Colin Byrne’s column in The Irish Times this week deals, predictably enough, with the build-up to the year’s first major. In attempting to outline the sheer scale of the practical and psychological challenges facing the competitors this week, he offers some intriguing insight into the preparatory process of one of golf’s most enigmatic players, KJ Choi:
“Tiger Woods played with KJ Choi last year, unusually for all four rounds. KJ had the pace of the greens figured out and putted as if his ball was under remote control. Tiger and Steve Williams, his caddie, agreed it was the best putting they had witnessed at the Masters.
It is not a revelation that winning tournaments is directly linked to how you putt, but this is particularly so with the treacherous nature of Augusta’s greens…
Which raises a further question, of how you get your ball to stop on the correct, or uphill, side of the pin? The same gentleman who impressed Woods so much last year has changed the make-up of his bag to be able to stop his ball on the “right side” of the pin. This year KJ will carry hybrid clubs as high up the bag as six-iron. This is a common feature for lady golfers, but most unusual for competing male golfers.”
Watching the coverage last night, I tried to keep an eye out for an extra headcover or two protuding from KJ’s bag. Either that, or the appearance of the fabled five-iron hybrid, but to no avail.
As someone who has been know to occasionally mis-hit a long-iron (unbelievable, I know), I really don’t think I’d begrudge Choi the win this week. After all, it could do a lot to popularise hybrids and take the testosterone and obligation out of hitting two-, three-, even four-irons, though I’m not sure how likely my playing partners would be to buy an ‘I use them to stay the below the pin’ argument.