Quick Round With Dave Stockton

By Randall MellNovember 14, 2009, 4:22 am

The calls for help are coming in from halfway around the world.

They’re coming from the biggest names in golf.

Before Phil Mickelson won the HSBC Champions in Singapore last week, he sent text messages to Dave Stockton back in California , questions about playing slower greens.

The immediate results Stockton produced working with Mickelson and Michelle Wie this summer have made him the planet’s hottest new short-game guru. Mickelson and Wie both caught fire with their putters right after huddling with Stockton.

At 68, Stockton ’s hardly new to the game. The two-time PGA Championship winner was known as one of his era’s great putters. What’s new is his commitment to teaching. He won 10 PGA Tour events, including the 1970 and ’76 PGA Championships, and 14 Champions Tour events. With his Champions Tour career winding down in the last couple years, Stockton began taking on clients and helping his sons, Dave Jr. and Ron, with their teaching careers. The demand for Dave’s services has skyrocketed because of his success with Mickelson and Wie. Senior writer Randall Mell caught up with Stockton for a quick round:

You holed some fairly large putts playing the final round with Arnold Palmer to win your first major in the 1970 PGA Championship at Southern Hills. You beat Palmer and Bob Murphy by two shots. What do you remember about that important victory?

My wife, Cathy, was eight months pregnant with Ronnie. She couldn’t walk the course. I was out there alone, and it was extremely hot. I remember three putting the fifth hole in the final round and this guy yells really loudly, `You got him now Arnold !’ I followed with a birdie, holed a pitching wedge for eagle on the seventh, then doubled the eighth, but I made birdie from nine out of a trap. I started with a four-shot lead and built a seven-shot lead. Basically, all I did was try to play the back nine as fast as I could and try to get to the clubhouse. There was a great deal of satisfaction winning. There were lot of people rooting for Arnold to complete the career grand slam, but it was also important for the Stockton family to win.

I got a little extra boost after the second or third round, when they said, “Unknown leads the PGA.” I took serious offense to that. I may not have been famous, but I won four times in the previous three years. To be called an unknown, that irked me. I used that. It was a fun week. If I hadn’t been playing against Arnold , I would have been rooting for him to complete the grand slam, too.

With your success as a putter, fellow Tour pros must have sought your help.

Back then, I would say to people, `I’ll be glad to help you,’ but when they asked what they could pay me, I would say, `The only thing I want you to pay me is not to tell anybody that I’ve I helped you.’ I didn’t want to help players bump me off the Tour. I wanted to keep playing. I’m not going to beat anyone on the course anymore. It’s a totally different thing. In the past, I’ve helped Annika Sorenstam and I’ve helped Tiger Woods with his wedges. One of the guys I really remembered helping is Mark McCumber. I remember after working a weekend with him, he won the next two weeks. He went berserk that he could pick it up that fast. Teaching is not something I’ve just come upon. I’ve done a lot of corporate outings over the years that were basically like clinics. I pride myself, and my boys also, that we can watch one swing and in one swing we can see what someone is doing wrong, and have the ability to help without screwing people up.

What was it like watching Michelle Wie and Phil Mickelson get so hot with their putters after working with you?

One of the neatest things was how comfortable they were. It didn’t look like either one of them was learning a new technique. They just kind of polished what they had. But they obviously are very talented to start with, extremely so. But it was a great sense of accomplishment for me.

How do you explain having such immediate success with the both of them?

Part of it is luck. You want to analyze what a person is doing, and then the key as a teacher is to correct what they are doing wrong, but get them to be comfortable doing so because you putt with your subconscious. You can’t be thinking mechanically during any part of a golf swing or while putting. It has to be natural. That was one of the things that made me feel the best. Phil’s immediate reaction was, `This is what I remember it feeling like. This is easy.’ Michelle’s reaction was, `This is much easier than I thought.’ It was something they could incorporate into what they were already doing without a lot of conscious thought, because the less conscious thought, the better off you are going to be.

What most helped Phil? Moving his hands forward?

I knew it wouldn’t take much to fix Phil because he uses a lot of loft on the putter as I do. If you forward press, the direction hand going to the hole is in better position. We also widened his stance and did some other things, but the biggest thing with Phil was getting him to stand there and look at the hole as he set his feet, so he automatically lined up every single time. He could see the line the ball was going to roll and just let his hands go through the target.

With Michelle, wasn’t it mostly about making her less mechanical and thinking more about feel?

Absolutely, everybody wants to get better, and they try real hard, but try is not a word, in my opinion, that really helps anybody get better in golf. You tense up. Certainly, with feel shots, you want to have your own creativity. Michelle and Phil have tremendous creativity. I think it’s one of the reasons they picked things up so fast.

Don’t you believe there’s a danger in working too much on your putting?

It will be interesting to see how much Phil practices this winter. I told him he better get some hobbies because it’s not going to be that hard for him to figure this putting out. I’m not expecting him to put hours and hours in, especially on his putting. One thing about working with Annika, if I told her to work on something for an hour, she would work two hours on it. I have a hunch Michelle Wie is the same way. I think Michelle Wie is probably one of the hardest workers, like Annika. Some people, like Fuzzy Zoeller, don’t have to work as hard. Different people have different formulas for success. My job is to look at what is going to make them comfortable and show them what they can do to get better in the shortest time possible.

What are the basics of what you try to teach?

The first thing I do is have you put down a 15-footer and go through your routine. `This is to win the U.S. Open. This is to win the Masters or the Solheim Cup.’ You give them a 15-footer with a break of 5 or 6 inches right or left. And you see how they go about reading the greens, how much time they take to do it. If I help enough people, the game’s going to be faster because I don’t like practice strokes, necessarily, and I definitely don’t like somebody trying to spend a whole lot of time analyzing putts.

With that 15-footer, basically I want to know, `Do you see the line? And why is it taking this much time? Why are you lining it up to the high side when you should be lining it up to the low side?’ Your eyes should always be on the side the ball breaks toward. You can see your line that much better. I’m not a big fan of circling the hole. I want to see your routine because most people, mechanically, probably putt pretty good. But they can’t visualize, or see the line. That’s where most of the mistakes appear to me.

Why don’t you like circling putts or practice putting strokes?

Sign your signature like you are writing a check. Then I want you to slowly make your signature and try to make it exactly the same. It’s your own signature, but you can’t do it. You sign your signature with your subconscious. As soon as you try physically to do it, you can’t. That’s how it is with important putts. Say you are writing a letter to the president by hand. What are the odds you get toward the end and you mess up? It’s just hard because it’s not comfortable. I think the quicker you see your line and have an idea of what you want to do, then get up and get it over with. You would be surprised how much better you play. There’s a huge difference between trying to make a putt and just saying I’m going to roll this thing up there. Those are the ones you make. You see it every week. `OK, this putt is to win the tournament,’ and they just fan it. Golf is full of expectations.

How did you become a great putter?

I don’t know, really, other that the fact that I grew up with a putter and a 3-wood. When I was a boy, I would hit 3-wood down the par 5 away from our clubhouse [at Arrowhead Country Club in San Bernadino , Calif. ] and again on the par 5 coming back. I couldn’t wait until I got to the green and could putt. By the time I was 6 or 7, I would challenge anyone to putt. My dad always taught me that you should never leave a putt short but you should never knock it more than 15, 16 inches past. When I was young, I just thought everyone made putts. I would only hit seven or eight greens in a round, maybe nine or 10 if I had a good day, but I would have 24, 25 or 26 putts. I thought that was the norm. My career was built around the short game, the mental aspect, putting and chipping. I didn’t get excited about where the drive or irons went because once I got inside 100 yards, that’s when I could create. It’s what I liked to do.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.