WHO: Paula Creamer

WHAT: 35-yard pitch to set up the winning 17-foot birdie putt

WHERE: Par-5 18th at Wykagyl

WHEN: Final round of the Sybase Classic

WHY: Creamer has a wise head on young shoulders. With the title on the line, the 18-year-old made two smart choices that led to victory: conservatively pitching to a spot below the hole, ensuring an uphill putt; and stroking the putt so it would barely reach the hole, taking a testy downhill comebacker out of the equation.

Most amateurs make the critical mistake of trying to hit a great shot without thinking of all the consequences. Pros, however, approach every shot with one thing in mind: the next shot. It is especially vital to plan ahead around the greens. Get greedy and try to stiff a pitch, and you're likely to end up on the wrong side of the hole with a very hard putt. A conservative play such as Creamer's at 18 (left) might leave you with a longer putt, but a 15-footer uphill is often a lot easier than a three-footer downhill.

Spearman teaches at Manhattan Woods Golf Club in West Nyack, N.Y., and is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher.

MITCHELL'S TIP

Think Ahead Before You Hit

... AND ANOTHER THING

"Carton House, the Colin Montgomerie--designed layout that hosted the Irish Open, is a cross between Muirfield and Troon, and the best new course I've seen in years."

COLOR PHOTOCOURTESY OF ESPN (CREAMER, TOP) COLOR PHOTOERICK W. RASCO (SPEARMAN) COLOR ILLUSTRATIONGEORGE LUCAS (ILLUSTRATION)Wykagyl's18th green