DiMarcos Win in Pennsylvania Introduced Claw

By George WhiteSeptember 9, 2002, 4:00 pm
There are a million different ways to roll a golf ball towards a hole, hundreds of different putters to make the stroke, any number of ways of affixing the hands to the business end of the club.
Sam Snead used the side-saddle straddle for a year or two. Mike Hulbert and his half-year experiment with a one-handed grasp was certainly unusual. Bernhard Langer and his grab-the-forearm grip might have been the most successful for a while. But when Chris DiMarco trotted out The Claw in 1995, school was out on weirdness.
DiMarco didnt really care what he looked like. It obviously takes ironclad nerves to ignore the gaping mouths when one prepares to putt in such a manner. And in the fall of 2000, he blew everyone away when he knocked in a monotonous succession of rollers en route to his first PGA Tour victory. It was, incidentally, the inaugural SEI Pennsylvania Classic. And it was, incidentally, DiMarcos coming-out party after 10 long years as a professional.
DiMarco shot 68 and 67 the first two rounds, but was in second place by a stroke at the halfway point. The third round, though, he shot a 66 to grab a three-shot lead, and breezed home Sunday with a 69 to close out the field by a healthy six strokes.
And everyone suddenly knew Chris DiMarco, the man who looks like he is holding a 50-pound putter. Thats all right. DiMarcos unique grasp has him in the No. 23 spot among tour putters this year, and thats in the top 15 percent. Call him crazy, but be sure and call when theyre passing out the checks.
DiMarco never was a bad putter, even when he was putting with a conventional grip. It was just streaky, he says.
If it wasnt good, it wasnt good. And if it was good, it was good. I played out here for two years putting like that (conventionally), and I had a whole bunch of top 10s. But now, I putt good every week. If I have a bad week, I still putt good.
It started in the fall of 95 when he had played fitfully, finishing 174th on the money list and 105th in putting. He was on the putting green at a late-season mini-tour event with his Orlando neighbor, Skip Kendall, and mentioned how bad his putting had been. Kendall demonstrated the grip he had seen an amateur use once, and DiMarco doubled up laughing.
I looked at him and said, Youve got be crazy, recalls DiMarco. But I tried it, and it kind of resurrected me.
Two days later I went out to play and I had one of those putts I knew I was not going to make from four feet. I tried it and - lo and behold - it went straight in the middle, It was like, Wow, kind of reborn, rejuvenated. It was fun.
Armed with the crazy new weapon, DiMarco would finish third on the Buy.Com (then Nike) Tour the following year, 1996. And he has used it ever since that day, while Kendall still only fools around with it during practice.
DiMarco grips the club normally with the left hand, but puts the right hand below the left in a backwards fashion. The palm faces in the same direction as the putter-face.
Ive been doing it for a long time now, and Ive never putted normal again, he said. To me, theres nothing weird about it ' its just the way I putt.
There is certainly a good reason to it. It takes your right hand out. There's no hit with the right hand. If guys are struggling, that's what they struggle with. On tour, I know a lot of guys use it on the putting green to practice with and it's a good way to practice.
DiMarco doesnt look nearly so strange now with so many guys fiddling around with the grip on the putting green. Some have actually taken it out of the course.
I've had a lot of success with it, so guys will try something that has stuck, he said. If I would have come out and not played well, lost my card and moved on, I don't think anybody would have tried it.
But the win in Pennsylvania assured that he would be noticed. Hes won twice since then, including this year in Phoenix. But he will always remember the year 2000, he said immediately after he won No. 2, the Buick Challenge, in 2001.
The first one is the hard one. That one is hard and they are totally two totally complete wins, DiMarco said.
That's what you are practicing for on the putting green when you are ten years old. This is the putt to beat Jack Nicklaus back then, and now it is David Duval, one of greatest players now.
These kids are practicing 10-footers to beat David Duval. What can I say - it kind of makes what I have done all the years pay off.
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The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

Yeah, you heard that right.

“I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

“I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

Here's two more just for good measure.

Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.

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Spieth selected by peers to run for PAC chairman

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 6:43 pm

Jordan Spieth may still be relatively young, but he has gained the confidence of some of the PGA Tour's most seasoned voices.

Spieth is one of two players selected by the current player directors of the Tour's Policy Board to run for Chairman of the Player Advisory Council (PAC). Spieth will face Billy Hurley III in an election that will end Feb. 13, with the leading vote-getter replacing Davis Love III next year on the Policy Board for a three-year term through 2021.

Last year's PAC chairman, Johnson Wagner, replaces Jason Bohn as a player director on the Policy Board beginning this year and running through 2020. Other existing player directors include Charley Hoffman (2017-19), Kevin Streelman (2017-19) and Love (2016-18).

The 16-member PAC advises and consults with the Policy Board and Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on "issues affecting the Tour."

In addition to Spieth and Hurley, other PAC members for 2018 include Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Chesson Hadley, James Hahn, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Geoff Ogilvy, Sam Saunders, Chris Stroud, Justin Thomas, Kyle Thompson and Cameron Tringale.

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Florida golfers encounter python-wrapped alligator

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 6:29 pm

Alligator sightings are pretty common on Southern golf courses - see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Also, here. (RIP, Timmy the Turtle.)

But here's one that deserves distinction.

Those images come from the Golf Club at Fiddler's Creek, down in Naples - in case you're booking a vacation to Southwest Florida or just looking for a Hot Deal this week. Hit 'em straight, folks.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.