Short-Hitter's Survival Guide
The Masters favors powerful, high-ball hitters--guys like David
Duval, Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods--but a creaky 45-year-old
singles hitter, Loren Roberts, tied for third in Augusta this
year. Roberts also finished among the top 10 at the U.S. and
British Opens, and he put on a clinic of course management and
putting at the Greater Milwaukee Open, where he coasted to an
eight-shot victory. As the best golfers keep getting younger,
Roberts rose 12 spots on the money list from 1999, to 18th, and
established himself as the oldest player among the game's elite.
At 6'2" and 205 pounds, Roberts should be a long hitter, but he's
not, averaging 257.9 yards off the tee, 192nd on Tour. His low
ball flight makes it difficult to hold firm greens, and his wedge
game is erratic. However, Roberts compensates by maximizing his
assets. Here is his survival guide in the age of Tiger.
"Most guys don't know how to practice. Even on tour, I see
players putting 15-footer after 15-footer. There's little
percentage in that because even the best putter makes only half
of his six-footers. What's important is to get your long putts
close, and to focus on not missing from inside four feet. So the
bulk of my practice consists of long lags and a bunch of short
December 4, 2000
"The length of my approaches and the fact that I'm not Seve
around the greens prevents me from going pin hunting. My
priority is putting the ball on the middle of the green and
getting the putter in my hand."
"I stay on top of what's new. At the start of this season I got
a new driver with a higher center of gravity and a shaft that
was one quarter inch longer than my old one. For many years,
because of my low ball flight, I used a balata ball that spun a
lot, but balls that spin don't give extra distance. This season,
though, I found a ball with an elastomer cover that goes farther
and spins nearly as much as my old one. The combination of the
new ball and driver gives me eight extra yards off the tee."
"It's hard to go low enough on courses with firm greens because
I can't stop the ball close enough to the hole. But firm greens
don't bother me as much at majors because the premium is on
making par. Where I get killed by Tiger and other young guys is
on the par-5s. So I go to courses that have either really long
par-5s or really short ones that even I can reach in two."
Vijay Singh has got to lose that ugly putting style. His putting
killed him in his showdowns with Tiger Woods in the Presidents
Cup and in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf and destroyed him again in
the Skins Game last weekend. When Singh sticks that shaft in his
stomach, he might as well be falling on his sword. It's beyond
time he returned to the more traditional style that he won the
Masters with at Augusta.
What do these players have in common?
They were the shortest drivers on their respective tours in 2000.
Barrett averaged 214.9 yards on the LPGA tour, Pavin 251.3 on the
PGA Tour and Peete 232.7 on the Senior tour.
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SYNONYMS for Q SCHOOL
Annual chokefest, dead men walking, dry heave open, fifth major,
Maalox marathon, Mistress LeQ's dungeon, O'Grady's inferno,
sleepless in La Quinta, tuumm-te-tum-tum, Zantac classic.
These Tour players made the biggest gains from last season to
this season in dollars won and in percentage of earnings.
% Increase $ Increase
Phil Mickelson 176% $3,023,776
Tiger Woods 39% 2,571,736
Ernie Els 103% 1,758,649
$ Increase % Increase
Brian Gay $407,699 548%
Robert Allenby 1,647,178 512%
Grant Waite 889,580 351%
JAIME'S TOP 10
All we heard this season was Tiger, Tiger, Tiger. Almost. Here's
how I rank the year's top 10 feats that had nothing to do with
1. Paul Azinger wins the Sony Open in Hawaii (above). As
emotional as golf gets. After winning for the first time since
lymphoma in his right shoulder was diagnosed, in December 1993,
Zinger dedicated the victory to the family of his late friend
2. Karrie Webb (lower right) dominates the LPGA tour. The
25-year-old Australian's seven victories, including the Nabisco
Championship and the U.S. Open, was the winningest year by a
woman since Beth Daniel won seven tournaments, but only one
major, in 1979.
3. Teenage twins nearly win LPGA titles. Thirteen-year-old Aree
Wongluekiet tied for 10th at the Nabisco in March, after playing
with Webb in the final group on Sunday. Naree was tied for the
lead after two rounds of the Safeway LPGA Championship and
finished 13th. Together, the girls gave women's golf a startling
glimpse into its very near future.
4. Vijay Singh prevails at the Masters. It was a triumph of raw
talent and persistence in the face of long odds for the guarded
man from Fiji. That Singh, only a mediocre putter, mastered
Augusta's treacherous greens made the win that much more
5. Loren Roberts wins by eight in Milwaukee. Roberts, 45 and one
of the Tour's shortest knockers, proved one can dominate without
playing Tiger-style golf. His tournament-record 24-under 260 was
inspiring to the old guys and instructive to the young ones.
6. Notah Begay takes back-to-back titles, at Memphis and at
Hartford. After serving seven days in jail in February for his
second DWI conviction, Begay returned to the Tour's summit in
late June. His comeback was an inspirational exhibition of
character and heart.
7. Lori Kane snaps her career winless slump. In July, Kane was
the LPGA's best bridesmaid, a fifth-year player from Canada with
no wins but nine seconds. In August she finally broke through at
the Michelob Light Classic, then went on to take two more titles.
8. Shigeki Maruyama shoots 58 in a U.S. Open qualifier. O.K.,
Maruyama's 13-under-par round, at Woodmont Country Club in
Rockville, Md., wasn't an official Tour record because it wasn't
shot in a Tour event, but the number is still mind-jarring. Larry
Nelson also shot a 58, in a pro-am at the Senior tour's Kroger
Classic, to further demystify the mark.
9. Larry Nelson has a breakout year. Winning three majors and
seven other titles on the regular Tour after taking up golf as a
21-year-old Vietnam vet never propelled him into the spotlight.
However, it's nice to see that Nelson's six victories in '00,
fueled by a New Age diet, have brought him long-deserved
10. Lee Westwood ends Colin Montgomerie's seven-year reign atop
the European money list. Now that Westwood is king of the hill,
only one thing is missing from his glittering resume: a major
Tyler Leon, Bradenton, Fla.
Tyler, a sophomore at St. Stephen's Episcopal High in Bradenton,
led the Falcons to the state Class A championship by winning the
individual title. It was Tyler's sixth consecutive tournament
victory. With a score of nine-under 135, he beat Chan
Wongluekiet, a senior at Bradenton Academy, by two shots.
Celeste Troche, Ascuncion, Paraguay
Troche, a sophomore at Auburn, helped the Tigers to victories at
consecutive tournaments, the ACC/SEC Shootout and the Lady
Paladin Invitational, by taking the individual championship at
those events. With a 72.07 scoring average, she's on pace to
break the school record for a season by 2.6 strokes.
Tim Hume, Williamsville, N.Y.
Hume, 38, an orthopedic implant salesman, shot a one-under 141
at Bellevue Country Club in Syracuse to win the state
Mid-Amateur by a record nine strokes. Hume, the Buffalo District
Golf Association player of the year for the last four seasons,
is the reigning champion at the Park Club in Williamsville.
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