Big Play Helped by a preshot routine that sharpens his focus, Davis Love chipped in on the 72nd hole at Hilton Head, leading to OT and another win

April 27, 2003

Davis Love III hit two spectacular shots on Sunday at the MCI
Heritage: a 66-foot chip (above) that he holed for birdie on his
last hole of regulation to force a playoff with Woody Austin and
a 166-yard six-iron that he stiffed on the fourth extra hole to
set up his victory-clinching birdie. The foundation for both
pressure-packed shots was the superb practice-swing technique
that Love uses from tee to green. While rehearsing, Love
maintains his rhythm and concentration by focusing on the target,
a routine that has become popular on the PGA Tour. Players used
to stare at the ball for up to 10 seconds before pulling the
trigger, but now they seem to look at the ball for only a few
seconds. Love takes the regimen to an extreme, glancing down for
only a blink or two before swinging. He adopted the technique a
couple of years ago while working with sports psychologist Bob
Rotella, and it has worked wonders. By focusing on the target and
not allowing himself to be stationary before hitting, Love
doesn't have time to let his mind wander, and he sustains the
relaxed flow of his practice swings right into the real thing.

FOUR COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF CBS (LOVE) TWO COLOR PHOTOMONTAGES: ANDREW GOMBERT (3); JIM GUND (BACKGROUND) COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT (3) Craig Shankland, 63, teaches at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., and is one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers.


The goal of practice swings, whether with a six-iron, a wedge or
a putter, is not to refine swing mechanics but to rehearse the
feel and rhythm of an upcoming shot and, especially, to focus on
the target. The best way to do that is to keep your eyes riveted
on the target, not on the ball, throughout your practice swings.
You should concentrate on the ball for only a second or two
before beginning the real swing. Remember this simple saying to
maintain the correct practice-swing technique: Stare at the
target, glance at the ball.


"Who'll be the next player to win his first major? My money
is on Geoff Ogilvy, who shot a 67 on Sunday at Hilton Head,
including a birdie on the 18th hole that left him a shot out of
the playoff. I also like Peter Lonard and John Rollins, two other
guys who are superstrong, fearless and have soft hands."

"Long putters--including the belly model that Woody Austin
uses--should be banned at every level of the game. The club
should be attached to the body only with the hands."

"LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw is a good executive, but on the
golf course it's another story. I teach Ty, and his game can be
summed up in two words: happy hacker."

"Anybody who thinks Tiger Woods is losing his edge because he
hasn't won any of the last three majors is delusional. Woods will
break Nicklaus's record of 18 major victories within 10 years."