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Truth & Rumors: Teaching pros follow money to China

With American golf course designers flocking to China for work, it was only a matter of time before teaching pros followed. Leading the charge is Cindy Reid, a former LPGA pro who has built a thriving instruction business, the Cindy Reid Golf Academy, which opened three years ago at Mission Hills, 45 minutes from Hong Kong. That's not only good news for Reid, but also for other expat pros looking to cash in on China's insatiable appetite for golf, reports Bruce Einhorn of Bloomberg Businessweek:

To keep up with the momentum, Reid recruits American pros through the PGA's online job listings and travels to the States to interview candidates. Still, many pros emigrate on their own. "There's a net decrease in golf courses in the U.S.," says Jeff Olyniec, a 36-year-old Alabama native who works at China's Palm Island Resort, referring to the 107 courses that closed in the U.S. last year, according to the National Golf Foundation. "That's creating the desire to go where the money is."

Serious money…

"In America, people sign up for six weeks [of lessons] and that's it,” Reid says. “Here, they want 52 weeks. It's so new, they want to learn as much as they can from foreigner. They're open-minded and willing. They know they don't know it. They want your knowledge, your talent—and they're willing to pay anything for it." In China, her clients pay her about $150 more per hour than she was charging in the States. Reid knows that for some students, having a foreign teacher is a crucial mark of affluence. "They want to be able to tell their friends who they had lessons with," she says.

Day warms to mental coach Tour pros either believe in the power of mental-game coaches—or they don’t. Jason Day used to fall squarely in the latter camp, telling Jim Burch of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram:

"I always thought it was a bunch of crap. I thought, 'If you've got a mental coach, you've got something wrong with you.'"

Then, in February, Day met Hunter Mahan’s head doctor, Neale Smith. Day and Smith clicked and soon began working together. And, well, the 24-year-old Aussie is now a believer.

In Day's estimation, turning to Smith marked a last-gasp effort to snap himself out of a stretch where he "just wasn't having fun" as a golfer following a missed cut at the Northern Trust Open on Feb. 18. The two huddled before Day's first match the following week at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Day's acid test for his sessions with Smith occurred at the Masters, where he finished birdie-birdie in the final round of his first competitive appearance in Augusta, Ga. That's a far cry from staggering down the stretch to squeeze out a Nelson triumph [in 2010].

"I was very nervous here last year. It was my first chance to win [on the PGA Tour]. I didn't know how to handle my nerves under pressure," Day said. "I handled myself much better under stress [at the Masters]. I went through the whole process better. I didn't freak out too much."

Tour pro's caddie calls shots; pro hits them Ryan Palmer shot a 5-under 65 Thursday at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, his best round on Tour in four months. Give mucho credit to his caddie, James Edmondson, who controlled Palmer like a marionette.

"All I did is get on each tee and waited until he told me what to do," said Palmer, who’s in solo second, one shot off the 18-hole lead held by Jeff Overton. "He told me what side of the tee box to get on, and what side he wanted me to be on, what target he wanted me to hit, and it was my job to hit the shot.

"I think there is something there because I was really relaxed and calm and at ease. It came easy."

This is the first round that Palmer has used this strategy. Although he had played steadier in recent months — his usual track record is one good tournament followed by a handful of poor ones — Palmer has never played well at the TPC Four Seasons Resort.

In seven previous starts, he had made just one cut. So during a meeting Palmer had with Edmondson and coach Randy Smith a few days ago, the three decided that the timing was perfect for a new strategy.

And if Palmer wins this week, Edmondson might think the timing is right for a raise.

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by Kevin Cunningham