Jonathan Kaye hit two fantastic 254-yard approaches to the 18th
green on Sunday at the Buick Classic. In regulation he reached
the fringe of the 526-yard par-5 and two-putted for a birdie to
force a playoff with John Rollins, and in OT, Kaye flushed his
hybrid iron to 12 feet to set up his victory-clinching eagle. As
good as those shots were, however, they weren't the key to his
win. Kaye prevailed because he snapped a four-month funk on the
greens. (He ranked 145th in putting entering the Buick.) Kaye had
been prematurely lifting his head and shoulders during his
stroke, causing his swing path to swerve and the club face to
twist. To fix that, Kaye solicited advice from Tommy Armour III
and Paul Azinger, and now, says Kaye, "I focus on keeping my eyes
still and hitting the ball, and then looking up." Last week
everything jelled on the greens, which I know from the 11 years I
taught at Westchester are among the Tour's trickiest. Kaye's best
strokes included a pressure-packed six-foot par save at 10 to
regain momentum after a bogey at the 9th and the must-make
downhill four-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole. During the
playoff Kaye could have two-putted to win, but riding a wave of
confidence, he made his 12-footer for eagle (above) to secure his
first victory in 195 starts on Tour.
THREE COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ABC (KAYE)
COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT (6) Tom Patri runs the TP Golf School at Naples Grande Golf Club in Naples, Fla. and is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher.
THREE COLOR PHOTOMONTAGES: ANDREW GOMBERT (6); JIM GUND (BACKGROUND)
COLOR PHOTOMONTAGE: ANDREW GOMBERT (6); JIM GUND (BACKGROUND) YES
COLOR PHOTOMONTAGE: ANDREW GOMBERT (6); JIM GUND (BACKGROUND) NO
OUR TOP TEACHER SAYS...
"I'm not exaggerating when I say the most impressive thing
I've seen this year was Skip Kendall's tying for fourth at the
Buick Classic. To play that well with a new grip, three weeks
after accidentally slicing off the tip of his left index finger,
was off the charts."
"The Tour will need a new home for the Buick when its
contract with Westchester expires after the 2005 Classic. The
members no longer want to be part of the circus."
"How bad is Tiger Woods's recent funk? To compare it to other
sports, it would be like Wayne Gretzky, in his prime, going 25
games without a goal or Michael Jordan going 15 games without
scoring in double figures."
"Golf broadcasts need more of the intensity we saw on Sunday
in the sparring match between Sergio Garcia and Curtis Strange
over Garcia's strategy on 18."
I teach putting basics with my Two-By-Four Drill. Lay the board
on the green, parallel to the target line with the narrow side on
the turf. At address, the club face should be perpendicular to
the two-by-four, and during the stroke the heel of the putter
should gently glide against the wood. Begin by taking strokes
without a ball and then hit some real putts. While doing the
drill, you should have three swing thoughts: 1) Keep the stroke
linear, or "straight back and through"; 2) Keep the putter face
square to the target; 3) Keep your posture steady and your head
down for a couple of seconds after you've made contact. You'll
know you've erred if you see any twist in the putter face or if
the clubhead bumps the wood.