Karlsson's yips leave future unclear

By Jason SobelJuly 25, 2012, 7:12 pm

Robert Karlsson stands over his golf ball, a picture of invincibility. The broad-shouldered Swede with the unflappable demeanor and effortless machinations waits to unearth a mighty blow into the cavernous gray sky.

And waits. And waits.

A picture might say a thousand words, but this one speaks in riddles. The seconds become a minute, maybe longer. Karlsson remains frozen in pose, that demeanor looking less unflappable, his machinations less effortless.

Last Wednesday, the R&A announced that Karlsson had withdrawn from the Open Championship, less than 24 hours before his opening-round tee time. No explanation was offered.

Those who witnessed his practice attempts understood it was the only reasonable decision.

One day earlier, Karlsson tried to play a practice round at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. It lasted exactly two holes. He returned the next day, muddling through only seven before retreating from the course.

“I came into some really bad habits in my routine,” Karlsson later said via email. “I have worked on the issue in my time off before the Open and made some progress before, but found out on Wednesday that it was not enough.”

Bad habits. Issues. They are each buzzwords for the real problem he's enduring.

Robert Karlsson has the yips.

It’s a term in golf as taboo as the shanks, but the game’s most unspoken word is often its most unavoidable.

More frequently identified with the putting stroke, the yips are defined as “nervousness or tension that causes an athlete to fail to perform effectively.” There is no rule which states this neurological dysfunction is limited to a single club, that a golfer can only be overcome at certain times and places.

In layman’s terms, Karlsson is having trouble pulling the trigger. He gets into his pre-shot routine, stands over the ball and … waits. If there’s a reason for this, he doesn’t know what it is.

“This is a thing that I have struggled with on and off over some time,” he explained. 

The height of this “thing” during competition occurred at last month’s U.S. Open. Though Karlsson has struggled with it in the past, his inability to swing the club peaked – or bottomed out, as the case may be – while playing at The Olympic Club.

“He managed to get through the U.S. Open, but he was struggling toward the end,” said caddie Gareth Lord. “He came in 29th, which was fantastic for what he had.”

Therein lies the most quixotic revelation to Karlsson’s recent issue: It hasn’t affected his golf game.

Following that 29th place finish at the U.S. Open was another 29th at the Travelers Championship one week later. Combined on the PGA and European tours this season, he’s made 11 cuts in 16 starts with five top-25s.

The results are nothing out of the ordinary for a player with a dozen career victories globally, one who was once ranked as high as sixth in the world.

“Physically, he’s fine,” Lord contended. “I mean, his game looks great. It really does.”

“I have been hitting the ball pretty good lately, so the game is fine,” added Karlsson. “I just need to sort out the issues I am dealing with.”

That won’t be an easy proposition.

Just as any neurological dysfunction that affects a player’s game can creep in without warning, it can similarly fade away. Karlsson is doing his best to accelerate that process, though, working with a sports psychologist while employing a healthy dose of optimism.

“I feel confident that I will sort it out one way or another,” he said. “I feel that in a situation like this it is important for me to stay humble. I am looking forward to taking on the challenge to solve it.”

For so many years, Karlsson has been a picture of invincibility, one of the strongest, sturdiest players amongst the game’s elite. His physical gifts are still very apparent, but that picture has been altered, leaving him vulnerable and his future uncertain.

He hopes to return for the upcoming PGA Championship, but in his current situation, Karlsson knows he can’t be certain of anything. As he explained, “My plan is to come back and play when I feel ready for it.”

When it comes to the yips, there’s no telling when that may be.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.