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News & Tours

Keegan Bradley living out his dreams on and off the course

NORTON, Mass. -- There is that cliche about being able to take the boy out of the country but not being able to take the country out of the boy. Well, the same can be said about Keegan Bradley when it comes to New England. And it can also be said about that chip he has on his shoulder that even the Wanamaker Trophy can't knock off.

Bradley, who was born and raised in Woodstock, Vt., and played on a state championship high school team in Hopkinton, Mass., is having a homecoming of sorts this week at the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Tuesday night he threw out the first pitch at the Red Sox-Yankees game and on Wednesday he fielded questions about whether he could be the PGA Tour Player of the Year.

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Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

"That was one of my dreams," Bradley said about climbing the pitching mound at Fenway Park. "I got to realize that dream last night." Then, in talking about the reaction he got from people at the ballpark, he added: "They know I'm New England. It's fun to come back home." As for being Player of the Year: "That's every player's dream," he said.

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Courses & Travel

My Buddies Trip to Bandon Dunes

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My annual buddies trip consists of a small-town pro-am at Baywood Golf & Country Club in Arcata, Calif. I’ve written about it before: close friends and family, one of the toughest 6,200-yard courses in the world (pictured); there’s a lot of catching up, camaraderie and cards. But this summer I turned 40, so I decided to extend the Baywood trip, up the coast for three hours, and add a few days at Bandon Dunes. Such a milestone birthday was good cover and justification for the men on the trip to explain to their bosses and the ladies in their lives (their Bosses) that they needed some extra days and extra dollars. 
 
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News & Tours

Sirak: McGirt is a FedEx Cup longshot worth rooting for

NORTON, Mass. -- Spend about five minutes with William McGirt and you can't help but decide you want him to make it through the FedEx Cup Playoffs and reach the Tour Championship. After five minutes, you will also be only about one-third of the way through his answer to your first question. This likeable young man makes Paul Goydos look like a reluctant interview.

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Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

McGirt is the ultimate outsider. He got into the Barclays -- the first of the FedEx Cup Playoff events -- with a T-52 finish at the Wyndham Championship that moved him to No. 125 in FedEx Cup points, the last qualifying spot. Then a T-24 effort in New Jersey moved McGirt to No. 96, sneaking into the top 100 who qualified for this week's Deutsche Bank Championship.

The ballpark guess is that the 32-year-old from Fairmont, N.C., with 13 missed cuts in 27 starts this year and who has yet to secure his playing card for 2012, will need to finish in the top 25 at TPC Boston come Labor Day to advance to next week's BMW Championship by being in the top 70. McGirt winning the FedEx Cup would make the Buster Douglas defeat of Mike Tyson look like a mild upset.

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News & Tours

TPC Boston in good shape for playoff event

NORTON, Mass. -- The Deutsche Bank Championship certainly is on the good side of Mother Nature. Last year, Hurricane Earl was bearing down on TPC Boston when it suddenly hung a right turn at Nantucket Island and went harmlessly out into the Atlantic Ocean. This year, the impact of Hurricane Irene on the venue and the surrounding area could have been much worse.

The massive storm -- 500 miles wide -- that battered the East Coast from North Carolina to Maine over the weekend did only minimal damage to the site of the second playoff event on the road to the FedEx Cup. Yes, there are still some areas without electricity -- like the hotel that was supposed to house the media -- but given the devastation in areas not far from here -- like Vermont -- the best-case scenario once again played out for the Deutsche Bank.


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Charley Hoffman stunned everyone at last year's event. Photo: Getty Images

Now it is just a matter of getting down to golf, and adjusting to the fact this tournament doesn't start until Friday, ending on the Monday Labor Day holiday. Given the travel disruptions and clean-up efforts in the wake of Irene, the late start was a good thing.


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Gear & Equipment

Taking guesswork out of golf course slopes

Want to take the guesswork out of club selection on uphill or downhill shots? Slope-Tec says it can help.

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Slope-Tec, available in either an iPhone app or a separate handheld device called the SDx Pro, will gauge the degree of slope with which you are dealing and give you the yards to add or subtract from the distance to the pin.

"After using a friend's Bushnell with slope," Slope-Tec developer Mark Scott said, "I thought that that was such good information. I don't have to stand on the tee box anymore wondering if I'm going to take a club off or swing a little easier, or on uphill shots swing harder and lay some sod over my ball. It's more or less giving you the information that you can use to make a good yardage ddetermination.

Scott employed his father, a civil engineer and mathematics guru, to help him develop a set of algorithms that are used in determining the yards, plus or minus.

The SDx Pro sells for $34.95, the iPhone app for $2.99.

-- John Strege

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News & Tours

The No. 1 men's team entering 2011-12 is ...

Fans in Westwood will be happy to see that UCLA is the No. 1 ranked team in the Golf World/Nike Golf preseason Division I coaches' poll.

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The Bruins earned eight of the 19 available first-place votes after finishing first in the stroke-play portion of the 2011 NCAA Championship. This is the second time in four seasons that coach Derek Freeman's team has started the fall as the No. 1 ranked team, the other being at the beginning of the 2008-09 campaign.


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Gear & Equipment

Stats unclear on the long putter debate

With three wins in three weeks, the long/belly/anchored putter buzz is going viral. I recently chatted with one manufacturer who suggested retailers are trying to order belly and long putters "by the thousands."

In other words, what we have here is classic media-induced frenzy. Golf's answer to a flash mob. The belief is that the longer putter is not merely a miracle cure for the deeply afflicted poor putter, but also is quite simply a better idea that every golfer should adopt in much the same way as he switched to Softspikes or metal drivers. Nick Price, who switched to a belly length putter last year and won with it, thinks the trend isn't necessarily a given but the technique does work. 

"The belly putter isn't the easy cure that a lot of people think it is. It still requires a lot of practice," Price told John Paul Newport in the Wall Street Journal."But it simplifies the fundamentals of putting so much that increasingly guys who have putting problems or inconsistencies are going to end up turning to it."

But do the stats suggest an overwhelming advantage for players who switch to a putting stroke that anchors the putter to some portion of their thoraxes? Adam Scott has been noteworthy for his switch in February to a "broomstick" long putter. In 2010, he ranked 136th in putting average. This year, he's 81st. Of course, maybe he's just hitting the ball closer to the hole. How's he rank in 3-putt Avoidance, where the longer putter might excel in those nervous, potentially yip-filled situations? A year ago he was 188th, this year, he's 172nd. Hardly alarming. What about those short putts, like say 4-footers? He was 183rd last year, 174th this year. You would think he'd gone from 183rd to 2nd, no?


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Gear & Equipment

You, too, can have a mental golf coach

Golf, a wise man once said, is played on a five-inch course -- the distance between the ears.

The wise man was Bobby Jones, who had to overcome a bad temper and a loss of focus before his talent was allowed to flourish. This speaks to the importance of the mental side of the game that many professional golfers now address by employing sports psychologists.

But what about the rest of us?

"At the PGA Center for Learning and Performance," PGA professional Joe Hallett said, "we had seen every training aid known to man, the neatest stuff. But there was this wide open area of the mental side of the game."

Enter Brain Center International, a scientific society specializing in the field of neuroscience. Based in Quebec City, Canada, BCI has developed a brain training program for golfers, Pro Mental Coach, that has been embraced by the PGA Center for Learning and Performance at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

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Pro Mental Coach provides a personalized training program that is done in the comfort of your home. If stress management is a weakness and focus a strength, the program will provide more brain exercises for the former and fewer for the latter.

"These guys came with something that's doable, fun, short-time segment, chunk learning, whatever you want to call it," said Hallett, who counts LPGA star Stacy Lewis among his students. "It's interactive. It's always changing."

It begins with an assessment test that includes questions about your latest rounds of golf from which a personalized mental-game profile is developed and a mental coaching program is recommended. It features what BCI calls "exergames" that replicate on-course situations that heighten stress. These exergames exercise different areas of the brain that are said to help in these areas, among others: mental endurance, focus, stress management, how to get in a zone, and how to recover mentally from a bad shot.

The time commitment, BCI said, is 20 minutes, three times a week. The cost of the program is $139.95.

-- John Strege

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Instruction

Starting down, part 2:
What Nicklaus and Flick say

Editor's note: Last Saturday I posted an item about Ben Hogan and what he said starts the downswing. He wrote in his books and articles that the downswing should start with the left hip. But in the video I attached, Hogan said it was the "lower body." Here's what Jack Nicklaus and Jim Flick have to say on the same subject in the September 2011 issue of Golf Digest, which is currently on newsstands (Dustin Johnson on the cover).

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman


Jack Nicklaus: Every other sport is played from the ground up. Watch a baseball pitcher: On the windup, he moves his lower body first, then his arm; on the forward motion, he leads again with the lower body, the arm trailing. Look at my transition, starting down. My left heel gets fully planted, and my left knee moves toward the target, yet my clubhead has barely changed position. That's swinging from the ground up.

Jim Flick: A lot of people have misinterpreted Jack's swing, believing he drove his legs to power the ball. I asked Jack how much his first teacher, Jack Grout, worked with him on leg action. He said zero. They focused on his feet. So think footwork, not leg drive.


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News & Tours

Final thoughts from Erin Hills

KraftTrophy.jpgGATE B9, CINCINNATI AIRPORT--What's the old cliche, "that's why they play the game?" It would appear to be a fitting one given the outcome of Sunday's final at the U.S. Amateur Championship.

I couldn't find anyone over the weekend who didn't think that Patrick Cantlay would be the last man standing on Sunday at Erin Hills GC. It wasn't any disrespect to eventual champion Kelly Kraft or the other semifinalists, Jordan Russell and Jack Senior. It was just that the 19-year-old UCLA All-American had been playing so well for so long this summer that it seemed as if it was his destiny to hold the Havemeyer Trophy.

How else do you explain the amazing comeback against Russell Henley in their second-round match? And the similarly impressive rally against Max Buckley in the quarterfinals?

What made Sunday's result so interesting was to see Cantlay, a young man who ordinarily shows the poise and maturity of a PGA Tour veteran, suffer from highly uncharacteristic mistakes that cost him the victory. ... Read

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July 28, 2014

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