WHO: Charley Hoffman
WHAT: 251-yard sliced drive into the water
WHERE: 420-yard par-4 17th hole at TPC River Highlands
WHEN: Final round of the Travelers Championship
At the last two Tour events — the U.S. Open and the Travelers — the winner never led the tournament while he was on the course. Instead, he finished his round and won only after the field backed up to him. In some ways, it's easier to play good golf when you're not among the leaders, because you don't have any pressure. When you're way back, you just try to shoot as low as you can and see what happens. As we've learned the past two weeks, you should never concede victory. A lot of strange things happen in golf tournaments, so you should battle all the way to the finish. Pressure often causes the leaders to crumble. Charley Hoffman is one of the Tour's best drivers, ranking 19th in all-around driving. At the 17th, all Hoffman had to do was hit a drive in play, but he couldn't even do that, and instead hit a big slice into the lake.
THE DRILL: There's nothing mechanical to do when it comes to hitting good drives under pressure. The key to the shot is all mental. Your mind simply has to be in the right place. On the tee, think only about the shot you want to hit and visualize that shot. Approaching the ball, unhinge your jaw (i.e. open your mouth) and rip it. Unhinging your jaw, a technique that I learned from Jim Fannin, a golf instructor, is the best way to relax yourself. Another good relaxation technique is to take a deep breath, hold it for a second and then slowly exhale.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Mike Adams teaches at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, N.J.