*Editor's note: Every Monday, PGA professional Kevin Hinton examines a key shot from one of the weekend's tour events and tells you what you can learn. A Golf Digest Best Young Teacher, Kevin is the Director of Instruction at Piping Rock Golf Club, Locust Valley, N.Y., and is a Lead Master Instructor for the Jim McLean Golf School at Doral Resort & Spa. He also teaches at Drive 495 in New York. This week, Kevin examines Steve Stricker's marvelous wedge to kick-in distance on the ninth hole at Kapalua, which helped turn the momentum and propel the nine-time tour winner to the victory circle in the year's first tournament. *
Kevin Hinton: Stricker's up-and-down on the par-5 ninth for his second consecutive birdie was a pivotal moment of the final round. Steve pitched his third shot to gimme range, and regained his three shot lead over Jonathan Byrd. He then cruised to a final-round 69 and the Hyundai Tournament of Champions victory. Let's take a closer look at Steve's pitching action and see what you can learn. Watch video.
Stricker is an expert at the fundamentals of consistent pitching. The less-than-full wedge shot is one of the most difficult in the game because you are not making a complete swing. Solid contact is not easy for the average golfer. Let's see how Stricker does it:
At address, he has narrowed his stance, played the ball slightly back of middle, and set more weight on his front foot . . . approximately 60 percent or so. In the backswing, he keeps his lower body relatively quiet as he swings his arms back and allows his wrists to hinge. This is a very important note. While the most significant difference between pitching and chipping is that in pitching we allow our wrists to hinge, I think the key to Steve's pitching--his consistently good contact and distance control--is that he doesn't overdo it.
His hands stay "quiet" throughout his swing. Steve's swing in general is void of a lot of wrist action.
While this type of swing isn't extremely powerful, it does lead to consistently straight driving, sharp iron shots and excellent wedge play. In the downswing, Steve rotates to his left beautifully, essentially hitting these shots with the turning of his body. This is a great thing for players of all levels to copy. If you are not using your body though impact, your hands will tend to dominate, and they are far less reliable, especially under pressure.
Complete highlights of Monday's final round are below:
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