Tour Tech­nique

Be clutch like the PGA cham­pion.

Golf Digest (Malaysia) - - Contents - BY JUSTIN THOMAS

Down the stretch on Sun­day at the PGA Cham­pi­onship, there were a lot of big mo­ments. The putt that hov­ered on the lip be­fore fall­ing at 10, the chip-in on 13; you can’t win a tour­na­ment with one swing. That be­ing said, there was one that stands out. On the tee at No. 17 with a one-stroke lead, I couldn’t ask for a bet­ter yardage. It was 233 to the flag—a per­fect 6-iron. But I told my cad­die, Jimmy John­son, to give me the 7-iron. I was so amped up, I knew I could get it there—and I was right. I hit it to 16 or so feet, made the birdie putt and pulled away for my first ma­jor. I’ll re­mem­ber that tee shot for the rest of my life, es­pe­cially how I vi­su­al­ized it and then hit it. There are times when you might not feel good about your swing; when the pres­sure of the sit­u­a­tion can make you feel funky. It’s at those mo­ments when you should re­mem­ber this: Clear your mind, see the shot, and then make a con­fi­dent swing. It might not work out ex­actly as you saw it, but if you com­mit to what you’re do­ing, you’ll give your­self the best chance of suc­cess on any shot. Don’t wa­ver.

When I see am­a­teurs come to a hole with a tight land­ing area or have to carry the ball over wa­ter, their swings re­flect un­cer­tainty. They look short, rushed and tight. They’re all arms, try­ing to steer the ball to a safe spot. If that sounds like you, try this in­stead:

First, get your body matched up. Make sure your shoul­ders, hips and feet are where you want them to be as you ad­dress the ball. I work on this all the time. You’d be sur­prised how easy it is to get out of whack with your align­ment. And when that’s off, you’ll need to get lucky by mak­ing a split-sec­ond ad­just­ment to your swing to save the shot. Good luck with that.

Sec­ond, fin­ish your back­swing. For some of you, the ro­ta­tion of the up­per body while the lower body re­sists might not be as no­tice­able as you see here (top photo). That’s OK. Just turn back as well as you can. In ner­vous sit­u­a­tions, I see a lot of golfers afraid to turn, think­ing they might not hit it solid if they do. See if you can swing back un­til your left shoul­der is point­ing at the ball like it is here. You can re­hearse this by plac­ing a club across your chest and mak­ing back­swings un­til the shaft is point­ing at the ground. Re­mem­ber that feel when it’s go time. An­other thing I see in pro-ams is a rush to get the back­swing over with. Take your time to keep your swing in sync.

If you make a full turn and don’t rush back, you’ll be in the best po­si­tion to make a good down­swing. There’s not much you can think about then, but if there’s one thing I’d say will help you pull off the shot, it’s don’t over­swing. Just as ten­sion can cut your back­swing short, it also can make you swing with more ef­fort than you nor­mally do. If you’re a slicer, you might over-ro­tate—too much body turn too soon—and slice it worse than nor­mal. Don’t get me wrong, you want to com­plete your swing like I am here (bot­tom photo), but think more about fin­ish­ing in bal­ance. Be­lieve me, you’re gonna want to hold this pose when you stick it close.

fin­ish the turn Re­sist the urge to cut your back­swing short be­cause you’re anx­ious to get the shot over with. Get that left shoul­der point­ing at the ball if you can. strike a pose Swing down too fast and you’ll prob­a­bly lose your bal­ance. Take your...

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