Learning Curves

By Luke DonaldMay 15, 2009, 4:00 pm
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I feel like Im getting closer to regaining my form of a few years ago, when I ranked as high as seventh in the Official World Golf Rankings. But to get back there, Ive got to do a better job of competing in the majors and the other big events. I hung around even par all week at the Masters but never did get much of anything going (Donald finished tied for 38th). I struggled on the greens more than anything else. With the changes theyve made over the last few years to Augusta National, you really need to have all parts of your game working, and I didnt have that. I missed a few short putts, but I also wasnt hitting my approach shots close enough to give myself many birdie opportunities.
I did a better job of that the following week at the Verizon Heritage, shooting 65-66 on the weekend to vault into a tie for second place. Still, I finished 10 shots back of winner Brian Gay. Second place never felt so far away.
I took several weeks off following the Verizon Heritage, which gave my swing coach, Pat Goss, and I the opportunity to work on a few mechanical things. The first order of business was to learn how to better move the ball from right to left. Augusta Nationals curved fairways favor a draw, and Im not comfortable hitting that shot, especially when the wind is blowing hard from left to right and I need to hold the ball against the breeze. There are plenty of holes out there that demand this sort of shot, and I need to shape it better.
For me, the key to hitting a draw is getting the club started back on the right path, which is in and up. I preset this path by closing my stance so that my shoulders point slightly right of the target line. My forearms and hands are in line with my shoulders. From here, I start the club back with my hands, moving the handle in toward my body while hinging the clubhead up so the toe points toward the sky. This is important: The sooner I get my wrists hinged, the easier time I have keeping the club on-plane and getting the face square at the top of my swing. My left wrist is cupped slightly and my shaft plane more vertical at the top, not flat and laid off. When Im swinging well, the shaft is high above my head and theres some space between my left shoulder and chin. From this position, its easy to swing the club back down on-plane and release it properly.
I'll hit a lot of shots in practice with my right foot back. This is a good drill if you want to learn how to hit a draw because it promotes the proper inside path on the takeaway, and it also helps you to make a better turn behind the ball. Another thing it does is prevent you from backing up on the downswing, so you can release the club from the inside.
The added benefit of the draw is that it takes a lot of pressure off my surgically-repaired left wrist. If I get the club laid off and the face shut at the top of my swing, the club gets stuck behind me (on the downswing) and Ive got to flip real hard with my hands to move the ball to my target. That puts a lot of strain on my wrist. Another plus is my misses tend to leak to the right, and if I can draw the ball more consistently I should be able to eliminate these right shots entirely. Thats music to my ears.
Editors Note: Two-time PGA Tour winner and European Ryder Cup team member Luke Donald will be writing a monthly column for GolfChannel.com throughout the remainder of the 2009 season. The focus of the column will be What Im Working On, and will give you an inside look into life on the PGA Tour from one of the games elite players.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

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:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

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.