Croquet anyone Choi shakes up putting stance

By Associated PressJuly 14, 2010, 12:03 am

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – K.J. Choi has been getting more attention than anyone on the putting green.

He starts out like everyone else, lining up alongside the ball for what appears to be a normal swing. Then, he turns to face the hole, jutting out his right leg to the left of the ball, and spreads his hands far apart on a strange-looking club.

What comes next is something resembling a croquet swing. It’s all completely legal. And it just might set off a new craze if it helps Choi contend at the British Open.

kj choi putter
KJ Choi missed the cut at last week's John Deere Classic, his first event with the croquet-style putter. (Getty Images)
“When I started out, I was not 100 percent comfortable with it,” the South Korean said through a translator. “But I believe in the theory and I believe in the principle behind it. I’ve worked hard and I’ve practiced hard. I’m convinced this is the right way to go. I’m not looking back.”

Choi’s radical change – even more noteworthy since he’s doing it at the British Open with a prototype club that he’s only had for a couple of weeks – is not unprecedented. Sam Snead tried putting with a croquet style, until the U.S. Golf Association passed a rule that a player couldn’t straddle the ball while swinging on the green.

Choi complies with that standard by standing beside the ball when he’s putting, facing the cup. And there’s no prohibition on swinging the putter between the legs from off the green, a shot that could come in handy at spacious St. Andrews. He plans on using the new club for shots up to 70 feet.

“Obviously, he has a lot of courage to do this coming into a major championship,” said Juan Elizondo, a longtime friend of Choi’s who designed the triangle-shaped putter and got it approved by the USGA. “But he’s relaxed. He thinks it helps his putting. He’s not worried what anyone thinks.”

Choi used the putter for the first time at last week’s John Deere Classic. Even though he missed the cut, he felt the new style could ultimately help his game – as much as a stroke per round, according to Elizondo.

The 2-pound putter weighs about twice as much as the normal club, which in theory will reduce the chance of taking an uneven swing. Plus, only the lower hand is used to guide the club – again, supposedly improving the probability of taking a level stroke.

“With a one-arm lever, you only have half as much chance to go wrong,” Elizondo insisted.

Facing the hole simply makes sense, he added, making it easier to stay focused on the line of the putt. So he designed a club to accommodate the new stroke, dubbing it the “JUANPUTT.”

“Does LeBron James stand sideways when he’s shooting free throws?” Elizondo said.

Choi, who missed the cut at Turnberry a year ago and has never finished higher than eighth at the British Open, figures the change will improve his chances of winning his first major title.

“People say I putted well with the old putter,” he said. “For me, there’s always room for improvement.”

TOGETHER AGAIN: No, Stewart Cink wasn’t giving Tom Watson a chance to win the claret jug back.

Cink and Watson played a practice round together Tuesday, repeating their pairing from last year’s playoff at the British Open. This time, though, it was all in good fun.

“Tom asked at the Masters if I wanted to play,” Cink said. “He said, ‘How’s 8 a.m. Tuesday?’ I said, ‘8 a.m. Tuesday, it is.”’

Watson’s bid to become the oldest major champion at 59 was the feel-good story of the British Open at Turnberry last year. But the five-time British champion missed an 8-foot putt for par on the final hole of regulation, and Cink pulled away in the playoff to win his first major title, breaking the hearts of pretty much everybody outside his own family.

Watson, in fact, might have taken it the best, cracking, “This ain’t a funeral, you know,” when he walked in for his post-round interview.

Cink and Watson talked often during their round at the Old Course on Tuesday, and clearly enjoyed each other’s company. When Watson dropped his driver as he went to sign an autograph, Cink bent over to pick it up. When their group – Matt Kuchar and Cameron Percy – posed for pictures on the famed Swilcan Bridge, Cink and Watson stood next to each other.

The subject of last year’s British Open, Cink said, never came up.

“There’s no need to go over things. We both know how it went down,” Cink said. “And we’re friends.”

Still, the two will be forever linked because of Turnberry. And that’s just fine with Cink.

“He provided a unique aspect to that tournament,” Cink said. “It’s something for sure that’s going to make that tournament special. People will probably think Tom Watson almost won it, and they’ll have to think about who actually did. And that’s OK with me.

“It won’t take me too long to figure it out.”

BLOW THE VUVUZELA: Ernie Els was impressed by everything about the World Cup in South Africa.

Well, except for one thing. And his native country has no control over the officiating.

Els praised South Africa on Tuesday for staging a successful World Cup, the first to be held on the African continent. Pre-tournament fears about security, transportation issues and unfinished stadiums were unfounded, and South Africa has been widely praised by FIFA officials, players and spectators.

Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0 in extra time to win its first title Sunday night.

“It was unbelievable,” said Els, who watched the tournament from afar. “I’ve just heard very positive things. I’ve obviously watched a lot of matches on television. I thought the stadiums looked incredible. I thought the whole tournament went very well.”

Now, about those referees …

FIFA president Sepp Blatter grudgingly agreed to consider using video replay or technology after a series of bad calls at the World Cup, including England being robbed of a clear goal and Argentina being awarded one despite Carlos Tevez clearly being offside. The final was a foul fest, too, with English referee Howard Webb giving 14 yellow cards – a record for a World Cup final – and one red.

“I just think some of the referees lost the plot,” Els said. “But I think (overall) the tournament went very well.”

NO. 1 WATCH: Tiger Woods has been No. 1 in the world rankings for the last 266 weeks, giving him a total of 608 weeks in his career.

But Phil Mickelson has another chance to take the top spot this week. He would move to No. 1 by winning his first British Open title, and has a few backup options as well.

If Mickelson finishes all alone in second and Woods is lower than fourth, No. 1 goes to Lefty. Same if Mickelson claims third place all to himself and Woods is outside the top 14, or if he finishes at least fourth and Woods misses the cut – which happened last year at Turnberry.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.