By Matthew Rudy
Adam Scott kept his No. 1 ranking and earned a new plaid sport coat with his win at Colonial, but Jason Dufner made him work for both. Dufner shot rounds of 69-66 on the weekend to tie Scott after regulation, then matched birdies with him on the second playoff hole before falling to a birdie on the third.
It was an impressive return to form for Dufner, who hadn't had a top 10 since the beginning of March. One of the hallmarks of Dufner's game is his fluid and precise iron play--a skill that also helps him in his short game, says top Illinois teacher Joe Bosco.
Here, Dufner holes a simple chip shot for birdie on Saturday afternoon from just off the green on the par-3 fourth. "It's a straightforward shot, straight up the hill, and the ball lands on the green and rolls out like a putt," says Bosco, who is based at The Glen Club in Glenview, IL. "But contrary to a lot of instruction, he doesn't use an open stance or a lot of arm action with a quiet body. He makes a mini swing with soft hands and arms, and uses the pivoting of his torso as a quiet engine for the swing."
By controlling the swing with his pivot and not the small muscles of the hands and arms, he can make a calm and fluid motion. "When you're locked with your body and trying to make the ball move with your hands and arms, that's when I see a lot of chunked and skulled short game shots," says Bosco. "Make some full practice swings and dial them down progressively smaller until you have a small swing with soft arms and some body pivot. That's the feel you want."
Tour players also approach short game shots with a mindset average players should copy. "When I talk to tour players around the practice green about certain shots, they never tell me they're just trying to get it up there close. They're trying to make it," says Bosco. "Your goal should be to make consistent solid contact with a very specific target in mind. That target might as well be making it--not just some vague idea that anywhere up by the hole is fine."