Even Adam Long wasn’t certain where he stood after hitting his approach into the Desert Classic’s final hole.

Winning wasn’t at the top of his mind when he teed off in Sunday’s final group with Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin. A top-10 finish, and a spot in next week’s event, would have been nice.

Long was an afterthought in a final group that included a World Golf Hall of Famer and a Canadian playing in front of countrymen who flock to the California desert in the winter.

Long was just a 31-year-old rookie making his sixth PGA TOUR start. And then he was the champion. He won in a way that most players can only dream of: by making a 15-footer for birdie on the last hole.

Long arrived at the final hole tied with Hadwin and Mickelson. After hitting his drive into the right rough, Long hit his 175-yard onto the green. That’s when he asked his caddie to confirm that he shared the lead.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure. I didn’t care. I had nothing to lose,” Long said.

The stage was set for him after Hadwin’s bunker shot stopped inches from the hole and Mickelson barely missed a long birdie try. Mickelon’s miss helped Long see the line for his career-changing putt. His 65th stroke of the day found the bottom of the hole.

Long, who was 20 over par in his previous five PGA TOUR starts, shot 26-under 262 on the Desert Classic’s three-course rotation. He shot 63 in the first and third rounds, then fired a 65 that was Sunday’s second-lowest score on PGA West’s tricky Stadium Course. Long, who started the final round three shots behind Mickelson, chipped in twice on the back nine. He didn’t make a bogey.

“I just kept plugging away and it was kind of the Phil and Adam Hadwin show for most of the way,” Long said. “Everyone was chanting Phil’s name most of the way and there are a lot of Canadians down here. I was just in the background.”

Not when it was time for the trophy ceremony. He was the last player left on the 18th green. Before the win, he was an alternate for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open. Now THE PLAYERS Championship, Sentry Tournament of Champions, Masters and PGA Championship are among the events he can add to his schedule.

Long leapt to 12th in the FedExCup standings. He started the week ranked 205th, ahead of just 13 players. The win was worth 500 points.

He began this week with just four FedExCup points after missing the cut in four of five starts this season. His best finish was T63 at the Safeway Open.

“He hit shot after shot and putted great, had a couple chip-ins and did what you had to do to win,” said Mickelson, who owns as many major titles (5) as TOUR starts Long had made before this week.

Hadwin was still three shots ahead after Long’s chip-in on the 12th hole. Hadwin played the final six holes in 1 over, though, while Long birdied half of the remaining holes. He holed a 5-footer for birdie on 14 before holing another chip on the next hole.

Then he birdied the last hole, an incredible finish for a player who admitted that just receiving the text with his final-round tee time gave him nerves.

Long didn’t look intimidated, though, when he birdied Sunday’s first two holes.

“Birdieing those first two really calmed a bit, like, ‘All right, I got this, I can compete, I can play, I belong,” Long said.

He’d spent nine years as a professional waiting for this moment. His only TOUR start before this season came at the 2011 U.S. Open. That was the same year that he won his only previous professional title, the Woodcreek Classic on the now-defunct Hooters Tour.

He estimates that the winner’s check was $25,000. He played his first Web.com Tour season the following year but finished 127th on the money list. He didn’t get back on that tour until 2015. He never doubted that he could make it, though.

“I wasn’t doing great, but I never really doubted it,” he said. ”I still wanted to play and I still loved it and I still wanted to see how good I could get.”

He became a PGA TOUR winner on Sunday. And it was worth the wait.

Source: pgatour.com

5 Tips To Help You Keep Your Golf Resolutions in 2019

The new year has arrived and a lot of you golfers out there might be uttering the words, “new year, new me.”

Most of us make New Year’s resolutions and, unfortunately, most of us fail to see them through for all 365 days.

If your resolution involved improving your golf game in 2019, here’s a list of things you can do every day/week — even if you’re in the bitter cold like a lot of folks right now — to help you achieve those goals.

And, once it warms up in your area, you can take all five of these drills outside.

5. Exercise. Yeah, we know. That’s what we should be doing every day anyway, right? But when it comes to golf, you don’t want to be tight. There are a number of stretches you can do right from your desk while reading emails that will benefit your arms, shoulders, neck, back, hips and legs for golf season.

Even better, place one of those handy, elastic, tension bands in the top drawer of your desk.

4. Take 100 swings per day in your house or garage… without a golf ball. The best players in the world visualize the shot they want to hit before they hit it. With a drill like this one, you’re going to be forced to visualize, because there’s no ball there to hit. If you’re able, place a mirror in front of you and pay attention to the positions of your address, takeaway, the top of your swing and impact position as well as follow through. Do it in slow motion. Become an expert on your swing.

3. Work on your chipping. Can’t do it outside? No worries. You can purchase a chipping net, or even put down a hula-hoop as a target. Get a few foam golf balls and a tiny turf mat to hit the balls off of.

Will it produce the same feel as a real golf ball? Of course not. But what it will do is force you to focus on a target and repeat the same motion over and over. After a long layoff, “touch,” is the first thing that goes for all golfers.

This will help you to work on some semblance of touch all winter long.

2. Practice your putting. Anywhere. All you need is a putter, a golf ball, a flat surface and an object — any object — to putt at. If you’re so inclined, rollout turf can be purchased for around $20 with holes cut out.

Since the greens are where you’re going to take most of your strokes, doesn’t it make sense to dial that in whenever possible? It can be fun too. Does your significant other, roommate, or child play? Have regular putting contests.

The feel you gain during those sessions may not seem like much, but man will they come in handy when your season begins on the real grass.

1. Make a weekly appointment with your PGA Professional. Even in areas of the country that are suffering through the cruelest of winter conditions, you can always find a place to hit golf balls inside. Contact your local PGA Professional to find out where places like this in your area exist. You might be surprised at all the options you have.

With your PGA Professional in tow, you can work on your swing throughout the winter months and keep your game sharp. How nice would it be to be on top of your game as soon as the courses in your area open in the spring?

Sourge: pga.com

There are times when we all make this game too complicated. That’s why I started this article with a simple thought: Send it, then hole it. I’m not saying golf is easy, but I find that if you simplify your keys to executing all the main shots, you’ll stop playing golf swing and start playing golf. The goal is to advance the ball and drop it in the cup in as few strokes as possible. That’s really hard to do if you’re bogged down with swing mechanics. Instead, have a clear plan for what you want to do on the next shot, get your alignment right, and then make a swing or putting stroke that’s smooth and balanced. I guarantee if you keep it that simple, you’ll give yourself a better chance of playing good golf. On this page, I’m going to give you some keys to hitting all the main shots. Easy stuff to remember so you can put more focus on your round and not your swing. Like my coach, Col Swatton, says, “Understanding that the golf course is where you should play, and the range is where you practice, is your first step to lowering your scores.” — With Ron Kaspriske

PUT YOURSELF IN POSITION FOR A GOOD DRIVE
With a driver, I’m thinking only about hitting the ball as hard as I can in the center of the clubface. If you want to do the same, remember these keys before you take the club back: 1.) Get in a good setup. Start with a wide stance, a slight knee bend, your weight equally distributed on both feet and not in the toes or heels, and let your arms hang naturally as you tilt toward the ball from the hips. 2.) Always check ball position. If it’s too far back in your stance, it will kill your chance of the club coming into it square and on the correct path. The same is true if it’s too far forward. I like the ball lined up just inside my left heel. 3.) Think, slow takeaway. A lot of amateurs take the club back too fast, and that causes them to decelerate on the downswing. Do the opposite. By keeping my tempo smooth and taking it back slower, I can be aggressive through the ball without my timing being off.

TREAT YOUR IRONS WITH CARE
No matter what iron I’m swinging, my process stays the same. Here are my keys: 1.) Set up neutral. I want to hit the ball high, low, left and right, so I try to be as neutral as possible with my setup and grip. If you set up to hit only one type of shot, that’s fine, but you might struggle if the situation calls for something other than your stock ball flight. 2.) Shorten your swing. Good iron play is about hitting down on the ball with the center of the face. I find that’s easiest to do if you go with a three-quarter shot instead of a full swing. Put the ball an inch back in your stance, cut your backswing down, and focus on solid contact—not hitting it as hard as you can. The ball will go five to 10 yards shorter than with a full swing, so remember to club up. 3.) Finish like a statue. To improve your tempo and rhythm, make a swing that lets you get into a balanced, wraparound position.

“IRON PLAY IS NOT ABOUT POWER. IT’S ABOUT PRECISION. PUT SOME SMOOTH IN YOUR SWING.”

GO BIG AROUND THE GREENS
Whether it’s a fringe chip or a pitch in tall grass, my three short-game keys don’t change. 1.) Focus on a spot in front of the ball. To avoid hitting it fat, you want the low point of the swing to be after it strikes the ball. This technique will help you get a nice, clean strike. 2.) Minimize wrist action. My chipping and pitching swings don’t have a lot of hinge. In fact, there’s very little elbow or wrist bend all the way through the shot. That makes it easier to make good contact and keep the clubface square with the target. 3.) Use the big muscles. It’s tempting to hit these shots using mostly your hands and arms, but your consistency will improve if you put some body into the shot. My shoulders rotate toward the target on the downswing, and my sternum is in front of the ball by the time the club strikes it.

PUTT WITH COMMON SENSE
My process on the greens has helped me become one of the best putters in the game. This is one area where the right type of practice will allow you to focus on line and speed when you play.

My keys: 1.) At address, get your eyes directly over the ball, and make sure your hands aren’t leaning the shaft too much forward, back, in or out. Your eye-and-hand positions greatly affect accuracy. 2.) Focus on path and face. A smooth-and-controlled stroke will help make sure the face is square with your putting line at impact. If you can’t roll it on the right line, nothing else matters. 3.) Overestimate. Amateurs often fail to give their putts enough break or speed to reach the hole. Varying your putting scenarios in your warm-up will help get a better feel for line and speed that day. But when in doubt, overestimate both. Give every putt a chance to go in, and you can bet some of them will.

Source: golfdigest.com

Six days into 2019 and there’s already a new World No. 1 in men’s golf. Brooks Koepka needed to finish in a two-way tie for eighth or better at the Sentry Tournament of Champions to hold on to the top spot that he had occupied for the past six weeks. But an opening-round 76 at the Plantation Course at Kapalua made that highly unlikely. Subsequent rounds of 70-73-69 left Koepka in 24th place.

Replacing Koepka is Justin Rose, who moves to No. 1 for the fourth time since he first ascended to the spot last September after the BWM Championship. That week, Rose earned the No. 1 ranking despite losing in a playoff to Keegan Bradley at Aronimink Golf Club. This week’s rise comes despite the fact that Rose skipped playing at Kapalua.

Had Rose competed in Hawaii, Koepka potentially could have held on to the top spot. But with Rose staying home, Koepka was in charge of the two men’s fate.

It’s the 10th time in the last 35 weeks that the No. 1 ranking has changed hands, the most volatile period since the OWGR’s inception in 1986.

Rose had the chance to knock off Koepka twice in the last month but fell one stroke short of passing him at the Hero World Challenge and the Indonesian Masters.

Neither Koepka or Rose are in the field next week at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Source: golfdigest.com

The end of the year is a time to look back and evaluate all that transpired in the previous 12 months, and though the internet is littered with “best of” lists, let’s be honest: a decent share of our assessments are based in regret—things that could have happened, that nearly happened, but in the end did not. Or, worse, terrible things that completely go against our greatest hopes. A year gone by is a graveyard. But the year ahead? That’s a sown field! Anything could happen, anything could grow, and it is far more fun to look forward with optimism than to look back in judgment.

So now that the calendar has flipped, let’s put an end to our sad reconciliations with 2018, and let our imaginations run wild. What follows are the 10 greatest things that could happen in golf in the coming year. Will they all transpire? Will any of them? The answer is, you can’t prove that they won’t.

1. There will be at least one incredible final round duel at a major
Like it or not, golf is the most anticlimactic spectator sport, and the major finishes we got in 2018 were typical. Rory McIlroy blowing up at Augusta and brief salvos from Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler fizzing out; Brooks Koepka snuffing out the field at the U.S. Open; Spieth laying a Sunday egg and nobody rising to Francesco Molinari’s challenge at the Open; Koepka snuffing out the field at the PGA. Real drama, good drama, is a rare commodity. The last really good two-man duel we had was probably Henrik Stenson vs. Phil Mickelson, but this year, let’s hope for even more. Let’s hope for something Arnie and Jack never quite gave us, and ditto for Tiger and Phil. Let’s hope the two best players in the world, whoever they are, face off in a Sunday showdown that lives up to and exceeds the hype.

2. Bryson DeChambeau will win a major championship
It’s time to face reality: Aside from Tiger Woods—who holds the title in perpetuity—Bryson DeChambeau is the most exciting person in golf right now. With Rory smack in the middle of his “pick-your-favorite-polite-synonym-for-choking” phase, and Spieth still mired in his technical woes, DeChambeau is the man who could rescue us from the Koepka doldrums. What sets him apart is that he has the game and the personality—he’s part brilliant scientist, part egotist, part snake-oil salesman, and all showman. He loves the stage, and judging by the polarizing reactions he provokes, the stage loves him back. It would be terrific for golf if he broke through at a major in 2019.

3. Tiger Woods will win a major championship
Well, yeah.

4. One of the new “Big Four” will win another major
A lot of major talk, I know! But majors really tend to overshadow everything else, especially in a non-Ryder Cup year, so you’ll have to deal with it. Earlier this year, I calculated that there are four young(ish) players with a faint-yet-not-entirely-unrealistic hope of reaching the vaunted 10 major mark: Koepka, Spieth, McIlroy and Justin Thomas. If you believe as I do that golf is better when familiar faces are winning majors, and better yet when at least one or two is chasing some kind of historical mark, than you should want one of these guys to take home another trophy.

5. The USGA will somehow top themselves in the “infuriate everyone” department
Watching professional golfers rage against the USGA for the most petty grievances imaginable is one of my favorite annual pastimes, and Phil Mickelson’s performance-art piece on the 13th green on Saturday last June at Shinnecock Hills (Title: “The Funniest Way For a Rich Guy to Pout”) was a highlight not just of that year, but any year. It will be incredibly disappointing if the USGA doesn’t up the ante. And frankly, driving a handful of whiners to say “they’ve lost the course” in their most solemn tones isn’t good enough. I want disappearing holes, or six-foot greens, or birds that are trained to pick up errant balls and fly them back to the tee. I want Mike Davis in a jester’s cap, dancing a jig on a raised platform every time a four-foot putt runs 15 feet past. Embrace your identity, USGA!

6. The International Team will win the Presidents Cup
The obvious reasoning behind this is that the Presidents Cup is a bore, it’s not going to be fun until the U.S. stops dominating. Unfortunately, that seems surpassingly unlikely since language barriers on the International side make a mockery of any “team” concept for the “rest of the world”. But I have another selfish reason I’d like to see the Americans stumble: the U.S. needs to hit rock bottom before it can start winning Ryder Cups, and in hindsight, after the Paris debacle, Gleneagles 2014 looks more and more like a false rock bottom. Everything that happened since has been band-aids on a massive festering wound, and until the wound itself is addressed (hint: it’s going to involve a ton of soul-searching and revolves around how we, as a country, conceive of team events in golf), history is just going to repeat itself. Which makes me an accelerationist, I guess, but my motive is genuine: let’s make the reality of team play unbearable until somebody has to fix the problem.

7. The U.S. will not suffer another Ryder Cup defeat
I need at least one thing on this list to come true, OK. This is not cheating, this is preparing for success.

8. The new PGA Tour schedule is going to work out amazingly for everyone
Seriously, I really think it will! The only real problem for the majors was that the PGA Championship lacked a bit of prestige, and from decent slogans like “glory’s last shot” to achingly desperate ones like “this is major!”, nothing really caught on. However, the PGA’s move to May is genius—nobody’s burned out on golf, you can ride those sweet Masters tailwinds, and your stock inevitably goes up … right? No other big tournament suffers for it, either, and in fact the Players benefits from getting to go first. At a time when professional sports leagues seem to be in a constant state of foot-in-mouth, it’s weirdly thrilling to see PGA Tour absolutely nail it, and I hope it’s as good in reality as it looks in conception.

9. Someone extremely cool will emerge
Maybe it’s Cam Champ? I don’t know, but I’m longing for a dynamic figure to throw down the gauntlet this year. Some combination of Tiger and Miguel Angel Jimenez, but young. Someone like we momentarily thought Brooks Koepka might be, until he turned out be either boring or resentful, depending on the day. Someone like Sergio, but without the debilitating neuroses. Someone like Phil, but with an ounce of impulse control. You get the point.

10. The “ball goes too far” brigade will be slightly less tiresome
Look, I’m not saying they don’t have a point. But it’s a little like complaining about how the Internet has destroyed society in 2019—you’re absolutely right, but you’re also years and years too late. Nothing’s changing now, amigos! You’re the proverbial old man yells at cloud meme! Enjoy the bombs!

Source: golfdigest.com

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I’m coming off a recent win at the CIMB Classic, and my iron game into the par 5s was a big reason I got it done. For the week, I played the par 5s at TPC Kuala Lumpur in 14 under par. That should get it done any week on tour. Most everyday players, however, loathe their long and middle irons and are reluctant to use them. That’s unfortunate, because these clubs are valuable tools. Whether you’re going for the green in two, trying to hit a green in regulation on a 200-yard par 3, or looking to run one up on a long par 4, let me help you rethink avoiding these clubs. I’ll take you through my strategy and swing thoughts with them and have you playing the longer holes better in no time. — with E. Michael Johnson


DECLARE YOUR INTENTIONS
Because amateurs typically have low expectations with longer irons, I’ve seen a lot of them get careless with these shots. Try to be more thoughtful. First, your goal should be to pick a conservative target so you’ll feel better about making an aggressive swing. Next, check your alignment. Some players set up to something closer than their actual target, but that doesn’t work for me. I focus on where I want the ball to end up, and I set up to make that happen by taking shot shape into consideration. For example, if there is water on the left and the pin is in the middle or the right side of the green, I’ll go at the flag. But if the pin is near the water, I’ll aim away from the trouble and try to work the ball back toward the green. Remember what I said about aggressive swings toward conservative targets. You never want to hit toward trouble and hope it curves away. What if you hit the dreaded straight shot?

TAKE YOUR TIME
Timing is super important. If it’s off, you’re not going to hit the ball very well. You’re better off swinging slower and making sure everything is moving in the right downswing order—body, arms, hands, then club. If you ever watch me swing a long iron, you’ll notice that although I’m about to hit a long shot, the shaft of my club does not reach parallel at the top. Don’t get me wrong; I make a good turn, and my arms are extended away from my body—that’s a good feeling to have—but the point is, I’m not overswinging. The tendency with longer irons is to put more effort into the shot than you would if you were swinging a pitching wedge. But if you swing these clubs just like your short irons, your timing will be a lot better. You’ll also have a better chance of making centerface contact, which matters most when swinging these clubs. This is especially true into the wind, so take your time.

APPROACH CONFIDENTLY
If you want to hit one flush with a middle or long iron, don’t swing down too steeply. It’s a bad habit of mine, and I see it a lot from everyday players. It’s as if the swing thought is to trap the ball. Instead, you want the club coming in on a shallower approach so it can sweep the ball off the fairway—or even a low tee. This will produce crisp contact, a higher launch angle for better distance, and the height needed to get the shot to stop on the green. Good weight distribution is vital. When I’m too steep, it’s usually because I have too much weight on my left side as I start down. That pitches my body toward the target and prompts a steeper angle. But if some of my weight stays on the right side, I’m in business. Another benefit to being shallow is good extension of the arms, which improves contact and power. Trust me, you’ll hit it a lot better with extension than if you’re swinging with “crocodile arms.”

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