Woods No 4 swing change all about the climb

By Rex HoggardFebruary 23, 2011, 1:43 am
2005 WGC Accenture Match Play

MARANA, Ariz. – Depending on who you ask, or who you believe, Tiger Woods is either one swing away from a breakthrough or swinging aimlessly in the dark. Knowing Woods, and his swing coach Sean Foley, we’ll take the points and the former.

Yet there is no escaping the fact that this swing change, No. 4 for Woods as an adult, has been the most scrutinized. When asked about his current slump, a victory drought that stretches back 15 months and 17 events, Woods is quick to point out that he’s been here before.

In early 1994 he “shortened up” his swing with Butch Harmon and in 1997 he and Harmon underwent a more intense overhaul. Seven years later he underwent a third nip/tuck with Hank Haney. With each change came a predictable slump and, to be accurate, he’s only played nine worldwide events under Foley’s guidance, hardly an adequate snapshot to gauge what has been billed as a dramatic change.

“You know, for the first (change), when I first worked with Butch it took me a year and a half. Then my second change with Butch took me almost two full years. With Hank it took me about 18 months or so. That's a long time before things start clicking,” Woods said recently. “I know it's going to take a long time.”

But what qualifies as a good year for some can be seen as disastrous when viewed through the fish bowl where Woods resides, and with each passing week the external questions and concerns build.

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Most of Woods’ professional fraternity brothers can relate to being caught in between a swing that works on the practice tee but only in fits and spurts when it counts in competition. Lee Westwood, who dethroned Woods atop the World Golf Ranking last year, figures he’s gone through “hundreds” of swing changes in his career, including a particularly sluggish transformation nearly a decade ago when he plummeted outside of the top 100 in the world.

“There's no point in sort of doing it wishy-washy,” Westwood said on Tuesday at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. “I think that's maybe part of my problem eight, nine years ago, when I went through the slump. I didn't get it all straightened out in my mind what I was going to do. I fluttered between different people's ideas rather than going with what I thought was right.”

But if anyone outside of Jack Nicklaus can relate to the unrealistically lofty expectations placed on Woods it is 10-time major champion Annika Sorenstam who dominated the LPGA Tour just as convincingly as Woods once reigned over the men’s circuit.

Renowned her entire career as a quintessential ballstriker, we asked Sorenstam last week as she prepared for her junior event at Reunion Resort outside Orlando, Fla., how many swing changes she went through?

“None,” she said almost surprised by the question. “I tried to fine-tune it every year but I have a very repeatable swing. I don’t understand why (Woods) wants to go through so many swing changes. I was very surprised. I’m always surprised.”

On this, Woods has been rather clear. His goal is perpetual improvement and regardless of results that wasn’t happening in 1994 and 1997 with Harmon or 2004 with Haney and certainly not in 2010 when he signed on with Foley before the PGA Championship.

“I know I can become better,” is his default answer when asked why he would tinker with an action that has produced 14 major championships and 71 Tour titles.

But this particular extreme makeover is less about something new than it seems to be a quest for a swing from Woods’ past. Foley has consistently said the current swing, at least the desired impact position, is virtually no different from the way Woods swung as a junior. It’s why some have speculated that this change will not take 18 to 24 months to sink in like the changes with Harmon and Haney.

“He wants his old swing back, I can tell you that,” Sorenstam said.

But if Woods is coming full swing circle it would seem to support Sorenstam’s original assessment – why change something that was so good?

In fairness to Woods, Sorenstam collected her majors with a simple, Xerox-worthy action that wore down opponents and the most demanding golf courses. Other than 2006 at Hoylake, where he picked apart the field and Royal Liverpool with long irons, and the 2000 U.S. Open clinic at Pebble Beach, Woods has largely made his competitive bones with power and clutch putting.

It’s a reality that at least partially explains why Woods turned to Harmon in 1997 after winning the Masters by 12 strokes and Haney in 2004 after a five-victory 2003 that featured just one Grand Slam top-10.

It’s the lessons of another legend that Woods appears to have a kindred connection with in his never-ending quest. In 1987 Ben Hogan told Golf Digest: “This sounds stupid, but I thought I was always in a slump. Most of the enjoyment in life is in improving.”

In this maybe the golf world is trapped by a classic sport psychology pitfall, lost in the immediacy of results instead of the foundations of the process. For Woods it has always been the climb not the peak that drives him and his current expedition is no different.

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Arizona caps an improbable journey with a title

By Ryan LavnerMay 24, 2018, 3:49 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – Five hours before the final match at the NCAA Women’s Championship, Arizona coach Laura Ianello sat cross-legged on a couch in the Holiday Inn lobby and broke down four times in a half-hour interview.

It’s been that kind of exhausting season.

From poor play to stunning midseason defections to a stroke-play collapse, Ianello has felt uneasy for months. She has felt like she was losing control. Felt like her carefully crafted roster was coming apart.

So to even have a chance to win a NCAA title?

“I know what this team has gone through,” she said, beginning to tear up, “and you don’t get these opportunities all the time. So I want it for them. This could be so life-changing for so many of them.”

A moment that seemed impossible six months ago became reality Wednesday at Karsten Creek.

Arizona continued its magical run through the match-play bracket and knocked off top-ranked Alabama to capture its third NCAA title, with junior Haley Moore – who first rose to fame by making the cut at an LPGA major as a 16-year-old – rolling in a 4-footer to earn the clinching point in extra holes.

All throughout nationals Arizona was fueled by momentum and adrenaline, but this was no Cinderella squad. The Wildcats were ranked ninth in the country. They won twice this spring. They had four medalists. They were one of the longest-hitting teams in the country.

But even before a miracle end to NCAA stroke play, Arizona needed some help just to get here.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring


On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, texted Ianello that she was turning pro. It may have been a gift to her parents, for their years of sacrifice, but it was a lump of coal in Ianello’s stocking.

“I was absolutely heartbroken,” she said. “It was devastating.”

Even more bad news arrived a few weeks later, when junior Gigi Stoll told Ianello that she was unhappy, homesick and wanted to return to Portland, Ore. Just like that, a promising season had gone off the rails.

Ianello offered her a full release, but Stoll looked around, found no other suitors and decided to remain with the team – as long as she signed a contract of expected behavior.

“It was the most exhausting two months of my life,” Ianello said. “We care so much about these freakin’ girls, and we’re like, Come on, this is just a small, little picture of your life, so you don’t realize what you’re possibly giving up. It’s so hard to see that sometimes.”

Stoll eventually bought in, but the rest of the team was blindsided by Quihuis’ decision.

“We became even more motivated to prove we were a great team,” said junior Bianca Pagdanganan.

It also helped that Yu-Sang Hou joined the squad in January. The morale immediately improved, not least because the players now could poke fun at Hou; on her fourth day on campus she nearly burned down the dorm when she forgot to add water to her mac-and-cheese.

Early on Ianello and assistant Derek Radley organized a team retreat at a hotel in Tucson. There the players created Oprah-inspired vision boards and completed exercises blindfolded and delivered 60-second speeches to break down barriers. At the end of the session, they created T-shirts that they donned all spring. They splashed “The Great Eight” on the front, put the state of Arizona and each player’s country of origin on the sleeves, and on the back printed their names and a slogan: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

“I can’t think of anything else that better embodies this team,” Radley said.

This spring, they rallied together and finished no worse than fourth in a tournament. Through three rounds of stroke play here at the NCAA Championship, they used their distance advantage and sat third in the standings. Then they shot 17 over par in the final round, tumbling outside the top-8 cut line.

They were down to their final chance on the 72nd hole, needing an eagle to tie, as Pagdanganan lined up her 30-footer. She dramatically drained the putt, then gathered her teammates on the range.

“This means we were meant to be in the top 8,” she said. Less than an hour later, they beat Baylor in the team playoff to earn the last match-play berth.

Ianello was so amped up from the frenetic finish that she slept only three hours on Monday night, but they continued to roll and knocked off top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals, beating a pair of Player of the Year contenders, Lilia Vu and Patty Tavatanakit, in the process. In the afternoon semifinals, they jumped all over Stanford and won easily.

It was a cute story, the last team into the match-play field reaching the final match, but a stiffer challenge awaited the Wildcats Wednesday.

Alabama was the top-ranked team in the country. The Tide were a whopping 110 under par for the season, boasting three first-team All-Americans who were so dominant in their first two matches that they trailed for only two of the 99 holes they played.

Ianello already seemed to be bracing for the result on the eve of the final match.

“Win or lose,” she said, “this has been a hell of a ride.”

But their wild ride continued Wednesday, as Hou won four holes in a row to start the back nine and defeat Alabama’s best player, Lauren Stephenson, who had the best single-season scoring average (69.5) in Division I history.

Then sophomore Sandra Nordaas – the main beneficiary after Quihuis left at the midway point of the season – held on for a 1-up victory over Angelica Moresco.

And so Arizona’s national-title hopes hinged on the success of its most mercurial player, Moore. In the anchor match against Lakareber Abe, Moore jumped out to a 2-up lead at the turn but lost the first three holes on the back nine.

By the time Radley sped back to help Moore, in the 12th fairway, she was frazzled.

“But seeing me,” Radley said, “I saw a sense of calm wash over her.”

Moore played solidly for the rest of the back nine and took a 1-up lead into the home hole. She didn’t flinch when Abe hit one of the shots of the entire championship – a smoked 3-wood to 12 feet to set up a two-putt birdie and force extras – and then gave herself 4 feet for the win on the first playoff hole. She sank the putt and within seconds was mobbed by her teammates.

In the giddy aftermath, Ianello could barely speak. She wandered around the green in a daze, looking for someone, anyone, to hug.

The most trying year of her career had somehow ended in a title.

“At some moments, it felt impossible,” she said. “But I underestimated these young women a little bit.”

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Pac-12 continues to dominate women's golf

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 24, 2018, 3:04 am

Arizona's national women's golf championship marked the fourth consecutive year in‌ which the women's Division I national title was won by a Pac-12 Conference team. All four championships were won by different schools (Stanford, 2015; Washington, 2016; Arizona State, 2017; Arizona, 2018). The Pac-12 is the only conference to win four straight golf championships (men or women) with four different schools.

Here are some other statistical notes from the just-concluded NCAA Div. I Women's Golf Championship:

• This is the second time that Arizona has won the national title the year after rival Arizona State won it. The last time was 1996.

• Arizona now has three women's golf national championships. The previous two came in 1996 and 2000.

• Arizona is only the sixth school to win three or more Div. I women's golf championships, joining Arizona State (8), Duke (6), San Jose State (3), UCLA (3) and USC (3).

• Arizona's Haley Moore, who earned the clinching point on the 19th hole of her match with Alabama's Lakareber Abe, was the only Arizona player to win all three of her matches this week.

• Alabama's Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight also went 3-0. Gillman did not trail in any match.

• Since the match-play format was instituted in 2015, Arizona is the lowest seed (8) to claim the national title. The seeds claiming the national championship were Stanford (4) in 2015; Washington (4) in 2016; and Arizona State (3) in 2017.

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High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 1:44 am

TEQUESTA, Fla. - The 18-year-old Hammer, from Houston, is set to play at Texas next fall. Barber, from Stuart, Fla., also is 18. He's headed to LSU.

''Growing up watching U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateurs on TV, I just knew being a USGA champion is something that I desperately wanted,'' said Hammer, who qualified for a U.S. Open three years ago at 15. ''And to finally do it, it feels incredible. It feels as good, if not better, than I thought it would. And especially being able to do it with Garrett. It's really cool to share this moment.''

Hammer and Cole won the par-4 eighth with a birdie to take a 2-up lead. They took the par-4 10th with a par, won the par-5 13th with an eagle - Barber hit a 4-iron from 235 yards to 3 feet - and halved the next two holes to end the match.

''Cole didn't want me to hit 4-iron,'' Barber said. ''He didn't think I could get it there. I was like, 'I got it.' So I hit it hard, hit pretty much a perfect shot. It was a crazy shot.''

The 32-year-old Dull is from Winter Park, Fla., and the 42-year-old Brooke from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

''Cole Hammer is a special player,'' Brooke said. ''Obviously, he's going to Texas (and) I'm not saying he is Jordan Spieth, but there are certain things that he does.''

In the morning semifinals, Hammer and Barber beat Idaho high school teammates Carson Barry and Sam Tidd, 5 and 4, and Brooke and Dull topped former Seattle University teammates Kyle Cornett and Patrick Sato, 4 and 3.

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Watch: Pumped up Beef deadlifts 485 lbs.

By Grill Room TeamMay 24, 2018, 12:19 am

Andrew "Beef" Johnston has been playing some solid golf on the European Tour this season, and he is clearly pumped up for one of the biggest weeks of the year at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Judging from the video below, Beef will have no problems lifting the trophy on Sunday as he reportedly deadlifted 220 kg ... (Googles kilogram to pounds converter, enters numbers) ... that's 485 lbs!

@beefgolf with a new deadlift PB 220kg ! #youcantgowronggettingstrong

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