Lofty Goals

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Lofty Goals

July 30, 2014

For me, 2013 was a breakthrough year but also an eye-opener. I won my second PGA Tour event, the Greenbrier Classic, but I had some spurts where I didn't play well. And believe me, I don't like those times. What I learned was that if I want to get to the next level, my ball-striking has to improve. With help from my swing coach, Jorge Parada, I started working on changes to get me hitting it higher and farther off the tee. Tying for second at the Masters was a big confidence boost, but this is still a period of change for me. I think the things I'm working on can help your driving, too.

PRE-SETTING IMPACT AT ADDRESS

Jorge has been trying to get me to swing into a straight line at impact, meaning my left shoulder, arm and wrist as well as the club all line up and are behind the ball. If my shoulder shifts in front of the ball, I'll hit down too much and produce a spinny miss to the right.Tip: Setting up with my shoulder in line with or even slightly behind the ball helps me hit up on it, which is key to generating more distance without increasing speed.

MAKING IT EASY TO GET BACK DOWN

I used to make a flatter shoulder turn and get the club laid off at the top (pointing well left of the target). Then I'd have to re-route the club coming down to hit a solid shot. Now I turn my shoulders on a steeper plane, which makes my downswing easier to repeat.Tip: The feeling is that my left shoulder moves down and back and my left wrist is flat at the top. Your body turn should be consistent and efficient—don't rely on hand action to square the clubface.

SWINGING UP AND TO THE LEFT

I'm 5-foot-10, 165 pounds and don't swing it as fast as some guys out here. So to increase my driving distance, my goal is to catch the ball a little on the upswing and in the center of the face. This lets me launch it higher and with less backspin, which maximizes carry. The feeling I have is that I'm swinging the grip up and to the left of the target through impact.Tip: Jorge tries to get me to drive my hips up and forward, with my left hip higher than my right through the shot. I'm hitting it higher and reducing spin, but I know I can get even longer.

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