Kyle Stanley walks like a big man, talks like a big man and swings a golf club like a big man. But big, he ain't. He's all of 172 pounds. And that's up from a college fighting weight of 137. So when he takes a rip at the ball, you're both amazed and jealous. How in the world does a guy of his size carry it more than 300 yards?
"I kind of have a rubber-band effect," he says. "Good flexibility, good timing. I can whip the club through the hitting area. I also work out quite a bit. In the off weeks, I'm in the gym five out of seven days."
Stanley's swing is rapidly becoming the modern prototype: golfers with snap-quick lower-body action that allows them to swing as hard as they can to get the club in the correct position at impact. In fact, if they don't swing hard, the club will be left behind.
"What you see today is guys working out, getting much stronger, more flexible. They can rip it," says Mike Taylor, Stanley's coach. "It's not just that Kyle's hips are fast, his whole body is. He makes a really fast pivot through the hitting area."
Stanley's powerful swing and noticeable bravado--follow him on Twitter (@kylestanleygolf) to get a taste--have made him one of the PGA Tour's rising stars. In just his 32nd start, he won the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February. And that was after he nearly won the previous week at the Farmers Insurance Open. Needing only a double bogey on the final hole at Torrey Pines, Stanley spun his approach on 18 off the green and into the water and made a triple. He lost in a playoff to Brandt Snedeker. If not for one wedge shot with too much juice, Stanley could have secured a spot on this year's U.S. Ryder Cup team only five weeks into the season.
"But the important thing is, I came back and won the following week," he says.
Stanley's focus is on accuracy. Not only has he developed a "knockdown-driver" shot for tight fairways, he also has tightened his mechanics and is now a respectable 28th on tour in greens in regulation percentage (68.13 percent).
His flaw is a laid-off backswing that gets his clubshaft pointing too far left of the target at the top. This causes him to come into the ball from too shallow an angle. The clubhead often trails too far behind his body, causing hooks and blocks.
Taylor says they want Stanley's club to stay more in front of his body as he takes it back and point parallel left of his target at the top. This will allow the club to come back into the ball at an angle and pace that match his super-quick body rotation."But he's at the point now where he's not even thinking about his swing," Taylor says. "He can go out and just play golf."