Originally created 05/25/05

Woods' game has influence on Shell



It's no coincidence that Regions Cup golfer Ryan Shell swings like Tiger Woods.

He also dresses like the four-time Masters Tournament champion, from the black cap with the TW logo to the red shirt he breaks out for the final round of tournaments.

Also, you'll never catch Shell wearing shorts in a tournament. He's partial to black pants, just like Woods.

"He's my favorite player," Shell said after winning Sunday's Gordon Uhl/Golf Captial Invitational at Forest Hills Golf Club.

Shell's swing looks like Tiger Woods' "second" swing, the one Butch Harmon helped Woods groove in the late 1990s and early 2000.

"When I first started, all I did was watch tape of him - that's all I did," the 21-year-old Shell said of Woods. "He's like the only player I watch. I guess it's kind of ingrained in me."

Woods, of course, used a "new" swing to win April's Masters Tournament, but parts of it are still similar to the swing Shell uses, especially the fluid motion.

"As long as it looks a little bit like it," Shell said. "I really work on plane and tempo."

Shell also taps into Woods' course management skills.

"When I'm on the course and in a situation, I think about what Tiger would do," Shell said.

Woods isn't the only source of inspiration Shell has on the golf course. He cites a book written by sports psychologist Bob Rotella for helping him win the Golf Capital, which was his first Regions Cup victory.

On the night before the Golf Capital, Shell picked up a copy of Rotella's 2004 book, The Golfer's Mind: Play to Play Great, and read "half of it" before Saturday's first round.

Shell wrote seven key points from the book in the back of his Forest Hills yardage book and referred to them on the course, especially the fifth item, which was "par is a good score."

That was true at Forest Hills, where Shell's winning score was 4-over-par 148.

The other phrases he wrote in the yardage book were: keep the ball below the hole, play to play great, focus on the target, game plan, be confident and stay in the present.

Shell might be tough to beat in the final six Regions Cup events once he reads the rest of the Rotella book.

FREE LESSONs: Nine area pros have been lending their teaching skills to the PGA of America's Free Lesson Month.

Now in its eighth year, the program, which is part of the "Play Golf America" marketing campaign, offers free 10-minute lessons to golfers of all skill levels.

The area pros participating are Kurt Kaltz of Pine Ridge Country Club, Jarrod Rusch of Mount Vintage Plantation, Douglas Cameron of the International Golf Academy, Gregg Hemann of Jones Creek, Alan Manley of Augusta Tech, Michael Butler of Goshen Plantation Golf Club, Marcus Sanderson of U.S. Golf, Scott Allen of Forest Hills Golf Club and Alex McNeil of Wedges and Woods.

The nine are among a record 6,700 pros around the country offering the free lessons. The record had been 4,993 in 2004.

"PGA Free Lesson Month serves as a catalyst to motivate individuals to get out and play more golf," PGA of America president Roger Warren said in a statement. "As evidenced by the continued increase in participation of the numerous PGA professionals each year, the program has become a staple in the industry."

AAJGA DEADLINE NEARS: Friday is the deadline to sign up for the Augusta Area Junior Golf Association summer tournament series.

There are two series of six events, one running from May 31-July 19 and the other from June 2-July 7. The season-ending Rob Perry Championship is July 22 and July 25.

The courses in series No. 1 are Jones Creek, Gordon Lakes, North Augusta Country Club, Applewood, Persimmon Hill and Midland Valley.

The courses in series No. 2 are Augusta Municipal Golf Course, Forest Hills Golf Club, Three Oaks, Woodside Plantation, West Lake Country Club and Pine Ridge Country Club.

The cost of a series is $120, and there is a 150-player limit in each series. For more information, call (803) 641-3528.

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.



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