The stakes were high for Sergio Garcia, who trailed by two shots Sunday at the BMW Championship going into the reachable par-5 17th. A win would solidify his position in the FedEx Cup, but more importantly, clear some of the bad taste from a season of almosts -- nine top-10s without a win.
Garcia decided to lay up in the thin Denver air, but hit his third shot over the green from 83 yards. Faced with a straightforward chip from an uphill lie, Garcia -- known for his terrific short game -- hit it thin. The ball rolled across the green and into the water, and Garcia ended up making a triple bogey. "You wouldn't hit it in that water if you gave him a thousand balls," said Johnny Miller on the telecast. "That is just a flat-out choke." Garcia finished tied for fourth, four behind Billy Horschel.
Tension is a killer in the short game, says top teacher Shaun Webb, who is based at the David Toms Golf Academy in Shreveport, La. "With tournament pressure and water behind the flag, fear of failure can get to even the best players in the world," Webb says. "In this case, Sergio made the error of stopping the motion of his chest through impact, allowing the smaller muscles in his hands and wrists to take over this delicate shot."
You probably aren't playing for $1.5 million, but everybody plays chip shots under some kind of pressure. Take these steps to avoid making this kind of mistake.
"First, if the grass is smooth, putt the ball if you can. It's the least risky option," Webb says. "If you chip, set up with your chest slightly open to the target line and hold the club with very light grip pressure. Make sure the butt of the club points at your belly button throughout the chip, which means you're keeping your chest rotating to support the club."