Big Play Laura Diaz rushed a critical four-footer in the key match of the Solheim Cup, giving the Europeans the momentum that carried them to victory

September 21, 2003

Last Saturday afternoon at the Solheim Cup, Laura Diaz looked as
if she were going to be the hero for the U.S. A 28-year-old who
had a breakthrough season in 2002, Diaz had been brilliant during
the day's final match, an intense better-ball tussle that pitted
her and Kelly Robbins against Europe's hottest pairing, Suzann
Pettersen and Annika Sorenstam. All square playing the par-4
18th, Diaz hit a clutch eight-iron to four feet from an awkward
stance in the rough. With Robbins all but out of the hole, it was
up to Diaz to make her birdie, ensuring at least a halve and
sending the Americans into the Sunday singles with some
much-needed inspiration. With 15,000 fans and both teams looking
on, Diaz made a brassy decision, putting first even though
Robbins was 40 feet from the hole. Diaz was trying to put
pressure on the Europeans, but the gambit backfired. She never
hit the hole, badly yanking the putt. Pettersen then drained a
12-footer for birdie to give Europe the match, a 9 1/2-6 1/2 lead
and all the momentum going into Sunday. Diaz's problem was that
she completely lost her rhythm and didn't follow her preshot
routine on the putt, which even Sorenstam noticed. "She rushed
it," Sorenstam said later. My guess is that Diaz will learn from
her mistake. On Sunday she regained her composure and whipped
Elisabeth Esterl 5 and 4 in singles.

FOUR COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF THE GOLF CHANNEL (DIAZ) COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT (MOWLDS) Jerry Mowlds teaches at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore., and is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher. FIVE COLOR PHOTOMONTAGES: ANDREW GOMBERT (MOWLDS)/JIM GUND (BACKGROUND)

OUR TOP TEACHER SAYS...

"In lessons with both sexes, I usually use women tour pros as
models because, lacking brute strength, they have much better
rhythm than the men."

"Despite technology, the average handicap is not improving
because too many amateurs have bad practice habits. Banging
thousands of balls doesn't help when you're ingraining bad
techniques."

"Ben Curtis will get rich in the coming months by playing a
full load of Silly Season and overseas events, like last week's
Lancome Trophy outside Paris. But the cash won't help him
rejuvenate a game that is already deteriorating because of all
the distractions surrounding his win at the British."

"The penalty given to Paul Azinger because his caddie pulled
the flag before his playing partner's ball had stopped rolling is
another example why the Rules of Golf need major updating. But
that'll never happen because the R&A and the USGA are too rigid."

THE TIP
PRESHOT ROUTINE

A preshot routine doesn't have to last a set amount of time or
include a prescribed number of steps. You should, however, have
the same routine for all shots, including putts, and it should
follow two rules: 1) Take the same time and follow the same
sequence of events before every shot; 2) if you feel out of
rhythm, it's because you are, so step back and start over. I call
my routine, which has five steps and takes five seconds, Stay
alive and hit in five.

1. CLUB TO BALL
Step forward with the right foot and commit the club face to the
target line.

2. SET THE FEET
Place the left foot into position so that your feet are parallel
to the target line.

3. FINALIZE THE STANCE
Adjust your right foot and finalize the ball position so that
you're comfortable.

4. TAKEAWAY
Begin the backswing with no delay.

5. IMPACT
Deliver the club face firmly into the ball.

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)