Big Play: Donald's stuck approach to set up Euro PGA playoff win

Big Play: Donald’s stuck approach to set up Euro PGA playoff win

Donald stuck his approach on the first playoff hole, making birdie and winning not only the tournament but the No. 1 ranking.
Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

WHO: Luke Donald
WHAT: A 97-yard 54-degree wedge to six feet for birdie
WHERE: 539-yard par 5 18th hole at the Wentworth Club outside of London
WHEN: First playoff hole at the European tour’s BMW PGA Championship

Wasn’t that an amazing finish? I feel bad for Lee Westwood. On the playoff hole, he had to go at the flag with his wedge (which ended up in the greenside water) because Luke had already hit his wedge close to the hole.

Luke’s wedge play is as good as anybody’s, maybe the best. Luke laid up to a specific yardage – 97 from the hole – to give himself a full shot. Too often golfers try and get as close as possible to the green, without thinking of hitting to the position where they can play their strongest approach.

Luke’s wedge was into the wind from a nice firm lie to a hard green. So, he flew the ball about 10 yards past the hole, knowing the ball would spin back, which it did. Luke has a rhythmic motion and he expertly controls his swing speed. At impact, he controls the release so his hands are in the same relationship to the ball every time. He has no excessive movement. All of that makes him so effective.


Great wedge players are always aggressive with the right side going through the ball. Doing that makes them rotate with their bodies. Lesser players often hit a “pull drag left” (i.e. a sweep hook) with wedges, because their hands pull through impact but their bodies don’t rotate.

Hit wedges and focus on getting the right side of your body through the ball. At the finish, your right knee should be against the left knee, and your right heel should be vertical to the turf while that foot is balanced solely on the toes.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Mitchell Spearman runs the Mitchell Spearman Golf Academy at Doral Arrowwood in Rye Brook, N.Y.