Monday Swing Analysis: Kuchar and Woodland, the Odd Couple
Editor's note: Every Monday, PGA professional Kevin Hinton examines the game of a recent tour winner 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 the amazing driving ability of Gary Woodland and discusses how his game contrasts with Matt Kuchar's. The American duo captured the World Cup in China over the weekend, coming from behind in the final round firing an alternate-shot 67 to win by two strokes over Germany and England.
Kevin Hinton: When you examine the stats of Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland, you quickly see the contrast in their games. Kuchar is a shorter but more accurate driver of the ball and a better putter, while Woodland can bomb it off the tee and then hit a lot of greens with wedges and short irons. But Woodland can use some work on the greens. They would have won by four or five strokes if Matt could have putted for Gary in the final round. Together, however, their individual talents blossomed, and they showed tremendous fire and confidence on the final day to pull off the win over a strong field that included Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell of Ireland, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose of England, Martin Kaymer and Alex Cjeka of Germany, and Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa.
Let's take a closer look at their stats: Kuchar ranks only 128th in Driving Distance while Woodland is ranked fifth. Meanwhile, Kuchar is 52nd in Driving Accuracy while Woodland is an unimpressive 137th. But Kuchar ranks only 50th in GIR while Woodland ranks 12th. Clearly, Woodland is a bomb and gouger with immense talent for hitting the ball really long, and he often drives with his 2-iron just to keep the ball short of trouble. Let's see how he does it in the video here:
You can clearly see Woodland's two-way action, in which the club is still going back as his lower body begins to move forward. Ben Hogan talked a lot about this type of move. It adds to the lag and down-cocking of the club on the downswing, similar to the action of Sergio Garcia, which we analyzed a few weeks ago.
I love the compact nature of Gary's swing. Being so strong allows him to make such a simple move and create such incredible clubhead speed, with seemingly little effort. As the club "exits" his body in the follow-through, the clubface is quite open. There is no "flipping" over of the clubface. He is not going to hook the ball. I call this an "under" release, and it reminds me of Dustin Johnson through impact. This is an essential move to control the ball for someone who generates the type of speed Woodland does.
Matt Kuchar's swing is very different. Click here for my analysis from a year ago.
Both of these players' swings have been analyzed by their teachers for Golf Digest. You can click here to see those frame-by-frame analyses: