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Big Play Relying on a bulletproof short game, Tiger Woods made three stellar up-and-downs on the back nine, including the capper at 16, to take the AmEx

By his own admission, the key to Tiger Woods's success isn't
brute strength. Woods wins so frequently and so convincingly
because he has arguably the greatest short game of all time.
Woods won by two strokes at the American Express Championship
thanks to three clutch up-and-downs to thwart pursuers Vijay
Singh and Tim Herron. The par saves were especially impressive
because each involved a different style of short shot, and he
made all three putts dead center. From gnarly Bermuda rough short
of the 10th green, Woods hit a sky-high 25-yard flop shot to a
back pin, landing the ball so it stopped quickly, just five feet
beyond the hole. At 13 Woods was over the green in a swale
looking up to a pin cut on a shelf, and he had only 15 feet of
green to work with, but he hit an imaginative bump-and-run that
trickled seven feet past the hole. Woods saved his best bit of
short-game wizardry for his final save, at 16. His approach from
the right rough had stopped 36 yards short on a raised mound of
grass hard against a bunker. With the ball sitting at thigh
level, he gripped a high-iron on the steel of the shaft, dug his
feet into the sand and made a perfect swing, keeping his
shoulders level as he rotated them back and forth. His ball
stopped pin high and nine feet from the hole, and he drained the
putt to preserve an insurmountable four-shot cushion.


"The Tour is shooting itself in the foot--and may incite a
revolt by the players--if it continues to trick up course
conditions (rock-hard fairways, choking rough, baked-out greens,
etc.) in a doomed effort to protect par."

"The Tour's most overrated player is Sergio Garcia. The
biggest waste of talent is Tim Herron, who could be a top 10
player if he took better care of his body."

"The Tour's player of the year award is a goofy popularity
contest, but it would become meaningful if the selection process
was changed from a vote by the players to a performance-based
system like the LPGA's. I would factor in not only wins, but also
average tournament finishes, money per start, Vardon Trophy
standings and rankings in the major stats."

"Tiger Woods can try a thousand drivers, but he will find
consistency off the tee only when he fixes a flaw he's had since
he was an amateur: a body rotation that is often out of sync with
his arms."


There are three keys to making solid contact when the ball is
above your feet, whether you're facing a little chip or a longer
shot with an iron or a wood: 1) Swing with your shoulders--not
your arms--making sure to keep the shoulders level from start to
finish, 2) maintain firm wrists and 3) aim well right of the
target, because you'll probably pull the ball. Since almost every
range is flat, the best way to practice this specialized shot is
to hit balls from a tee while on your knees.

ADDRESS Use your normal grip, but choke way down on the shaft so
you can stand as close as possible to the ball. Position the ball
in the middle of your stance, and let the club hover above the

BACKSWING After initiating the swing with the shoulder turn, keep
the hands and arms passive. There should be no weight transfer.

If your hands and arms get too active, or if you drop your right
shoulder, you'll hit the turf way behind the ball.

FOLLOW THROUGH Rotate the shoulders, keeping them as level as
possible. Strike the ball with a sweeping motion.


COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMERT (TOMASI) T.J. Tomasi teaches at Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield,Conn., and is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher.