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Opinion & Analysis

Surprises Who Could Win The PGA Championship

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The final major of 2013 — the PGA Championship — is just days away, giving one last chance for players to claim major glory. Deservedly so, Tiger Woods is commanding most of the attention after his runaway seven-shot win in last weekend’s Bridgestone Invitational.

Despite Woods’ impressive victory, the PGA Championship has a habit of throwing up surprise winners and the 2013 tournament could do just that. Last year, we saw the then-rising stature of Rory Mcilroy dominate a strong field of contenders winning by a massive eight shots. The three previous winners were outsiders at the time in Keegan Bradley, Martin Kaymer and Y.E. Yang.

Adding to the case for a long shot to win is 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus who had this to say:

“The player has to suit his game to the golf course and the guys that can adapt to it are the guys that always have been the good players,” Nicklaus said. “I mean, (Phil) Mickelson will adapt well to it. Tiger will adapt well to it. I think there’s a lot of guys that will adapt well to it.

“You have so many good players today that I think will like Oak Hill, will enjoy playing the golf course and could have an opportunity to win. To try to pick one of them out of there is pretty difficult right now.”

Here are seven players I think could surprise Tiger and company and adapt their game for the win.

Bill Haas — 56/1

AT&T National - Round One

The world No. 24 is having another strong year and recorded his fifth Tour victory in June’s AT&T National. He has had three top 10’s in his last four starts maintaining his good form including a T7 at last week’s Bridgestone Invitational. He’s first in T10 finishes this year with nine and leads the GIR category from 150 to 175 yards.

If he can find his share of fairways, his strong iron play could enable him make a serious threat come Sunday.

Jason Day — 36/1

Jason Day

The Australian and world No. 20 is destined to win a major after a string of impressive performance in major tournaments. Day again went agonizingly close at the both the Masters and U.S. Open this year where he lead the tournament at various stages on the back nine on Sunday.

He’s yet to miss a cut in 2013 showing his amazing consistency. At just 25 years of age, he’s already recorded five top 10’s in majors in his career.

A strong short game and long off the tee, if things can fall his way he’s a great chance.

Matt Kuchar — 36/1

Matt Kuchar

The popular smiling American is having his best season to date recording two victories including seven top 10’s and 18 for 18 cuts made.

Kuchar finished T8, T28 and T15 at the first three majors of the year and continues to churn out solid performances.

An impressive scoring average of 69.59 highlights his consistency as does his scrambling ability (currently 8th) which means he knows how to get up to down.

A win here for his first major victory would not surprise.

Ian Poulter — 56/1

Ian Poulter

The colorful Englishmen is having a decent season despite his limited appearances on the PGA Tour.

Poulter missed the cut at April’s Masters but bounced back to finish T21 at the U.S. Open and an impressive T3 at the British Open after finishing with a sterling 67. He’s recorded four top 10’s in majors the last two years (including T3 here last year) showing Poulter is capable of measuring up to the best in the world.

With England enjoying a golden run in major sporting events in 2013, Poulter could add to the tally with his first major victory.

Richard Sterne — 111/1

Richard Sterne

The South African and world No. 34 is a bit of an unknown to many but has proved he can play well on the big stage. He won his country’s Joburg Open this year with a score of 27-under par winning by a massive 7 strokes from former Masters winner and countryman Charles Schwartzel.

After struggling with back injuries through much of 2010 and 2011, he seems to have regained his form and fitness.

Leading up to the PGA Championship he finished a very credible T9 with rounds of 70, 68, 70 and 68 at the difficult Bridgestone Invitational last week in a major strength field.

Martin Kaymer — 56/1

Martin Kaymer

The former world No. 1 has disappeared off the world stage since his win at the PGA in 2010. The current world No. 35 is slowly finding form again which saw him reach golfs pinnacle.

He’s made the cut in all three majors this year and finished strongly at the last lead up tournament at the Bridgestone Invitational finishing off with rounds of 67, 69 and 66 in difficult conditions.

Perhaps a second major is coming for the German.

Bill Horschel — 111/1

Billy Horschel

Horschel is one of the hottest young players on the PGA Tour in 2013 with a string of good performances highlighted by his win at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. His red-hot form through March and April saw him record an amazing four consecutive top-10 finishes culminating in his maiden victory.

Proving he can match it on the big stage he finished an impressive T4 at the U.S. Open in June.

His strength is his ability to make birdies which sees him first in birdies made in 2013.

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Troy Vayanos was born and still resides in Brisbane, Australia. He has been a passionate golfer for more than 25 years and loves learning and increasing his knowledge of the golf swing. He lives and breathes golf from his local golf course to the professional tours around the world. His website Hitting It Solid delivers the latest golf instruction that helps you break 100 and beyond. You’ll also learn the 7 critical steps you must know to play better golf today.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Troy Vayanos

    Aug 8, 2013 at 12:14 am

    I agree Fred, it’s a very wide open tournament even though the odds don’t necessarily reflect this.

    Realistically there are several players who on their day are capable of winning this tournament.

    Regards

  2. Troy Vayanos

    Aug 7, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Yes Barry Paul Casey has had a bid of resurgence in recent times winning the Irish Open in June and is great value at that price. If he finds some of the old form that had him really high in the world rankings he’d be a definite chance.

    Regards

  3. Barry

    Aug 7, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I backed Paul Casey at 125-1 and Marcel Siem at 225-1 for the big wager of 1 euro each!-I might get a thrill early in the first round!

  4. Troy Vayanos

    Aug 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Hi Arthur,

    Based on the odds to win the tournament is how they were considered outsiders. At 36/1 in any sort of betting event is usually a long shot to win.

    Cheers

  5. Fred

    Aug 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    It’s interesting how the writers are saying that Tiger is up against some tough competition this week. Aren’t these pretty much the same guys he handled last week? And all this talk about Tiger vs. Phil… considering Phil’s victory at the Open, it should have been that way last week – but Phil was barely in contention. I’m not suggesting Tiger will win (it is a major, after all), but the writer’s should try and be a bit more realistic when writing these stories. We could all be in for a big surprise this week.

    • Mike

      Aug 8, 2013 at 7:30 am

      Tiger was also “handled” by a few, and the rules, too… Let face is, tiger has become Greg Norman….except Norman actually won a major and tiger is oh-fer majors since yang “handled” him at the PGA oh so many years ago…

  6. Arthur J

    Aug 7, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Not sure how Kaymer was an outsider when he won his PGA championship? Or how you can consider either Jason Day or Matt Kuchar to be outsiders this time?

    Seems American writers consider any win outside of Phil/Tiger/Rory to be a ‘shock’.

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Opinion & Analysis

The differences between good and bad club fitters—and they’re not what you think

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Club fitting is still a highly debated topic, with many golfers continuing to believe they’re just not good enough to be fit. That couldn’t be further from the truth, but it’s a topic for another day.

Once you have decided to invest in your game and equipment, however, the next step is figuring out where to get fit, and working with a fitter.  You see, unlike professionals in other industries, club fitting “certification” is still a little like the wild west. While there are certification courses and lesson modules from OEMs on how to fit their specific equipment, from company to company, there is still some slight variance in philosophy.

Then there are agnostic fitting facilities that work with a curated equipment matrix from a number of manufacturers. Some have multiple locations all over the country and others might only have a few smaller centralized locations in a particular city. In some cases, you might even be able to find single-person operations.

So how do you separate the good from the bad? This is the million-dollar question for golfers looking to get fit. Unless you have experience going through a fitting before or have a base knowledge about fitting, it can feel like an intimidating process. This guide is built to help you ask the right questions and pay attention to the right things to make sure you are getting the most out of your fitting.

The signs of a great fitter

  • Launch monitor experience: Having some type of launch monitor certification isn’t a requirement but being able to properly understand the interpret parameters is! A good fitter should be able to explain the parameters they are using to help get the right clubs and understand how to tweak specs to help you get optimized. The exact labeling may vary depending on the type of launch monitor but they all mostly provide the same information….Here is an example of what a fitter should be looking for in an iron fitting: “The most important parameter in an iron fitting” 
  • Communication skills: Being able to explain why and how changes are being made is a telltale sign your fitter is knowledgeable—it should feel like you are learning something along the way. Remember, communication is a two-way street so also being a good listener is another sign your working with a good fitter.
  • Transparency: This involves things like talking about price, budgets, any brand preferences from the start. This prevents getting handed something out of your price range and wasting swings during your fit.
  • A focus on better: Whether it be hitting it further and straighter with your driver or hitting more greens, the fitting should be goal-orientated. This means looking at all kinds of variables to make sure what you are getting is actually better than your current clubs. Having a driver you hit 10 yards farther isn’t helpful if you don’t know where it’s going….A great fitter that knows their stuff should quickly be able to narrow down potential options to 4-5 and then work towards optimizing from there.
  • Honesty and respect: These are so obvious, I shouldn’t even have to put it on the list. I want to see these traits from anybody in a sales position when working with customers that are looking to them for knowledge and information…If you as the golfer is only seeing marginal gains from a new product or an upgrade option, you should be told that and given the proper information to make an informed decision. The great fitters, and I’ve worked with a lot of them, will be quick to tell a golfer, “I don’t think we’re going to beat (X) club today, maybe we should look at another part of your bag where you struggle.” This kind of interaction builds trust and in the end results in happy golfers and respected fitters.

The signs of a bad fitter

  • Pushing an agenda: This can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Whether it be a particular affinity towards certain brands of clubs or even shafts. If you talk to players that have all been to the same fitter and their swings and skill levels vary yet the clubs or brands of shafts they end up with (from a brand agnostic facility) seem to be eerily similar it might be time to ask questions.
  • Poor communications: As you are going through the fitting process and warming up you should feel like you’re being interviewed as a way to collect data and help solve problems in your game. This process helps create a baseline of information for your fitter. If you are not experiencing that, or your fitter isn’t explaining or answering your questions directly, then there is a serious communication problem, or it could show lack of knowledge depth when it comes to their ability.
  • Lack of transparency: If you feel like you’re not getting answers to straightforward questions or a fitter tells you “not to worry about it” then that is a big no-no from me.
    Side note: It is my opinion that golfers should pay for fittings, and in a way consider it a knowledge-gathering session. Of course, the end goal for the golfer is to find newer better fitting clubs, and for the fitter to sell you them (let’s be real here), but you should never feel the information is not being shared openly.
  • Pressure sales tactics: It exists in every industry, I get it, but if you pay for your fitting you are paying for information, use it to your advantage. You shouldn’t feel pressured to buy, and it’s always OK to seek out a knowledgeable second opinion (knowledgeable being a very key word in that sentence!).  If you are getting the hard sell or any combination of the traits above, there is a good chance you’re not working with the right fitter for you.

Final thoughts

Great fitters with great reputations and proper knowledge have long lists, even waiting lists, of golfers waiting to see them. The biggest sign of a great fitter is a long list of repeat customers.

Golf is a game that can be played for an entire lifetime, and just like with teachers and swing coaches, the good ones are in it for the long haul to help you play better and build a rapport—not just sell you the latest and greatest (although we all like new toys—myself included) because they can make a few bucks.

Trust your gut, and ask questions!

 

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Podcasts

TG2: TaylorMade P7MB & P7MC Review | Oban CT-115 & CT-125 Steel Shafts

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Took the new TaylorMade P-7MB and P-7MC irons out on the course and the range. The new P-7MB and P-7MC are really solid forged irons for the skilled iron players. Great soft feel on both, MB flies really low, and the MC is more mid/low launch. Oban’s CT 115 & 125 steel shafts are some of the most consistent out there. Stout but smooth feel with no harsh vibration at impact.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Improve your transition for better wedge play

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In my opinion, one of the most misunderstood areas of the golf swing is the transition from backswing to downswing, but I don’t read much on this in the golf publications. So, here’s my take on the subject.

Whether it’s a short putt, chip or pitch, half wedge, full iron or driver swing, there is a point where the club’s motion in the backswing has to come to a complete stop–even if for just a nano-second–and reverse direction into the forward swing. What makes this even more difficult is that it is not just the club that is stopping and reversing direction, but on all but putts, the entire body from the feet up through the body core, shoulders, arms and hands.

In my observation, most golfers have a transition that is much too quick and jerky, as they are apparently in a hurry to generate clubhead speed into the downswing and through impact. But, just as you (hopefully) begin your backswing with a slow take-away from the ball, a proper start to the downswing is also a slower move, starting from this complete stop and building to maximum clubhead speed just past impact. If you will work on your transition, your ball striking and distance will improve, as will your accuracy on your short shots and putts. Let’s start there.

In your wedge play, your primary objective is to apply just the exact amount of force to propel the ball the desired distance. In order to do that, it makes sense to move the club slower, as that allows more precision. I like to think of the pendulum on a grandfather clock as a great guide to tempo and transition. As the weight goes back and forth, it comes to a complete stop at each end, and achieves maximum speed at the exact bottom of the arc. If you put that picture in your head when you chip and putt, you will develop a tempo that encourages a smooth transition at the end of the backswing.

The idea is to achieve a gradual acceleration from the end of the backswing to the point of impact, but for most golfers, this type of swing is likely much slower than yours is currently. I encourage you to not be in a hurry to force this acceleration, as that causes a quick jab with the hands, because the shoulder rotation and slight body rotation cannot move that quickly from its end-of-backswing rotation.

Here’s a drill to help you picture this kind of swing pace. Drawing on that grandfather clock visual, hold your wedge at the very end of the grip with two fingers, and get it moving like the clock pendulum–back and through. Watch the tempo and transition for a few moments, and then try to mimic that with your short or half swing tempo. No faster, no slower. You can even change how far you pull the club up to start this motion to see what happens to the pendulum tempo on longer swings.

An even better exercise is to have a friend hold a club in this manner right in front of you while you are practicing your chipping or pitching swing and try to “shadow” that motion with your swings. You will likely find that your transition is much too fast and jerky to give you the results you are after.

If you will practice this, I can practically guarantee your short-range transition will become really solid and repeatable. From there, it’s just a matter of extending the length of the swing to mid-range pitches, full short irons, mid-irons, fairway woods, and driver–all while feeling for that gradual transition that makes for great timing, sequencing, and tempo.

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