After a top 10 finish at the Honda, Jim Furyk surprisingly found himself qualified into the field for The Players Championship, he didn’t even know that was possible. 🙂 After a brilliant final round and a second place finish at The Players, Jim Furyk now finds himself ranked 57th in the world, qualified for The PGA Championship and the World Golf Championships – Dell Technologies Match Play. In order for Jim to play again at Augusta, in The Masters, he would need to be inside the World Top 50 by April first, giving him this week at the Valspar and next week at the Match Play to get that done. To play again in the US Open, where his 10-year exemption has expired, he would need to be inside the top 60 on May 1st. Needless to say, it is an interesting time to be Jim Furyk. Oh, and we will also touch on how to find your best ball position and what to do if you start hitting fat or thin shots. Harvey Penick taught that ball position was the second most important aspect to the setup, next to the grip. Let’s tee it up!
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Day one of the Valspar is in the books. It’s fun to see a few of our old friends back on top. And the first-ever albatross and Valspar history. Let’s tee it up.
Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of Data Axis Golf, the podcast. Thank you for joining me. I appreciate it very much. The first round of the Valspar is in the books. And wasn’t it nice to see Luke Donald back on top playing well and obviously Innisbrook is a perfect course for him to play. Former champion there. I couldn’t believe this but it’s been seven years since he’s won. He spent 56 weeks at world number one. He’s had some back trouble that he’s working through. He had a very difficult year last year. He’s on, I think, a medical extension right now. So we asked to come up with 300 plus FedEx points and has 15 starts to do it and he’s only used one. So hopefully he plays well and we can see him back on tour a little bit. Again, always known to be a short game wizard. A really amazing short game player. In fact, earlier this week they were talking to Paul Casey and he was talking about his sand game and he said look, I’m a really good sampler. I’m not as good as Luke Donald, but I’m still a good sampler. And I thought well that’s pretty cool, right? To have a reputation of being that good at something that somebody is going to reference you when you haven’t been playing around means that you must be extraordinary at his craft around the green. And today, I think he only hit eight greens and regulation and still was able to shoot a 400 hundred par, 67, so not too shabby. As far as the leaderboard goes you’ve got. I don’t know either of these players. You’ve got Joel Dolman and Sepp Straka. I had to look up, Sepp Straka is actually from Austria, which is completely fascinating but both with 500 parr 66 to take the lead in the first round. But you know some, you’ve got Russell Knox there at minus four and he had the first ever albatross today on a par five and made it in two. So very rare and the first one ever the ball spar and rarer than one, albatrosses are.
So a very cool start. And then Jim Furyk just keeps playing well, and I actually read where his soap, you know, Jim Furyk, his 10-year exemption from the US Open has expired. He was sitting around, well out of the top 100, as far as ranking goes, he was at 160 sevenths once he finished second at the Players Championship and that has now bumped him up into 57th place and so that changes things for him.
He hadn’t qualified for the PGA Championship. And now he’s moved up so many points now. If you’re in the top 50 by April 1st, you can play in the Masters. So now his schedule is kind of weird, you know, he’s now in the match play in Austin. So he has essentially got this week and the match plays in Austin to make enough points to hopefully break in the top 50 and qualify for the Masters. And then to play in the US Open again and not have to go and qualify, he has to be in the top sixty I think by May 1. So he has to kind of keep his position by May 1 and then he’s in the US Open which would be great for him as a former champion. So it’s interesting to see how he had a schedule worked out. When he went to the Honda he figured he was going to have a couple of weeks off. And then he played so well in the Honda with a top 10 finish that he got into the Players Championship and he didn’t even know that was possible. So now he’s got to go into playing the Players Championship. And he plays well there, finishes soul second and now is ranked 57th in the world. So crazy turnaround for him. It’s kind of fun to you know to see him sort of changes schedule and now that we know that’s what he’s trying to do see if he can work his way into playing in the Masters and playing in the US Open again. So very very cool.
Valspar First Round
One other thing I kind of thought was interesting I saw that Patrick Reed shot a plus seven and actually interviewed him yesterday to talk about the difficulty of the snake pit which is right 16, 17, 18 at Innisbrook and very challenging holes. Everybody that they talked to said look if you can get out of there and even par you’re in great shape. And Patrick Reed at the same thing. So when I saw a plus-seven I thought wow, he must have really got you to know bit by the snake pit. And the holes are all name but 16 is named the moccasin. The 17 is named the traveler and 18 his name of a Copperhead. Right on the Copperhead course. But anyway, I want to pull the scorecard he actually was one overpower through the snake pit and then was plus six everywhere else so that was interesting. I’m sure he’s not very happy tonight with his play. So anyway, just a quick wrap up on the first day of the Valspar. It looks fun. Looks like we’re gonna have a good tournament. And yeah, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson is fun. There were some good players out playing today, Dustin Johnson’s in it. So should be a good tournament fun watch.
Golf Ball Positioning
Okay, what I wanted to get into today really quickly. So I’ve been asked a couple of times about ball positioning. So we’re going to get into sort of the technical side of things. Ball positioning and ball positioning is a very, in fact, Harvey Pinot goes, he says said that it was the second most important part of getting set up to hit a golf shot is ball position. Right? So.
So how do you do it? Well, boy, there’s a lot of different ways. I know some guys that I play with that play everything off their front heel, which freaks me out. You know, you have got to move so quickly, especially with your irons when you’re trying to have a descending blow on the ball. And it’s off your left heel, you’ve got to do some, you know, you’ve got to really move to that left side. So that creates some lateral motion. I just think it’s too inconsistent and since we’re about simplicity here, I would say, no. Do not play the ball. Do not play every shot from your left from your front heel. That just seems ridiculous for us amateurs. So then, okay, so then how do you do it? Well, driver of the heel, I think that’s universal, it’s on a tee, you want to hit it on either, hopefully on the upswing a little bit, but at least at the lowest point and going up, moving up. So tee it up off your left heel makes sense. I will also play a three word off my left heel.
I’ve been known to play if I really want to get it up in the air. And like if it’s a down when you know putting a driver off the toe sometimes just to get it up in the air. So it’ll ride the wind a little bit. But so I think that’s pretty common right off the heel. For me personally, again, everybody’s little different, I definitely see some players that move every club a little more back as they go. I’m not one of those, again, I’m trying to be super simple. So I play my driver off of the heel. I play my three what off the heel if it’s teed up, if it’s not teed up, I play three wood, and hybrids, three and four iron off, kind of just inside my left heel. And then everything else I play in the center of my stance. Again, it’s just about simplification. So that’s just, generally speaking, I think that’s a really good way to go as far as consistency goes. That seems to work really, really well. Some of you are very comfortable moving the ball back and forth. And I think that’s great. As long as you’re consistent with it. If you are hitting fat and thin and you can’t find the center of the clubface consistently, I would try to find a more consistent and right in the center of your stance is a great way to go. You can hit it ascending, you can descend on the ball with an iron like compress it and hit the ball properly that way, right. With the proper physics.
Now, that all being said. So that’s just sort of a general rule. But we’ve talked in the past that sometimes we aren’t swinging the same. And it can be a lot of different reasons. Our backs tight, we’re just not moving well, whatever the case may be, and we may not be swinging exactly the way we normally swing. And that can cause some differences at impact. And so I have noticed sometimes that everything else seems to be okay, and I get set up my swings, okay. I know what’s on the plane and all that, but then I’ll be hitting shots thin or fat. And we’ll have to figure out why. Well, when you’re on the course, if you find that you’ve hit one or two fat or thin, then try to understand why by paying attention to your practice swing. Okay, so take a practice swing and try to brush the grass. There is nothing worse. And again, this goes back to Harvey Pinnock, right. There is nothing worse than taking a practice swing when you’re actually trying to go out and play. And taking a practice swing and not touching anything, not touching the ground at all. It’s just, I mean if you’re loosening up, fine, but if you’re actually trying to use your practice, swing for any good whatsoever, always have some kind of a target to hit. So not the dandy lion head off, hit a blade of grass, or you know, a clump of dirt or something where you can practice hitting something and squaring the clubface and hitting it right in the middle of the club face. Use your practice swing for something that’s helpful, not just swinging to swing.
Now, definitely, we want to take practice swings that feel a certain way and compare that to our swing. But still, we can make sure that we are utilizing the surroundings to have a practice swing that is most beneficial to us as we play. Right? So if you’re having problems hitting it fat or thin, take a practice swing and watch where the club starts brushing the ground where very, very first starts rushing the ground. And Fred Shoemaker talks to us about this and so does Harvey Pinnock in his book, the little red book talks about this as well. Make sure that you are positioning the ball where it’s starting to brush the grass. So if you have a place where we like to play them off, I like to play in the center of my stance, but I’m hitting it fat, then I should take a couple of practice swings and see okay, for today for whatever reason, for right now, I’m going to play that ball half an inch behind center. Now, could it be that if I have somehow another, you know, miscalculated where the center is absolute. We can check that on the range when we’re done. But right now we’re trying to play and get through. So I will pull that ball back a half an inch, and then I will watch it with a practice swing, you should watch it with a practice swing every single time you practice. Make sure that you swing with a target and make sure that practice swing is as beneficial as possible for when we’re playing.
Another reason to use a practice swing and see where it brushes The grass is when you’re on undulating fairways. And sometimes we can’t necessarily feel it, the ball might be below our feet, the ball might be above our feet, our feet may not be level. So in those situations where you feel like something’s a little bit off, take a practice swing and see where the club starts brushing the ground and then position the ball appropriately for that swing. So if you’re swinging uphill or downhill, a practice swing next to the ball and see where it starts brushing the ground is wildly advantageous when you’re playing an undulating fairway. So check that out as well.
So recommendations. Driver and three wood off tees off your heel, hybrid 345 iron even off just inside your heel and every other club in the center, every other club for a full swing in the center of your stance is the simplest way to go. Again, very personal, but that’s the simplest way to go. And then if you find that you’re having problems hitting the ball thin or fat, make sure that you’re paying attention to your practice swing. Always have a target for a practice swing, so you can see exactly what your swing is doing and then make some adjustments. And if we’ve lost exactly where exact center is on our swing, or off the heels on our swing or whatever, then we can take it to the range after and lay some alignments six down and figure out what’s gone on. Chances are we’ve probably just missed our center. And then always when you’re on uphill downhill eyes or undulating fairways, make sure you pay attention to your practice swing before you set up to the ball. So you have the best opportunity to hit it crisply.
So hopefully that’s helpful provides good feedback for you. Until next time, better data always means better golf. Thanks.