Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)

The Loop

How He Hit That: Lee Westwood's precision ball-striking

December 15, 2014

Disagreements with his putter or other short game clubs have cost Lee Westwood some chances to win his first major championship, but few players hit the ball as purely.

Westwood showed off both skills in Thailand, making seven birdies in a 10-hole stretch to beat a star-studded field and earn his 42nd career title--and 14th in Asia.

The 41-year-old Englishman makes such flush contact time after time because of the way he releases the club," says Top 50 Teacher Brian Manzella.

"Lee has a great lead arm sequence on the backswing and into the downswing," says Manzella, who is based at English Turn Golf & Country Club in New Orleans. "He has that bent left arm on the way down, which lets him 'throw' the club hard through impact without over-rolling the face. Jordan Spieth has that same look."

The key to Westwood's release--and the element average players should copy--is the direction the wrists move and the time in the backswing it happens. "Lee's right hand works under his left on its way through the ball--not over it or around it, which are the common mistakes players make," says Manzella. "If you took a still picture of his swing at impact, it would look like he's shoving the handle forward, toward the target, but in real life, the handle is slightly forward while he's in the middle of a full release of the clubhead. His right wrist is bent late, and then hie's throwing it under the left hard. He's not trying to "hold on" to any lag, or drag the handle forward through the ball."