In a brand new series for europeantour.com, PGA Professional Ian St John offers his take on the standout golfing moment from last week’s Turkish Airlines Open.
Defining ‘play of the week’, never mind awarding it, is a difficult task. Some weeks it’s clear, obvious even, whereas on other occasions it’s simply a matter of opinion.
The criteria are endless. It could be a momentum shifting par save at the fifth hole. A round-defining chip in on the 13th. Or, simply, making the right decision at a critical time.
I will be applying a very scientific, holistic approach to justify my decision this week. As believable as that sounds, fourteen years’ experience as a PGA Professional is probably a more honest method of assessment!
This week’s focus is all around the remarkable final few hours in Turkey where we had the first six-man play-off on the European Tour for 16 years.
The stand-out moments from that enthralling closing stretch were:
1) Matthias Schwab’s drive on the 72nd hole.
When his ball found the fairway, he looked the likely champion.
2) Erik van Rooyen’s eagle putt on the 72nd hole.
He had to drain a thirty-foot putt to make the play-off, and he did with aplomb.
3) Tyrrell Hatton’s parachute lob shot from the left side of the 16th hole.
The ball landed like a ‘butterfly with sore ankles’. We all love a flop shot.
4) Hatton’s chip in birdie on the first play-off hole.
No explanation needed here!
5) Hatton’s decision to lay up on the fourth play-off hole.
To go or not to go for the green?
I’m going to award Hatton the “play of the week” for his decision to lay up with his second shot on the fourth play-off hole.
I’ve always been fascinated that when the moment required it, a player was able to execute under the most enormous pressure. On this occasion, the decision, the correct decision, is what contributed to Tyrrell winning.
Let me explain…
• Tyrrell had 243 yards, 233 yards on line to the flag for his second shot.
• The lie wasn’t great, but that yardage was well within his range.
• He could certainly have reached for his trusted seven wood and found the green.
• By laying up, there was now less pressure on his second shot.
• His third shot would now be from a comfortable yardage with his favourite wedge.
• The discipline to force himself to play the percentages was remarkable when the fairway wood must have been screaming at him ‘pick me…pick me!’
• Yes, the second and third shots still had to be executed under the most intense pressure, but they were far easier than having to gouge a ball out of heavy rough with a fairway metal, off a down slope to a sliver of a well-protected green.
• Even finding the putting surface on the 18th could still leave you with a borderline impossible putt given the severe undulations of that devilish green.
• By laying up, he gave himself the best chance of making birdie – there’s no question about it.
• How many of us would have reached for the fairway wood and bludgeoned the ball out of the rough, doing the ‘heroic’ thing, which would inevitably lead to failure.
• To identify that this was not a ‘no guts, no glory’ shot ironically won him the tournament.
Plenty of other worthy contenders in Antalya last week to choose from, but I think Tyrrell’s wise decision to leave his seven wood in the bag takes it on this occasion.