By Jorge Parada, Head Instructor, TOURAcademy TPC Sawgrass
Shortly after his round on Saturday at The Greenbrier Classic, Jonas Blixt emailed me some video of his driver swing, which is commonplace during most tournaments. Despite being only four shots off the lead, Jonas was struggling mightily off the tee. He likes to fade the ball with his driver -- i.e., start the ball to the left of his target line and cut it back into the fairway -- but for some reason during the first few rounds, the ball was starting right and staying there. He was losing most every tee shot to the right, which was the reason for two double bogeys on the difficult par-4 13th hole on Friday and Saturday. For the week, he was 5-over par on that one hole, and 18 under on everything else.
Upon examining the video, I noticed two uncharacteristic things in his setup: No. 1, his ball position was too far back in his stance (about 2, 2 1/2 inches inside of his left heel), and No. 2, his weight distribution wasn’t evenly balanced. His hips were too far left (i.e., toward the target), which encouraged more of an in-to-out swing and a push. The ball position being what it was, it had to start to the right because there wasn’t enough time to square up the clubface.
I suggested he move the ball farther up in his stance, somewhere between his left instep and big toe (because he likes to flare the foot out), which would encourage the ball to start more on line. I also told him to get his hips more underneath his shoulders and inside of his heels, to get his swing direction a bit more neutral or fade oriented. On the video I saw Saturday, his left hip was straight over his ankle and his right hip was in the center of his stance.
Jonas made both adjustments on the range prior to his round on Sunday, and while he didn’t exactly burn up the fairways (9 of 14 fairways hit, or 64.3 percent), it was significantly better than his normal average of 57 percent. More importantly, he eliminated his miss to the right. Almost all of his misses were to the left and his dispersion was much tighter than it was during the first 54 holes. That gave him the confidence to play more aggressively on Sunday, spurring him onto a two-shot victory and his second PGA TOUR title in two seasons.
While he hit just 11 of 18 greens (61 percent) on Sunday, his misses often left him in the fringe or in closer proximity to the hole than his playing partners. And with his short game and putting stroke (26 total putts on Sunday), that’s like hitting 15 of 18 greens. Very rarely do you see a guy win on TOUR today who isn’t top 10 or 15 for the week in putting. At The Greenbrier Classic, Jonas was first in putts per GIR (1.604) and second in strokes gained–putting (1.918), a category he ranked second in on TOUR last season. For him to contend, he just needs to stay out of trouble off the tee and manage the rest of his game, something he did very well on Sunday.
Jorge Parada has been Jonas Blixt’s instructor since the fall of 2011. To book a lesson or learn more about the TOURAcademy Golf Schools, go to www.touracademy.com. For more game-improvement tips from the TOURAcademy instructors, download the new free TOURCaddie App for iPhone and iPad users.