In today's golf tip, PGA Professional Le Ann Finger explains what you should be aware of when teeing your ball up and how to ensure the correct height for the ball.
In case you missed it on Sunday, there was some serious action down the stretch at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
For starters, it looked for a while as though we were in store for another Tiger Woods runaway victory. The world's No. 1 player commanded a four-shout lead with just eight holes to play.
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However, thanks to an amazing late rally, Zach Johnson flew up the leaderboard with four birdies over his final seven holes to draw even with Woods at 13 under and one hole to play in regulation.
For a second, it looked as though the rally would fall short and Johnson had run out of steam -- his second shot, described by many as a shank -- found the water hazard that guards the green on Sherwood's closing par 4.
Johnson was forced to use the drop area, 59 yards from the hole.
What happened next was a jaw-dropping pitch shot that landed right by the hole before zipping back and into the bottom of the cup for the most unlikely of pars.
Watch the video here:
"It's probably No. 1 recovery shot," Johnson said. "You know, I don't know where it will rank. I can think of a number of shots that I had to execute and I came through."
After Woods parred the hole, the two headed to a playoff. It lasted just one hole. Johnson made par, while Woods missed a putt from five feet for par.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
It's downright cold today, even in down here in Texas. The temperature is hovering around the freezing mark in Waco, where the Texas-Baylor game is being played this afternoon, and it is far colder up in the northern parts of the Lone Star State. And when I look out the window onto my neighborhood golf course here in Austin, I'm not seeing any golfers at all.
Out in West Texas, a combination of snow and icy roads have brought traffic to a standstill on I-20. Among the folks stuck in that huge traffic jam is PGA Tour player John Peterson.
The former LSU standout is putting his down time to good use – whipping out his clubs to get in a few swings by the side of the road, and sharing them in a couple of videos. Not exactly sure where those shots are winding up – there's a lot of wide open space out there, but a little too much of a hook could bring some of those balls back onto the highway.
I'm not sure Peterson's shots off the highway are easier or harder than hitting drivers off the deck, but they're impressive nonetheless. And wherever Peterson is heading today, I hope he gets there before he runs out of gas or golf balls.
Note: Peterson hits irons in the top video and woods in the bottom one:
As much of the country shivers away, most of us are watching our golf games wither away. You know who's got real big smiles on their faces, though? The golf coaches at several big Midwestern universities.
A few days ago, The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting piece on how several golf programs at colleges up in Cold Country are thriving despite their golf-unfriendly winters. The secret is what writer John Paul Newport calls ''the arms race in luxurious new indoor practice facilities.''
And just as important, he notes, is that the most successful coaches at these northern schools are positiong their chilly locales as a positive rather than a negative during their ever-more-successful recruiting effort.
"Weather for sure is our biggest obstacle in recruiting against the Southern schools," Illinois Men's Coach Mike Small – well-known to PGA.com readers as a PGA Professional and quite a successful player in his own right – told the newspaper. "But we believe strongly that for certain players with certain mind-sets, the atmosphere and the coaching up here is going to help them become better players faster than they would if they went to some place with warm weather."
Illinois, we remember, finished second to Alabama in last spring's NCAA Championship, and is one of only six schools to make it into the 30-team NCAA team finals for six years running. That includes 2010, when Scott Langley won the individual championship. Langley is now on the PGA Tour, where other Illini alumni include Steve Stricker, Luke Guthrie and D.A. Points.
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Small's Illinois program was the first Big Ten school to create a state-of-the-art indoor practice palace, the 14,150-square-foot Demirjian Golf Practice Facility for both its men's and women's squads. The $5.2 million structure, which opened in 2007, has a 6,300-square-foot short game area that includes putting green, sand bunkers and different strains of artificial grass; six heated hitting bays that open onto the range so players can see the full arc of their shots; and team locker rooms, coaches' offices and a spacious team lounge.
"That was huge," Small told the newspaper. "We improved so much that winter, the team shot lower scores in our first two tournaments in February than we had averaged in the fall."
At least six other Big Ten schools have opened similar facilities since then, the paper said, adding that Ohio State in January will open one so big that its short-game area is large enough to service a Space Shuttle.
Practicing indoors during the winter is preferable to working on technique and building confidence, Small said, while Northwestern Coach Pat Goss – best known as Luke Donald's longtime instructor explains that working indoors in the winter is ''our best chance, as coaches, to make our guys different, better players.''
If you want to be a great putter of the ball, you need to possess a great rhythm and tempo in your stroke.
In today's golf tip, PGA Professional Blake Cathey offers a way to help you develop better putting consistency by improving your tempo and confidence.
Ever since the 2011 PGA Championship where Keegan Bradley edged Jason Dufner in a playoff at the Atlanta Athletic Club, the two have formed a bond.
Like any two alpha males, however, that bond is fostered more by ribbing than anything else.
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The number of stunts the two have pulled on one another over the last couple of years seem endless. Here are a few just from this year: When Bradley switched from a visor to one of those flat-billed hats, Dufner tweeted a picture of the Lego Man in a construction helmet and asked if that was the look Bradley was going for; at the PGA Championship -- which Dufner won at Oak Hill -- the two were part of a pre-tournament money match. Bradley, trailing in the match with partner Rob Labritz, a PGA Professional, said to Labritz, "Hey Rob, did I ever tell you this story? I was 4 down with five to go and I won this tournament," -- that's what Bradley did to Dufner in the 2011 PGA and he said those words loud enough for Dufner to hear; paired together at the 2013 Tour Championship, Bradley holed out a shot for eagle from the fairway and immediately Dufnered in celebration.
There have been many more moments between the two, the latest of which came on Thursday in the first round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club.
After Dufner hit a shot from a bunker, Bradley's caddie, Steve "Pepsi" Hale, walked into the bunker to rake. As he stepped in, Hale picked up a massive rock, handed it to Dufner and said, "You want a souvenir?"
Dufner took the rock and walked directly to Bradley's bag and stuff it in one of the pockets.
Here's the video:
Sure, Pepsi picked up on it while it was happening, but it was classic nonetheless.
Bottom line: Bradley and Dufner need their own reality show.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.