Jack Nicklaus, Host of the Memorial Tournament, presented by Nationwide Insurance.

Jack Nicklaus, is the host this week, for the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, presented by Nationwide Insurance. These are some of his comments at the news conference.

He was initially asked if he would like to make a couple opening remarks. This is what Jack had to say about his great tournament and great golf course;

Well, opening remarks, opening remarks. Anything else?                                                                                                                                                       No, I think, first of all, welcome. Nice to have you all here again. Secondly, when they talk about the golf tournament, the golf tournament is; the golf course is good, as it always is. Paul Latshaw and his crew have done a good job, as usual. We all had an early spring, as you know, and we popped a little poa annua out there, but that’s; outside of having to look a little bit at it, it doesn’t affect anything as it relates to golf. But the golf is really good.”

“I think we’ve got an opportunity for the first time in a long time, and I think we’ll probably have for the next two days anyway, pretty fast conditions. Right, Paul? Which is one out of every 20 years we get fast conditions this time of year. But I think that’s good for the golf course. It’s good for the tournament. It’s good to see these guys play the golf course rather than in a soft fashion.”

“But there’s another reason why the golf course is fast. Paul has put, what, nine miles of drainage in it? About nine miles of drainage into the golf course over the last four years. Even when we have rain now the golf course drains very, very rapidly.”

“The 16th hole, which we did a year ago, has matured nicely. It plays well. The green obviously last year was a new green, so it’s probably a little firmer than what the others are now. It’ll still play quick because it was designed to have the green run away from you, so the guys will say maybe it doesn’t hold as well. Well, it does hold as well, it’s just my sight that gets in there, having the green designed away. But anyway; and then the driving range, which I don’t know whether you’ve seen it or not, but the driving range, if it isn’t state of the art now, I don’t think it’s ever going to get state of the art. It’s pretty good. They spent a lot of time on it last fall. We changed our east chipping green, took that out and put it over; put two greens over on the west side, and we took the tees all around. We reoriented the practice tee.”

“The biggest problem we worried about over time was; first of all, the thing that started us to do the driving range was the drainage. If you went out there, and when they did it, Paul has got a little book, I’m sure he’ll be happy to show it to you if you want to see it, of the balls he found out there, Ryder Cup matches, Solheim Cup matches. You wouldn’t believe what was buried out there under the soil where it was wet. Anyway, the drainage started it, and then we decided we wanted to make sure we contain the ball. Our driving range before was 286 yards straight ahead down from where the master tee was, so we moved it around to the left and now we’re 318 yards going up from that tee to the end, and we raised the east tee up high and put a barrier behind it for people walking in. Bubba may hit it over it, but he’s got to pop it pretty good. But anyway, it’s really nice, got some great target greens, some bunkers. It’s really nice.”

“We’re getting ready to do after; you’ve seen the hole over here at the outside of the players’ entrance. There’s a hole over there which is the start of a cart barn fitness center, and we’re changing; and then we start the week after the tournament, doing a total renovation of the clubhouse and the clubhouse will be ready for next year.”

“We’re doing a lot of different things here that we think are interesting. The hospitality has changed here. The hospitality has moved from, not moved, but we used to have the CBS compound between 10, 18 and 14, and that compound has been moved out over to the Country Club, and we ended up creating hospitality in that area over there.”

“It was kind of funny, I went down to Augusta this year, and I went over and saw how nice the Berkman’s Place thing they did behind No.5. I thought, that is really neat. They’ve really done a great job with that. What a great way to utilize an area and create some hospitality. I came back here and told our guys, Guys, we need to do something like that. They said, Jack, you approved it at the last board meeting. I said, What? Yeah, we went through it last board meeting. Before you knew about Augusta we approved it. I said, Aha, I knew we had good ideas here.” (Laughter.) “Anyway, we did that, and that’ll actually be a nice addition to it.”

“The field is excellent, as you know. We always have a good field. I guess that’s enough opening remarks.”

Sounds like the guys at Muirfield Village have been pretty busy, I am certain the tournament will benefit from all the up grades, looking forward to it.

Memorial Tournament, Bubba Is back. Luke is also there.

Expert Picks: the Memorial

Luke Donald, Halleran/Getty Images

Luke Donald tee’s it up on the tenth at 0804 in the Nationwide Insurance, Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village as the reigning World Number One. On the tee with him will be the man he deposed of that title, Rory McIlroy. Rory has missed the cut in his previous two starts and will surely be out to prove to Luke, and the rest of the golfing world, that he is still a serious contender for the number one spot. To keep the two of them company over the first eighteen holes is American Keegan Bradely,  the reigning PGA champion.

Enjoying a late morning call will be Bubba Watson, 1305 off number one tee, he won the Masters ten days after becoming an adoptive father but is now back, playing for the first time since defending his title in New Orleans a month ago. He will play alongside Rickie Fowler, who picked up his breakthrough victory earlier this year at the Wells Fargo Championship. Rickie was also the runner-up at Muirfield Village in 2010. Third member of this group is Phil  Mickelson, a recent inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Phil has finished 20th or better six times, he is no slouch when it comes to this course.

Following Luke Donald on the tenth tee, at 0815 is Tiger Woods, a four-time Memorial champion, he won three straight Memorial titles after Fred Couples picked up his only victory at Muirfield Village in 1998., Fred Couples joins him on the tee. Making up the three ball will be Bill Haas, who won the Northern Trust Open earlier this year.

Steve Stricker, 1254 on the first tee, the defending Champion will partner the previous champion in Justin Rose, who currently leads the European Tour’s Race to Dubai , and also has plenty of momentum after finishing second in England last week at the BMW PGA Championship, played on the West Course at Wentworth. Third in this group is Hunter Mahan, who proudly stands in second place  in the FedExCup. He is one of two players who have won twice  in 2012 after winning the World Golf Championships, Accenture Match Play Championship and the Shell Houston Open.

 Another player returning to golf action in this weeks Memorial Tournament is the big hitting Dustin Johnson, but returning from injury and seriously contending for a coveted title over four days is hard graft, but good luck to Dustin.

Zach Johnsons Master Class

Champ: Johnson shows off his trophy

Winner, Zach Johnson survived a two-shot penalty to take victory.

Zach Johnson forgot to replace his ball marker to the correct position, after Jason Dufner has asked him to move it on the last green at Colonial, a schoolboy error which cost him a two shot penalty. He won by just one shot from Jason. Zach said;

“There is number of adjectives that I am calling myself right now, and lucky would be the biggest one I can think of.”

Zach has given a report to Golf Digest where he explains some drills that will help you strike to ball correctly, this is what he had to say;

When I’m hitting the ball great, I know my arms and body are matching up well. But sometimes my body takes over at the start of the downswing. That’s when I can hit some crooked shots. I want my arms to pull my body, not the other way around, in both directions–swinging back and swinging down.

That’s probably different from what you’ve heard, with all the talk these days about turning the body. The reality is, most golfers have too much body turn and not enough arm swing as they start down. For me, it’s my hips that turn too fast. That spins my body open and pushes the club to the outside, so I swing across the ball and hit pulls and fades. For many amateurs, the problem isn’t the hips but the shoulders opening too fast. The result is the same: The body races out of sequence, the arms lag behind, and the club cuts across the ball.

To groove your downswing, here are a couple of thoughts: (1) Keep your back to the target for as long as possible, and (2) feel like your chest is facing the ball at impact. These cues will get your arms swinging down in front of you instead of being dragged through by an overactive body. Give them a try, and check out my two downswing drills.
Get in your setup, take it to the top and practice swinging the club halfway down and stopping. Repeat this a few times and–here’s the key–don’t let your hips start unwinding. You’ll feel your arms come down in front of you. After a while, hit some balls: Swing to the top, pump down twice and on the third time go ahead and rip it. This drill will activate your arms.

Here’s a great way to train your body to feel proper impact. Take your address with an iron, and then mimic a good impact position. Push the handle forward, shift your weight to your front foot, get up on the toes of your back foot. Your hips should be open but your chest facing the ball (below). Really feel that position, then repeat it when you swing. Learn to master impact by posing these positions: weight left, hips open, shaft leaning forward.

Learn More at http://www.golfdigest.com/golf-instruction/2012-01/zach-johnson-downswing-drills#ixzz1wCqBdop7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crowne Plaza Invitational @ Colonial, Zach Johnson Wins

TOUR Report: Final round

Zach and Jason Halleran/Getty Image

Zach Johnson, the good Christian won the Crowne Plaza Invitational on Pentecost Sunday, well done Zach. There was a moment of controvsey after Zach had maded his final putt. Jason had masked him to move his marker from the putting line, and in the heat of the moment zach forgot to replace the marker to it’s original position, he incurred a two shot penalty. That meant he acutally only won the tournament by one shot from Jason. A sad day for Zach’s caddy, Damien whose father passed away in Pensacola, aged 88.

Jason Dufner did not have such a good round and finally fell over taking a triple bogey 7 at the par four 15th hole, effectively handing the title to Zach, in the two horse race.

BMW PGA Championship, Luke Donald wins, and Regains World #1 Ranking

Luke Donald BMW PGA Champion  (Getty Images)

Luke Donald BMW PGA Champion (Getty Images

Luke Donald successfully defended his title and retained his BMW PGA Championship title at the Wentworth Club in Surrey England, on Sunday. In doing so he also returned to the number one spot in the World Golf Rankings. This victory makes him only the third player, Sir Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie are the other two,  who have won The European Tour’s flagship event two years in a row.

Luke had a last round of -4 under par, 68 for a tournament total of  -15 under par. Justin Rose put up a good fight, and even drew level with Luke after four holes of the last round on Sunday. That event seemed to galvanize Luke’s thinking, and he then accelerated away to go clear once more.

This was Luke’s first ever successful title defense, he was very pleased with everything today;

 “What a great one to do it at. This is our biggest event on The European Tour. To come and defend and get back to number one is very sweet indeed. I was just trying to keep my head down and plug away. I was swinging well and I’ve putted well all week. I just needed to settle down a bit. This is a big week and I felt some of the pressure. After the fourth I didn’t give him (Justin) another hole where he was teeing off first other than the 18th. I got the job done.  I take a great amount of satisfaction. It means I am doing the right things, the hard work is paying off and I have a great team around me.”

Luke’s next meeting with Rory McIlroy will be at the Memorial tournament in Ohio starting on Thursday, but it is the US Open Championship in San Francisco on June 14 that his sights are now on. If he continues to play like this there is a good chance a first Major could well be his.

Justin Rose had to settle for share of second place, on -11 under par, with Paul Lawrie, who finished his tournament with a sizzling -6 under par 66, for the same Sunday total.

Justin was asked what he felt the difference was between him and Luke on the day, he replied;

“Luke’s putter really. He buried a lot of putts in the middle of the round and there were no loose shots coming down the stretch.”

Paul Lawrie has moved up in the rankings from world number 272 a while ago, to now probably being in the top thirty, and for the first time he can call himself Scotland’s top player. Paul said of his round;

 “You’re never unhappy when you shoot 66, but really it should have been a few less. When you get on a bit of a run the confidence goes up and right now it’s probably never been better.”

Crowne Plaza Invitational @ Colonial. Jason Dufner leads, shadowed by Zach Johnson.

Dufner still in front

Jason Dufner, shadowed by Zack Johnson, Halleran/Getty Images

Jason Dufner leads the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial by just one shot, he is being shadowed by playing partner Zach Johnson. Jason had a third round of -4 under par 66, and Zach beat him on the day with -5 under par 65 for his round. The pair will tee it up together again tomorrow for the final round, on Pentecost Sunday. I am guessing that Zach will be wearing red again for the last round, it could be a good omen for the faithful Christian.

The next closest player is Tom Gillis at -7 under par, meaning Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson will essentially be in a match play competition for the final 18 holes. I will look forward to it, it should be a great contest and we should see some great golf.

Unfortunately for the rest of the field, including Tom Gillis, they will just be playing for the minor places. Rickie Fowler struggled in the third round managing to come home at even par, for a tournament total of -4 under.

BMW PGA Championship 3rd round, Luke Donald in control.

Donald in pole position to defend his title

Luke Donald (Getty Images)

Luke Donald is in control of the BMW PGA Championship title at Wentworth after overcoming testing conditions with a third round – 3 under par, 69,  at the Wentworth Club in front of record Saturday crowd of 25,176. Luke showed his class with a joint-best round of the day in strong winds, the 34 year old is now eleven under par for the tournament, and two ahead of Justin Rose in second place.

Luke is attempting to follow Sir Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie as the only players ever to make a successful defence of The European Tour’s flagship event. Nick Faldo did it in 1980 and 1981, while Colin Montgomerie had three wins in a row from 1998 to 2000.

The overnight leader James Morrison had a very difficult day, even though he started four clear of the field after a sparkling second round 64. The world’s number 236 cracked under the pressure and  signed for an 81 and will go into the closing eighteen holes eight strokes behind after, a quadruple bogey eight, a triple bogey eight and three bogeys on his card.

Luke said of his day;

 “The tougher the better. The good players that can be patient and deal with it are always going to rise to the top usually. That was by far my best round of the three. The wind was swirling and I hit a lot of solid shots. There were a couple of loose ones coming down the stretch, but I’m very pleased with that finish, it was hugely important for me. Physically and mentally it was tough and it’s going to be a grind tomorrow.”

Justin Rose was also pleased with his effort in the windy conditions;

“I’m delighted. It was one of those where I didn’t realise how good a round it was until I saw that the course had taken its toll.”

Crowne Plaza Invitational, 2nd round @ Colonial, Jason Dufner leads.

Colonial.jpg

You'd be smiling, too

Jason Dufner Halleran/Getty Images

Jason had a bogey-free 6-under 64 on another windy day at Colonial, to reach 11-under par for the tournament. Just a week after winning the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Jason had a two-stroke lead over Zach Johnson, at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, the 2010 winner. Zach had a second round -3 under par with a score of 67.

The only player ever to win both PGA TOUR events in the Dallas-Fort Worth market in the same year was Ben Hogan in 1946, Jason would love to join Ben on that short list;

“That would be great company to join, obviously. To have anything compared to him or be talked in the same sentence with him is something that would be pretty unique and special to me.”

” When I step to the first tee, I feel like I’m going to play a good round of golf. That’s a nice way to play. It’s a comfortable way to play. I’m just trying to be confident and think about the things I’ve been doing for almost a year now, and realize that those are the things that are making me successful out here, and not get too caught up in everything else that’s going on around me.”

Zach was still happy with his progress in the tournament;

” Today, it was good. I got off to a great start, that’s always nice. I hit a couple of bumps along the way. I made some good saves, gave myself some opportunities that I missed. And then got some momentum going on the back but it seems like every time I made a birdie I put myself in a pretty difficult predicament to make par. I finished strong. A good save on 15. A good birdie on 16 and another good save on 17. And 18, I’ll take a 4 there. I hit a good putt, misread it. I’m excited about tomorrow.”

Colonial first round, Zach Johnson leads Crowne Plaza Invitational.

  Colonial.jpg

Zach's track

Zach Johnson /Halleran/Getty Images

Zach Johnson  had a bogey-free -6 under par 64, that gave him a one-stroke lead after the first round in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial,  where the 20-30 mph winds, with higher gusts whipped through the big oak trees lining the fairways. Zach was pretty happy with his first round, saying;

“Today was great. I got off to a good start, just hit some quality shots. I didn’t put myself ever in a position that was too worrisome. I kept the golf course in front me. I attacked when I could attack. I had a couple of nice saves when I needed it.  I feel good. Health-wise is good. I have had some guys that have done some nice work with me from a physical standpoint. I am breaking down. I am 36, right? I’m not saying I practice a ton, I don’t have kids, but I practice a lot and as a result my body breaks down. So I give that enough emphasis. I drove the ball fine. I just kept the golf course in front of me. I attacked when I could attack. I had a couple of nice saves when I needed it. I think I missed the shortest,  the putt I had for birdie that was the shortest I think I missed. But then I made my share, too. So it probably did even out in the end. I felt like I could have had some more. I made a couple of bombs, too. I’ve got zero complaints. I controlled my trajectory in the wind nice.”

Zach sunk  a 40-foot birdie putt at the 396-yard 10th hole, he said of that putt;

 “The big putt that got me going. ”                                                                                                                                                                                                        Zach then had four consecutive birdies, a span that included two par 3s and all the putts were between 14-21 feet. Not bad going.

Jason Dufner, winner of the HP Byron Nelson Championship last week, started at Colonial with three consecutive birdies, and was 5 under par after a ten foot birdie putt at the 174-yard eighth hole. Jason was one of four players to finish just one shot behind Zach, with a -5 under par 65. The others tied in second place were, Harris English, Tom Gillis and Kyle Reifers.

Harris English had never played a full round at Colonial until Thursday, but said he had a good solid round of golf;

“Three bogey-free rounds I have had in a row, which I’ve never done. I’m playing solid golf and not really getting out of position. I’m getting my putter going. I’m hitting it to 15 or 20 feet a lot and seemed to be making a good many of those. It’s just been good.”

Jason Dufner had a nice round;

“Iit was a nice round today. The upper wind this afternoon made it a little tougher on the game and get the right hook, so a good start 5 under. I will comeback tomorrow in the morning. Hopefully the wind will lay down, and I will have another good round on the board.”

Rickie Fowler opened with a -2 under par round of 68, which he said was decent but not good enough;

“Decent. Not good, not bad. It’s nice to make two birdies in the last three holes and get back under par and give me some momentum.”

BMW Championship, Wentworth 2nd round, Morrison leads, Donald lurking with intent.

James Morrison leads the BMW Championship at Wentworth after a sparkling second round of -8 under par and 64. He leads by four shots from two players, yesterdays leader David Drysdale who had a second round score of -2 under par, 70, and the man seeking to retake the #1 spot in the world golf rankings, Luke Donald. Luke repeated yesterdays score with a -4 under par, 68, and with Rory McIlroy missing the cut in this years event, he must surely have his eyes set on the #1 ranking.

Luke Donald  (Getty Images)

Luke Donald (Getty Images)

The  current World Number Two is looking to regain top spot from Rory McIlroy at the venue where he dethroned Lee Westwood 12 months ago, Luke had three bogeys on his card, but two of them were followed by birdies and he eagled the twelfth  after dropping a shot at the eleventh. Luke said after his round;

Obviously I’m very pleased with that round,” he said. “This is a tricky course, and the scores are reasonably good. Obviously James Morrison had a great round – there are scores out there because the greens are holding.

“When I made bogey on 15, to finish with a couple of birdies on 16, 17, really will make me feel a lot better going into the weekend. I’m feeling very strong on the greens. I feel like something that has been not as consistent for me over the last couple of months, but felt very comfortable on the greens the last two days. Every time I’ve had opportunities, I’m seeing the line, and got the speed down and making some good putts.”

Asked if he was focusing on a top eight finish to give him the coveted #1 spot, Luke replied;

 ” To be honest, the focus is always to try and win the tournament.”

David Drysdale said he is desperate to win a tournament;

“I expect a lot, but if I shoot 80 or 65 I’ll take what I can from it. I desperately, desperately, desperately want to keep going forward and that’s my problem sometimes, I’m too eager, too keen, too determined I guess. I’ve been playing great, but been getting in the way of myself. I’m going to do my best and that’s all I can do.”

Along with Rory McIlroy, other notables missing the cut were; Graeme McDowell, Nicolas Colsaerts, Robert Karlsson and Retief Goosen.

I am anticipating a really good finish from Luke Donald, it will be interesting to see if James Morrison can live with the pressure of life at the top of the leaderboard.