One of the most unlikely Open champions in history is Todd Hamilton. He defeated Ernie Els in a playoff to win the 2004 Open Championship at Royal Troon. At the time, Hamilton was a 38-year-old rookie on the PGA Tour who had won the Honda Classic earlier in the season. He stole the show from Els, and also put the hybrid on the map.
At today’s press conference, Hamilton spoke about the hybrid that helped him win The Open. “It was 17 degrees and it played more like a 2-iron, but then I had my friend bend it to 14 degrees so that I could use it as a 3-wood. I don’t think a lot of people realized that. I was able to drive with it off the tee, and then used it effectively around the greens for chipping and putting.”
You can count me as someone who had no idea Hamilton’s hybrid was similar to a 3-wood. However, I think he would agree the versatility of the club would put it in the hybrid camp despite the change to its loft.
Hamilton also spoke about how his putter was a big reason for his success in 2004. “When I did win tournaments, I usually putted well, but then nobody would remember that I was a very good putter. I never get asked: ‘Hey what about this putt or that putt you holed?’ But I do get asked about that one club.”
Perhaps the positioning of the practice range allowed Hamilton to hone his hybrid magic. “I remember the range was a far bit out from the clubhouse, and on the way back near the putting green there was a little chipping area, and I would grab about 10 to 15 balls and I would chip and putt with that club from certain distances, just see how it would react, and how far I could stroke it to go certain distances.”
Hamilton held off the greats at Royal Troon, and his hybrid helped him do it.
–Bernie D’Amato (@bdamato711)