Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ryo Ishikawa donating all 2011 winnings to Japan

As a way to help out the people of Japan suffering from the devastating earthquake and tsunami, 19 year old Ryo Ishikawa has decided to donate all of his 2011 tournament prize money plus a bonus per birdie made to the victims.

Ishikawa is a golf phenom who has won nine times on the Japan Tour, shot a 58 in a pro round, won his first pro tournament as a 15 year old amateur, and won his first money title as a 17 year old. Last year he was third on Japan's money list with 1.82 million. This is an amazing act by a young person and has gained a lot of attention around the golf world.

"I don’t view this as pressure to perform, but it will instead be extra motivation for me,” Ishikawa said Friday in an email to The Associated Press. “I always believe in myself, but because I am playing for the people of Japan, I feel like I will be playing with a greater purpose this year.”

“I feel fortunate to be in a position to afford such things, but I know that my success is a result of the support of so many people,” he said in the email. “While golf is my profession, and I want to have a long and successful career, there are things that are more important. And the people of Japan are dealing with life and death issues as a result of the earthquake and tsunami. I feel it is my turn to give back in whatever way I can to support the people who have been so supportive of me.”

It would be great to see Ishikawa get a few wins this year. Maybe he can get one at the Masters.

Donate to Japan

The Timeless Swing by Tom Watson

When Tom Watson’s final round approach shot to the 18th at Turnberry during the 2009 British Open rolled past the hole, over the green and down the slope, I fell to my living room floor because I couldn’t stand it. I was really pulling for him to win because to do so at the age of 59 would have been possibly the greatest win in golf history. It didn’t quite happen but it was still a remarkable story.
In his new book, The Timeless Swing, Tom Watson has compiled the insights, secrets, and fundamentals he has learned and used throughout his legendary golf career. Over the past 40 years, Watson has a total of eight major championships, 68 professional wins, and of course nearly won that British in 2009. 

I usually think golf instruction books are pretty boring but this one is different. The book is designed to help both beginners as well as more advanced players. He covers the basics such as grip, posture, alignment, and ball position and then steadily moves on to topics such as hitting low hooks or high fades, hitting if farther, and swinging in the wind.
The book is filled with excellent photographs of Watson demonstrating every fundamental and shot that is discussed. Watson also includes many drills that golfers of all skill levels can use to improve. All in all, the book provides clear, concise, easy to read golf instruction that covers a majority of the knowledge Watson has learned throughout his career.

It’s quite evident that Tom Watson has a timeless, consistent, efficient swing with smooth tempo that he’s used to be successful for 40 years. What better way to learn than from one of the game’s all time champions?

There are (5) 1st prizes and (5) 2nd prizes. 1st place receives a signed copy of The Timeless Swing and a signed copy of Lessons of a Lifetime DVD. 2nd place receives a signed copy of The Timeless Swing and a signed Adams golf hat. 

Simon & Schuster gave me this book to read and review in connection with its Sweepstakes.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Masters: Early Betting Odds

Here are some early odds to win the Masters for notable players from mysportsbook.

Tiger Woods 8-1
Phil Mickelson 10-1
Lee Westwood 15-1
Martin Kaymer 15-1
Matt Kuchar 18-1
Rory McIlroy 20-1
Anthony Kim 40-1
Rickie Fowler 40-1
Fred Couples 80-1
Ryo Ishikawa 150-1
Tom Watson 400-1

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Shell Houston Open Betting Odds

Here are the Bodog Betting Odds for the Shell Houston Open which begins Thursday as the final tune up for the Masters. Anthony Kim will look to defend.

Matt Kuchar 12-1
Lee Westwood 14-1
Phil Mickelson 16-1
Hunter Mahan 16-1
Steve Stricker 20-1
Charl Schwartzel 25-1
Francesco Molinari 25-1
Anthony Kim 28-1
Padraig Harrington 28-1
Ernie Els 33-1

Masters Rewind: Mickelson at 13 in 2010

Masters Rewind: Nicklaus wins in 1986

Masters Rewind: Tiger wins in 1997

This video shows the 21 year old skinny Tiger destroying the golf course, hitting wedges into par-5s, playing with incredible touch and feel, and just basically hitting ridiculous shots from every angle. After he shot 40 on his opening round Thursday, he played the rest of the way 22 under par to win his first major.

Masters Rewind: Tiger at 16 in 2005

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Martin Laird: By the Numbers

Martin Laird shot a final round 75 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational for his second career PGA Tour win. On a windy day with difficult pin positions, he was able to win by one shot over Steve Marino by two-putting from 85 feet at the 18th.

Scores: 70,65,70,75  -8
Fairways in Reg: 71.4% (T22)
Greens in Reg: 68.1% (T20)
Putts per round: 28.8% (T18)
Sand Saves: 57.1% (T21)
Total Birdies:18 (T1)

Prize Money: 1,080,000.00
Fed Ex Cup Points: 500

Friday, March 25, 2011

Highest Pro Golf Scores in History

Every golfer out there has put up a ridiculously high number before. Here's a look at some of the highest professional golf scores in recorded history.
  • John Daly made an 18 at the par-5 6th at Bay Hill after pulling a tin cup
  • John Daly made a 12 on a par-4 at the Valspar Championship
  • Phil Mickelson made a 10 at the par-5 6th at Bay Hill.
  • Yuta Ikeda made an 11 at the par-5 6th at Bay Hill.
  • John Daly made a 14 on the par-5 18th at Pebble Beach after hitting one shot into a backyard and then three more in the Pacific. 
  • Arnold Palmer made a 12 at the par-5 18th at the LA Open. 
  • Gary McCord made a 16 at the 16th at Colonial. 
  • Kevin Na made a 16 at the 9th at Valero Texas Open.
  • Billy Casper made a 14 on the par-3 16th at Augusta.
  • Tom Weiskopf made a 13 on the par-3 12th at Augusta.
  • Philippe Porquier made a 20 during the 1978 French Open.
  • Tommy Armour made a 23 at the 1927 Shawnee Open.
  • Mitsuhiro Tateyama made a 19 at a par-3 on the Japan Tour when he hit his tee shot into the bushes, then took 14 swipes to get out. 

As far as for an entire round, Mark James shot a 111 at the 1978 Italian Open. Brutal!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Follow Woodland's path to golf improvement

 (Gary Woodland / Getty)

The following is an article by Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction at PGA Tour Academies.

One of the things that will happen at the beginning of every year for a lot of professional golfers is this: They sit down with their coach and look at last year's stats. At that time, the coach and player go through a full evaluation of the player's game, identifying strengths and weaknesses. At the end of the 2009 season, when he was coming off shoulder surgery, Gary Woodland and his coach, Randy Smith, sat down and outlined a game plan for improvement.

Improvement is what we all want as golfers, as I have never met a student at our multiple TOUR Academies across the country that didn't want to improve. But improvement can be difficult for many reasons, as there are certain barriers we all have to overcome in our day-to-day lives. However, improvement can be had by all if we are willing to do the things necessary.

One of the first steps to improvement is to take a page from Gary Woodland and evaluate your game. Some of you may have an instructor you currently work with, but statistics tell us that most of you don't. With the golf season now right around the corner, I encourage all of you to go back over last year's rounds and write down what you feel were your strengths and weaknesses. Next, take this data and find an instructor that can help you with a plan to get more out of your game. This doesn't mean you have to take one lesson every week or two. Simply narrow your thoughts on what it is you are trying to do to improve your game.

The quickest way to improve is to address your weaknesses. For Gary, this year one of the main areas of focus with Randy Smith was improving his short game -- in particular, putting. Over the years, Gary has been one of the longest hitters on the PGA TOUR. This year, he is currently ranked eighth on the PGA TOUR in Driving Distance at 299.5 yards. However, Gary hasn't always been able to capitalize on his length by making enough putts.

In 2009, Woodland was ranked 174th in Putting Average and 178th in Putts per Round. In 2010, 2010 he was ranked 119th and 121st respectively. So far in 2011, Woodland has jumped to 11th in Putting Average and 92nd in Putts per Round. Big improvement with the flatstick was never m ore important than in last week's game plan on the difficult Copperhead Course in the Transitions Championship.
What's important to take away here is not only the importance of an honest evaluation on one's golf game, but also a clear game plan that is agreed upon by the instructor and student that has both parties moving in the same direction. This agreement is critical, as results can sometimes take some time; for example, Woodland is finally now starting to see these results some 18 months later.

So my question to you is: What are your strengths and weaknesses? For some of you, it might be ball-striking, whether it's not enough distance off the tee, not hitting enough fairways and greens or maybe it's both where you are just very inconsistent with all clubs. Others it might be short game, not getting up-and-down enough, three-putts, bad bunker play, etc. Whatever it is, I encourage you to identify these areas at the very least and hopefully begin to work on plan that will help you turn your weaknesses into strengths -- just like Gary Woodland has done in 2011.

The 20th Hole: Stat Book and Log for Golfers is designed to help players track their stats, identify strengths and weaknesses, keep notes from practice sessions and lessons, track records, and more.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Arnold Palmer Invitational Betting Odds

Tiger Woods tees off at the Tavistock Cup. (David Cannon / Getty)

Here are the Bodog betting favorites for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Ernie Els comes in as the defending champion while Tiger Woods has won the event six times.

Tiger Woods 8-1
Dustin Johnson 16-1
Graeme McDowell 16-1
Phil Mickelson 20-1
Hunter Mahan 20-1
Justin Rose 33-1
Rickie Fowler 33-1
Jim Furyk 33-1
Ernie Els 40-1

Monday, March 21, 2011

Arnold Palmer Invitational Past Winners

The Arnold Palmer Invitational kicks off this Thursday at Bay Hill with not only an important tournament on the line, but a chance for the players to hone their games for the upcoming Masters. The tournament often comes down to the 18th hole (pictured above), a difficult par-4 with water down the entire right side from tee to green.

This tournament has been in existence since 1966 with only five players having won multiple times. Those with two wins include Jerry Heard, Gary Koch, Loren Roberts, Ernie Els, as well as Tiger Woods, who has won six times.

Recent winners:

2010: Ernie Els
2008-2009: Tiger Woods
2007: Vijay Singh
2006: Rod Pampling
2005: Kenny Perry
2004: Chad Campbell
2000-2003: Tiger Woods

Old school Tiger video.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gary Woodland: By the Numbers

Gary Woodland earned his first career PGA Tour win at Innisbrook with a 10 foot par putt at 18 to win by one stroke over Webb Simpson. The win qualified Woodland for the upcoming Masters in April.

Scores: 67, 68, 67, 67

Fairways in Reg: 57.7% (T54)
Greens in Reg: 70.8% (T29)
Putts per round: 27 (T2)
Total Birdies: 22 (T1)

Prize Money: 990 K
Fed Ex Cup Points: 500

Drive for show, putt for dough. This held true for Woodland, as it does for most winners on tour. He led the field in total birdies and was second in putts per round.

Track your stats and records

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Transitions Championship Betting Odds

If you want something to bet on this weekend other than March Madness, here are the odds for the top favorites at the Transitions Championship put together by Bodog.

Martin Kaymer 10-1
Nick Watney 11-1
Paul Casey 25-1
Padraig Harrington 25-1
Jim Furyk 28-1
Retief Goosen 28-1
Bubba Watson 28-1
Choi, Haas, Moore, Ogilvy, Rose, Singh 33-1

Good luck. Go Heels!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nick Watney: By the Numbers

Nick Watney poured in a birdie at the 18th at the WGC Cadillac Championship to win by two over Dustin Johnson. He shot a final round 67 to earn his third career victory on the PGA Tour and moved into 2nd place overall in the Fed Ex Standings. 

Scores: 67, 70, 68, 67 -16

Fairways in Reg: 58.9% (T12)
Greens in Reg: 68.1 (T12)
Sand Saves: 76.9% (7)
Putts per round: 26.3 (T9)
Total Birdies: 22 (1)

Prize Money: 1.4 million
Fed Ex Cup Points: 550

Friday, March 11, 2011

Photos from Round Two at Doral

Hunter Mahan
Martin Kaymer
Rory McIlroy
Matt Kuchar
Francesco Molinari

All Photos by Getty Images

Tiger Woods: The Myth of the Perfect Swing

Discovered by Geoff Shackelford, a video and post about Tiger Woods swing by teaching professional Wayne Defrancesco, as he absolutely grills Brandel Chamblee's analysis.

He says Chamblee makes Johnny Miller look like a genius, and calls his analysis nonsensical, outrageous, and sheer nonsense. Very amusing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Photos from Round One at Doral

Photos by Getty Images

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Foley discusses critics

Sean Foley spoke about Tiger Woods in this interview about all the criticism surrounding Wood's swing change and game. I really enjoy the stat he brought up about know-it-all Brandel Chamblee.

Here are some of the interesting quotes:

“The crap that these guys are writing – and all these different avenues of pure judgment on Tiger."

“When did (Golf Channel analyst) Brandel Chamblee and (NBC’s) Johnny Miller and guys like that forget how hard golf is when you have conflict and you don’t have clarity?"

“Brandel Chamblee made 180 out of 398 cuts on the PGA Tour (in his playing days). Like, when did this become so easy for him? That’s like 43 per cent. You’re talking about a guy (Woods) who’s missed six cuts in his life. It’s just sensational. That’s what they do.”

“New days. New times. You’re absolutely probably an invalid if you don’t think what he went through hasn’t affected his belief system.” 

WGC Cadillac Championship Betting Odds

The WGC Cadillac Championship begins Thursday at Doral with all the world's top players in attendance. The top 21 players will be paired together in threesomes according to world rank. The top two groups will be Kaymer, Westwood, and Donald followed by McDowell, Woods, and Mickelson and so on.

Here are the top ten players to watch according to Bodog odds:

Martin Kaymer 9-1
Tiger Woods 10-1
Graeme McDowell 14-1
Phil Mickelson 16-1
Nick Watney 20-1
Lee Westwood 22-1
Matt Kuchar 22-1
Paul Casey 22-1
Luke Donald 25-1
Rory McIlroy 28-1

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Putting Out Of Your Mind

In Sport Psychologist Bob Rotella's book Putting Out Of Your Mind, he discusses techniques he teaches pros to help them get the best out of their putting.

Here are 10 of his top rules:

1) The putting game is the place to look if you want to get a competitive advantage.
2) In putting, the inability to forget is infinitely more devastating than the inability to remember. There is nothing worse for your putting than dwelling on putts you've missed.
3) Never putt to a three foot circle. If you aren't trying to hole every putt you have, you are going to lose to someone who is.
4) Good players handle pressure putts by developing a strong routine and relying on it in the clutch.
5) Good putters learn to welcome nervous symptoms rather than fear them.
6) Every putt is a green-light putt.
7) The yips originate in the mind. Their prevention and cure are mental challenges.
8) Pick a putting style that feels good to you and stick with it.
9) There is no such thing as perfect putting mechanics.
10) The principles of good putting will work for as long as your commitment to them stands.

A few drills he suggests:

1) Pick a straight putt on the practice green. Place a tee at three feet, five feet, and seven feet. Make three balls in a row at each distance until you make all nine. If you miss one, start over.
2) Choose a five foot putt with a decent amount of break. Using three balls, hit each one at a different speed to get a feel for the break. Hit one firm, one medium, and one slow.

* If you tend to miss a lot of four footers on the practice green, the problem is mechanics. If you make most of your four footers on the practice green but miss them on the course, the problem is mental.*

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Honda Classic Betting Odds

The Honda Classic begins Thursday at PGA National Champion Course in Florida which was designed by Jack Nicklaus and features the "Bear Trap", consisting of holes 15-17. Camillo Villegas comes in as the defending champion and Luke Donald is coming off his big win last week at the Accenture Match Play.

Based on Bodog Betting Odds, the top ten favorites are as follows:

Lee Westwood 12-1
Luke Donald 14-1
Graeme McDowell 14-1
Matt Kuchar 16-1
Rory McIlroy 16-1
Vijay Singh 20-1
Ernie Els 28-1
Rickie Fowler 25-1
Ian Poulter 33-1
Y.E. Yang 33-1

Notables: Anthony Kim 33-1, Camillo Villegas 50-1, Adam Scott 50-1, Johnny Vegas 60-1

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