Every week, the editors of Golf.com assemble an all-star cast of stat-busting superstars -- players whose dominance in key areas of the game left the rest of the Tour in the dust.
This Week: You might not think of Malaysia as a hot bed of big time golf but for Ryan Moore, Kuala Lumpur G & CC might as well be his home course back in Tacoma. For the second year in-a-row Moore took home the winner’s check at the CIMB Classic firing a 67 on Sunday to edge the competition by three strokes. How did he do it? By lighting up the toughest track in Kuala Lumpur with 25 birdies for a scoring average right around 68.5. Not bad for a guy with an unorthodox swing who doesn’t bomb it off the tee. For his efforts Moore not only got a direct deposit of $1,260,000 in his bank account but also qualified as one of our weekly all-stars. Here’s a quick look at how he did it as well as our other all-stars for the week, Sergio Garcia and Billy Hurley III.
RYAN MOORE (11th year on Tour)
OFFICIAL WORLD GOLF RANKING: 27th
Why he’s our pick: Though Ryan Moore doesn’t have the prettiest swing on Tour, his slow-to-fast, out-to-in move is reliable and sometimes even incendiary. Yes, incendiary. Currently the quiet UNLV alum is first in birdie average on the PGA Tour (and was first at CIMB) and 20th in scoring average. His average driving distance is pretty much middle of the pack at 298.9 yds, but he does so many other things well that a lack of bomber distance isn’t an issue. Consider these rankings -- driving accuracy (40th), greens in regulation (20th), total driving (13th), all around (11th). What Moore’s balanced performance should tell you is that you don’t necessarily need to be flashy to light up your scorecard. Instead, building a balanced and consistent full swing and using it to hit fairways and greens is a pretty good strategy.
To develop a more balanced swing start by emulating Moore’s set up, particularly with a driver. He takes a nice wide stance from where he can move powerfully without losing his feet. If you can’t make a full swing without losing your balance, you need to do the same. Next, remember to swing within yourself. Moore doesn’t make an overly long swing like Phil or Dustin Johnson but instead simply turns his shoulders until they reach their limit. This keeps him under control and stores power as well. If you want to improve your overall performance, try copying these two key swing moves.
SERGIO GARCIA (17th year on Tour)
OFFICIAL WORLD GOLF RANKING: 3rd
Why he’s our pick: Sergio fired a three-under 69 at the CIMB Classic to finish tied for second, just three shots back of Ryan Moore. Though we all think of Sergio as a machine-like ballstriker who splits fairways and rifles Hogan-esque iron shots, at Kuala Lumpur he also relied on his impressive scrambling ability. For the week he managed to get up and down over 82 percent of the time, which went a long way towards tallying a fourteen-under-par total and pocketing a cool $522,667 for his trouble. He also ranks first in scrambling on the PGA Tour this year and 11th in sand save percentage.
So Sergio is an all-star this week due to his largely unsung short game prowess -- what does this mean to you? Well, for starters. it shows you once again how critical it is, even for one of the best ballstrikers in the world, to be sharp around the greens. But Sergio isn’t just a good chipper, pitcher and bunker player because he’s got good touch; he’s good because he approaches the ball on a shallow angle around the greens. Instead of stabbing the leading edge of the club into the ground like so many recreational players, he activates the bounce of the club to ensure solid strikes, which is key for control on short shots. Check out this simple drill to learn this technique from Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs.
KING OF IRONS
BILLY HURLEY III (3rd year on Tour)
OFFICIAL WORLD GOLF RANKING: 177th
Why he’s our pick: Billy Hurley III is an all-star? Yes, at the CIMB Classic he was, as he battled to a solid T8 finish with a ten-under-par total. Though this unheralded U.S. Naval Academy grad doesn’t possess big power (he’s currently 189th in driving distance) or the greatest putting stroke in the game (175th in strokes gained putting), he knows how to make the most of what he does have -- accuracy. At Kuala Lumpur, Hurley led the field hitting nearly 82 percent of greens in regulation, and is currently ranked 18th on the PGA Tour in the same stat. What this unusual combination of stats says pretty clearly is, if your iron play is rock solid you can still put up good scores, even if the rest of your game isn’t solid gold.
So how do you improve your iron play to be more Hurley-like? The key is to make sure you keep it simple while also striking the ball before making contact with the turf. A great way to get the job done is to not only return your left shoulder to the position it held at address but to actually get your shoulder slightly ahead of that spot. This move positions your hands ahead of the clubhead and the ball and makes it easier to strike the ball with a descending blow rather than one that moves upwards. Check out Johnny Miller's "Best Swing Tip Ever" to get the details.