By Matthew Rudy
Congressional played long and hard for the Quicken Loans National, which meant that the winner needed to get the same out of his irons. Justin Rose put on an approach-shot clinic from 199-229 yards, hitting five out of six greens and averaging 27 feet from the hole -- six feet better than the tour average from that distance. On the 11th hole Sunday, he drew a 5-iron to five feet from 209 yards, setting up a birdie that would give him the lead at five under.
"On U.S. Open-type courses like Congressional, you have to be able to hit those shots hard and high, and shape them to get at pins," says Lukas McNair, a senior instructor at the Hank Haney Vista Ridge location outside Dallas. "On that shot at 11, Justin hit the exact shot that was called for -- a high draw that used the slope."
The one shot Rose did miss from that yardage could have been costly. He tried to thread a 4-iron between tree branches from 209 yards on the 18th hole and overcooked it, drawing the ball into the water protecting the green. But he got up and down for a good bogey, and won with a par putt on his first playoff hole against Shawn Stefani.
"There's no shortcut on those shots," McNair says. "You have to have a lot of clubhead speed and good technique. The club has to be coming down both in front of you and from the inside. Even good amateur players struggle to hit a high draw with longer irons because the tendency is to get the club stuck behind them with the right wrist bent back too much. You can hit a draw that way, but it will come out low and hot. It's better to flatten the wrist out a bit on the way down and square up on the ball through impact."