Notebook: Rory's grip explained & Willett might miss Augusta
Rory switches to Spieth’s dark side
Rory McIlroy has got a new putting grip, left below right. Frustrated by his efforts (and a missed cut) at the Honda Classic McIlroy has switched his hands around, something he hasn’t done since his rookie year on the European Tour in 2008.
“I felt like over the past few weeks, my right hand was becoming a little bit too dominant,” McIlroy said before the Cadillac got going. “I practised over the weekend just with left below right and it felt really, really good.
“I missed a couple of putts on Friday at Honda that I felt even before I made contact with the ball, that my right hand had taken over and I missed it left. I was sort of playing around with a few different grips, this one felt more natural to me because I’ve done it before and I do it quite a lot when I’m just practising in drills.”
Incredibly McIlroy has only twice been in the top 100 of Strokes Gained on the greens in seven years. On day one he had 33 putts but then took 10 fewer in a second-round 65 when he revealed that he was more worried by people thinking he was copying World No 1 Jordan Spieth than anything else.
“The one thing that I was sort of worried about was the (perception that) McIlroy is copying Spieth. That was my big thing.
“I don’t think it takes that much courage (to change). I mean, in my mind, it couldn’t really have gotten any worse. So why not make a change? The change is feeling very comfortable at the minute, and as I said at the start of the week, I’m willing to stick with it for as long as I can.”
The Northern Irishman was 15-for-16 from inside 10 feet. His playing partner, Spieth, said: “You’ve switched to the dark side, I see.”
Lefty employs two putting grips
Phil Mickelson is another of the world’s best to be mixing it up on the greens. The left-hander, who is displaying plenty of positive signs ahead of Augusta, is employing different grips for different length putts.
“I believe that the claw grip is a better grip for short putts. I just have always believed that,” said Mickelson.
“There’s so much better extension and it’s such a softer hit without having that bottom hand on the club that I like it for short putts, and would like to use it on short putts, and a regular grip on longer ones for a better feel.”
Willett might miss the Masters
If Danny Willett’s first child hasn’t arrived by the time the Masters rolls around then the Sheffield star won’t be teeing it up.
Willett and his wife, Nicole, are expecting in early April and the first Major gets underway on April 7.
“It all depends on how our little man is fairing, if he fancies coming out early, it would be great, but if not, I won’t be playing,” Willett said. “Hopefully if we have a nice, easy smooth early birth and I can get out there, even if I go and fly out Tuesday, Wednesday. It’s one of the golf tournaments you don’t really want to miss.”
Willett tied for 38th on his debut last year.
Bubba off for Augusta prep
Two-time champion and many people’s fancy Bubba Watson will be going to Augusta this week for a two-day recce. And in his pre-tournament press conference at Doral he explained that there is no place like it.
“I remember the first time I went down Magnolia Lane, I was at the University of Georgia and we get to play there once a year. The older guys on the team that have played there before say, hey, you’re going to get nervous, you’re going to get jittery.
“As soon as we hit Magnolia Lane, I was like, it’s a golf course, it’s no big deal. I started taking more pictures than anybody else. And it’s the same thing when we go back now. We all get the energy and the buzz that we can do it. We get so much fire by going down Magnolia Lane, knowing that you’re about to play the course that you feel like you’re unstoppable and you can play and you can win there.”
Watson added that, while he has more than hinted at an early retirement, he will be at the Masters for as long as he’s still standing.
“I’m going to be there until I’m 80. They are going to have to kick me off the course. They are going to have to send me that letter that says, “Bubba, don’t you come back.”
How not to start your final round by JB Holmes
Last year’s runner-up had already made a mess of the opening hole at Doral before being told he would have to go back down the fairway and replay the hole.
The American drove into water left so he elected to take an ’opposite margin’ drop. What he should have done was take a two-club drop, what he chose to do was go back 25 yards so he could hit a fairway wood over some trees.
He was then told on the green and it was deemed a ’serious breach’ of the rules so he had to go back to where he should have originally played from. He made a double-bogey seven.
Had he teed off at the 2nd he would have been disqualified which might have been a blessing given he then went bogey-treble and had three more sixes in an 80.
Aussie Steven Bowditch finished the week at +37 after failing to break 80 in any of his four rounds.
Youngster aces in front of Tiger
Tiger has unveiled a new course and his first US design, Bluejack National. And there is a new short course, The Playgrounds, alongside it where 11-year-old Taylor Crozier hit the shot of his short lifetime.
The second player on the tee he holed out at the opening hole, from 81 yards, in front of Tiger who gave him a bear hug. Woods teed off with a putter and bizarrely nearly holed out himself.
As for his recovery proper there were more upbeat noises than his pre-Christmas meet up with the media. “It’s a heck of a lot better than then,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling very good and you could see it all over me.”
To sum up Woods is chipping and putting in his backyard, is hitting 9-irons but nothing longer and there is still no possible return date.
The perfect back garden…
Could you imagine having this in your back garden?
NASCAR (the fast cars that go round and round and round) star Kevin Havrick has recreated Augusta’s 12th – Golden Bell – in his back garden.
Even more sickening is that he has also played the actual course itself.