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News & Tours

Ga. Tech handles calm, takes NCAA 1st-round lead

STILLWATER, Okla.—James White opened the NCAA Championship with a impressive five-under 67 Tuesday. Mind you, you wouldn't have guessed it by the way he talked after his round. The junior from Acworth, Ga., spoke cautiously about the way he tamed Karsten Creek GC (my words, not his) seemingly as if not to jinx himself.

"I just hope I didn't use up all my birdies today. We've got a long way to go," said White, who made eight on the day. "It's a tough golf course. I was sweating over every shot. I knew I was just one swing away from a double bogey at all times."

If the first round leader appeared to have that much confidence, imagine how the rest of the field must have felt.
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News & Tours

Arkansas' Austin Cook bellys-up at NCAAs

STILLWATER, Okla.—Attention Arkansas women's assistant coach Mike Adams. You're going to need to get yourself a new putter. The one that Razorback sophomore Austin Cook "borrowed" from you a few weeks ago in hopes of helping his sagging short game isn't going to be returned any time soon.

Not after Cook's two-under 70 during the first round of the NCAA Championship. It was the low score by any individual posted during the morning wave at Karsten Creek GC, when just five sub-par rounds posted through the mid-way point of the opening round.

Cook was struggling with a traditional length putter after a T-35 showing at the SEC Championship, his second straight finish outside the top 30, and saw Adams' Rife belly putter in the Razorbacks office. Figuring it couldn't hurt, he brought it out to the course put it in play while finishing T-14 at the Southeast Regional in Florida. ... Read
News & Tours

Something for Ohio State fans to smile about

STILLWATER, Okla.—For an athletic department that can use a little good news about now, the Ohio State men's golf team did its best to oblige. Led by senior Bo Hoag's 71, the Buckeyes posted a three-under 291 during the first round at the NCAA Championship, the low score among the schools playing in the morning wave at Karsten Creek GC.

Calmer conditions greeted the field Tuesday, with the 30 mile-an-hour winds from the practice round having dissipated, making the treacherous Tom Fazio course far more playable.

"I pulled them all together and I told the guys what makes this golf course is the wind," said Ohio State second-year coach Donnie Darr, a former assistant at Oklahoma State, who knew that without the breeze, there was a good number out there. "You've just got to understand that it's there to be had, and you've got to go get it. We didn't quite go get it, but we posted a pretty good number."

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News & Tours

Nicklaus: Tiger still ranked 1st by peers

DUBLIN, Ohio -- The world rankings say that Luke Donald is the No. 1 player in the world after his playoff victory over fellow Englishman Lee Westwood Sunday in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Jack Nicklaus isn't surprised that Donald has risen to the top.

"Luke's game has come a long way, but I will have to tell you that Luke is a member down at the Bear's Club down in Florida and he's there all the time, and there isn't anybody who spends more time working on his golf game than I've seen in Luke Donald," Nicklaus said Tuesday at Muirfield Village Golf Club, where he hosts the 36th edition of the Memorial Tournament. "He spends his time chipping and putting, chipping and putting, and I mean, he wears out the practice greens. And I think that the effort he has put into it has been rewarded."

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Donald will be among the favorites when the Memorial begins Thursday, but were he healthy, Tiger Woods, despite his recent swing troubles, would undoubtedly be the betting man's choice, having won at Muirfield Village a record four times.

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Gear & Equipment

Grip Solid for a solid grip

For those who like their training aids simple, here's the Grip Solid, which features a thin rubber strap with a raised flexible bar (called the Flex-Bar, appropriately enough) that attaches via Velcro around your own glove and is designed to do two things: To properly position the club in your hand and to help achieve the proper grip pressure.

Grip Solid.jpg

"It's really quite simple," the developer Michael Newman said. "It makes sure the club is positioned down in your fingers. As you're swinging, the bars are flexible and if you're gripping the club too tightly you'll feel the bars compressing in your hand."

Newman is a computer programmer by trade and went to art school. "I'm always noodling with different kinds of things," he said. The Grip Solid was an idea he developed several years ago, he said, but he did nothing with it other than to give to friends. "They found it started to work very well for them," Newman said. "I thought, 'wow, this works.'"

For now, Grip Solid is available only via the Internet and sells for $19.95. He said the company will be exhibiting at the PGA Fall Expo in Las Vegas in August in an effort to introduce his product to retailers.

-- John Strege

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Instruction

Monday Swing Analysis: Learn from Luke's classic move

Editor's note: Every week, PGA professional Kevin Hinton examines the swing of a recent tour winner and tells you what you can learn. A Golf Digest Best Young Teacher, Kevin is the Director of Instruction at Piping Rock Golf Club, Locust Valley, N.Y., and is a Lead Master Instructor for the Jim McLean Golf School at Doral Resort & Spa. He also teaches at Drive 495 in New York. He has seen thousands of swings, and has helped golfers of all abilities, from rank beginners to tour players. This week, he looks at the beautifully balanced action of the new world No. 1 player, Luke Donald, who won the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday, defeating Lee Westwood in a sudden-death playoff.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman


Kevin Hinton:
There are so many good things about Luke Donald's swing that it is difficult to know where to begin. His tempo can only be rivaled by Ernie Els. He has impeccable balance and footwork. The club swings through simple and repeatable positions. Frankly, it becomes difficult to imagine how he would ever hit a ball very far off line. Oh, and he has also been one of the best putters on the PGA Tour for the last few years. I guess it's not that shocking he is the new No. 1 ranked player in the world. With that in mind, watch the video below for a closer look at the mechanics behind that beautiful swing, both from face-on with a middle iron and then up the line with a driver.





Let's start with what I think is the most recognizable characteristic of Luke's swing, his classically balanced finish. There are a couple of details that the amateur player should take note of. First, his hips are fully rotated, and his lower center (think belt buckle) is closer to the target than his upper center (think buttons on your shirt). This relationship should be  ... Read
News & Tours

And your 2011 NCAA men's champion is ...

STILLWATER, Okla.—By any measure—wins, stroke average, eye test, rock/paper/scissors, etc.—the best team during the 2010-11 season in men's college golf has been Oklahoma State. Add that with the fact that this week's NCAA Championship is being held on the team's home course, Karsten Creek GC, and there's no doubt who the favorite is to claim the national title.

The question, of course, is whether the Cowboys will fulfill their destiny and hold the trophy come Sunday.

With crowds that are likely to number in the thousands, there will be all sorts of local support behind OSU's bid for its 11th NCAA crown. At the same time, this just might increase the pressure that Mike McGraw's crew—Peter Uihlein, Morgan Hoffmann, Kevin Tway, Sean Einhaus and Talor Gooch—is likely to face this week. There is no other outcome that will please the folks in orange and black. And there is no other outcome that they anticipate happening.
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News & Tours

Rickie Fowler mired in a sophomore slump

From the May 30 edition of Golf World Monday:

For those of you who don't believe in a sophomore jinx, we give you Rickie Fowler.

Last year's PGA Tour rookie of the year heads to this week's Memorial as a welcome addition to a field that once again will not feature four-time winner Tiger Woods.

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Fowler is one of the game's stars and for good reason. He is charismatic, polite, great with fans and plays an exciting brand of golf with tons of birdies. He also is a steely competitor, as he proved in last year's Ryder Cup.

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News & Tours

Records to know for NCAA Men's field

Can anyone hold off Oklahoma State this week at the NCAA Championship? To try to see who might be able to at least negotiate the field and be among the eight teams that advances to the match-play portion of the championship at Karsten Creek GC, here's a look at the records of each of the 30 teams in the field against each other plus their overall records for the 2010-11 season.

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News & Tours

Age is just a number for Irwin, teenagers

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- There is a lot of cool stuff happening in professional golf this weekend, what with teenagers leading or contending at tour events in England and in Texas, but the final round of the 72nd Senior PGA Championship is shaping up as something special for the opposite kind of age factor.

Matteo Manassero and Jordan Spieth are five to 10 years younger than when players generally start to win regular tour events. Hale Irwin, on the other hand, is nearly 16 years older than the minimum age to play on the Champions Tour. That Irwin, who will turn 66 on June 3, is tied for the 54-hole lead at Valhalla GC with Kiyoshi Murota at nine-under 207 is a remarkable feat.

If Irwin were to pull off a victory Sunday, he would break his own record as oldest winner of a major since the Champions Tour began in 1980 - he was 58 years, 11 months, 31 days when he won the 2004 Senior PGA at Valhalla. A victory would allow him to eclipse Mike Fetchick, the oldest player to win a Champions Tour event (63 years to the day). Irwin even would supplant Jock Hutchison, who was 62 when he won the 1947 Senior PGA decades before senior golf was really on the map.

Irwin's poor finish - a sloppy double-bogey 7 on the 18th hole Saturday - eliminated what had been a two-shot lead. Tom Watson, a spry 61 years old, lurks at eight-under in third place. Nick Price and Tom Lehman, more than a decade younger than Irwin, are within four strokes.

There have been plenty of Sundays throughout golf history when a nostalgic choice felt his years when a tournament was on the line. For every older golfer who has bucked the odds, many more have faded away. Irwin hasn't had the lead going into the final round of a Champions Tour event since the 2007 Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, when he finished second to Gil Morgan.

It could go either way for Irwin tomorrow, but for anybody who appreciates longevity and a successful athlete pulling out one more before time is up, the final round presents a delicious storyline. This isn't Tom Watson at Turnberry 2009, but it's certainly something rare.

-- Bill Fields

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