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Kia Classic Recap: A queen and her heiress

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By Vince Robitaille

GolfWRX Contributor

Let’s get it out of the way up front — Yani Tseng went wire to wire at the Kia Classic to go three straight on the LPGA Tour. Now, the fourth round being a mere formality – a painstakingly uneventful walk in the park – we shall revert back to the third round in order to explore the interest feats of the past week in women’s golf.

Saturday resonated as the crossroads between old and new, between the past and the future, between the trailblazer and her heiress. Granted, it wasn’t quite the 1960 U.S. Open which found itself to be the junction of, arguably, three of the five greatest careers of the previous century’s first 80 years — Ben Hogan’s last stand, the first push of Jack Nicklaus as a 20-year-old amateur and the coronation of the one commonly referred to as The King, all coinciding on the grounds of the Cherry Hills Country Club. But to have the golfer who rung the charge of the Asian golfing invasion in the 1990s, in a final pairing with the current World No.1. did have us reminiscing. To say that Se Ri Pak stood the mildest of chance would be overblowing what was, in fact, a flash of the consistent golf a semi-retired player used to, several years ago, help herself become the youngest Hall of Fame inductee. That being said, stating that the LPGA would be completely different, at this point and time, without the 25-time winner, wouldn’t seem like much of an hyperbole.

Before Pak, an Asian, let alone a Korean golfer was somewhat of a rarity on the American Tour and most of what would soon become the World’s elite simply stayed home to be a part of the J & K Tours. Of course, politico-administrative policies played a big role in the previous fact, and still do – see the three years of service on the K Tour requirement for golfers wanting to pack up their buckets and head out West. However, with that in mind, Pak still assumed her role as pioneer of golf’s globalization and proved to all that the game was changing, never to be the same again. One could point out that her elective counterpart on the men’s side, namely Ryo Ishikawa, as yet to do the same. Perhaps, is this the reason why Tim Finchem still thinks that the PGA Tour is The Only Tour out there and refuses to take the worldwide expansion of our sport in consideration in his decision-making process, see my foreseeable rant on the modification of Q-School in a future installment, but that’s another question.

The other notable facts of the Kia Classic’s moving day were the continuing putter struggles of Yani Tseng and, especially, Jiyai Shin, as well as the stupendous displays of ball striking and short game craftsmanship by Caroline Hedwall. The highlight of the latter undoubtedly was her upside-down, left-handed chip from an awkward lie on the lip of a greenside bunker on the par-3 12th; an imaginative shot that efficiently summarizes why we’ve already when out on a limb, in last week’s Kia Classic preview, and made her our early pick to win the Ricoh British Open.  As for the former, while the chances of anyone but Tseng getting wet in, the now rock-free, Poppie’s Pond next Sunday, are slim to none, that slightest chance should be directly attributed to her recent putter woes. That being said, at this particular moment, all we can hope for is the feeblest of tensions come Sunday; the streak seeming on ne peut plus alive and well.

Click here for more discussion in the “LPGA/Ladies Golf Talk” forum. 

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Podcasts

GolfWRX Forum Member dpb5031 talks about the TaylorMade Twist Face Experience

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Forum member dpb5031 (aka Dewey) joins TG2 to talk about his Twist Face Experience at The Kingdom. Recently, him and 6 other GolfWRX Members went to TaylorMade HQ to get fit for new M3 and M4 drivers. Does Twist Face work? Dewey provides his answer.

Listen to the podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Inside the Ropes: 5 things you didn’t know about playing on the PGA Tour

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Golf finds a way to take a hold on you… whether you become entranced by the skill of the world’s best professionals, fall in love with the feeling and beauty of a well-executed shot, or simply enjoy getting outside and having fun — the game is addictive.

I started playing at the age of 4 and began watching the pros on TV dreaming what it would be like to play golf on the PGA Tour. When I earned my PGA Tour status for the 2014 season, that dream became a reality. And like anything, it’s not until I actually experienced that life did I have any idea what it entailed.

For those of you who are curious what it’s like to be on the PGA Tour, here are 5 things to describe it.

1) The Culture

Traveling the world to various cities can be fun, and it’s an underrated part of the Tour lifestyle; you get to see new landscapes and taste the cuisines that define different regions across the country and the world. Unlike some other professional sports, where players stay in one place for maybe a night or two, we get to stay in places for a week or more, which allows for plenty of time away from the course to see the sights and get a feel for what the cities and their cultures offer.

2) The Show

The setup and time that goes into planning an event — the grandstands, concession stands, volunteers, and the whole network that makes these tournaments run — is beyond impressive. We see the finished product at the event in the epicenter of it all, but the planning goes on behind the scenes all year. When it’s game time and the golf ball gets teed up, it’s time for us players to block all of that out, but we certainly appreciate all of the hard work that goes into putting on an event. It may feel like being in a circus at times, but performing in the show is a thrill.

3) The People

The game of golf in general brings people together, but especially so on the Tour. Thousands and thousands of fans come to watch the golf action and enjoy the festivities. The Pro-Ams are a great way for the fans to get an up-close look at what goes on at a Tour event, and they’re also a great way for us pros to interact with fans and maybe provide some helpful swing tips, too. In my opinion, one of the best events of the year is the Pebble Beach Pro-Am — a gathering of pro golfers, athletes, musicians, actors and other celebrities. It’s a testament to how the game can bring people together from different walks of life.

4) Inside the Ropes

The Tour is almost like a private school of sorts. It’s a select group of a couple hundred guys traveling around playing these events. The jocks, the nerds, the geeks, the loners; you see a little of everything. As much as there’s a sociable aspect to traveling on Tour and getting to know these people, it’s a dog-eat-dog world where everyone is playing for their livelihood and playing privileges.

5) The “Pressure”

A season-long race can come down to a single shot making the difference — for some it’s between winning and losing a tournament, and others it’s between keeping and losing your card. The cameras, the grandstands, the noise… it can all be quite distracting. The idea is to block all of that out and pretend you’re playing like a kid, focusing with pure imagination for the shot. All the extra attention can help heighten the focus further, adding inspiration to “give the people what they want” and hit even better golf shots.

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Ping Engineer Paul Wood explains how the G400 Max driver is so forgiving

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Paul Wood, VP of Engineering at Ping, joins our 19th Hole to discuss the new G400 Max driver, which the company calls the “straightest driver ever.” Also, listen for a special discount code on a new laser rangefinder.

Listen to this episode on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes.

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