After a stellar junior-golf career in North Carolina and four years at the University of Georgia, Brendon Todd had high expectations when he turned pro in 2007. After all, he used to drum his high school pal Webb Simpson in junior events. But when Simpson was winning the U.S. Open in June 2012, Todd was barely cracking the top 500 in the World Golf Ranking.Then Todd met Bill McInerny, a sport psychologist in Boston. "Bill has been an amazing total coach for me," Todd says. "He's instilled great practice habits and goal setting and helped me get my confidence back."About the same time, Todd started working with swing instructor Scott Hamilton, who is based in Cartersville, Ga. "Scott gave me a repeatable golf swing that helps me hit the ball in play and keeps my misses narrow."Coming in to 2014 Todd earned his PGA Tour card by maintaining a top-25 ranking on the 2013 Web.com Tour. Then last summer he broke through, winning the HP Byron Nelson Championship and tying for fifth the week after. He finished 27th on the money list with $3.4 million, and his world ranking improved to 51st. Look out, Webb.
THE PERFECT TILTBrendon is solid in the setup. His feet are wider than his hips, his ball position more forward than before. "Draw a line up from the ball, and it runs where his left sleeve is sewn," says his teacher, Scott Hamilton. "A line down from his left ear goes through his zipper." This sets his right shoulder lower and promotes a high launch.
EARLY WRIST HINGE"Before, Brendon hinged his wrists later, and the club went way behind his body," Hamilton says. Now he hinges earlier and gets the clubhead up faster. This helps him hit it straight without relying on a recovery move, Hamilton says. And his swing is more versatile. "He can play 'off speed' and control the ball in any kind of weather."
SHORTER NOW"He used to have runoff with his arms: When his shoulders stopped turning back, his arms kept swinging," Hamilton says. "Not anymore. Now his arms are in sync with his shoulder rotation." This creates great upper-body coil over a stable lower body for consistent power.
STAYING BEHIND IT"BT's doing a great job of retaining his wrist angle halfway down," Hamilton says. "This is partly a result of his left knee and leg leading the downswing and his head staying level and behind the ball—notice the brim of his cap is pointing at his right foot. Plus, he's really pushing off the ground here." Two major power moves.
STABLE AT IMPACT"I really like this posting up onto his left leg," Hamilton says. Todd's clubshaft lines up perfectly with his left arm just past impact. "His slightly bowed left wrist and bent right wrist give him great clubface control through the shot," Hamilton says. "This is a portrait of how you keep the ball in play."
STRAIGHT-UP FINISHPast impact and into the follow-through, Todd is not holding anything back. "He has a free release of the club," Hamilton says. "He used to drop way down and sometimes hit fat shots. Now he stays tall and finishes in balance, his right shoulder turned well past his left and his spine vertical. That's stress-free on his back."