Big Play Sergio Garcia's cuffed three-wood from a downhill lie set up the eagle that propelled him to victory at the Mercedes Championships

January 14, 2002

What's a cuff? That's what I call a well-struck cut that stays
low and rolls. To pull it off, you've got to delay the release
of the club and keep the face open through impact. Sergio was
261 yards out on the par-5 9th hole on Sunday and probably could
have reached the green with a hard two-iron, but he used a
three-wood so he could swing easy, which helped him maintain his
balance from such an uneven stance.

DO OR DIE The cuff can be a dangerous play under any
circumstances, and the degree of difficulty for Sergio went up a
couple of notches because his natural ball flight is right to
left (as we saw with those effortless sweepers he shaped into
the Plantation course's many dogleg lefts). Compare Sergio's
result on the telltale 9th with that of his playing partner,
Mark Calcavecchia, a natural fader. Calc was only 211 yards out,
but he came up and out of the shot and hit a balloon short of
the green, illustrating how tough it can be to execute a cuff
under the gun.

MR. FIDGET A lot has been made of Sergio's preswing twitching,
and the feeling I get is that most people believe it's a sign of
weakness. I think it's a show of strength. Sergio is simply cuing
himself up to perform, asking his subconscious for permission to
swing away. Everybody does this differently. Lee Trevino shuffled
his feet, and Hubert Green endlessly milked the club, but, like
Sergio, these guys wouldn't pull the trigger until they were
completely committed to the shot. You can't argue with their
results.

THE TIP The keys to hitting from a downhill lie are taking
enough club, so you can produce a languid action, and swinging
along the contour of the hill. At address, move the ball back a
couple of inches in your stance and adjust your shoulders so
they match the angle of the slope. To hit a fade, open and widen
your stance a smidgen. As Sergio proved on Sunday, executing the
fundamentals on the toughest of shots is how tournaments are won.

Tomasi is the director of golf of the Tomasi Golf Academy in
Atlanta and one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers.

THREE COLOR PHOTOS:COURTESY OF ESPN COLOR PHOTO: PORTER BINKSYES COLOR PHOTO: PORTER BINKSNO

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)