Archive: December 2011

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December 20, 2011

Ask Brady Riggs Live! Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Will Fix Your Faults

Posted at 9:36 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs stopped by on Tuesday to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you have a question or video link for Brady, be sure to check back on Tuesday, January 3 for an all-new edition!

Thanks to everyone for all of your support this year. It has been a blast. I will see everyone back after the New Year!

Jon asks at 1:45:

Help! the last year I endured the torture of sometimes great (for me) but inconsistent golf all year long. I shoot rounds of; 109, 98, 83, 82, 94, 101, 86, 113, 90, 81, 105, 90, 87, 84, 100, 95, 86, & 87.... I went from hitting the sweet spot to hitting rockets off the hosel. Can you please offer some advise and/or drills to help improve consistency?

Wow! 113 then 81 two rounds later is quite a spread. The fact is that you need to go back to the beginning and check everything. Grip, posture, alignment, ball position, tilt, weight distribution and relaxation before you take the club back. Once those are under control work in this order, clubface, path, then pivot. Get the clubface in a relatively square position at address, make sure the path in neutral, then work on the speed and explosiveness of your swing. I know this may not be the advice you are looking for but it works.

Victor asks at 1:25:

Lately, I have been playing good golf, but my downswing and impact is a mess, due to my hips early extension. Any tips for that please? The shot here is an intentional fade that I pulled slightly, but it faded nicely towards the target. I naturally draw the ball straight, so pulling is not a problem.

I agree with you that you lose your posture through impact and become too vertical. This drives your hands up and away from your body forcing you to lose leverage and overuse your hands during impact. Your tush moves in from the “tush line” immediately during the backswing. This means that your weight is too much in your heels at address and needs to push out more towards the balls of your feet or even your toes before you take the club back. I would work on moving in the exact opposite direction than you are currently going. Start towards the balls of your feet and move towards the right heel during the backswing. Try to get more bent over on the downswing and into impact than you were at address and at the top. Only when you can exaggerate the change will you be able to see it in full speed on the golf course. Here are a couple of pictures to help you visualize.



John asks at 1:05:

Brady.... I think in the past I have read on the blog the the left wrist should be flat at impact. How do I know that I am achieving this when I am hitting balls at the range? How far past impact does the wrist stay flat?

The left wrist should be flat at impact. When you are hitting the ball properly with the irons the club should be bottoming out beyond the ball. If the left wrist is bent backwards at impact this can’t happen. The duration of the flatness in the left wrist is dependent upon the grip at address, the desired ball flight, the pivot through impact, etc. I can tell you that attempting to maintain the flat left wrist too long has ruined many good players, specifically with the driver. The best way to practice this is with short and slow shots where the finish of your motion is just past impact. This will give you some feedback about how to use your body to drive the hands, arms and club through impact without forcing the left wrist into a “position”. The fact is to achieve a flat left wrist at impact you need to be relaxed and sequencing your motion properly. If you make the swing all about the hands you have no chance. Start small and slow and build upon the success of the shorter shots.

Casey asks at 12:35:

I hope you have a great holiday season. I had a quick question on the lower body and pivot in downswing. From face on, my left knee still has the habit of sliding out past the left foot in the downswing, before it clears back behind the foot. I notice a lot of good modern players (AK, Woodland, Hoffman) never get that left knee out in front of the left foot on the downswing like I do, but some old school guys (including Hogan) have a move similar to mine.

My question is should I work on trying to eliminate that slide? or is it OK? My goal is to avoid any body stall through the shot, I want to keep rotating through it like AK Woodland and Hoffman, so my body controls the release of the club more and the toe doesn't flip down after impact. Here is my swing DTL and face on. Thank you!! and PS, is it possible to get lessons in person from you? I'm sure it would be extremely helpful.

Thanks for the Holiday wishes, the same to you and yours. Of course you can come out for lessons, would love to have you although you would have to lose the white belt;)

The left knee’s position on the downswing is determined by the direction the left foot is pointing. For example, AK’s left foot is nearly pigeon toed at address making it impossible for his left knee to rotate past his foot (unless he wants to blow out his MCL). Your left foot (and Hogan’s) is flared out in the address position and becomes more flared during the downswing. This allows your left knee to point in the same direction as your foot creating the possibility for the knee to get further out. The problem with squaring up your left foot is that it requires significant flexibility to rotate the hips through impact. This is something you can experiment with to see if your body will handle it. Here are a couple of pictures to help you see the differences.



Scott Chievers asks at 12:20:

I am thinking of moving to Stack and Tilt, any opinions?

Are you on a fishing expedition to see if I’ll take the bait with this question? Seeing as it’s the Holiday Season I am going to pass on this one. If you have questions about my opinion on this methodology feel free to look at the past blogs. If you are serious and don’t know where I stand send me an email. I have grown as tired of this subject as Mike Weir and Aaron Baddeley were of the swing.

Jdduckhook asks at 12:00

I tend to get stuck on the downswing. My lower body gets way ahead of my arm swing on the downswing. This creates blocks and big hooks. What is your favorite drill to correct this problem?

It is very difficult to work on your golf swing by trying “not” to do something. This is why players have limited success thinking of doing less with their body as the downswing begins to cure being stuck. When I work with my students I am always trying to give them a positive thought to improve their golf swing. With your specific issue I would like to see you “light up” or engage your left quad muscle as you begin the transition. Driving your weight into the left quad will prevent you from spinning out with your lower body and allow your arms to get synced up with your pivot. The rotation of your hips will be delayed with the positive thought of driving into your quad and enable you to work against the ground with your legs through impact.

December 13, 2011

Ask Brady Riggs Live! Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Will Fix Your Faults

Posted at 10:05 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs stopped by on Tuesday to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you have a question or video link for Brady, be sure to check back for an all-new edition.

Thanks to everyone for your questions and videos. Let's get it going again next week!

Kevin asks at 1:45:

I have a case of the sh**ks. I wouldn't dare speak the whole word as the golf gods would frown on me. I was a solid 10 handicap until I hit a wall a couple months ago with this. It started with by wedges, 56-64 degree, but has now moved throughout my entire bag. Any help would be much appreciated.

Sounds like a great deal of fun Kevin. There are 4 ways to shank it, fortunately you can only really do 3. Start too close, get too close, swing too far from the inside and swing too far from the outside. Obviously you can’t swing too far from the inside and the outside at the same time so you are left with 3 possibilities. Here’s the quick solution. Hit some practice shots working on the following: Get the weight more towards the front of your shoes at address and allow your weight to move towards the right heel during the backswing. Try to attack the ball from the inside and actually hit the toe of the club. Once you are able to hit the toe consistently you will have overcome this issue. It seems a bit simplistic but it works!

Clif asks at 1:15:

Hi Brady, golf swing theory question here. I injured my lower back about 6 months ago and am still recovering. The question I have pertains to what Rocco Mediate is doing in his swing as he has a bad back as well. If I understand he wants a very wide stance, side to side movement is encouraged, but up and down is bad. I have really been working on your tips this year and love your philosophy. Should I now get a little more "Rocco" in my swing as my back will never be what it was? Or is there a better approach that you advocate? Thanks so much for the great blog!

Thanks for the kind words about the blog. I have been struggling with lower back issues for years so I feel your pain. Standing a bit more upright at address and limiting the amount of right side tilt you produce during the downswing will help significantly. With less tilt your hands will not lead the clubhead as much into impact creating less descending blow and more clubface rotation. As a result I would avoid a stronger grip as the tendency to hit excessively right to left shots would be too strong. As with any adjustment to your golf swing, understanding how all the parts work together will give you a chance at being consistent. Dealing with lower back pain is an unfortunate reality for a large percentage of players. You can play great golf without pain if you work on your fitness off the course and improve the mechanics of your golf swing. Send in some video and I will try to help you through this issue, unfortunately I have a great deal of experience with it on a personal level.

Joe asks at 12:45:

Brady: My short game is good but pathetic distance makes it difficult to reach any but the shortest holes in regulation. It's hard to break 100, let alone 90. My best drives only go 160-170 yards, and no other club goes more than 140, even a new Diablo 5-wood. I see plenty of duffers who are older, smaller and/or have worse swings routinely hit farther. My Nike Machspeed 10.5-degree driver (senior shaft) goes no farther than my former Nike Sasquatch 13-degree. I can hit a 9-iron 100-110 yards, a 6-iron 130, 5 hybrid 140. If I could hit at least 200-yard drives and 175-yard fairway shots, I feel I could often break 90 with my decent short game. I've tried every power tip and taken many lessons but nothing helps. I really don't think I'm that weak but I just can’t generate any club head speed. Can you help?

Thanks for the videos Joe. Yes, I can help. The issue for you is in the sequence of your golf swing. Instead of starting the downswing with the body moving towards the target leading the arms and club, you are in reverse. When your arms start the downswing there is a significant loss of power and balance. In fact, in your video you lose your balance approaching the finish in the direction of the target line, a dead giveaway to your sequence problems. If you are going to gain speed and power you have to change the transition between your backswing and downswing. The body needs to start moving in the direction of the target BEFORE your arms and club finish the backswing. There are a number of drills you can do including the step drill that will help you feel the proper sequence starting the downswing. Think of throwing a ball, hitting a baseball, slinging a Frisbee, anything that is athletic is done in the sequence of body before arms and object. This is the issue Joe, get to work.

Luke asks at 12:15:

I have been struggling with hitting shots fat and taking a big divot. I do not have a steep swing path and the divot is shallow but I believe it has something to do with my head mivement during my swing. I have watched video of my swing and seet that I lean over the ball during the backswing and the during the downswing my head moves back(laterally) and hangs way back but is still over the ball causing the lowest point of my downswing to be way out in front of me. Is there any drill to keep the proper head position during the downswing? Thanks


Thanks for the question. When the body is off-balance in the address position it creates the movement during the takeaway. If you are falling over the ball during the backswing it is very likely you are standing too upright during the address position with your weight too much in your heels. As a result, your body will search for balance during the motion of swinging and move down and in the direction of the ball. When the weight moves in this direction during the backswing the adjustment coming down is to back up and hang back. To fix this excessive movement you need to start where you were going. In other words, get more bent over with the weight more towards the front of your shoes. This will kill the movement over the ball during the takeaway and stop you from adjusting during the swing.

Aman asks at 12:00:

dear mr riggs, what is the most consistent manner in your opinion to switch between a draw and a fade in the middle of a round? My stock shot is a draw , but certain situations do demand a fade.
Also in what manner should one work on his distance control particularly with the wedges .
Thank you for your time
Aman from Kolkata, India

There are several factors you need to consider when it comes to shaping your shots. Because the draw is your natural stock shot, moving the ball left to right requires some effort. Some players will change the shape by adjusting their address position, some will adjust their swing, some will change both. If you need to curve the ball significantly then you will need to adjust both the address position and the shot. When it comes down to a slight fade it really is up to you. You might want to open the stance slightly, visualize swinging along the line of your feet and hold the face open a bit through impact. You may want to aim left and weaken the grip slightly to alter the ball flight. The simple fact is you need to go experiment with what works best for you.


December 12, 2011

Top 100 Teachers Poll: Who is the most talented pro golfer?

Posted at 10:20 PM by

Luke Donald caused a minor stir last week when he said that Rory McIlroy was more talented golfer than Tiger Woods. Donald later clarified that he was talking about McIlroy's easy swing. Not that he needed to -- we all knew what he meant. Even Tiger once famously declined John Daly’s offer to get a few beers by saying, "If I had your talent, John, I wouldn't have to work out."

Donald got us thinking, so we asked Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers to name the most naturally talented pro golfers of today and all time. Here’s what they said:

Who is the most talented golfer in the game today?

Rory McIlroy 19% (8 votes)

Rory McIlroy in Hong Kong, December, 2011, AP Photo 

Tiger Woods 17% (7 votes)

Fred Couples 13% (5 votes)

Dustin Johnson 10% (4 votes)

Bubba Watson 8% (3 votes)

Yani Tseng 8% (3 votes) 

Michelle Wie 5% (2 votes)

John Daly 2% (1 vote)

Jason Day 2% (1 vote)

Luke Donald 2% (1 vote)

Ernie Els 2% (1 vote)

Jim Furyk 2% (1 vote)

Sergio Garcia 2% (1 vote)

Louis Oosthaizen 2% (1 vote) 

Ted Potter 2% (1 vote)

Alexis Thompson 2% (1 vote) 

Gary Woodland 2% (1 vote)

42 total votes 

Who is the most talented golfer of all time?

Sam Snead  37% (15 votes)
Sam Snead in Del Mar, Calif., 1937, AP Photo
Tiger Woods  12% (5 votes)
Jack Nicklaus  7% (3 votes)
Mickey Wright 7% (3 votes)
Bobby Jones 4.5% (2 votes)
Seve Ballesteros 2.5% (1 vote)
Fred Couples  2.5% (1 vote)
John Daly  2.5% (1 vote)
Ray Floyd  2.5% (1 vote)
Jim Furyk 2.5% (1 vote)
Walter Hagen 2.5% (1 vote)
Ben Hogan  2.5% (1 vote)
Bruce Lietzke 2.5% (1 vote)
Larry Nelson  2.5% (1 vote)
Annika Sorenstam  2.5% (1 vote)
Peter Thompson  2.5% (1 vote)
Kathy Whitworth  2.5% (1 vote)
Babe Zaharias  2.5% (1 vote) 
41 total votes

Rory looks the most natural. Dropping out of school at 15 and practicing eight to 10 hours a day helped. --Mike Davis, Walters Golf Academy, Las Vegas, Nev.

Snead hands down all time. I caddied for him twice when I was in college. It was a joke. Like riding a bike. --Tom Patri, Friar's Head Golf Club, Riverhead, N.Y.

How many swing changes did Snead go through? --Steve Bosdosh,  Members Club at Four Streams, Beallsville, Md.

Johnson has “gifts” that most guys dream about. --Brad Redding, the Resort Club at Grande Dunes, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Larry Nelson didn't pickup the game until he was 21 and learned to play from Hogan's Book, "Five Fundamentals." That’s talent. --Shawn Humphries, Cowboys Golf Club, Grapevine, Texas

Ernie Els (today) for his naturally beautiful rhythm and Ray Floyd (All-time) for an amazing swing that truly held up under pressure. --Kellie Stenzel, Sebonack Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y.

Sam always had rhythm and balance. He hit it far and always made it look easy. I enjoyed watching him play. --Ted Sheftic, Bridges Golf Club, Abbottsown, Pa.

What Jim Furyk has accomplished, considering the complexity and moving parts of his swing, makes him the most natural and talented player in the history of the game. --Todd Sones, White Hills Golf Club, Vernon, Ill.

Before high spin/low spin balls, shafts with different flex, weights and kick points , titanium heads, hybrids, video instruction (that may not be an asset for many players) and teaching professionals to service his swing at every tour stop, Hagen dominated. He could hit a 3-wood 150 yards or 230 yards and baffle his competitor who, after watching Hagen's three-wood, would question his club selection, over club, and fly the green. --David Wright, Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club, Mission Viejo, Calif.

Louis Oosthuizen and Peter Thompson. I was discussing the talent question with Nick O'Hern at dinner tonight. We also thought Cabrera, obviously Seve if he was still alive but if you've ever seen Louis hit it, it's pure talent. As for Thomo, he played the game in a simple way, effortless manner. --Mitchell Spearman, Manhattan Woods Golf Club, West Nyack. N.Y.



December 06, 2011

Ask Brady Riggs Live! Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Will Fix Your Faults

Posted at 10:29 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs stopped by on Tuesday at noon EST to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you missed Brady, be sure to check back next week for an all-new edition.

Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. Sorry I couldn't get to all the questions. Please check back in next week.....

Nate asks at 1:15:

Without using video or a mirror, how can I be sure that I am standing the proper distance away from the ball at address? Should my arms feel loose and heavy like they are hanging from my shoulders?

I've been working on getting somewhat closer to the ball, which seems to get me in a better position at the top (clubface neutral instead of shut and arms a little more vertical and "on plane"), but I feel a little crowded in the downswing, like my arms don't have quite enough room to swing freely due to my hips being in the way.

Some of pros whose swings I most admire (Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel) look like they set-up pretty close to the ball and it seems to be working out pretty well for them :) Any insight you could offer into this facet of the address position and how it affects the swing would be greatly appreciated.

This is a very good question, Nate. Yes, your arms should hang down and not out away too far from the body at address. You lose leverage, power, and consistency if your arms are too far from your body. Unfortunately, you can also get too close to the point where you have no room for your arms through impact. You should be able to draw a vertical line straight down from the butt end of the grip to the front of your toes at address. This is the standard distance most good players use, but it can vary a little from player to player. To get there without a mirror or video is more difficult but not impossible. Your eyes can give you a good idea where you are. The other issue you need to consider is that you are the proper distance from the ball at address but are closing in on the target line during the downswing. Getting closer to the ball as you swing will give you the feeling of being jammed. Make sure wherever you start, your weight is toward the balls of your feet at address and works toward your right heel going back and left heel going through. This will give you more room at impact. Send in the swing if you get a chance…

Benjamin asks at 1:05:

Hey Brady: Is there anyway you can get a video of Tiger's tee shot on 18 in the final round of the Chevron from behind? It was a mammoth, 3-iron stinger that appeared to get no more than 20 feet off the ground, but it's tough to appreciate the shot from the camera angle that NBC used. We know there was a camera directly behind Tiger (that's what NBC showed as Tiger was addressing the ball), but NBC then switched to the in-the-air/high-above camera.

If you could get that video, it would be great to hear you walk us through how he hit that shot (farther than Zach Johnson hit his driver, incidentally).

Let me work on that for you, Benjamin. I agree about the shot, love to see him hitting the stinger again. As I have said for years he had a weapon that was lethal and set him apart from the field. It should have never been taken away from him. It would be like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar not using his patented “Sky-hook." 

Steve asks at 12:45:

I'd like to get your opinion on "connection" between the arms and the body during the golf swing. I have read some stuff by Jimmy Ballard and Rocco Mediate talking about left arm (for right-handed player) connection throughout the golf swing helping to keep an "in" to "in" swing. I do practice keeping a towel under my left armpit throughout the entire swing. But what about the right arm? How connected should that be in a more rotational modern golf swing?

When I first started researching the golf swing, my opinion of Jimmy Ballard’s swing theory wasn’t nearly as high as it is today. I think his description of the similarity between the golf swing and a baseball swing being identical is fairly true. While I think the upper left arm should remain “connected” to the chest during the takeaway and backswing and increase in “squeeze” through impact, I also believe the arm should “blow off” the chest as both arms become straight after impact. In other words, the towel under the armpit can fall after release and into the finish. The right arm is another matter entirely. The left arm can drift up the chest at the top of the swing; the right arm can completely disconnect and “fly” off the body at the top. There are Major Champions with the right arm all over the place: from pinned to the side of the body to flying up in the air. There is no “have to” with the right arm going back, but it should be in front of the right hip approaching impact regardless of where it was at the top. My advice to all my players is to spend less time worrying about where the club and arms are going up and focus instead on how the club is working down through impact. 

David asks at 12:30:

good day brady...if you feel like doing so and have a current video of tiger, would you analyze what you like/dislike about the swing changes that you see now. thanks!!

I have been watching. There are two things I really like about what he’s doing. The length of the swing with the driver is significantly shorter than it used to be. It hasn’t gotten quite as compact as it was with Butch, but it is much better. As a result, his hips aren’t running away from his arms on the downswing like they do when his swing is longer. This makes Tiger's swing more in sync and much more consistent. The second positive is that he seems to be hitting shots and playing golf again instead of obsessing about the backswing. I see more of a focus on the forward portion of the swing rather than the swing from set-up to the top. This is a great sign that he is moving in the right direction.

Jonathan Schauer asks at 12:18:

Brady, please help me! I want to know how you bump wedge and stop it on a dime like we see the Tour pros doing. I can put spin on the ball with a full swing, but on 10-30 yard chip shots I just can't spin it at all. I dont want to change the ball I play because my swing speed is 118 mph and I play titleist ProV1x's, so a softer ball would only cause me to lose distance, right?

Hitting the one-bounce-and-check shot with a wedge requires several factors coming together. The grooves on the wedge and the type of ball you are playing are factors in the equation. Make sure the grooves are cleaned out and that your wedges are relatively new. An old, beat-up wedge won’t get the job done. If your equipment is good, this shot requires a slightly open clubface and slight acceleration through impact. “Striking of a match” is a good feel for how the impact works to impart spin on the ball. Keep in mind that this shot is very difficult to hit and you can control the roll out on your pitches easier with trajectory control instead of spin. 

Michael asks at 12:00:

I am having trouble pulling my short irons (8-wedges). I am making solid contact but the ball flight is starting left of my target and draws most of the time.

This is most likely a clubface issue. When the face is closed and the path is fairly neutral, the ball will start left and curve further left. The cause of the closed face can be anything from a grip that is too strong, a left wrist that is bowed at the top, or an over-rotation of the clubface through impact. The fact that you are hitting it solid suggests it is most likely the grip or the wrist at the top. I would suggest you check your hands at address and make sure the grip is neutral. At the top, try to “feel” like your left thumb is sitting under the handle and supporting the weight of the club. This will maintain the small amount of bend present in your left wrist at address and keep the clubface from becoming hooded at the top. Let me know how it works and send in some video so I can be more specific to your swing. 

December 05, 2011

Top 100 Teachers Poll: Tiger Woods vs. Rory McIlroy

Posted at 3:31 PM by

Two of the Tour’s biggest stars won on Sunday. Tiger Woods finished birdie-birdie to take the Chevron World Challenge in Southern California, and Rory McIlroy came from three strokes back at the European Tour's Hong Kong Open. We asked the Golf Magazine Top 100 Teachers which player would have the better year in 2012:


"My guess is Rory, but I am confused at where he has been since the Open. I have heard more about his girlfriend than his golf. Tennis anyone!" --Eric Johnson, Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pa.

"McIlroy has learned how to deal with pressure." --Glen Deck, Pelican Hill Resort, Newport Coast, Calif.

"I think the worldwide schedule will catch up to Rory." --Peter Krause, Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy, Hilton Head, S.C.

"Tiger. Just look in his eyes. He has really missed the limelight as a winner." --Charlie King, Reynolds Plantation, Greensboro, Ga.

"Woods still has to prove himself in a major. I believe he still has majors in his bag, but not yet." --David Wright, Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club, Mission Viejo, Calif.

"If defining a better season is money earned, Tiger will earn more money, just because he will be in the hunt more often. If you say it's on more wins, without a doubt Rory will have more wins worldwide." --Shawn Humphries, Cowboys Golf Club, Grapevine, Texas


How many majors will Tiger win in 2012?
Zero -- 36 percent
One -- 55 percent
Two -- 9 percent

"Tiger is not out of the woods yet. He beat 17 guys that were out for a nice payday. Let's see him win a full field event, and then we will start talking majors." --Eric Johnson, Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pa.

"Tiger will win one major. I believe he will be ready for Augusta." --Jason Carbone, Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, N.J.

"None. He used to miss it to the right, now he misses it to the left!" --Craig Shankland, LPGA International, Daytona Beach, Fla.

"One, if he starts rolling the rock like he used too." --Glenn Deck, Pelican Hill Resort, Newport Coast, Calif.

"A win over 18 players does not mean Tiger is back!" --Jim Murphy, Sugar Creek Country Club, Sugar Land, Texas

"Just because he won a hit-and-giggle event with a couple of foursomes doesn't mean he's back to form." --Steve Bosdosh, The Members Club at Four Streams, Beallsville, Md.

"I don't think Tiger will win a Major this year. These guys are not scared of Tiger." --Shawn Humphries, Cowboys Golf Club, Grapevine, Texas

"Tiger will win one. The Masters." --Nancy Quarcelino, Kings Creek Golf Club, Spring Hill, Tenn.  

"If he wins a major, I'm thinking it will be the PGA. He’s still not hitting it quite well enough for the other majors." --Chuck Evans, Gold Canyon Golf Resort, Golf Canyon, Colo.

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