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Golf instruction

Make The Turn Challenge #19: Trap Perfection

By Jeff Ritter

Coaching golf has come a long way. If you're working with someone on your game, chances are you've utilized video analysis and possibly even super high-tech devices such as force plates and launch monitors, which dissect every action and reaction associated with your golf swing.

While advances in technology provide golfers with more information than ever before, the real secret to playability is to develop the "feelings" unique to you that deliver the contact and control over the golf ball you're looking for.

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A great way to do this on your own, is by practicing a simple self-coaching trick called "trapping." This is a fantastic exercise in personal development, that can quickly deliver big results. The key is to create an environment where you allow yourself to make drastically different swings. Instead of always seeing the same pattern in your golf shots and not knowing quite "HOW" to change them, trapping pushes the parameters of cause and effect to intentionally produce opposite ends of the ball flight spectrum. Once you establish your "extremes" in a particular characteristic such as: Contact point, height, direction or curvature, you essentially know that your perfect result lies somewhere in the middle, "trapped" between swings A and B. Within only a few attempts you should now be able to find the motion that delivers the upgraded contact and flight pattern you desire.

My goal as a coach is always to empower the player in a manner that makes them as self-sufficient as possible. Commit to practicing this exercise in the art of self-discovery and you can count this challenge as complete!

BENEFITS
Increased Impact Awareness
Develop Self-Coaching Skills
More Accurate Shots


Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf

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Celebrity

There are countless reasons to envy Rory McIlroy, but apparently Nadia Forde isn't one of them

By Sam Weinman

Just when you thought the stars had aligned once more in Rory McIlroy's universe -- claret jug in hand, big hug for Mom, big payday for Dad -- there is this about McIlroy's budding romance with Irish model Nadia Forde: actually, there is no budding romance.

Or at least that is what the Irish Independent is reporting following McIlroy's two-stroke win at Royal Liverpool. Citing friends of both McIlroy and Forde, the paper Monday said the two are not dating and have only been together recently because of mutual friends (Forde's fellow model and friend, Katie Larmour, is engaged to Rory's friend Harry Diamond).

According to a McIlroy friend, in fact, "she's not his type."

Right. Of course. We totally see what he means.

The new reports dampens a rumor that took hold last month, when Forde and McIlroy were spotted leaving a Dublin nightclub at 3 a.m. McIlroy dismissed talk of any relationship at the Scottish Open earlier this month, when he said "I'm very single and very happy at the minute." But after recently breaking off his engagement with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, McIlroy might intentionally be coy when talking about anyone else. 

Regardless, McIlroy has plenty to keep himself occupied for now. After celebrating his Open win into the early hours Monday, he will soon set his sights on a second PGA Championship next month at Valhalla. Then there's the Ryder Cup in September, where the safe money is he'll again fly solo (Wozniacki didn't attend the matches at Medinah although the two were already dating in 2012). You'd think the young fella could scrape up a date by then, but it's tough out there. If you have a sister, keep him in mind.

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Tenuous golf connection

Rory and Jagermeister: An unauthorized history

By Alex Myers

The pictures of Rory McIlroy and the claret jug have been flowing since his win at Hoylake. And apparently, the Jagermeister has been flowing among his inner circle as well.

Not that we should be surprised.

McIlroy, 25, has had a long, eventful history with the dark syrupy drink, which is impressive. There aren't too many people who could stomach a long history with Jager. We start in 2010, when a 21-year-old McIlroy tweeted this the day after Europe's win over the U.S. at the Ryder Cup in Wales:

Related: The unauthorized history of Tiger Woods' jeans

"What a week!! Think I'm still drunk! Jagerbombs out of the Ryder cup! Great banter with euros and Americans last night!"

A "Jager Bomb" is a Jager and Red Bull concoction. It's also the key that unlocks McIlroy's inner dance machine:

Unfortunately, there aren't any photos of McIlroy dancing. Yet.

In a 2011 interview with ShortList Magazine, McIlroy confirmed his game plan when it comes to drinking. Like his strategy on the golf course, it's aggressive:

"I try to start on beer to start off slow, but then I tend to get into vodka Red Bulls and Jagerbombs."

Rory just drinking beer would be like Rory trying to hit all irons off the tee. Rory don't play that!

Then, there was the infamous night of February 17, 2011. It was a Thursday night, but McIlroy, who has a history of Friday struggles on the course, wasn't playing in a tournament that week. First, McIlroy tweeted this:

"5 Jagerbombs before midnight!! #goingtobealongnight"

Then, less than an hour later:

"Up to 10 now!!"

So much for taking it slow! The guy must have been dancing up a STORM that night. The next morning, McIlroy wrote:

"Jagerbombs 1 Rory 0"

Attention, fellow golfers: this is how you beat Rory McIlroy! Jager is his Kryptonite! Friend Lee Westwood, a man known to throw back a pint or two himself, weighed in on McIlroy's drink of choice later that day:

But apparently, Rors didn't learn -- most guys don't until they're 25. After shooting 80 and blowing a four-shot lead on Sunday at the Masters less than two months later, McIlroy posted this picture of him presumably drinking his sorrows away:

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And now, three years later under much happier circumstances, Jager appears to still be a big part of McIlroy's night life (so much for that age 25 stat). In this picture tweeted by golf writer Brian Keogh, the licorice-tasting liquor (ugh, my stomach turned just thinking about it) is being poured into the claret jug as McIlroy's mom -- Jagermom? -- watches intently:

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McIlroy said he'd drink "everything or anything" from golf's oldest trophy following his victory at the 2014 British Open and it seems like he didn't waste any time doing just that. So what's the score now between Rory and his liquid frenemy? We await a follow-up tweet.

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Instruction

How He Hit That: Rory McIlroy's British Open putting spot

By Matthew Rudy

Rory McIlroy relied on two code words as triggers during his wire-to-wire win at Hoylake, "process" for full shots and "spot" for putts. Both keys obviously did what they were supposed to do, but McIlroy's putting was particularly stellar. He made 20 birdies and two eagles, and one-putted 34 out of 72 greens on his way to the third leg of the career grand slam. 

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The "spot" idea comes from his work with putting guru Dave Stockton, and it's an easy technique for any player to copy. "Rory -- and anybody else -- putts the best when he's seeing and feeling his line, getting up there and rolling the ball on that line in a nice rhythm," says Stockton, who has worked with McIlroy since the lead-up to his record-setting 2011 U.S. Open win. 

Stockton teaches players to begin to set their stance while looking out at the line -- not at the ball. "I get my eyes set on my line, and then only look down a split second before I start my stroke, but I'm not looking at the ball. I pick a spot an inch or two in front of the ball," says Stockton. "The stroke isn't a conscious thing. I'm just watching for the ball to roll over that spot."

McIlroy's best golf comes when he's crisp and decisive, but doesn't rush through his routine. "Most players take too long and get locked up in mechanics, but Rory's tendency was to get too rushed and step in before he saw really clearly in his mind what he wanted to do," says Stockton. "When he stays on rhythm, he sees his shot, walks in, sets his eyes and lets it go. It's fun to watch. He has all the talent in the world." 

 


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News & Tours

Why this has been the least exciting season of major championships since 2000

By Alex Myers

We're not complaining about the winners of golf's first three majors of 2014. Obviously. Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer, and Rory McIlroy all had previous major titles under their belts and all have potential to be all-time greats (Watson is the oldest by far at 35).

But would it kill them to make their victories a tad more exciting?

Related: The winners and losers from the British Open

Actually, the blame should probably fall more on their pursuers, but either way, this year's majors have been lacking in drama. None have even featured a back-nine tie -- let alone a lead change -- on Sunday and the last two have been wire-to-wire wins by Kaymer and McIlroy. 

The last year to feature such a stretch in the first three majors was 2000. Much like this year's Masters when Bubba Watson battled Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar on the front nine, Vijay Singh felt heat from David Duval and Ernie Els early  on Sunday in 2000 before pulling away on the back nine for a three-shot win (Watson also won by three this year). Then, Tiger Woods happened.

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Woods went wire-to-wire at Pebble Beach to win the U.S. Open by a record 15 shots. He led by eight after 36 holes and by 10 after 54 holes. That makes Kaymer's eight-shot win at Pinehurst look like a thriller by comparison.

Woods' next blowout came at St. Andrews, although he actually (gasp) trailed Ernie Els by a shot after the first round, keeping it from being a wire-to-wire win like McIlroy's triumph at Hoylake. It turned out to be a more dominant victory, though. Like McIlroy, Woods took a six-shot lead into the final round, but unlike Rory, Woods wound up winning by eight. Our thanks to Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler for at least trying to make things interesting on Sunday.

So through three majors, 2000 gets the nod as being less exciting even though we haven't seen a lead change at the end of round at a major this year since Watson grabbed the 36-hole lead at the Masters (Spieth was tied with Watson after 54 holes). Thanks to Woods' dominance, the average margin of victory in those three majors in 2000 was nearly nine shots compared to just over four shots in 2014.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Of course, it could be worse. The quality of champions help off-set the lack of Sunday drama meaning it's safe to say we'll all remember McIlroy's win at Hoylake a lot more vividly than, say, Todd Hamilton's playoff win over Ernie Els at the Open in 2004.

And we still have the PGA Championship -- competition's last shot? -- to look forward to. This year's similarities to 2000 run deeper as this season's final major will also be held at Valhalla, the site of Woods' classic extra-holes battle with Bob May. Let's hope we're in store for something similar next month.

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News & Tours

Want to know why the USGA's Pub Links events met their demise? Sadly look at their final playings

By Ryan Herrington


It's generally poor form to speak badly of the dead, so I'll type gingerly. Lost amid the hoopla of Rory McIlroy's British Open coronation in England, a pair of funerals were taking place in Kansas and Washington.

Last Saturday marked the final playing of the men's and women's Amateur Public Links championships, the USGA having announced their retirement early in 2013. In their place, the governing body will debut men's and women's four-ball championships in May 2015, with qualifying for the new events beginning next month.

The shuttering of the APL/WAPL was an unfortunate but understandable decision, even if the former event was the USGA's fourth oldest championship dating back to 1922. The original intent of the competition when it started in 1922 (the women's version beginning in 1977) was to promote public golf and provide municipal-course golfers the opportunity to play in a national championship that they might not otherwise have been afforded. Yet that mission was no longer being served, the number of true public golfers competing and contending having dwindled in the last two decades.

Sadly, but perhaps fittingly, the final playing of the two events proved prime examples of that fact. At Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton, Kan., University of Pacific senior Byron Meth, 21, defeated incoming Texas freshman Doug Ghim, 18, in 37 holes.

loop-byron-meth-apl-518.jpgBy all accounts, the championship showdown was riveting, Meth (above) making 11 birdies on the day and Ghim countering with seven of his own and three eagles. No matter who pulled the match out, however, the same fact would have been true: for 19th straight year a player who was in college, just out of college or just entering college would have won the APL title. You’ll have to go back to 1984 and Bill Malley, a truck driver from Hayward, Calif., to find the last true blue-collar golfer who could claim victory.

Similarly, at The Home Course in outside Tacoma, Wash., 15-year-old Fumie (Alice) Jo (below) made history by becoming the first player from mainland China to win a USGA title when she outlasted 14-year-old Eun Jeong Seong, 3 and 2, in the final.

loop-fumie-alice-jo-wapl-515.jpgJo's win made her the second youngest player to claim the WAPL title, behind only Michelle Wie and her 2003 triumph at age 13. Notwithstanding the significance of Jo’s accomplishment for Chinese golf, it meant that the oldest ever winner of the WAPL was Amy Fruhwirth. She was all of 23 when she was victorious in 1992.

Photos: Meth (AP Images); Jo (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

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News & Tours

Missing Links: Rory McIlroy unlikely to dominate, and Lydia Ko gets an allowance

By John Strege

Stories of interest you might have missed…

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“For every Rory there's an Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia and a Tiger and a Phil (Mickelson),” Graeme McDowell said in this story in Sporting Life on why Rory McIlroy is unlikely to become a dominant player. “There's too many good players now…I don't think we're going to see that dominance again for a while unless somebody comes out who has perfected the imperfectable.”

Rory McIlroy’s British Open victory was celebrated in his hometown of Holywood in Northern Ireland. “I remember young Rory walking up to the club with his golf bag which was the same size as him,” Brian McAuley said in this Belfast Telegraph story. “There is a real sense of pride in the town. Just wait and see, his picture will on on buns in the local bakery tomorrow, he is really celebrated here.”

“Where does McIlroy go from here?” Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press asks in this follow-up story to Rory McIlroy’s British Open victory. The headline: "McIlroy will emerge even stronger than ever."

Lydia Ko, 17, won the Marathon Classic to become the youngest in LPGA history to reach $1 million in earnings. “I don’t really think about money when I’m out here,” she said. “When they give [me] the check I go, ‘Oh, it’s $210,000.’” “The way Lydia figures, she earned $150,” Dave Hackenberg writes in the Toledo Blade. “The rest goes into an account managed by her mother. Ko gets an allowance.”

LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan invited Carol Mann to Baltimore for the International Crown this week. It is a homecoming for Mann, who was taught by Andy Gibson and Bill Strausbaugh at the Country Club of Maryland in Towson. Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun has the story of Mann’s return and the important role she played in the development of the LPGA.

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Celebrity

James Garner, 1928-2014: Actor, avid golfer who once punched out a fan

By John Strege

John Cook was lining up a par putt to get him into a playoff at the 1981 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am when his playing partner, actor James Garner, became a verbal target of an inebriated fan shouting, “Hey, Rockford.”

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Cook still made the putt and ended up winning the tournament, but Garner got into a set-to with the fan and wound up punching him.

It wasn’t Garner’s finest moment in the game, but it was one of the most memorable for this avid golfer and Hollywood icon who died on Saturday at 86.

Garner, who starred in the television shows “Maverick” and “The Rockford Files,” was a member of Bel-Air Country Club who, according to Eddie Merrins, the long-time pro there, bettered his age when at 68 he shot a 67. Garner never took formal lessons, though his brother Jack Garner, a long-time teaching pro at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale, Calif., gave him some tips, as did Cook and Gary Player.

In his book, “The Garner Files: A Memoir,” Garner wrote how he once played with his friend Bill Saxon and Golf Digest’s Dan Jenkins in an LPGA pro-am in Las Vegas. “Bill took a practice swing and accidentally hit me in the head with his driver,” Garner wrote. “It didn’t hurt me, but I played it to the hilt, dropping to the ground, pretending to be unconscious. It gave Dan quite a start until he realized I was acting. Said he thought he’d witnessed James Garner being murdered by his best friend.”

Garner, who frequently played in the Crosby, played a match with Sam Snead for a television show called “Celebrity Golf.” They tied. “He wasn’t happy about that, I can tell you,” Garner wrote. “Snead was a curmudgeon and full of himself.”

(Getty Images photo)

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News & Tours

9 numbers you should know from the final round of the Open

By Mike O'Malley

HOYLAKE, England -- Doing the math on the fourth round at Royal Liverpool:
 
1: Remaining major victory needed for Rory McIlroy to achieve the career Grand Slam, after eight-shot blowouts in the U.S. Open and PGA and Sunday's two-stroke win in the Open. As if the Masters needs anything extra to get people jacked up. "I really don't have any doubt that he'll win there," said Rickie Fowler, who tied for second at Hoylake. "Definitely fits his game. It's hard to say that there's really any course that doesn't suit him when he's on his game." But, Fowler added, "It would be nice if I can get him first there."
 
2: Rory McIlroy's trigger words for this week: "process" and "spot." As in, focus on the process, not the result, and pick your spot on the green and roll it over that spot.

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9: Number of top-10 finishes in majors for Rory McIlroy in 24 appearances. Masters: T-8 this year at Augusta National. U.S. Open: won in 2011 (Congressional) and T-10 in 2009 (Bethpage). The Open: won in 2014 (Hoylake) and T-3 in 2010 (St. Andrews). PGA: Won in 2012 (Kiawah), T-3 in 2009 (Hazeltine) and 2010 (Whistling Straits) and T-8 in 2013 (Oak Hill).
 
17: How the major winners who made the cut played the final round:  Jim Furyk, 65; Adam Scott, 66; Graeme McDowell, Charl Schwartzel, Angel Cabrera, 67; Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, 68; Keegan Bradley, Stewart Cink, 69; Rory McIlroy, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner, 71;  Justin Rose, Louis Oosthuizen, 72; Darren Clarke, 73; Tiger Woods, 75, Martin Kaymer, 79.
 
24: Additional strokes Tiger Woods took versus his winning total at Hoylake in 2006, when he had rounds of 67-65-71-67 (270). He finished this week at 69-77-73-75 (294). Woods played Hoylake's four par 5s in 14 under par in 2006 but was only six under on the par 5s this week.
 
45: Years to the day separating man first landing on the moon and McIlroy winning the Open. The day after the landing in 1969, Neil Armstrong made "one small step … one giant leap." Rory? With the Open win, let's just say he's over the moon.
 
68: Tom Watson's score at age 64. After an opening bogey, Watson made 12 pars and five birdies, including a birdie 4 at the home hole. "You feel lighter," Watson said. "You don't feel like you have a burden that you're taking with you. Keep it running, keep the engine running, if you can. Wake up every morning not in too much pain, and go from there."
 
79: Martin Kaymer's final round, the worst of the day. A month after beating everyone in the U.S. Open by eight or more, Kaymer finished 70th, ahead of only two players who made the cut.
 
2015: Next year's Open, at the Old Course at St. Andrews. Can't wait.

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News & Tours

Here's why Sergio Garcia shouldn't be too upset about his close call at the British Open

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

HOYLAKE, England -- After Sunday's final round at Royal Liverpool, Sergio Garcia didn't look as torn up about this near miss at the British Open as he has with close calls at majors in the past. In fact, he looked genuinely happy for Rory McIlroy, which is good, because there are lot of positives Garcia should draw from this.

He turned the inevitable into a contest

McIlroy was six-shots ahead at the start of the day, and after a birdie at the first, Rory's round was fast turning into a coronation. But Garcia didn't give up. He, too, birdied the first, then fist-pumped after he birdied the fifth -- something a fair amount of people snickered at in the moment. But Sergio kept clawing, holing a momentum-building eagle putt on the 10th to make things interesting. He ended up at with a 66 and finished only two back of McIlroy after starting the day seven off his lead.

"I'm happy I gave myself enough of a cushion," Rory McIlroy said. "There were a lot of guys coming at me, especially Sergio."

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He didn't fold under pressure

Granted, he was never in the lead, but there were plenty of opportunities for Sergio to quietly disappear and let Rory have his day. It looked like he would at one point -- his shot that caromed off the stands on the 12th, for example, and the two attempts to get out of the bunker on 15 -- but he never did. He kept coming back each time. "Everybody looks at you as second and they want to make it a negative," Garcia said. "Not at all ... I played well. I felt like I did almost everything I could."


He endeared himself to the crowd

Rory was clearly the favorite throughout the week, but a large portion of the Hoylake crowd wound up pulling for the Spaniard. Garcia's public image has been up and down in recent years for a whole bunch of reasons. But seeing Garcia push McIlroy against all odds in hopes of winning his first major, and then to be gracious in defeat, made it pretty easy to root for Garcia. "It looks like I'm finally growing up," Garcia said.

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He's just given his resume another boost

Not winning rarely makes pros feel very good, but maybe it should this time for Garcia. His T-2 at this year's British Open is now his 10th top five in majors. He's also now all but guaranteed to make another Ryder Cup team -- it'll be his seventh -- and he'll jump to fifth in the world rankings. It's fair to say Garcia has now firmly re-established himself as the best player without a major, and he's won some of the biggest events all across the world. It's only a matter of time before one of the four biggest ones falls his way.

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