October 10, 2007

Tiger Tips: Focus on the landing

Try this practice drill for delicate pitches

Hit the spot: There's very little tension in my forearms, and the back of my left hand faces the target.

Hit the spot: There's very little tension in my forearms, and the back of my left hand faces the target.

Little pitches and chips from the first cut require soft hands and great technique. You also have to factor in roll-out. The trick is to judge how far to carry the ball.

I practice these short shots by sticking a tee in the green for both my landing spot and hole location (if I'm not chipping to a flag). I also vary my trajectory depending on the slope of the green by either shutting the club down through impact for lower shots or holding it open for higher, softer shots. I maintain my spine angle, start to finish.

Solid contact is critical, so I always set up the same way -- ball slightly forward in an open stance with most of my weight on my forward foot. I use a slightly more vertical takeaway so the ball pops out of the grass. After one last look at the spot I want to land the ball, I try to feel the distance. The roll-out takes care of itself.



My first move down A little hip action goes a long way

I can't stress enough the importance of having a trigger to start the downswing. A trigger provides a consistent way to ignite the sequence of movements and unlock the power stored in your right side.

Mine is a little lateral bump of the hips to the left. From there, my only goal is to return the club to the back of the ball along the same plane I established at address.

Muscle memory allows everything else to flow naturally. My arms fall directly along the same plane coming down as they took going up; my lower body and upper body unwind properly, in that order, and my weight transfers into my forward side.

Unlike the pros, most amateurs start the downswing with their shoulders, arms or hands, producing an over-the-top move. By starting down with your lower body you let the shoulders and arms work from inside the target line (below, right), which is a much more powerful move.

Tiger

Photo: J.D. Cuban

Ask Tiger

Tiger

LIKING IT HOT

__Q: How miserable did the heat end up being at Southern Hills? Was it hard to manage?

-- Hardy Banks /Phoenix

__

A: It was incredibly hot and humid. I definitely weighed less on Sunday night when I headed home. That said, I wasn't uncomfortable. At home in Florida, I run a lot in the mid-afternoon, the hottest part of the day, to get ready for big events. It helps my endurance and mental toughness. At the PGA, I felt as fresh on Sunday morning as I did on Thursday morning. I drank three or four bottles of water on each nine, and an energy mixture my trainer made me when I got to the turn. I don't think I've ever sweated more on the course, but they say the more you drink, the more you sweat it out.

But the best part of the week was when Elin and Sam Alexis surprised me at the course on Sunday. It gave me chills when I saw them.

To ask Tiger a question of your own, send an e-mail to asktiger@golfdigest.com.

Tiger Woods writes instruction articles only for Golf Digest.

Mark Soltau is a contributing editor to Golf Digest and the editor of TigerWoods.com.