I have never seen Tiger Woods hit as poor a shot under pressure
as the wild pull-hook he uncorked on the reachable par-5 16th
hole on Sunday at the Target World Challenge. Having reduced
Padraig Harrington's eight-stroke lead to just one shot, Woods
yanked a three-iron second shot (above) deep into the woods and
almost out of bounds. He salvaged a miracle par, but Harrington's
two-putt birdie put the tournament out of reach. Woods's errant
shot was born of excessive hand action, as he was trying to
square the club face after having trapped the club behind his
body on the downswing. For pros like Woods, with very high
clubhead speeds, too much hand action leads to inconsistency.
However, I believe amateurs, the majority of whom slice the ball,
would benefit from using their hands more.
HAIRY SWING Harrington's idiosyncratic swing can also lead to big
misses. His motion is a little "lifty," meaning he subtly raises
his arms to reach the top of his backswing. To compensate he
quickly fires his upper body through the ball and relies on
perfect timing with his hands to square the club face. If his
timing isn't right, the result will resemble his pulled approach
on the 14th hole on Sunday, which went out-of-bounds and led to a
double bogey that could have cost him the tournament.
TIGER, TALK Almost as shocking to me as Tiger's blunder on 16 was
his refusal to be interviewed by NBC immediately after the
tournament. This was his event, for crying out loud--his
silhouette was splashed all over the signage, and the Tiger Woods
Foundation was the tournament's primary beneficiary. Yet Woods
wouldn't grant the host network the courtesy of answering a few
softball questions. Tiger needs to remember that the greatest
athletes--Ali, Jordan, Nicklaus--were as gracious in defeat as
they were in victory.
DIS-MAYED This is how fickle golf can be: Two years ago Bob May
was one stroke shy of winning the PGA Championship and a
five-year exemption on Tour. Next year he'll be haunting the
Nationwide tour after having flunked last week's Q school.
Another Q school victim was Tommy Tolles, who was one of the best
players on Tour in 1996 and '97, finishing 16th and 27th on the
money list, respectively.
Brad Redding is the director of instruction at Hartefeld National
in Avondale, Pa., and one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 teachers.
FOUR COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF NBC (TOP)
COLOR PHOTO: PORTER BINKS CUT THE SLICE Hitting a box with the toe of the club will lead to better control of the club face.
Most amateurs never learn to feel the clubhead during their
swings. They use their bodies too much during the downswing,
leading to an open face at impact, which produces a slice. This
drill will help chronic slicers learn how to use their hands
through the impact zone.
THE DRILL In place of a ball, put down a cardboard box, a beach
ball or an Impact Bag, which is golf's version of a punching bag.
Take your normal backswing, and at half speed begin your
downswing. Use your hands, wrists and forearms to turn the club
face over so that only the toe of the club hits the object.
Repeat the drill, concentrating on the position of the toe at
HIT AWAY Now hit some shots. If the ball is still slicing, then
repeat the exercise. You may eventually start hooking the ball,
which is progress, because if a chronic slicer learns to play a
hook, then finding the happy medium--a nice straight
shot--becomes much easier.