Big Play Davis Love III, stronger thanks to a cutting-edge training program, pulled off a spectacular six-iron shot to clinch his victory at the Players

April 07, 2003

Davis Love III iced his victory at the Players Championship with
one of the gutsiest shots I've ever seen. Nursing a two-shot
lead, Love's drive on the par-5 16th hole came to rest on pine
straw left of the fairway. Love then ripped a six-iron (above)
197 yards over a strand of trees to a green guarded by water. The
ball stopped 10 feet from the cup, and he drained the putt for a
dramatic eagle. A year ago Love's mind and body were so fragile
that he probably would've laid up. Now Love is controlling his
enormous power, partly because he has embraced a fitness program
that I codesigned with Greg Rose, a Maryland-based sports-fitness
specialist. In January, Rose and I put Love through several hours
of tests to gauge his strength and flexibility. We also had him
hit shots while wireless sensors attached to his body sent data
to our computer. With that information we pinpointed the body
parts that Love needed to make stronger and more flexible,
including his glutes and hamstrings, and prescribed a daily
regimen to target those areas. In the past Love might have
coasted after early wins at Pebble Beach and the Players, but now
he wants to intensify his training. Last week at Sawgrass, Love
told me, "I'm feeling much stronger, and I want to take my
program to the next level."

THREE COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY NBC (LOVE) COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT Dave Phillips, 36, teaches at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md., and is one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers. THREE COLOR PHOTOS: ANDREW GOMBERT (4)


THE KEY to generating power is what I call the stretch--the
separation and resistance between your lower and upper body at
the beginning of the downswing. My Fill the Gap drill will help
you learn how to stretch properly. Address the ball with a
waist-high stake in the ground on the outside of your left heel
(1), then swing back to the top and pause (2). There should be a
sizable separation between your left hip and the stake. Pivot
your hips slightly toward the target as you begin the downswing,
but keep your shoulders still so that your back still faces the
target. You will feel resistance in your left shoulder and upper
back while your left hip will touch the stake (3). Making a full
stretch will keep you on-plane while allowing you to maximize
your power.

To do the Fill the Gap drill, put a stake next to your left heel.

At the top there should be a big gap between your left hip and
the stake.

Close the gap by pivoting your hips before beginning a shoulder


"I was sorry to see the Masters rescind its age-limit policy.
There's a place for legends like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer
to play--it's called the Champions tour."

"Speaking of Nicklaus, I'm sick of hearing players whine
about how technology is ruining the game even as they hawk
long-hitting equipment for their sponsors."

"The percentage of non-Americans on the pro tours in this
country is going to explode in the next decade. I recently
conducted a clinic at the David Leadbetter Junior Golf Academy in
Bradenton, Fla., and nearly half of the 120 kids there were from

"I've asked a lot of Tour players how Annika Sorenstam is
going to do at the Colonial, and I've been surprised that most of
them say she's a lock to at least make the cut."

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)