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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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x