Junior Invitational at Sage Valley players receive valuable advice inspired by Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus

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Junior Invitational at Sage Valley players receive valuable advice inspired by Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus

GRANITEVILLE -- The 54 players in the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley field received some valuable advice Tuesday night from renowned golf instructors Matt Killen and Justin Parsons.

Not on their swings, but how to manage themselves and use modern coaching to their advantage as they make the transition to college golf and the professional game.

With Golf Channel "insider" Tim Rosaforte moderating, Killen and Parsons weighed in on a variety of topics and answered questions from players.

Killen is on several Top 100 teaching lists and currently works with Justin Thomas, J.B. Holmes and Bud Cauley. At The Players Championship earlier this year, Killen worked with Tiger Woods on his putting.

Justin Parsons spent more than a decade teaching top players and celebrities in Dubai before joining Sea Island Golf Club's performance center earlier this year.

One of the topics was the trend for professionals to change instructors frequently.

"I think we're in a society where we need things quickly," Parsons said. "Young players choose, and coaches come and go."

Killen said he asks a player why he seeks him out.

"I tell everyone in this room, think about it before you change," Killen said. "Your coach at home might be the next big thing. I think people are too quick to change. My first question is why. You're already good."

Parsons cited former British Open champion Ian Baker-Finch as a player who tried to change his swing and was never the same.

"If you change things it's difficult to put it back," he said. "There are numerous examples. He (Baker-Finch) tried to get longer and get better. He could never get it back. He's still a pretty good player, but you've got to be careful with what you wish for."

Defending Junior Invitational champion Akshay Bhatia asked for advice on course management.

"That's top secret information," Killen said with a smile. "During practice round, you go to the tournament trailer and get pin sheets, and give them to the caddie and player so they can practice.

"I use a term I call the 'magic triangle.' It's the easiest spot on the greens to get up and down from, and has the straightest putts."

With Jack Nicklaus II in attendance, both instructors talked about the wisdom of six-time Masters winner Jack Nicklaus and his approach to the game. It was noted that he only had one instructor in his career, Jack Grout.

"When he was off he didn't try to go for the pins," Killen said. "It was so simple, but so enlightening."

Parsons recalled one of Nicklaus' favorite sayings.

"The shot is 60 percent in your head, 30 percent your setup and 10 percent your swing," he said.

The ninth annual Junior Invitational begins Thursday and ends Saturday. The 54-hole event features the top junior boys in the world.

The tournament began with a goal to help The First Tee, and is still fulfilling that, Sage Valley president Tom Wyatt said.

"Here we are today with our mission intact," he said. "It's been an amazing ride." ___

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