Swing Analysis: Hunter Mahan at the Ryder Cup: Anatomy of a Pitch Shot Under Pressure

By Wayne | Videos: Swing Analysis

This video looks at the execution of a simple pitch shot, made anything but simple by the extreme pressure of the moment. It is the 17th hole of the last match of the Ryder Cup. The outcome of the entire affair rests on this last 2-ball. Hunter Mahan is two-down, and needs an up-and-down to possibly extend the match, as it is certain that Graeme McDowell will make no worse than bogey, and being already two- up, win the match if Mahan makes bogey. Mahan has just hit an exceptional pitch on the previous hole, one more difficult than this one, only to watch McDowell hole a 20 footer to win the hole. Now it is a matter of simply making good contact and landing the ball close to a chosen spot on the green, then letting the ball run to the hole. Indeed, it is a shot that could be holed: were that to happen it would be one of the memorable shots in history. To his credit, Mahan requested this spot, the last out in a tightly contested Ryder Cup, and now all the pressure is focused here just short of the green, slightly uphill off of a tight lie.
We all know what transpires. Mahan hits behind the ball and barely gets it to the green, a crushing failure at a crucial moment. The camera angles give us an opportunity to analyze the technique used to hit the shot and see why, perhaps, it failed to come off. Certainly the pressure has a lot to do with it, but my point in the following video is that a different approach to hitting the shot may have mitigated the pressure and allowed the shot to come off as Mahan undoubtedly visualized. Watch and listen, then decide for yourselves.

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(2) comments

David February 25, 2012

Mahan sucks at chipping. Just ask Rory: “We all know Hunter’s not the best chipper in the world.” He’s not very subtle, is he? That being his response when asked about the situation after the Ryder Cup. Hunter’s actually improved his chipping slightly, and I’m sure he’s still working hard on it, but, as you pointed out here, his technique is sketchy.
Hunter also blocks a lot of shots from the fairway, ESPECIALLY with his long irons…and you know what, so does Adam Scott. Why? I’m not sure, though I could probably make a video and guestimate.
But I won’t.
Anyway, this is a very interesting video. And it’s pretty spot-on, as far as I can tell. Where’s the rest of it? The demonstrations…

…G-Mac is awful, but he is SO clutch. If Rory were that clutch, it’d be hard to say just what kind of damage he would do in this game. Suffice it say, it would be substantial.
Where is Wayne, anyway? I’m surprised he didn’t tell me to go to hell after the Rory Revisited tirade.

It’s always very interesting, at least to me, to take note of the similarites that exist in people’s swings with their long clubs, wedges, and putter.
You will never see someone who swings the club with the tempo of a Nick Price have a putting stroke like Ben Crenshaw (there are always exceptions, but almost never). You can see the way Hunter pitches in the way he swings. That’s vague, but you know perfectly well what I mean. It’s true. You can.

“He’s probably good at these shots”? He’s awful at those shots. You seem to know the swings of players far better than the players themselves. And that’s not surprising, as it kind of is your job and all.
Alright, I think that’s enough videos for a Saturday morning. Just scoopin’ out the place. Seein’ what’s what. I like it. Cool site.

David February 25, 2012

“You seem to know the swings of players far better than the players themselves” — this sentence is meant to suggest, not that you know their swings better than they do, but that you know their swings better than you know their games. It’s a vague sentence and can have multiple meanings, so this is me clarifying it.
…Because Hunter is renowned as being a subpar chipper/pitcher.

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