Tigers coach out to change Barkleys swing

By Associated PressFebruary 28, 2009, 5:00 pm
Strangers stop Charles Barkley on the street seemingly every day. Not too surprising ' except they don't want to talk about his Hall of Fame basketball career or his gig as a popular NBA television analyst.
Ordinary folks are offering athletic advice, on how to improve his golf swing.
'It's kind of funny, but it's kind of like, 'Wow, I must really suck,'' Barkley said of what might be the world's most infamous golf swing.
So Barkley is pursuing a very modern solution: a reality TV series.
None other than Tiger Woods' coach, Hank Haney, is confronting the challenge on the 'The Haney Project,' which premieres Monday on the Golf Channel.
'Other than Tiger, I've never had a student who's worked this hard,' Haney said.
Barkley's swing begins to unravel soon after he brings his club back. He starts to take it forward then jerks to a stop, throwing his body off balance, before wildly striking at the ball.
His determination to fix the swing is only partly about pride. After all, the gregarious former NBA star will still display it in public at charity events.
Mostly, the 46-year-old Barkley misses the peace and quiet of heading to the course with three buddies - the one venue where strangers aren't always coming up to him. He used to play daily during the summer.
'Now it's twice a year,' he said. 'It just happens to be on television.'
Barkley once was a 10-handicap golfer and could break 80. Now he can't break 100. He finished last at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in July.
'My goal is to go out and have fun because I haven't been having fun on the golf course in maybe 10 years,' Barkley said.
Haney theorized that Barkley's famous hitch would go away if he improved his entire swing.
'I saw a bad swing that had reason to hitch,' Haney said. 'I never saw a good swing with a hitch in it.'
After working with his new pupil, Haney still believes that, but he is also spending more time trying to eliminate any mental blocks that are causing the hitch.
The two have shot five of the projected seven episodes. Whether the series will have a happy ending is still a mystery - to Barkley and Haney.
'It's been very difficult, to be honest with you,' Barkley said. 'I thought I'd be better now.'
He seemed to be making great progress on the practice range. Then he tried to carry over his new-and-improved swing to the course. 'Deflating,' is how Barkley described the experience.
The series premieres as Barkley has been drawing some unwanted publicity. He pleaded guilty Monday to two misdemeanor charges stemming from his drunken-driving arrest in late December.
'I made a mistake and just have to take the beatdown,' he said. 'It is what it is. It's 100 percent my fault.'
Barkley has been hitting at least 1,000 balls a day as he seeks to revamp his swing. He's found Haney to be a demanding instructor.
'I never thought that golf coaches screamed,' Barkley said.
Part of Barkley's appeal as a player was that he wasn't the tallest or most athletically gifted guy on the court. Fans could relate to an undersized power forward whose girth earned him the nickname 'Round Mound of Rebound.'
The new series shows Barkley in a predicament many recreational golfers can relate to.
'There's this sort of idea people enjoy watching the misery of others,' said executive producer Steve Rotfeld. 'Charles' golf game is very entertaining. It's sort of just one big blooper.'
And there's something fascinating about watching a sports star struggle so mightily at an athletic endeavor.
'The most perplexing thing about it is here we have a guy who's one of the greatest athletes in history who absolutely cannot take a golf club, take it back and swing it through and not have spasmodic hitches in his swing,' Rotfeld said.
It's humbling for Barkley, because, as he put it, 'I've never sucked at anything in my life.'
'I've never choked before,' he said. 'That's what's been very difficult for me from an ego standpoint.'
Haney believes Barkley can lower his handicap to around 5. His short game is strong, the coach said, and his putting is even stronger.
'He's powerful and hits it forever when he doesn't have the hitch,' Haney said.
Haney is confident Barkley will accomplish his goals: 'He won't be denied.'
Related Links:
  • Golf Channel's 'The Haney Project'
  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."