It is not too often that a player tees it up in the last group on a Sunday with Tiger Woods and comes out on top. That is certainly one of the world’s most exclusive clubs. Robert Rock managed just that last week at Abu Dhabi, and he did it by completely outperforming Woods in the ball striking category, striking shot after shot inside of Tiger while Woods was having major problems with distance and direction. Rock looked totally comfortable (I’m sure he wasn’t) as he managed his game around the course, and while he didn’t drive the ball perfectly (nobody really does anymore) he hit his irons light years better than Woods, who couldn’t hit a fairway (2 out of 14) or a green (6 out of 18). It was almost shocking to see Woods fall behind and continue to hit mediocre to bad shots, but Rock’s swing is so solid that it was not surprising at all to see him strike it so well under pressure, although with limited experience at being in the hunt many were waiting for him to falter.
Rock’s swing, while somewhat un-dynamic in a Luke Donald sort of way (not really a criticism, just that I am a Hogan fanatic and those two are un-Hogan like when it comes to pace and pivot movement), has beautiful lines, exemplary hand, arm and shaft movement in transition, and a smooth, unhurried rhythm that produces plenty of power and crisp iron strikes. With his outward hand movement from the top and his flattening shaft he is most decidedly “unstuck”, which bodes well for him as he continues his progression up the world rankings. Of course, in order to win you have to putt well, and his short game and putting certainly measured up to the task. Look for great things from one of the best swings going.