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There was more than a little bit of stumbling and fumbling along the way, but Justin Rose eventually claimed the Turkish Airlines Open title in a playoff with Li Haotong. The pair, two-thirds of the final group on the final day, had earlier tied on 17 under par over four rounds at the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort on Turkey’s southern shore.

Which sounds pretty good only until a wee bit more detailed look at the leader board reveals Rose reached 19 under par after 70 holes. And that both men were 18 under on the 72nd tee. In other words, Rose, the defending champion and needing a win to get back to World No. 1, finished bogey-bogey; Li contented himself with a dropped shot at the last, taking four shots to get down from just under 150 yards. Pretty this was not.

And it got worse.

After watching Rose two-putt for par from roughly 25 feet on their second visit to the 18th green, Li settled down over his 12-footer for birdie and what would have been his third European Tour victory. Would have been. Never online, the ball missed low and left and, not insignificantly as things turned out, ran maybe a yard past. The second putt was … how to put this … awful. Really awful, the ball missing the cup by maybe an inch on the right.

The sad thing was, over their first 16 holes, both men had put on a terrific display. Yes, each rode his luck at times, but the general standard gave no hint of the carnage that was to follow. Li’s pars at the seventh and eighth holes had more to do with good luck than good judgement. Rose’s pitch to the par-5 12th was headed well past until it struck the pin and stopped a few feet away. And one hole later his tee shot was headed for oblivion in the right trees until it hit an unfortunate individual on the left knee (yes, Rose did shout “fore!”).

Otherwise, each played some terrific stuff. Li’s highlight was a 3-wood to the par-5 15th green that pulled to a halt no more than two-feet away, the resulting eagle hauling the Chinese player into a tie for the lead on 18 under par.

Rose was his usual clinical self—at least until his last two holes in regulation. Not one bogey and five birdies dotted his card to that point.

“There were moments out there where it looked like both of us weren’t holding our nerve very well,” said Rose, who picked up €1,166,660 for what was the first successful defense of a title in his career. He also moved to third in a Race to Dubai, although he cannot win that year-long race to go with his FedEx Cup title on the PGA Tour. For reasons he was loathe to reveal—“they will become apparent next year”—Rose said rather mysteriously that he will not be playing in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in two weeks.

“But this was a fun battle overall,” he continued. “And obviously I do have to spare a thought for Haotong. That was a tough way to finish. He hit a positive putt to try and win, but that 18th green is very tough. Getting back to No. 1 is something to be proud of. It doesn’t make you one under par on the first tee the next time you play, but it’s something to be proud of for sure.”

As for Li, who had started the day with a three-shot edge over Rose, even his broken English was up to the task of conveying exactly his understandable disappointment.

“It is a tough day for me,” said the 23-year old, who memorably outdueled Rory McIlroy down the stretch to win the Dubai Desert Classic in January. “I think I played well the whole week, but didn’t hole a few putts on the last and that was it.”

A little further down the leader board there were signs of redemption for two Grand Slam champions whose recent play has been more minor than major. Former U.S. Open and PGA champion Martin Kaymer’s closing 66, five under par and bogey-free, lifted the German into a tie for fifth alongside Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark, one shot head of Danny Willett.

“I played very well,” confirmed Kaymer, who dropped only two shots all week. “I could have made a few more putts here and there, but the game was really spot on this week. I think I gave myself enough chances, and I needed a good finish to get into (the season ending DP World Tour Championship) in Dubai. Hopefully that was enough. But I’m really looking forward to playing next week [when the European Tour plays its next playoff event in his native South Africa]. I’m very close.”

Former Masters champion Willett had less to say about his T-7 finish, but the Englishman, one of 20 in the 78-man field, must have been encouraged by his play after so long in the doldrums. In recording his third top-10 of the season and only his fifth on the European Tour since winning at Augusta in 2016, the 31-year-old Yorkshireman hit an array of splendid shots. As with Kaymer, only his putting let him down over the closing holes.

Which was a familiar tale at the end of an ultimately strange day.

Source: golfdigest.com

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I’ve come to accept I’m not one of the longest guys on tour, so if I’m going to beat guys who are 20 to 30 yards longer off the tee—like I did at the 2015 RSM Classic and the 2017 Dean & DeLuca Invitational—I have to keep the ball in the fairway. My stats prove that. Heading into the British Open in July, I was 35 under par on approaches from the fairway between 50 and 175 yards. In the same range from the rough, I was 14 over. That’s a big difference. Being a solid driver means having more than one way to find the fairway. I’m going to teach you four, one for each type of wind condition. Pair the correct play with that wind, and you’ll be hitting your next shot from the short grass. — With E. Michael Johnson

SLICE WIND: PLAY IT FORWARD
With most tee shots, I start by determining where I need to drive it to leave the best angle into the green. Then I check to see how the wind might impact that plan and adjust for it. I struggle the most with a slice wind (coming from the left for right-handers), but my adjustments are to play the ball way up, off my left toe, and aim farther left than normal. The ball position and alignment help me start the ball on a path left of the fairway and, hopefully, let the breeze push it back into the fairway in the ideal spot.

DOWNWIND TEE: IT HIGH AND LOAD UP
Everyone loves a hole where the wind is at your back. To take advantage of that, I tee the ball higher than normal—with half of it sitting above the driver when I sole it. I also position the ball just off my left heel. The last thing I do at address is tilt my right shoulder slightly down and to the right. All of this promotes a higher launch angle, which gets the ball up and riding the wind. When I swing, I load up on my right side and then fire into the ball from the inside, trying to draw it for even more of a distance boost. If you do this, be careful not to get too much weight on your right side when you take the club back. It makes it harder to hit it so

HEAD WIND: STAY SHORT AND CENTERED
We’re lucky we play mostly on firm fairways on tour; at least the ball will roll when the hole is into the wind. I play for that, trying to hit it 20 feet off the ground and chase it out there. At address, I tee the ball only an inch off the grass, play it about two inches back of my left heel and grip down a little on the driver. I also aim slightly left of the target, because the tendency is for the shot to squirt right as a result of the ball position—it’s harder to square the face. The swing keys: Keep your weight centered between your feet, and make a short-but-smooth swing back and through. The mistake is to lean forward and hit down on it to keep the shot low. That creates extra spin, killing distance.

HOOK WIND: LET IT RIDE
I love when it’s coming from the right, because my natural shot shape—a draw—curves with the breeze and goes forever. With this one my setup is standard, but you might want to close your stance a little (aim your body right of the target) to promote an in-to-out draw swing path. The shot’s start line is important. I aim down the right edge of the hole so the ball will ride the breeze into the fairway. Note how I’ve released the club through impact. Don’t try to steer it into play. With this wind, just hammer it.

Source: golfdigest.com

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Cameron Champ’s performance at the Sanderson Farms Championship proved he’s more than just a long-ball hitter. His four-shot win over Corey Conners, however, was built largely on his prowess off the tee combined with a deft touch on the greens.

For the week Champ averaged 334 yards off the tee, leading the field. Champ also picked up more than 5.5 yards off the tee in strokes gained/off the tee with his Ping G400 Max driver, albeit a backup that he had on site in his car after his gamer cracked shortly before teeing off Sunday. Champ’s driver has a 44.75-inch Fujikura Pro White TS 63x shaft tipped 1.5 inches and a swingweight of D-3.

At the other end, Champ displayed a nice touch on the greens with a Ping PLD Mid Tyne 4 prototype putter that is 34.5 inches with 2 degrees of loft and half a degree flat. Champ used the putter to roll in birdie putts of 10, 7, 5 and 38 feet respectively on holes 13 through 16 to boost his cushion to two shots after a slow start. Champ added a punctuation mark with one more seven-footer for birdie at the last. For the event Champ picked up more than nine strokes on the field in strokes gained/putting, ranking second. The PLD stands for Ping Lab Design which offers the opportunity for players to get putters that specifically meet their needs outside of production-run models. The Tyne 4 head is a mallet with wings in back for added stability.

What Cameron Champ had in the bag at the Sanderson Farms Championship

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV

Driver: Ping G400 Max (Fujikura Pro White TS 63x), 9 degrees

3-wood: Ping G400, 14.2 degrees

Irons (4): Ping i500; (5-PW): Ping iBlade

Wedges: Ping Glide Forged (50, 54, 60 degrees)

Putter: Ping PLD Mid Tyne 4 prototype

 

Source: golfdigest.com

Stop me if this sounds familiar. You set up to hit a chip. You’ve got your weight forward, the shaft leaning toward the target, and you’re playing the ball off your back foot. When you swing, you catch the ball super low on the face, and skull it across the green. On the next attempt, you gouge a chunk of sod behind the ball, and it goes nowhere.

This might surprise you, but although the results of those two mis-hits are very different, they’re often caused by the same mistakes. The first is the bottom of your swing is in the wrong place, and the second is the club is not interacting with the turf the way it’s designed.

The name of this page is Gimme One Thing, but I’m going to give you two things to think about the next time your chipping issues flare up. Remember the words bottom and bounce. What do they mean and how do they apply to better chipping? When you think bottom, your focus should be on getting the club to hit the turf consistently in the same place. For chipping, that should be slightly ahead of the ball’s position on the ground. You can help make sure that happens by checking your shirt buttons and nose at setup. They should be slightly closer to the target than the ball. I like to say, as the nose goes, so does the bottom of your swing.

The second word to think about, bounce, means how the club interacts with the turf. You want the club to glide along the grass, not dig into it. The leading edge and trailing edge of the clubface should contact the ground evenly. The beauty of this technique is that the swing bottom can be a fraction off, and you’ll still likely hit a decent chip shot. No one will be the wiser.

So set up with your weight favoring your front foot, the ball in the middle of a narrow stance, and your nose and shirt buttons slightly closer to the target. Now when you swing, focus on letting the leading edge and trailing edge of the club make contact with the ground simultaneously right below your nose. Fixate on that, and your body and arms will intuitively move to get the bounce just right.

You’ll notice that I’m relatively still with my body going back; it’s mostly an arm swing. I do that to make sure my swing bottom won’t change from where I want it to be.

And when I swing down, I’m letting my body rotate toward the target. This rotation guides the club through impact on a shallow approach. There’s no chopping into the turf; it’s the right amount of interaction between the leading edge and the trailing edge. One final tip: Keep your body rotating long after the ball is gone like I am here.

Next time you struggle around the greens, remember: bottom and bounce.

SURVIVAL GUIDE
Golf instruction on the range is great, but sometimes you need help while you’re playing—stat! In his video series, “Bad-Ass Short Game,” Ritter tackles many of the issues regular golfers have around the greens and gives his unique—and bold—approach to correcting them.

Source: www.golfdigest.com

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