Class Continues: August 9, 2011

By Martin HallAugust 9, 2011, 11:00 pm

Q: Whenever I have a shot with my ball lying on a downward slope, I always 'chunk' my shot. Any tips? Do I address the ball towards my back foot, front foot or middle? Thanks.

-    Chad G. (Facebook)

A: The downhill lie is no easy shot and the common error is to hit the ground before you get to the ball. Treatment for this ailment: play the ball in the back-half of your stance and put more weight on your front foot than normal. In the backswing, leave your weight on the front foot and in the downswing, chase the club head down the slope after impact; avoid all the natural tendencies to lift the ball. It is essential to take plenty of loft with this shot as the angle of the slope will always shoot the ball out low. Some players even benefit from taking the back foot and walking down the slope after the ball has been hit. Good luck.

Q: I need to learn how to put backspin on the ball with my irons.

-    Hunter S. (Facebook)

A: Backspin is a function of speed, quality of contact and sometimes the type of ball you use. To get some 'zip back' on your irons, you need to hit the ball on the sweet spot of your club with a downward blow, best achieved by having the weight on the front foot at impact and the hands slightly ahead of the ball when you hit it; unwinding the hips helps to achieve this. Very often a shorter backswing than normal can allow increased acceleration which then creates more spin. Finally, the type of ball you use has something to do with how much the ball will spin. A premium ball with a urethane cover will spin the most and gives the best control around the greens, which is why this is the ball used on Tour. An 'economy' ball with a surlyn or ionomer cover spins the least which is why you will never see it on the Tour. Hope this helps you spin it.

Q: Any tips or drills for squaring the club face up at impact?

-    Josh P. (Facebook)

A: Squaring-up the club face at impact is the master skill in controlling the direction of your golf ball. There are many drills to try and achieve this; some are simple and others are complex. Probably the most simple and yet effective is to split your grip by 3 inches and take practice swings with that grip. You would want the feeling that the amount you pull with the left hand is matched exactly by the amount you push with your right hand, similar to the feel you might have if you were chopping down a tree with an axe. Hope this leads to straighter shots.

Q: Have trouble with my fairway woods and hybrid clubs on a tight lie in the fairway. I seem to do better getting them in the air from the rough. Mostly I get rollers on the ground from the fairway.

-    Sandy C. (Facebook)

A: Many players say the driver is the hardest club to hit, but my years as an instructor have led me to believe it is the fairway wood that most players find very difficult. The reason is that you really have no margin of error, especially off tight lies. Most players hit the ball too low on the club face and therefore never get the ball up in the air. As good a drill I know is to practice swing hitting at small metal washers or plastic shirt buttons. As you master the skill of consistently hitting either of these, you will certainly find that hitting fairway woods just became a lot easier. It won't happen without work, but it will be worth the effort. Good luck.

Getty Images

Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

Getty Images

Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

Getty Images

Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Getty Images

LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.