For Barkley its time to lay new cable
For those who have never encountered this unwanted intruder, the yips present a sudden, involuntary jerk, twitch, tremor, or hitch in a golf motion. Although the yips most often attack a players putting stroke, they are nondiscriminatory and will interfere with a players chipping, pitching and full swing motions as well, as weve seen with Barkley.
Although novice observers often define the yips as choking under pressure, the yips are not necessarily a mental problem. As Haney has said about Barkley, Its not in his head. As a sport psychologist, I have to agree. Researchers have categorized the yips into two categories, Type I yips (caused by a neurological disorder called focal dystonia) and Type II yips (caused by choking). It is the psychological yips (Type II) that are mental in nature and more often get the credit for the uncontrollable movements that appear under pressure.
To remedy the psychological yips, mental techniques such as anxiety management and attention control strategies can be used to help golfers lower their heart rate and focus their attention effectively during competition.
Barkley, on the other hand, appears to be struggling with neurological yips (Type I) which, although triggered or enhanced in times of heightened anxiety, are neuromuscular (not mental) in nature. Neurological yips involve involuntary muscle contractions during a specific motor task (i.e., a golf swing), and likely result from the overuse of certain muscles while the body is in an abnormal position. In The Haney Project, Haney points out the flawed positions in Barkleys swing (e.g., head moving down toward the ball, the club being off-plane) as reasons for why Barkley stops in the early stages of his downswing. When asked why Barkley stops, Haney says, What would happen if he didnt? How could he hit the ball?
In experiences with players, both professional and amateur, who have struggled with the yips, the neurological yips are more difficult to extinguish. The process of remedying the neurological yips is analogous to fixing a broken telephone line by laying new telephone cable rather than repairing the existing one. Picture your neuromuscular system as a series of telephone cables that connect your brain to the muscles in your hands, arms, wrists, etc. Each time you command your body to hit a golf ball, your brain transmits an electrical impulse along these cables to your muscles. When the muscles receive and interpret the message, they fire, resulting in the execution of your golf swing. Now imagine if one of the cables was damaged, crimped, frayed, or worn out from overuse. As electrical impulses pass across this cable, they become distorted. The resulting interpretation of this scrambled message by the muscles would result in a neurological yip.
Often with the yips, players wont experience any symptoms under practice conditions, but will under tournament or pressure situations. This is equated to a damaged cable having the ability to withstand a low-voltage impulse (i.e., practice), but not being able to handle the high voltage impulse of playing under pressure.
Thus, the best solution for the neurological yips: Lay new cable. The reason why many players have never conquered the yips in their games is that theyve attempted to apply psychological solutions (e.g., relaxation strategies, breathing, preshot routines, positive thinking) to a neurological problem. In reference to his turning to hypnosis in an attempt to fix his yips, Barkley says, No offense to the hypnotists out there, but all I got was a good nap. To eliminate the hitch in Barkleys golf swing, Haney understands that he must create a new neuromuscular freeway.
What Im trying to do is get him going down a different road, some shape of his swing thats different, said Haney. On the road, its just a freeway. There are no stop signs; theres nothing but open road.
In putting, laying new cable to cure the yips has been shown to be successful by pros willing to put in the work necessary to master a new, uniquely different putting stroke. Players like Sam Snead, Bernhard Langer and Chris DiMarco abandoned their traditional putting strokes in search of a new freeway. Snead pioneered a croquet-style of putting, while Langer went to a long putter and DiMarco a claw grip.
For golfers, like Barkley, who have had the neurological yips invade their full swing, the road to improvement is much longer than it is for putting. The full swing yips can take touring pros completely out of contention as they did for Ian Baker-Finch, Seve Ballesteros and David Duval. Why? Laying new cable in the full swing is difficult.
With the full swing, a player has to rebuild the swing in a way that no longer relies on the previous neurological pathway (the damaged telephone cable) used in the past. This is a difficult task; this is the task that The Haney Project has embarked upon with Barkley.
Laying new cable is hard work, something that Barkley is accustomed to from his days in the NBA. When it comes to his golf game, Barkley is just as motivated. Im going to work as hard as I possibly can, I promise you, he says.
In the coming weeks, well see how Barkley responds when its time to lay new cable.
Rick Jensen, Ph.D., is a nationally recognized sport psychologist and author of Drive to the Top: 5 Timeless Business Lessons Learned from Golfs Greatest Champions. Dr. Jensens clients include more than 50 touring pros on the PGA, LPGA and Champions tours. For additional information, go to www.drrickjensen.com.
Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title
The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.
Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.
Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.
Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.
Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.
Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore
SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.
Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.
Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.
With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.
''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''
Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.
''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.
Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.
Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.
He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.
He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.
Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.
"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''
Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.