May 2009


Travis Fulton over at PGATour.com currently has a solid feature on Rory Sabbatini’s swing.

I’m not a Sabbatini fan. I think he’s an obnoxious jerk, actually.

rory

Rory takes the club well past parallel on his backswing. (Image: dmader50/Flickr)

But he’s got an interesting swing that creates a lot of lag. As Fulton says, Rory’s backswing is not one you want to imitate because he takes the club well past parallel, but his downswing illustrates why he’s won five events on Tour, including last week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational. He’s able to compensate for the long backswing quite well.

You create lag when the clubhead trails the hands during the swing. The more lag you create, the more power you generate. Ben Hogan’s swing had an incredible amount of lag. For me, it’s always been a problem, and that’s why I’ve never been a long hitter.

I won’t go through Fulton’s analysis of Rory’s swing. You can check that out here. Suffice to say, Rory has a powerful swing. But he’ll never be Tiger Woods, though he sometimes thinks he’s capable.

bethpage

(Image: Dave_D/Flickr)

If you’d love to play at Bethpage Black–the legendary public course and site of this year’s U.S. Open–here’s your chance.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, qualifying for the “Virtual U.S. Open” begins online today, thanks to the World Golf Tour. Incredible HD images of Bethpage have been compiled to make this virtual version of the course strikingly realistic.

Qualifying ends on June 21. The top 156 qualifiers will battle it out on June 22 for the title of “Virtual U.S. Open” champion. The winner will be the USGA’s guest at the real-life U.S. Open in 2010.

Sounds fun. I might actually tinker around with this, but I have no shot.  I simply don’t have the time to play much online gaming anymore. I’m sure there’s 156 World of Warcraft dweebs out there just waiting to make their mark on the virtual golfing world.

The tournament is free. So if you have the time, fire at the pins.

mickelson

Let's hope this man is back soon. (Image: scubaeddie32/Flickr)

Sad week for Phil Mickelson and family.

On Wednesday, the family announced that Amy Mickelson, Phil’s wife, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is expected to have major surgery within the next two weeks. Phil has taken an indefinite leave of absence from the Tour.

Cancer sucks, does it not? All this on the heels of Seve Ballesteros’ diagnosis last fall. And, on a personal note, my little cousin, Josiah Herring–who I wrote about last week–passed away on Wednesday morning. Please pray for the Herring family.

When I think about the Mickelson family, I recall the 1999 U.S. Open, Payne Stewart’s legendary win at Pinehurst. Amy was expecting the couple’s first child at any moment, and Phil was on the verge of winning his first major. But after Payne snagged the title, he hugged Phil and gave him a few encouraging words about fatherhood. Mickelson made it home in time for his first child’s birth.

At times like this, golf means very little. I wish the best for Amy Mickelson and family. The sooner Lefty is back on Tour, the better Amy’s recovery went. So let’s hope Phil is hitting his signature wicked recovery shots very soon.

Best to the Mickelsons.

par 3

The tightest 95-yard par 3 in the history of golf. (Image: Robert Bruce's iPhone)

Ever since I returned to golf last year, my wedge game has sucked.

In my past life, I was fairly decent from one hundred yards in, and even better around the greens. The 60 degree wedge was once my favorite club.

But things are different these days.

I headed out to a nearby par three course to work on my hundred yard shot. The nine hole course is a bit more than a pitch and putt, with holes ranging from 80 yards to about 175 yards.

The brief nine holes, which took a little over an hour to complete, was actually quite beneficial. I played two balls and practiced on a lot of shots that have been giving me trouble lately: longer pitches, flop shots, even one-hundred yard straight-away shots.

The highlight of the round was the tightest 95-yard par three you have ever seen (see photo). After placing my first ball about 30 feet right of the hole, I played a knockdown 56 degree wedge—under the trees and over the bunker—and managed to cozy the ball up to about three feet. But second shots are always better.

Anyway, I’ve always stayed away from par three courses for some reason. But yesterday helped me see that a day at the ole’ par three is actually not a bad idea, especially if you are struggling with your short game.

“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.” –Henry Ward Beecher

Every now and then, I’ll post something off topic on this blog—usually, it’s about some insignificant random thought or football-related news item.

Today is a bit different. Though this is a niche blog about golf, I hope you’ll stay with me today as I post about life, not golf.

About six weeks ago, my cousin’s four-year-old son, Josiah Herring, was diagnosed with a malignant and highly aggressive brain tumor.

Because of the location and nature of this particular type of tumor, the pediatric neurosurgeons say it is inoperable. Using radiation and chemotherapy treatment, doctors have given Josiah anywhere from six to 12 months to live.

josiahLast week, Make A Wish flew Josiah and his family—Jason, Suzanne, and Jason, Jr.—to Disney World in Orlando. They received VIP treatment during the whole week.

The trip gave the family a chance to get away for a week before Josiah’s treatment started, while also fulfilling one of the boys’ ultimate wishes: to go to Disney.

But on Monday morning—their last day at the park—the trip took a difficult turn. Josiah went into a comatose state because of some bleeding and fluid buildup in his brain. Five days later, he’s yet to come out of a coma.

All that’s left for the Herrings is hope. Doctors have told them there is no chance. Past cases indicate there is no chance. But the same God who brought Josiah into this world has the power to keep him here. Faith.

God only knows why these things happen—how a four-year-old innocent child can be stricken with such a detestable disease, how the life of a family can dramatically and tragically change in the few moments that it takes for a doctor to utter the words every parent fears.

No one knows why. Those who claim to understand are either misguided, ignorant, or both. All we do know is that somewhere in this muddy mess—a world in which beauty and tragedy live on every street—God has a purpose. To our simple minds, sometimes it seems so screwed up, so chaotic and fraught with senseless heartbreak.

But if I didn’t believe in a God that makes all things work together, then I couldn’t believe at all. All of this tragedyjosiah2 would have no point. No meaning. Just an endless cycle of despair without a promise of hope or redemption. The day begins. The day ends. Lives come and go. And that’s it. Nothing else.

But that’s not it. There is more. Though we live in a world rife with sickness, Romans 8:28 says all of this will work out for God’s glory.

Josiah is one story. There are millions more; the circumstances may be different, but the stories have the same underlying thread: children who suffer from a fate they don’t deserve. But their lives, though too brief, have just as much meaning to the Creator as ours. His imprint is on us all.

It’s difficult to understand, but God is with Josiah, with every child who suffers. Without a God, how hopeless and pointless would this life be?

If you are a Christian—even if you are not—I simply ask  you to say a prayer for little Josiah Herring and his family today. In a time like this, prayer is one of the few comforts.

Thank you.

* If you are a member of Facebook and would like to read more about Josiah’s situation, join the group “Praying for little Josiah Herring.”

john daly

JD in his heavier days. Can he keep the weight off? (Image:scubaeddie32/Flickr)

Just when you thought John Daly’s game was done–with the arrests, the binge drinking, the hawking of merchandise in the Augusta National parking lot–the two-time major winner is rediscovering his game in Europe.

Daly closed with a final round 66 at the BMW Italian Open to finish tied for second in the Euro Tour event. Big John is playing in Europe while serving his six month suspension on the PGA Tour. For those not in the know, an intoxicated Daly spent the night in the slammer in October after passing out in a Hooters parking lot. John Daly at a Hooters? Shocking.

Since the self-professed lowpoint, Daly has dropped 60 pounds, changed his swing, and added a European feel to his wardrobe. From the looks of his clothing, let’s say it appears Daly might be hanging with Ian Poulter these days.

John has played four events on the European Circuit, making three cuts and banking more than $187,000–good for 79th on the money list. He shot steady rounds of 69-69-69-66 last week for his second place finish.

The Washington Times reports that Daly will use a sponsor exemption to attempt his PGA Tour comeback at the St. Jude Classic on June 11-14.  Let’s hope this latest run isn’t just a flash in the pan, and Daly is actually making a lifestyle change. He’s too good of a golfer to waste away his talent like he has during the last decade.

david_feherty

Feherty doesn't like Nancy Pelosi. (Image: jewishfam/Flickr)

After a weekend of golf that included a monumental collapse by Alex Cejka and another tough round for Tiger (Oh, by the way, Henrik Stenson is your winner), David Feherty and his subsequent apology is all that is making news in the golf world.

If you haven’t heard–and where have you been?–Feherty wrote a controversial column for the Dallas-based D Magazine.

Feherty’s comments: “If you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden, there’s a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death.”

There you have it. But is this really that surprising? Feherty says outlandish stuff all the time–that’s why CBS pays him. He makes golf interesting. Sure, it’s a stupid comment. But I don’t think it deserves any more than an apology, which Feherty has already given.

These were his comments yesterday: “This passage was a metaphor meant to describe how American troops felt about our 43rd president,” Feherty said in a statement. “In retrospect, it was inappropriate and unacceptable, and has clearly insulted Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid, and for that, I apologize. As for our troops, they know I will continue to do as much as I can for them both at home and abroad.”

That’s it. The story is dead. No more media coveraged needed.

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