Tiger Woods Practice Session at The Open

 

Last year, my good friend Richard Noon, invited me to attend the British Open at Royal Lytham.  He called me and told me in his English accent that I must speak to my wife and make this once in a lifetime trip.  Usually, if I tell my wife I would like to go on a trip of a lifetime she asks how many trips of lifetime are there in a lifetime.  She had a point, but knew it would be a great trip with one of my best friends. She thought it would be a wonderful experience and told me to go and have a great time.

 Richard grew up at Royal Lytham and his dad is still a member at the prestigious links, which was an added bonus.  We booked our flights in January and Richard starting putting the itinerary together. We played all the great courses near Lytham and even teed it up at Lytham after The Open for two rounds.  It really was a trip of a lifetime!

When we arrived in Manchester, after a full days travel, I truly experienced jet lag for the first time.  We drove to his parentís house and then headed to the tournament.  When we arrived at the gates it was a unique experience.  The English people were so fun to be around and the atmosphere was magical.

Okay, enough about my vacation, let's talk about some useful tips for your golf game.  Richard had range passes and handed me my pass.  My eyes lit up and in my mind I'm thinking are you kidding!  I just got off a plane three hours ago and now I'm walking onto the range at a major championship!  Well, I knew exactly who I was going to watch and his name was Tiger Woods.  I walked to the end of the range where he had started his practice session.  I was the closest person to him except for his caddy and watched every shot to see what I could pick up as an instructor.  What I noticed after a few minutes of watching him was he was constantly looking at his yardage book and pulling different clubs.  I remembered Hank Haney talking about Tiger having Steve Williams get the pin placements before the round and Tiger hitting those shots on the range before he teed off.  Well, I was witnessing this first hand as Tiger would look through his yardage book and pull clubs to replicate the shot he was going to need for the round.

The first hole at Royal Lytham is a par three, which is unusual for a starting hole, especially or a major championship.  Tiger looked at his yardage book for the last time on the range and put it back in his pocket. He pulled what looked like a six iron and proceeded to hit baby cuts. He hit about five shots and then put the club in the bag and left the range and headed for the first tee. Tiger had just rehearsed the shots he would be playing for the third round of The Open and the last shot he hit on the range would be the first shot he would hit on the course.

What a lesson for any player going through their practice session!  When Tiger hit his tee shot on the opening hole it had to have felt like Deja vu.  The next time you are going through your warm up before a big tournament try this approach.  When you leave the range hit at least three shots that will replicate the shot you will face on the first tee shot.  When you get to the tee it should feel like you've already played the shot. 

It was fascinating to watch Tiger warm up and the courses in England are a must play for serious golfers.  The fish and chips are the best I've ever had and it's the only place I've ever been where people asked me where my accent was from.  I proudly said TEXAS y'all!

 Chris Rowe

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