Prepare Like PGA Champions Do at the WM Phoenix Open

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Prepare Like PGA Champions for the WM Phoenix Open

By Abby Parsons PGA
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The WM Phoenix Open — “The People’s Open” — has a stacked field this year, with 23 of the top 24 players in the world competing at TPC Scottsdale . . . Including a few PGA Champions.

I live across the street from the course, so I walked over for a practice round to get a taste of how some of the best in the world prepare for the PGA Tour’s first designated event.

Don’t Forget About Your Short Game

As I walked to the practice area Collin Morikawa (2020 PGA Champion) was making three-footers at the putting course. He had a putting mirror on his back, so he could double-check his fundamentals.

Collin Morikawa practicing putting at TPC Scottsdale just before the WM Phoenix Open.
Remember this when you’re practicing: Even one of the best players in the world continues to ensure he has his eyes directly over the golf ball when putting. It will make it easier to read greens if you have a good eye-line with the flatstick.

Morikawa rolled these three footers for a while, before he hit the range to warm up for the practice round. I followed Morikawa once he teed off alongside Beau Hossler, Xander Schaffele, and David Lipsky. I noticed he was putting an emphasis on short game. He chipped from many angles on No. 3 green, and was paying attention to how the ball was reacting and moving.

The bottom line? It’s easy to pound balls on the range and work on your ball-striking, but around the greens is what really matters in the end. Putting is what places the ball in a hole, and chipping helps you to clean up your score.

Take the hard shots
Justin Thomas, who is defending his PGA Champion title at Oak Hill in New York this spring, arrived early for some practice.

Thomas started by chipping with his dad, Mike Thomas, PGA Coach. He was also filming his form. Mike would pull Justin aside every few shots to help him with his chipping and give him some tips. They moved to the bunker and I was able to see Justin take at most 20 shots of the same bunker shot. Mike would still film occasionally, and Justin was sometimes pulled over to observe his form.

Justin Thomas and Mike Thomas, his PGA coach, hit bunker shots just before the WM Phoenix Open.
Even at this stage, repetition is essential. You can improve your confidence on the course by practicing feel shots around the greens, and in the bunker. You will be able to visualize the shot much easier if you are able to visualize what you did well in practice.

Thomas continued to practice on the sand at the golf course. I watched him hit some from a fairway bunker at 18 that has a very narrow landing area with bunkers on either side. The 18th’s fairway bunker seemed like the place to be, because Morikawa made his way to that same exact spot during his practice round.

It is much easier to play golf from the fairway. You can also practice the shots that occur when your ball does not touch the fairway. Next time you’re out practicing, drop some balls in the heavy rough, bunker, pine straw, a divot — you name it. These shots will reduce the shock factor when your ball reaches the shortgrass.

Its not hard to do what the PGA Champions do.

Hey Siri, play Sandstorm.

The sand save & birdie that got @JustinThomas34PGA Championship and won the second PGA Championship. #PGAChamp | #TopShotTuesday

— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) January 31, 2023

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