GOLF AND WINNING

Golf is not a team sport, some events start with thousands of qualifiers and yet there is still only one winner. Golf is brutally demanding, and usually more disappointing than not.

John Rahm didn’t really care about finishing in a tie for 3rd, he just missed to many putts throughout the event to really challenge for this title. Collin Morikawa prevailed in the end because he hit it the best, and certainly putted the best. He held off charges from Rahm and Spieth, and in the end was the best player.

I have the the worst record of betting on the Open Championship over the past ten years. I’ve been going to the UK prior to the Open the past 10 years to prepare for the Senior Open which is always played the week after the Open. There is a betting site (William Hill, BetFred, Corral) on almost every street in the UK to bet on just about anything imaginable.

This year, I went to the UK to play in the Senior Amateur and Senior Open, only to withdraw from both due to ankle issues that don’t let me walk and play golf. The few bets I made on Wimbledon were fun and exciting, but not profitable. However upon my return to the USA, I studied the odds of the Open players very carefully, and decided to make three bets on three players to win the Open.

I chose Jordan Spieth at 18:1 because he is trending in the right direction, loves the golf over there and has won it before. My next pick was Louis Oosthuizen, how could you not bet on Louis at 25:1 after his performance in the US Open and the PGA Championship when he had chances to win both majors.

My final pick was due to the odds placed on him, and how good this kid has shown to be in the big moments, and that is, yes, Collin Morikawa at 28:1. I put $250 on each of them, and had the best time ever watching the Open as my three picks for most of the tournament were running 1-2-3 like in a horse race that you just cannot lose.

My three big threats were always DJ, Koepka and of course Rahm. They all had a bad stretch of holes that kept them just far enough back to make it very difficult to catch the leaders. Rahm was the biggest threat going into Sunday, but did not start off well on day 4 and was too far back by the time he lit up the back nine.

My $7000 win on Morikawa made a tiny dent in all the hundreds of losing tickets I have placed over in the UK at these sports betting houses. But next to betting on US Football, betting on golf is a lot of fun, where every shot makes someone happy or sad.

After the Open, I was excited to watch the Barbasol Championship as my friend James Hahn started the day two shots back after a career low 60 on Saturday when he had a putt on 18 for a 59. James got it to -4 after 12 holes and was in the thick of it until the 18th hole. J.T. Poston had a commanding lead until somehow he snapped hooked a drive out of bounds on the 15th hole (the easiest hole on the course) and made a double bogey. He still had the lead, until a very bad three putt on the very next hole.

James would have tied the lead with two pars on 17 and 18. He was in perfect shape in the fairway on both holes with no more than 9 iron into the greens. He missed both greens and failed to get up and down. Had he even made one par and tied for 3rd, it would have been another $100,000 added to his paycheck. The pressure these guys struggling to stay in the top 125 is excruciating, and anyone that thinks playing golf for a living is easy, knows nothing about the time, energy, effort involved in just having a chance at the winners circle.

Perhaps you can say Seamus Power is lucky to have won the event, but he still shot -21 over 4 rounds of golf. Yes the course was certainly easier than Royal St George’s but still not an easy test of golf. James also held the lead by three shots on the back nine earlier in Phoenix while playing with Brooks Koepka. again James had a poor stretch of holes costing him well over a million dollars.

But it’s not the paycheck that matters most, its the tour exemption for two years and all the extra events you get into. With so many good players every year coming out of college to join the PGA Tour (Korn Ferry first) it makes what Collin Morikawa has done even more impressive. This guy is very rare in the game of golf to be this good and mature at 24 years old.

I met Collin in the Bay Area while he was at Cal going to school. He was a very mature and affable guy, and a pleasure to speak to.

Today was the Senior Open qualifier in the UK at three sites. I had two friends attempt to qualify at Burnhill Golf Club near London. They shot a 79 and a 76 with 74 now playing off for the final spot at this qualifying site. I counted only 6 Americans attempting to qualify out of about 300 players. Both my pals quarantined for 5 days upon their arrival, and then hit the links to learn the qualifying course.

It kills me to be here, and not there playing in this event. The Senior Open is at Sunningdale, where I played in my first Open in 2009. It is one of the best courses in Europe, and would have been a dream week.

Gene Elliott whom just won the Senior Amateur at Ganton, is there and will be playing at Sunningdale. My prediction is he wins the silver medal for being low amateur, and making the cut.

Stay tuned for more later this week

OUT OF QUARANTINE AND READY TO GO IN THE UK FOR THE SENIOR AMATEUR AT GANTON

It was a very tough and close decision to travel across the pond knowing I’d need to quarantine for a minimum of 5 days, while nursing a back that is in spasm.

In the end, I did not want to miss yet another year playing golf in events that I cherish and enjoy. With all the challenges and road blocks thrown at American players, originally only 13 players signed up a month ago. Based on my latest viewing of the practice tee sheet, it seems possible that only Gene Elliott (Senior #2 in the world according to WAGR) and myself are the only American players in this years event.

This leaves the door wide open for other UK players that normally would not be in the field. Typically there are 30-50 American players that captured the last 9 out of 10 Championship golf medals.

Yes I am here, the big question will be will my body and back hold up playing 5 days in a row. This year the event has been extended to 4 rounds Tuesday through Friday at the ever tough Ganton Golf Club in Northern England.

I played in this event back 5 or 6 years ago at Ganton, and it had its way with me, and most of the field. Brady Exber was the last standing survivor and finished the championship with a +9 total. Reminds me of the Open Championship in years past when the best players shot over par to win the event.

Today I got the result of my third COVID test in a week, with a NEGATIVE result, which means I can exit quarantine early having used the early release test on day 5. I am still required to take my day 8 test, and then a final test within 72 hours of my departure back home. Stay tuned for some photos of beautiful Ganton Golf course

Phil Mickelson AND I CELEBRATED OUR VICTORIES BY DRINKING WINE FROM OUR TROPHIES- MUST SEE VIDEO COVERAGE

Since I followed what Phil did during his thrilling win in the PGA Championship, I figured I’d celebrate like him as well. I think you’ll enjoy they celebratory videos below!

WHY WOULD YOU LISTEN TO ANYONE ELSE OTHER THAN THE MAN THAT POSSESsES THE BEST SHORT GAME EVER- Phil Mickelson

Since I mimicked Phil’s new extra focus and concentration he displayed while winning the PGA Championship, why not listen to Phil’s tips on chipping and putting? I agree with all of his techniques and drills, now it’s up to you to actually take the time to practice these drills.

There is no copy right infringement here as I, like Phil am just trying to help my fellow golfer play better, and speed up the game.

Stay tuned for video coverage of my wine celebration after winning, somewhat similar to what Phil did.

WHY PUTT SIDE SADDLE

My good friend and recent side saddle convert Brad is shown in this video putting side saddle. I’ve been playing golf with Brad for 30 years now, and his conventional putting has always been his down-fall.

A year ago after missing another short putt, he grabbed my STX side saddle putter and rolled in 3 six foot putts. I said if you make another one, I’ll give you that putter. He did, and now he has a STX putter that has changed his game forever.

Yes, like everyone Brad struggled with the longer putts, as it takes a LONG TIME to adjust to the longer putts. BUT he saw immediate improvement in his short and mid range putts. I see so many new side saddle putters putt poorly because they lack the simple technique to make the transition one that will work for you. As I always preach, the top left hand is the top of the triangle and cannot move back and forth or sideways.

The audio is not great in the video below, but watch how nicely Brad strokes through his putts, I guarantee he can out putt most of you!!

THANKS PHIL, WE BOTH WON!!!

I’m thanking Phil Mickelson for showing us all the change in his approach to high level championship golf. Who would ever thought a player going off at 200-1 could possibly win the PGA Championship. Yes Brooks could have applied more pressure if he didn’t throw up all over himself on the par 5 holes. But that’s golf under pressure, it will expose all of your weaknesses.

Phil’s new found intense focus hopefully will not result in further lengthening the time it takes to play 18 holes in competition. It’s already a joke when tournament rounds take over 5 hours, sometimes even close to 6 hours. It is not possible to keep a flow of your game when you wait for long periods of time on every shot. Just having played in the SCGA Senior Amateur in groups of 3 with ten minute tee times, it was a very slow 4 hours, we still waited on every shot.

My take away from Phil’s great win is that he was lacking the proper focus to make the right decisions on his shot shape and creation of the picture in his mind of what that looks like. You could see his intense concentration and focus on every single shot. This eliminated the big misses that he is prone to have in critical moments (most notably the tee shot in the US Open at Winged Foot, that he will probably never forget).

I believe Phil would not hit that shot now that far left of a miss. He has taken his miss pattern and significantly tightened it up, and then let his short game work its magic. When you are hitting big foul balls, the short game doesn’t really matter, you’ve lost it off the tee, and have no way of overcoming those mistakes around and on the greens.

I too play very fast and make quick decisions, especially when I want to catch the wind conditions as they are at the moment I will rush up and try to quick hit a shot. The past three days I did NOT do that, I forced myself to visualize each shot, pick a target and see in my mind the proper shape of my shots.

OMG did it work, I hit 50 out of 54 greens, I hit 4 par 5 holes in two shots and at one time I was -12 for the tournament with a 9 shot lead, and finished ten under par and had the low round everyday (68-67-68). Yes I have been playing well of late and have not been blogging out of frustration of not being able to close out any tournaments. I finished 2nd in the SOS Masters, I finished 3rd in the Alameda Commuters after a 68 opening round, a 4th in Houston after leading with a 69 first round, and a 2nd at the Trans Miss after leading with a 68 first round.

I have been frustrated as hell, golf has NOT BEEN FUN , mainly work and disappointment until I saw what Phil did on SUNDAY in the final round of the PGA Championship. It starts with belief, if you don’t truly believe you are capable of winning, forget about it, it’s not going to magically happen. You need to go out and TAKE IT, but with a strategy that keeps you calm, focused and balanced.

I care about my world ranking as its used to Exempt the top 25 ranked seniors in the world into the USGA Senior Amateur. I started this run at 32nd, and now sit at 15th and with this win yesterday will probably drop to 11-12th. I care because the USGA Senior Amateur is a major that you don’t want to miss, and the qualifier usually has about 90 players for 4 spots.

I have punched my ticket into this years event, and Phil has punched his ticket into the next 5 US Opens. Phil decided at 50 he was not done, and that perhaps his best golf was still in front of him. And look what he did, almost the impossible, as the oldest major winner ever.

At age 50, 51 and 52 I actually played my best golf of my life, and achieved a record three consecutive Northern California Player of the Year awards during that stretch. I also won about 15 tournaments during those three years, including the prestigious Stocker Cup and was low amateur in the Senior Open twice. Age is not what determines the quality of our golf, but our mind does. Yes, like Phil said in his interview, you need to work harder when you are older. You lack the flexibility you may once had and strength, but all can be improved through hard work. But with a more mature mind and experience will always pay the biggest dividends.

Congratulations to Phil and his whole team that supports his effort to be the best player he can possibly be. But can he win again out there? Who knows, but I wouldn’t bet against him.

I have not shot three consecutive rounds in the 60’s in a long time, and until the past 4 days I would not believed it to be possible with the inconsistency in my putting. This all changed after watching Phil pull off his historic win on Sunday.

I’m not going to bore you with all the stats of my victory in the Southern California Senior Amateur, as I cover most of it in my post round interview, check it out.

http://www.scga.org/tournaments/scga-senior-championship

Stay tuned for more on Side Saddle putting