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There is no Masters this week, but had it been played at Augusta National, Tiger Woods says he would have been there in good health and ready to go.
Woods, who has not competed since Feb. 16 at the Genesis Invitational and missed at least two tournaments he would have normally played, told endorser GolfTV that he has been using the time away due to the coronavirus pandemic to his advantage.
“Night and day. I feel a lot better than I did then,” said Woods, who skipped the WGC-Mexico Championship and the Players Championship after complaining of back stiffness. “I’ve been able to turn a negative into a positive and been able to train a lot and get my body to where I think it should be at. I’ve been able to play some golf. Fortunately, Medalist Golf Club is still open here — virtually every course to the south of us is closed — but we remain open, so it’s been nice to go out there and hit some golf balls a little bit.
“You need to get some fresh air and do something. Obviously we have our social distancing; you can’t touch rakes or touch the flags. One person per cart, but at least the members and their kids are able to play a little bit, get out there and do something active. Some want to walk the dog, some want to roam the golf course, just doing some daily activity to get some exercise and give you peace of mind.”
Woods, 44, has played just twice in 2020, finishing in a tie for ninth at the Farmers Insurance Open in January and then 68th — last among those who made the cut — at the Genesis Invitational.
It was there where he disclosed back problems that led him to skip the following week’s tournament in Mexico. There had been little information about his health in the interim.
“The hardest part that we always talk about ourselves, as professional golfers, is that it’s weird practicing with no end goal to get ready for,” Woods said in the interview. “Hypothetically, it could be this, it could be that. It changes from day to day. There seems to be something new, something different, and that’s one of the more difficult parts about it.
“You’ve seen players out there walking their dogs, some run the golf course, just doing some kind of daily activity gives them exercise and some peace of mind. Especially for the guys who were playing quite a bit and then have been shut down, they were gearing up, and I was talking to JT [Justin Thomas] about this the other day and I felt energetic, I felt really alive and wired and kind of irritable and I didn’t know what was going on.
“And I realized it was Sunday morning. I was supposed to be flying out to an event to hand out trophies to all the award winners. And my body, subconsciously I knew I was supposed to be getting ready to leave and start playing the Masters. [I thought] it’s not that; you’re not playing this week.”
Woods would have been on hand Sunday for the Drive, Chip & Putt event that has since been canceled. The Masters has been rescheduled for Nov. 12-15, and if it takes place, Woods would host the Champions Dinner on Nov. 10
In a photo he posted to social media Tuesday, Woods showed that he had replicated a Champions Dinner at home with his family while wearing the green jacket. He used the same menu he had predetermined for the former champions.
“I had exactly the same,” he said. “We had steak and chicken pieces, sushi and sashimi. We had cupcakes and milkshakes for dessert. So it was exactly what I was going to serve. As I said, Masters dinner quarantine-style with my family. We had a lot of fun, and eventually it got a little bit interesting at the end, a little ugly, where icing was flowing across people’s hair and face.”
As for not getting to defend his Masters title this week, Woods said: “This is not the way that I would’ve wanted to keep the jacket for a longer period of time. I wanted to get out there and compete for it and earn it again, like I did in ’02 [when he became just the third player to win back-to-back Masters]. But it’s not a normal circumstance, it’s not a normal world. It’s a very fluid environment, and it’s very different for all of us. Fortunately, we potentially could have a Masters in November and play it then. I guess I’ll be defending then, and hopefully that all comes about.”
On Monday, the various golf organizations announced the outline of a potential revamped schedule if government and health authorities approve a return to public activities. It has the PGA Championship in early August, the U.S. Open in September, the Ryder Cup a week later and the Masters in November.
The PGA Tour has not announced when it hopes to return to weekly events, but the Charles Schwab Cup in late May is still on the schedule, although there is considerable talk that the tour will wait until at least mid-June to attempt a return.
“I’m going to sit down with my team and figure out what is the best practice way, what is the best practice schedule, what are the tournaments that I need to play to be ready,” Woods said. “How much should I play; how much should I rest? All the things that are kind of up in the air.
“Again, we don’t exactly know when we’ll be playing these events. This environment, this world we’re living in right now is changing daily, sometimes even hourly.”
Asked for any words of wisdom during this time, Woods leaned on advice from his father.
“I go back to what my dad used to say, and that it’s true that he got through a lot of tough times, don’t look at it day by day,” Woods said. “He used to say, ‘Take it one meal to the next.’ So you go at it until the next meal, and then you figure it out, go out and get it until the next meal. When times are slow like when days feel like months or even years, you just try and break it up into pieces when you can accomplish things.
“Unfortunately for myself, I’ve been through episodes like this in my career with my back where seconds seem like months. You have to slow things down and do things at a different pace. Look at things with a different lens, from a different perspective, where you can accomplish goals, and I think at this point in time going from meal to meal has worked. I don’t know long this is going to work, how long we’re going to be in this pandemic, but for us it’s been these mini-goals that’s allowed us to keep going forward, and next thing you know it’s nighttime and it’s time for bed.”
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While the game will offer a much-deserved break from the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic we need to make sure that all golfers are taking the necessary steps to stay safe and keep others safe.
Best Practices for Golfer Safety
Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our staff & golfers. We will continue to undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts. Click HERE for the CDC’s recommended steps to prevent illness.
We send our best wishes to all individuals and communities that have been impacted by the virus.
We are closely following the news & will take all recommended precautions during this time. We will keep you updated via email & our Facebook page as the situation evolves.
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The coronavirus has upended the world in a matter of weeks, devouring golf’s 2020 schedule and shuttering golfers indoors as they work-from-home.
Yet playing golf is still very much on the table. Encouraged, even, but only if you take certain straightforward precautions. We have a big list of all the things you should do right here. As for the things you shouldn’t do? Here’s a quick rundown.
Limiting the use of golf carts has become an increasingly common precaution many golf courses are taking, but if you want or need to take a cart, make sure to wipe it down throughly first, and take it by yourself so you’re not in close proximity to others.
Many courses recommend only touching the pin if you’re wearing gloves, but many others recommend not touching the pin at all. Better safe than sorry; go with the latter.
Don’t borrow your fellow golfers’ clubs on the course. Now is not the time.
Clubs is the most obvious one, but it goes for other golf accessories, too. Towels, tees, ball makers, balls. If they’re not yours, don’t touch them.
Gimmies for short-range putts are recommended, but when your putt is deemed ‘good,’ pick up your own ball. Don’t toss your partner their ball.
Ditto the above.
With a caddie, with your playing partner, no one. Try Venmo, instead! It’s far more convenient.
This is rule No. 1 nowadays. Try a friendly wave instead!
Most golf courses are inverting their golf holes to eliminate this problem altogether, but if you’re playing one that hasn’t inverted its holes, don’t reach into the golf hole to retrieve your ball. Either leave it there, or pick it up before it drops.
This should be obvious. Use your own or none at all.
For the time being, you’re at the course for golf and nothing else. It won’t be like that forever, but it is for now. Stay safe, and play well!
Look at old videos of the best swings of yesteryear, and you’ll likely see the golfer’s lead knee move toward the ball during the backswing. At the same time, the lead leg’s foot would roll inward and the heel would come off the ground. For the most part, it’s become a thing of the past. With more emphasis now on fitness and strength and swinging the club from a solid base, the best players really stabilize their lead knee (left for right-handers). They use it as an anchor to wind against as they load into their trail side. Even for amateur golfers of limited physical ability, consistency and power immediately improve when that knee is relatively still during the backswing.
My associate J.J. Rivet, one of the world’s leading biomechanists, says his testing has shown that the lead knee of a modern tour player moves toward the ball no more than 8 degrees. In many cases it barely shifts. Amateurs, however, let the knee move as much as 35 degrees during the backswing. You can’t coil properly with a power bleed like that.
A drill to train better stabilization of this knee is to make one- handed rehearsal backswings while preventing the knee from moving with your other hand (above). You should feel pressure in the toes of your lead leg and the heel of your trail leg as you reach the top of the swing. It’s perfectly acceptable for the lead heel to raise as long as the knee moves slightly toward the target, not inward. —WITH RON KASPRISKE
Editor’s Note: Baden Schaff has been a PGA teaching professional for 17 years and is the co-founder of Skillest, a digital platform that connects golf students with golf coaches across the world for online lessons. To learn more about Skillest and to book a lesson of your own with Baden or with Andreas Kali.
The grip causes eternal fascination for golfers. It’s often the first thing I get asked during a lesson. Why is it that the aspect of the swing that creates the most intrigue has nothing to do with the swing itself?
The commonly rolled out line is “because it’s the only part of the body that is connected to the club”. This might well be true, but I think it’s more likely because it’s the only part of the golf swing you can see without videoing it. Your grip is staring you in the face every time you look down at that ball. But why, then, do students still have so much trouble getting it right?
Because they try and fix it in isolation.
Whenever I see a tip regarding the grip it is always a close up of how the two hands are sitting on the club, cut off above the wrists. But what if there is something else at play? What if your grip was influenced by more than just the way your hands are holding the club. Well, there is and it’s got everything to do with your body posture and the way your arms hang at setup. Trying to get your grip right without getting your set up right will drive you mad.
Let’s look at two of the best players in the world. Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau. Dustin has an incredibly strong grip and subsequently shuts the club on the takeaway. Bryson on the other hand is the opposite. He has an incredibly weak grip, particularly evident in the left hand, and has a much more neutral face during the golf swing.
Now are these two grips diametrically opposed because they just hold it differently? No, it’s also because DJ generally starts with the body more over the ball and an almost straight down arm hang. This creates more “radial deviation” and gives the left wrist an exaggerated “extension” or cupping. This is what makes it look so strong.
Bryson is the exact opposite. He plays golf with a more upright posture and has much higher hands, almost like the heel of his club is off the ground. This is why Bryson has his clubs lie angles so upright. This setup creates ulnar deviation and less extension in the left wrist and gives it a look of being incredibly weak. It’s not so much the way their hands sit on the club as much as their posture and their arm hang. This is why you can get your grip looking perfect when you hold the club up in front of you but looks completely wrong when the club is down at address.
Grips cannot be fixed in isolation, they are part of a much broader picture.
A great way to test this for yourself is by taking your usual set up. Then, if you want to see your grip weaken without moving your hands on the club, stand slightly closer to the ball, raise your hands so that it feels like the heel of the club is off the ground, just like Bryson.
If you want to see your grip strengthen, push your hands towards the ground and watch the toe of the club come off the ground. You will notice that your left wrist will cup or extend more making it look stronger. When it is set like DJ you will notice that you can see three of four knuckles while setting up like Bryson will show you only one or two knuckles.
Personally, I prefer Bryson’s style, but let’s not detract from the larger point: Your grip can be changed and influenced without ever moving the hands on the club, because it’s affected by your body position. Like always, any change to your swing must be made with a broader context in mind. Nothing ever works independently. Your challenge is finding a coach that understands cause and effect well enough to work with your motion as a whole.
Harold Varner III delivered fans the greatest show on turf at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. And it had nothing to do with TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole.
Varner, 29, opened up the event on Thursday with a par … and over the next two days, followed with 31 straight similar scores. For those of you scoring at home, that would be a whopping 32 pars, which set a PGA Tour record for most consecutive pars to start a tournament in the ShotLink era.
K.J. Choi was the previous title holder with 27 pars at the 2006 Colonial.
Frame this bad boy and put it in the Smithsonian.
Alas, some stars shine so bright they burn out in two wink’s of a coal miner’s eye. Varner’s golden quest was sidetracked at the 15th, where apparently the East Carolina product said “The hell with history” by making a birdie. The audacity. Worse, he followed with a bogey at the infamous 16th, moving him back to even for the event. Clearly, there are golf gods, and they are cruel.
It’s been an inauspicious start to 2020 for Varner, who missed cuts at the American Express and Farmers Insurance Open. Hopefully riding this magical train gets his season back on track.
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