Class Continues March 15, 2011

By Martin HallMarch 15, 2011, 11:30 pm

Q: My normal iron shot shape is a draw. However, I tend to start the ball straight and it curves left. When I try to aim right and draw it back on target, the ball generally is pushed right and stays right. Any idea how to control that draw?

- Mike (Montreal, Canada)

A: For some players, aiming right to hit a draw works well, for others not. You obviously fall into the latter category. Keep your aim straight, put the ball about 1-inch back in your stance from normal, and push your hands a little further forward at address. This should help start the ball right before it draws. If this does not quite get you all the way to your correct ball flight then have a small amount of hip slide. Yes, I said ‘slide’ to start your downswing. That should do the trick. Good luck.

Q: I'm really confused about ball position Some people say wedges should be in the back of your stance and the ball moves forward as the clubs get longer. Some say short irons should only go as far back as the middle of your stance and then move forward. Some say that the ball shouldn't move at all. Which way is it? But more importantly why?

- Kaman C.

A: Ball position is a tricky subject with no absolutes. It can depend on the lie of the ball, the type of shot you are trying to hit, your in-swing tendencies and the club you are using. I do not believe there is only one ball position. I think the driver, because you need to hit up for maximum distance, should be played off the left heel, or even a touch more forward. I believe the wedges should be middle of the stance unless the lie is bad, in which case the ball should go further back. Trial and error are really the only way to learn, move the ball position around and make note of what results you get. Trust your own instincts and have fun.

Q: I am over-rotating at the top of my back swing I am doing this in two directions First, the club is going past parallel to the ground Second, the club head is also rotating past parallel to the swing line I can even see the head of my driver in my peripheral vision, when I am looking down at the ball. How do I fix this so I'm ready once the snow melts?

- Rick R. (Appleton, Wisconsin)

A: I think what you are telling me is that your swing is too long and you are not on plane. I have two suggestions for you. As good a way as I know to shorten your backswing is to concentrate on keeping your right arm straight on the backswing. It will probably bend some, but try to keep that bend to the minimum. With respect to being on plane, as you finish the backswing, concentrate on having the grip end of the club still pointing down at the target line as if there were a laser shining out of the grip. These two thoughts should help.

Q: I play golf for my high school varsity team and am 16 years-old and have been playing for eight years. I was wondering if you had any tips on wet play in and out of the rain?

- Rich K.

A: Growing up in England, I have plenty of suggestions for playing in the rain. In no particular order, get a good cover for the top of your bag to keep the water out. Put two or three towels in your bag, always take an umbrella, have a waterproof jacket, pants and of utmost importance, a waterproof hat. Have a plastic bag you can seal at the top to keep gloves dry, and take three or four gloves with you; some players like wet weather gloves. Keep the grips on your clubs and your hands and gloves as dry as possible. Try to take shallow divots and swing at a speed you can handle; everyone finds it tricky when it's wet.

Getty Images

Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up right where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

Getty Images

Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

Getty Images

13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

Getty Images

McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.