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'
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.