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Adam Schupak

ORLANDO, Fla. – Some day when they make a movie about Erik Compton, actor Paul Giamatti will play the role of the two-time hearttransplant recipient. That has been the ongoing joke until one day Compton bumped into Giamatti at an airport.

“He looked at me and said, ‘I don’t think you look anything like me,’ ” Compton said.

First, Compton will have to give Giamatti, who didn’t display a very promising swing in the movie “Sideways,” some lessons. Fixing the slice for amateurs was all Compton could do initially after undergoing his second transplant, in 2008, and it gave him ...

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Beth Ann Nichols
Lydia Ko with instructor Sean Hogan.
Lydia Ko with instructor Sean Hogan.

Editor's note: This story appeared in the Oct. 24, 2014 issue of Golfweek, before Lydia Ko won the CME Group Tour Championship on Nov. 23.

Lydia Ko received a fair amount of criticism last winter for leaving the only coach she’d ever known, just weeks after turning professional. But Ko, 17, of New Zealand, wanted to set up a new life at sunny ChampionsGate near Orlando, Fla., where Sean Hogan and David Leadbetter now look after her swing and help pace what could be a Hall of Fame career.

“The great ones that we’ve found in the ...

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James Achenbach
Connor Powers' swing looks a little unorthodox, but it allows Powers to generate tremendous clubhead speed.
Connor Powers' swing looks a little unorthodox, but it allows Powers to generate tremendous clubhead speed.

CARLSBAD, Calif. – It’s the new golf, and it’s all about power and speed. The fastest swingers aren’t worried about traditional golf swings.

Connor Powers, 26, weighs 240 pounds but moves quickly and delicately. As he jitterbugs and swivel-steps in a corner of the practice range at Aviara Golf Club, other golfers stop to watch.

His dance and coordination routine is performed before every practice session, and it almost always draws a crowd.

“Why do people always want to look at me?” Power asks. “Don’t they know it’s something I do to get better?”

Apparently not ...

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November 12, 2013 | 1:20 p.m.

McGladrey Classic winner Chris Kirk talks power

Adam Schupak
Chris Kirk's swing generates a natural, powerful draw.
Chris Kirk's swing generates a natural, powerful draw.

Should Chris Kirk’s playing career on the PGA Tour ever fizzle, the third-year Tour pro might have a future as a trick-shot artist. At a Callaway X-Bomb exhibition in March, Kirk borrowed long-driving champion Jamie Sadlowski’s 50-inch Callaway driver and blasted a ball off the top of a water bottle.

It happened like this: Fellow Callaway ambassador James Hahn poked a hole in said water bottle, teed one up and dared Kirk to give it a rip.

“So the ball is like a foot off the ground and I really thought I might top it,” Kirk recalled. “I ...

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James Achenbach

Carlsbad, Calif. – About three months ago, I took a playing lesson from Jim Flick. I figured his genius was knowing how to play the game -- how to get around the golf course -- as much as it was how to swing the club.

Looking back 22 years, to 1990, I knew Flick had told Tom Lehman, “You can be the best player in the world.” For a short time, Lehman probably was.

So what was he going to say to me? I had visions of something like this: “Jim, you can be the best player on your block.”

Flick, of course ...

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Categories: For Your Game, Instruction
James Achenbach
Sean Foley talks with Tiger Woods at the 2010 PGA Championship.
Sean Foley talks with Tiger Woods at the 2010 PGA Championship.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Question: What’s the one phrase you’ll never hear from most golf instructors?

Answer: “I don’t know.”

Too many golf instructors talk as if they know it all. Their mouths are perpetual motion machines.

And then there’s Sean Foley. Despite the fact he teaches the world’s most recognizable golfer, Tiger Woods, Foley might be the most humble, self-effacing instructor in golf.

Sure, sometimes Foley gets so enthusiastic that he transforms a practice range into an outdoor amphitheater, waving his arms like a symphony conductor high on Mozart. At heart, though, Foley is thoughtful, introspective ...

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May 23, 2012 | 6:56 p.m.

Play strong

Nike Golf smartphone fitness app
Nike Golf smartphone fitness app

Nike Golf has partnered with the Gray Institute – a performance analysis and training entity – and launched a smartphone app to give consumers access to golf-specific fitness regimens.

The alliance is an element of the NG 360 initiative, which Nike is describing as a “holistic approach” to improve performance through physical evaluation and training, digital tracking applications and custom fitting.

The golf program designed by the acclaimed Gray Institute of Adrian, Mich., which educates practitioners such as trainers and physical therapists as well as works with elite athletes, has been in the making for two years, according to Nike officials.

“The ...

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September 14, 2011 | 10:15 a.m.

Spieth takes flight

Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth

DALLAS – Cameron McCormick won’t let Jordan Spieth watch video of Spieth’s old swing. It’s a way to block out the bad memories. Spieth’s swing has changed in myriad ways since he and McCormick began working together in 2006.

“There was some idiosyncratic movement that went on there,” McCormick said with a hint of understatement. “It was something to look at.”

Or not, apparently.

Spieth’s old swing was steep, and he had a pronounced reverse pivot, requiring a dramatic change in his swing plane between his backswing and downswing.

He became an accomplished player with that ...

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Categories: Sean Martin, Men, Instruction
August 23, 2011 | 12:08 p.m.

Fabulous fade

Charles Howell III tees off on the eighth hole during the second round of the AT&T National golf tournament at Aronimink Golf Club, Friday, July 1, 2011, in Newtown Square, Pa.
Charles Howell III tees off on the eighth hole during the second round of the AT&T National golf tournament at Aronimink Golf Club, Friday, July 1, 2011, in Newtown Square, Pa.

Charles Howell III is getting back to what works for him. Howell relied almost exclusively on a fade when he was one of the game’s hot young prospects. After developing some bad habits while trying to incorporate a draw into his arsenal, Howell is back to the reliable left-to-right ball flight.

Instructor Kevin Smeltz started helping Howell return to the fade last year. The change is paying off.

Howell finished in the top 25 in 12 of his first 20 starts in 2011, and entered the Open Championship with three consecutive top-5 finishes. He has earned more than $1 ...

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June 14, 2011 | 11:47 a.m.

Augusta regular

Nathan Smith during the 2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Nathan Smith during the 2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur.

Nathan Smith may not make any money for his on-course exploits, but he outperforms many PGA Tour players in at least one category: number of Masters invitations received.

Smith, 32, recently competed in his third Masters (and second in a row).

He shot 75-77 and missed the cut for the third consecutive time. This career amateur, though, has had his share of highlights at the golf season’s first major.

Smith, a Pittsburgh native, was paired with Arnold Palmer for the first two rounds of the 2004 Masters. Last year, Smith was 2 under par and in the lead through ...

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Categories: Sean Martin, Instruction
April 18, 2011 | 1:36 p.m.

For Your Game

Yani Tseng
Yani Tseng

ORLANDO, Fla. – Gary Gilchrist was instructing Yani Tseng’s opponent when he watched the compact 15-year-old from Taiwan win the 2004 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links. Gilchrist was at Golden Horseshoe in Williamsburg, Va., to watch his pupil, Michelle Wie, but he remembers being impressed by Tseng’s game.

Tseng was 4 down to Wie, then a 14-year-old phenom, in the morning round of the 36-hole match before winning, 1 up.

“You could see how she just kept fighting her way back,” Gilchrist said. He remembers Tseng, then 5 feet, 4 inches, outdriving the 6-foot Wie on several ...

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February 14, 2011 | 3:41 p.m.

Inside the swing

D.A. Points plays from the 18th tee during the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links on February 13, 2011.
D.A. Points plays from the 18th tee during the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links on February 13, 2011.

D.A. Points' victory at Pebble Beach will be remembered for his eagle hole-out on the 14th hole in the final round. Brian Mogg, founder of the Mogg Performance Center in Windermere, Fla., is the man who helped hone the swing that led to that shot.

Their teacher-student relationship, which has lasted about five years, is helping Points to a career season. Pebble Beach was Points' first PGA Tour victory, and earned him his first Masters berth. He's finished fifth, 18th and first in his past three events and is No. 2 on the money list.

Mogg said a ...

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January 12, 2011 | 5:45 p.m.

Instruction: Hyundai winner Jonathan Byrd

Jonathan Byrd
Jonathan Byrd

Maybe Jonathan Byrd’s recent success shouldn’t come as a surprise. Byrd, winner of his past two PGA Tour starts, is one of the most consistent iron players on Tour.

He ranked 20th in greens in regulation in 2010, and fifth the previous year. He also was No. 1 in the PGA Tour’s top ballstriking statistic (which combines GIR and total driving) in 2009.

Byrd’s swing has undergone dramatic changes since he began working with instructor Mike Bender two years ago. Bender also instructs Zach Johnson.

• • •

PLANE TRUTH

The key to Byrd’s strong iron play? “The ...

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James Achenbach

ORLANDO, Fla. – Down with duck feet!

That was the message of the anti-duck man, a.k.a. Mark Verstegen, at the World Golf Fitness Summit.

Although many golf instructors tell their students to flare one or both feet outward at address, Verstegen believes this creates a power leak.

And he is backed by a measure of support among fitness experts. Pete Egoscue, who has advised and trained Jack Nicklaus, among others, has said the same thing. So has golf instructor Roger Fredericks, known as one of the world’s foremost authorities on stretching.

Still, it pays to be careful.

Some ...

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September 21, 2010 | 9:39 a.m.

Fundamental relationship

Scott Langley's swing sequence
Scott Langley's swing sequence

This story appeared in the Sept. 3, 2010 issue of Golfweek

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Scott Langley is not a technical player.

“When my fundamentals are in place, I have a comfort level with my swing. I know I’m not going to miss too wide if I do miss,” said Langley, the reigning NCAA champion from Illinois who travels with a copy of Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.”

That is why his relationship with instructor, Brian Fogt, and college coach, Mike Small, works so well.

At the first lesson, Fogt asks his students, “Have you ever ...

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Categories: Instruction, Top Stories

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