Course: Merion GC (East Course)
Yardage: 6996 yards
Tomorrow we welcome the second major of the year, the U.S Open Championship which takes place at Merion GC, Philadelphia. This golf course is popularly known among the world's top golfers as one of the toughest tests in golf.
The course is set up as a normal US Open course which is firm and fast, with thick rough to punish any errant shots from tee to green. The aim of the organisers of the US Open in recent times is for the winner to achieve a level par score. The only exception to this was when Rory McIlroy destroyed the course 2 years ago finishing at 16 under par winning by 8 clear shots! However, with a deluge of rainfall this week on the course it could be that conditions are more in favour of the players and so the scoring may be a little better than normal. Although the thick rough will be wet and grab the golf club as it passes through the greens will be much softer than normal allowing the players to attack the flags and stop the ball on normally rock hard greens.
Looking at the overall yardage of the course it is fairly mediocre at 7000 yds and par 70 (For the professionals of course!) and so it will not demand length from the tee but accuracy. There are “driveable” par 4′s where the big hitters can gain an advantage but on the other hand the 18th hole is a par 4 measuring 500+ yards, and some of the par 3′s measure up at 230+ yards to balance the shorter holes out.
When looking at who may win this championship we have to consider more of short game prowess and mental strength. With the rough so serious and the length of some of the holes the tournament will come down to getting the ball up and down from awkward positions and having the mental strength to deal with dropping a shot or two in the round.
As normal Tiger Woods is pre-tournament favourite, this course will suit him, with it being on the shorter side he can play shorter clubs from the tee and still leave himself shortish distances in. Also Tiger is on a resurgence at the moment with only a misplaced round of golf to let him down this year.
Phil Mickleson is second favourite which is no surprise with his short game and the fact that he has a few majors under his belt so can deal with the pressure. He also finished 2nd last week and so is in form. However I am concerned with his driving as he can be extremely inconsistent from the tee and he has not managed any practice rounds for this major championship as his daughter is graduating and he is there supporting her.
McIlroy is third favourite and he was quoted as saying ” I like the course set-up with the rain coming as the best part of my game is my irons." Nevertheless he has shown no form whatsoever this year and the US Open is not a place to turn up with a game that is misfiring.
Two final players that are well supported are Graeme McDowell and Matt Kuchar. These two have both shown great form in recent weeks and have had good performances in major championships with McDowell winning at Pebble Beach in 2010 and Kuchar finishing in the top 10 in 5 major championships over the past couple of seasons.
These are the players I am going for this week:
Matt Kuchar – The form player, it seems that every week he is in the final group of each event he plays. He is striking the ball from tee to green as well as anyone and has shown that he has the nerve to get over the winning line. The question is whether or not the pressure of a major championship will have an effect on him, but he has won at The Players (known as golf’s 5th major).
Justin Rose - This is a gut and hopeful pick. Rose is a no-nonsense player with a great swing and he is hitting the ball beautifully at the moment. There are no stand out flaws in his game apart from his lack of confidence on the greens on some occasions, however unlike Augusta, putting will not be such a major factor in this championship and slower, wetter greens may really springboard Rose to greatness.
Jason Day - This young Australian has a great swing, can perform under pressure, is a great driver of the ball and has a great record in the major championships with 4 top 10's in 11 starts, finishing second twice. If he can keep himself in contention through 54 holes he will be a major contender once again.
It should be a great week, full of highs and lows and a lot may depend on lady luck and how the weather holds up. Let me know wh
US Masters 2013 Competition.
Win either:One free 1hr golf lesson
or one online coaching session
with James Hopkins PGA Professional Golf Coach.
- 1hr golf lesson to be taken at Trafford Golf Centre with James Hopkins.
- Online coaching session. You email your golf swing. James will analyse your swing and send you back a personal video detailing the things you need to work on and drills or exercises you need to improve your golf swing.
To enter you just need to predict the winner of the US Masters 2013 and the winning score
You can enter either:
1. via Facebook by adding me as a friend, sharing the post on my Facebook page here
and then commenting with who you think will win and their final score.
2. Via Twitter by tweeting the following:
@jhopkinsgolf I want to win a free golf lesson/online coaching session. I think Hopkins
will win the Masters at -12
Just replace the word "Hopkins
" with the surname of who you think will win the US Masters 2013 and "-12
" with the score that your winner will finish on.
Good luck!Terms and Conditions.
1. One entry per person. Choose to enter either via Facebook or Twitter NOT both. Only your first entry will be taken.
2. Entries close at midday GMT Thursday 11th April 2013. Entries after this time will not count.
3. The prize is not transferable. You win you take the prize. Well done!
4. There will be a maximum of 5 prizes to be won. If there are more than 5 winning entries then a random draw will be made following the tournament.
5. The winning score will be the final score after 72 holes of play in the US Masters 2013 tournament not including playoff holes.
6. The winning player will be named as the player presented with the green jacket at the prize presentation following the tournament.
7. This competition is free. There is no purchase necessary.
8. The winners will be announced on Facebook and Twitter following the tournament.
9. The winners will be contacted by James Hopkins to organise their prizes within 48 hours of the tournament finish.
10. All prizes to be taken within 60 days of the end of the US Masters 2013.
Charles Howell approached the 18th tee, on the 72nd hole of the 2005 Buick Invitational needing an eagle 3 to get into a playoff with Tiger Woods. From about 100 yards away, Charles struck his 3rd shot perfectly, the ball soared through the sky and landed in the cup… only to bounce backwards and spin into the nearby water.
Golf is a funny game, it has been said that golf is 30% mental, 60% skill and 10% luck. Many PGA players are very superstitious, whether it’s a common story as Tiger wearing a red shirt on Sunday, or lesser known stories like Doug Sanders refusing to use white golf tees – nearly every player has their hitch.
Superstitions in golf are mainly based on the notion that if you repeat a certain behaviour, you will have good luck. As irrational as some superstitions seem, they give golfers a sense of feeling lucky, but is there more to superstitions other than just feeling lucky? For example, some golfers and coaches would say that superstitions give confidence and belief. Yet you could argue that most superstitions are just wacky habits that have no scientific research to back up the claim they actually work.
Let’s first examine the difference between superstitions and a pre-shot or pre-performance routine. Pre-shot routines are not the same as superstitions. Pre-shot routines help golfers to prepare, in a meaningful way, for the execution of a motor skill such as a golf swing.
The preparatory behaviours in routines are excellent methods to help you focus on one shot at a time and are extremely useful tools to refocus attention when distracted. The pre-performance routine is a merging of mental and physical steps that blend into one long behaviour. The pre-shot routine combines physical actions (such as a practice swing) and specific thoughts or images (visualizing the shot, focusing on the target, and mental cues to trigger the start of your performance such as the image of the target in your mind). All high-level golfers use very systematic pre-shot routines to help them prepare for the task ahead.
On the other hand, golfers also employ superstitions. A superstition is a single behaviour that is based more on luck and generalisations than on reason. Even the most successful golfers swear by the use of superstitions. Superstitions, such as when Tiger Woods wears a red shirt for Sundays round are no doubt tied to luck and past success on Sundays when wearing red. Golfers use superstitions because they think it gives them confidence. It is hard to argue with Tiger Wood’s success on Sundays.
Superstitions, unlike routines, are not based on fact or reason. If an athlete attributes his success to some consistent superstitious ritual, such as wearing a red shirt on Sunday or eating a certain food prior to each game, the athlete will think it ‘works’ and keep repeating the behaviour, until he thinks otherwise and discards it. The person believes the ritual brings success and that has an effect on his confidence level. Arnold Palmer’s wife used to kiss each one of his golf balls before he uses them in a game. Paul Azinger always marks his golf ball with a US penny, which features the head of Abraham Lincoln. He also makes certain to turn the penny so Lincoln is looking at the hole. These are all superstitions and not routines.
Superstitions are not necessarily bad. In fact, they can build confidence and help boost morale. There is a saying in sports, ‘if it works, use it.’ If you use a superstition before competition, have faith in it, and it works, great ‘use it.’ Anything that increases your faith or belief in performance is a bonus. A German study featured in Golf Digest did a little test of “luck”. A group of players were given proclaimed “lucky” golf balls, while another group was given “the same golf ball that everyone used”. The group with the lucky golf balls drained 30% more putts than the group that did not. I would give you one caution here: Do not use superstitions as the only reason for your success and think that they will help you be successful no matter how well you prepare before game time.
My recommendation would be to develop solid technical skills for golf and combine that with sound mental preparation skills to apply before competition such as a warm up routine, mental imagery, and setting game plans or strategies to perform to your best. Combine this with wearing that lucky shirt or some other superstition and that belief in yourself tied with sound preparation can only be good for your golf game.
Please note that over Christmas my lesson availability is limited however I am excited to see what kind of swing Santa has given you for Christmas!!
Over the festive period I am available for lessons on the following days:
Wed 19th Dec - 10am - 10pm
Thu 20th Dec - 10am - 10pm
Fri 21st Dec - 10am - 9pm
Sat 22nd Dec - 9am - 6pm
Fri 28th Dec - 10am - 5pm
Mon 7th Jan - Business as usual!!
All the best to everybody and hopefully I will see you somewhere during those times.
Please note that my coaching days have changed with immediate effect. I now coach at Trafford Golf Centre on the following days/times:
Mon: 5pm - 10pm
Wed - 10am - 10pm
Thu - 10am - 10pm
Fri - 10am - 9pm
Sat - 9am - 6pm
Concentration is a key to better performance, and learning how to take control over your concentration will speed your development as a golfer.
A useful metaphor is that your mind is a camera, which registers images the lens focuses upon. You must train yourself to adjust the lens to bring into awareness what is really worth focusing upon.
The camera (mind) has a wide-angle lens and a narrow-angle lens. At times, the lens needs to be adjusted so we capture information from a broad area, like when studying a dogleg fairway from the tee.
At other times, we need to focus narrowly or zoom in on a discrete target, like when reading a putt.
Concentration exercises have been around for generations. Here are three simple exercises:
Attending to visual tasks causes neuronal firings in the visual cortex region of the brain, which may help you tune out distractions and focus. Daniel T. Moore, Ph.D., recommends improving your concentration and focus with a visual exercise using two different coloured pencils. Set a timer that goes off at multiple random time intervals for five minutes. For example, the alarm may sound after five seconds, then again after another 15, 10 and five. Hold one pencil in each hand, 16 inches from your face and shoulder-width apart. Exclusively focus on one pencil, then switch to the other each time the alarm sounds.
Chewing gum can improve your concentration by exercising attentional regions of your brain. This exercise involves chewing gum during learning or work-oriented tasks such as attending a lecture or doing homework. Chewing gum may improve your ability to learn, retain and retrieve information. Students that chewed gum during math activities for 14 weeks achieved higher test scores and higher final grades than non-chewers, according to 2009 data from the Baylor College of Medicine. Gum chewers scored 24 and 36 percent higher than non-chewers on immediate word recall tests and delayed word recall tests, respectively, during a University of Northumbria study in 2002.
Inefficient breathing patterns may suppress your concentration by limiting oxygen in your brain. Belly breathing exercises may improve your concentration and focus by correcting your breathing, which may improve learning and even boost your IQ. Place one hand on your stomach. Inhale slowly through your nose, and into your abdomen to make your stomach expand for about three seconds. Exhale for another three seconds by slowly pushing your breath out with your abdominal muscles.
Try them out and let me know how you get on.