Forget the media hype, the fighting words from the man himself
and his jaw-dropping two-month tear to start this season--Ernie
Els is miles away from being a rival to Tiger Woods. Els has
crippling weaknesses that were exposed at Bay Hill, beginning
with a wild tee shot on the 6th hole of the third round that
began an irreversible nosedive. After months of breathless
speculation, Els and Woods were finally paired together in
Saturday's final group. On the 6th hole, a 558-yard par-5, Els
hooked his drive into the middle of the lake, a mile from terra
firma. He had to scramble to make bogey. Woods, meanwhile,
parlayed a textbook drive into an easy birdie. Els never
recovered from that two-stroke swing, going five over par in his
next 30 holes to free-fall to 38th place. In the same span Woods
went six under and cruised to an 11shot victory. Els needs to
steel himself mentally so that one bad shot doesn't cause him to
self-destruct, but he also has a nagging mechanical flaw that
needs to be corrected: His swing is too handsy, relying on timing
and rhythm, so he's prone to hitting big hooks under pressure.
"That's my bad shot, if you look at history," he said after the
third round. Handsy swings with lots of wrist action used to be
in vogue, but popular modern theory has the body pivot
controlling the club, with a more gradual release of the hands.
Woods made the transition to the controlled pivot motion a few
years ago, and Els, too, must tighten his action to have any
chance of becoming No. 1.
COLOR PHOTO: DAVID WALBERG (ELS)
THREE COLOR PHOTOMONTAGES: ANDREW GOMBERT (4)/JIM GUND (BACKGROUND, 3)
COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT Steve Bosdosh, 41, is the director of instruction at Four Streams Golf Club in Beallsville, Md., and one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers.
Most golfers have too much hand and arm action and very little
body rotation. But the most consistent path to solid contact is
to swing primarily with your body, letting the pivot of your
torso guide your arms, hands and the club. This drill will help.
At address, grip down on a five-iron so that the butt end of the
shaft touches your belly button. Keeping your hands and the club
in the same position, swing halfway back to where the club is
parallel to the ground (picture 1), down through impact (2) and
halfway through to the finish (3). This will give you the feel of
the one-piece motion, or what I call body release.
OUR TOP TEACHER SAYS...
"Tiger Woods is a lock to win the Masters, and I like Phil
Mickelson in the first flight."
"There is a rival for Tiger, but the problem for us is that
right now he's a tyke whacking balls in a cornfield somewhere and
won't be on Tour for 10 or 15 years."
"You probably don't know the name Greg Rose, but you will. A
chiropractor from Washington, D.C., Rose is the PGA Tour's flavor
of the month, creating fitness programs that address weaknesses
in the body that can lead to swing flaws. Top players, including
Davis Love III and Brad Faxon, are flocking to him."
"The Darrell Survey doesn't tell us which equipment is the best, only which companies pay the most money for pros to use their clubs."