Archive for the ‘Ryder Cup’ Category

Junior Golf: Take A Breath

In today’s Wednesday Waggle we will slow down and take a breath. With all the overwhelming golf activities of the last 2 weeks coupled with the passing of Arnold Palmer, there has been so much emotional content we all need a moment to slow down. (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)img_0102

The USA win of The Ryder Cup was 3 days of the greatest golf most of us will ever see. The team events of Friday and Saturday were great with so many highlights. Sunday’s 12 singles matches started out with the score US 9.5 and Europe 6.5. 14 points were needed by Europe to keep the Cup and the US would need 14.5 to take the Cup.

Behind by 3 points EUR front-loaded their matches putting their heavyweight players out 1st. The initial pairing Sunday morning was the 2 absolute hottest players at the event, Rory McIlroy vs Patrick Reed and they performed even better than expected. Both were making almost every putt followed by enthusiastic yelling, arm-waving and fist pumping, it was great. The highlight of the match was on hole #8 where Rory made what must have been a 50-footer for a birdie. Patrick stepped right up to his 20-footer and rolled it in the middle of the cup. Rory and his caddie laughed and then he and Patrick gave each other a fist bump and walked off the green chatting. It was just the way this match would be for all 18 holes. Reed made a birdie on #18 to win 1-up.

How could anything be better than Reed/McIlroy, how about Mickelson/Garcia? Phil had 10 birdies and Garcia had 9 and they ended up halving the match, each getting ½ point for their team. Garcia evened up the match with a 2-putt birdie at 16. Then the final 2 holes were halved with, yes, birdies. Absolutely stunning golf!

There was plenty of great Sunday golf by both sides, but 1 of the amazing comebacks and feel-good moments of the whole event came with Ryan Moore. 2-down to Lee Westwood standing on #16 tee, Moore said he was able to finally relax and try to hit some great shots to help his team. Well, how about putting his 2nd shot on the par 5 16th hole to about 8 feet and making an eagle to win the hole? And a birdie on #17 to win that hole and be all square standing on the 18th tee, guaranteed ½ point? And then winning #18 with a par to give the USA the full 1 point to clinch the victory. Wow, good for Ryan Moore! (photo sbnation.com)

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Moments like these are inspirational for everyone, particularly your junior golfer as he/she can dream about playing in matches like this 1 day. Yes, The Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup for women is for only the most elite players, but your youngster will play in a number of very important team matches in high school and college. I can assure you the emotions by Moms and Dads of junior golfers are just as strong as those of Ryder Cup players. Look forward to the great experiences coming. They are very special and are to be treasured!

See you on #1 tee ready to make a bunch of birdies… Sam.

Junior Golf: Ryder Cup Excitement Begins

In this Friday Flop Shot we will look at today’s start of The 41st Ryder Cup from Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. This is a team matchplay event where 12 of the best US men’s golfers compete against the best 12 from Europe.img_0106

If you’re not already recording it, I suggest you set the TiVo right now. Coverage starts on the Golf Channel at 730am central time today and goes until 600pm. Saturday’s coverage is 800am-600pm on NBC. Sunday’s broadcast time is 1100am-500pm again on NBC. We always record an additional hour in case the event runs long. Ties count and there is not a playoff but weather delays and other unknowns might cause matches to run longer than usual. (photo offcoursegolf.com)

You will hear 3 types of matches discussed. These 1st 2 are a bit confusing. Foursomes refers to 4 players, 2 2-man teams, in each group and it is played where team members hit every other shot with 1 team member hitting 1st on odd-numbered holes and the other hitting 1st on even-numbered holes. Often both players in singles play, use very different golf balls. Different degrees of firmness/softness and high spin vs low spin means the teammates must find a compromise ball since they aren’t allowed to switch balls each shot. The pros are so finely tuned to the feel of their golf ball that switching to another ball takes a lot of practice. It is very different. Yardages, amount of draw or fade, spin rates and backspin all are impacted. There’s a ton of pressure on Foursomes since you really don’t want to hit a poor shot which leaves your partner facing a very difficult next shot. You don’t want to let your partner down. Each team’s score is recorded on every hole and low score out of the 2 team scores wins the hole.

Fourballs is also 2 2-man teams playing against each other. All 4 players play their own ball through the hole and the low score for each 2-man team is recorded. Lowest score of the 2 team scores wins the hole.

Singles are on Sunday and the 12 matches will include every player on each team, 1 US player vs 1 European player. It’s very straightforward. Low score wins the hole.

Each of the 28 total matches is worth 1 point. The winning team of each match gets 1 point, the losing team gets 0 points and if the match is tied/halved, each team gets ½ point. The 1st team to reach 14 and1/2 points wins the Ryder Cup. If the teams tie at 14-14 the previous Ryder Cup winning team retains the Cup. (image agtgolftours.com)

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The crowds are very loud for golf tournaments. There will be more European fans than you could possibly imagine and they are loud. The enthusiasm and energy of the players and fans is unique and contagious. Pretty much every player will tell you that this is the 1 event where their knees are literally shaking on #1 tee. I mean, you’re playing for your flag, your country, your national pride. It’s so different than playing for oneself. I think it was Zach Johnson that said there was tremendous pressure on every shot in a Ryder Cup because the stakes are so high and the pressure on the 1st tee was insane! It’s a lifetime achievement for these guys, certainly equal to or close to the equal of winning major championships.

Please have your junior golfer watch some of this event. It should certainly excite him and inspire him to dream more and dream bigger. The excitement is contagious!

See you on #1 tee looking proud of your country… Sam

Junior Golf: Unforced Errors

In today’s Monday Mulligan we’ll take a look at something that happens in every sport, it just tends to happen less among the players and teams who are properly prepared mentally. (photo jennleforge.com)img_0135

Unforced errors are our topic today. What are they? Simply put, it’s making a mistake when you should not have. In golf, it’s hitting a poor shot when your ball was in a decent position for you to have hit the proper shot, a good result. You had no extraordinary degree of difficulty or challenges required to hit the good shot. Missing short putts or hitting poor chip shots from a good lie are also valid examples.

In volleyball, service errors are 1 example of unforced errors. If the serve is merely in play, it forces the receiving team to make a play. If the serve is not in play the receiving team gets a free point. The #1-ranked US Women’s Volleyball team entered their semifinal match against Serbia as the Gold Medal favorite. 18 US service errors later-read 18 points for Serbia-our ladies lost 15-13 in the 5th set. In fact 2 of Serbia’s last 4 points to win the match were US service errors. The final point was a block going off of 1 of our girls and ending up out of play, Serbia wins 15-13. Serbia played great, in fact they peaked in this game because China blew them out 3-1 in the Gold Medal match.

How on earth does our team of this caliber commit 18 service errors in 1 match? I mean that’s 18 points and Serbia only beat us by a total of 11 points in the 3 sets that they won! Is it lack of practice/preparation, poor coaching, lack of focus during the game, folding to the pressure of The Olympics or just having a bad night? I don’t know the answer, only the result. Unforced errors took our team out of the Gold Medal Match. To the ladies’ credit they did bring home the Bronze Medal and had a lot fewer service errors! (photo 14-05-1994.blogspot.com)image

Golf’s latest example of unforced errors was yesterday when Rickie Fowler took himself out of contention shooting 5 strokes over par on his last 8 holes, after going 55 holes without a bogey. With a final round 74, Rickie’s fluid swing from earlier in the week disappeared and he could not maintain his great scoring. So he ended up T-7 in The Barclay’s. He needed to be T-3 or better for an automatic Ryder Cup spot. Surely he is still in the running for a Captain’s pick.

Errant tee shots-read unforced errors-led to more difficult following shots, which made pars very challenging on this very tough golf course.

What happened? No telling. Was it really old-fashioned pressure of too many high-value goals dependent on the last few holes? Sure, the pros feel pressure just like the rest of us, but they’re usually better than we are at dealing with it.

Minimizing unforced errors is critical for your daughter. Depending on her age and skill level, confidence is a good place to start eliminating mistakes. Get her off the range and onto the course. Encourage her to remember how it felt to hit that good shot, chip or putt. Ask her how she can feel her muscles soaking up the memory of a great shot. Put these positives in her mind. Pressure is coming and proper preparation and a solid level of confidence are important foundations to be able to handle it.

See you on #1 tee, properly prepared… Sam

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