Donald Trumps All With Putter

By Rex HoggardJune 4, 2009, 4:00 pm
Bookmark and Share
DUBLIN, Ohio ' Great putters are born, not made. Or so the worn-out saw goes. Luke Donald would beg to differ.
 
When the soft-spoken Englishman made his way onto the PGA Tour he was thoughtful, athletic, driven and level-headed. But no one would have confused the amateur artisan for Ben Crenshaw. That is to say, at least statistically, the package was a gallon of milk short of a full bag.
 
Luke Donald
Luke Donald raced past the field with a hot putter Thursday. (Getty Images)
In 2004, Donalds third year on Tour, he ranked a pedestrian 133rd in putting average. It may have been good enough to keep his Tour card, but with 1.791 swipes per green with the flat stick hed never be dubbed the Boss of the Chicago Moss.
 
But, as his swing coach Pat Goss points out, Donald is nothing if not structured. He has lists for everything, Goss said on Thursday at Muirfield Village. The first item on Donalds list must have been improving his putting.
 
Each year since 04 Donalds play on and around the greens has improved dramatically. From 83rd (2005) to 22nd (2006) to eighth (2008) to first this year in putting average, his climb in the only stat that seems to count has been dramatic, if not dogged.
 
On Thursday at cool, windswept Muirfield Village, the man with the humble putting pedigree proved again that, like Ben Hogans golf swing, the putting stroke is found in the dirt, not the DNA, with his 20-putt, 8-under 64.
 
That red-card haul was three strokes better than his closest challenger. The thing is Jim Furyk, among a group of four at 5 under, wasnt sure he could have done much better, and Tour pros can always do better.
 
But then, when your frontrunner runs in 105 feet of one putts ' only two of which were longer than 15 feet (25 and 20 feet at Nos. 10 and 16, respectively) ' theres not a lot of room for improvement.
 
It was a couple of decent-sized ones (putts), but nothing major, Donald wildly understated.
 
Donalds caddie, his brother Christian, was a tad more exuberant between bites from a red Twizzler. Unbelieveable. He just loves these greens, Christian Donald smiled.
 
The Tour record for fewest putts for a round is 18 held by six players. But by and large those Herculean efforts occurred on golf courses with greens that are not nearly as sinister as Muirfield Villages.
 
There might not be as much slope as Augusta, but on a flat putt, they're probably quicker than Augusta, Donald said. Confidence on the greens breeds confidence. You keep making more putts. I think putting is very mental. Once you feel like you're a good putter, then it becomes easier.
 
This from a man who was more Julia Roberts than Loren Roberts with the putter when he bolted Northwestern.
 
Donalds short-stick transformation began right out of college, where he was a perennial contender due, largely, to his ballstriking and athleticism.
 
In college and amateur golf he hit it so much better than everyone else he didnt need to work on his putting, said Goss, Donalds coach at Northwestern. But on Tour he realized what carried him in college golf wasnt going to be good enough on Tour.
 
The changes were focused and gradual, like most accomplishments of any import.
 
Everything improved along the way. Scrambling, through the roof, putts per round, through the roof, just his entire short game has improved, said Goss.
 
As these things often do, the focus on Donalds short game led to less work on his ballstriking and last years wrist injury at the U.S. Open and subsequent surgery forced him to rededicate himself to the practice range.
 
Earlier this year Goss challenged Donald to be a two-thirds player.
 
Now weve gone back to ballstriking, Goss said. We want him to hit two-thirds of his fairways and two-thirds of his greens.
 
On Tuesday Donald and Goss worked together at Northwesterns indoor practice facility and something clicked. The session took just 45 minutes and even with a limited tune up for the Memorial, he arrived Wednesday and managed to play just nine holes and spent no time on the range, he was sharp tee to green in Round 1.
 
Hes also motivated this year after missing half of last season and Septembers Ryder Cup, something of a biennial rite for the young Englishman.
 
He watched every match from Valhalla, as painful as it may have been for a European, and texted Goss throughout the event with insight and observations. Ultimately it was the driving force through six months of rehabilitation.
 
He loves that event. It means the world to him, Goss said. It really drove him to improve and make sure he was a member of next years team.
 
Thats good news for European captain Colin Montgomerie. Ryder Cup skippers are always in need of good putters ' either of the natural or self-made variety.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Memorial Tournament
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • 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.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

    Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

    Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

    ''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

    ''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

    Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

    ''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

    Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

    Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.