My Shot

Take it from me and Lanny: Vijay Singh will never succeed if he keeps hitting driver
May 08, 2005

Vijay, we have to talk. Your course management is a serious problem. Last Thursday at the TPC of Louisiana you came to the 369-yard 8th hole and pulled driver. Sure, it was playing downwind, but Pete Dye pot bunkers were strewn all over. No way you hit the hammer on that hole.

The others in your group, Woody Austin and Ian Leggatt, played it smart. They laid up, wedged on and made easy birdies. But not you. You boomed one to within 15 yards of the green and pitched in for a 2.

O.K., you got lucky. But why do you feel the need to hit driver on every hole? It's as if you step onto a tee box and your brains run out your ears. You're grippin' and rippin' it like John Daly, and even he's wised up. A couple of weeks ago in Houston you two went to a playoff and replayed the 18th, a 449-yard par-4 with water on the left and a fairway skinnier than a supermodel. Big John hit three-wood in regulation and in the playoff. You hit driver twice--and never sniffed the fairway. Sure, you made two tap-in pars and won the tournament, but that doesn't make it right.

What makes me so sure? Because Lanny Wadkins says so. In Houston the CBS analyst lit into you for pulling driver on 18. True, his colleagues tried to get him to back off. They pointed out that driver got you past all the tree trouble and that the rough, at its thickest, was pretty sparse. But Lanny wasn't buying it. Last week I tried to deliver his message, and what did you do? You gave me an argument!

Echoing Lanny, I pointed out that the 18th fairway at Redstone was only 10 yards wide. You said, "I wasn't aiming down the middle of the fairway," but "more at the right edge," at a 40-yard-wide target that included the rough.

Then you insisted that when you hit driver, the rough, with rare exceptions, no longer matters because invariably you have "only wedge or sand wedge or even L-wedge" in and "can still control the ball pretty well."

Your philosophy has its supporters. Tiger Woods has said, in so many words, that missing fairways is no big deal as long as you miss in the correct spots. And Skip Kendall, a pretty sharp guy, points out that "there's no correlation between fairways hit and rank on the money list, but a huge correlation between driving distance and money list." Johnny Miller spent the entire Florida swing ranting that hitting the fairway is irrelevant and that today pro golf is a three-club game: driver, wedge and putter. But seriously, compared with Wadkins, what do those guys know?

TRUST ME by JAMES P. HERRE

Chris DiMarco's T3 in New Orleans is going to be harder to stomach than his second in Augusta.

COLOR PHOTOJOHN BIEVER BOMBS AWAY Singh hits it so far, the rough isn't a factor.

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)