Lets See Grip It Like This What

By George WhiteOctober 21, 2004, 4:00 pm
Its one of the real mysteries of professional sports. Its as if an aging baseball player suddenly forget how to catch a fly ball, a grizzled basketball player lost the knack for shooting free throws.
 
Its putting, of course. How many guys/gals have we heard about now lets see, theres Ben Hogan, theres Sam Snead, theres Arnold Palmer, theres Tom Kite, Nancy Lopez, Craig Stadler, Mark OMeara, Tom Watson all once were deadly rollers, but when they begin getting on in years, voila ' they had to face the deflating realization that they no longer could get the ball into the hole.
 
Some managed to turn it around. Bedeviled by a faltering stroke, they turned in desperation to a radical grip. They turned the right hand around on the club and now utilize the Claw, the Saw, the Paint Brush ' whatever you prefer to call this weird-looking sweep of the ball.
 
You score better if you one-putt vs. two-putt ' of even two-putt vs. three-putt, said Kite in a sudden flash of brilliance. Its amazing! Its a great concept!
 
Kite was one of the surest of all putters until he reached his mid-40s. And then he was dismayed to discover the ball wobbling everywhere but toward the hole. He plodded along in misery until May of this year, when at age 54 he turned in desperation to the whacky grip.
 
Toms wife, Christy, had been giving him subtle messages for a year. She had placed pictures of Chris DiMarco using the Claw grip in Kites exercise room at home. Kite steadily resisted until the sad results of a Champions Tour event in his home town of Austin. He didnt break par in either of the final two rounds at the Kinkos Classic. At that point, he decided he would use a shovel for a putter if it would help.
 
I just putted horrifically, he said. It was the straw that kind of broke it. I finally said, Ive got to do something.
 
But when you see guys like Stadler and Mark OMeara have such great success with it, after putting so poorly for so long, it gives credibility to it. Finally I just picked something up and found something that seemed semi-comfortable.
 
That sounds startlingly similar to something Stadler said.
 
I had putter issues beginning about 89 or 90, said Stadler. I was a wonderful putter in my teens and early pro career. But about late-80s on, the putter was always prone to go south. About three or four years it just stayed there, and it didnt come back.
 
He, like Kite, changed only when he became desperate, clutching the putter with this zany grip.
 
Its made a world of difference, because I was late 90s, 2000 I was almost 32 putts a round, he said. Ive got that down to about 29.5. So youre talking about 10 shots a week in a four-round tournament.
 
I was standing over it from 4, 5, 6 feet and trying to figure out which side I wanted to miss it on, he said. And the odds were pretty good that it would be one or the other.
 
I was missing cuts by two or three, said Stadler. You cant make the cut, you go to $5,000 from $100,000 in a hurry.
 
The upshot? Stadler is now the No. 2 putter on the Champions Tour.
 
OMeara? Yes, him, too.
 
You're talking about a guy who stood there on the 18th green at Augusta National four or five years ago (when he won) and made the putt, he said. But to be honest, early in the week at Augusta that year in '98 I still had a little bit of yip in my stroke.'
 
It got steadily worse, and OMeara watched the misses in disbelief. He tried every putting device he had ever heard of on the putting green. And ' he discovered he froze on the course each time he was over a putt, blocking the ball to the right side.
 
Finally, at the Father-Son tournament last off-season, his coach ' Hank Haney ' convinced him to change.
 
He said, I want you to put your right wrist right on the putter like that, remembers OMeara.
 
'I can't do that,' he protested.
 
'No, no. Do it.'
 
I said, I can't, that looks so bad. I'm such a conventional guy, I just cannot do that.

He says, Listen, can I ask you a question? I said sure. How are you putting right now?
 
I said, Terrible. He said, Well, why don't you just try this? Maybe it will help.
 
So, all right, I tried it, and even though it looked goofy and I was a little conscious about it, all of a sudden, no yip in my stroke. Played in the pro-am with Tommy Roy of NBC, I was rolling them 20 feet. I'm like, You've got to be kidding me, where is this coming from?
 
Makes you wonder why the whole world hasnt changed. Looks weird, feels weird, it IS weird. But it propels the ball into the hole. And, like Kite says, one putt is better than two, two is better than three. So just grab it like a crazy man and shut up. Then, watch the ball roll into the hole.
 
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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.