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April 9 2013

9:24 AM

On the Mark: Finishing strong

Billy Horschel kept to his game plan by hitting driver on tight holes at TPC San Antonio. (Dykes/Getty Images)

By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM

It was an exciting week in the Lone Star State, as a strong field assembled at The TPC San Antonio. Chilly temperatures defined Thursday’s play, and a blustery wind made scoring tough over the second and third rounds. Sunday, however, was a different proposition entirely, and near-perfect conditions made the tough Greg Norman design a lot more getable.

Third-round leader Billy Horschel built a three stroke lead early, but Scotsman Martin Laird was not going to go down without a shootout. He fired a course record 63, the lowest round of the week (by three strokes) to overtake the pack for the victory.

I was fortunate to get a ringside seat for Horschel’s play, as I had the call for Sirius/XM PGA TOUR Radio. I thus have a lesson we can learn from him, but Martin Laird’s phenomenal performance in the final round also holds a scoring lesson for us:

Billy Horschel: Horschel was solid throughout the week, but a statistic that defined his performance and something that is key to competitive success was his bounce-back ability. Through 54 holes, Horschel had made seven bogeys, but he managed to bounce back from those with five immediate birdies.

Rebounding from a mistake is imperative if you want to make consistently good scores and there are a few keys to improving your ability to do so:

Have fun despite an error: Horschel told me that he made an effort to enjoy his play no matter what was going on, and I feel like that approach allowed him to stay loose all of the time. That lack of tension thanks to the easy-going approach is imperative to your swing and your putting stroke working as they should.

Go with your money club as often as possible: Billy admitted that he will hit his driver no matter the circumstance, and he stayed true to that approach despite some gusty winds and tight fairways. There is an object lesson in that approach. Just as Horschel did, look for every opportunity to go with your go-to shot and your money club as often as you can. Confidence breeds success, so why not go with a shot (and a club) that you are confident in whenever you can?

Martin Laird: Honestly, Laird’s final round was not something I thought possible considering the difficulty of the golf course. But he got on an early run and then kept the momentum up and closed well for a 63. To me, the key to his record round was not only the fast start he got, it was also his quick three-birdie finish.

Finish strong: In every sports contest, the spoils normally go to the person or the team that closes with a flourish. Certainly, Laird got himself into contention with a great front nine, but his three closing birdies won the event for him. So like Laird, aim to play your final three holes in anything under par, and I promise you that you will move up the leaderboard more often than not.

To that point, whatever your level of play – around par, bogey or perhaps even worse – strive for a strong finish and you will see your results improve. One of many keys to closing well is to stay in the proverbial present on every shot. Make every effort to pull your attentions back to the shot at hand. Those final three holes deserve your undivided attention, so make it a goal to intensify your focus, your decision-making and your visualization on each shot.

Watch the pros, and you will see that happen without fail.

Good luck
/mi

Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.

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