Time Off a Welcome Reprieve

By Martha BrendleNovember 22, 2001, 5:00 pm
The unprecedented two-and-a-half-month break between seasons is a welcomed relief for LGPA Tour players who, just last week, wrapped up a grueling year. This is a rare opportunity to sleep in their own beds, eat home cooked meals and enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation. For some, two and a half months represents much-needed time to prepare themselves both mentally and physically for the coming season.
If anyone deserves time off, its Annika Sorenstam. After the incredible year she had - winning eight events and breaking countless records throughout the season ' its time to hang up the clubs for a while. Im going to have a long break,' she said. 'Im just going to be home, spend time with my husband, relax, and have fun.
Im not going to touch a club for a while, said Sorenstam after revealing plans to do a little skiing in January. I think that would be important, just to relax. I want to work out and enjoy life a little bit. You know, go out with friends and do the things that you cant do as much when youre on the road. I dont want to think too much ahead.
Lorie Kane, Marisa Baena and Meg Mallon are all looking forward to spending time with family and friends. All three have plans to relax in their homelands. In fact, most players are just looking forward to being home for a while.
We never live at home anyway, so it will be nice to stay in one place for more than a week, Janice Moodie said.
Im going home to P.E.I. (Prince Edward Island), Canada, to spend time with my family, Kane commented. In January Ill return to Titusville (Fla.), start hitting balls and doing some strength training and stretching.
Sorenstam, among others, will have to muddle through the month of December before enjoying the much-awaited break. She has commitments that will keep her busy until Christmas.
Annika, Emilee Klein and myself are doing a junior clinic in Orlando Dec. 9th, Janice Moodie said. Were going to stay active with stuff like that.
Annika has undoubtedly raised the bar on physical fitness this year. She's aware that her competition has taken notice and knows they will follow suit.
I know Karrie and the other players are going to go home and practice this winter,' she said. 'Theyre not going to give it (next season) to me, so I have to continue on this level and keep working hard and try to get better. Mallon and Kane are two such players. Both are both focusing on strength training during the off-season. Baena, the perky player whom you cant help but like, is planning on returning home to Colombia and working out so she can be competitive with Sorenstam next year.
Dorothy Delasin has also made overtones that she will be more fit in the 2002 season. Delasin is already eyeing a spot on the 2002 Solheim Cup team and has plans to win a major. Plans like these indicate that she will be doing more practicing than relaxing.
Not everyone enjoys working out and Sophie Gustafson falls into this category. Its a necessary evil for her, not something she relishes in the least. Gustafson will return to her homeland to relax and be with friends and begrudgingly workout.
I wont be playing golf, the delightful Swede said of her plans. Perhaps a ski trip ... but thats about it. Gustafson will return to competition in February to defend the title she captured in Australia.
With eight tournaments to defend next year, Sorenstams strict workout schedule will remain a major part of the determined Swedes life. There are no plans to change the routine she implemented last winter, which includes three-mile runs, countless crunches, stretching and weightlifting, since it produced the desired results this year.
Karrie Webb isnt planning to change much in her routine for next year either. Pleased with her performance this year, she has no plans to revamp herself physically this winter, a la Annika, but workouts will still be a part of her routine. Im going to stick to it ' as far as working out. Ive been doing it for a couple of years,' she said.
Webb, winner of two majors and the season-ending Tyco/ADT Championship, has no immediate plans to rest. Shes scheduled to play in an event in December before calling it quits this year, and then its off to her homeland. I am going home to Australia for Christmas, which I do normally every year,' she said. 'Ill probably work with my coach down there, just because Ive had a few weeks off now.

Two-and-a-half months off gives Webb ample time to return to her home in south Florida and enjoy a couple of relaxing weeks before returning to competition in Australia. Ill have a few weeks over here practicing, then, Ill head back to Australia again, work with my coach for a week or so, play the Australian tournaments in February,' she said.
Sorenstam, winner of this seasons money title, the Vare Trophy and Player of the Year, admitted she met every goal she set for herself in 2001 - leaving us to ponder what she has in store for next season.
Sorenstam was giving no clues.
Im not setting any goals right now. I just want to let my mind be free, enjoy what happened this year.
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McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.