|The "Tiger Flop" on no. 16 at Muirfield Village won The Memorial, Tiger Woods' 73rd PGA Tour win. (Chris Condon/Getty Images)|
Tiger Woods' dramatic chip-in on the 16th hole at at Muirfield Village was undoubtedly the shot that led to his 73rd victory on the PGA Tour, a momentum grabber, an attention getter and a glimpse of the Tiger of old.
It was also a shot that was ridiculously difficult by even his standards, "I pulled it off, and for it to land as soft as it did was kind of a surprise because it was baked out and it was also downhill running away from me," Woods told reporters. "It just fell in."
Before we look at the how, let's examine why he chose the flop under such demanding circumstances. On a direct line to the pin, the shot had to carry at least 10 yards to clear the fringe and the lie was showing only the top half of the ball in rough that was at least two inches thick. The standard chip shot was not an option due to the lie and distance to the green, and the usual pitch shot would not stop the ball fast enough to avoid the water.
There was another option -- play the soft pitch to the left side of the green where there was little danger of bringing water into play -- but Tiger went for the must-make in a situation where he could win or lose depending on the outcome of one high-risk shot.
So how did he hit the shot that makes mere mortals break into a deep sweat? I mean it was only a must-make shot from a downhill thick lie to a firm fast green with water behind the green, what's the big deal?!
Here are the steps you need to use to learn the Tiger Flop:
1. Get the right wedge. For this shot, Tiger chose his 60 degree for maximum height and stopping power.
2. Lean the shaft backwards. Even though on a normal wedge shot the handle of the club is normally leaning well forward, Tiger actually leaned the shaft back so that the handle was pointing more towards the middle of his body.
3. Open the club face -- a lot. Tiger's wedge was leaned back and open so much that it looked like the face was almost pointing vertically. Be sure to open the face before you take your grip, otherwise your hands will manipulate the club face back to square.
4. Play the ball just forward of middle. Too far back and you will chop down too much, and too forward will cause the club to slide so far under the ball it will barely go forward.
5. Use a slightly open stance, an exaggerated aim to the left is not necessary and only complicates how your eyes perceive the shot. The golf club hits the ball, not your feet.
6. Take a three-quarter backswing. A long, floppy swing will not be controllable especially under pressure. Use a normal amount of wrist hinge; this is plenty to get the speed needed for this shot.
7. Accelerate through but under control. This is not the uber-high Mickelson flop; Tiger actually hit a standard flop with normal acceleration.
8. Keep the face open through the down swing. Do not roll the face over or you'll take off all the loft you acquired at address. Hold the face open like a big spoon.
9. Bend the left arm after impact. This helps keep the face open and the acceleration even.
10. Practice. You can be sure Tiger has hit thousands of these shots before he ever considered taking it into competition.
This shot takes a lot of trust and ability to control rhythm, but like any shot in golf it can be mastered with the right technique and practice. If you have any questions on this or other shots, feel free to contact me.
June 11, 2012
Over the course of B.J. Hathaway's career, he has established himself as the leading junior golf instructor in the Southeast and one of the leading mental golf coaches in the country. While working at Augusta Golf Instruction, he received the prestigious Master Certified Mind Factor accreditation; the first golf instructor in the U.S. to receive this advanced certification.