Robert Rock surprises Tiger Woods in final round at HSBC Golf Championship in Abu Dhabi

By Paul Mahoney

Unheralded Englishman Robert Rock seemed to be headed for a time warp Sunday against Tiger Woods, who showed signs of returning to top form in the first three rounds of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Instead, it was a Rocky horror show for Tiger.

Rock went head-to-head with his hero in the final round and held his nerves and swing together to post 70 for a 13-under total, one shot clear of Rory McIlroy and two ahead of Woods, Thomas Bjorn and Graeme McDowell.

Rock, a 34-year-old former driving range pro who began the week as the world’s 117th best golfer, offered further proof that Woods’s aura is not what it used to be. Rock had only one victory (2011 Italian Open) in his previous 905 events, and this modest everyman with a solid swing won $450,000 for his efforts.

As for the red-shirted former Superman, his comeback suffered a setback in the desert. After hitting 46 of 54 greens in regulation and 26 of 42 fairways in the first three rounds, Woods hit just six­­­ greens and two of 14 fairways in the final round. He finished with an even-par 72.

“Today I was just a touch off,” Woods said. “I was hitting the ball a little further than I thought I would. So, something to look at, to try and figure out.”

Woods was happy with his putting, though, and he seemed to be getting his touch back on the greens, which often takes a while after a break.

“I was right in there with a chance to win and didn’t do it, but I’m pleased with my progress,” Woods said. “Just need to keep building, keep getting more consistent.”

Rock sounded slightly overwhelmed after his round.

“I was just very happy to be playing Tiger Woods today, and that’s a special honor in itself,” Rock said. “It’s been a steady progression from when I finished work in the golf shops, and I worked hard at my game, but I didn’t think this would happen.”

He needn’t have worried about holding his own. Rock was as solid as his surname from the start, blasting his tee shot on the first and then posting birdies at the second and third.

Woods did show some vintage form early. At the par-5 second, he missed the fairway left, thrashed out of the rough, landed beneath a tree and then scuttled one along to the fringe. Woods calculated the lag putt from 50 feet but delivered nothing quite so ordinary. He set his ball on its path and called it home from five feet out, chasing it down with a one-armed salute and his putter raised to the heavens like Jack Nicklaus at the 1986 Masters. A Tiger roar rose up from the crowds. It was classic Woods, and he did it again at the par-4 third, slashing an iron out of the rough from 147 yards to gimme length. He was two under for the day through three holes.

Rock would have doffed his cap, if he had one. He prefers to feel the breeze blowing his thick mop, and after his performance this week, a contract with a hair-product company can’t be too far away. His look brings back the good old days of the capless Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo, who played in the days before golfers became walking billboards.

Woods is always capable of the spectacular, but he was fighting his swing, and some old bad habits resurfaced Sunday. He was missing left with woods and irons; the hook was back. The consistency he showed in the first three rounds deserted him, and his frustration boiled over in an F-bomb explosion as his 8-iron veered left at the par-3 fourth, where he made bogey. He also bogeyed the par-4 fifth before a birdie on nine gave him 35 on the front. Rock went out in 34.

Still, the back nine was where Rock figured to be rudely awakened from his dream as Woods or McIlroy left him reeling in their slipstream. It never happened. Rock seemed to foretell the story when, waiting on the 10thtee, he was disturbed by what he thought was a marshal walking toward him.

“But it was Tiger walking back, and I shouted, ‘Stand still, please,’” Rock said, laughing. “That was embarrassing.”

His request worked better than Rock ever could have imagined, as Woods seemed to stand still for the entire back nine. He didn’t make a single birdie and had to fight his swing and his patience to finish tied for third.

Runner-up McIlroy, who played with Woods the first three days, will surely rue the two-shot penalty he incurred on Friday for brushing sand off the green. Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world, who played with Woods and McIlroy the first two rounds, had a poor week with new clubs and finished one under, tied for 48th.

Rock was teary-eyed after his unlikely victory. “Pretty hard to believe I won,” he said. “I was struggling a bit just because I was playing with Tiger, but I managed to cope with it. He was a pleasure to play with. He was really cool. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

He’ll never have the chance. He was reminded that in 30 years time he’ll be sitting in the pub saying, “I beat Tiger Woods.” Rock laughed. “I hope so, yeah.”

Woods’s next test comes in two weeks at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

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Ping i20 Driver

By: David Dusek

Hidden underneath a black, matte finish that looks like it was taken off a stealth fighter, the Ping i20 driver, the company’s newest offering for better-players, is made using three different materials.

The body is cast from a titanium alloy that has been infused with aluminum to make it lighter. Ping engineers shifted the weight saved by blending the aluminum and titanium together and moved it into two tungsten pads located in the back sections of the sole.

Marty Jertson, Ping Golf’s Senior Design Engineer, says moving the weight to those spots helps to improve the clubs moment of inertia and make it more resistant to twisting on off-center hits. Those weight pads also shift more of the head’s overall weight away from the face, which helps to create a higher initial launch angle. Ping also says that the club produces less spin than its predecessor, the i15.

While the i20 offers a 460-cc head, Jertson says that the club is more aerodynamic than the i15, which should mean more power for golfers off the tee.

“With the same amount of energy, the same amount of input, you are able to get more velocity from the club head,” Jertson says. That clubhead velocity should translate directly into more ball speed and longer shots.

While the i20 is not adjustable like many drivers on the market today, golfers who like to maneuver the ball around the course should appreciate its neutral weighting and square face at address. Whether you prefer to hit a draw or a fade, the clubhead won’t fight you.

As you might expect in a driver designed for big hitters, the i20 is only available in three lofts—8.5°, 9.5° and 10.5°. It comes standard with either a low-spinning Ping TFC 707D shaft or a Project X Black shaft and costs $385.

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Golf & Business? Go Together Like A Horse & Carriage!

By: Bobby Lopez, PGA

I guess it doesn’t have the same ring that the Sinatra song had but it’s accurate. Golf is the game of business. More deals are closed in a golf course club house or through the relationships cultivated while playing golf than with any other endeavor.

There are a couple of reasons for this. One, even though in America the game of golf has spilled over to the “common man”, having lowered the costs through municipal golf courses, daily fee courses and other like facilities the is not as common in other countries, especially Europe. Golf is still considered the game of kings and royalty. It is still considered a prestigious game. Outside the US golf is expensive.

Two, the game of golf is difficult to play well, takes four and a half hours to play and has a built it social factor by including lunch after nine holes in a fancy clubhouse and then drink afterwards. In America you include the golf cart which allows you to schmooze your prospective client all the way around the golf course for the entire four and a half hours. As if that’s not enough, golf is also the only game I know that you can play with a drink in your hand! In fact golf courses jockey up to get the best looking beer cart ladies in hopes of attracting more golfers.

Now that we know that golf is the game of business how does one improve their bottom line through this advantageous endeavor? Let me offer some tips for those that play golf and those who don’t. Yes even those who don’t play golf and take advantage of the golf market. I’ll also offer some tips on how to market to golfers directly.

First for those who play golf, if you are going to take your clients out to play golf make sure you are at least proficient enough to score 90 – 95. If you’re shooting over a hundred you’ll be doing more harm than good. The old adage of letting your client always win is not true. He/she will loose respect for you. In fact having a good golf game and beating the pants off your client will gain not only their respect but their admiration. Good golf equals “talent” in your client’s mind.

Most importantly if you have a bad day DON’T SHOW IT! Don’t let your golf game influence the mood! Just apologize for having a bad day, pick up your ball if you’ve hit it too many times to not slow up the pace and laugh it off.

If you are shooting consistently over 90 – 95 then you need to look at taking some professional instruction and work on your game a little before attempting to do business “with your golf game” on clients.

For those who aren’t playing well enough or do not play at all and want to take advantage of impressing a golf client may I suggest you do the following, explain to your client you love golf but are not proficient enough as yet but you’re working on it and would love to play with them once you do. Find the better golf course in your area and offer them as a gift two (2) cart & green fees to that golf course. Yes make sure you get two or he/she might never use the gift. Just hope they don’t take your competitor, (that’s why you should learn how to play). Another very good choice is to inquire about a nine hole playing lesson at a golf course. Getting your client a playing lesson with a PGA pro may not cost anymore than the two cart & green fees and be more impressive. Of course you need to do your home work here and make sure the pro you choose has an excellent reputation.

Another very good choice is to purchase your client some golf balls. If you have the chance to ask your client what ball they prefer get them that very golf ball. If you don’t have the chance may I suggest getting the Titleist V1star. They might be a little pricey but you’ll come off like a champ.

If you have a product you would like to market to golfers, you’ll find that golfers are easy to get to. Any good direct mail house that rents lists can rent you very specific lists by income, number of rounds played etc. There are internet companies that do the same for email blasts. These are double opt-in emails so you’re not sending spam.

You’ll also find tons of web sites that offer advertising space on a pay per click basis as well as Google ads with keywords that relate to golf.

Almost every town has a small golf related magazine or newspaper that is circulated around golf courses. Visit a few golf courses in your area and look around the club house. Usually the stated materials are in the pro shop or dining area or the front door as you exit for golfers to pick up.

Golfers are generally a higher income demographic. Only about 12 – 15% of the population in America plays golf but they’re worth going after and easy to find through their common interest – GOLF!

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What Does That Mean? Ambiguities in Golf Terminology

by Mark Blakemore, PGA Professional

Golf lingo is something that you pick up over time, just by being around the game. But there are some terms or phrases thrown about that might be confusing until you get used to them. I learned most of these things as a junior player, so it is easy for me to take it all for granted now. But here are some clarifications on some things that people tend to wonder about and that I am asked about from time to time. I’m not basing this on any authoritative golf history or lexicon — there may not even be any for this kind of stuff — it’s just how I absorbed it in the process.

Choking up, choking down (altering hand position up or down on the grip)

My first experience with the phrase “choke up” came at about age 9, in organized recreational baseball. It seems pretty clear that on a baseball bat (which is generally upright in a player’s ready position) the “bottom” is the handle, or grip end, and the “top” is the meat or wide end. Therefore, if you wanted to make the length of the bat or lever shorter you would choke up (move your hands more toward the top).

But on a golf club, you’d probably think of the grip as the top and the club head as the bottom. Therefore the same idea, shortening the length, might be more intuitively thought of as choking down, rather than up. But it’s the same thing. Whether you call it choking up or choking down it means moving your hands to make the lever shorter.

Inside the leather

This is an old expression referring to putters and how close the ball is to the hole — whether or not it is close enough to be “a gimme” (conceded as holed without actually going to the trouble of putting it in) in casual play.

The word inside tends to mean closer than and outside farther than. So inside the leather would mean closer than the the leather. Ah, but from which end? Many people ask, “Does that mean from the top end of the grip to where the shaft starts or from the club head to where the grip starts?” It means the latter. Inside the leather is generally thought of as the ball being less than (inside) the distance from the club head to where the grip* starts and it is typically measured by hooking the end of the putter in the lip of the cup, similarly to if you were hooking the tab of a tape measure on the lip. (It’s probably best not to do this, and I recommend against it. But if you do be gentle, and very careful not to chew up the edge of the cup or any of the green’s surface!)

Of course, unless everybody is using the same length putter as a measuring device this is an inequitable practice anyway. Can’t you just see somebody with one of those long putters trying this? smile

Club up, club down

The easiest way to differentiate clubbing “up” from clubbing “down” is to think about it in terms of the distance that the club provides. If you wanted to club up from a 7 iron the next step would be a 6 iron, as it provides more distance than (is up from) a 7. You could get confused if you thought of it in terms of the club’s number (i.e., a 7 is up from a 6 in that sense). Clubbing up could also be referred to as taking “more club” or using a “stronger” club, as clubbing down could be referred to as taking “less club” or using a “weaker” club.

Why would you want to club up or down? Take the simple example of playing into the wind. Let’s say you are 150 yards away and normally from that distance you would hit a 7 iron. But the wind is blowing toward you, so your 7 iron will not travel its usual distance. You need to club up (choose a club that provides more distance to compensate for the wind), perhaps to a 6 iron. But wait, what if it is a “three-club wind?” Here’s an opportunity for us to clarify another idea. Pretty simple really: however strong the wind is, there is an appropriate adjustment to make in terms of how much you club up or down… well, until the wind gets so strong that you give up and head back in to the clubhouse. So if we have a three-club wind it means that the adjustment we’ll need to make in order to get the right distance will be three clubs, or say from a 7 to a 4, if you’re playing into the wind – that’s a pretty substantial wind. smile How much you need to club up or down in any given situation varies from player to player, like a lot of other things, and is something you learn from your experience.

OUT/IN, front/back, first/second

On many, if not most, scorecards you see boxes for your 9-hole score total labeled OUT and IN. Sometimes people wonder what that’s about. The deal here is pretty obvious, once you realize that “the home of golf,” St. Andrews in Scotland (where the whole “18 holes” thing originated) was laid out in such a way that the first 9 holes of the course went “out” (away from) where the first hole started and kept going farther away until “the turn,” and then the second 9 holes came back “in” to the place where the course began. That’s a pretty simple way to lay out a golf course, don’t you think?

Most golf courses are not made that way nowadays, but there are some. Pebble Beach is one notable example. When courses are not designed that way they most typically go out away from and return to the clubhouse on each 9 holes, so in most cases front/back nine or first/second nine makes more sense than out/in, but it may still say out and in on the score card – just another of those traditional things that adds flavor to the game.

Up to par?

Under par is actually good… isn’t it? On a given day your golf performance might be sub par (worse than your usual) even though your score was above par. So then you would be over par, but not up to par, and certainly not better than par. Right? [chuckle] On the other hand, you could be not feeling up to par, even though your score was under par. You’d be sub par in both senses, in that case, but would you be happy about it?

Okay, enough. To be clear, then, if you’re talking about your score “sub par”, “under par” or “below par” are all GOOD. But if you are talking about your health, the way you feel, or your swing or stroke being below par that is NOT good, as it means you are not doing as well as you usually do.

It’s interesting to see what the dictionary has to say about par (excerpt from Webster)

  1. the established value of the monetary unit of one country expressed in terms of the monetary unit of another country using the same metal as the standard of value
  2. common level, equality
  3. a. an amount taken as an average or norm
    b. an accepted standard; e.g., a usual standard of physical condition or health
  4. the score standard for each hole of a golf course

We’re mainly discussing definitions 3 and 4 above. But it is important for golfers to realize that number 4 leaves out a critical distinction. Par is mistake-free play for a scratch golfer. So the score standard is not based on average golfers, but on highly skilled golfers.


There certainly may be other (maybe many other) ambiguous terms or phrases in golf. If you know of any others let me know, and if I get enough I will either update this article or post another one. And don’t forget to check my golf glossary, too. It has almost 700 golf words and phrases in it.

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Hit and Hold the Finish to Become a Better Putter

By Mel Sole

I play most of my golf with friends, students or members of Pawleys Plantation, and the most common cause I see for missed putts is movement. Golfers (including myself sometimes) are too keen to see where the ball is going and thus we “come out” of our original posture.

The small photo at the top right clearly demonstrates what I see every week while taping students during the putting class. They are unaware and amazed at how much they move during putting. As you can see by my shoulder position, this “coming out” or “straightening up” makes the shoulders open up too soon, causing the putter head path to move to the left and resulting in a closed clubface. Most putts are missed on the left.Go to the practice green and consciously be aware of your posture position as you line up your putt.

After you have struck your putt “hold” the follow through (as in the middle and bottom photos) for at least six seconds to give you time to check the following factors:

• 1. Is your body still in its original address position?
• 2. Is the putter head path still on line to the target?
• 3. Is the putter face still square to your target?

If any of these three things are not present you are losing shots due to missed putts. This “hit and hold” position will help you check if all is well with your putting stroke. Remember: no movement!

(You can see what I’m talking about by paying attention to the professionals next time you watch a pro golf event on television.)

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Power Draws & Power Fades

Alter your setup for shot control

By Jeff Yurkiewicz


Here’s a drill that will help you hit a big sweeping hook. First aim the clubface down the target line. From there, make sure your upper body is parallel to the target line. Now turn your lower body 45° closed. The reason you do this is to stop your left side from turning through the shot. That will force you to release the golf club.

Another key factor to consider is ball position. Place it just in front of your left toe, so it’s actually in the center of your body, opposite your shirt buttons. The result from such an extreme setup? A big, sweeping hook that’ll teach you how to release the clubhead! Now, take that feeling and apply it to less extreme shots.


In the left and right photos, I’m demonstrating how to hit a slight fade and draw. (In the middle, I’m demonstrating how to hit a straight shot.) Basically, the same rules apply whether you want to hit a draw or a fade—all you have to do is the opposite to produce the desired result. First notice how my clubface is aiming straight down the line at the target and how my body lines (feet, waist, shoulders) are aiming either slightly to the left or right. From there, I swing along my body lines. I keep my clubface where it is but swing as if I’m hitting the ball to the left or right. This starts the ball out to the left or right and then, because the clubface is aiming straight, brings the ball back on that line. Nothing fancy here, just a sound setup that produces a curving ballflight.

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Golf Tips – The Perfect Swing – Reality or Myth?

By Thomas Tetrault

Most golf instructors, with few exceptions, will agree that the perfect golf swing is a myth. All you have to do is look at the variety of different swings on the PGA and LPGA tour each weekend on television. The swings may look different but they have some common elements. First, they all start with good basics: Grip, Aim and Setup. Most importantly, the swing repeats itself every time. There are players who have success on tour with funny looking swings. It is because the swings repeat each time from constant practice. Also, they have confidence that their swing will work.

The golf swing can be simple but is often complicated by too much thinking. A good golf swing starts with good rhythm. You can’t make a good forward swing unless you take your time going back to set up proper rhythm and motion. A swing that is too fast back, usually has the club and body working against each other and helps create poor shots. The object of the golf swing is to create speed on the downswing – not the back swing. A fast backswing will create bad motion and a hands dominated swing that will be hard to repeat. Take the club away slow for better motion and rhythm. Because the backswing sets up the downswing, we will discuss it first.

A good backswing starts with the arms – not the hands. You don’t want to pick the club up at takeaway. You want to draw it away in a one-piece motion. As the club starts back, the left shoulder and hips should turn naturally to allow weight to transfer to the right side. The hands should begin to set at waist high. As the club continues to the top, the shoulders should continue to turn. At the top it is important to have the hands set but not broken down. Overswinging at the top will create negative club speed and inconsistent swings.

Now that we’ve talked about the backswing, let’s talk about the downswing. The object of the downswing is to return the clubhead to the ball with maximum controllable speed. Just as too fast of a backswing is no good, too hard of a downswing can also cause bad golf shots. There are many theories on what should start the downswing. I find that most players who think about pulling with their left arm from the top will create a more consistent swing with all body parts working together. Many players from watching the tour players tend to try to lead the downswing with the left side, and as a result slide ahead of the ball at impact causing weak slicing shots.

To complete the swing you must have a good finish. The finish in the golf swing, unlike in baseball, needs to be high, not left. We find most beginners find it more natural to finish low and left causing topped shots and difficult to get the ball airborne. The clubface needs to stay square for several inches after impact to create proper flight on the ball. Also, in the finish the weight that you transferred to the right side in the backswing now must transfer to the left side. With a good finish your right knee should face the target, right foot up so all spikes are visible, and hands high close to your left ear.

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Simple Golf Slice Fixes To Cure Your Slice Golf Swing

By: Mike T Pedersen

The most common swing fault in golf is a slice. Learning simple golf slice fixes is the approach to take to cure your slice fast and painlessly. So many golfers struggle with this humiliating ball flight, and yet it’s so easy to fix it, it’ll make you sick to your stomach.

The cause of a golf slice is either an “out-to-in” golf swing, or an open face at impact. There are many causes of either of these swing faults, but correcting them is easy.

Strengthen Your Grip To Hit A Draw

If you’re a slicer, then take a look at your grip. More than likely your left hand is in a weak position, which means it’s more to your left when you look down at it.

To hit a draw, just bring your left hand over more to the right so you can see up to 3 knuckles of your left hand. This will encourage your clubface to close faster and easier through impact, giving your ball a draw spin.

Drop Your Arms And Club To Start Your Downswing

A slicer has an upper body move with the right shoulder coming over the top which gets the clubshaft outside the target line, making it cut across the ball, giving it sidespin that makes it bend to the right.

When you start your downswing, think of your arms, hands and club dropping right away. This will encourage your right shoulder to go down and under, instead of over.

Golf tips for coming over the top in your golf swing will quickly cure your golf slice. You’ll soon be drawing the ball and getting more roll when it hits.

If you want to fix your slice, getting your club on plane coming down will help immensely. Using a golf swing plane trainer will give you the feel of a correct, on plane downswing while you’re hitting balls.

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Tiger Woods moves to 50th in rankings

Bolstered by a third-place finish at the Australian Open on Sunday, Tiger Woods rose in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time in seven months.

Woods, who carded a final-round 67 and came within a shot of the lead on the back-nine Sunday in Sydney, now stands 50th in the world. He started the week 58th.

The last time Woods headed north in the rankings came on April 10, 2011 after he finished tied for fourth at the Masters.

The former world No. 1 is playing this week at the Presidents Cup, where no rankings points will be awarded. However, the following week Woods tees it up at the Chevron World Challenge that he hosts in Southern, Calif. Although the field size is small, world rankings points are awarded.

Luke Donald continued his hold on the No. 1 spot in the world rankings with Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Steve Stricker rounding out the top five.

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