The Local Knowlege

The Grind

Golf gets its own big fight hype, Natalie throws out a first pitch, Tiger meets Yao, and an all-time best tour WAG match up

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we wish every week had the build-up of this year's WGC-Cadillac Match Play. A 90-minute selection show? Bingo machines spitting out ping-pong balls? Big boards?! Forget about the NFL Draft, this was exciting stuff (if you're really, really into pro golf). We're surprised "Group of Death" wasn't trending on Twitter. Maybe next year, the PGA Tour and Golf Channel can even take it a step farther and stage some promotional pre-match photos like the ones you see in boxing:

blog-spieth-mayweather-pac-0428.jpg

Man, Jordan Spieth looks intimidating. . . OK, time to shift from thinking about what's going to happen to what already did. There's a lot to get to -- and we don't have Golf Channel's army of analysts to break it all down.

WE'RE BUYING

Justin Rose: Rose was one over through six holes on Thursday and only shot 69. Then he posted rounds of 66, 65 and a 66 to win his seventh career PGA Tour title. Speaking of 66, that's how many holes in a row Rose finished without making a bogey -- the longest such streak to close out a tour win in 25 years. With a runner-up at the Masters and this victory under his belt, Rose looks poised for a huge season.

Lydia Ko: On Friday, Lydia Ko turned 18. And on Sunday, Lydia Ko kept doing what she's been doing since she was 15: winning on the LPGA Tour. Ko defended her title at the Swinging Skirts Classic, beating Morgan Pressel in a playoff for her seventh career LPGA Tour title. To put it in perspective, Rose was also a 17-year-old phenom once and it took him until he was 34 to win seven PGA Tour events. By the time Ko is 34, she's going to need a separate house just to hold all of her trophies.

Related: 19 things you should know about Jordan Spieth

Match Play format: We love the group-play/round robin concept. Having guys fly all the way to this event only to get knocked out after 10 holes (Sorry, Stephen Ames) isn't fair or fun for the fans. This new format ensures we'll see a lot more golf from the biggest names and even more great match-ups. While picking the juiciest match or deciding on a "group of death," the best tour WAG match up is easy. In the opening round, we'll get former Miss Idaho Melissa Jones vs. Paulina Gretzky:

blog-jones-paulina-0427.jpg

Their husbands might have pretty big crowds on Wednesday.

Jake Olson: If you haven't read John Strege's story on this young man, you should. Here are the broad strokes: Jake is a blind senior in high school who has shot a 78 and who will walk onto the USC (Yes, as in the Trojans) football team in the fall as a long snapper. We're all rooting for you, Jake!

WE'RE SELLING

Erik Compton: Speaking of inspirational stories, on Saturday night, the two-time heart transplant recipient went to bed with a share of the lead and in great shape to pick up his first PGA Tour victory. But on Sunday, he only shot three under for his 30 holes to fall to T-12. Compton keeps coming close to being perhaps the most unlikely winner in tour history. Stop getting our hopes up and get it done, Erik!

Related: Pictures of PGA Tour wives and girlfriends

Excavators as prizes: This was what a player would have won had he made a hole-in-one during the Volvo China Open:

blog-volvo-excavator-0428.jpg

First off, Volvo makes excavators? Secondly, unless you're a tractor nut like Louis Oosthuizen, I'm pretty sure a typical tour pro would much rather have a sports car.

Sitting on gators: Donnie Kuhlman is a PGA Professional and a world-class daredevil. Here he is sitting on a gator in the middle of a golf tournament he was playing in Tampa:

blog-gator-sit-0428.jpg

This brave foolish man lived to tell the tale, but we wouldn't advise you trying the same thing.

ON TAP

The PGA Tour heads to San Francisco's TPC Harding Park for the WGC-Cadillac Match Play, aka the most unpredictable event of the season.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Random tournament fact: Victor Dubuisson made the greatest back-to-back up-and-downs of all time from the desert in the final against Jason Day last year. That may sound like an opinion, but it's a fact.

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

-- Justin Rose will wind up with more career wins than Lydia Ko: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds

-- NBC's Roger Maltbie will say "(Insert player name) would have a better chance of escaping Alcatraz than getting this up-and-down": 10-to-1 odds

Related: The top 25 golf viral videos in 2014

-- Roger Maltbie will say "vagaries of match play": LOCK

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

blog-tiger-yao-0428.jpg

Sorry, Yao, but when you're that tall, that joke never gets old.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Rory McIlroy may be the world's best golfer, but apparently, he's not the sport's top-ranked arm wrestler. McIlroy got dusted by 17-year-old golfer Brad Dalke.

OK, so Dalke isn't your typical 17-year-old golfer. Even McIlroy, who spends as much time in the gym as he does in the golf course, was impressed by his biceps. Still, that's got to be a blow to the reigning Men's Health cover boy.

THIS WEEK IN MODELS PLAYING GOLF

Meet Katrina Brodsky:

#kellerrose x @nikegolf

A video posted by Katrina Brodsky (@keller_rose) on

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"I felt like I had gone cold in my round. I started off hot, had gone cold and [my caddie] said, 'Come on, just remember Steph Curry.' He went cold, but he kept wanting the ball. He kept shooting threes. He kept believing in himself. That was our mentality." -- Justin Rose comparing his strong finish to Curry after attending a Warriors-Pelicans playoff game on Friday in which the Golden State star hit a clutch three-pointer to send the game to overtime. Guess we know who has Justin's vote for NBA MVP.

THIS WEEK IN JORDAN SPIETH LIVING THE LIFE

The Dallas native was honored by Mark Cuban at a Mavericks game with a personalized jersey, which he used to rile up the team and the home crowd in Game 4 of Dallas' first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets:

blog-spieth-mavs-jersey-0428.jpg

It worked. After losing the first three games of the series, the Mavs won Game 4 to keep their season alive. Jordan Spieth is so hot right now.

THIS WEEK IN RICKIE FOWLER-ALEXIS RANDOCK PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

Happy Birthday My Love @alexis.randock...so much fun!! Taking down SF!!👫🌁🌲🍀🍒

A photo posted by Rickie Fowler (@therealrickiefowler) on

Very sweet. But did the lovebirds visit Alcatraz? Nothing says romance like visiting a former prison and reciting lines from "The Rock" to each other.

THIS WEEK IN NATALIE GULBIS MAKING US FEEL BAD WITH HER TRAINING

Behold Natalie's super-human strength:

blog-gulbis-truck-0428.jpg

While in the Bay area, Gulbis also threw out the first pitch at the Oakland A's game:

Phew. I know it doesn't show it made it to the plate

A video posted by Natalie Gulbis (@natalie_gulbis) on

Nice toss, Natalie! Good to see all the work in the gym is paying off.

THIS AND THAT

blog-golf-beer-0428.jpg

Rory McIlroy plans to attend the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight in Vegas on Saturday night in the middle of the WGC Match Play. If he makes it to Sunday's 36 holes, his fitness will be put to the test again. . . . Phil Mickelson won't attend the WGC Match Play for a fourth straight year, citing "personal reasons." No word on whether "personal reasons" just means he doesn't like the event or whether he'll be at the big fight. . . . Bruce Jenner will address learning to play golf with breasts on an upcoming docuseries. Thanks to TMZ for that bit of breaking golf news! . . . And thanks to the GolfBeer Brewing Company for sending a large shipment of Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley and Freddie Jacobson beers to me in the office. In other words, the party for me winning my first Golf Digest major championship rages on!

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

How much are Rory and Phil betting on the fight?

Why hasn't Lydia Ko won a major yet? (Kidding)

Why wasn't there ever a sequel to "The Rock"? (Not kidding)

-- Alex Myers is an Associate Editor for GolfDigest.com. Feel free to email him and please follow him on Twitter since he has self-esteem issues.

... Read
Celebrity

Bruce Jenner will discuss learning how to play golf with breasts on his upcoming docuseries

Bruce Jenner's big interview with Diane Sawyer was mostly serious in tone and carried an important message. Apparently, his upcoming docuseries will have a different feel.

TMZ reports the eight-part series will include its share of lighter moments and that Jenner's "golf game will be front and center." That will include Jenner discussing what it's like to learn how to play golf with breasts.

A source told TMZ: "If all you have is a downer, you don't have a show." Instead, the show will be a mix of "the dark moments, the lighthearted moments and moments that are just plain hilarious."

Jenner, 65, didn't start playing golf until he was 50 when his ex-wife, Kris, got him a membership at Sherwood Country Club. "I didn't know whether she was just trying to get me out of the house, was sick of me, or what," he said in a 2009 column he wrote for Golf Digest.

Related: Our favorite celebrity golfers

Jenner has played in the Bob Hope Classic Pro-Am (now the Humana Challenge) and golf helped him get through his breakup with Kris after 22 years, according to Jenner's son, Brody. Little did we know at the time,there was a lot more going on with Jenner. We hope his love of golf helps him get through his latest transition as well.

... Read
My Usual Game

Has anyone else had this problem with their rangefinder?

Last June, I bought a Bushnell Tour Z6 laser rangefinder. It’s not as good at picking up distant targets as my ancient Bushnell PinSeeker 1500 was, but it’s small enough to fit in a pocket, and the battery lasts a long time, and I like it. (I had made myself believe that the PinSeeker was broken, but as soon as the Z6 arrived I discovered that it still worked fine. So I sold it to Kevin for $48 and a ball-marker.)

bothrangefinders.JPG

My only beef about the Z6 is that the eyepiece, which keeps sunlight off the lens while you’re using it and is the thing you turn to adjust the focus, looks solid but is actually a cheap, floppy rubber tube that’s held in place by nothing but some kind of not-very-strong glue. Here’s the eyepiece:

bushnellclose.jpg

Mine came almost all the way off one of the first times I used it, but I pushed it back on and tried to be careful with it. At some point during a round today, though, it disappeared. Here’s what my Z6 looks like now. You can see a tiny, booger-like remnant of the old glue, over on the lower right:

noeyepiece2.jpg

Has this happened to anyone else?  I didn’t handle it roughly, a lesson I learned with my first rangefinder. I just used it while playing golf. And -- Hey, Bushnell! -- what am I supposed to do now? Is my rangefinder still waterproof? Can the eyepiece be replaced? Should I try to trick Kevin into selling me back my PinSeeker?

MyUsualGame

... Read
Celebrity

How the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight could affect Rory McIlroy's chances of winning the Match Play

Rory McIlroy is the Las Vegas favorite (9/1) to win this week's WGC-Cadillac Match Play. But is Vegas factoring in McIlroy's expected Vegas trip while the tournament is going on?

According to the Daily Mail, McIlroy plans to be ringside for Saturday night's much-anticipated fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand. McIlroy says he'll fly a private jet after play ends Saturday in San Francisco, watch the fight and fly right back (1,140 miles round trip).

Related: 23 pictures that prove a tour player's life is way better than yours

Even factoring in McIlroy's youth, fitness and private jet, doing all that and playing 36 holes of match play on Saturday and Sunday would be quite a feat. Of course, it may not even matter. On Monday, McIlroy found out he will be playing in the toughest group -- at least, according to cumulative Official World Golf Ranking -- Wednesday through Friday at TPC Harding Park. McIlroy will have to win his four-player group that includes Billy Horschel, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner just to advance to Saturday's Round of 16.

If McIlroy were to make it to Saturday morning and win, he'd play a quarterfinal match that afternoon. The semifinals and final are scheduled for Sunday.

What if Saturday's afternoon match goes extra holes, though? Again, private jet. Oh, and those big boxing matches start pretty late. Making the fight shouldn't be a problem. But waking up for his own big match the next day might.

... Read
News & Tours

The 9 matches we're most looking forward to at the WGC-Match Play

This year's WGC-Cadillac Match Play has a new venue (TPC Harding Park) and format. Instead of starting with a bracket of 64 golfers, there are now groups consisting of four players each. One winner from each of the 16 groups -- which were chosen at random with ping-pong balls on Monday -- will advance to the weekend's knockout rounds, a la the World Cup.

Here are the nine "group-play" match ups on Wednesday-Friday we're most looking forward to watching.

Group 1: Rory McIlroy vs. Billy Horschel

The last time these two played each other in match play, they were representing their respective sides at the 2007 Walker Cup. Horschel got the best of McIlroy that week and got under the Northern Irishman's skin for his on-course celebrations. The two claimed they've put the matter behind them, but that doesn't mean they won't each get a little extra pleasure by beating the other at Harding Park. --Alex Myers

Group 2: Jordan Spieth vs. Mikko Ilonen

On paper, this might look like a mismatch between the recent Masters champ and the veteran European Tour member who is only in the field because Phil Mickelson withdrew. Think again. For one thing, as we've seen year after year, no one is a safe bet in this event. And secondly, Ilonen has more match play chops than you might realize. The Finnish player had his finest season in 2014, winning twice, including the Volvo World Match Play Championship, in which he bested Henrik Stenson in the final. Of course, Spieth is the No. 2 player in the world, though, and he's had plenty of match play success as a two-time U.S. Junior Amateur champ. --A.M.


Group 4: Bubba Watson vs. Keegan Bradley

Two of Team USA's strongest contributors in recent years, Bubba and Keegan both won't be easy outs. Keegan doesn't have a stellar WGC-Match Play record (1-3), but when paired with Phil Mickelson in the Ryder Cup, he comes alive. Maybe he should ask Phil to walk with him in the galleries at TPC Harding Park to pump him up and slap him on the butt. --Stephen Hennessey

Group 5: Jim Furyk vs. Martin Kaymer

These two didn't face each other on Sunday in the "Meltdown at Medinah," but their reactions on the final hole seemed to be the event's most lasting images. Furyk hunched over in agony and Kaymer raising his arms and fist-pumping after sinking the winning putt. Both are also U.S. Open champions and have squared off in this event before with Furyk winning 4 and 2 in a 2009 second-round match. --A.M.

Group 7: Jason Day vs. Zach Johnson

Day is the defending champion and owns a 14-3 record in the Match Play -- which along with his stellar 3-1 record at the last Presidents Cup -- makes him one of the most feared match-play opponents in the world. But when he faces Zach Johnson, he's going up against one of the most fearless players in the world. Johnson can get hot with the putter, and he just recently switched back to his trusted Seemore. This might be an upset if ZJ wins but it wouldn't be hugely surprising to us. --S.H.

Group 8: Dustin Johnson vs. Victor Dubuisson

Dig the long ball? Well, these are two of the longest hitters in the world. Dubuisson announced himself to golf fans around the world with his uncanny recovery shots in last year's WGC-Match Play final when he took Jason Day to 23 holes. And he took down another fellow bomber, Bubba Watson, last year. DJ is 2-6 in past WGC-Match Plays, but his game wasn't really suited to the past venue, the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain. He's been solid in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups and has been playing great in 2015, so this should be an interesting match. --S.H.

Group 11: Jimmy Walker vs. Ian Poulter

Pitting perhaps, the best golfer on the planet in 2015 not named Jordan Spieth in Walker versus a Ryder Cup legend in Poulter. The Englishman has more pro match play experience in singles than anyone in the field with a career record of 34-14-5. But Walker proved himself in this format at his Ryder Cup debut last fall. Still, as a No. 1 seed, no one could blame him for feeling unlucky for drawing Poulter right away. --A.M.

Group 13: Rickie Fowler vs. Graeme McDowell

There's a ton of match-play experience in this group. Rickie is a two-time Ryder Cupper and owns a 7-1 record in two Walker Cups. McDowell won the clinching point in his 2010 Ryder Cup defeat over Hunter Mahan, and went 3-0 in 2014 at Gleneagles. G-Mac hasn't played great this year, but the guy thrives in this format as evidenced by his victory at the 2013 Volvo World Match Play Championship. --S.H.



Group 14: Matt Kuchar vs. Hunter Mahan

The U.S. Ryder Cup teammates will make up the only group-play match involving two former champions of this event. Other than Jason Day, Kuchar has the best current match play winning percentage (69) of anyone in the field. Mahan isn't far behind at No. 4 (66 percent) and he nearly matched Tiger Woods as the only repeat winner of this event. Who stopped him in the 2013 final? That's right, Kuchar. --A.M.

... Read
Stats

Career records show Jason Day is the current king of match play -- but it's close

This week's WGC-Cadillac Match Play is one of the most fun, but unpredictable events of the PGA Tour season. Thanks to Adam Sarson, though, we at least have the complete match-play records of all 64 players in the field to help with our educated guesses. That includes their record in this event as well as in singles at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup and their records in other events like the Volvo World Match Play on the European Tour. So who are the best golfers in this format?

Three players, Anirban Lahiri, Marc Warren and Tommy Fleetwood, actually have perfect records (Watch out for Anirban Lahiri!). But since they've combined to win a total of five matches, we're not going to count them (OK, maybe don't watch out for Anirban Lahiri).

Related: How to fill out your match play bracket

Of players with at least 10 matches played, Jason Day, leads the way with a 79 winning percentage. The bulk of Day's 15-4 record comes from his 14-3 record in the WGC Match Play, which he won last year. Day is 1-1 in President Cup singles play.

Right behind Day is another former WGC Match Play champ, Matt Kuchar, at 69 percent. Kuchar, a former U.S. Amateur winner as well, is 17-4 in the event, but his overall record is brought down by a 1-4 mark in Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup singles.

Graeme McDowell is third on the list at 68 percent. McDowell has a 3-1 Ryder Cup singles record, but has actually done most of his match play damage at the Volvo World Match Play, where he's gone 18-5. Surprisingly, he's just 9-8 in the annual WGC event.

Hunter Mahan (66 percent) is next on the list followed by some familiar European Tour Ryder Cup names: Ian Poulter (64 percent), Rory McIlroy (63 percent), Victor Dubuisson (58 percent), Martin Kaymer (55 percent), Paul Casey (55 percent), Henrik Stenson (52 percent) and Sergio Garcia (52 percent).

Thongchai Jaidee (57 percent), Rickie Fowler (54 percent) and Jim Furyk (51 percent) are the only other players with at least 10 matchest that have a winning percentage higher than 50. In other words, it's tough to have a great match-play record as a pro, which is why we've seen Tiger Woods win this event three times, but also lose to players like Nick O'Hern (twice!) and Peter O'Malley.

Speaking of Woods, his 45-15-2 record would give him the second-highest winning percentage (73) behind Day. With three U.S. Amateur titles and three U.S. Junior titles, it's tough to argue Woods isn't the best ever in match play, but his low world ranking has him out of this week's field. Phil Mickelson and his modest 23-21-3 record qualified for the event, but has withdrawn for personal reasons.

Related: Pictures of PGA Tour wives and girlfriends

So who isn't particularly good in match play? Two members of the victorious 2014 European Ryder Cup team, Stephen Gallacher and Jamie Donaldson, have the worst records of anyone with 10-plus matches. Gallacher is a near-impossible 1-10, while Donaldson is 2-7-2. Of course, one of those two wins for Donaldson came in his Sunday singles match against Keegan Bradley to clinch the Ryder Cup for Europe. Clutch!

Notable U.S. players with poor records include Dustin Johnson (4-7), Bill Haas (1-6) and Bradley (1-6). Not so clutch.

What does it all mean for this week's WGC-Cadillac Match Play? It's tough to say. There will be a new group-play format that will feed into the bracket and the tournament will be played at Harding Park for the first time after eight years in Arizona.

Online bookmaker Bovada lists McIlroy and Masters champ Jordan Spieth (3-3 in match play as a pro) as the co-favorites (9/1). Sarson's numbers say Day (14/1) is the better pick, but there's still a better chance of him losing to Anirban Lahiri than repeating as champ.

... Read
Celebrity

Musician Mat Kearney made this hilarious video to demonstrate how his wife feels about golf

Mat Kearney, folk/rock/amazing musician, is a self-proclaimed golf addict. And while we're all right there with him, it looks like his wife isn't. 

Kearney put up this hilarious video on Instagram, of his wife shooting a laser beam out of her palm that blows up the TV on which Mat was clearly trying to watch the final round of the Zurich Classic. Rude!  

What @anniekearneys thinks about my Sunday golf addiction.

A video posted by MAT KEARNEY (@matkearney) on



Mat, since you clearly didn't get to watch the end of the event yesterday, we want you to know that like your TV, Justin Rose was on fire, and won at 22 under. 

... Read
Stats

9 Lydia Ko stats that will make your jaw drop

Lydia Ko turned 18 on Friday during a tournament she would wind up winning -- for a second year in a row. That alone should be enough to amaze golf fans, but with Ko, that's just the start. Here are nine other achievements by the precocious Ko that will blow your mind.

Related: Golf's all-time biggest phenoms

7 -- Career LPGA Tour victories for Ko following her playoff win over Morgan Pressel at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. To put this in perspective, Michelle Wie, 25, only has four.

15 -- Age (15 years and four months) at which Ko became the youngest winner of an LPGA Tour event when she claimed the 2012 Canadian Women's Open. She broke Lexi Thompson's record by 15 months.

17 -- Age when Ko became No. 1 in the world ranking, the youngest male or female to hold the top spot by nearly four years. Tiger Woods (21) previously held the record, and Jiyai Shin (22) was the previous youngest female.

130 -- Weeks Ko already had been ranked the top amateur in the world before turning professional in November 2013 at 16.

29 -- Number of consecutive rounds under par Ko had shot early in the 2015 season, tying Annika Sorenstam's LPGA Tour record.

Related: Golf's greatest streaks

50 -- Career cuts made by Ko on the LPGA Tour. Why is this so impressive? Because that's also how many LPGA Tour starts she's made as either an amateur or a pro.

58 -- Ko's career percentage of finishing in the top 10 (29 of 50). She's improved that to 88 percent (7 of 8) to start the 2015 season.

69.594 -- Ko's scoring average thus far in 2015, the best on the LPGA Tour.

2,997,843 -- Career earnings by Ko in less than a year and a half. Again, this doesn't count her two wins and other high finishes as an amateur. It also doesn't count the $1 million bonus she pulled in for claiming the first season-long Race to the CME Globe in 2014.

... Read
Missing Links

Here’s a little advice, Tiger: 'Play more tournaments'

Stories of interest you might have missed...

“[Tiger Woods] has been explaining this ambition…for close to two decades now, endlessly insisting that his sole motivation isn't money or acclaim or world ranking points, but the unadulterated satisfaction of vanquishing an entire field of his peers,” Jason Sobel of ESPN writes. “If his main motivation remains winning -- and there's no reason to believe it doesn't -- he might want to heed a little advice. Woods should play more tournaments.”

TigeratBluejack.jpg

The new chief executive of the European Tour, Keith Pelley, has a significant obstacle to overcome, John Huggan of the Scotsman writes: Player greed. Three of its biggest names — Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia — won’t be playing. “No matter how each of these enormously wealthy individuals feels about spending a week being endlessly pampered in a luxury hotel, they each have at least a moral duty to support and enhance the biggest event on their home tour (outside of the Open Championship).”

***

And the survey says: “A typical round of golf takes too much time away from family or work for many players.” The Royal & Ancient commissioned a survey and “received responses from 56,000 golfers in 122 countries about their experience of playing a typical 18-hole round of golf which lasts between three and four hours,” Reuters reports. “Although 70 percent were largely happy with the duration of their rounds, 60 percent said they would like the game better if it took less time to play.”

***

“Justin Rose was exactly what the Zurich Classic needed -- a pedigreed champion worthy of one of the best golf tournaments on the PGA Tour,” New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Jeff Duncan writes. “The event was overdue for a big-name winner…Maybe that's why the brass band playing ‘When the Saints Go Marchin’ In’ had a little pep to its step during the second line parade to the trophy presentation. Nothing against the string of first-time winners and Cinderella stories, from previous years, but the tournament was desperate for a headline champion.”

***

The WGC-Cadillac Match Play this week has a new format that will keep the entire 64-man field around until Friday. Good idea? “I think it’s better for fans, TV and media, but not necessarily for us,” Webb Simpson said in this story by Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle. “We were talking about a couple possible scenarios — you could win 6-and-5 and 6-and-5 and then lose in a playoff and you’re done. So there will be a couple guys going home who shouldn’t be going home. But I get why they’re doing it. I think it’ll be exciting for everybody.”

... Read
How He Hit That

How He Hit That: Justin Rose's balanced ball-striking

Justin Rose couldn't quite catch Jordan Spieth at Augusta, but his relentless ball-striking at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans two weeks later eventually earned him his seventh PGA Tour title, by a shot over hard-charging Cameron Tringale. 

Rose hit 12 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens Sunday on his way to a six-birdie 66. He also finished off a weather-delayed seven-birdie 65 earlier in the day to punctuate his bogey-free weekend. 



According to top Alabama teacher Tony Ruggiero, who worked with one of his own players two spaces down from Rose at the TPC Louisiana range last week, Rose's balance is one of the main keys to his ball-striking precision. "When you get your weight proportioned like he has it, and your spacing from the ball is so good, it makes it so much easier to make a consistent, repeatable turn back and through," says Ruggiero, who is based at the Country Club of Mobile. "The club moves so easily around him and is always right on plane. His shots always seem to start out exactly on line." 

To get some of Rose's balance in your game, get into an athletic setup position with no club and set your weight and feet so that if you jumped you'd go straight up in the air. "If your weight gets too much in your toes, you'd jump toward the ball," says Ruggiero, who also hosts the Dewsweepers Golf Show on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio. "If your weight is toward your heels, you'll jump backward."

Another takeaway from Rose's week in New Orleans? Persistence. "Working with Zack Sucher two spaces down from Justin, we were talking about how Justin missed 21 cuts in a row to start his pro career--and how everything is a process," says Ruggiero. "You'll get it, but it might take six or seven starts before it comes together. It takes hard work and patience, whether you're trying to make it on tour or do it at the club level." 

To improve your own iron play, here's David Leadbetter on some short- and long-term fixes.


... Read
Subscribe to Golf Digest
Subscribe today