By John Pallot
Director of Instruction
The 2010 Masters had many storylines. First, how would Tiger Woods play after his self - imposed 5 month layoff ? Could red hot Freddy Couples take another Green Jacket at age 50 ? Would Englishman , Lee Westwood, a third place finisher in the last two majors of 2009, break through and win his first major ? Or, could Ernie Els, winner of the CA Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this year, capture his first Masters title?
Lee Westwood was a co-leader after the first two rounds at 8 under 136. He stretched his lead to four strokes during the third round until Phil Mickelson went on a tear on the back nine. Mickelson eagled the par 5 thirteenth with a 12 foot eagle putt, then holed out a 141 yard pitching wedge on the fourteenth for an eagle 2, then birdied the par 5 fifteenth after he stuck a 87 yard sand wedge within inches of the cup. Within twenty seven minutes, Phil went from four strokes behind to tied with Westwood. Saturday is called "moving day" at The Masters and although Phil was one behind after round three, he was primed and in great position for the final round. A flawless bogey free round of 67, highlighted by Phil's 207 yard six iron from behind two trees on the thirteenth gave Phil a three shot victory and his third green jacket.
Butch Harmon told me last November, when I visited him, that Phil was going to have a break out 2010. With commitments to his family weighing on him, Phil had not been able to put it all together in 2010 ( having only one top ten finish so far). However, the entire family was present in Augusta. Phil was focused from the start on Thursday. He won his third green jacket and is indeed now well poised for a break out 2010.
This month's Tip is based on my observations of Phil's best shot making as he beat the rest of the best to join a very elite group of three time green jacket winners (Jimmy Demaret, Sam Snead, and Gary Player).
1). Practice hitting short shots with your right (left for lefties) heel slightly off the ground at address. The idea here is to promote a downward blow with the hands leading the club head at impact. Phil's short game is superb and he is a master at hands forward at impact. Hands forward allows you to create solid contact and more back spin. You do not need to shift your weight to the right (left for lefties) with short shots. Hit a few shots and you will feel a striking down instead of a scooping up. The left wrist (right for lefties) stays flat and in line with the fore arm. To maintain a flat wrist, place a popsicle stick under your watch.
2). Butch Harmon is a big believer in releasing your right side through the shot. This means that your right heel is off the ground at impact and your right shoulder finishes closer to the target than your left shoulder on your finish position. Phil's tendency is to hang back on his left side and hit wildly. The next time you hit some balls, let your eyes follow the ball after impact. This encourages you to release your right side and right shoulder, or in Phil's case, his left side. Forget the old adage "keep your head down" and hit 'em like the masters.