WHO: Troy Merritt
WHAT: 133-yard pitching wedge to 18 inches for a birdie
WHERE: 485-yard par-4 17th hole at Disney’s Magnolia course
WHEN: First playoff hole of the Kodak Challenge
Merritt, a rookie, had two tournaments going on at Disney World. First, he was battling to stay in the top 125 on the money list and keep his Tour card for 2011. Entering the week 121st in earnings, Merritt parred his 18th hole to fire a five-under 67 in the final round and finish 30th. That par saved his card, because Merritt’s $26,179 check gave him $786,977 for the season, which was good enough to finish 125th on the button.
Merritt’s other tournament was the Kodak Challenge, a season-long competition on Tour. Over the course of the season, 30 tournaments have one hole that is the designated Kodak hole. Each player’s lowest score for the week on that hole is counted, and the player at the end of the season with the lowest 18-hole total wins the Kodak Challenge and $1 million.
Merritt came to Disney World with a one-shot lead in the Challenge, but Aaron Baddeley and Rickie Fowler tied Merritt with birdies on the event’s Kodak Challenge hole, the Magnolia Course’s par-4 17th. So Merritt, Baddeley and Fowler went to a playoff to determine the winner. At the first playoff hole, Baddeley and Fowler hit middling approaches, while Merritt stuffed his wedge to tap-in range for his second huge prize of the day.
Most people hit wedges fat. To prevent a chunked approach, you need to hit down on the ball. A great way to help yourself hit down is to make one simple adjustment at address: line up to the ball with your nose over an imaginary line running from the middle of the ball through your feet. That will position the ball a little further back in your stance than normal, and it’ll also help keep your body balanced so that you swing down and through the ball at impact.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Mike Adams is the director of instruction at the Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton, Fla.