Golf Left Thumb: Fix Pain, Soreness, Casting

Casting the club in the downswing is a sure way to destroy club head speed. Check out this video now because my simple drill will increase your club head speed and fix any left thumb pain or soreness you've got!

  • Many Times Casting Can Stem From Pushing w/ The Left Thumb
  • Hold the Club Loose w/ the Left Thumb To Reduce Pressure
  • Grip the Club With the Bottom 3 Fingers of Left Hand

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David
I realized months after watching this video that I am guilty of this so had to revisit. How much pressure should the left (and right) thumb apply to the club? Should they just be resting lightly on the grip throughout the swing or should they be applying some force at any time during the swing? Thank you.
February 2, 2021
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello David. The lead thumb will help with support of the club, but the trail in a lead side releaser swing will mostly just go along for the ride.
February 3, 2021
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jane
So I should learn to hit the ball with my thumb off to the side and pull down with the last three fingers? My grips and gloves always get worn out by left thumb. I have always been a flipper and have tried everything. Never knew the culprit is my left thumb. I will work on this. Thank you great video!
November 15, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jane. Taking your thumb off, or on the side is a great way to start. This will help the primary focus stay on the last three lead fingers. The more you rep and graduate to becoming lead side dominant. Then, you can start to reintroduce the thumb for support. For more info on this topic I suggest taking a look at the Frisbee Drill.
November 15, 2019
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greg
Do the thumbs act as backstops to end the backswing
October 26, 2019
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Chuck (Certified RST Instructor)
The left thumb does, that's really it's primary job, to keep the club from falling down into the palm of your hand during the transition
October 28, 2019
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greg
Chuck , I was told by a reputable instructor today to just take your backswing then simply straighten your lead leg and let your knees kiss. That’s the golf swing. Is that accurate? I’ve worked hard on your on your drills over the years and they’ve helped but should my swing thoughts be that simple ??
September 6, 2020
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Chuck (Certified RST Instructor)
That’s literally absurd.
September 6, 2020
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Joshua
What’s typically happening if I wear out my glove on my left thumb under the first joint (nearer the palm) as opposed to this video? Is my grip wrong? This has been going on for years. Am I not pinching my forefinger and Humberd together tight enough or not gripping tight enough on last three fingers?
December 4, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Joshua. It sounds like you still have a lot of push in the thumb. However, it could be your grip. If you have a long lead thumb down the shaft and lack of pinch between the forefinger and thumb you could see that type of wear.
December 4, 2017
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Joshua
Thanks Craig. Could a long thumb be caused by too small or too large of a grip size? I have tried to start out with a short thumb and it does seem to creep to separate. Also, what should the angle be that’s created between the thumb and forearm? Don’t think that’s ever talked about in the grip section. Thanks.
December 4, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Joshua. Grip size will play a part in how much you feel you have to wrap the hand around the club. However, you should be able to achieve the short thumb position. Pinching together might be an issue though. There should be some angle between the wrist and forearm at setup. You don't want to be at full ulnar deviation, nor full wrist set. If you take a look at How Far to Stand from the Ball and the arms are hanging neutrally the wrist angle should be set correctly.
December 4, 2017
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Joshua
Thanks Craig.
December 4, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Thanks Joshua. You're certainly welcome.
December 4, 2017
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Richard
That's me. I would go through golf gloves like crazy. Great video. Thanks
August 8, 2017
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Glad you enjoyed the video Richard. This is a very common issue that we see daily.
August 9, 2017
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Matthew
Not using the left thumb is an excellent thought. What I have discovered based on another one of your video's is to have a slight bowing of the left wrist at the top of the back swing. I believe this encourages two movements. 1. - it seems to create more lag in my swing (verified on film and swing speed radar) and 2. it lessens the ability of the left thumb to push on the shaft as you turn and start down. Does this make sense to RST?
July 19, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Matthew. It makes sense. I don't want you to train overly bowing at the top (Dustin Johnson) though. Ideally, it will be flat and start to increasing a little bow as you start down.
July 19, 2017
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Michael
In watching this video Chuck refers to pulling the club down with the left hand. In your response to some comments you also refer to pulling the club down. Is this feeling of pulling part of the weight shift and posting up?
June 27, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Michael. The post up and release will take care of any pull needed to reach the strike. However, in the transition you will feel pull from weight, core and lead arm.
June 27, 2017
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T David
I understand the concepts about the left thumb and am working on relaxing my grip. My question is, where exactly should the left thumb is located on the shaft so it doesn't impede the lag and wrist cock on the downswing?
June 1, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello David. Take a look at the Golf Grip Video. You can see ideal placement of the thumb
June 27, 2017
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Matt
Can we just have the left thumb on the right side of the shaft instead?
May 31, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Matt. If you are comfortable with that position when drilling that would be fine.
May 31, 2017
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George
Hi Craig, First Happy Memorial Holiday and Thanks our Hero for their service. I can leave the left thump alone with just the left last three fingers. But I cannot do this when my right hand fat goes over my left thump. I struggle with soreness. I don't see CHuck talks about the effect of right hand. Could you clarify this? Thanks.
May 29, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello George. Thank you for the well wishes and of course the best to our Military. The effect when adding back the trail causes soreness in the lead thumb or the trail hand?
May 29, 2017
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George
Hi Craig, In the video, Chuck said that taking the left thumb off. What does he means by that in the normal swing wherein your left V formed by left thumb and left index finger pointing to your left ear? The left thumb has to rest on the club and your right fat covering the left thumb when grip the club. So am I correct to understand that taking the left thumb off means that focusing on the last three fingers to pull the club. Thanks.
May 30, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello George. The goal is to focus on using the last three fingers of the lead hand to pull the club. The drill above is to help stop pushing the lead thumb. By taking it (thumb) out of the equation one can see how hard they push with it against the shaft. Therefore, gradually adding it back without feeling the need to push against the shaft. The "V" formed by the lead hand (thumb and index) should point between the trail ear and shoulder. Take a look at the Golf Grip Checkpoint Tips Video and The Golf Grip - How To Video.
May 30, 2017
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Tim
I use the overlap grip in golf and have managed after watching this video to stick my left thumb between my ring and small finger of my right hand; this completely takes my overpowering left thumb out of the equation and gives me great lag and moderate comfort and the swing now feels amazing. I have not hit a ball yet but is this okay for practice and is it possibly okay for my full swing at a ball?
February 15, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Tim. You may definitely use it to practice feeling less tension and more lag. The only thing is when you start making normal swings you might lose a sense of control at the top. The club usually settles in the trail wrist between the two fingers you mentioned.
February 15, 2017
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Jim
I hit the ball fat from time to time. Is the fat shot caused by the left thumb pushing on the shaft too much or an excessive dipping of the right shoulder?
January 22, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jim. Both would cause the issue. Check to make sure you shift the weight properly and maintain good lean (without adding excessive secondary axis tilt) - Taking a Divot Video.
January 23, 2017
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Lance
So it seems that the left thumb can hinder the proper release if it is not passive similar to how the right hand should be. I really noticed it when working through Chris Tyler's video to fix chipping. I can go from just off the green to 50 yards back using those checkpoints with amazing control now when I neutralize the left thumb. Would it be possible to develop the importance of this in the release videos and explain the biomechanical aspects that the left thumb triggers if it is too active in the full swing. This seems like a minor detail but the fact that I can control the distance from short chips to long pitch shots with the same club and setup has me convinced that it is a major game changer. Thanks
January 20, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Lance. Pushing with the lead thumb can lead to a lot of problems in the full swing as well as chipping. I can pass this on to the team to see if they would like to cover a more expanded video on this subject.
January 20, 2017
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Loran
I find myself less dominant with the right body side when I move my right thumb over to the left side of the grip club? But if I do not have my left thumb touching the grip, I get even more right side dominant?
August 16, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Loan. Take a look at the Golf Grip Tips Video for ideal placement. You can play around a little with the trail thumb. The lead thumb does need to be on the club for the real swing.
August 16, 2016
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David
should my left thumb tip be a little bit left of center when I grip the club? If it sits right down the middle of the shaft I can feel it pushing on my downswing and I can't seem to relax it. If I put it a little to the left by closing the space between it and the index finger it seems to work but I am not sure if that is correct.
March 20, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello David. You want to keep the gap closed or the pinch between the thumb and index together. However, the thumb shouldn't be (for right handed player) on the left side of the grip. More between the center and trending towards right side. Take a look a the Golf Grip Tips Video.
March 21, 2016
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Randy
Hi guys. James R suggested this video for me in a swing review. Seems to be really helping as I've struggled with lag forever. A couple questions: 1. How do I think about the index finger here? I tend to get a callous / soreness on the side of my lead index finger between the palm and first knuckle (which likely indicates that I'm pushing to hard with my thumb). 2. Any suggestions for reintroducing the thumb? I'm literally having to use my right hand to hold it back and keep it from pushing. That's how bad it is! Thanks for any advice. -Your Faithful RST Deciple
October 20, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Randy. Take a look at the Frisbee Drill. Chuck talks about the thumb push. You have to reintroduce him back slowly and understand that he is there to help support the club, but not steer it. Your callous is indicative of lead thumb push. You need to make sure the index and thumb are pinched together to help support the club at the top, but not create massive force coming down.
October 20, 2015
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Randy
UPDATE: Wow! Frisbee Drill is amazing. In just a few minutes tonight, I suddenly got an amazing amount of lag. I'm seriously stunned. Thank you, Craig, for putting this on top of the left thumb work. I'm going to do about a thousand reps this week and then see if I can work this all into a decent full swing. Will post a video for review next week. Feeling very optimistic!
October 20, 2015
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leslie
Hi, could you tell me if this is a drill, or could i move my left thumb to the right side of the club in my actual swing?
May 15, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Leslie. You can use this as a drill to help with the push. The main issue with using it as a full swinging motion is the lead thumb has a job to do. It helps support the club at the top of the backswing.
May 16, 2015
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les
I am just the opposite , my right thumb is wearing out my grips , any suggestions ?
April 17, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Les. Your grip might be too strong and/or pushing the right hand too much through impact. Take a look at the Golf Grip How To Video in the Setup Section and the Lose the Right Hand Drill in the Downswing Section.
April 17, 2015
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Brian
Quick question. I place my left thumb to the right side of the club in my grip. At the top of my backswing I can feel my left thumb pushing against the club, but after that I no longer feel it anymore. Should this be a feeling that I should have at the top of my backswing my left thumb, kind of stopping the club at the top of my backswing. Hope this makes sense.
April 17, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Brian. Yes, that is correct. The left thumb does play a role and needs to help you support the club at the top. The key is on the way down not to push it more against the shaft.
April 17, 2015
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Grant
I have been trying to find "the drill" video or the Rotary Drill that I assume covers the article with pictures at the end of above video. Can't find it. Where should I be looking for this video?
March 22, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Grant. The Rotary Drill is no longer on the site as it pertained to the Original RS1 model Swing.
March 22, 2015
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Grant
I have developed a sore left wrist recently when working on the left arm only drills and using the impact bag. The pain developed rapidly when working on the release drill. I know I've played a long time with a flipping motion at impact as well as a cupped wrist. Could this be a result of the left thumb pushing in the downswing? If not than what could I do with my grip? I've been playing with a strong grip as well.
March 22, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Grant. If your grip is too strong, that may be be culprit. Exaggerate with a neutral grip. See if you get the same pain. If not, then try to work on making the grip a little less strong at setup.
March 22, 2015
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Anthony
If you release the left hand with the last three fingers, what fingers do you use on the right hand to release the club.
February 11, 2015
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R.J. (Certified RST Instructor)
Anthony, the base of the knuckles for the index, middle and ring fingers on the trail side hand will be used add additional speed to your swing; however, if the right hand gets too dominant then you'll be in the same position as someone who pushes on the shaft with their left thumb. I recommend checking the "How to - The golf grip" video on the site. R.J.
February 11, 2015
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R.J. (Certified RST Instructor)
Anthony, the base of the knuckles for the index, middle and ring fingers on the trail side hand will be used add additional speed to your swing; however, if the right hand gets too dominant then you'll be in the same position as someone who pushes on the shaft with their left thumb. R.J.
February 11, 2015
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Andre
You recommend removing the LEFT thumb however I just watched the golf fix (Jan 20-15) and John Daley was talking about the right hand trigger finger and how he positions it to prevent the right hand dominating the downswing.After looking at his swing I realized that he also removes his right thumb as well. Do you recommend this? I have watched myself on video with my driver and realize that I cast the club (Although very slight and I do generate 100mph club head speed) not only does it look weird I want to correct this bad habit and generate even more club head speed.
January 21, 2015
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R.J. (Certified RST Instructor)
Andre, it is not recommended to remove the right thumb from the club because you'll lose control of the club if it slide in between your right index finger and thumb. Much like Anthony (above) should do, check out the "how to - golf grip" video on the site. It will help you understand the role of each part of the hand in the swing. R.J.
February 11, 2015
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Nick
Ive had a cyst build up with some tendonitis at the base of my left thumb joint and this explains a lot. My grips and glove wear out in the same sspot, the left thumb. Ive tried this drill and stacked it into my swing but it feels like ive lost control of tge club. Would grip wrap size have any affect on this? Thanks.
April 15, 2014
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
We need to take a good look at your grip and we should have the feature to post pictures again very soon. Grip size may have some factor but nothing that would cause what you are running into.
April 15, 2014
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Jesse
Can you play like that? I struggle with this when I hit a lot of golf balls at the range; the thumb of my lead hand gets extremely sore. But I don't feel like I can hold onto the club if I move my thumb to the side. Should I switch to an interlocking, as opposed to an overlapping grip in order to keep the hands feeling more connected? One final question; in the down-cock pump drill it feels like my wrist is cupped in order to relax and exaggerate the cocking. I used to swing like that all the time, probably because it was easier on my thumb, but am trying to force my wrist into being flat in the backswing because I thought this was the preferred position. I think forcing my wrist to be flat at the top of the backswing puts greater pressure on my thumb. Thanks!
April 11, 2014
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Tim (Certified RST Instructor)
Jesse, it sounds to me like you just need to spend some time working with your left arm only. Being overly dominant with your right side can also lead to left thumb soreness. The only way to teach your left arm and left side how to work properly is to train it separately. We have some great videos on the site with left arm only drills. LADD and the proper release are both great.
April 14, 2014
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Jesse
I play left-handed, so should I switch this around? In other words, are you suggesting that I am too dominant with my left side, rather than my right side? And would the video LADD still be the one to watch?
April 14, 2014
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Tim (Certified RST Instructor)
Yes, thanks for clarifying that you are left handed. Just apply all left arm references to your right arm. The inside or lead arm of the golf swing is responsible for controlling the swing arc and the club face. This is also usually are non dominant arm so it needs to be trained how to work properly, otherwise the dominant arm tries to do all the work.
April 14, 2014

Golf Thumb Pain

Most amateur golfers struggle with flipping the club or their left wrist breaking down at golf impact. What they don't realize, and I see this all the time, is that a lot of it has to deal with the very powerful left thumb and pushing against the shaft in order to try and get the golf club to release and try to get some speed out of it. What this does is it actually creates a lot of problems that it actually causes the wrist to start to work in the opposite direction and start to add loft to the club face and you start to cast it. It actually costs you clubhead speed. So, in an effort to produce speed by feeling something very powerful by pushing against the shaft with the left thumb in the golf swing, you actually create this throwout motion where the club starts releasing early and then you get this flippy look at impact.

               Not only that, it actually can cause a lot of golf thumb pain and some ligament and tendon issues. If you have a really sore left thumb and you see the top of your grip is really worn and you tend to wear out gloves right underneath the thumb, this first joint here, you need to start to look at that because not only can you create a lot of long-term injury to your thumb, but you're destroying what's happening in your golf swing. So, one of the things that I do a lot with my students is I have them go to the top and actually start to take their thumb off of the shaft. You can actually kind of just put it to the side. You'll lose a little bit of control of the golf club, but you'll start to realize how much you're pushing against the shaft. This is what you tend to do. So, what you really want to focus on is gripping the golf club with the last three fingers and then as you go to the top, you want to start to pull down with those last three fingers, so that that is creating that nice bowed, flat left wrist at golf impact.

            Now, if I do the opposite, I start to push against the shaft, you can see how my knuckles start to get out ahead of this wrist bone instead of dragging behind this wrist bone because I'm not pulling with the club, or pulling with the left hand, I'm pushing against the shaft with the left thumb. So, if you struggle with flipping it, you've tried every single drill out there and you can't stop flipping it and your thumb's really bothering you, your grips are wearing out and your gloves are wearing out underneath the thumb, take the thumb off and stop pushing against the shaft. You'll be able to get into a good impact position.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does my left thumb hurt after playing golf?

Pushing with your left thumb may be causing you to cast your club and causing left thumb pain.  The very powerful left thumb pushing against the shaft in order to try and get the golf club to release can cause injury.
 

What is long thumb in golf grip?

A long thumb grip in golf will have your thumb extending down the grip so that it extends past the other fingers on the golf club.  What you really want to focus on is gripping the golf club with the last three fingers and then as you go to the top, you want to start to pull down with those last three fingers, so that that is creating that nice bowed, flat left wrist at golf impact.

Where should the left thumb be in the golf grip?

The last three fingers of your left hand (for right handed golfers) are the most critical and even your thumb plays a critical role in the golf swing. Yep, your left thumb is one of THE most important parts of the golf grip!  Ideally, the thumb and forefinger are light on the club. Your left thumb should sit nicely in the lifeline of your right hand.

What do you do with your left thumb in a golf grip?

Incorrect use of the left thumb is one of main causes of losing lag in the golf swing.  In a "strong" grip, the V of the left thumb points beyond the right shoulder - a "weak" grip points to the center of the body.  Neutral to slightly strong is the preferred grip for most golfers.  The left thumb should nestle into the lifeline on the right hand.

 

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