The Local Knowlege

Fantasy Golf

Fantasy Fix: Can Brandt Snedeker pull a Hunter Mahan in Boston?

The first week of the FedExCup Playoffs produced plenty of drama, a few surprises and another close call for Jim Furyk. In other words, it was like most weeks on the PGA Tour this year. But of course, it was different since what happened in Paramus doesn't stay in Paramus. The FedEx Cup points earned at the Barlcays will have a huge impact on the final three legs of the playoffs. This week, players move on to Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship, and fantasy owners get an extra day to set their rosters with the Friday start. Who do we think will be leaving Beantown in good spirits come Monday night? A look at our weekly Yahoo! fantasy lineup:

The Grind: Tiger and Sean consciously uncouple and Win McMurry's ice bucket fail

Starters -- (A-List): Adam Scott. If we keep picking him, he has to win eventually, right? Scott won the inaugural Deutsche Bank Championship by four shots in 2003.

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(B-List): Jason Day. Same for this Aussie. Day contended at the PGA Championship and is coming off a T-2 at the Barclays. He was T-2 at TPC Boston in 2010 and T-3 in 2011.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

(B-List): Rory McIlroy. We've got three starts remaining for the World No. 1 and we plan on using him in the season's final three tournaments. It doesn't hurt that he also won this event in 2012.

(C-List): John Senden. We'll keep our Aussie tea party going with a guy who hasn't shot an over-par round at TPC Boston since the first year of the FedEx Cup Playoffs (2007). Senden has top-12 finishes in three of his last four starts in this event.

Bench/Backups: Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan, Jim Furykand Charl Schwartzel.

Related: Hunter Mahan's incredible run of ball-striking

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Brandt Snedeker. The prospective Ryder Cup captain's pick has three top-six finishes in his last four trips to Boston, including a T-3 in 2011. After missing the cut at the Barclays, this is his last chance to impress captain Tom Watson like Hunter Mahan did last week. As Watson says in that MasterCard commercial, c'mon, "Sneeedeker."

Previously used: Keegan Bradley (Doral), Tim Clark (Sony), Jason Day (Congressional), Graham DeLaet (Phoenix), Luke Donald (Valspar), Jason Dufner (Bridgestone), Rickie Fowler (Honda Classic), Jim Furyk (Heritage), Sergio Garcia (British Open), Bill Haas (Farmers), Charley Hoffman (Travelers), Billy Horschel (Zurich), Charles Howell III (Humana), Freddie Jacobson (Valero), Dustin Johnson (Northern Trust), Zach Johnson (Colonial), Matt Kuchar (U.S. Open), Martin Laird (Kapalua), Hunter Mahan (Canadian), Graeme McDowell (Bay Hill), Rory McIlroy (PGA Championship -- WINNER!), Ryan Palmer (Memphis), Justin Rose (Memorial), Adam Scott (Masters), Webb Simpson (Wyndham), Jordan Spieth (Houston), Henrik Stenson (Players), Jimmy Walker (Pebble -- WINNER!), Nick Watney (Barclays), Gary Woodland (Nelson).

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News & Tours

Rebuilding Tiger's psyche will be harder than fixing his swing

World-class athletes, Fortune 500 CEOs and Navy SEALs have common traits that make them the ultimate competitors. But the wiring that makes them great at those jobs also makes them vulnerable to certain kinds of problems. 

Problems like the ones Tiger Woods has right now, says Dr. Michael Lardon. 

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Lardon is a clinical psychiatrist who has worked with SEALs, CEOs, PGA Tour players and other elite athletes for more than 20 years as a peak performance coach. He's helped players on the rise learn how to handle pressure and SEALs who come to the end of their deployment learn how to transition into civilian life. He talks about his work with Phil Mickelson and other golfers in his new book, Mastering Golf's Mental Game, which was excerpted in last month's Golf Digest. 

Lardon has never treated Woods, but he sees the threads common to "alpha predators" at the top of the competitive food chain who go through a crisis when they're past their peak. "It's an unusual situation for them to be in -- being the one who needs help," says Lardon, who is a consulting psychiatrist to the United States Olympic teams at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. "You're the ultimate predator, you've been dominant in a hyper-competitive environment and you feel invincible. But when you can't do some of the things you used to do, it presents a new set of challenges. A lot of them can't do it."

Woods' search for a Sean Foley replacement is probably the least complicated part of this process. "From my point of view, a new teacher isn't that big of a deal. That's familiar territory for him," says Lardon, who has also worked with Erik Compton, Rich Beem and David Duval. "A big piece is injury. His body is breaking down. On top of that, the talk about 19 majors has been so deafening for so long, and he's gone more than six years without winning one. That's intense pressure -- something he hasn't ever really had to deal with."

And the fallout from Woods' well-publicized personal problems in 2009 goes beyond an expensive divorce settlement. "He used to be the PGA Tour's rockstar, but now the crowd is split," Lardon says. "Even if you say you don't care about things like that, it's a different dynamic when you go out to play. And saying that he is putting his kids first might make him a better person, but it won't necessarily make him a better golfer. He's going from having this solitary focus on golf to taking his kids to school every day. Real life has become a hurdle. And he has to deal with the fact that his kids are going to know what happened, because it's all been so public. That's real emotional pain."

Fixing it will be an especially hard road for someone like Woods, who has stayed famously closed off from everyone except a small circle of friends and employees. "To get better, you have to get real feedback from somebody who understands the whole situation," Lardon says. "That reputation for being this ruthless guy is something that helped make him be a great player, but for this he's going to have to open himself up -- which will probably require a totally new mentality. He has to re-assess his goals. He's not going to be in his physical prime again, so how does he maximize what he has and be more efficient? A swing coach is just one of the experts he should see."

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Gear & Equipment

Mizuno's JPX-850 driver is all about adjustability

Over the years, Mizuno has delivered drivers worthy of attention, including its new JPX-850.

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This latest club ($400) has a sliding adjustable-weight system with three weight ports (one on the heel, toe and center of the sole). You can move a pair of eight-gram weights into any port, allowing players to set up the club for a fade or draw. The adjustable hosel provides eight loft settings from 7.5 to 11.5 degrees.

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"This club allows players to adjust loft, shot shape and spin," says Chuck Couch, Mizuno's VP of product development. "Loft is the dominant factor, but to just do loft without dialing in shot shape and spin is giving the golfer less than they should get."

Interested in more stories on equipment? Signup to receive Golf Digestix, a weekly digital magazine that offers the latest news, new product introductions and behind-the-scenes looks at all things equipment.

 


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News & Tours

As you watch the rest of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, here's the guy who decides what you're actually seeing

When you think of sports television and storytellers, it's the people in front of the screen that come to mind. But the work of those behind the scenes is equally important, and among the most skillful at that brand of storytelling is Tommy Roy, the lead producer of NBC's golf coverage.   

loop-tommy-roy-518.jpgRoy, 55, has won 29 Emmys over his career, including the best sports broadcast of the year for the 2008 U.S. Open coverage of Tiger's win at Torrey Pines. The University of Arizona graduate began working at NBC in the late 1970s as a runner during coveage of the Tucson Open and has gone on to cover some of sports' biggest moments, including three Super Bowls as executive producer, the Olympics, NBA Finals, World Series and many more. 

Roy will be busy in the next few weeks as NBC/Golf Channel broadcast the final three FedEx Cup events of the 2013-14 season and all three days of the Ryder Cup for the first time. We spoke to him last week for Golf Digest Stix about the FedEx Cup, Ryder Cup, Tiger Woods and even John Elway. Here's an extended version of that Q&A.    

Golf Digest Stix: What separates a golf telecast from other sports?  

Roy: The biggest thing is that it's not on one court or one field. Golf is played out on 18 holes spread out over acres of property. So logistically it's much more challenging. And the competition never stops. If you're doing a football game, when you go to a commercial, they're not playing. In golf, it becomes much more complicated to go to break. You try to do it while the leaders are walking in between shots so you don't miss anything crucial. But inevitably, you do. And of course, during commercial breaks in football or basketball, you can catch your breath and regroup before the action starts, then you're ready to get going. But in golf, you're working during the break to figure out what we're coming out of the break with, if we're going to be live or if we're going to show a shot or putt on tape delay. So there's that factor.  

And then one of the biggest things is the number of athletes in a golf event. If you're doing, say, a Denver Broncos game, you absolutely know the storyline coming in is Peyton Manning. But if you're doing a golf event, you have hundreds of players, and so coming into it you're preparing yourself for hundreds of stories that could unfold over the final days. But that's where our announcers do such a great job. Bringing out the stories in these events, and giving our viewers a reason to care about these athletes.  

Golf Digest Stix: Given all those differences, do you think golf's the most difficult to broadcast?

Roy: Other than the Olympics, I think it is the most difficult to cover. And the only reason that the Olympics tops it is the sheer size, and you have a thousand athletes spread out over multiple cities. That's just gets even more massive with everything that you're doing. Auto racing, too, is very difficult when you have to stop and go to commercial. And I've been an executive producer on a Daytona 500, so I know how that works. I definitely think golf is the second most difficult to do.  

Golf Digest Stix: NBC has covered the FedEx Cup for a while now. Given the complexities of the points standings and players advancing to the next event, what are some ways you try to make it sensible to the viewer on TV?  

Roy: I think graphically, you have to keep explaining it over and over and over again. Every single telecast since this has been in existence, we've been pointing it out in the graphics. We've made green and red good and bad, whether you'll make it to the next week. We literally go back to square one every single telecast just to re-explain to people, to tell people what the graphics are explaining. And then once we get to the Tour Championship, we bring in Steve Sands to further explain it. We were using the Tim Russert white board originally to help the people at home to understand it.  

I remember the year that Phil Mickelson won the Tour Championship but Tiger won the FedEx Cup [in 2009], we had explained it ad nausea, in what I thought was an effective way. After we got off the air, I actually talked to my mom and I asked her, "You knew how that whole thing worked, right?" That Phil won the event but Tiger won the Cup, and she said, "Nope. I had no idea." So I realized then that we hadn't done a good enough job. That's when we brought in Steve to do the Tim Russert thing, and I can say that since then, my mom has understood it, so I feel pretty certain that the average viewer gets it now.

Golf Digest Stix: Mom knows best, right?  

Roy: Yeah, it's true.  

Golf Digest Stix: You will also be broadcasting the Ryder Cup. How do you think the Cup compares to a regular stroke-play event?  

Roy: A regular stroke-play event plays out over four days. But in the Ryder Cup, every single point is just as valuable as every other point. So you have all these mini tournaments that are lasting 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Just a normal day of stroke-play golf on a Thursday or Friday might get tedious on a given week, but in the Ryder Cup, there's finality after the morning session, after the afternoon session, and then golf on Saturday and Sunday.

And there's much more emotion generated at the Ryder Cup than virtually any tour event, and I'd say even greater than most majors. You're sitting in the production truck and you hear a huge roar. If I'm doing a stroke-play event, I can look at the monitor right away and know right away where it came from. But in this, I'm scanning the monitors and I'm not seeing anything. And all that happened was the fans reacting to a scoreboard change from another match and they let out a roar. It's great drama and great energy. And I have to say, the European fans are the ones who really bring the energy. All of that chanting and cheering irritates the American fans, so they try to respond. So it's great stuff.  

Golf Digest Stix: When something big is happening at a Ryder Cup and you feel the electricity on the course, how does that play out in the truck?  

Roy: Well, you have to stay impartial. We can't be rooting. But I will say that certainly when the energy level on the course is at its highest, our announcers can feel that, so they go up. And consequently, our energy level in the truck goes up too. It's just natural. But at a Ryder Cup on a Sunday, we are rocking in the truck. Because you have all these matches going on, and key shots are happening in multiple matches at the same time, we're bouncing back and forth. The thing is, there's a lot more information for our announcers to spit out. So it's not, "To 17, Tiger for birdie." It's: "Tiger for birdie, his opponent missed his birdie attempt and still has a four-footer for par. And the match is all square." So there's a lot more information you need to get out for the viewer to understand the full situation. What I'm saying in the announcers ears pretty much doubles during the Ryder Cup.  

Golf Digest Stix: For the average TV viewer just watching and not appreciating what's going on behind the scenes, what's one thing that maybe they aren't aware of that gos on to have a successful show?  

Roy: When you're sitting at home watching a golf telecasts, and the announcers are talking in a low, muted voice, and the fans are hushed, in the truck, it's LOUD. It's semi-chaotic and people are shocked when they come into the truck what's going on. But because there are so many storylines, so many players, so many balls in play spread out all over the place, there's so much communication that's required to get everything on the air.  

Golf Digest Stix: Being that you've produced Super Bowls, NBA championships, the Olympics, what have been your favorite broadcasting moments?  

Roy: I have a few. I got to produce Michael Jordan's first three championships. That's when the NBA was absolutely electric. In primetime, these games were just incredible. And then, getting to produce the Super Bowl when John Elway finally won it after losing three of them [XXXII]. Getting a chance to do three Super Bowls, you know you have every eyeball in the United States who has any interest in sports at one particular time. That's probably the only time I've felt a little bit of pressure is doing that Super Bowl. I love being on the air and I really never feel any butterflies or anything. But I did for that Super Bowl for that one time.

But, the greatest thing I've had the chance to do was working when Michael Phelps won his eighth gold medal [at the Beijing Olympics in 2008]. That was one of the things that, maybe someone back in the day had some rare feat, but it wasn't documented. I consider Phelps to be the single greatest sports accomplishment of any individual. Those events were beyond description and how cool it was to be a part of that.  

Golf Digest Stix: Wow, as a sports fan, we're on the edge of our seats watching these historic events, but you're the one controlling what we're watching. It's so cool.  

Roy: Absolutely. And by the way, Tiger Woods in 2008 U.S. Open is right up there. I remember going off the air on Friday, he had played great and we had a terrific telecast. It was a combination of ESPN and NBC, and we all thought it was great. And then Saturday topped that -- that's when he eagled 13 and 18 and chipped in at 17. That usually doesn't happen with a U.S. Open because the course is set up so hard. But I remember getting off the air on Saturday thinking, 'If only this was the final round, it'd be the greatest thing ever.' But then Sunday topped Saturday, and then the Monday playoff topped it all. It was like four consecutive days of absolutely incredible drama.


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Television

Learn (and laugh) a lot from this parody bio video of Babe Didrikson Zaharias

When you just examine the golf accomplishments (82 wins, including 14 in a row at one point and 10 majors) of multi-sport female star Babe Didrikson Zaharias, you get the feeling there's not enough coverage of her remarkable career. But on Tuesday night, her amazing story was told to the masses on. . . Comedy Central?

Related: Check out this photo of Babe Didrikson and Babe Ruth kissing

Yep, the cable network tackled Babe's story of being a pioneer in women's golf during an episode of the parody show "Drunk History." Here's the hilarious clip that actually teaches viewers a fair amount of Zaharias history, from her prolific winning, to her relationship with fellow golfer Betty Dodd, to helping found the LPGA. "L stands for Ladies. It's pretty genius."

Great job by Emily Deschanel (co-star of "Bones") in the video, although we're pretty sure the real Babe had a better golf swing. . .

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Business

Even Putt-Putt has had to get creative to sustain and grow its business

Miniature golf is only a distant cousin to golf, but it seems to have experienced growing pains not unlike that of golf itself.

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The CEO of Putt-Putt Golf, David Callahan, said on Bloomberg TV on Wednesday that, “in essence golf alone doesn’t make it any more. You can’t make that business model work.”

Golf has gotten creative in an effort to lure people to the golf course. It has introduced foot golf and the concept of 15-inch cups to make the game easier.

Putt-Putt, meanwhile, has introduced Putt-Putt Fun Centers that feature a variety of other attractions, including go-karts, bumper boats, batting cages, laser tag and game rooms.

“The growth is seen with the Fun Center concept,” Callahan said. “We tried to develop a model that required less land than the larger Fun Centers and can incorporate the lead product, which is Putt-Putt golf, into that mix and it’s proven to be quite successful with the new prototype we’ve built back in North Carolina. We just kind of developed something we think can take us into the 21st century and increase our franchising, the Fun Center concept on approximately three acres of land incorporating all the attractions we have.

“If you can’t generate an EBITDA [Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization] somewhere between 31 and 35 percent and edging toward 40 it’s a deal breaker, and we’ve accomplished that in the new prototype we’ve built.”

Related: Grantland's new mini-documentary on putt-putt is really good

Callahan said that “roughly 30, 35 percent of our total revenue comes from the golf.”

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News & Tours

Johnny Miller on Tiger Woods: "He needs to quit being Ponce de Leon looking for that fountain of youth"

Tiger Woods parting ways with Sean Foley has opened the door for a flood of suggestions about what the 14-time major champion should do next. While Woods would probably be wise to ignore most, he might want to listen to another Hall of Famer who had to deal with back issues.

Johnny Miller made swing adjustments during his career to help preserve his back, and on Tuesday, the Golf Channel on NBC analyst offered his own advice for Woods.

Related: Who will be Tiger Woods' next coach?

"That's the main reason why I switched my game. I had a very upright swing and started having back trouble, and had to basically flatten it out and play for a little draw. It sort of saved my back," Miller said during a conference call previewing the final three legs of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. "If I was working with him, that's what I would base his primary shot ... [it] would be that kind of shot, back in your stance a little bit and just release the right side down the line. I think that would help him a lot."

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Miller said Woods has become too one-dimensional in his ball-striking and that he relies too much on hitting a fade. The two-time major champ also thinks the 38-year-old Woods is "looking for too much," something that extends to his off-course workouts designed to get him more power.

Related: Tiger and Sean's conscious uncoupling and Win McMurry's ice bucket fail

"He should just go play golf. He can be very athletic. There's the target; you swing at the target. You don't swing way left. You swing at the target. It's a very simple thing," Miller said. "He knows enough to tell most coaches what to do. He needs to quit being Ponce de Leon looking for that fountain of youth. He's looking for explosive power. What he really needs to do I think with the long game is swing a little smoother instead of exploding into it and blocking everything right and flipping it left."

Miller noted the great players from his era weren't nearly as reliant on swing coaches and he was no exception. Instead of working closely with an instructor, Miller learned from a close group of three other players: Lee Trevino, Tony Lema and Chi Chi Rodriguez.

Related: Coaching Tiger Woods is harder than it looks

"My theory was I had four different guys grooved, and they weren't all going to choke on the same day. Somebody was going to play good," Miller said about his multiple-personality swing.

So there you go, Tiger. Your options are limitless. Try not having a coach. Try having a new coach. Try not working out. Try playing a draw more. Try just playing. Try copying another player. Try copying a few other players. OK, we'll stop now.

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News & Tours

Michelle Wie makes a mesmerizing time-lapse video of herself painting

If you like Michelle Wie, or you're an artist who's a fan of the LPGA Tour, you'll probably know that the reigning U.S. Women's Open champion really enjoys painting. She prefers water color and black-and-white drawings, according to Golf World's 2012 profile of Wie, and says painting has become something of a release for her.

Tuesday, Wie used her new GoPro camera to showcase her skills on Instagram. Her painting is a giant skull with a crown and the word "dope" in its mouth, and it's all set to some snazzy music. Turns out she's a pretty good video editor, too.


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Style

It's not just Bernhard Langer's game that's worth imitating

Arguably the most dominant golfer on any tour in 2014 celebrates a birthday today. Happy 57th to Bernhard Langer, owner of two green jackets and a slew of international titles to go with his 23 Champions Tour wins -- five of which he has claimed this year.

Looking back through some old photos of Langer, we realized that the German was quite the swaggy dude in his day. Long before Rickie Fowler was born, Langer was rocking some serious single color set-ups, including the head-to-toe red look he cued up to win his first Masters title in 1985.

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We'd suggest starting with something subtler, but don't be afraid to try out this monochromatic move from the former World No. 1.

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Langer circa 1985.

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Langer circa 2000.

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Langer circa 2002.

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Langer circa 2010.

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Langer circa 2014.

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Instruction

Think teaching 30,000 lessons is a lot? Well, think again.

As of today, I feel like such a slacker.

The newest member of the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, Matt Fields, has traveled the world -- Bolivia, India, Taiwan, you name it -- and taught "over 30,000" golf lessons (that's an average of one a day for 82+ years, if you're keeping track).

To give that many lessons, your daily schedule would have to include five students, over the course of two decades, even on the holidays. Either this man is the best multi-tasker or he never takes a break.

"He has experience," said Gilchrist, with whom Fields has reunited after years teaching together at the International Junior Golf Academy, "that is much unparalleled in the game."

You would think.

 
But as it happens passing that 30,000-lessons barrier is more like hitting .300 than .400 over a 162-game major-league schedule. 

Scores and scores of teachers have already reached that plateau. And with another 30,000 lessons, Matt's hobby would match this Hobby's hobby. But he'd still trail a bunch who've surpassed 70,000 lessons.

Ernie Boshers, who's been teaching since 1986, boasts 80,000. The late Jerry Belt's bio cites he stood on the practice tee for all 100K. Just to count that tally, alone, takes 77 hours—sacrificing another 77 possible lessons. But who's counting?

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