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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sergio is Laid Back and Laid Off

After Sergio blitzed the field at Dubai with that bizarre little 64 that included 2 eagles, 9 birdies, 2 bogeys, and a triple-bogey (no pars at all on the back 9!), I figured some of you might be curious what makes Sergio's swing different. Here's a down-the-line view -- complete with Peter Kostis analysis -- that shows the trademark Sergio move:

That looping drop at the top of his backswing -- he's not just dropping his hands, he's redirecting the direction in which the shaft points -- is called "laying off" the club. It's common in two-plane swings like Sergio's. A two-plane swing means the plane of the backswing is different from the plane of the downswing. When players talk about in-to-out or out-to-in swings, they're usually talking about two-plane swings.

I called it a looping drop. If you watch the head dropping as he starts his downswing, you'll notice that the shaft is also becoming more parallel to the ground. Because the shaft gets roughly back on the "shaft plane" that Kostis has drawn on this video, the club head comes in very low to the ground. This encourages the low draw that Sergio likes to hit.

A note of warning if you want to try it: See how much Sergio turns his hips toward during his downswing? See how much his left knee has moved to the left (left in this view) when he hits the ball? You wouldn't be able to see some players' left knees at this point. Without all that leg and hip rotation, he'll tend to flip the club head and hit a duck hook.

This move is responsible for much of Sergio's power, but it's a more complex way to do it. It can be harder to control because of all the looping. That's a large part of the reason Sergio's game isn't consistent from day to day.

You'll see this move in the swings of a number of Tour players if you just look. Most of them will be pretty long off the tee... and most of them will be fairly inconsistent. It's not a bad move, it just takes more practice to keep it working well.

And as Sergio showed Friday, when it works well it's a thing of beauty.

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