Big Play With Mark Wood

October 10, 2004

Leading by only a shot at the par5 17th hole, Ernie Els executed a perfectly struck half-wedge to set up a clinching six-foot birdie

ANALYSIS

Most amateurs know that the hardest play in golf is the partial shot--or one that doesn't require a full swing. Ernie Els's perfect rhythm and tempo are ideal for such delicate plays. From 51 yards out at 17, he used an effortless motion in which his wrists remained quiet and the length of his backswing mirrored his follow-through as he dropped the ball on the top shelf of the green six feet from the hole. His one-putt birdie coupled with Thomas Björn's three-putt par sealed the victory.

THE TIP

Extended Shaft Antiwrist Drill

The key to the half-wedge is keeping the hands and wrists quiet or very still. To do so, try this: Take a normal grip on a sand wedge, then add a long iron, holding it just above the hosel so that the shaft extends the line of the wedge up your left side. Hit shots of 20 yards or less, making sure that the shaft of the long iron doesn't touch your body.

AND ANOTHER THING...

"Tiger Woods's talk about being a Ryder Cup cocaptain is a covert lobby for buddy Mark O'Meara. Can you picture him teaming up with anyone else?"

******

"The most exciting golf occurs in the fall, when guys are fighting for their cards. Imagine if the 126th-best lawyer in the world had to pass the bar again, but the 125th didn't."

******

"Although he won only one major, Vijay Singh's season is just as impressive as Tiger's in 2000, because the level of play on Tour has risen over the last four years."

Mark Wood teaches at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, N.J., and is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher.

COLOR PHOTOANDREW GOMBERT (WOOD, 3) COLOR PHOTOCOURTESY OF ABC (ELS) COLOR PHOTOMONTAGEANDREW GOMBERT (WOOD, 3)JIM GUND (BACKGROUND) COLOR PHOTOMONTAGEANDREW GOMBERT (WOOD, 3)JIM GUND (BACKGROUND)ADDRESS

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)