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                                                                                          SMALL ADJUSTMENTS HAVE BROUGHT BIG
                                                                                          GAINS FOR A QUINTET WHO COULD GIVE RORY
                                                                                          MciLROY A RUN AT THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP.
                                                                                          By Evan Rothman

                                                                                          After a Sunday meltdown that cost him this year's Masters, RORYMciLROYknew he
                                                                                          needed help. He'd four-putted the par-3 12th hole on his way to a humiliating
                                                                                          final-round 80, and his flatstick needed fixing. He hired putting guru Dave Stockton
                                                                                          Sr.,who saw a solution: Raise Rory's left hand to keep his wrist solid through impact.
                                                                                          "The lower the hands are, the more putts go left, and that's where most of Rory's
                                                                                          misses were," Stockton says. Ten weeks later, Mcilroy rolled in 19 birdies and an eagle
                                                                                          in setting the U.S.Open record for lowest score. Easy game.
                                                                                             Competitors took note. Many of golf's hottest players heading into the PGA
                                                                                          Championship (Aug. 11-14) have also recently tweaked their games. It's only fitting.
                                                                                          The host course, the Atlanta Athletic Club, will play plenty hard, after a Rees Jones
                                                                                          redesign that toughened the bunkers and added 254 yardS. At the year's final major,
                                                                                          there will be meltdowns, but these five players seem cool enough to handle the heat.

LUKE DONALD                                         JASON DAY                               NICKWATNEY                               MARTIN LJMRD                             GARY WOODLAND

WORLD RANK 1 (Start of                              WORLD RANK 9 (2010: 140)                WORLD RANK 10 (2010: 32)                 WORLD RANK 26 (2010: 101)                WORLD RANK 40 (2010: 959
2010:28)"                                           TELLING STAT Scrambling: fifth          TELLING STAT Approaches from             TELLING STAT Total putting:              TELLING STAT Greensin
TELUNGSTATPar-5 birdie-or-                          on tour (2010: 51st)                    75 to 100 yards: second on tour          10th on tour (2010: 116th)               regulation from other than fairwi
better average:third on tour                        PROBLEM Superstardom was                (2010: 76th)                             PROBLEM At last year's Barclays,         ninth on tour (2009**: 121st)
(2010: 106th)                                       predicted for Day since he won          PROBLEM Watney has climbed               Laird, the Great Scottish Hope,          PROBLEM A former DivisionII
PROBLEM Despite a classic swing                     his first Nationwide Tour start at      the world rankings, but what most        needed to two-putt from 25 feet          college basketball player,
and a short game to die for,                        age 19, but success and a reliable      remember was his collapse at the         on the 72nd hole to win. He              Woodland was famously long.
Donald entered 2011 an                              short game have eluded him.             PGAChampionship at Whistling             three-jacked it and lost a playoff       Unfortunately, he was also
enigma-only two wins in almost                      SOLVED The 23-year-old Aussie           Straits, where he entered Sunday         to rising star Matt Kuchar. Guh.         famously crooked.
a decade on the tour.                               credits his improved short-game         with a three-shot lead only to           SOLVED Laird hired putting               SOLVED Woodland, 27,hastak
SOLVED Now he's the 15th golfer                     stats-including    a move from          shoot 81 and finish T18. After the       coach Dave Stockton Jr. (yes,the         a page from Ben Hogan's book t
to reach No.1, and suddenly he's                    35th to second in sand                  season, both player and coach            son of Mcilroy's guru), and their        trying to eliminate hooks and ar
feasting on par 5's. Why?Stats say                  saves-to smarter practice               Butch Harmon judged Watney's             work since has focused on being          trouble left off the tee-aithoul
the 33-year-old Englishman has                      habits. "It's not about hitting 50      wedge play bluntly. "Terrible,"          natural, not technical. Out went         largely through equipment. "We
improved his third-shot wedges                      more balls than you used to hit,"       Harmon says."We made                     the alignment line on his ball.          built a club that doesn't go left:'
(from 154th to first in approaches                  Day says. "It's about ...practicing     improving that our main goal."           Ditto practice strokes. The              Woodland says.The lie angle of
from 75 to 100 yards), but Pat                      the way you play on the course."        SOLVED The coach saw a                   28-year-old Laird now takes his          his Titleist 91003 was flattened
Goss,Donald's coach, cites                          He now cycles among 10 chips,           too-handsy swing. The fix? "A            stance while eyeing the hole, then       1.5°,the clubface was opened
sharper driving; Donald has leaped                  10 bunker shots and 10 shots            shorter, tighter swing where the                                  "
                                                                                                                                     pulls the trigger ASAP. Dave             1.5°, and to make triple-sure thl
from 120th to 30th in driving                       from the rough and says the             arm speed and the body speed             wants me to use my feel and eye,"        clubface stays open through
accuracy. "Luke has worked this                     stunning 45-hole bogey-free             match up," Harmon says."Nick's            Laird says.Redemption was               impact, rat glue was injected int
year on getting more width and                      stretch he conjured at the U.S.         worked real hard on it." And he's        sweet: Laird two-putted from             the clubhead's toe for extra
shortening his driver swing," Goss                  Open depended largely on his             reaped the rewards: Through              87 feet on the 72nd hole to             weight. "It's not that I'm hitting
 says,which should serve him well                   scrambling. Next stop,                   mid-July, Watney, 30, had               take the 2011 Arnold Palmer              more fairways, but I know when
 on MC's sun-baked fairways.                        superstardom.                            pocketed $4.2 million in winnings.       Invitational by a shot.                 the bali's going now."

'All ronkings   and   statistics through July 18.                                                                                                                            ~Woodland's last full PGA Tour season

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