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Cheat Sheet: What you need to know for Sunday in golf

By Derek Evers

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Sergio Garcia reacts after making an eagle putt on 18. Photo: Jim Rogash

Is Sergio making a major FedEx move?
Sergio Garcia normally skips the second week of the FedEx playoffs, but sitting in 55th place after the Barclays, there was no guarantee he would be around to play the BMW if he did so this year. Now, after a second-round 64 -- a round that featured an eagle on the closing hole -- not only does Garcia look to be a lock to finish among the top 70 in the standings after the Deutsche Bank Championship, he could suddenly be thrust into the title conversation. With a win in Boston, Garcia would move up 52 spots to third place; trailing only Tiger Woods and Adam Scott. Incidentally, Garcia was having a stellar season before some less-than-stellar comments about Tiger Woods derailed him. Imagine the made-for-TV drama that would ensue with a Tiger/Sergio face-off in the Tour Championship.

Related: Sergio's racist joke a reflection of ignorance

Rocco a top-10 money winner on the Champions tour?
While the PGA Tour will finish up on Labor Day this week, the senior circuit is on a normal weekend schedule, and one man has been leading the way since the first round of the Shaw Charity Classic. After eagling two of the final four holes on Friday, Rocco Mediate took a one-stroke lead into the weekend -- a lead he would extend to two strokes with a Saturday 64. Now the Champions Tour rookie is in line for his second win of 2013 -- one that would catapult him into the top-10 money winners on tour.

Cantlay punching his ticket to the PGA Tour?
One week after former UCLA star Patrick Cantlay missed his chance to wrap up a PGA Tour card at the Cox Classic in Omaha, he's looking like a man who's not going to make the same mistake twice. Sitting in the top 25 on the Web.com Tour money list heading into last week's event, he fell out of a guaranteed card to 29th place and now must fight Nos. 26-75, as well as Nos. 126-200 on the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, for the last 25 cards in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals series. Following a two-eagle, six-birdie performance to take a three-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Hotel Fitness Championship, the 21-year-old is solidifying his chances of being one of those deserving 25.

... Read
Gear & Equipment

Git Movin': A golf-cart GPS to beat slow play

By Max Adler

beverly-hillbillies.jpgYour golf cart at Tennessee's River Islands Golf Club might appear to be a standard gas model. However, inside each ignition is a GPS, made by DSG Tag Systems, that course owner Dan Feehan has employed to combat slow play. Feehan is using the system to identify the spots on his Arthur Hills-designed layout where golfers lose the most balls, then training rangers to focus on those areas. He's also tracking golfers' progress on his smartphone and dispatching rangers to areas with bottlenecks. Starting next month, Feehan is rolling out a program in which golfers earn credit in the golf shop or grillroom for rounds played under 4.5 hours. He imagines each timely round will be worth about $5.

"I'm not afraid to make someone pick up and skip a hole," Feehan says. "I'll sacrifice one group's experience for the sake of everyone else's. I am that passionate about pace of play."


[Photo: Everett Collection]

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News & Tours

Video: NHL star decides golf is too hard, will play hockey instead

By Sam Weinman

What does a 43-year-old professional hockey player do upon retirement? Play golf, of course.

But what if he finds golf more frustrating than an 82-game NHL season? Then he doesn't retire.

Give Anaheim Ducks wing Teemu Selanne, aka the Finnish Flash, credit for this creative announcement that he would be returning for a 21st NHL season.

The basic storyline: golf is too hard. I'd rather play hockey.



By the way, Selanne, the 14th-highest scorer in NHL history, is not the hapless hacker portrayed in the video. He carries a 5.2 index out of Coto De Caza Golf & Racquet Club in Orange County, Calif.


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News & Tours

Phil still has plenty to play for in 2013

By Ron Sirak

NORTON, Mass. -- The clubface no sooner made contact with the golf ball than Phil Mickelson uttered a rather mournful, "Oh no, sit!" No dice. Cart path. Wicked bounce. Hazard.

But this is Phil the Thrill we are talking about. Of course he would find his ball and of course he would shun easy answers and decide to play out of the hazard.

What resulted was an all-world bogey -- he actually had about a 30-foot run at par -- to finish off an eight-under-par 63 in the first round the Deutsche Bank Championship.

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Tiger Woods watches Phil Mickelson tees off at the tenth hole during the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship. Photo: Stan Badz

There is something about the way Mickelson lumbers around the golf course that makes you want to say, "Hey, ya big galoot, how the heck ya doin'?"

That answer right now would seem to be, "Just fine, thank you."

Lefty, who flew home from New Jersey to California on Sunday night to be there for his daughter Amanda's first day of high school then flew back to Massachusetts on Wednesday night, was in full Phil mode Friday at TPC Boston.

Playing with Tiger Woods and Adam Scott, Mickelson played the back nine first and started birdie-birdie, made a pair of ho-hum pars then closed with five birdies in a row for a tasty 28 going out.

He bogeyed this tenth hole -- No. 1 -- from the greenside bunker, missing a seven-footer, knocked his second shot to 18 inches on the par-5 second hole for eagle to get to eight under par and the 59 watch was on -- he needed 12 under for that magic number.

But five pars in a row ended that dream, a birdie on No. 8 got him to nine under and the bogey at the last returned him to eight and the 63, which was good enough for the first-round lead.

"I didn't hit shots exceedingly close, other than that eagle on 2," Mickelson said. "But what I did is make a lot of 12- to 20-foot putts, the ones that you need to make to get a really hot round."

And "really hot" seems to be the way to describe Mickelson right now. He closed The Barclays last week with a six-under par 65, after a 70 in Saturday's third round, to finish T-6.

Related: Woods, Mickelson and Player of the Year

In his last two rounds -- Sunday at Barclays and Friday here -- Mickelson has made 15 birdies and an eagle.

"I felt like Saturday is when it started to click," Lefty said. "I had a good feeling that I as going to have a low round on Sunday. And I felt very confident that I was going to have a good week here."

That confidence probably spiked a little bit when he saw his pairing for the first two rounds here. Quite frankly, and even Mickelson will admit this, after more than 20 years on tour he struggles at times with focus and concentration.

But there are two things that get Phil's full attention: Winning major championships, as he did last month at the British Open, capturing the claret jug at Muirfield, and beating Tiger Woods.

Asked after his 63 dusted the 68 put up by Tiger if playing with Woods still brings out the best in him, Phil said: "After today it's hard to think any differently."

Using his Phrankenwood -- a smallish, old-timey looking wood with extra loft -- as his driver, Mickelson hit 11 of 14 fairways and converted that into 14 of 18 greens, then needed only 25 putts.

The only really bad swing was that one on No. 9, his last hole, which was a pull-hook into the right hazard.

"You know, I just mentally went blank for a swing," was Mickelson's typically honest explanation of the wayward drive on the last hole. "It happens. And I just try to forget it. It only cost me one shot."

Related: The PGA Player of the Year is far from decided

This is a pretty good time for Mickelson to kick his game into high gear. There are a few things he has never accomplished in his remarkable career that are within reach.

Phil has never led the PGA Tour money list.

He has never been PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Nor has he won the FedEx Cup or been No. 1 in the World Ranking.

All but the last are possible with three more big events to play -- two FedEx Cup playoff events and the season-finale Tour Championship.

"It's something I'd like to capture," Mickelson said about the FedEx Cup. "And I just want to play well these next three weeks because I feel like if I can add a win or two I have a realistic chance at Player of the Year."

The good news for Mickelson is that he has the same pairing in Saturday's second round at 1:10 p.m. as he did in the first -- Scott and Woods, the two guys he trails in the FedEx Cup standings.

And while Tiger pushes Phil into a higher gear, Woods was a bit cranky after his opening-round 68 -- or at least abrupt.

"The back is fine, all good," he replied when asked about the injury for which he says he's been treated "two or three times a day" since he tweaked it over the weekend at the Barclays.

"It was decent today," he said. "I didn't hit it as well as I'd like to."

The best indication that Woods' back is better? Asked if he was going to practice after his round, Tiger replied: "Going right now."

Earlier he had said it was "day to day" as to whether the back issues would interfere with his practice routine.

"Not a lot going on for me," Tiger said about his scoring opportunities, "but Phil was getting everything."

Now, I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I am betting that when Mickelson reads those words he will find a slight in there somewhere and use it for a bit of motivation.

On Friday, Mickelson shot 63 while paired with his human 5-Hour Energy Drink. Maybe playing with Tiger again on Saturday will motivate him enough to take control of this tournament and bring the FedEx Cup in sight.

Hey, it ain't a major, but Lefty is playing with Woods. And that seems to be motivation enough.

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Gear & Equipment

Five questions with Ian Poulter

ian-poulter-interview.jpgIan Poulter is known for his fashion -- partnering his IJP Design company with FedEx has made his product accessible globally. But what people might not know is that he's just as interested in equipment. He answers five questions from Keely Levins about the golf studio in his Florida home.

Q: How did you decide what to stock your studio with?
I wanted a repair facility there because I enjoy getting back to basics. When I was growing up, I worked in a shop and regripped my equipment as well as my customers' equipment. I still regrip my own clubs.

Q: What else do you have?
I have a Full Swing Golf simulator and a V1 camera system, so I can track my swing. I have a surface I can putt on, but it's relatively small. I have a TrackMan launch monitor. There's enough room to pick up data before the ball hits the net. It picks up ball speed, club angle -- all the numbers I'm after.

Q: What's the benefit to having the studio?
The reason I live in Orlando is because the weather's normally pretty good, but if it's not, I can go inside and still do some work. If there's something I want to tinker on at 8 o'clock at night, and it's dark, I can go in the studio -- so it's good.

Q: How often do you use the simulator?
It's fun, but there's nothing like seeing the ball fly outside. The simulator is there as a backup. And my kids love it, especially [9-year-old] Luke. He's always on it.

Q: Do you think simulators are going to become more popular with amateurs?
If you can afford it, it's a great thing. It's probably more beneficial to an amateur player than it is for [pros]. It's a luxury for me. An amateur is going to get a lot of use out of it because he's going to want to train on it when he gets back from work. I've got all day to practice outside.


[Photo: Nathaniel Welch]

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Immediate Help For Your Turn

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By Ron Kaspriske

Those slow-motion playbacks of tour pros hitting shots on TV are both impressive and humbling to watch. While the TV networks tend to focus on what the club is doing through the impact zone, I'm more fascinated with what the upper torso is doing in the backswing and downswing. The biggest difference I see in what a tour pro's trunk is doing vs. a typical middle-aged golfer is that its significantly more involved in the swing. Many amateurs limit their upper-body rotation--both back and through--in fear of missing the ball. But the lack of activity also stems from physical dysfunction. As we age, we lose our mobility. You can slow this loss in the gym with various exercises we've covered in the blog--particularly ones that focus on hip stability, core strength and mid-back mobility. But what if you're teeing off later today or over the weekend? If you need immediate help improving your backswing and/or follow-through, click on the video below and watch me demonstrate simple adjustments to your address position that will help you make a better turn on the very next swing.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor for Golf Digest.



(Photos by J.D. Cuban )
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News & Tours

Golf's majors by the numbers: Learn from our interactive stats tool

By Alex Myers

We all know who won golf's major championships in 2013, but there's still a lot to be learned from sifting through the stats from the game's four marquee events. How much did distance matter? Did anyone gain an edge from accuracy off the tee? Was greens hit in regulation or how players fared when they missed greens a better indicator of success?

Related: Try GolfDigest.com's majors interactive tool

Thanks to our new interactive tool, you can sort through the data yourself to get a better understanding of why the leader boards turned out the way they did. For instance, everyone focused on Jason Dufner's performance from tee to green at the PGA Championship, but did you know a big part of why he took home the Wanamaker Trophy was because he led the field at Oak Hill in scrambling?

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A cold putter was a big reason why Woods didn't win a major in 2013.

Did you know that only 13 players made the cut in all four majors? Did you know that Martin Kaymer was one of those players? How did Jason Day tie for the lowest score in relation to par and not collect a first major trophy?

And what about Tiger Woods? The World No. 1 has five tour wins in 2013, yet his drought in majors grew to five years. The 14-time major champion didn't excel in any of the statistical categories we tracked. And while a wayward driver got most of the attention from his critics, it was the shortest club in his bag that really let him down.

Related: Our review of 2013's major championships

Visit our special section to do your own investigating of those who made the weekend at the majors. Who knows, the research you do now might just come in handy when you enter next year's office pool.

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Gear & Equipment

Spring Breaker: Mizuno's new forged iron

By Mike Stachura

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The big bounce: The JPX-EZ Forged produces a higher springlike effect. Photo courtesy Mizuno

An oversize forged iron was unusual when Mizuno introduced the Comp EZ in 1999. The company's new JPX-EZ Forged shows how far the idea has come. The JPX-EZ Forged's thinner face yields a springlike effect of .800, the highest ever for a one-piece forged Mizuno iron, says David Llewellyn, Mizuno's manager of golf-club research and development. "This would translate to a 2 to 3 percent higher ball speed," Llewellyn says. "Including other factors, it's about a half-to-one-club longer."

The JPX-EZ Forged features a deep undercut cavity on the 4-iron through 7-iron for a lower center of gravity. The reinforced topline and frame around the perimeter of the cavity, selectively thickened and shaped based on Mizuno's use of modal analysis, are designed to control vibrations and enhance feel. The JPX-EZ Forged set ($900, available in September) can be combined with Mizuno's JPX Fli-Hi hybrids, which have the same lofts and lengths as the irons they're designed to replace. -- Mike Stachura

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Gear & Equipment

Dan Rather's grandson, 16, authors a golf novel

By John Strege

How does a teenager living in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea and attending a high school there without a golf team satisfy a passion for golf? He doesn't, or so one might surmise.

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But that was not a sufficient answer for Martin Rather, a precocious 16-year-old and junior-to-be at the prestigious Friends Seminary. Instead, he rallied enough support to convince the school to start a golf team. But the story doesn't end there. It begins there.

Rather, the grandson of former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, has written a novel around the experience, "Taking the Course," that is now available at Amazon Kindle and was financed through a Kickstarter campaign with an assist from his grandparents. He wrote it when he was 15.

"The way the book came about was that it is such an interesting story, the blends of kids on my golf team," he said. "No one's really written about golf in New York City. So I thought I could provide a perspective into that. And there are not many books out there by teenagers. So I just started to write. It's all based on a true story. A couple of friends edited the book."

Rather plays to a 7.5 handicap out of Seawane Golf and Country Club. Last year, he finished 11th in the New York State Federation Championship. The golf team at Friends Seminary practices at Marine Park Golf Course in Brooklyn and plays matches at Mosholu Golf Course in the Bronx.

"We got enough support together and built a team," he said. "We put the right pieces together and won the league championship last year."

The extent of Dan Rather's contributions included the foreword to the book and an assist in the Kickstarter campaign.

"People may be skeptical," Rather said in a news release, "but all I've done is read the book, marvel that Martin had quietly created it, then helped with some very minor editing and wrote a forward [sic]. This book is all Martin's. And so are the ideas for financing and publishing it. He's independent, likes to do things on his own even when the odds are long."

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News & Tours

In show of support, Bradley instagrams a picture of his new "bababooey" wedge

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

The eternal question: Is it OK for players to yell "Bababooey" after pros hit their shots? General opinion, for now at least, appears divided.
 
Ian Poulter has been the most outspoken in the weeks and days following the PGA Championship, when the issue was thrust into the spotlight, tweeting that he wants to Taser the shouters.

 
That opinion (the not liking it part, not the Taser part) has been backed by some professionals, but not as many as you might think.
 
In his article from the Barclays last week, Golf Digest's Derek Evers reported that a number of pros, Jason Dufner, Jordan Spieth, and Nick Watney among them, said the shouting doesn't bother them. Keegan Bradley was another quoted, saying: "I love it. You're trying to make golf more fun, let's not take it away from the fans."

 
And Bradley's not backing down, instagramming a picture of his new Cleveland wedge Thursday morning with the word "bababooey" stamped on it.
 
Check it out:
 
  ... Read

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July 28, 2014

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