The Loop

How He Hit That: Derek Fathauer's mini-waggle

September 22, 2014

While the likes of Rory McIlroy, Billy Horschel, Chris Kirk and Jim Furyk were duking it out for the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus, the real pressure was building on the Tour -- where 75 players essentially held a four-week race for 50 spots on the 2014-2015 PGA Tour. Dip to third in the FedEx Cup and you're still taking home $2 million. Miss out on the top spot in the race and you still get a card, but you're not guaranteed entry into any event on the big tour.

Derek Fathauer had seen all sides of it. He made it to the PGA Tour through Q-school for the 2009 season before flaming out in an avalanche of missed cuts. This year, he made 19 cuts in 23 events, but picked the right week to win his first tournament as a professional. Fathauer opened with rounds of 65-66 at the Tour Championship and held off Zac Blair on the weekend to win by a shot and earn full PGA Tour status for next season.

"I was trying to force the first few events," said Fathauer, who had chances to win two of the other three Finals events before fading on the weekend. "I did a better job of staying patient this week and not looking too far ahead."

Part of Fathaeur's mechanism for handling pressure is the mini-waggle he uses just before he pulls the trigger on every full shot. It simulates the feel and motion of his release, and helps keep him tension-free. "It's a combination of club positioning rehearsal and a little preview of the swing motion," says Top 50 teacher Brian Manzella, who is based at English Turn Golf & Country Club in New Orleans. "It's probably something he does as a reminder to smooth out his move away from the ball. It's great in that it prevents him from being really static or ball bound before he makes his swing. You can see how he doesn't take much time from when he does that little move and when he goes ahead and hits it. He gets the feel, releases the tension and goes."