Quick Round With
Stewart Cinks victory at the British Open gives Pickens back-to-back assists in the major championship season. He also works with Lucas Glover, winner of the U.S. Open. Overall, thats three major championship teams Pickens has been part of since leaving the nest as a student under Bob Rotella and jumping into the mind coaching business. He also works with Zach Johnson, winner of the Masters in 2007.
A graduate of Clemson University, Pickens is based at Sea Island Golf Club in Georgia, where his clients include Charles Warren, the original link who led to connections with Glover, Johnson and Cink.
Senior writer Randall Mell caught up with Pickens this week for a quick round:
As a shrink, youre actually getting large now, arent you? Has your phone stopped ringing since Stewart Cinks victory?
After something like this, you become smarter overnight.
Your major championship winners have something in common. They both denied sentimental favorites. Glover denied Phil Mickelson and David Duval. Cink denied Tom Watson. Your boys both won when it seemed like everyone wanted somebody else to win. Have you had to talk to them about that?
They both understand the feelings. Would Stewart have been pulling for Tom Watson to win if he were watching the playoff? Probably so. Would Lucas have been pulling for Phil Mickelson or David Duval if he were watching them in that situation? Probably. But it didnt matter who Stewart and Lucas were with out there. They were playing the golf course. Stewart was playing Turnberry, Lucas was playing Bethpage.
Thats something we talk about and work on. Thats what Stewart and I talked about all week at Turnberry. Keep playing Turnberry, keep playing Turnberry, keep playing Turnberry. With Lucas and Stewart, we werent talking about winning the U.S. Open or winning the British Open. We talked about playing Bethpage and playing Turnberry.
Stewart knew who the other guy was in the playoff, but when Watson finished, Stewart wasnt thinking, `I have to play Tom Watson. He was thinking, `I have to play No. 5, the first playoff hole. He wasnt thinking, `Ive got to win the British Open. He was thinking, `Ive got to play No. 5.
You started working with Stewart at The Players Championship. What was he looking for from you?
He wanted help with his putting. He wanted to return to his putting form in 04, when he putted really well. He had gotten away from what he was doing. He wasnt thinking good on the greens. His routines werent consistent. He didnt practice it much, and so he basically wanted to overhaul his putting. He even changed from the long putter he was using to a short putter, but that was his decision. He didnt ask me what I thought of the switch. He said, `Im going with the short putter and I want you to help me with the thought process.
Developing a consistent routine was part of that. When you watched him at the British Open, what were you looking for?
I was looking to see, physically, if he were doing the things we worked on. How many steps? How many practice strokes? How long is he holding his look? You can get a sense if hes having other thoughts in his head. Those were the things I was looking for. Watching on TV, I didnt get to see all his shots, but what I saw from 17 and 18 and through the last four holes of the playoff, he didnt miss one step, one look in his routine, they were all right on cue. He didnt speed up or slow down or make it too important.
I was also watching to see if was getting too emotional.
A lot of people, every putt is for a result. The closer you get to the hole, the more you get score conscious. This putt is for a birdie, or to get up and down, or to get the lead. We try to take the putting for something out of it. Whether its a five footer for eagle or a five footer for double bogey, its still the same putt. That way you can make them all the same. It becomes a physical putt, not an emotional putt. The more you can make putting a physical act rather than an emotional act, the more you can make them all the same.
I also watched to see how he was talking about putts to himself. Its something we work on, and I could tell he was into describing the putt to himself. There were a couple times where I could literally see him mouthing to himself what the putt was going to do. Its a big thing.
Why is that a big thing?
Most people putt emotionally, and I dont think thats a good thing. When you listen to Tiger Woods talk about his putting, when he talked about the putts he made when he won the U.S. Open last year, he talked about how he knew what the putts were going to do. The putt he made to get into the playoff, he knew what that putt was for, but he was totally into how the putt was two balls out.
Stewart was part of that debacle at the 72nd hole at the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills, when he missed a short putt and missed out on a playoff. He came back from that admirably. You ever talk about that failure.
No, hes never brought it up. It was a cruel lesson about not playing someone and not playing for something, but how you just keep playing the course. In 01, he quit playing the course and started playing the outcome. At the British Open, even at the end of the playoff, when he was way up, he kept playing the course.
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McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School
One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.
McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.
It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.
McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).
Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).
Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.
Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award
The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.
The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.
Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.
The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.
A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.
Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.
South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.
Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.
The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout
It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.
Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.
Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.
"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."
Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.
Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.