Throughout the course of his career, Tiger Woods has often left us always asking, “How did he do that?”
While his game still has room for improvement, Tiger has looked impressive this season and is in a good position heading into the weekend of the Quicken Loans National thanks to a Friday 65.
His great bounce-back round was filled with some stellar shots, but the hole-out pitch on the 18th — Tiger’s 9th hole of the day — for birdie was one of the most impressive; a shot that many could use help in understanding how it is done.
The shot is best broken down into two parts: the plan and the execution.
Follow these steps to tackle a challenging pitch over sloping terrain for a better look at par or even a shot at a hole-out for yourself.
Tiger faced a shot of approximately 30 yards. The ball was slightly above his feet and the green was elevated with the pin in the back right of the green and sloping right-to-left. The hole location being so far back eliminated a shot that flew to the hole and stopped — it would be too dangerous with the deep rough over the green and a lie above his feet, which means less spin.
The tilt of the green added difficulty because Tiger could only get the shot close by challenging the fringe and rough on the high side of the green, meaning if he missed his spot he could have an even harder chip for par. However, if he pulled his shot, the ball would catch the slope of the green and travel down the ridge some 30 feet away from the pin.
Finally, for good measure, Tiger had a steep bunker face staring him down; an obstacle that had to be carried.
The first step is to mentally commit to the shot, block out the bunker and focus solely on the landing spot. You can determine the landing spot by factoring in the club you will use, the likely trajectory and the amount of run-out the ball will have when it hits the green.
Tiger chose a lofted wedge and played the ball in the center of his stance. He also used a narrow stance to ensure a crisp descending path, leading to clean contact. The length of the swing is worth noting. Tiger’s hands only went back and through to waist high. This helped him control the distance of the shot by regulating the speed of the club and ensured his upper body would rotate to complete the pitching motion.
We can see that the lofted wedge and smooth pitch produced a shot that landed softly right where it needed to and then reacted like a putt once it was on the green. The ball had perfect speed as it neared the hole. Had it not gone in, it would have been a gimme for par and that is exactly what can lower your scores.
Not every chip or pitch is going to go in, but if we can work on breaking the shot down into multiple parts — having a plan and confidently executing the plan — our shots will end up closer.
Remember When Facing A Long Pitch Over Trouble
- Pick a landing spot that allows the ball to react like a putt as it gets closer the hole
- Choose a club that can hit the landing spot, but also provide the correct trajectory
- Utilize a half-swing motion to control your distance
- Finish facing your target to transfer energy through the ball and allow yourself to see it go in