If you think Shaun Micheel's PGA-clinching seven-iron was, hands
down, the shot of the year, you didn't see Scott Hend's
Tour-card-clinching drive at the end of his fifth round at Q
school. The 30-year-old Hend, who has Popeye forearms and is as
long as John Daly, nailed one of the gutsiest shots I've seen in
my three decades as a Tour player and a teacher, and he did it in
golf's most pressure-packed situation. Standing on the tee of his
final hole of the day, a 400-yard par-4 with a sharp dogleg to
the left and a lake between him and the green, Hend was eight
under par and barely among the top 30, the cutoff point for Tour
qualification. Q schoolers on the bubble usually play
defensively, a strategy that often leads to costly errors. Hend,
though, stuck to his aggressive game plan (for the week he tied
for second in birdies, with 31) and eschewed the safe play.
Instead of laying up to the right of the water (yellow line
above), he went for the green with his driver (red line). None of
the other 164 players had tried to drive the green that day, but
Hend easily carried the water. His ball flew 325 yards, landed on
the green and rolled to the back fringe. From there he two-putted
for an easy birdie. His momentum carried over to the sixth and
final round, in which he shot a 72 to finish 21st.
OUR TOP TEACHER SAYS...
"As the Q school telecast showed, the pace of play on Tour is
absurdly slow. The only way to speed things up is to levy penalty
strokes--not fines--as we do in many club-pro events."
"The lust for profits is spoiling public golf as more and
more ridiculously priced courses of only average quality get
built on the best available land. For example, it costs $225 to
play Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale and an absurd $295 at Bali
Hai in Las Vegas."
"Tiger Woods had a relatively off year because his swing has
deteriorated. His arms often swing independent of, and much
faster than, his torso."
"The next first-time major winner will be Stuart Appleby. He
has the simplest and most technically sound swing on Tour."
THE TIP | POWER STRETCH DRILL
To generate power, stretch (or coil) your body in the backswing
and maintain that stretch as you move into the front foot and
leg. As you unwind on the downswing, release your hands, arms and
club into the ball like a whip just before impact. During the
critical transition from backswing to downswing, maintain tension
and stretch the left side of the torso as your body moves toward
the target and into the front foot and leg. To duplicate this
feeling, try my Power Stretch Drill. At address your toeline
should be parallel to a wall or doorjamb and your hands should
hang loosely (1). Keeping your arms in front of your chest,
rotate back and grab the wall with both hands (2). During the
downswing, maintain the stretch as you move toward the target
(3). Avoid turning your hips or tilting your shoulders (4).