Conversation With Casey Martin
Casey Bierer: Coach Martin. It's a new year and a lot going on in your life. Lets start with the University of Oregons golf team. What is the state of your Ducks?
Casey Martin: We are very young, but, we are working hard. We did not have a great fall season. But, we have some great players. I have ten guys on my team. Ive got one senior, five sophomores and four freshmen. And during the fall we played three freshmen and two sophomores in all the events. So, were really young and we kind of took our licks in some of the bigger tournaments. But, the kids are getting valuable experience and I am really excited about the future.
CB: You have developed a reputation for recruiting gritty players. Whats your philosophy?
CM: I think everyone has there own bias and point of view on life. Certainly, I love a pretty golf swing as much as anyone else, but, I really try in my recruiting to not just fall in love with a kid because of his pretty golf swing. Ive tried to watch how kids compete and look at who is focusing on their scores and how they play rather than just how they swing. And its kind of worked out that way where Ive got a fair number of players that dont really have swing coaches. They just like to go and compete. And that doesnt bother me at all because thats how I used to play. I didnt have a swing coach until much later in life and I think that does influence how I recruit. I dont automatically go after cookie cutter kids out of the golf academies. Some kids cant afford to play all the AJGA events but that doesnt mean they dont have a lot of game. You have to know where to go and how to find those kids.
CB: Whats the learning curve been like for you ' taking your talents as a professional golfer and transitioning to coaching college golf?
CM: I have a lot of knowledge about golf and the golf swing, but, the biggest thing for me and the challenge even now is, Im not a trained instructor. So, when do you try and help the kid with his mechanics and when do you just let it go? When do you say something, when do you not say somethingkind of that balance. And there is a lot of talent in knowing what to say about the golf swing and when to say it. Thats been the biggest learning curve for me and remains a challenge; when to intervene with a kids swing mechanics. When to get on him and when to just keep your mouth shut. But I am learning it and it is a fun process to learn.
CB: What is the biggest joy you get from coaching?
CM: I love it when we are out practicing and guys start playing really well and applying some of the things we have been talking about and the work starts paying off. That is a lot of fun to see. Its also a lot of fun to see when the guys are having a good time. I had a blast when I was at Stanford. We really did have a lot of fun. I try very hard to bring that in to this program at the University of Oregon. When we practice and we do some competitive training stuff, were working hard but at the same time its still fun. And I love it when I see the kids that I have recruited to play on my team having a blast, going to school, going to games, playing golf, having fun in practice ' that is really rewarding for me.
CB: Your schedule kicks off in February in Hawaii at the Hilo Invitational. What are your expectations?
CM: I dont know, exactly. This is a team that by the end of the year can be competitive with other really good teams and were hopeful to make the NCAAs and just kind of see where it goes. We had some high expectations in the fall and the kids may have felt a lot of pressure and as a result Im just trying to keep it loose and let them go and play and see what happens.
CB: What do you want people to know about Ducks golf in Oregon that they may not know?
CM: That is doesnt rain here every day. They should know that. (laughs) First thing people say when I go to recruit is, Doesnt it rain there everyday? NO. It does not rain here all the time. I think a lot of coaches out there have done a good job of convincing kids it does rain here all the time, but, it doesnt. We have a great climate for golf here. We can play all year round. We were in short sleeves all last week and this is a great place to play golf. And just basically that I think this is a sleeping giant of a golf program. I am very excited about what we have here.
CB: Lets turn to business. You have a relatively new endeavor, an internet golf community called 10thGreen.com. How did it come about and whats the premise behind it?
CM: I have a good buddy named Dusty Schmidt. Over a short period of time, just the last three years really, Dusty has become one of the most successful poker players in the world. He made over $1.5 million last year just playing online. Dusty is a golfer. He played some at UC Irvine. He played on the Golden State Tour, but he had some health issues and had to stop playing. Well, when he started playing poker online he was actually living in the guest room in my house to save money while he learned to play. On his journey to get better at poker, Dusty frequented a web site called Stox Poker and became friends with a guy named Nick Grudzien. Nick is a former Wall Street guy turned professional poker player. Well, this is really a poker community online and one day Nick put up a video clip of his golf swing on the poker blog saying how his swing sucked and he needed help. Well, my friend Dusty saw the video clip and gave Nick a lesson online. So people on the poker blog started to talk about the fact that there should be a golf version of the Stox Poker web site. A place where you can have video blogs, have forums, get your golf swing looked at by teachers, post golf scores, keep track of stats, social network, blog about golf with other golf enthusiastsreally just an entire golf community on-line. So, Dusty thought it was a great idea and he brought it to me to get involved and I loved the idea and jumped in. And weve been building this site for about a year. Its fantastic. It is evolving and morphing constantly and has really picked up steam here recently.
CB: And how will you be involved with the site on an ongoing basis?
CM: Im going to be doing a lot of swing stuff on our video blog. Answering questions for people and getting directly involved. I have video swing tips on there and in fact I just shot a bunch of fresh stuff in the desert that will be up there soon. When I was doing a lot of speaking engagements I used to love answering questions from people ' talking about life on Tour, talking about my life experiences on and off the golf course. So Ill be doing a lot that in the 10thGreen.com video blog. And hopefully the word will get out that when people go to visit the site theyll get me and theyll get their questions answered.
CB: January 17 marks eight years that your case was argued in the Supreme Court. Is it just me, or does it feel like it was just yesterday?
CM: Yeah, it is just amazing to think that so many years have gone by. It does feel like just yesterday to me. Its kind of hard to think that I am 36 years old now and it seems like just yesterday I was fresh out of college and playing golf. Its definitely amazing how time has flown by.
CB: What are your thoughts reflecting back on that time in your life?
CM: It was a crazy time in my life. Its something that Im really glad I went through but I would never want to go through it again. It was a time when my life really changed in a very short period of time and I was dealing with all kinds of pressures and new opportunities. Even though it was a challenging time and stressed me to the max there is a lot of good that came out of it. People I met, experiences I had, opportunities that came about. So, I dont regret it even though it was a tough time.
CB: What is the status of your leg?
CM: You know, when I stopped playing, really stopped pursuing professional golf full time back in 2004, 2005, I really thought my leg would start getting better as I wasnt on it as much with all the practicing and what not. And what happened is that after the first couple of years of not playing, my leg actually got a lot worse. I was really pulling my hair out because I couldnt move well and I was really struggling. There have been some pretty low moments in that regard and I have looked in to many different avenues over the years including the dramatic step of a prosthetic leg. But actually, the last six months things have really backed off. Ive had a nice little run here where I havent been in a lot of pain. I dont know why. I cant put my finger on it. So, a lot of that intensity I was going through about what to do has been kind of put on the back burner for a while. But, its still something that I deal with that I know I wont have my leg forever and Im at peace with that. But, Im going to hang on as long as I can to be sure.
CB: Whats going on with your golf game right now?
CM: I play with the guys on my team. I played yesterday. I dont play enough to get in a really great rhythm from one day to the next. I hit some balls, and I play with the team and have a lot of fun talking trash with the kids. So, Im out there. My game interestingly is not really that far off. It would take a good couple of weeks of playing every day to get back the rhythm I need to play well, but really, the game isnt that bad.
CB: What do you make of the state of the PGA Tour? Tiger Wood's absence for one, his return, and players like Anthony Kim, Paddy Harrington, Camilo Villegas ' who are all stepping it up?
CM: First of all, the Tour needs Tiger in a big way. I mean, I cant wait to watch golf when Tiger is playing and when hes not playing theres just kind of a lack of a buzz for me. So, if Im like other people out there, and I think I am, the Tour needs him, especially in these trying economic times. I think the Tour needs their main guy out there. And I think Tiger is going to come back very strong. I think he is probably farther ahead in his readiness than he is leading on. And I think he wants to make a huge splash when he does come back. The good side of it is it has given some guys the opportunity to establish themselves ' the guys you mentioned like Kim, Harrington and Villegas. Id certainly add Sergio in there. And you know, we all want to see that Tiger and Phil duel coming down the stretch head-to-head, but, maybe a new rivalry will emerge from Tigers absence. Like Kim and Villegas or Sergio and Padraig. And thats good for golf. But lets face it, there is nothing more exciting than when Tiger is battling it out for the win and when Tiger is in the hunt Im right there.
CB: Well, Coach Martin, thanks for your time. Good luck to you and your Ducks.
CM: Casey, thanks. Its been a pleasure.
Putting prepared Park's path back to No. 1
Inbee Park brings more than her unshakably tranquil demeanor back to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings this week.
She brings more than her Olympic gold medal and seven major championships to the Mediheal Championship on the outskirts of San Francisco.
She brings a jarring combination of gentleness and ruthlessness back to the top of the rankings.
Park may look as if she could play the role of Mother Teresa on some goodwill tour, but that isn’t what her opponents see when she’s wielding her Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet.
She’s like Mother Teresa with Lizzy Borden’s axe.
When Park gets on one of her rolls with the putter, she scares the hell out of the rest of the tour.
At her best, Park is the most intimidating player in women’s golf today.
“Inbee makes more 20- and 30-footers on a regular basis than anyone I know,” seven-time major championship winner Karrie Webb said.
All those long putts Park can hole give her an aura more formidable than any power player in the women’s game.
“A good putter is more intimidating than someone who knocks it out there 280 yards,” Webb said “Even if Inbee misses a green, you know she can hole a putt from anywhere. It puts more pressure on your putter knowing you’re playing with someone who is probably going to make them all.”
Park, by the way, said Webb and Ai Miyazato were huge influences on her putting. She studied them when she was coming up on tour.
Webb, though, believes there’s something internal separating Park. It isn’t just Park’s ability to hole putts that makes her so intimidating. It’s the way she carries herself on the greens.
“She never gets ruffled,” Webb said. “She says she gets nervous, but you never see a change in her. If you’re going toe to toe with her, that’s what is intimidating. Even if you’re rolling in putts on top of her, it doesn’t seem to bother her. She’s definitely a player you have to try not to pay attention to when you’re paired with her, because you can get caught up in that.”
Park has led the LPGA in putts per greens in regulation five of the last 10 years.
Brad Beecher has been on Park’s bag for more than a decade, back before she won her first major, the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open. He has witnessed the effect Park can have on players when she starts rolling in one long putt after another.
“You have those times when she’ll hole a couple long putts early, and you just know, it’s going to be one of those days,” Beecher said. “Players look at me like, `Does she ever miss?’ or `How am I going to beat this?’ You see players in awe of it sometimes.”
Park, 29, won in her second start of 2018, after taking seven months off with a back injury. In six starts this year, she has a victory, two ties for second-place and a tie for third. She ended Shanshan Feng’s 23-week run at No. 1 with a tie for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open last weekend.
What ought to disturb fellow tour pros is that Park believes her ball striking has been carrying her this year. She’s still waiting for her putter to heat up. She is frustrated with her flat stick, even though she ranks second in putts per greens in regulation this season.
“Inbee Park is one of the best putters ever,” said LPGA Hall of Famer Sandra Haynie, a 42-time LPGA winner. “She’s dangerous on the greens.”
Haynie said she would rank Park with Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright and Nancy Lopez as the best putters she ever saw.
Hall of Famer Joanne Carner says Park is the best putter she has seen since Lopez.
“I thought Nancy was a great putter,” Carner said. “Inbee is even better.”
Park uses a left-hand low grip, with a mostly shoulder move and quiet hands.
Lopez used a conventional grip, interlocking, with her right index finger down the shaft. She had a more handsy stroke than Park.
Like Lopez, Park prefers a mallet-style putter, and she doesn’t switch putters much. She is currently playing with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball putter. She won the gold medal with it two years ago. She used an Oddysey White Ice Sabertooth winged mallet when she won three majors in a row in 2013.
Lopez hit the LPGA as a rookie in 1978 with a Ray Cook M1 mallet putter and used it for 20 years. It’s in the World Golf Hall of Fame today.
“I watch Inbee, and I think, `Wow, that’s how I used to putt,’” Lopez said. “You can see she’s not mechanical at all. So many players today are mechanical. They forget if you just look at the hole and stroke it, you’re going to make more putts.”
Notably, Park has never had a putting coach, not really. Her husband and swing coach, Gi Hyeob Nam, will look at her stroke when she asks for help.
“When I’m putting, I’m concentrating on the read and mostly my speed,” Park said. “I don’t think mechanically about my stroke at all, unless I think there’s something wrong with it, and then I’ll have my husband take a look. But, really, I rely on my feel. I don’t think about my stroke when I’m out there playing.”
Hall of Famer Judy Rankin says Park’s remarkably consistent speed is a key to her putting.
“Inbee is definitely a feel putter, and her speed is so consistent, all the time,” Rankin said. “You have to assume she’s a great green reader.”
Beecher says Park’s ability to read greens is a gift. She doesn’t rely on him for that. She reads greens herself.
“I think what impresses me most is Inbee has a natural stroke,” Beecher said. “There’s nothing too technical. It’s more straight through and straight back, but I think the key element of the stroke is that she keeps the putter so close to the ground, all the time, on the takeaway and the follow-through. It helps with the roll and with consistency.”
Park said that’s one of her fundamentals.
“I keep it low, almost like I’m hitting the ground,” Park said. “When I don’t do that, I miss more putts.”
Beecher believes the real reason Park putts so well is that the putter brought her into the game. It’s how she got started, with her father, Gun Gyu Park, putting the club in her hands as a child. She loved putting on her own.
“That’s how she fell in love with the game,” Beecher said. “Getting started that way, it’s played a huge role in her career.”
Teams announced for NCAA DI women's regionals
Seventy-two teams and an additional 24 individuals were announced Wednesday as being selected to compete in the NCAA Division I women's regionals, May 7-9.
Each of the four regional sites will consist of 18 teams and an extra six individual players, whose teams were not selected. The low six teams and low three individuals will advance to the NCAA Championship, May 18-23, hosted by Oklahoma State at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
The four regional sites include Don Veller Seminole Golf Course & Club in Tallahassee, Fla., hosted by Florida State; UT Golf Club in Austin, Texas, hosted by the University of Texas; University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis., hosted by the University of Wisconsin; TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, Calif., hosted by Stanford University.
Arkansas, Duke, UCLA and Alabama are the top seeds in their respective regionals. Arizona State, the third seed in the Madison regional, is the women's defending champion. Here's a look at the regional breakdown, along with teams and players:
|Austin Regional||Madison Regional||San Francisco Regional||Tallahassee Regional|
|Michigan State||Arizona State||South Carolina||Arizona|
|Auburn||Illinois||Oklahoma State||Wake Forest|
|Houston||Iowa State||Colorado||Florida State|
|East Carolina||Notre Dame||San Diego State||Kennesaw State|
|Texas Tech||Old Dominion||Pepperdine||Denver|
|Virginia Tech||Oregon State||Oregon||Coastal Carolina|
|UTSA||Idaho||Long Beach State||Missouri|
|Georgetown||Murray State||Grand Canyon||Charleston|
|Houston Baptist||North Dakota State||Princeton||Richmond|
|Missouri State||IUPUI||Farleigh Dickinson||Albany|
|Brigitte Dunne (SMU)||Connie Jaffrey (Kansas State)||Alivia Brown (Washington State)||Hee Ying Loy (E. Tennessee State)|
|Xiaolin Tian (Maryland)||Pinyada Kuvanun (Toledo)||Samantha Hutchinson (Cal-Davis)||Claudia De Antonio (LSU)|
|Greta Bruner (TCU)||Pun Chanachai (New Mexico State)||Ingrid Gutierrez (New Mexico)||Fernanda Lira (Central Arkansas)|
|Katrina Prendergast (Colorado State)||Elsa Moberly (Eastern Kentucky)||Abegail Arevalo (San Jose State)||Emma Svensson (Central Arkansas)|
|Ellen Secor (Colorado State)||Erin Harper (Indiana)||Darian Zachek (New Mexico)||Valentina Giraldo (Jacksonville State)|
|Faith Summers (SMU)||Cara Basso (Penn State)||Christine Danielsson (Cal-Davis)||Kaeli Jones (UCF)|
Leach on grizzlies, walk-up music and hating golf
He's one of college football's deepest thinkers, and he has no time to waste on a golf course.
Washington State head football coach Mike Leach created headlines last week when he shared his view that golf is "boring" and should be reserved for those who, unlike him, need practice swearing. The author and coach joined host Will Gray on the latest episode of the Golf Channel podcast to expand on those views - and veer into some unexpected territory.
Leach shared how his father and brother both got bitten by the golf bug as he grew up, but he steered clear in part because the sport boasts an overly thick rule book:
"First of all, the other thing I don't like is it's pretentious. There's a lot of rules. Don't do it this way, don't do it that way. You walked between my ball and the hole. This guy has to go first, then you go after he does. I mean, all these rules, I just don't understand."
Leach also shared his perspective about what fuels the vibrant fashion choices seen on many courses:
"You can tell there's a subtle, internal rebellion going on with golf, and where that subtle, internal rebellion manifests itself is they really liven up the clothes. I mean, they're beaten down by all the little subtle rules, so they really liven up the clothes. Maybe have knickers, maybe they'll have a floppy hat or something like that."
Leach on the advice he would sometimes offer when friends explained their rationale for hitting the links:
"They say, 'Well I don't go there to golf or go to take it seriously. When I go golf, I just like to have some beers.' And I'm thinking, 'You know there's bars for that? There's bars for that, and at those bars they have, often times, attractive women and music going on?'"
Leach is heading into his seventh season at Washington State, and he also described a unique hazard that can sometimes pop up at the on-campus course in Pullman, Wash.:
"In the spring the grizzlies come out, and the grizzly preserve is right across the street from the golf course. So they’ll be out, you’ll see them running around on the hills inside the preserve there. But there is this visual where, all of a sudden you drive up this hill on your golf cart, and you’re at the tee box and you’re getting ready to hit, and on the hill just opposite of you it’s covered with grizzly bears. And as you’re getting ready to hit your ball, it occurs to you that the grizzly bears are going to beat you to your ball."
Other topics in the wide-ranging discussion included Leach's proposal for a 64-team playoff in NCAA Division I football, his chance encounter with Tiger Woods before a game between the Cougars and Woods' Stanford Cardinal, his preferred walk-up music and plans for "full contact golf."
Listen to the entire podcast below:
Post-Masters blitz 'exhausting' but Reed ready for return
AVONDALE, La. – After briefly suffering from First-Time Major Winner Fatigue, Patrick Reed is eager to get back inside the ropes this week at the Zurich Classic.
The media blitz is an eye-opening experience for every new major champ. Reed had been told to expect not to get any sleep for about a week after his win, and sure enough he jetted off to New York City for some sightseeing, photo shoots, baseball games, late-night talk shows, phone calls and basketball games, sitting courtside in the green jacket at Madison Square Garden next to comedian Chris Rock, personality Michael Strahan and rapper 2 Chainz. Then he returned home to Houston, where the members at Carlton Woods hosted a reception in his honor.
With Reed’s head still spinning, his wife, Justine, spent the better part of the past two weeks responding to each of the 880 emails she received from fans and well-wishers.
“It’s been a lot more exhausting than I thought it’d be,” he said Wednesday at TPC Louisiana, where he’ll make his first start since the Masters.
It’s a good problem to have, of course.
Reed was already planning a family vacation to the Bahamas the week after Augusta, so the media tour just took its place. As many directions as he was pulled, as little sleep as he got, Reed said, “We still had a blast with it.”
There are few places better to ease into his new world than at the Zurich, where he’ll partner with Patrick Cantlay for the second year in a row.
Reed wants to play well, not only for himself but also his teammate. After all, it could be an important week for Cantlay, who is on U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk’s radar after a victory last fall. That didn’t earn him any Ryder Cup points, however – he sits 38th in the standings – so performing well here in fourballs and foursomes could go a long way toward impressing the captain.
“There’s maybe a little extra if we play well,” Cantlay said, “but I’m just trying to play well every week.”
Reed got back to work on his game last Tuesday. He said that he’s prepared, ready to play and looking forward to building off his breakthrough major.
“A lot of guys have told me to just be careful with your time,” he said. “There will be a lot of things you didn’t have to do or didn’t have in the past that are going to come up.
“But first things first, you’ve got to go out and grind and play some good golf and focus on golf, because the time you stay and not focus on golf will be the time you go backward. That’s nothing any of us want. We all want to improve and get better.”