It usually takes me a couple of days to sit down at the TV and go through the DVR of the telecast of the Tour event and extract the interesting swings. It’s a tedious process, and I can’t listen to all the commentary (thankfully, as it turns out), but it is kind of fun to pull the swings off the DVR, load them into my camcorder, then load the swings onto the V1 so I can take a closer look. It takes a couple of hours, and if you are married and have kids you know that unless it’s late and everybody’s in bed it’s not easy to dominate the main TV with golf, especially when you are stopping and starting all the time. In any case, it is an exercise that enables me to do what I do, which is analyze what the players are doing, and also analyze what the announcers are saying about what the players are doing. This is the mainstream media, and there are millions of people listening to what is being said.
In this particular video I am going to offer my two cents on what is up with Ryo Ishikawa, the young Japanese superstar who is presently going through a rough spot with his game. The telecast I am drawing from is the second round of the Sony Open, and Ishikawa is in one of the premiere groups for the day, (these groups get the hand-held cameras and accrue the most air time), so we get to see a number of his shots from decent camera angles. I like to watch Friday’s round especially because you are able to see not only the players who are playing well, but the players who are expected to play well (that’s why they are in one of these groups) and aren’t. Ishikawa falls into that category, and thus he is subject to lots of analysis from the TV guys, especially Nick Faldo up in the booth. Faldo does a couple of impromptu swing analysis’ and his attempt to discuss Ishikawa’s swing as it occurs is one of the more embarrassing moments in golf history, not that anybody would notice. So that you don’t miss anything, I’m going to transcribe for you exactly what Faldo says. Ishikawa is hitting a driver and the camera view is from an odd angle, face on but with the camera well in front of him.
Faldo: “Let’s see if we can spot anything today. Frank (Nobilo) mentioned before that he sometimes stands a little shut with his feet…and that clubface is shut going back…just a smidgen…and unwinding…and then lifting up. His pelvis line is changing quite a bit, maybe just losing a little bit of body angle…and quite a contrived…yeah a little help on the follow-through…those fractional degrees out here and there, that body angle, shaft angle, makes a big difference.”
Huh? Ok, so everybody thinks I just look for these guys to make asses out of themselves, but that’s really not the case. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Frank Nobilo make a spot on assessment of Ishikawa’s real headache. Nobilo: (Asked what he sees in Ishikawa having spent time with him during the President’s Cup)- “I think some of his angles are a little crossed up. He has that tendency now and again to shut his feet, and then you see he gets a little across the line. And then you’re fighting with it and it becomes a rhythm, trying to tie it all up at once”. When you watch the video you will see that Nobilo’s assessment gibes precisely with my own and is (of course) supported by the video evidence.
So what do we make of what we see here? Well, for one thing, it is obvious that Nick Faldo should not be doing extemporaneous swing analysis. As great a player as he was, he simply sucks at it, which I find highly surprising. I suppose enough people like his chatty announcing style, but I find it almost unwatchable. He made comments about the difference between Vijay’s shoes and Tiger’s shoes that were mind-boggling. Nobilo, on the other hand, has proven himself to be a stabilizing voice of reason in the wilderness of Brandel Chamblee and Charlie Rymer, and is the one guy who seems to at least be trying to do his homework and present a logical case to the viewers in support of his opinions. I would vote to have him lead the telecast. Keep Kelly Tilghman doing interviews, or, better yet, get rid of her as well and bring back Mike Ritz, get rid of Faldo and Chamblee, bring back Brad Faxon, Paul Azinger and Curtis Strange, and you might have a better than just watchable telecast. But then again, who cares what I think?
As for Ishikawa, it is clear that he is trying to work on the right things, as is evident in his rehearsal swings. It is also evident that he is not doing what he is trying to do. You can cross the line and hit it well (like Keegan Bradley), but if you are not hitting it well from a crossed position your choice is to try to uncross it or just keep hitting balls until it comes back. It would appear that Ishikawa is trying to uncross the club but is so far unsuccessful at the attempt, which puts his swing at odds with his mindset, always a precarious position in which to find yourself.