Ham It Up

By Katherine RobertsNovember 14, 2003, 5:00 pm
In golf, we know the repetitive nature of the golf swing often causes low back pain. It has been stated that 80% of Americans, golfers or not, will experience back pain at one time in their lives. 80%! In my opinion, sedentary lifestyles, obesity and lack of regular physical exercise are major contributors to this astonishing statistic.
Physically, many factors contribute to low back pain. Certainly the repetitive nature of the golf swing is a factor but many low back issues are a direct relationship to tight hamstrings. As a yoga teacher and fitness professional for twenty years, the most common, consistent physical issue I see in most people centers around their hamstrings. Clients will share with me their embarrassment and frustration, I cant even touch my toes ' help! The truth is most people cannot touch their toes for numerous reasons ' the back is tight, the belly gets in the way and they do not practice flexibility programs on a regular basis.

The following four exercises will help you work the hamstrings, actively and passively.
Note: Before you begin these or any other exercises obtain the written permission from your physician. Remember to move very slowly, gently and you should never experience any pain. Never bounce your body in a yoga pose. Move into the pose; hold it for five to ten breaths. Breathing is done through the nose only and breaths should be deep and relaxing. Flexing the quadriceps sends a direct message to the hamstring to relax. Take the time to visualize the muscles effected becoming more relaxed, loose and more flexible.
Lying Down hamstring stretch with strap:

Yoga for Golfers - Lying down hamstring stretch

Place the strap around the right foot. It is essential that the right leg be as straight as an arrow. Flex the right foot, toes moving towards the face, heels pressing towards the ceiling. Feel the stretch in the hamstrings and calves. Level One is done with the left leg bent and is indicated for students with low back pain. Level Two is done wit the left leg straight. Hold for ten to twenty breaths and switch sides.

Seated hamstring stretch against the wall or with a partner:

Yoga for Golfers - Seated hamstring stretch

Begin with back against the wall, legs out straight. Sit up as tall as possible, shoulders back with the head resting against the wall. Flex the quadriceps and the feet to increase the intensity of the pose. Hold for ten breaths and you may repeat these three times to increase the intensity.
Forward fold with strap:

Yoga for Golfers - Forward fold with strap

Place a strap around the feet and fold forward while gently pulling on the strap. Relax the head and hold for ten breaths.

Legs up the wall or against the back of a chair:

Yoga for Golfers - Legs up against back of a chair

This is a wonderful restorative pose to offset the effects of a long round of golf.
Bring buttock as close to the wall as possible. The hips should be on the floor without any tension in the low back. Move shoulders away from the ears and roll shoulders under back. Palms face up. Close eyes and relax for five minutes.
Practice these poses three days a week. Regardless of your current flexibility in the hamstrings you will see a dramatic improvement very quickly.

Editor's Note: Katherine Roberts, founder of Yoga for Golfers, has 20 years of experience in fitness training, yoga studies, professional coaching and motivation. Katherine welcomes your email questions and comments, contact her at info@yogaforgolfers.com.
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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

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.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

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.