Regardless of what you think of Tiger Woods after his issues over the last few years, it is really exciting and great for golf when he is in contention.  This past weekend he was battling for the lead at The Memorial, Jack Nicklaus’ tournament in Ohio.  According to CBS, ratings were up 138% over last year – and that is for only one reason: Tiger.  True to form, Tiger delivered on the big stage, winning the tournament by playing great shots down the stretch.  But one shot really took our breath away and was the knockout blow…

The flop shot.

If you watched the final round, you know what shot I mean.  On the par 3 16th hole, Tiger went over the green into what all of the announcers agreed was maybe the worst spot you could end up.  In long rough, on one side of a spine in the green, with the pin cut in a downhill, fast spot.    In order to get it within a reasonable distance from the hole, Tiger would have to get the ball elevated quickly out of a thick lie, and land it on an exact spot the size of a bucket.  No problem, right?  Well for most of us it would be, but one of the greats of the game showed why he still has major game and holed it for an improbable birdie that vaulted him into the lead.  Tiger roared, and held onto the lead for the win.

But how did he hit that great flop shot?

Let’s take a look at a few points and break down some things that everyone can learn from Tiger’s flop.

#1: Confidence is King – Understanding how to hit the shot is easy, but executing is the hard part.  Confidence comes from practice!

#2: Right Equipment – Tiger used his 60 degree wedge for maximum loft. You don’t want to overuse the lob wedge, but this is the time for it.

#3: Hinge the Club – Notice how much wrist hinge Tiger has when he hits the shot.  This helps add maximum height to the shot.

#4: Big Finish – Also, Tiger finishes fully through the shot.  This ensures he accelerates the club and doesn’t come up short.

#5: Open the Face – This takes practice, but in extreme cases, you need extra loft. If you open the face, you swing through more (see above).

#6: Visualize – Watch Tiger and you will see him take laser like focus on his spot on the green.  It’s all about where the ball has to land.

#8: Fist Pump – If you hole out to win on Tour (or beat your buddies on a weekend match), have a good fist pump ready!

It was a great shot to be sure, and just another moment added to Tiger’s career highlight reel.  But breaking down the great shots from the game’s great players is a good way to learn a lot about what it takes to get better.  I think it’s most important to realize that this shot doesn’t happen without practice.  You have to learn how to hit the shot, but just like anything else, you aren’t going to be able to execute without having done it before.  Take a lesson from your local PGA Professional and then go out there and practice!