Jason Day had a lot to deal with Friday — an attack of vertigo on his 18th hole, in addition to the firm, fast conditions at Chambers Bay.
But his miraculous birdie on his 10th hole was one of the shots of the day. Playing the par-5 first, day hit his second shot into the greenside bunker, but blasted out too far. The ball carried across the green and down into a collection area, leaving him a treacherous 30-yard pitch back up the hill from an extremely tight, firm lie.
Day jarred it.
"It doesn't matter if you're one of the best players in the world, you're still a little nervous when you have to hit a pitch shot from a super-tight, firm lie," says 50 Best Teacher Kevin Weeks, who is based at Cog Hill Golf Club in Lemont, IL. "It's one you have to be careful with."
To play a pitch from what is essentially concrete, you need to engage the bounce on the bottom in the right way. "To hit it, play the ball forward in your stance and set the face square," says Weeks. "If you open the face at all, you'll expose more bounce, and the club will rebound off the turf and you'll blade it. Play the face square, keep your weight mostly on your lead foot and pick the club up a little more than you normally would. You want to make a descending blow and make contact with the ground right behind the ball."
The best (albeit controversial) way to get a feel for the shot? Practice hitting it from the practice green. "You didn't hear me say that, though," says Weeks.