Big Play: McIlroy's stiff iron on No. 10 in final round at U.S. Open

Big Play: McIlroy’s stiff iron on No. 10 in final round at U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy birdied the 10th hole after knocking this tee shot to within a few inches.
Simon Bruty/SI

WHO: Rory McIlroy
WHAT: A six-iron to six inches for a birdie
WHERE: 218-yard, par-3 10th hole at Congressional
WHEN: Final round of the U.S. Open

After choking away a big lead in the final round of the Masters, McIlory felt that to cope with final-round pressure in majors he had to learn to “be comfortable being uncomfortable.” He realized that being nervous is inevitable when you’re under the gun.

At Congressional, McIlroy proved that he’s now learned how to handle the pressure. His tee shot at 10 was a perfect example. The hole by the clubhouse has a big lake in front of the green, and it was the seventh hardest last week with a 3.19 scoring average. McIlroy knew the tee shot was his last chance to rinse a couple of balls and cough up his big lead. In that spot, McIlroy hit his best shot of the week, launching the ball skyward so it landed softly, 15 feet past the pin, before trickling back down the slope for a tap-in birdie.

THE DRILL: How can you be comfortable when your mind is uncomfortable? The simple thought of hitting your balance point — the point at the end of your swing when the club’s stopped moving and your body is perfectly balanced — keeps everything in perspective. Balance is a principle around which every good swing is built. You don’t stay in balance because you make a good swing. Rather, you make a good swing because you’re in balance.

To find your balance point, do my “Posing Drill.” Close your eyes, swing the club and pose in your finish position for a slow three count. Then open your eyes and check your feet, the curve of your body and your back knee (which should be even with the forward knee and pointed at the target), and make sure that your belt buckle faces the target. Your main swing thought should be to nail this position in every swing, thinking of your balance point as a magnet that pulls you into position swing after swing.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher T.J. Tomasi is an instructor at the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance in Port St. Lucie, Fla.