Big Play Vijay Singh played brilliantly at the Phoenix Open, but it was an unlucky bounce off the flagstick on a John Huston tee shot that sealed the win

February 03, 2003

Vijay Singh missed nary a putt and overpowered the TPC of
Scottsdale with heat-seeking 340-yard drives, but the decisive
moment in his three-stroke win wasn't a shot he hit. That moment
came when John Huston suffered one of the cruelest breaks I've
ever seen in tournament golf. Having made three straight birdies
to trim Singh's lead to two strokes, Huston was on a roll when he
reached the 16th hole, a 162-yard par-3. He flushed a nine-iron,
and the shot had ace written all over it. Instead, the ball hit
the flagstick dead center and ricocheted back off the front of
the green, coming to rest at the bottom of a swale about 60 feet
from the hole. A stunned Huston could offer only a one-word
response: "Wow." If the ball had missed the stick, he would've
been left with a surefire birdie to cut the lead to one stroke.
If the ball had gone in, who knows how the final holes would have
played out. This much is certain: At the 17th--a drivable
par-4--Huston, who would've just completed four consecutive holes
under par, surely would have been primed to hit a great tee shot.
Instead, after settling for par at 16 and still reeling from his
horrible break, he yanked his drive into the pond that fronts the
left side of the 17th green, sinking any chance he had of
catching Singh.

TWO COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF CBS (TOP) COLOR PHOTO: DAVID BERGMAN (7) Keith Lyford, 50, an instructor based in Lenox, Mass., is one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers. COLOR PHOTO: DAVID BERGMAN (7) YES 1
COLOR PHOTO: DAVID BERGMAN (7) YES 2 COLOR PHOTO: DAVID BERGMAN (7) YES 3 COLOR PHOTO: DAVID BERGMAN (7) NO 1 COLOR PHOTO: DAVID BERGMAN (7) NO 2 COLOR PHOTO: DAVID BERGMAN (7) NO 3

THE TIP

THE KEY TO GAINING EXTRA YARDS IS A SIMPLE EQUATION: More lag
equals more power equals more distance. Lag is the act of keeping
the wrists cocked and the clubhead trailing behind the hands
during the downswing. To create lag, you must cock the wrists
more than 90 degrees during the backswing (the Tour average is
114) and sustain that angle until your hands are over the ball.
This is done by swinging primarily with the lower body, not the
arms. Here's my favorite drill for creating lag: Put a headcover
a foot behind the ball. Take a mid-iron and set up with the club
hovering a couple of inches in the air. Take the club
back--avoiding the headcover--and cock your wrists, maintaining
that 90-plus-degree angle. If you sustain the lag in the
downswing, as I do in the YES pictures above, your club won't
touch the headcover. In photo 1 of the NO pictures, the wrists
are not cocked sufficiently, and by photo 2 the lag has been
lost.

OUR TOP TEACHER SAYS...

"It's great to have Robert Gamez, who tied for third in
Phoenix, back from the dead. The Tour needs more players with
his panache."

"A major club manufacturer tells me that the limit has been
reached on increasing distance through technology. From now on,
extra yards will have to come from stronger players and better
technique."

"Arnold Palmer should quit competing. I hate to see a legend
like Arnie tarnish his great career with outings such as last
week's Senior Skins, at which he was shut out."

"Rich Beem, who is off to an awful start in 2003, looks like
a one-hit wonder. He is lucky that a couple of hot weeks now
makes you a multimillionaire."

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)