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News & Tours

7 pictures that summarize round three at the RBC Heritage

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- After biblical rain on Friday, the heavens held-over on Saturday at the RBC Heritage. Play started at 8 a.m., and the decent weather allowed the 65 players left on the course to finish their second rounds and all of the players to finish their third rounds. "They've done well considering the conditions," Charl Schwartzel said. "The golf course has held up really well...and I'm looking forward to a good Sunday."

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On the golf course, Luke Donald and his majestic follow-through jumped into the 54-hole lead on moving day. An eagle on the par-5 second helped Donald to a five-under 66 on Saturday, leaving him two-shots clear of nearest-chaser John Huh. "The last eight months have been a little bit of a transition period for me," Donald said, "but I'm starting to feel really comfortable with my game."

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The Thompson family continued their crusade through the golf world on Saturday. Lexi's brother Nicholas played his way into T-3 after a three-under 68, joining a crowded group three shots back. "It's going to be an exciting day tomorrow," Thompson said. "As long as we don't have to play 18, 18 times."

Here the two Thompson's are at the 2008 U.S. Women's Open plotting their impending takeover.

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In non-professional news, Matt Fitzpatrick continued being a boss at Harbour Town. The amateur shot a bogey-free 69 on Saturday, leaving him just six shots off the lead. He may not be hitting as many greens as some of those in the field, but when you're gaining more than one and a half strokes on the field putting like he is this week, it doesn't really matter.


We went hunting at the RBC Heritage for any putting tips from the pros. What did we find? Well, before their round, none of the pros we watched spent any significant time hitting long putts. It was all about drilling home the short ones. Take note, amateurs everywhere.

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Tim Herron showed John Daly who was boss on Friday. While Daly missed the cut, Herron employed a modified claw putting grip while practicing before his round that featured a cigarette between his index and middle finger. He's even after 54-holes, leaving him T-34.

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Can you tell where Jonathan Byrd went to school? The Clemson grad totally played to the South Carolina crowd on Saturday, dressing basically like the school's mascot en-route to a third-round 73, leaving him in T-62 after three days.

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Instruction

Here's how six PGA Tour pros practice putting before they go play

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- An hour spent on the practice putting green watching PGA Tour pros before they go play can teach you a lot.

First, think what many amateurs do: most usually throw down a few balls, quickly eye-up that hole 30 feet away, and pull the trigger. That a couple more times, and maybe a few sneaky short putts before heading to the first tee.

Related: Adam Scott's warm-up routine before beginning his Masters defense

"Ask any of the guys out here, they all have specific routines they do before they go play," Graeme McDowell said earlier in the week, a thought echoed by Zach Johnson: "I've got certain things that I plan to do every time I go play, like most of these guys."

I spent an hour before the third round of the RBC Heritage watching what a selection of PGA Tour pros do before they go play. Almost everything varied from one pro to another, but all seemed to share one common trait: none of the pros I saw spent any significant time hitting long putts. Practically all their time was spent drilling short putts from inside 10 feet.

Related: LPGA Players' Pre-Round Routines

Here are some of the drills preferred by the pros:

Jordan Spieth

With three golf balls, Spieth spent about 10 minutes hitting putts with just his right hand. After that, he hit three golf balls from eight feet, gradually working his way around the hole and moving farther away until he got to 12 feet.

Patrick Reed

Reed spend most of his time drilling seven foot putts -- also in sets of three -- lining up over a mirror and string to make sure everything moved on line.

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Pat Perez

Perez had his caddie video his putting stroke from ground-level by the hole as he hit three sets of nine foot putts from different angles (all the same distance).

Billy Horschel

Horschel spent 20 minutes hitting nine foot putts with two tees resting a few feet away from the ball's starting position. The tees were spread about a golf ball's width apart. The goal was to start the putt on line so it would travel through the tees and into the hole.

Jonathan Byrd

Byrd was one of the more technical players on the green. Set up about 12 feet away from the hole, Byrd hit putts using a system that forced his putter to travel on the same line -- straight back and through -- throughout the stroke.

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Brandt Snedeker

Snedeker's favorite drill seemed to be when he set four balls at different spots around the hole, three, six and nine feet away. His goal was to make all 12 putts in a row, working his way from shortest to longest. If he missed one, he would start again from three feet.

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News & Tours

Move over John Daly: Tim Herron has perfected the cigarette-holding claw putting grip

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- John Daly may be multi-tasking like a champ at the RBC Heritage -- on Friday he wore pants with ladies on them, smoked and putted all at the same time -- but it seems Tim "Lumpy" Herron is rising to the challenge. 

On the putting green Saturday before his third round, Herron, who sits one-under after 36-holes at the RBC Heritage -- employed a variation of his claw putting grip that our Matt Rudy wrote about a day earlier.

Related: "Dear Lumpy" Advice Column Archive

Between the index and middle finger of his right hand, Herron held a lit cigarette as he rolled putts all around Harbour Town's practice putting green.

Here's a picture of Herron's modified claw grip in action:

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Travel

Places We Like: SoMa StrEat Food, San Francisco

By Matthew Rudy

San Francisco is known for the diversity of its food scene, and no place in town is a better microcosm of that diversity than SoMa StrEat Food Park -- a collection of food truck vendors on square-block lot under the 101 Freeway in the South of Market neighborhood.

Different vendors rotate in and out every day, so you never know what you're going to get -- which is a wonderful thing. Luckily for us, our visit coincided with that of one of the most popular trucks -- the unrepentantly fat-saturated Bacon Bacon

Owner Jim Angelus deals both standard and eclectic pig-based selections from the side of his icon Black, white and pink step truck. The bacon double cheeseburger is delicious, but the bacon fried chicken sandwich is worth the cross-country flight all by itself. The chicken is coated in a combination of panko and chopped bacon and fried, then served topped with cole slaw on a fresh brioche roll. 

Even with the competing smells coming from the burrito and pizza trucks nearby, the porky goodness wafting from the Bacon Bacon truck made it hard to understand why neighbors near the truck's home base cafe petitioned to get it closed down because of the food smell last year. Happily, they resolved their differences and the Haight-Asbury walk-up will reopen this weekend.  

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Golf & Business

'It's nice to look out the window at a golf course,' says course owner, stating the obvious

By Peter Finch

Bloomberg had an interesting piece on the golf-course business the other day. Focusing on the U.S. market for golf-course sales, it concluded that things have picked up quite a bit. The article shows the average sales price of a course at $4.25 million these days. While that’s down 42 percent from the 2006 average ($7.33 million), it’s a gain of 57 percent from 2012’s average ($2.7 million).

Bloomberg got these numbers from Marcus & Millichap’s National Golf & Resort Properties Group. Here's a link to a little video about the data, which made the news service’s “Single Best Chart” feature.

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The article quotes oil exec Ben Kenny, who bought Georgia's Horseshoe Bend Country Club (pictured above) for $6.1 million and has spent more than $20 million on improvements in the past two and a half years. The course was originally designed by Joe Lee, though Bob Cupp oversaw its recent renovation. It was enough of a do-over that Horseshoe Bay made Golf Digest’s  list of Best New Courses in 2013.

A quote of note from the owner: "It’s nice to look out the window at a golf course. It beats looking at a stock portfolio that 13 guys are manipulating to try to beat me.”

I get what he’s saying. But just for the record, a $20 million portfolio invested in the S&P 500 two and a half years ago would have been pretty nice to look at, too.

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Gear & Equipment

There's actually plenty inside the hollow design of Tour Edge's CB PROh irons

By Mike Stachura

Everybody likes the idea of a distance iron, until you don't need a distance iron. That's the thinking behind the Tour Edge Exotics CB PROh ($600), which marries hollow, thin-face designs in the middle and long irons with compact, cavity-back short irons.

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The 8-iron through pitching wedge are cast of a softer 431 stainless steel for feel and control. The rest of the irons fuse a forged 420 stainless-steel face insert with the 431 body.

The hollow approach is similar to recent iron-like hybrids from Adams, Callaway, Cleveland, Mizuno, Ping and Titleist. The face (only about two millimeters thick) is designed to flex at the USGA limit for springlike effect. The hollow construction promotes a more stable head on off-center strikes. Individual long irons—even an 18-degree 2-iron—can be purchased separately ($100).

Follow @MikeStachura

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News & Tours

Missing links: Golf’s Future 'bleak' post Tiger and golf with 15-inch holes

By John Strege

Stories of interest you might have missed...

What will professional golf be without Tiger Woods? We got an indication from the Masters, which Woods missed for the first time in 20 years. “Many people predicted that the tournament’s bottom line, from television ratings to corporate attendees, would suffer. Those people were right,” writes Jake Simpson in the Atlantic, beneath the headline, “Golf's Future After Tiger Woods: Bleak.”

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(Getty Images photo)

Can golf recover from the malaise that has plagued it in recent years? The answer: A definite maybe. “Course owners and real estate investors are betting on a comeback following a downturn that was ‘by far the toughest ever in the industry,’” write Nadja Brandt and Mike Buteau in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Many believe the game does need help to recover, hence this story by Bill Pennington in the New York Times, with the headline, “In a Hole, Golf Considers Digging a Wider One.” Among the suggestions: Foot golf and offering golfers an option of playing rounds with 15-inch diameter holes.

The 15-inch hole idea was put to the test post-Masters, with Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and media members at Reynolds Plantation. The verdict: “I played a round in which our time on the greens was slashed in half. It was fast, fun and liberating,” writes John Paul Newport in the Wall Street Journal.

A long, cold winter won’t help in golf’s comeback bid. In Michigan, for instance, “We had ice that was basically like a skating rink sitting on top of many of our putting greens for over two months,” said Kevin Frank, Michigan State University associate professor in crop and soil sciences and and AgBio Research scientist in this story on MLive.com. “Many will not be able to play their greens until early June.” Ouch.


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Health & Fitness

Three reasons to back off of diet soda

By Ron Kaspriske

How bad is soda for you? Forget the calories. Forget the sugar. Forget the general lack of nutrition. All you need to know is that mechanics sometimes use cola to take the corrosion off a car battery terminal. Not joking. I've seen it done.

While most of you would agree that sugary sodas should be a once-in-a-while treat and not the primary way you hydrate yourself, I've been asked many times what's wrong with diet soda. There's no calories. No sugar. How can it be harmful?

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I won't go into a long list of reasons. Instead, I'll give you the three most widely reported by nutritionists and doctors.

1. It's an enabler. There might not be any sugar in diet soda but it sure does taste sweet, right? Nutritionists believe a steady intake of diet soda conditions your brain to crave other things that are as sweet, if not sweeter. The hormone dopamine is released when we taste sweet things and, well, we tend to like when that happens. So you try to make it happen more often. Get the picture?

2. It's a warning light. Ask yourself why you're drinking diet soda. Is it to lose weight? Is it to get the soda taste without the soda sugar and calories? A recent study by the American College of Cardiology showed that older women who drank at least two diet sodas a day were at a much higher risk of heart attacks and death. It's not necessarily the soda that puts those women at risk. It's just that drinking diet soda is an indicator that they are unhealthy. Have you heard how many diet sodas John Daly drinks in a day? Does he look healthy to you?

3. It's corrosive. The pH of diet soda is typically around 3 or lower, which means it's very acidic. Acid is what corrodes the enamel of your teeth. Think of how many rounds of golf you can purchase with the money you save by not having cavities filled at the dentist. Health plans only go so far these days.

Related: The 10 Worst Things To Eat Or Drink When You Play


Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.


(Photo by Getty Images)

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Tenuous golf connection

9 things you're only going to understand if you've worked in a bag room

By Keely Levins

1. You can unfold a pushcart with the speed and dexterity of a professional Rubik's Cuber. 

2. You kept the members' clubs far cleaner than your own.  

3. You had a lot of putting contests against yourself waiting for the last cart to come in. And  
always pretended you didn't have a life when the player apologized for playing so late. "No, no. There's nothing I'd rather be doing on a Friday night." 

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4. You always felt the need to explain your wad of singles to bank tellers: "It's tip money… From the golf course…"

5. If you didn't approve of the way a member organized their bag, you took it upon yourself to re-arrange it. 

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6. You've pushed electric carts that ran out of juice across the length of a course. And felt like the Hulk doing it. 

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7. The playing privileges were so good, you probably would have worked for free. But you would never tell your boss that. 

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8. Whenever a bag came in with head covers on every iron and hybrid, a little piece of you died. 

9. You were 90% sure you and your bag room co-workers ran the course. Until you got promoted to the Pro Shop. 


 
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News & Tours

Lexi Thompson threw a really terrible first pitch at a Miami Marlins game

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

Lexi Thompson may be one the longer hitters on the LPGA Tour, but that skill doesn't seem to translate to the baseball mound.

Bestowed with the honor of throwing out the first pitch at the Miami Marlins game on Wednesday, the LPGA's newest major champ seemed excited in the build up.

But it didn't go so well. Lexi threw the ball wide left and into the dirt, sending the mascot who was assigned to catch the ball running in a desperate attempt to save it. She even tweeted about her throw afterwards. Notice how the smiley face turned into a concerned face.

That said, it's hard to imagine Lexi losing any sleep over it. She does have a nice, new major championship to cheer her up, after all.

Here's a clip of her talking about her throw on Golf Channel:

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