1. THE TAKEAWAY
I relied on three key swing thoughts at the U.S. Open: one for my takeaway, one for my transition and one through impact. Like many good right-handers, I fight hitting it left and have for all of my life. To avoid those hooks, my takeaway thought is to make sure during those first three feet the clubhead works away wide and outside my hands, with a nice bit of loft on the club. When I get it wrong (inset, above), the club sucks back behind my hands on the takeaway, and from there the club gets stuck behind me. Once the club is stuck on the inside, the only way I can go from there is out and away from me. That's going to put a lot of right-to-left spin on the ball -- the dreaded hook.
2. THE DOWNSWING
Thought No. 2 is my transition to the downswing, and it's probably the most important piece. It's vital that I'm calm and quiet coming down from the top and that I avoid getting quick with my legs and feet.
When my downswing is quiet, the club tends to drop back into the proper position on its own. That leads to thought No. 3, where I'm fully extended and covering the ball with my chest at impact (see below).
MY DRILL FOR A FREE RELEASE
3. RIGHT FOOT BACK
I used this drill throughout the week at Pebble Beach, and it helped keep my left leg stable. It allows me to release freely without fear of hooking. When I'm warming up, I drop my right foot back a few inches (inset), so most of my weight is on my left foot and leg. I'll hit three-quarter shots with wedges up to full swings with medium irons, keeping my right heel up.
This drill forces me to focus on my footwork, especially on stabilizing my left side. My left foot can't go anywhere, and I can hit against a really strong left leg. I can't spin out with the left hip, one of my tendencies. And it allows me to cover the ball with my chest at impact. This produces stronger, more reliable shots.