Technology the Reason Elders Not As Long

By George WhiteMay 14, 2002, 4:00 pm
So maybe theres another reason why the 20- and 30-year-olds bash the golf ball further than the 40-somethings. Maybe there isnt that much difference in muscular strength, something I always suspected. Maybe its much more related to equipment and how a player has been taught to swing.
 
Nick Price looked amazingly fit at the Verizon Byron Nelson last week. Admittedly, he isnt a Charles Howell with a 32-inch waist, but then, not many players in their 20s look like Howell, either. Price is 45 now, but he is wonderfully athletic. His 6-foot frame distributes his 190 pounds quite nicely. There is just no way he is the proverbial 90-pound weakling.
 
The PGA Tour rankings show that as late as 1995, Price was fifth in driving length. Today, he stands at No. 143. What in the name of Walter Hagen has happened? Has the rigors of age affected him THAT much?
 
Well, it hasnt. But modern technology has. Clubs are becoming so much easier to hit on a straight line. A metal head has such a wide array of features built into it that it resembles the old persimmon woods in shape only. And the over-40 set learned the game with persimmon drivers. The 20- and 30-year-olds learned on metal woods.
 
I feel quite passionate about it, because if you look back 10 years ago, Greg Norman and myself and guys like (Jeff) Sluman, we were among the best drivers in the game, said Price. Now, were very average. And OK, I am 45, but give me one of those old small-headed drivers and I will take on anyone.
 
And how do those who learned the game on the large heads have an advantage over those who learned on the small heads? Plenty, says Price.
 
The big difference when we grew up playing wooden drivers ' there was a point where, if you mis-hit that wooden driver, it would snap-hook and miss the adjacent fairway. Lets say you swung at it 85 percent. I can always swing at it 98 percent, but I knew there was a point that if I went to that driver too hard and miscued it, Id (knock it out-of-bounds), he said.
 
It would snap-hook so bad, so we learned to swing the club at one speed, at like 85 percent of our strength.
 
Look at the younger generation. They dont have to worry about the snap-hook nearly as much as players who grew up and in the 60s and 70s. Consequently, they routinely bash the ball 290 yards.
 
The margin of error is greater, Price said. The shots are a lot more consistent, the clubheads are more consistent, more stable, and the ball flies straighter off it. These guys are learning to swing at 95 and 96 percent.
 
Price mentioned great players over the past 100 years who played their golf with wood ' Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus ' and all swung at 85 percent. Could they swing all-out if they used todays driver? Certainly they could. And they probably would get an extra 20 or 30 yards if they used metal.
 
Why all of a sudden in 10 years can you go from swinging at it 85 percent, to swinging 95 percent? asked Price. The guys (who grew up in the 80s and 90s) hit it harder. The equipment makes for a much smaller margin of error. Thats the big difference.
 
Of course, a few of the older fellas have re-learned the swing. Tom Kite hits the ball 20 or 30 yards longer today than he did with his wooden driver 10 years ago, and hes 52 years old. But he is the exception, not the norm. Simply said, it took more skill to hit the old persimmons, and you simply couldnt swing the same was as you do with modern equipment.
 
Unfortunately, the new technology also is making many of the old courses relics of another era. Merion is the starkest example ' formerly a U.S. Open venue, it hasnt been used for that championship in years. And unless something is done to restrict length, some of the other Open courses will surely follow it.
 
I dont care what it is, whether we draw the line in the sand right now, saying this is it, or whether we go retroactive and start pulling some of the clubs that are out there ' but I dont know how you go backwards, said Price.
 
Unfortunately, he was born just a little too early ' or too late, depending on how you look at it. He is a player born on the cusp, starting in the era of the wooden driver, ending now in the era of composites. He knows the percentages ' be it 85 percent or 95 percent ' are against him.
American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

Getty Images

McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

Getty Images

Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.



“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

Getty Images

Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.