HOT LIPS JOHNNY MILLER
Lanny Wadkins and Fred Couples were supposed to be contenders. But NBC's Miller is still king of commentators. Here's Miller on the state of the game, 2003.
On technology: "The USGA had no idea how far distances would go. They won't say it, but they are shocked at what's happened this year. In their heart of hearts, they'd like to go back to persimmon drivers and steel shafts. The USGA can't let distances get one millimeter longer, or they're idiots."
On Annika Sorenstam: "She is a better irons player than half of the guys on Tour. She can finish twentieth at Colonial, but the pressure will be fierce. If she lets it get to her, it'll be a disaster."
On young guns: "Charles Howell and that whole nuke-it generation—they swing too dang hard! It's just, 'Kill it and hit it dead straight.' They should learn to work the ball."
On Mike Weir and Tiger Woods: "Mike asked me, 'How can I keep up with Tiger?' I said, 'Do the little things.' It's not all power. Watch Tiger—when he swings his irons hard, he doesn't win. He wins when he's hitting punch shots."
On Phil Mickelson: "He's got more fire than all of them, as much as Woods. But you can see Phil going crazy when he goes up against Tiger, trying stupid shots. Phil needs to see a yellow light sometimes."
Miller is yellow-lighting his schedule for '03, calling only nine events. But he will work the U.S. Open. "Olympia Fields is an up-and-down course," he says. "Tall guys and hilly lies don't mix, so watch out for the little guys."
HOT MUSCLES THE CORE
Last year's issue was COR, a driver's coefficient of restitution, which was capped to limit distance. Now it's the core—not a sci-fi movie but the action of the torso, chest and back muscles that powers today's high-torque swing. Only a few years ago, core power was the province of violent sports. Emmitt Smith, the NFL's record-breaking running back, called his core "my secret—it's why a tackler can't bring me down." In golf, Tiger Woods's power comes largely from the fierce torquing of his core, which makes his swing more modern than the long, lashing swoop of John Daly.
"It's not a fad," said Phil Mickelson after he spent the winter building core strength. "Biomechanically, the downswing is started by the core muscles. To create [clubhead] speed, that's where you need to create more strength." Take it from Phil: To hit the ball farther, go hard-core.
HOT LEGS NATALIE GULBIS
The twenty-year-old LPGA star is being marketed as a cupcake, but she is strong enough to pound 280-yard drives with her refreshingly screwy-looking swing. Gulbis is motivated—she finished high school in three years while she and her dad put 130,000 miles on his pickup truck chasing junior-golf glory—and she has two other things that measure up to the game's greats: her long legs. Though only five-foot-nine, Gulbis wears slacks with a thirty-three-inch inseam, almost a match for six-foot-three Ernie Els's thirty-three and a half.
HOT SPAS LUXURY GOES LOCAL
You could park a Robert Trent Jones green inside today's vast high-end spas, where the trend is local color—treatments that relax you while reminding you where you are.
EQUINOX RESORT & SPA in Manchester Village, Vermont, offers Mountain Man facials and a 1927 Walter Travis golf course restored by Rees Jones. (802-362-4700, rockresorts.com)
FOUR SEASONS RESORT, Nevis, West Indies, evokes the island's roots with hot tubs shaped like sugar mills. The resort's Robert Trent Jones Jr. course winds through rain forest to Nevis Peak. (800-332-3442, fourseasons.com)