by we’ll be able to pinpoint an approximate time. It’s still a little early for that. Nothing that has gone on from the day of the surgery until today gives me any pause to amend what I said then. I know that’s broad and vague but we can’t pinpoint a specific time until we’re further along.”

Woods was last on a PGA Tour course at the Honda Classic when he withdrew due to severe back pain.  He had microdisectomy surgery on March 31st and speculation on his return has gone from six weeks to one year.  Steinberg seems to feel Tiger will be back sooner rather than later but he did say there is no specific target date.

I’ll assume that the U.S. Open date of June 12 would be too soon but if Steinberg’s estimate of “summer” is accurate that would bring the Open Championship and the PGA Championship into play.  If he tees it up at The Open it would be over five years and 22 majors since his last major win at the ’08 U.S. Open.

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Know the Rule: Lateral Water Hazards

April 23rd, 2014 No comments

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Wie’s Win Could Be the Start…Maybe

April 21st, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Spending a week in Hawaii is good for the soul.  Anyone that spends time there will say something along the lines of it being “the trip of a lifetime” or “it was life changing.”  Well this week in Hawaii may just be life changing not only for Michelle Wie but for the LPGA Tour.

wie lotte selfWie may finally have found the formula for success with her new found “game plan” strategy combined with her forsaking the technical aspects of her swing and a concentration on how it feels, not how it looks.  Combine those with her unique but effective “tabletop” putting stance and Wie may be on the way to all those wins she was expected to have earned by now.

It is easy to become a prisoner of the moment with Michelle’s LPGA Lotte Championship win but let’s for a moment consider the possibilities if Wie does start to be a force on the LPGA Tour.

There are few players that move the needle in professional golf.  Tiger Woods is the biggest draw in golf and the supreme mover of any needle.  Phil Mickelson is next but falls well short of Tiger’s effect and next in line is the 24 year old Wie.

We hear analyst after analyst say that the tournament, majors or not are more interesting with Tiger in the field and the same is true of Michelle Wie.  Much like Tiger, but to a lesser extent she isn’t only a golfer but a personality that transcends the sport of golf.  Wie is recognized by those outside the world of golf and can bring more fans to the game.

The LPGA is getting younger, especially the Americans.  Wie seems to have been around for years but is only 24.  The winner of the year’s first major, The Kraft Nabisco, Lexi Thompson is only 19.  Jessica Korda has a win this year and she’s only 21.  Paula Creamer is the oldest of the American winners this season and is the ripe old age of 27.lexi kraft

Let’s not count any chickens here but if Wie and Thompson, a long hitting, wunderkind with three LPGA victories already, can continue to rack up wins the LPGA is in for a significant boost.

Mike Whan, the LPGA Commissioner has to be thrilled with the win by Wie and the season his young American golfers are having.  Americans have won half of the eight LPGA events season and that can only boost the LPGA’s television ratings.

Successful campaigns by Wie and Thompson would translate into better ratings for the LPGA which could mean more tournaments and more dollars for the LPGA.  And an actual rivalry between two young Americans would be huge.   Mike Whan may have his fingers crossed that this is just the beginning.

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Miguel Angel Jimenez Wins on Champions Tour

April 21st, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Miguel Angel Jimenez made his Champions Tour debut this week and he did it the way he lives his life, with style.  The newest member of the Champions Tour certainly did it with style yesterday as he beat the big boys of the tour with a bogey free, five under, 67 at the Greater Gwinnett Championship.

Champions Tour stalwarts, Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples couldn’t mount a charge at The Coolest Guy in Golf as he led from wire to wire.  His final round was a tidy display of fairways and greens.  Playing with Langer and Couples, Miguel’s approaches were seemingly always insides his partners and his putter was working just fine.MAJ Gwinnett

Langer and Couples may be glad to see Miguel head back to the European Tour as he bested them in consecutive weeks at The Masters and The Gwinnett.  He was already named an assistant captain by Captain Paul McGinley but Jimenez is intent on earning a place as a player on the team and won’t be content with just being an assistant captain.   

He plans on spending the rest of the season playing in tournaments that award Ryder Cup points.  The Champions Tour events do not. 

Jimenez was happy with his two weeks in Georgia, a fourth place finish at The Masters and a win on the senior circuit but he is focused on playing at Gleneagles.

“It shows my game is in very good shape now,” Jimenez said. “A very nice day, I played very solid, very well. It’s great to play in first Champions event and win.”

“I still go my goal for the end of the year,” Jimenez said. “I would love to be part of the Ryder Cup.

“People want me all over the place. I don’t know what’s going to happen for me. It’s not about money … (it would) make me feel proud myself if I play in the Ryder Cup once more.”

Click here for a look at Miguel through the years.  You won’t believe it.

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Matt Kuchar Wins RBC Heritage for 7th PGA Tour Win

April 20th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Matt Kuchar is known as one of the nice guys on the PGA Tour.  He is polite, kind, thoughtful and the worst you hear out of his mouth is a “gosh darn” or a “golly gee” when he happens to miss a shot.  He is also known as a top ten machine as he racks up top finish after top finish. 

Recently he was on the brink of getting the reputation of not being able to close the door on a victory.  But that all changed today as he slammed the door on the competition with a wild chip in for birdie on eighteen for the win at the RBC Heritage.

Kuchar was cruising along until the seventeenth hole with seven birdies on his card when he uncharacteristically three putted…from four feet.  From birdie to bogey in a flash and it looked like Kuch had let Luke Donald, the final round leader, back in the tournament.   But Kuchar’s brilliant sand shot regained his lead and ended a string of near misses for the ’12 Players champion.

His past three outings had seen him contend for the win but stumble on Sunday.  The most memorable may have been the loss to Matt Jones at The Shell Houston Open when Kuch was done in by Jones’ chip in on the first playoff hole.  The following week at The Masters Kuchar also had a chance but couldn’t find a fairway at Augusta on Sunday.

Now, with a win this season Kuchar’s season can be seen in a new light.  Much was made of his failure to close out a win but he chose to look at the positives.  His ability to be near the top meant he was playing well and playing well puts you in a position to win. 

His stellar 64 today overtook Donald and put him in that position today, a place he is getting very comfortable with.

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Michelle Wie: Hometown Girl, Hometown Win

April 20th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Michelle Wie has played the Ko-Olina golf course hundreds of time.  It’s her home course and she is their adopted daughter.  But yesterday’s round was definitely the most significant round she ever played on her favorite course.  In fact, it may be the most important round of her life.

Wie shot an essentially perfect 67 in the final round of the LPGA Lotte Championship to earn her third LPGA title and continue her resurgence in 2014.  Winning at home and in front of a very large and very supportive local crowd Wie was almost speechless afterwards.  “I’m so happy, I can’t think straight,” Wie said “It’s a dream come true.”

The hometown girl overtook final round leader Angela Stanford who had a four shot lead to start the round.  But Stanford struggled and finished behind the charging Wie.  Wie had all her shots and used her experience at Ko-Olina to fashion a near perfect round hitting 15 of 18 greens and 28 putts.  One of those putts was a missed two footer at 17 and an inconsequential short putt at the last when the win was already in the books.wie lotte

Wie has been in the spotlight so long it is easy to forget that she is only 24 years old.  On the national stage at 13 the amazingly gifted Wie started a run of unimaginable play with six top five finishes in LPGA majors by the time she was 16.  Her career upside was limitless but missteps like concentrating on playing with the PGA Tour instead of winning own her own levels sidetracked her progress.

Injuries also hurt Wie and many even criticized her for attending college full time instead of concentrating on her golf career.  When she did graduate from Stanford and was playing full time she promptly went out and fell flat missing 10 cuts in 23 starts.  That was then and this is now.

Now is a new and improved Michelle Wie. We see a Wie that has developed her own putting style, certainly unique among all tours.  We see a Wie that has formed her own view on swing coaches and teaching styles, she refuses to look at her swing on video now relying on “how it feels.”  That’s a true departure from the David Leadbetter school of thought but a successful one. We see a Wie that develops her on course game plan and sticks with it. We see a Wie that leaves her driver in the bag and opts for a Tiger-Like Stinger 3-wood that bisects fairway after fairway.  We see a Wie that has throttled back her long game with the driver (47th in driving distance) and rather hit more greens.  It has worked as she leads the tour in Greens in Regulation at 81%.

More importantly we see a newly relaxed and confident Michelle Wie on the course in 2014.  Two weeks ago at the Kraft Nabisco LPGA Championship Wie and winner Lexi Thompson went head to head in a showcase of the future for the LPGA.  While Wie fell short she displayed grace and humility towards her competitor and friend. 

All of us have witnessed a young girl who, for whatever reason, was put in the spotlight, thrust into untenable situations for an adult, no less a teenager and subjected to pressure and expectations that would have crushed many a soul.  And maybe it did.  Maybe Michelle’s insistence in attending college was her release, her escape from the world of pressure and expectations.  It afforded her the chance to be a college kid and not a phenom.

Call it maturity, call it confidence, call it a young woman that is now comfortable with herself and willing to say no to outside pressures and do things her own way.

At the end of 2013 she took a five week vacation from the game and didn’t swing a club.  What emerged from that hiatus was a newly refreshed and “reborn” player if you will: a player that is happy to be on the course again and happy to be playing a game again and not a job.

Michelle Wie has already lived a lifetime in the spotlight and the first few chapters had been fraught with plenty of pain and heartache.  But these next chapters she is about to write look to be filled with joy, happiness and victories.  She’s off to a great start and this win at home could just be the start of many great things to come. 

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Trying to Cure The Masters Hangover

April 18th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Our buzz from our Masters hangover continues today as we head into another weekend of fine golf being played around the world.  There is early morning coverage of the European Tour’s Mayback Malaysian Open on The Golf Channel.  That is followed by the Champions Tour’s Greater Gwinnett Championship where The Coolest Guy in Golf, Miguel Angel Jimenez makes his Champions Tour debut.

Any chance to see Miguel strut his stuff, stretching and stogie included, is a treat for all of us.  After that it’s the RBC Heritage from classic Harbour Town Golf Links with Masters contenders Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth trying to rid themselves of their own Masters hangovers.

And to top off a very full day of golf coverage the LPGA is spending the week in Hawaii for the LPGA Lotte Championship.  The Ko Olina Golf Club on Oahu is Michelle Wie’s home course and she is in contention this week.  Ko Olina holds a special place for me as it was the first course in Hawaii I was able to play.  My brothers and I were lucky enough to play it a few years back and we even had a “Michelle Sighting” while we were there.  Great choice Bro.

Even with all that golf and a quick eighteen myself today, I am struggling with this heavy duty Masters Hangover.  Especially when I read articles like these two.  ESPN’s Bob Harig gives us the skinny on the behind the scenes action at Augusta National and all the new improvements they made this year and some inside info on the workings of the club.

Unlike many too-hyped places in a jaded world, Augusta National has this way of impressing time and again. Yes, the club has struggled with progressive issues over the years and it might be a bit too stuffy and elitist for the tastes of some.
But in putting on a golf tournament, in opening its doors to the outside world and welcoming thousands upon thousands onto the grounds each day of tournament week, the place never ceases to amaze.agn

Augusta National is one of the richest clubs in the world and they don’t sit on their cash.  Sarah Max details many of the clubs recent actions for improvements to the club which includes buying almost anything that borders The National and even loaning the town of Augusta $20 million to widen Berckmans Road which borders the club.

Ah, traffic. Those who followed Augusta National’s assembly of land marveled at the trouble and cost for a parking lot. In late 2013, it became clear that there’s more to it. Now the club is eager to improve the traffic flow in and out of the area. Late last year, Augusta National said it would give the city of Augusta an interest-free loan to expedite the widening and realignment of Berckmans Road, which runs north and south, along the club’s original property line. Augusta National will prefund the $20 million project, which will ultimately be paid for by a 1 percent regional sales tax, says Steven Cassell, a traffic engineer for the city of Augusta. Under the new plan, which is scheduled to be completed by the 2016 Masters, the intersection of Berckmans and Washington will be moved about a third of a mile west. It will also improve the grade of Berckmans Road near Augusta National, which could allow for pedestrian underpasses between parking and the club.

Augusta National is an amazing place with visionary leadership focused on improving the club, the Masters and the game of golf.  It’s no wonder my Masters hangover lasts longer each year.

Hat tip to Geoff Shackelford for the links.

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