Big Play with Mark Wood

July 02, 2006

WHO: Ben Curtis

WHAT: 72-yard wedge to an inch

WHERE: 520-yard par-5 6th hole at the TPC at Avenel

WHEN: Final round of the Booz Allen Classic

WHY

Curtis has guts. He won the 2003 British Open as a rookie but was labeled as the worst player to win a major and spiraled down the money list in '04 and '05. Instead of going AWOL he retooled his swing. Gone are the wristiness, the sagging knees and the sliding hips. Now he has a flat left wrist and a compact action built on a firm pivot, as he showed while stiffing wedges at the 5th and 6th holes. With the new swing and the Booz Allen title, Curtis can build a résumé to go with his Open title.

MARK'S TIP

For Solid Contact,

Keep Left Wrist Flat

A flat left wrist promotes solid contact. To learn the technique, make half swings with a tongue depressor over your lead wrist. Lay the depressor along the back of your wrist. Tuck one end under your glove and the other end under your watch. At address, the depressor should put a little pressure against your wrist, but you shouldn't feel it again for the rest of the swing.

Mark Wood teaches at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, N.J.

... AND ANOTHER THING

"The U.S. Open and the Snooze Allen Classic are a preview of the new-look PGA Tour, where events will be either superstar opens or snoozers."

The Pepper Mill

[ by DOTTIE PEPPER ]

FORGET HIM NOT With all the brouhaha surrounding the final-round U.S. Open collapses of Phil Mickelson, Colin Montgomerie and Jim Furyk, we risk overlooking the guy who won, Geoff Ogilvy. He may not jump to mind when you think of the great players in today's game, but he should. He has three Tour wins in the last two years, is second on the money list and is one of the really good guys on Tour. At the Accenture Match Play he took down four major champions (Michael Campbell, Mike Weir, Tom Lehman and Davis Love III) in head-to-head battles on the way to victory. The key number for Geoff on Sunday at Winged Foot was also four, as he made clutch pars on the last four holes, a feat no other contender could accomplish at the end of that grueling week.

NO S CAPE In all of the analysis and reaction to Phil's double bogey at the 72nd hole of the Open, one quote stands out. Hale Irwin, the 1974 U.S. Open champion at Winged Foot, said, "Sometimes that S on Phil's chest stands for Superman, and sometimes it stands for stupid." I would add it also stands for sad. The atmosphere at Winged Foot on Sunday had a lot of sadness--that Phil couldn't make better decisions (starting with his use of the driver at the 1st hole, when it was playing downwind) and that he made a very bad swing on the 72nd tee. I think Phil is sometimes handicapped by his phenomenal short game, which lulls him into bad decisions because he believes he can get the ball up and down from anywhere. Not having your best stuff on the last day of a major is fine, but make good decisions, not sad ones.

OLD SCHOOL Newport Country Club, host of this week's U.S. Women's Open, doesn't have a fairway irrigation system. In other words there are no sprinkler heads with the yardage marked on them. Caddies and players will calculate distance the old-fashioned way--using bluffs, bunker edges, walking paths and low bushes, anything that even remotely stands out. If you see people walking in circles, they're doing their math! In addition, the ocean breezes and unfamiliar quirks of coastal golf could make for a wild week in Rhode Island.

Dottie Pepper, a 17-year veteran of the LPGA tour and an analyst for NBC and the Golf Channel, welcomes questions at dottie@siletters.com.

GOLF MAGAZINE

TOP 100

TEACHERS POLL

Will an American win the U.S. Women's Open?

Yes 26%

No 74%

"Foreigners are stronger, more mature and more disciplined in tournament preparation."

--TED SHEFTIC

TED SHEFTIC LEARNING CENTER

PHOTOCOURTESY OF ABC (CURTIS) FIVE PHOTOSERICK W. RASCO (WOOD, 4); JIM GUND (BACKGROUND) THREE PHOTOS DAVID WALBERG (PEPPER); JOHN BIEVER (OGILVY, MICKELSON) PHOTODARREN CARROLL (CREAMER) Paula Creamer

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)