Derek Ernst's downswing move is one to watch to maximize your speed. (Redington/Getty Images)
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, PGA TOUR Academy
Hello, Derek Ernst.
What a win at the Wells Fargo Championship by the young American to capture his first PGA TOUR title. Not bad considering the 22-year-old wasn’t even sure he would get in sitting as the fourth alternate entering the week.
So many things to be impressed with concerning Ernst’s performance, and two things really stood out for me as I watched him hit great shot after great shot late on Sunday afternoon. First and foremost, here we have yet another young player looking so poised and comfortable on the big stage. In many ways, it was Ernst who looked like the veteran down the stretch that was under such control executing under tremendous pressure.
There are a lot of reasons that point to this great poise at such a young age, but perhaps none more than all the competitive rounds he has played along the way. There is a lot to be said and learned from playing competitively and having success along the way. These building blocks from junior golf, to high school, college and finally professionally teaches young players how to prepare, compete and win.
Secondly, I really like the way Ernst uses his body on the downswing. Derek has a golf swing that creates a lot of speed through impact but yet still looks compact and under control. The key to this speed is the sequence in which he uses his body on the downswing. In golf instruction, we call this “Kinematic Sequence.”
Kinematic sequence is a term that really has come to the surface under the education of the Titleist Performance Institute. This group has done a great job of shedding more light on how the body needs to work to maximize your speed. The sequence of the body on the downswing should work as followed:
1) Hips – The downswing should start with a lower body weight shift. Allow the weight to move into the ground through the lead foot. As the hips shift laterally towards the target be sure to stabilize the torso by keeping it closed during this initial transition.
2) Torso – After the initial shift in the hips and stability in the torso, then the torso can begin to turn, however make sure this turn is not the first movement during the initial downswing. As the torso begins to turn you will feel the lead arm now stabilize by loading up against the chest. This pressure from the lead arm to the side of the chest is not only powerful but offers great structure to the swing as well.
3) Lead arm – Once the lead arm loads against the chest it can now be propelled off the chest. This can be a great feeling of this stored energy finally being released; however, as the lead arm starts to go you are not quite there yet, as the clubhead needs to be lagging as a result of a bent right wrist.
4) Clubhead – The final piece to the sequence is the clubhead. This can be the result of great speed if the trail wrist stays bent to impact and slightly beyond. In many ways, this clubhead lag can be a result of the sequence defined above increasing your club head speed and maximizing its timeliness through impact.
A lot to take in I know but movements that can be learned. My advice to you is to find out how you are using your body and begin to get the sequence in order so you too can maximize your speed.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies
at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the
TOUR Academy, click here.
Derek Ernst's steady putting helped him to his first PGA TOUR win. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM
The Wells Fargo Championship Strike Those Putts Crisply Quail Hollow Country Club is one of the true gems of golf in North America. Quail (as the membership affectionately dubs it) boasts a nice mix of left-to-right and right-to-left doglegs, a good blend of difficult and easy holes and some strategic undulations from tee to green. It rewards good play, but it will quickly penalize errant play, making Quail Hollow an excellent tournament venue and the Wells Fargo Championship a highly respected event on the PGA TOUR.
The classic layout – which will host the 2016 PGA Championship -- is scenic, undulating and always in immaculate shape. Sadly, due to a recent turf management wrangle, the course “lost” a number of greens. Those that survived were undoubtedly worse for the wear.
Thankfully many of the top players in attendance came out in support of the club and the greens. A good majority of them managed to make their fair share of putts on the uneven surfaces.
Week in and week out on the PGA TOUR, the final result is very much a function of the players’ performances on the greens. This week was much of the same, but due to the inconsistency of the surfaces, those players that were not striking putts cleanly and solidly were found wanting so much more. Therein lies our lesson that we can learn from the pros:
Strike your putts crisply: By definition, the interaction between the putter and the ball is no different to that of an iron or a metal-wood and the ball. Just as you need to strike an iron shot flush to go the given distance, you need to strike the putter flush to ensure that the ball performs correctly. Often times on super-fast greens, however, a player can slightly miss-hit (thin) a putt and it can still go in. That error can be disguised on perfect surfaces, but it will certainly not happen on slower, inconsistent greens.
Without fail I will address the quality of any golfer’s putter-on-ball contact before I consider any other putting stroke issues. All too often I encounter putting strokes that are structurally sound, but do not make consistently clean contact with the ball because the player has never considered where the base of the swing arc is and how that relates to the ball position.
A quick and very easy drill to help you figure out that very conundrum is to practice the “Quarter Drill.” Place a quarter on the ground and address it as if it was your golf ball. Go ahead and make your stroke striving to make contact with the quarter (enough to move it a few inches). If you miss the quarter then obviously your stroke has not “bottomed-out” correctly or the ball position is incorrectly located for your style of stroke. Either of those errors will largely result in poor quality of contact -- a sure-fire way to poor distance control (especially from long distance) or inconsistent putting on grainy or slow greens.
Adjust your putting posture and the release of your putting stroke until you can strike the quarter consistently. If you have done so and you still struggle to make consistent contact with the coin then vary its position (either forward or back) slightly. Then when you can consistently hit the coin, replace it with a golf ball, make the same stroke and watch how the ball reacts more positively to your putter. That is proof of sweet-spot contact -- the first port of call to good putting.
Just for the record, if your struggle with excess body or head movement during the putting stroke, then the “Quarter Drill” is also for you.
Practice this simple exercise whenever you are on the practice green. I guarantee you will see your putting improve.
Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.
Phil Mickelson remained positive in unusual conditions, which helped his score. (Lecka/Getty Images)
By Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
The greens at the Quail Hollow Club were below par for a PGA TOUR event because the weather this spring in Charlotte, N.C., was cold and damp and clearly did not favor this type of grass. Putting on bumpy greens can beat you up mentally.
Or you could take a completely different approach, as Phil Mickelson did.
Mickelson declared his admiration for the course, even making the statement that Quail Hollow was one of his favorite courses on the globe. He thoroughly loves this venue.
I believe this thinking directly led to his great play at the Wells Fargo Championship. Mickelson putted beautifully, leading the field in strokes gained-putting and starting the tournament making 41 for 41 putts within 10 feet. While Mickelson did not win, he held the lead for most of the tournament and finished in a very respectable third place.
A declaration of love (or great admiration) for a course can help your play. Like Mickelson did, you are psyching yourself up to play well — regardless of condition or difficulty. Joy of a course can help expel any excessive feelings of anxiety. Ultimately, you are transforming adversity into an enjoyable challenge.
Let’s take the flip side. How many times have you been psyched out of a hole by telling yourself how much you dislike that particular hole? A dislike for a hole decreases the joy while increasing the stress you will feel, usually leading to a poorer score.
I know it is easy to find something wrong with every course you play, but I would highly recommend that you expand upon Mickelson’s lead. Talk yourself into enjoying every golf course that you play. Find something about the course that you really admire. Perhaps it’s the piece of property and its beauty, or its unique par 3s.
When you make every course your favorite, you will enjoy the course even more because you played so well.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players. Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at www.drgreggsteinberg.com.
Rory McIlroy led the field in greens in regulation, hitting 56 of 72 greens on the week. (Lecka/Getty Images)
|Wells Fargo Championship
|Driving Distance||285.4 (11th)||Luke List (303.6 yards)||T16
|Driving Accuracy||58.93% (T13)||G. McNeill. B. Weekley (66.07%)||T16/T58
|Strokes Gained-Putting||1.287 (11th)
||Phil Mickelson (2.522)
|Greens in Regulation||75.00% (T3)||Rory McIlroy (77.78%)
|Proximity to Hole||37'-0" (27th)
||Nick Watney (30'-10")
|Scrambling||66.67% (T9)||R. Karlsson, K. Streelman, B. Van Pelt (71.43%)
WEEKLY PERFORMANCE STATS ARCHIVE
Week 2: Sony Open in Hawaii
Week 4: Farmers Insurance Open
Week 5: Waste Management Phoenix Open
Week 7: Northern Trust Open
Week 8: The Honda Classic
Week 9: WGC Cadillac & Puerto Rico Open
Week 12: Shell Houston Open
Week 13: Valero Texas Open
Week 14: The Masters
Week 15: RBC Heritage
Week 16: Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Derek Ernst had made just two of seven cuts, ranking 196th in FedExCup points, prior to his win on Sunday.
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
Where did that come from? Derek Ernst, PGA TOUR champion.
I assume, since you are reading this, you are more than just a casual golfer. You are an avid fan of the game and the PGA TOUR. You follow tournaments week by week, you can carry on an intelligent conversation concerning FedExCup points and strokes gained-putting. So, were you familiar with Ernst’s body of work a week ago?
The UNLV graduate had made just two of seven cuts, had earned $28,255 and was ranked 196th in FedExCup points. As a rookie, he was the fourth alternate just to get into the Wells Fargo Championship. If you were familiar with Ernst, then you are more than a fan, you are a fanatic.
How did it happen? A combination of badly timed bogeys out of the leaders and one incredible birdie on the 72nd hole. From 192 yards, Ernst hit his approach to within 4 feet and made the putt. The 18th hole was the hardest of the week, playing more than a half stroke over par. Ernst played the difficult final three-hole stretch at Quail Hollow in 1 under for the tournament.
I thought his success actually began on Saturday, when Ernst had a very comfortable pairing. Instead of the media spotlight with Phil Mickelson, Ernst was able to shoot par in the third round with the easygoing Lucas Glover. He remained under the radar until that birdie on the final hole.
Chipping: When a player wins a tournament, good things have happened over the course of the week. Fortunate bounces, long putts, chip-ins. David Lynn certainly looked like a winner to me. He chipped in for birdie on each of the final three holes during the tournament, including the 16th hole in the final round. Lynn played the “Green Mile” in 4 under. Sometimes it’s not just how well you play -- it’s how good someone else performs.
Green Mile: Mickelson walked the “Green Mile” leaving a money trail from 16 to 18. He played that 1,175-yard three-hole stretch in 3 over for the tournament. Part of the problem was his errant drives. He was 26 of 56 in hitting fairways, ranking T53 for the tournament.
Fairway accuracy has become a devalued stat on the PGA TOUR but Phil’s misses were so wide, they cost him shots. A wonderful week of putting was almost enough to offset the driver. Mickelson led the tournament in strokes gained-putting at an impressive 10.135 for the week.
You rarely see Mickelson fail to close out a tournament. He was 22 of 37 when holding or sharing a 54-hole lead and is ranked 24th in final-round scoring average this year at 69.75. If he shoots that average, Mickelson wins the tournament.
Roller coaster: It takes awhile to total Kyle Stanley’s scorecard. There are lots of circles and squares to decipher. He finished T6 after posting a third-place finish in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans last week. Stanley made 14 birdies and an eagle this week but also carded 11 bogeys. He had five birdies, an eagle and three bogeys in the final round. Kyle is such a long driver of the golf ball -- he averages more than 295 yards -- there are always going to be some inconsistencies but I can see Stanley winning in the near future.
Inconsistent: Rory McIlroy is hitting plenty of good shots, he’s just mixing in too many bad strokes. He led the tournament in greens in regulation but also had a double bogey in each round this weekend. You rarely find a “6” on any scorecard of note and McIlroy had four of them this week. The putter was definitely balky. He had 97 putts in the last three rounds, including 33 in the final round. You can argue the greens at Quail Hollow were not conducive to consistent putting this week and there is some truth to that reasoning, however, I suspect I will see Rory spending some time on his putting stroke before THE PLAYERS Championship begins.
Greens: The greens this week were stressed and slower than usual. That always leads to some interesting putting numbers. Quail Hollow personnel did a wonderful job of getting the course playable under adverse conditions but with slower greens, you sometimes see more aggressive putters performing well. There is less break on slower greens, so putts can be charged. Mickelson led the tournament in strokes gained-putting followed by Rod Pampling, Sergio Garcia, Lynn and Luke List. For the season, those players are ranked: 42nd, 185th, 26th, 56th and 167th.
Trending upward: Lee Westwood finished T4 and shot par or better in every round. An inconsistent short game has always held the Englishman back but this year Westwood is seventh in scrambling after ranking 189th last season. He has posted four top 10s in nine tournaments, including the last three in a row. I would say Westwood is trending in the right direction heading into THE PLAYERS.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Derek Ernst, a 22-year-old PGA TOUR rookie who got in as the fourth alternate, two-putted for par on the first playoff hole to beat England's David Lynn and win the Wells Fargo Championship.
Ernst, who had birdied the 18th hole to get to 8 under, hit the fairway with his approach and put his second shot on the green, about 15 feet away from the flagstick. Lynn, meanwhile, was having his problems -- hitting his tee shot onto the bank of the creek that runs down the left side of the fairway and his second shot into the right greenside bunker.
Lynn blasted out across the green and chipped back on, the ball sliding 8 feet by the hole. Ernst's birdie putt lipped out but he tapped in for the win that earned him a spot in next week's PLAYERS Championship.
The win came in Ernst's eighth start as a PGA TOUR member. The Californian's previous best finish was a tie for 47th at last week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Ernst is the fourth first-time winner in the last six tournaments at Quail Hollow.
UPDATE: Derek Lynn parred the first hole of sudden death to win the Wells Fargo Championship.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- England's David Lynn and PGA TOUR rookie Derek Ernst are in a pllayoff to decide the Wells Fargo Championship after Phil Mickelson was unable to birdie the 18th hole and join them. You can follow the action below.
Mickelson, who now has seven top-10 finishes in 10 appearances at Quail Hollow, bogeyed the 16th and 17th hole to fall out of sole possession of the lead. His approach at the 18th was long and in the back fringe, but he missed the 19-footer for the birdie that would have landed him in sudden death.
The playoff begins at the 18th hole, which is the most difficult of the day and has yielded just four birdies -- one of which was made by Ernst. If needed, the playoff continues at No. 17, which has given up seven birdies, and then goes back to the 18th.
Both players are bidding for their first PGA TOUR victories. If Ernst, who was the fourth alternate, wins he would also earn an invitation to next week's PLAYERS Championship.
No. 18: Lynn hit his drive into the tall grass on the bank of the creek that runs down the left side of the fairway. His second landed in the right greennside bunker. Ernst, on the other hand, found the fairway and put his second shot on the green, about 15 feet from the flagstick.
Lynn's bunker shot flew the green but stayed out of the creek. His chip went 7 feet past the hole. Ernst lipped out for birdie but tapped in for par and his first PGA TOUR win.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The 17th hole again has proven to be Phil Mickelson's nemesis, and may have cost him his long-awaited first Wells Fargo Championship win.
Mickelson, who had just bogeyed the 16th hole to fall back into a three-way tie for the lead, hit his tee shot on the par 3 guarded by water to the fringe, some 65 feet from the pin. He putted to 9 feet and then missed the putt for par.
So he heads to the 18th hole needing a birdie to join PGA TOUR rookie Derek Ernst, the fourth alternate this week, and England's David Lynn in a playoff.
Mickelson is now 14 over for the 40 times he has played the 17th hole.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Derek Ernst just made a 5-footer for birdie on the 18th hole, the most difficult of the week, to tie for the lead of the Wells Fargo Championship at 8 under.
Minutes before the PGA TOUR rookie made that clutch putt, Phil Mickelson hit his drive at the 16th hole into the right rough and then proceeded to miss a 5-footer for par to fall back to 8 under. Ernst's playing partner, David Lynn, parred the final hole to finish at 8 under, as well.
Mickelson is now playing the 17th hole where he is 13 over in 39 visits. Robert Karlsson is 7 under with one hole remaining.
Karlsson and Ernst need to win the Wells Fargo Championship to earn the final spot in next week's PLAYERS Championship.