10 things I learned from the pros at the 2022 PGA Championship

A lot of little things can be found on a professional basis.

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The majors are fascinating because it’s one of the few times a year where you can see every player in the field stress-tested. From the moment you get there, the atmosphere is different. Players are quieter. more intense. Looks angry at times. During these weeks, all tendencies in the player’s game will be revealed, just like the solutions the pros use to stop them.Grand Slams let us look at players through the microscopes.

Here are some things I noticed.

1. Start by synchronizing your putters

I stood on the edge of the green with JT’s putting coach Jon Graham as Justin Thomas shot a fourth on his third playoff hole to secure his second major title. Not knowing where to start, I asked the almost useless question I’ve learned since: Did you do anything different in his pregame warm-up?

“It’s no different, just what we’ve been doing,” he said.

Whether they’re battling for a Grand Slam title or battling for promotion, players’ putting routines remain virtually the same from round to round. At the very beginning of each of them, they all involve some kind of synchronization. Something to help set, align and stroke where they want.

It usually consists of a combination of a short putter and some tee, a mirror to check their sight, and the putter. Before his final round, JT used Tiger’s gate drill with a chalk line on the green. That’s how he started every putt practice, professional or not.

“It’s our thing to check the starting line and the direction,” Graham said.

With it, bring a sense of calm before the chaos of the day begins.

2. Even the Best Compounding Mistakes

I couldn’t help but cheer for Rory, which made it especially heartbreaking to witness his triple bogey on the 11th hole on Saturday. It was a triple bogey without a penalty, which made the game even more painful.

In case you missed how it went down:

McIlroy put himself at a disadvantage after his first bat.

Trying to get too cute with his second, it rolls back to his feet.

His third was still too cute, but escaped it a little and left his ball on the edge.

He tried to make a bogey in the hole but rolled the ball over eight feet.

He burned the edge on that double-bogey putt.

Then clicked three times.

Part of what makes Rory so popular is that he’s a terrific genius who occasionally falls into the same emotionally driven mistakes as the rest of us. His 47th hole is a good example. He sees each shot as an attempt to make up for the previous one. When things are going well, that means Rory can improve his score. But it also means he tends to throw good money on bad money, making himself poorer as a result.

Instead of cutting his losses after a tough entry on the 11th hole, Rory played his stack long and settled for an 8-foot par putt — and about a 50 percent success rate — — Rory fighting for glory. On paper, the safer move is to hit a par putt. But newspapers also showed he made three birdies over the next five holes.

The way Rory plays, it’s hard to see how it could have happened without another. Maybe his caddie needs a firmer hand to step in to break the cycle. Maybe only Rory can fix it. Maybe that’s what makes Rory, Rory better or worse.

This time, things got worse.

3. Why stress destroys technology

Humans are not made to be golfers. We were born to survive in the wild. Feeling stressed is our natural response to dangerous situations.

“We often feel this way because our brains are programmed to recognize potentially threatening situations because the risk of not doing so is very high,” said Dr. Raymond Prior, a performance coach who has worked with numerous PGA Tour players. . “Just get it wrong once.”

When humans are stressed, blood rushes to your muscles, and the muscles start to tense. Your intuition senses danger, so it prepares to defend itself.

But golfing requires moving around these muscles anyway. The result, as we saw last week, is a jerky series of movements as your brain and body try to perform two opposing tasks. That’s basically what happened to Zalatoris on some short pushes (though to be fair, it’s definitely getting better).

And, sadly, we saw what happened to Mito on his 72nd tee.

As for how to fix it? I’ll leave it to the coach. But if nothing else, watching these players go their way is a fascinating and important reminder that we are all tragically, inevitably, human beings.

4. Keep pre-match range meetings short and sweet

With an hour to go before their tee time, the final group of Mito Pereira and Matt Fizpatrick were far from the range. Both of them are scrambling in the short par, which provides a useful reminder that pros don’t really hit the ball long before their rounds. About 20 minutes on average, maybe 25 minutes.

Most of their day-to-day activities revolve around slowly building the wedge, practicing the various different shots they need to hit that day, and a handful of drivers to end it.

5. Prepare for the new school shooter

I can’t help but wonder if Justin Thomas represents the forefront of the new wave, driven by the advice of his mentor Tiger Woods. Golf’s current decade has been dominated by quality players. The longer the better; smash it down indiscriminately and scoop it out.

At Sunday’s PGA Championship, however, the remaining two golfers were the most dimensional. They chase power, yes, but they see power as a means to an end, not an end in itself.

For a player like JT, more power means you can hit the ball with the club and cut right back. More power means your draw draws more – useful when you need to get as close to a corner as possible. This means your lob will fly higher and land softer. This means your lower ones fly lower and run farther.

If the man before him wielded power like a caveman with a club, then JT was a knight with a sword. The combination of speed and power allows him to attack opponents in extremely complex ways.

“He’s very offensive,” his caddie Jim McKay said after the win. “When he needs to attack now, he can because he has the tools to do it now.”

6. Find a way to see the slopes

Danny McCarthy, one of the best putters on the tour, had some rather amusing remarks in our quick chat earlier this week: “I’ve always been lucky. I’ve always seen the slopes and lines quite naturally. .”

This is a one-off review, but stuck. I walked away from that conversation thinking about something else: what if you weren’t so lucky?

Practicing your green reading technique is possible, but difficult, and it’s no coincidence that many pros take different routes, from AimPoint techniques to heads-up putts. If your putter keeps struggling, stop banging your head against the wall. Try something out of the box. Professionals are not afraid to do this.

7. Get your cover number

Jordan Spieth and Michael Greiler stood on their bags on the 18th hole in the Supergroup on Thursday, wondering about the wind. Moments before he pulled his club, Grelar said his last words:

“204 wells, 190 caps.”

Do you know your coverage distance? Simply put, they are the numbers needed to carry the front of the green. Pros get them with every shot, and are particularly obsessed with them at South Hills, where the high-spin approach spins down the slopes of the elevated greens if the wind doesn’t kill it first. What strikes me is that yardage coverage is probably one of the most important numbers the rest of us need to know when playing, but one of the least we think about.

8. Don’t underestimate the bells and whistles

When the wind blows in a major championship, we immediately think of the tingling sensation on the tee and the image of a slow shot rolling into the green. But what if the hardest element of playing in the wind wasn’t from the tee to the green, but on the putting surface?

“People underestimate how much wind affects the greens,” Brad Faxon said Friday. “The greens in Nanshan are really exposed, [the PGA] Made the right decisions, not cut them. “

It’s best to listen when one of the best putters in golf history speaks. The wind accentuates everything in golf, especially when the ball rolls gently on the greens.

9. Trust what feels natural

As the rest of us watched Cameron Young, we saw a golfer stop for what seemed like an eternity, and then swing his club.

“I started doing it because it always felt natural,” he said. “I didn’t even notice it.”

Doing what feels natural in your golf swing isn’t great all-inclusive advice, but it can be an important one. Often, a player’s ability to feel a movement helps them place the club where they want. Even if they’re dealing with something that may feel unnatural at first, it only takes a few reps to wonder how you’ve wiggled it before.

10. Don’t be afraid to reset your goals

It doesn’t feel right to write such an article without mentioning Tiger Woods, but the truth is I really don’t know what I learned from Tiger Woods last week.

We already know that Woods is the toughest guy in golf. We learned on Thursday that his strategy may have been too conservative, but he took a full round to correct it. That’s because Tiger is not only the toughest guy to play the game, he’s also the smartest guy. His body seems to rely heavily on the weather, but again, we already know that. We know he wants to play more majors and still think he can win, but that should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Woods’ career. That’s how he’s wired.

Honestly, I think what I’ve learned is that Woods is a guy who needs to get back together. What is his real goal in these events? Play painless? to cut? Just play? win? If so, can he win with his body and current form?

It now appears that his goal is everything. While Tiger doesn’t owe golf fans anything, what he owes himself is not having to endure significant, excruciating pain to reach a goal that may not be achievable. What can Tiger Woods accomplish at the end of his career? It’s a question only he can answer, and whatever he decides, we’ll be there to support him.

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