DiMarcos Win in Pennsylvania Introduced Claw
Sam Snead used the side-saddle straddle for a year or two. Mike Hulbert and his half-year experiment with a one-handed grasp was certainly unusual. Bernhard Langer and his grab-the-forearm grip might have been the most successful for a while. But when Chris DiMarco trotted out The Claw in 1995, school was out on weirdness.
DiMarco didnt really care what he looked like. It obviously takes ironclad nerves to ignore the gaping mouths when one prepares to putt in such a manner. And in the fall of 2000, he blew everyone away when he knocked in a monotonous succession of rollers en route to his first PGA Tour victory. It was, incidentally, the inaugural SEI Pennsylvania Classic. And it was, incidentally, DiMarcos coming-out party after 10 long years as a professional.
DiMarco shot 68 and 67 the first two rounds, but was in second place by a stroke at the halfway point. The third round, though, he shot a 66 to grab a three-shot lead, and breezed home Sunday with a 69 to close out the field by a healthy six strokes.
And everyone suddenly knew Chris DiMarco, the man who looks like he is holding a 50-pound putter. Thats all right. DiMarcos unique grasp has him in the No. 23 spot among tour putters this year, and thats in the top 15 percent. Call him crazy, but be sure and call when theyre passing out the checks.
DiMarco never was a bad putter, even when he was putting with a conventional grip. It was just streaky, he says.
If it wasnt good, it wasnt good. And if it was good, it was good. I played out here for two years putting like that (conventionally), and I had a whole bunch of top 10s. But now, I putt good every week. If I have a bad week, I still putt good.
It started in the fall of 95 when he had played fitfully, finishing 174th on the money list and 105th in putting. He was on the putting green at a late-season mini-tour event with his Orlando neighbor, Skip Kendall, and mentioned how bad his putting had been. Kendall demonstrated the grip he had seen an amateur use once, and DiMarco doubled up laughing.
I looked at him and said, Youve got be crazy, recalls DiMarco. But I tried it, and it kind of resurrected me.
Two days later I went out to play and I had one of those putts I knew I was not going to make from four feet. I tried it and - lo and behold - it went straight in the middle, It was like, Wow, kind of reborn, rejuvenated. It was fun.
Armed with the crazy new weapon, DiMarco would finish third on the Buy.Com (then Nike) Tour the following year, 1996. And he has used it ever since that day, while Kendall still only fools around with it during practice.
DiMarco grips the club normally with the left hand, but puts the right hand below the left in a backwards fashion. The palm faces in the same direction as the putter-face.
Ive been doing it for a long time now, and Ive never putted normal again, he said. To me, theres nothing weird about it ' its just the way I putt.
There is certainly a good reason to it. It takes your right hand out. There's no hit with the right hand. If guys are struggling, that's what they struggle with. On tour, I know a lot of guys use it on the putting green to practice with and it's a good way to practice.
DiMarco doesnt look nearly so strange now with so many guys fiddling around with the grip on the putting green. Some have actually taken it out of the course.
I've had a lot of success with it, so guys will try something that has stuck, he said. If I would have come out and not played well, lost my card and moved on, I don't think anybody would have tried it.
But the win in Pennsylvania assured that he would be noticed. Hes won twice since then, including this year in Phoenix. But he will always remember the year 2000, he said immediately after he won No. 2, the Buick Challenge, in 2001.
The first one is the hard one. That one is hard and they are totally two totally complete wins, DiMarco said.
That's what you are practicing for on the putting green when you are ten years old. This is the putt to beat Jack Nicklaus back then, and now it is David Duval, one of greatest players now.
These kids are practicing 10-footers to beat David Duval. What can I say - it kind of makes what I have done all the years pay off.
Vogel Monday qualifies for eighth time this season
The PGA Tour's regular season ended with another tally for the Monday King.
While Monday qualifiers are a notoriously difficult puzzle to solve, with dozens of decorated professionals vying for no more than four spots in a given tournament field, T.J. Vogel has turned them into his personal playground this season. That trend continued this week when he earned a spot into the season-ending Wyndham Championship, shooting a 5-under 66 and surviving a 4-for-3 playoff for the final spots.
It marks Vogel's eighth successful Monday qualification this season, extending the unofficial record he set when he earned start No. 7 last month at The Greenbrier. Patrick Reed earned the nickname "Mr. Monday" when he successfully qualified six different times during the 2012 season before securing full-time status.
There have been 24 different Monday qualifiers throughout the season, with Vogel impressively turning 19 qualifier starts into eight tournament appearances.
Vogel started the year with only conditional Web.com Tour status, and explained at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May that he devised his summer schedule based on his belief that it's easier to Monday qualify for a PGA Tour event than a Web.com tournament.
"The courses that the PGA Tour sets the qualifiers up, they're more difficult and sometimes they're not a full field whereas the Web, since there's no pre-qualifier, you have two full fields for six spots each and the courses aren't as tough," Vogel said. "So I feel like if you take a look at the numbers, a lot of the Web qualifiers you have to shoot 8-under."
Vogel has made three cuts in his previous seven starts this year, topping out with a T-16 finish at the Valspar Championship in March. The 27-year-old also played the weekend at the Nelson and the Wells Fargo Championship, missing the cut at The Greenbrier in addition to the RSM Classic, Honda Classic and FedEx St. Jude Classic.
While Vogel won't have another Monday qualifier opportunity until October, he has a chance to secure some 2019 status this week in Greensboro. His 51 non-member FedExCup points would currently slot him 205th in the season-long race, 13 points behind Rod Pampling at No. 200. If Vogel earns enough points to reach the equivalent of No. 200 after this week, he'd clinch a spot in the upcoming Web.com Tour Finals where he would have a chance to compete for a full PGA Tour card for the 2018-19 season.
Woods adds BMW Championship to playoff schedule
Tiger Woods is adding a trip to Philadelphia to his growing playoff itinerary.
Having already committed to both The Northern Trust and the Dell Technologies Championship, Woods' agent confirmed to GolfChannel.com that the 14-time major champ will also make an appearance next month at the BMW Championship. It will mark Woods' first start in the third leg of the FedExCup playoffs since 2013 when he tied for 11th at Conway Farms Golf Club outside of Chicago.
This year the Sept. 6-9 event is shifting to Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa., which is hosting the BMW for the first time. The course previously hosted the Quicken Loans National in both 2010 and 2011. Woods won the BMW en route to FedExCup titles in both 2007 and 2009 when it was held at Cog Hill in Illinois.
Woods was already in good position to make the 70-man BMW field, but his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship vaulted him from 49th to 20th in the season-long points race and assured that he'll make it to Aronimink regardless of his performance in the first two postseason events.
Woods' commitment also means a packed schedule will only get busier leading into the Ryder Cup, where he is expected to be added as a captain's pick. Woods' appearance at the BMW will cap a run of five events in six weeks, and should he tee it up in Paris it could be his seventh start in a nine-week stretch if he also qualifies for the 30-player Tour Championship.
Handing out major grades: From A+ to F
The Masters is 237 days away, which means these definitive major grades will hang on players like a scarlet letter for nearly eight months.
OK, maybe not.
Brooks Koepka, obviously, gets an A+. He won two majors, and became just the fourth player to take the U.S. Open and PGA in the same season, and did all of this while overcoming a career-threatening wrist injury at the beginning of the year. Very impressive.
Patrick Reed and Francesco Molinari – you passed with flying colors, too. Reed showed that he can access his best stuff in an event other than the Ryder Cup, while Molinari’s three-month heater culminated with him surviving a wild final day at Carnoustie to hoist the claret jug. Welcome to the major club, gents.
As for everybody else? Hey, you’ve now got plenty of time to recover, reassess and round into form in hopes of improved marks in ’19.
Why: Sure, a few shots from his major season will linger for years – his too-cute pitch shot on Carnoustie’s 11th hole and his sliced drive on Bellerive’s 17th immediately come to mind – but let’s not forget how far we’ve come: Two years ago, Woods could barely walk because of debilitating back pain; at this time last year, he’d just exited a treatment facility for overusing his pain/sleep medications, following an embarrassing DUI arrest. Now, he’s top 30 in the world, with a pair of top-6s in the majors and undoubtedly the most stirring final round of the year, in any event, with his career-best Sunday 64 at the PGA. If you still think that Tiger doesn’t have what it takes to win another major, you’ve lost touch with reality.
Why: He was one of only two players (Webb Simpson) who finished top 20 in all four majors, and he’ll probably look back at 2018 as a year in which he easily could have bagged a second title. At the U.S. Open he was only one shot off the lead after 54 holes but stumbled on the final day. A month later, he tied for second at The Open, but only after a weekend rally once he made the cut on the number. Across all four majors he had the best cumulative score to par of any player (12 under). This was a what-could-have-been year.
Why: His 65-67 finish at the Masters left him one shot back of Reed, but it felt like the final obstacle had been cleared. Nothing was stopping Fowler now – he proved he could go low when it counted. Except then he imploded with an 84 in the third round of the U.S. Open and shot over par in both weekend rounds at The Open, before again getting into the mix at the PGA. Alas, battling an oblique strain, he regressed each round after an opening 65 and tied for 12th. Maybe next year …
Why: Give him credit: He played better in the majors than he did the rest of the season. He shot an electric 64 on the final day at the Masters (though he’ll rue his tee shot on the 72nd hole) and grabbed a share of the 54-hole lead at The Open, despite not having his best stuff. That he shot a birdieless 76 on the final day was more a product of his form this year than succumbing to major pressure. Like Kopeka, he’s figured out how to perform when the lights are the brightest.
Why: With the completeness of his game, it’s a little surprising that he hasn’t given himself better chances to break through. But he’s still only 23, and the chances will come in bunches before long. His fourth-place showings at the Masters and the PGA are steps in the right direction.
Why: Asked Sunday how he’ll remember the major season, McIlroy replied bluntly: “Probably won’t. I don’t think there was anything all that memorable about it.” Of course, we’ll remember plenty, such as when he played his way into the final group at Augusta, only to fade over the course of the day, thus squandering another shot at capturing the career Grand Slam. And we’ll remember his tie for second at Carnoustie, where he eagled the 14th hole but then, with a chance to apply pressure on Molinari, couldn’t hit a wedge within 20 feet on the 18th green. He’s fallen into bad habits with that majestic swing, but there are holes in McIlroy’s game that need filling – holes that some of the other top players don’t have. And until he refines his wedge play and putting, that majorless drought (now four years and counting) will continue.
Why: No one has been better than Thomas over the past two seasons, but he’s likely frustrated by his major performance in 2018 – three top-25s, but only one realistic chance to win. Four shots off the lead heading into Sunday at the PGA, he had erased his deficit midway through the front nine but made critical mistakes on Nos. 14 and 16 to dash his hopes of defending his title. Of all the big-name players, he’s probably the best bet for a major rebound in 2019.
Why: This has been a resurgent season for Day, with a pair of wins, but he didn’t bring it in the year’s biggest events. It’ll look good on paper, with three top-20s, but the only time he had a chance to win was the PGA, and he was one of the few to back up on the final day, carding a 1-over 71 when he sat just four shots off the lead.
Why: The floodgates were supposed to open after the 2016 U.S. Open, and it just hasn’t happened. Yet. He top-tenned at the Masters but was a non-factor, then jumped out to a four-shot lead halfway through the U.S. Open. He couldn’t make a putt during a Saturday 77, then got worked on the final day, head to head, against Koepka. He backed it up with a missed cut at The Open (where he blamed a lack of focus) and finished outside the top 25 at the PGA at a soft, straightforward course that suited plenty of other bombers. He can – and should – fare better.
Why: His series of lowlights at the U.S. Open – where he bizarrely whacked a moving ball on the green and then staunchly defended his actions – underscored that his window is all but closed at the majors. His major results since getting demoralized by Henrik Stenson at the 2016 Open: T33-T22-MC-MC-T36-T48-T24-MC. ’Nuff said.
Why: No doubt, marriage and fatherhood are massive adjustments for everyone, but he’s missed the cut in his last five majors (and didn’t break par in any major round this year), plummeted down the world rankings (to 25th!) and put European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn in a difficult position of deciding whether to burn a pick on the slumping Spaniard. Memories of that breakthrough Masters victory are already drifting further and further away.
Watch: Furyk throws out first pitch at Yankees-Mets
As part of a a New York media tour to promote the Ryder Cup, U.S. captain Jim Furyk threw out the first pitch at Monday evening's game between the Yankees and Mets at Yankee Stadium.
Here's a look at some more photos from Captain Furyk's Ryder Cup Trophy tour.
Great pitch, Captain. ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/9rZmR8eRH1— Ryder Cup USA (@RyderCupUSA) August 14, 2018