Skip to main content
Original Issue

Big Play David Toms lost the Match Play Championship to Tiger Woods because, unlike his opponent, he couldn't find the strength to play out of La Costa's nasty rough

Watching David Toms lose the Match Play final to Tiger Woods by
flubbing a 20-yard pitch reminded me of one of golf's most
overlooked facts: Power isn't just desirable off the tee, it's a
key element of the short game, too. Toms is not a fitness dynamo
like Woods, but he should be in good enough shape to get up and
down from gnarly greenside rough, which is what he needed to do
to stay alive on the 35th hole. However, he took too short a
swing on the shot and didn't have the leverage to drive his wedge
through the thick grass and make solid contact. As a result he
produced a weak floater that stopped on the fringe (above). Last
Saturday, Woods faced a similar shot twice, on the 17th and 18th
holes, during his thrilling semifinal victory over Adam Scott,
and he used his enormous strength and a big, bold swing to hit
superb blasts onto the green. Woods, who has put on 25 pounds of
muscle since turning pro in 1996, didn't add that bulk through
some sort of secret workout regimen. At a Tour event a few years
ago Tiger and I were the only ones in the hotel fitness center at
6 a.m., and I watched him run through a basic program of cardio
on the stationary bike, strength training on the universal weight
machine and a little stretching. Here's the real secret to
Woods's success: While he's sweating, his peers are sleeping.


It seems counterintuitive to take a full swing near the green,
but that's what you must do from thick rough. There's only one
requirement on greenside blasts: When the club enters the grass,
it should be moving as fast as possible. To pull off this shot,
take your regular stance with the club face square to the target
and swing like you would when hitting a driver. Be sure to make a
full shoulder turn in the backswing (left), not a small swing
(right) like David Toms made against Tiger Woods. The heavy grass
will break the club's momentum, and your ball should pop out high
and soft.


COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT (CAYCE) Kent Cayce, 59, is the director of instruction at the Laurel Golf Center in Laurel, Md., and one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers.




"Phil Mickelson should keep his mouth shut and let his game
do the talking--last week he got ripped again, this time by Hal
Sutton, who objected to Phil's having said that the Tucson Open
'dilutes the product' of the Tour. Didn't Phil get his start at

"The top five swings in the world belong to, in order, Tiger
Woods, Ernie Els, Annika Sorenstam, Retief Goosen and Karrie

"Why is David Duval in the tank? Because he has the worst
swing of any top player. His club face is closed and he's flat at
the top of his backswing, with a big body slide through impact."

"The assertion that modern pros can't work the ball is the
biggest bunk I've ever heard. Today's Tour pros hit an infinite
variety of shots that are often so subtle, people don't even
realize what they're doing."