September 1, 2009

My Game: Daniela Hantuchova

I prefer playing to practicing. I don't care much for practicing, because I get enough practice on the tennis court. I just want to go out and play.

I prefer playing to practicing. I don't care much for practicing, because I get enough practice on the tennis court. I just want to go out and play.

Editor's Note: In "My Game," a weekly series, GolfDigest.com asks noted personalities to expound on their experiences in golf, and what keeps bringing them back. This week Slovakian tennis star Daniela Hantuchova, 26, the 22nd seed at the U.S. Open this week in New York, discusses her newfound passion for golf, a game she'd rather talk about than tennis.

I was introduced to golf the first time I went to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event in Indian Wells, Calif. The hotel where we stayed was next to a golf course. I went out one day with my mother and liked it immediately.

It is the freedom, being in nature, where I completely forget about the rest of the world, forget about tennis. For me, it is a great way to escape.

Because of traveling around the world to play in tournaments, I don't get to play golf as often as I would like to. But when I come to California, I try to play. Once I finish with tennis, I will play a lot more. I don't have a handicap, because I don't play often enough. But I did have a hole-in-one, six years ago, in Perth, Australia when I was there for the Hoffman Cup.

I prefer playing to practicing. I don't care much for practicing, because I get enough practice on the tennis court. I just want to go out and play.

I love to hit the driver. You have to have a good technique to hit it well. I like the feel and sound of it. I love approach shots, too. Like tennis, technique and timing are important. I'm not so patient when I'm on the green.

My Game

I have never taken lessons. I have tried to teach myself by watching Tiger Woods. I try to look closely at his technique and how he swings the driver. It's impossible to copy him, of course, but I try. I focus on the angle he gets with his club and arms, 90 degrees, right before he hits the ball. I also pay attention to his preparation, just before he hits a shot.

I am most impressed by the mental side of Tiger's game.

Everyone at that level can hit the ball well, but he seems to stay more focused, especially under pressure. It's not easy, either.

In golf, the tough part is that every shot counts. If you hit a bad shot on Thursday, you carry it all the way to Sunday. What Tiger does so well, better than anyone, is that he can get over a bad shot immediately and be ready to hit his next shot. That's the most important thing in tennis, too, to not dwell on a bad shot. You have only a few seconds to get over it and prepare for the next one.