Tiger Woods appears to be confident with his driver once again. (Greenwood/Getty Images)
By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Tiger, Tiger, Tiger… Need I say more?
In a performance over the venerable Firestone Country Club South Course that was nothing short of virtuoso, Tiger Woods pulverized the strong Bridgestone Invitational field to log his 79th PGA TOUR victory and his 8th in Akron.
From the outset, Woods had all systems firing. He hit 16 greens in regulation, including a number of approach shots inside of the flag and shot a first-round 66 (4 under). It placed him squarely in the mix and just a couple of shots of the pace.
Roll on to Friday afternoon and a vintage Woods. He blasted out of the gate with a birdie and an eagle on Nos. 1 and 2. He snatched the lead and never relinquished his position atop the leaderboard. He proceeded to shred Firestone to the tune of 9-under par through 13 holes and the 59-watch was on. He missed a few makeable birdie putts over the final five holes but the incredible day was completed with a Houdini-esque escape for par on the 18th hole.
Woods' approach over the weekend was a little more conservative as he dropped the anchor and protected his lead in the breezy conditions. He still, however, hit his driver as often as I have seen him hit it and he did so with great aplomb. He was 6th in driving distance (315 yards) and tied for 11th in driving accuracy (62.5 percent). And as everyone knows, a Tiger in the fairway is a dangerous proposition.
There are so many things we can learn from the world’s No. 1, but I have chosen to address his new-found confidence in the "big dog" and how you can imitate a few things he does:
Posture perfect: Woods does as good a job as anybody when it comes to gripping the club correctly, positioning the ball well for contact at the correct area in the swing arc, and setting up to the ball in perfect posture and accurate alignment. These elements may appear mundane to you, but know this: the grip influences the clubface angle, which affects the shot direction. The ball position has an influence on the launch angle and direction, and the posture and alignment affect all of the above. Secondly, if the most talented golfer on the planet takes time to nail down all of these pre-shot elements, I do believe each and every one of us should also do so… case closed!
Square that clubface: Woods has really improved the condition of his clubface’s alignment at the top of his swing. This allows him to make a direct and unimpeded release of the clubface and his body through impact. As a reference, a square clubface at the top of the swing will have the leading edge of the club look like it is parallel to the lead forearm (left for righties and right for lefties). An open clubface would have the leading edge “hanging” more vertically and the closed face would have it look more horizontal and pointing toward the sky. Neither of these conditions would have it look parallel with the forearm. So check on that face and work to square it off… just like Woods. It is very important.
Couple the lead arm and chest: A sure-fire recipe to get the club out of kilter (in terms of timing and planes) is to have the lead arm separate too far from the chest on the backswing, but especially in the downswing. The couplet of the lead arm and its chest is very important so strive to have the lead arm (left for right-handers) swing close to the chest throughout the swing. A neat image to employ is to imagine that your left tricep has sandpaper underneath it. Then as you swing back and down that sandpaper should wear the logo off the left chest off your shirt. Obviously if your lead arm separates from your body too much you will have a hard time “sanding your chest and shirt”. Observe Woods and watch him as he rehearses and then makes this move on every shot.
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.