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July 21 2012

1:40 PM

On the Mark: Risks and rewards

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Tiger Woods has stuck with his fairways-and-greens game plan.

By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM

The Open Championship is always a special week for the competitors and the fans. This week golf’s oldest championship took the competitors to Royal Lytham and St. Annes and the quaint seaside town of Lytham and St. Annes on the Fylde Coast.

Royal Lytham and St. Annes is the least “links-style” course of those in The Open Championship rota. It starts with a par 3, and there are three par 3s on the outward nine. It is also the only Open Championship course that is surrounded by houses on three sides. Even so, it is a demanding test of golf that asks the competitors to navigate their way around 206 bunkers.  Evidence of the venerable links’ caliber as a challenging test is the impressive list of champions is boasts: Bobby Jones, Bobby Locke, Peter Thomson, Bob Charles, Tony Jacklin, Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros (twice), Tom Lehman and David Duval.

This year, through two rounds, the top of the leaderboard in once again occupied by champions of the highest order -- Brandt Snedeker, Adam Scott and Tiger Woods enter the third round in the top three spots on the leaderboard and by all accounts, their strategies have largely been the same.

Snedeker has aimed at the center of the greens and in so, doing avoided disaster in the greenside pot bunkers. Woods has geared it down (he has hit only three drivers through two rounds) off the tee, sacrificing distance for accuracy. Among the 83 players that have made the cut he is 73rd in driving distance. Adam Scott has been a bit more aggressive in his approach, but he has, under the watchful eye of Steve Williams, by no means been rash in his decision-making.

In other words, the lesson that we can learn from the leaders’ play at The Open is that circumspection and a measured approach is advisable to making lower scores. Lower scores are not only the product of more birdies; they are also the product of fewer bogeys. So to improve your scores by making make savvy decisions and be disciplined enough to stick with that approach throughout the round. Good golf is, in many respects, like good gambling. Assess the risk and the reward, and do not attempt any shot if the risk outweighs the possible reward.

Good luck.
/mi

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.

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