Lay up or go for it? That was the crucial decision facing Jim
Furyk at the 544-yard 13th hole on Sunday. The Buick Open title
was on the line. Tied for the lead with Geoff Ogilvy and a shot
ahead of Tiger Woods, Furyk was trying to gather himself after an
erratic opening 12 holes. He had just ripped a drive down the
right side of the fairway and was a mere 229 yards from the flag.
Even though a huge locust tree hovering over the right side of
the fairway would have required cutting a two-or three-iron to a
green guarded on the right by a lake, most Tour players would
have gone for it. Not Furyk. In a masterly display of course
management that cemented his reputation as one of the Tour's top
closers, Furyk swallowed his ego and laid up. But he didn't
mindlessly blast his second shot down the fairway, he played to
his strength--short wedges. On Sunday most players laying up at
13 had left 80 to 90 yards to the front-right hole location and
had spun their approach shots back off the green. Furyk, though,
punched an iron to 55 yards (above), a distance from which he had
practiced intensely in preparation for short, fast Warwick Hills.
From there he smoothed a 60-degree wedge to three feet and made
the birdie that gave him the lead for good.
THREE COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF CBS
COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT Bryan Gathright teaches at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, Texas, and is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher.
TWO COLOR PHOTOMONTAGES: ANDREW GOMBERT; JIM GUND (BACKGROUND) HIP TO HIP
TWO COLOR PHOTOMONTAGES: ANDREW GOMBERT; JIM GUND (BACKGROUND) SHOULDER TO SHOULDER
OUR TOP TEACHER SAYS...
"Accuracy, not length, has been most important at this year's
majors, so my favorites for the PGA Championship are Jim Furyk
[fourth in accuracy, 148th in distance] and Kenny Perry [14th in
"If Tiger Woods had putted better and won the British Open,
he'd still have his Nike driver in the bag and there wouldn't be
a controversy about his gear."
"When the Tour begins testing drivers for springlike effect
next year, they shouldn't do so before rounds, as is planned.
They should test after play, and the equipment makers should pay
a huge bonus to any player whose driver is found to be illegal,
because sales for that brand of driver will skyrocket."
"Everybody who qualifies for November's Presidents Cup match
should quit whining and go to South Africa, especially Woods.
Golf has given these guys unfathomable riches, and they owe it
to the game to give a little back on the world stage."
A solid short game demands a go-to wedge shot of between 50 and
75 yards that you can execute under pressure. You must do three
things to pull off the little wedges: 1) Take a narrow stance to
stay balanced and help rotate the left hip through impact; 2)
Grip down on the club to keep the swing compact; 3) Keep the same
length on the backswing and the follow-through to create an even
tempo. To learn your most comfortable distance, hit balls on a
flat range with no wind using your favorite wedge. Take swings of
two lengths, going back and through so that your hands reach
waist height (left) and shoulder height (right). After finding
the swing you can repeat best, measure precisely how far the ball
flies, and you've got your short-game weapon.