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September 24, 2004
Volume III, Issue 13
 
Fringe Clippings
 
And he questioned my equipment...
 
The look on Tiger Woods' face said it all. No words were necessary. There was Phil Mickelson's tee shot flying left of left during the first day of the Ryder Cup, and the cameras zoomed in on Woods. Oh, to know what he was thinking. "Yeah, great shot, buddy, thanks a lot." The wayward drive led to a bogey in the much-anticipated Woods-Mickelson pairing at the Ryder Cup, leading to their second loss of the day. Mickelson was benched the next morning, and the U.S. went on to its worse loss ever in the Ryder Cup. All of this is interesting because Mickelson made the curious move of switching from Titleist to Callaway on the eve of the Ryder Cup. Why not wait until the end of the season? Mickelson had a career year using Titleist equipment. It might have been a lot better, and far less controversial, had he waited a few months. Now he's getting hammered for having a poor Ryder Cup. Imagine that.
 
Coffee for the fans...
 
Spectators at the Ryder Cup had to be creative in order to imbibe. The consumption of alcohol was banned on the South Course at Oakland Hills Country Club, and spectators were issued a reminder about etiquette on the course. Five years ago at The Country Club, spectator behavior went over the top, with taunting and rude behavior, directed mostly at the European team. The Ryder Cup in England two years ago limited alcohol sales. Oakland Hills is a vast complex, however, and alcohol was available in hospitality areas. But that required a long walk back to the course. Knowing some golf fans, they spiked the coffee. But they were still on their best behavior. In fact, by the end of the competition, they had embraced the victorious European team.
 
Gee, I thought I was wearing my poker face...
 
Vijay Singh couldn't help but take a dig at the assembled media when he came into the room to discuss his victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship, which moved him to No. 1 in the world ahead of Tiger Woods, who had occupied the top spot since 1999. "You guys look so sad. Man, c'mon, it's not the end of the world," said Singh, who has had a contentious relationship with the media. Singh goes about his business with precision and purpose, but has never been one to let outsiders in. He's been known to blow off autograph-seekers, typically only talks to reporters when he is leading a tournament, and had his much-publicized dust-up after criticizing Annika Sorenstam last year when she was invited to play in the Colonial. Of course, Vijay chooses to shoot the messengers who reported the words he said.
 
Shane, come back, oops I mean David, come back David...
 
David Duval tied for 13th at the Deutsche Bank Championship. The $93,750 he earned was more money than he had made in the previous 24 events combined. It is yet again another reminder of the fall from greatness Duval has experienced since winning the 2001 British Open. As late as 1999, Duval was the No. 1 ranked player in the world. Now you have to dig through pages and pages of listings to find him. Things got so bad, he took more than six months away from the game. But Duval had to start back somewhere. Here's hoping he's back with a vengeance.
 
 
Paralysis by Analysis
 
Rollin' it
 
All right, Duffer Dan, we know you can hit gargantuan drives and you never miss a green, but how is the flat stick treating you? It's a good bet even you short game specialists would like to polish up your stroke a bit. So let's get to work.

First lets determine what type of putter you are. There are two types: the Technician and the Feel Putter.

The Technician (Tom Kite) will have mechanically broken down the putting stroke into a complicated geometric equation of moving parts multiplied by velocity.

The feel player (Phil Mickelson) will just inherently know which way the green breaks and how fast it will be. Note: If this is your putting style get used to occasional three putts.

Which are you? Sure we have all felt zoned in with our feel and we have all tried to master the art of algorithmic putting, but which do you prefer? Once you know where you stand, don't sway from it. This is your natural ability as a golfer, and no person should dare to change his or her innate ability.

Now that we know what type of putter you are, we should concentrate on how you can get better.

What makes a good or bad putter better?

Form -- The best golfers in the world share many distinct similarities in their putting strokes: tempo, posture, ball placement, setup and stance. The next time you watch a good putter take notice of these things. Most good putters do not have a squared stance. Most place the ball in the middle of their stance or forward slightly. Most good putters have a confident grip (not fidgety). Most good putters extend their follow-through towards the hole.

Feel -- This comes from only one thing: practice, practice, practice. Feel in golf is another word for experience. The ability to feel the proper putting stroke comes from knowing what the proper putting stroke is. This, in turn, comes from practice. It is said that Phil Mickelson will not let himself leave the practice green until he makes 100 four footers in a row!

Imagination -- The ability to read a putt comes from one's ability to imagine what the ball is going to do after it is stroked. When standing behind the ball, you should be able to see the ball rolling toward the hole, imagining what it will do after you have started it on its way. That's pretty much it. The ability to see the break in the green is totally dependent upon your imagination and eyesight! Knowing how hard to hit the ball comes from feel, which in turn relates directly to practice. Once you have these two things, and you have a form that you can repeat time after time, the putts will start dropping.

One last thing: be at ease on the green (grasshopper). Nervous hands make for off-line putts. Even when it counts, pretend it doesn't. If you miss, well there's always lawn bowling! Accept the fact that you are going to miss your share of putts. Take the pressure off having to make the putt, and your form and feel will fall into place.
 
 
Reading the Line
 
He'll be #1 for at least 50 weeks...
 
Vijay Singh has won just about everything this year. His win at the Canadian Open was his seventh victory of the year, making him just the fifth player since 1970 on the PGA Tour to win as many as seven times. And given his success over the past two years, 12 total victories, don't expect to see him vacate the top spot in the World Ranking anytime soon. For the same reason it took Tiger Woods so long to get bumped off, Singh should be on top for awhile. The ranking system takes into account tournaments played in the past two years. While the current year points are greater, you still get credit for victories and high finishes up to two years ago. That's why Woods continued to stay on top. He won five times last year and five times in 2002. Now some of those points from 2002 have faded away, and they have not been replaced by higher finishes this year. Get it? Singh will profit from the same setup. . .unless, of course, the powers that be decide to change it.
 
Loved the Titleist money, but not their damn clubs...
 
Appears that Mickelson made the move to Callaway sticks because Titleist let him out of his contract early. Mickelson was reportedly being paid some $4-million by Titleist, but after the Masters win, his representatives looked to sweeten the deal. Titleist said no, and Mickelson switched. Makes one wonder what clubs would be used if endorsement deals were prohibited. What if the PGA stepped to the plate and banned club and ball endorsements? Club and ball makers could sponsor tournaments and the money they spend on player endorsements would still get in the players hands, but in the form of tournament winnings.
 
Hal of a guy, but next time let Tiger run the show...
 
We hate to give in to the coddled athlete, but what other solution is there? Make Tiger Woods playing captain of the next U.S. Ryder Cup team. Then he can do what he wants. The tough love tact taken by Hal Sutton did not work at the Ryder Cup and led to the biggest defeat in American Ryder Cup history. Now we need to go the other way. Either someone who lets Tiger do it his way, or Tiger himself. Trying to force Woods to embrace the Ryder Cup, and putting more pressure on the players, obviously has not worked. So let Tiger do it. He can schedule practice rounds for 6:30 in the morning, when he likes to play. He can have dinner at his favorite restaurants. He can prepare in the manner he wishes. Nothing else has worked. Maybe this will.
 
He speaks from experince to the 4th power...
 
Just prior to the start of this year's Ryder Cup a British writer brought up the breach of etiquette American celebration on the 17th green at the 1999 Ryder Cup. Sutton made it clear he is tired of the topic. "Look, y'all have been kind of like a bad marriage partner," said Sutton. "We've apologized for five years for what happened in 1999. So y'all need to forget about that."

We had to chuckle at the marriage reference, because Sutton should know. He has been married four times and it was not that long ago when Sutton's nickname on the PGA Tour was "Hal-imony."
 
 
 

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