Augusta is in the Air

The Masters is right around the corner and I thought I’d share some odds with you. As of the beginning of March, Tiger Woods still remains the favorite to win this year’s coveted “Green Jacket”. Rory and Phil are close on his tail and Snedeker’s recent hot streak has him rounding out the top 4. We know that Tiger has what it takes to win. When it comes down to it, he is the most dominant Sunday player on the PGA Tour, but what about the others? We saw a few years ago when young Rory McIlroy imploded in the middle of his Sunday round at Augusta, only to make an amazing stand and win the US Open at Congressional later that year. If Rory won the US Open because he had something to prove after crashing and burning at the 2011 Masters, he certainly has something to prove this year. At the WGC Match Play tournament this last week, Rory got the boot early; that might be enough motivation for him to break some records at Augusta come April. We know “Lefty” is a stick. He’s won the Masters 3 times, plus he’s having an outstanding start to the 2013 season. With a win in Phoenix and no missed cuts, Mickelson has a good shot to be in contention come Sunday. Snedeker is the hottest of the 4 going into Augusta. In 2013 he has 4 top-ten finishes in only 5 events played, making him the leader on the PGA Tour money list and the FedEx Cup standings.

Here are the LVH SuperBook odds as of the last week in February:

TIGER WOODS 5-1

RORY McILROY 7-1

PHIL MICKELSON 12-1

BRANDT SNEDEKER 15-1

LUKE DONALD 25-1

LEE WESTWOOD 25-1

ADAM SCOTT 25-1

JUSTIN ROSE 25-1

BUBBA WATSON 25-1

DUSTIN JOHNSON 25-1

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN 25-1

CHARL SCHWARTZEL 30-1

JASON DUFNER 30-1

NICK WATNEY 40-1

RICKIE FOWLER 40-1

HUNTER MAHAN 40-1

MATT KUCHAR 40-1

KEEGAN BRADLEY 40-1

SERGIO GARCIA 40-1

JASON DAY 50-1

IAN POULTER 50-1

BO VAN PELT 50-1

WEBB SIMPSON 50-1

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Teaching Tip: Straighten Up for Straighter Shots

So, you want to hit the ball straighter? Here is a quick tip to get you on your way to splitting those fairways and finding the flag stick. I compared one of my students to one of the best ball strikers that has ever lived. Below is the analysis:

If we take a look at both players’ address position, we see some similarities and also noticeable differences. I drew some colored lines on the pictures (which I will explain later) for visualization purposes.

Randy is a mid-high handicap golfer

Randy is a mid-high handicap golfer

Tiger Woods is a professional golfer

Tiger Woods is a professional golfer

First, take a look at the yellow line in each picture. I drew this line to show the relationship between foot position and balance. Most amateur golfers address the ball with a majority of their weight over their toes. This makes golfers hit behind the golf ball and when they do make good contact with the ball, it produces either a hook or a pull due to over rotation of the hands at impact or a fade without the wrist rotation. Tiger (bottom) has the back of his heels positioned directly underneath the middle of his hips, allowing him to balance his weight evenly across his feet. Randy (top) has a little bit more bend in his knees throwing his weight more towards his toes, which may feel more comfortable and stable at address, but as he swings his body tends to move more towards the ball. Here’s the Golf Fix: Address your golf ball with your knees slightly bent and allow your hands and arms to dangle freely over your toes. Push your hips backwards so that your butt is sticking out behind your heels. This might be a little uncomfortable at first, but it will help your clubhead get on plane faster.

Next, let’s look at the red line. Notice that the red line starting at the lower back of Tiger Woods is flatter than the red line starting at Randy’s lower back. This is partly caused when golfers do not shift their hips backwards at address. A steep lower back angle causes a golfer’s posture to be more upright. In Randy’s case, this forces the golfer to arch the top of his back, hunching the shoulders. An arched upper back limits a golfer’s ability to make a full shoulder rotation. Less rotation means a steeper swing, and a steeper swing means more opportunity for a golfer to hit a slice or a hook. Here’s the Golf Fix: At address, roll your shoulders back and raise your chin slightly almost as if you were doing a vertical push-up. This will broaden the shoulders and allow your left shoulder (if you are flexible enough) to turn underneath your chin during the backswing. If you combine both of these teaching tips, your swing plane should flatten out a little bit, allowing for a larger shoulder turn and a straighter ball flight.

Want more tips? Leave me a comment and let me know what part of the swing you are interested in.