Bump and Run Ai and Mighty

By David AllenOctober 9, 2009, 8:00 am
We know it's difficult to find time to practice during the week. When a Saturday or Sunday tee time rolls around, you're hoping to find some spark or productive swing thought that will help you break 100, 90, 80 or whatever your scoring goal may be.
 
With the weekend warrior in mind we created Bump and Run, a weekly Q&A with some of the game's top instructors. Each Friday, a teaching professional will occupy this space and answer questions directed toward improving your game. This week we have two of the game's top coaches, VISION54 co-founders Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson.
Lynn Marriott and Pia NilssonLYNN MARRIOTT & PIA NILSSON
Co-founders, VISION54, Legacy Golf Resort, Phoenix

Accomplishments:
- Golf Digest's 50 Greatest Teachers
- Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers
- Authors, Every Shot Must Have a Purpose (2005); The Game Before The Game (2007)

Notable Students (past and present): Annika Sorenstam, Ai Miyazato, Brittany Lincicome, Suzann Pettersen, Kevin Streelman
 
Web Site:
vision54.com
 
Contact: 602-482-8983

The core principle behind VISION54 is that every golfer has unlimited potential. For years, no player was more synonymous with VISION54 than Ms. 59 herself, Annika Sorenstam. The LPGA Hall of Famer believed it was possible to birdie every hole, and nearly accomplished that goal in 2001 when she birdied 12 of her first 13 holes en route to a 13-under-par 59 at the Standard Register Ping tournament.

Sorenstam retired after last season, but the VISION54 model is stronger than ever, embodied in such current LPGA stars as Ai Miyazato, Suzann Pettersen and Brittany Lincicome.

'Everybody misses seeing Annika out there, and we’re certainly no different,' said Marriott. 'For so many years people thought Annika was the only one who could do the things that we coached. Now, it’s fun to see how an Ai Miyazato or a Brittany Lang accomplish their 54. This just doesn’t work for Annika, but for all different types of personalities and players.'
 
To submit a question to Marriott and Nilsson or one of our teachers, please e-mail bumpandrun@thegolfchannel.com and check back every Friday to see if your question got answered. 

One of your players, Ai Miyazato, has enjoyed a breakout year in 2009 with 12 top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour. What clicked for her this year?

Pia: When she came to the U.S. she had to deal with a new country, new courses, a new language. …she lost herself as a golfer. What made her such a fantastic golfer in Japan was her rhythm and tempo and her inner strength. She lost all of that. We had to go back to tempo training, balance training, and tension awareness. From that base, we gave her some technical things to improve upon, and advised her on what she should stay away from. For example, she had to quit working so much on changing her grip and squaring the clubface. It messed up her game almost to point where she had the yips with her driver. We made sure all the other things got good first and while working on those things, her clubface started to square up more, without even focusing on it.

Japan
Japan's Ai Miyazato is the picture of good tempo.
Lynn:
It was pretty obvious her grip was too strong, which caused the closed clubface. When she tried to isolate the grip it didn’t work. It just created more tension. By being more aware of tension and tempo in her swing, her face became more square. And she got her distance back. This year, she gained 15 yards with her driver. She’s hitting it farther now than ever before. People like to say she’s sneaky long. It doesn’t look like it’s going to go very far, but it sneaks up there.

Miyazato is known for her slow, languid swing and easy tempo. How would you define tempo?

Lynn: Tempo is a full analog sensation. When you start to work on pieces of the swing, like your clubface position halfway back (at 9 o'clock), you can't have tempo. Tempo is a whole sensation. People can get their clubface in a better position but their tempo is horrible. That doesn’t transfer to the golf course.

Is there a drill that will help you establish a good tempo and rhythm before you tee off?

Lynn: With Ai, she’ll take a couple of clubs from her bag, including a mid-iron and a driver, and swing them at four different tempos – 25, 50, 75 and 100 percent. The key to this is when you swing at 25 percent of your full tempo, you do it so it’s constant and consistent throughout. And you complete the whole swing. You don’t stop at impact or halfway through.

Pia: Most people know they have to work at tempo, but it's an intellectual thing. The only way it will ever work is if you feel it in yourself when you’re swinging. The main purpose of Ai's drill is to get your body to feel or sense the difference between these four tempos. From there you can capture what combination of these four tempos is going to help you swing best on a particular day. This way, you’ll have an awareness of your tempo and be able to modify it on the course. You need to feel it in your body to know the difference.

Jack Nicklaus said that when he wanted more distance, he would slow down his swing. Is there an ideal tempo for the driver?

Lynn: It completely depends on the person and what they can do physically. Nicklaus is a perfect example: If physical assessments and screens had been around when he was a player, we would have found out why he had a flying right elbow or why he had to lift his left heel on the backswing. He made the most of that swing with a slower tempo.

Pia: We were at The Barclays with [PGA Tour player] Kevin Streelman, and the last day he was warming up on the range he had Tiger Woods on his left and Padraig Harrington on his right. Tiger hit a lot of wedge shots with a super-slow tempo, and Padraig performed these drills where it looked as if he was forcing the tempo beyond 100 percent. It was fascinating to see. That’s why we want players to check it out and see what’s the right value, or tempo, for them. In general, there’s a lot of men over 30 years old who are swinging the club at a faster tempo than their bodies can handle. They’re not aware they’re so inflexible. On the other side, there’s a lot of women who swing too slow at the ball, who don’t dare increase their tempo and let it flow to the finish of the swing.

Any advice for the weekend warrior? Something that may help them drop a shot or two during their Saturday or Sunday round?

Pia: There’s so many things that influence their technique when they’re playing, so it’s so important they don’t try and make these big dynamic swing changes. If they’re doing any swinging at home in their living room or out on the lawn, it’s much more beneficial to do some balance drills standing on one leg or with both feet together. On the range, hit four shots with four different grip pressures just to check the tension level in the grip. These things will help you swing better with the mechanics that you have.

One more thing is that they’re really clear with their decisions, and that they have the guts to stick with them. If you’re a weekend golfer, it’s not that hard of a skill to learn and it will help you play better golf with what you have. You can’t cram in golf. When you tee it up, you have the swing you have, so what’s the best you can do with it?

One of our readers is having problems shanking his short wedges. It's something he started doing this season and he can't get it fixed. Any suggestions?

Lynn: Check the distance from your ball at address. Often we find that people who shank it actually are standing too far away from ball. That results in too flat an angle coming into the ball, which leaves the face open. By getting closer to the ball, they get the plane steeper. Secondly, keep the energy or tempo in your swing the same to the finish.

Pia: Have constant grip pressure. When it’s a shorter swing, there’s less clubhead speed and you have a little fear going on, it’s easy to change grip pressure. Whatever grip pressure you start with, keep it constant until the end of the swing.

Related Videos from Lynn Marriott & Pia Nilsson
  • Lynn Marriott: Check Your Grip Pressure
  • Short Game Practice Advice
  • Golf 54 - Pt. 1 - Introduction
  • Getty Images

    "The Men In Blazers" Hosting Nightly Show From The Open, July 18-22 on NBCSN

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 17, 2018, 1:55 pm

    Show to Include Off-beat Interviews, Unique Features and Men In Blazers Distinctive Takes on The Open

    VIDEO: Men In Blazers: Carnoustie Through the Years Hosting The Open

    Culminating in France’s thrilling win on Sunday, NBC Sports’ critically-acclaimed The Men In Blazers – Roger Bennett and Michael Davies – have spent the past month breaking down all of the action surrounding the FIFA World Cup. However, there will be no rest for the duo as they leave behind their Panic Room studio in the “crap part of SoHo” in Manhattan to host a nightly show in conjunction with The 147TH Open. The show will feature the pair’s signature, unconventional style in providing unique takes on golf’s original championship while “sporting an arsenal of the finest golf sweaters that could be found on eBay.” Originating from Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland, Men In Blazers will air nightly on NBCSN Wednesday, July 18 through Sunday, July 22.

    In addition to delivering a series of features for NBC Sports’ coverage surrounding The Open, the nightly Men In Blazers show on NBCSN will offer expanded highlights following each round; off-beat interviews, special guests and cameos; along with non-traditional stories highlighting cultural elements relevant to Carnoustie and The Open.

    “Both Davo and I grew up with The Open being the heartbeat of our sporting year,” said Bennett. “To cover it from that beautiful monster that is Carnoustie is the honor of a lifetime. We look forward to savoring every attempt to tame Hogan’s Alley, the futile battle between man and nature, and all those ‘subtle’ Ian Poulter wardrobe changes, in equal measure.”

    Dedicated features being showcased over the duration of the week include: a retrospect on past Opens having been staged at Carnoustie; an in-depth recollection of the unforgettable 1999 Open; an introduction to the second-oldest golf shop in the world; a history lesson on Carnoustie and its influence on golf around the world; and an examination of Carnoustie’s local delicacy known as “bridies”.

    MEN IN BLAZERS AIRTMES FOR THE 147TH OPEN WEEK (All Times EST)

    Wednesday, July 18               11-11:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

    Thursday, July 19                   11-11:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

    Friday, July 20                        1-1:30 a.m. (NBCSN, Saturday overnight)

    Saturday, July 21                    11:30 p.m.-Midnight (NBCSN)

    Sunday, July 22                      10-10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

    Getty Images

    Woods delofts 2-iron to use off Carnoustie tees

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 1:23 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods has been effective this season hitting a 2-iron off many tees, reverting to a version of the stinger shot he made so popular.

    This week at baked out and brown Carnoustie he went to the next level, adding a new 2-iron to his bag that he bent to 17 degrees, down from his normal 20-degree version.

    “I took a few degrees off of it, just trying to be able to have the ability to chase one down there,” he explained on Tuesday.

    Woods said he still carries the club about the same distance, from 245 to 250 yards, but “it gets to its final destination much differently [on the ground].”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “Obviously, it rolls out whereas mine back home, I've generally liked having it 20 degrees because I can hit the ball into the par 5s as an option,” he said. “This one's not really designed for hitting the ball in the air to par 5s as an option. It's more of a driving club.”

    After playing two practice rounds, Woods said he wasn’t sure how much he would use the new 2-iron given the dry conditions which have led to ridiculously long tee shots, and he said he might adjust the club more if the course doesn’t slow down.

    “If it softens up, it could be a good club,” he said. “If it doesn't soften up, then I might just add a degree to it and keep it a little softer and not have it so hot.”

    The Open is the second consecutive event where Woods has added to his bag. At The National earlier this month, he went with a new mallet-headed putter that he plans to continue to use this week.

    Getty Images

    Europeans out to end the recent American dominance

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 12:59 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In golf’s biggest events, the Americans have left the rest of the world feeling red, white and mostly blue.

    If you’re wondering whether the U.S. currently holds a meaningful title, the answer is probably yes.

    Golf’s four majors? Yep.

    The Ryder Cup? Indeed.

    The No. 1 player in the world? Absolutely.

    The Presidents, Solheim, Walker, Palmer and Curtis Cups? Uh-huh.

    It’s been a popular talking point at the men’s majors, as Europe’s finest players have been peppered about why they’ve all seemingly fallen under Uncle Sam’s spell.

    After all, the Americans haven’t ripped off five major wins in a row like this since 1981-82 – when Justin Rose was still in diapers.

    “I don’t know what I’d put it to down to,” the Englishman said Tuesday, “other than the American boys in the world rankings and on the golf course are performing really, really well. The top end of American golf right now is incredibly strong.”

    Since 2000, the Americans have taken titles at eight of the nine courses on the modern Open rota. The only one they’ve yet to conquer is Carnoustie, and that’s probably because they’ve only had one crack at it, in 2007, when an Irishman, Padraig Harrington, prevailed in a playoff.

    Not since Tom Watson in 1975 has a U.S. player survived Carnoustie, arguably the most difficult links on the planet. But Americans ranging from Dustin Johnson to Tiger Woods comprise six of the oddsmakers' top 10 favorites, all listed at 25/1 or better.

    “America, there’s no doubt about it, and there’s no other way to put it, other than they have an exceptional bunch of players at the moment,” Tommy Fleetwood said. “It just so happens that it has been a run of American golfers that have won majors, but at the same time, they’ve generally been the best players in the world at the time that they’ve won them.

    “You don’t really look at them as a nationality. You just look at them as players and people, and you can understand why they’re the ones winning the majors.”

    Indeed, there’s not a fluke among them.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Since this American run began last summer at Erin Hills, Brooks Koepka (twice), Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed have hoisted trophies. All were inside the top 25 in the world when they won. All were multiple-time winners on the world stage before that major. And all, most ominously for Europe, were 29 or younger.

    “There’s a bit of camaraderie amongst all of them,” Rose said. “I know Brooks and Dustin are incredibly close, and you’ve got Rickie (Fowler) and Justin Thomas and Jordan as a group are all really close. It’s working really well for them. They’re spurring each other on.”

    That’s why there’s even more anticipation than usual for the Ryder Cup. The Americans haven’t won on foreign soil in a quarter century, but this band of brothers is better and closer than those who have tried and failed before them. Couple that with a few aging stars on the European side, and there’s a growing sense that the Americans could be on the verge of a dominant stretch.

    That should sound familiar.

    During an eight-major span in 2010-11, the most common refrain was: What’s Wrong with American Golf? International players captured seven consecutive majors, including six in a row at one point. They took over the top spot in the world rankings. They turned the Ryder Cup into a foregone conclusion. In the fall of 2010, Colin Montgomerie pounded his chest and declared that there’d been a “changing of the guard over to Europe,” and it was hard to find fault in his reasoning.

    “European golf was very healthy a few years ago for a long time,” McIlroy said. “It seemed like every major someone from the island of Ireland turned up to, we were winning it. It doesn’t seem that long ago.”

    Because it wasn’t.

    So even though it’s been more than a year since an International player held any title of consequence, these types of runs are cyclical, and Europe in particular has no shortage of contenders.

    Major drought or not, McIlroy is a threat every time he tees it up. Rose turns 38 in two weeks, but he’s playing arguably the best golf of his career, recording a top-10 finish in a ridiculous 17 of his past 21 starts. Fleetwood is fresh off a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open, where he closed with 63. Jon Rahm is a top-5 machine. Alex Noren just won on the Ryder Cup course in France.

    “I think Tommy, clearly, showed how close the Europeans are to challenging that dominance as well,” Rose said. “So it’s not like we’re a mile behind. It’s just that they’re on a great run right now, and there’s no reason why a European player shouldn’t come through this week.”

    Getty Images

    Links to the past: Tiger's return revives Open memories

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 12:51 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods rekindles his love affair with links golf this week at Carnoustie, which seems about right considering his introduction to the ancient ways of the game began here on the Angus coast.

    It was here on the most brutal of the Open Championship rota courses that a 19-year-old Tiger first played links golf at the 1995 Scottish Open, an eye-opening and enlightening experience.

    “I remember my dad on the range with me, saying, ‘Are you ever going to hit the ball past the 100 yard sign?’” Woods recalled on Tuesday at Carnoustie, his first start at The Open since 2015. “I said, ‘No, I'm just enjoying this. Are you kidding me? This is the best.’”

    During this most recent comeback, Tiger has been all smiles. A new, relaxed version of his former self made calm and approachable by age and the somber influence of injury. But this week has been different.

    During a practice round with Justin Thomas on Monday he laughed his way all the way around the brown and bouncy seaside layout. Much of that had to do with his return to the unique ways of links golf, the creative left side of his brain taking the wheel from the normally measured right side for one glorious week.

    He talked of game plans and strategic advantages on a parched pitch that has seen drives rolling out over 400 yards. At his core, Tiger is a golf nerd for all the right reasons and this kind of cerebral test brings out the best of that off-the-charts golf IQ.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Although there are no shortages of defining moments in Tiger’s career and one can make all sorts of arguments for what would be his seminal moment – from the 1997 Masters to the 2008 U.S. Open –the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool stands out, based on near-perfect execution.

    In ’06 at Liverpool, which played to a similar shade of dusty yellow as Carnoustie will this week, Tiger hit just a single driver, opting instead for a steady diet of long irons off tees. For the week he hit 48 of 56 fairways, 58 of 72 greens and rolled the field for a two-stroke victory and his third, and most recent, claret jug.

    This Open has all the makings of a similar tactical tour de force. For this championship he’s put a new 2-iron into play that’s more like a strong 1-iron (17 degrees) and imagines, given the conditions, a similar low, running menu.

    “It could be that way,” Woods said when asked the similarities between this week’s conditions and the ’06 championship. “I'm not going to hit that many long clubs off the tees, just because I hit a 3-iron on Monday, down 18, I went 333 [yards]. It can get quick out here.”

    If Tiger ever needed a major championship confidence boost the Carnoustie Open would be it, an inspiring walk down memory lane to a time when he was the undisputed king of golf.

    “[The ’06 Open] is the closest you can compare to this,” David Duval said. “But I struggle to remember that golf course being as fast as this one. It was close, but this one is something else.”

    Ernie Els had a slightly different take, albeit one that was no less ominous to the rest of the field this week.

    “Liverpool is on a sand hill, this has a bit more run to it,” Els said. “But it’s got the same feel. It’s almost like St. Andrews was in 2000. Very, very fast.”

    It’s worth noting that Tiger also won that ’00 Open at the Home of Golf with an even more dominant performance. It is the unique challenges of the links test that make many, even Tiger, consider the Open Championship his best chance to continue his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.

    More than any other Grand Slam gathering, The Open is blind to age and the notion of players competing past their prime. In 2008 at Royal Birkdale, then-53-year-old Greg Norman flirted with the lead until the very end, finishing tied for third; a year later at Turnberry, Tom Watson came within one hole of history at 59 years young.

    “It certainly can be done,” Woods said. “You get to places like Augusta National, where it's just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately. That's just the way it goes. But links-style golf courses, you can roll the ball. Even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”

    Whether this is the week Tiger gets back into the Grand Slam game depends on his ability to replicate those performances from years past on a similarly springy course. As he exited the media center bound for the practice putting green on Tuesday he seemed renewed by the cool sea breeze and the unique challenges of playing the game’s oldest championship.

    Coming back to Carnoustie is more than a reintroduction to links golf; for Tiger it’s starting to feel like a bona fide restart to his major career.