It's been a ton of fun to watch some of the best players in the world go head-to-head at Quail Hollow Club for the 14th Presidents Cup. One of the holes that really catches your attention this week at Quail Hollow is the 14th hole. It’s the 17th Hole on the scorecard, but for the Presidents Cup it has been moved to ensure every group gets to contend with this Par 3 challenge that's part of Quail Hollow's iconic Green Mile.
The 14th's 200 yard plus peninsula starts with an elevated tee shot down to a small target green. The green grabs your attention as it jets out moving from right to left across your field of view. The hole is a perfect pairing with the landscape. Many think the island green at the PLAYERS Championship is tough but watching this week one can easily see this hole has every competitor’s attention.
We all have holes at home that scramble our brain like this one does. They cause us to do crazy things that often end up with awful results. On Friday afternoon, Justin Thomas came to the 14th tee 2up in his match against Adam Scott and Cam Davis.
In a crucial moment of the match, JT came up big with that tee shot to secure a birdie. He and Jordan Spieth went 3up and then onto victory in their fourball match.
How was Justin able to calm his fears and swing at the hole with such poise? This is an extremely difficult shot under normal circumstances, let alone in the Presidents Cup!
By watching Thomas’ swing in slow motion as you scroll through that video, we can see a
couple keys that can help us all perform better on shots like these. Take notes on this list and place them in your bag. Use them as a reminder of how to avoid trouble.
Notice where JT is aiming. He plans to hit the shot toward the safe side. Many amateurs
don’t have a plan where to hit the ball. As a result, their attention is consumed by the
danger, and they hit it there.
Make sure you turn away from the ball. When we face a difficult shot, the body tends to
freeze, and the arms are left alone to perform. Think of it the opposite way. Feel like you
only use your body and let those arms just go along for the ride.
Lead with your lower body back to the ball. Go back and watch Thomas’ leg action. He’s
one of the best on tour. By leading with the lower body, we can keep the ball online.
So remember: aim toward the spot that gives you the most room. Make that take away a turn and then fire those legs allowing the club to come down and strike the ball on your target line.
Most of us feel frozen when the stakes are raised over the ball. To be ready, include these three keys in your practice time. Imagine scenarios on the range which resemble your toughest targets. Most of all when you do hit a good one, remember it. After all, Justin Thomas probably used this memory from the 2017 PGA Championship to do it again…