2006 Ryder Cup Standings

Points standings for the 2006 Ryder Cup following the 2005 Buick Invitational.

The 2006 Ryder Cup team points standings are available after every PGA Tour event, and points will be available through the 88th PGA Championship. It’s no surprise that, after finishing third and first in his only two events this year, and a lot of top finishes last year, Tiger Woods is currently atop the list.

Here’s your top 15. At this point, nearly anyone who manages a top-10 jumps into the top 20. Oh what a Ryder Cup team we’d have with Woody Austin, Hunter Mahan, and Kirk Triplett! But hey, that’s why this is the 200-SIX team.

Key on Focus

Finding a key to remind you to focus on every shot will kick you into the right mode.

When you watch professional golf on television, you’ll see players crouch behind their ball on the green, cup their hands over the sides of their face, and read the putt. On the tees, you’ll see players holding a club on the line of their shot. In the fairway, you’ll see players take practice swings or abbreviated backswings.

They’re reminding themselves to focus.

Part of a consistent pre-shot routine is the reminder that you “kick in” to focus. The golfer cupping his hands over the sides of his face is blocking out distractions, focusing on the line of the putt. Lining your shaft up with your target may serve as the reminder visualize the shot. Taking practice swings reminds a player to focus on the sidehill lie she’s facing.

Incorporate a “focus key” – something small that serves as your reminder to focus. It may be something small – wiggling your toes in your shoes as you stand behind the ball – or something larger – revising your pre-shot routine to incorporate time for visualization. Just focus.

Out of the Fog Comes Tiger

Tiger Woods, helped by Lady Luck, emerged from a fog (and a bout with the flu) to capture the 2005 Buick Invitational.

Tiger Woods Fist PumpThe fog parted, and Tiger Woods emerged from his second event of 2005 with his first victory of the new year.

This victory closed the books on the longest stroke-play drought of Tiger Woods’ career (American Express Championship in October, 2003). Of course, it certainly seemed as though Lady Luck was on Tiger’s side as competitors fell away hole by hole. Charles Howell III in particular felt the wrath of Lady (Un)Luck as he rattled the flagstick and holed his approach to the par-5 18th for eagle only to have it spin around in the cup and rebound into the lake. Had the ball stayed in the hole he’d have ended up tied with Tiger at -16.

Tiger said “This golf course is so difficult, anything could happen.” Just about everything did.

Knee Bends

Knee bends are bad, but so are “knee-straightens.” Keep your back knee comfortable bent throughout the swing for more consistent club-ball contact.

The right knee is perhaps one of the most misunderstood parts in a golf swing. Visit any public course and you’re bound to see golfers of all ages, shapes, and sizes doing everything they can to abuse their golf swings by changing the bend in their back knee.

Today’s Swing Tip is this: your right knee bend stays about the same throughout the swing, right up until your heel comes off the ground towards the end of the follow through. On the backswing, you load up onto a coiled right side. You don’t straighten the knee, nor do you squat. On the downswing, the left knee separates from the right knee a little to start the weight shift forward.

Practice swinging your arms back and through in your living room, focusing on keeping the right knee flexed throughout.

Dean Wilson’s Growing Pains

Golfer Dean Wilson was disqualified after the second round of the Buick Invitational for failing to sign his scorecard.

Dean WilsonAfter the first round of the Buick Invitational, Dean Wilson was one shot off the lead at 9-under par. Things were finally looking up for Wilson who has had a tough road to the PGA Tour. Friday, Wilson faltered a little shooting a 75. Despite his poor round, he was still tied for 16th, set to make the cut, and finish with a nice check. With the bad round behind him and things finally starting to look up; Wilson headed to the scoring tent, turned in his card, and left. However Wilson forgot to sign his scorecard and was disqualified from the tournament for simply forgetting to put pen to paper and write his name. All Wilson could say after the fact was, “First time as a pro.” However, this is hardly the first time this mistake has happened. Padraig Harrington lead the final day of the Benson and Hedges Invitational but was disqualified for failing to sign his first round scorecard.

Fog Off: Buick Round 3 Halted by Weather

Tiger Woods nullified Lehman’s three-stroke lead in as many holes on Saturday before play was halted due to fog (once again).

Tiger Woods CreamTiger Woods began the day three back of first- and second-round leader Tom Lehman. It took him three holes to make that up, and as play began on their fifth hole, darkness halted round three of the Buick Invitational after a lengthy fog delay.

Woods came out firing and birdied his first two holes, the second from the bunker on the difficult par-3 11th. Lehman missed a 6-footer on the first for birdie, then struggled to make two eight footers on the next two holes for par and bogey. Tiger had teed off on the 14th (his fifth hole) when the siren sounded. Woods and playing partner Peter Lonard, who had also driven, elected to finish the hole while Tom Lehman headed for the clubhouse. Perhaps Lonard should have followed Lehman, as he double-bogeyed the hole to slide back to -11.

Give Me Some Space

Leave plenty of space between your body and your hands so that you can swing freely through the hitting area.

Many of us neglect a little known principle of golf and as a result our swing is compromised. Here’s the rule: Leave enough space between you and the ball so that you can swing through without any blockage or encumbrance. Pretty simple. Make sure that your hands aren’t too close to your body at address so that they aren’t bunched up through the hitting area during your swing. A good way to prevent this is to measure yourself at address to make sure that you have room to move. The pros do it and so should you.

In a Torrey Fog, Lehman Leads

Fog suspended play for a few hours, but that didn’t stop Tiger Woods, Peter Lonard, and Tom Lehman from pushing towards the top of the leaderboard.

Tom LehmanTiger Woods made a charge on the easier North course, but Tom Lehman played well on the tough South to hold onto a lead. The story of the day was not Lehman’s ageless play or Tiger’s possible comeback from a disappointing 2004, but the fog that delayed play and prevented 59 players from completing their rounds before darkness fell over Torrey Pines.

Lehman’s 10-under 62 (North) and 5-under 67 (South) put him at -15, tying the tournament record set in 1996 by none other than Lennie Clements. (No, Roger is the pitcher. Lennie who? We don’t know; don’t ask us. He finished in third.) Tiger Woods finished 17 holes, leaving the relatively easy 18th on the North course for Saturday morning, and sits in third at -12.

“The Sweetest Game” by Cal Brown

A book about “Playing Golf By Your Better Instincts.”

Sweetest GameI was over at Barnes & Noble a couple of months back and, like a true fanatic, was perusing the golf section and I came across a book I had to take home. “The Sweetest Game,” by Cal Brown is a collection of anecdotes that serve to instruct and humor anyone who loves the greatest game.

In his chapter, “Golfers Are Born Losers” Brown quotes the proverb that says: “God gave us music that we might pray without words” and goes on to say, “The Scots gave us golf that we might suffer without guilt.” Everyone who has played golf for any length of time knows what Brown is talking about and that is what makes this book so much fun. It’s golf in the raw – the struggles of the greatest players in history as an example for the weekend hack.