Big Play

March 06, 2006

WHO: GeoffOgilvy

WHAT: 227-yardfour-iron to six feet to set up a birdie

WHERE: 526-yardpar-5 11th hole at La Costa

WHEN: 29th hole ofthe Accenture Match Play final

WHY
Ogilvy plays with effortless power as opposed to powerless effort, and watchinghim calmly pure long-iron shots during the Match Play, including Sunday's gemat 11, I was reminded of long, loose swingers Fred Couples and Payne Stewart.The source of Ogilvy's fluidity is the relaxed on-course demeanor he hasadopted after years of being hard on himself. "I was hopeless," saysOgilvy, "but now I pat myself on the back. It sounds silly, but itworks."

MARK'S TIP

For a Fluid Hit,Don't Break the Chip

Dick Coop, themental coach who's worked with many Tour players, taught me a terrific drill tohone your rhythm and control your emotions: hit iron shots with a potato chipbetween your teeth. The idea, quite simply, is to hit the ball without breakingthe chip. This will help to overcome the power- and accuracy-sapping mistake oftensing up during the swing.

Mark Wood, a GolfMagazine Top 100 Teacher, works at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone,N.J.

... AND ANOTHERTHING
"To put back a premium on accuracy, the USGA is considering requiringshallower iron grooves so players can't get as much spin out of therough."

Top 100
TEACHERS POLL

How would you tweakthe Accenture Match Play?

Play the semis andfinal on Sunday 27%
Air an edited version 30%
Leave as is 43%

"Make it 54holes of medal play qualifying for eight spots. Saturday is quarter- andsemifinals, and Sunday is an 18-hole final with no consolation match."

--PETER KOSTISKOSTIS/MCCORD LEARNING CENTER

The Pepper Mill

A WEEK has passedsince the release of the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings. The debating, thehead-scratching and, for more than a few players, the fuming has just begun.The rankings, sanctioned by six tours, are a tremendous addition to women'sgolf, but they need major adjustments. Here's why.

The rankings weredetermined by a formula that involves a minimum number of events played and thestrength of field in those events over a rolling two-year period, with thegreatest emphasis on the most recent 13 weeks. Although players must take partin 20 events over two years to maintain full LPGA membership, in nearly allcases a player has to play in only 15 events over two years to get a Rolexranking. LPGA officials say the 15-event minimum exists because some of theother organizations do not have as many tournaments. Too bad. The LPGA needs touse its position as the premier women's tour to set more rigorousqualifications.

No one questionsAnnika Sorenstam and Paula Creamer (above, left) as Nos. 1 and 2, respectively,but a system that puts a winless Michelle Wie third after only 15 events(there's that number again) and ahead of Cristie Kerr, a five-time winner inthe two-year period, needs some serious rethinking. Need more examples? JuliInkster, winless on the LPGA tour since 2003 but with a victory on the Koreantour in '05, is ranked 10th. In '05 Natalie Gulbis (below, right) had three top10s in majors, two top 3s against extremely strong LPGA fields and a one-shotloss to Sorenstam in Sweden. Her rank? Eighteenth!

The LPGA's newplayoff system encourages players to enter as many LPGA events as possible.However, the Rolex rankings provide somewhat conflicting incentives: to playwell on other tours and to minimize the number of events entered overall.Something needs to be done to correct such huge flaws. Now!

My suggestions?Raise the minimum number of events to 20 within the two-year period, with anultimate goal of 25. A player may need a season or more to become eligible, butthe rankings will be more accurate. Also, increase the strength-of-field valuefor LPGA events. Finally, don't implement the rankings until they've beentested for a full season.

Dottie Pepper, a17-year veteran of the LPGA tour and an analyst for NBC and the Golf Channel,welcomes questions at dottie@siletters.com.

EIGHT PHOTOSCOURTESY OF ABC (OGILVY); ERICK W. RASCO (WOOD, 2); JIM GUND (BACKGROUND); DAVID WALBERG (PEPPER); DARREN CARROLL (CREAMER, GULBIS); SAM GREENWOOD/WIREIMAGE.COM (OGILVY, BOTTOM)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)