Big Play: Piercy’s soft pitch-in for birdie leads to win at Canadian Open

Scott Piercy won the Canadian Open by one shot.
Hunter Martin / Getty Images

WHO: Scott Piercy
WHAT: 21-foot chip-in for birdie from the rough next to the green
WHERE:  423-yard par-4 15th hole at Hamilton Golf & Country Club
WHEN: Final round of the Canadian Open

Piercy hit a soft pitch for the birdie on No. 15 that gave him a one-shot victory. The shot looks easy, but it’s not because you have to stop the ball. The tendency for most people is to either flub the shot well short, or run it well past the hole. Piercy nipped it perfectly and the ball fell into the cup.

THE DRILL: The key to executing a soft pitch is to modify your setup. Slightly open the clubface (so the ball will softly flop up and down), move the ball back in your stance (to assure hitting the ball first) and think more of a V-shaped swing than a one-piece U-shape. Also swing more up and down, trying to hold the club face open through the hit.

The key is to hit the shot with body rotation, not by swinging your hands and arms. Bring the torso into the shot by rotating your body through impact so your body rotation drags the club through the hitting area. At the finish, your chest should face the target

To practice, address the ball and then push your club forward to the finish position. For a soft pitch, at the finish the club should be at 9 o’clock, with the shaft pointing at the target. With the club in the finish position, swing back and through, reminding yourself to turn your chest and hips toward the target through impact. Starting the swing at the finish teaches you to visualize and understand the finish position needed to execute the soft pitch.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Jim Suttie teaches at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont, Ill.