Smith Lefty Adjustment Needed

By Brian HewittFebruary 1, 2007, 5:00 pm
Rick Smith loved what he saw in student Phil Mickelsons driver swing last week at the Buick Invitational.
 
Mickelson's arms, Smith said, are noticeably bigger due to an off-season workout regimen. His upper arms are huge, Smith told me. I mean huge.
 
Which has resulted in a good kind of tightness. Anything that can make his swing more compact, Im all for it, Smith said. If it tightens up his golf swing from a tension standpoint, thats wonderful.
 
And the driving numbers, in two events, bear Smith out. Mickelson is 16th in total driving in 2007. Last year, he finished tied for 66th in that category.
 
The big problem Smith sees right now is distance control. And, he says, the reason for the problem may be that same tightness that has helped Mickelson off the tee.
 
I wonder, Smith said, if Phil is still adjusting his feel.
 
Mickelson struggled to a T45 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and skied to a 78 in fierce Sunday winds. At the Buick Invitational last week he posted 73-74 on the weekend and wound up T51. His scoring average this year is 71.52. Thats more than two shots worse than his 69.50 for all of 2006.
 
Obviously his arms are a different size, Smith said. He just has to get acclimated to that. Maybe hes not quite there yet. ... Jack Nicklaus once told me he could win when he was a little left or a little right but not when he was long or short.
 
Distance control was not a problem for Mickelson with the scoring clubs last year. He ranked 15th in approaches between 125 and 150 yards. So far this year he ranks T160 in that same category.
 
Im sure well start dialing it in, Smith said. I just dont want him to lose patience.
 
THE LAST MAN:
Trevor Immelman is in fast company. Hes the last man to beat Tiger Woods in a PGA TOUR event. And that counts for something seeing that Woods has won seven straight official tournaments since Immelman birdied three of the last four holes at the Cialis Western Open last July to edge Woods by two strokes.
 
Woods is attempting to break the PGA TOUR record of 11 consecutive wins set by Byron Nelson in 1945. The last player to beat Nelson before he began his historic run that year was Sam Snead at the now defunct Jacksonville Open.
 
What does Immelman think of Woods streak?
 
Its a little bit concerning, Immelman told me over the phone from Arizona, where he will play in this weeks FBR Open. Its good for the game but it would be nice if someone else could win for a change.
 
Immelman, the 2006 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year and the 12th-tanked player in the world, watched Woods out-duel several relative unknowns'Brandt Snedeker, Jeff Quinney and Andrew Buckle'down the stretch before finally holding off Charles Howell III by two to win the Buick Invitational Sunday.
 
But he does not despair. All the top golfers think, when theyre playing their best, they like their chances, Immelman said. But I dont put winning 11 straight out of his (Woods) reach.
 
What does Immelman like best about Woods? He does a great job controlling the things around him. They run very smoothly. There havent been too many great sportsmen in the history of golf that have really understood how to do that. Tiger gets it.
 
RELATED TRIVIA:
Actually, the last two players not to lose to Tiger Woods (in an event Woods played in) are Immelman and Australian Matthew Goggin. Most people have forgotten that Goggin shot four rounds in the 60s at Cog Hill to tie Woods for second place behind Immelman. The last American to win a PGA TOUR event in which Woods participated was Phil Mickelson at last years Masters.
 
FAMILY TIES:
In case you were wondering, those were members of Tigers extended family standing behind the 18th green Sunday at Torrey Pines. Along with Tigers mother, Kultida, and his wife, Elin, were Elins father, Thomas Nordegren, and Elins young siblings, Samuel and Isadora.
 
CHECK THIS STAT:
My favorite statistic on Woods current dominance is this one: Jim Furyk, ranked No. 2 in the world, is closer in world ranking points average to No. 1300 John Elliott than he is to No. 1 Woods.
 
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    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.