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May 27

A Lot of Good Putting Going On

KORDA, MCILROY…and NICKLAUS? Good Putters All!

korda 1It was a real horse race rounding the turn to the back nine this last weekend at the Airbus LPGA Championship, and for a while, it looked like a playoff between as many as six of the words greatest players. But, it’s better to be great at the end sometimes, and Jessica Korda stepped in and rendered it all moot, just as we thought Michelle Wie, Anna Nordqvist and Charley Hull were in position to win it.

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In her second win of the year since the Bahamas, and after a self-described slump (I had one after the Bahamas, too – can’t blame her) she played four solid rounds, and suddenly ignited on the final nine. Apparently, she worked her swing with Paul Azinger, and everything was clicking – not to mention that she putted, putted, and putted. – the result, birdies on 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18 – there’s really no better way to win a horse race than to be even, then produce the best final kick.

korda 2We finally saw the re-emergence of the real Rory McIlroy, who did the same Korda number at Wentworth, in the BMW PGA Championship. It’s been a bit of a dry spell, and McIlroy won the tournament in Palmer style, with a comeback from seven strokes down. During the run of birdies, four of them in the last nine, he also  putted, putted, and putted. It just seems like when that club is going well, you’re never entirely lost. In fact, the competition put on a short game show on the last day, with long putts falling from everywhere, not to mention Luke Donald chipping in twice. This was Rory’s sixth win on the European tour, but his first one on the continent. It should be a good feeling, and excellent preparation for the US Open coming up soon. I wish that Carolyn, his ex as of last week, could have had the same kind of day, but fell early in the French Open. Love and sports, such a strange chemistry. that

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korda 3 From the annals of history came another incredible putting lesson. It actually took place in 2010, but is making the video rounds this week, and deserves to. Jack Nicklaus was playing a round at one of his new designs, the Harbor Shores in Benton, with a few friends, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and Johnny Miller. Johnny was on the edge from 102 feet away, and wanted to chip it, but Nicklaus didn’t want his new green all torn up, and suggested that he putt it instead. Johnny didn’t immediately respond, so Nicklaus, without a practice swing, walked over to show Miller how it should be done. In what one article described as a “cold-blooded” putt, Nicklaus sank it, and walked away with little reaction. Some people are just so cool. At any rate, it’s wonderful to see someone who has been retired for a very long time still get written up for playing good golf.
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Maybe all this good putting is a contagion started by Paula Creamer’s behemoth putt a few weeks ago. It’s pretty clear, though, that whatever the tour, good putting seems to go hand in hand with the person who eventually wins the tournament. Certainly, nobody’s going to win one without it. You can have trouble anywhere else on the course but there. Just ask Jessica, Rory and Jack.

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.