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Battle of the Sexes: Shootout at Royal Oak

Unlike the PGA Tour, the LPGA doesn't keep an official statistic for all-around driving, combining both distance and accuracy, but Lorie's caddie/coach does. "Lorie and Annika Sorenstam are the best all-around drivers on tour," Danny told me. "When you add up their ranks in distance and accuracy you get forty-one. Karrie Webb is at fifty-three."

Lorie uses a Callaway Hawk Eye VFT Pro Series driver with 8.2 degrees of loft and an RCH Pro Series shaft that's a prodigious forty-six inches long. But rather than letting out the shaft on every drive, she usually chokes down at least an inch or two for better control. As we teed off on the back nine, I could see that her proficiency with the big stick was based on two swing keys that most male amateurs typically neglect—tempo and balance.

Starting at age five, Lorie had learned the game from her father, Jack, a former hockey coach turned club pro who had taken up golf in his mid-twenties. He had taught her a classic Ben Hogan grip and setup. With the help of the late Canadian teaching pro Jack McLaughlin and Danny's subsequent refinements, she had developed a delightfully nontechnical swing. She initiated her takeaway with a gentle, almost imperceptible foot-tapping waggle that launched her legs, torso, hands and arms into smoothly synchronized motion.

"I've always been a feel player," Lorie allowed. "And for me, feel starts from the ground up."

She added that most male amateurs could enhance their feel from tee to green by adopting the club configurations used by LPGA pros. Tiger may be able to work wonders with his patented two-iron "stinger," but few ordinary mortals possess the magic touch or the muscular coordination to hit long irons consistently. The longest iron in Lorie's set of Ping i3s is a four-iron. Discarding the two- and three-irons allows her to carry four wedges for more precise short-game play and an extra fairway wood, either a five-wood or a seven-wood, depending on the demands of the course at hand.

"It was a big deal for my dad to finally get a seven-wood," Lorie said. "But he doesn't need a two-iron or a three-iron. I told him, 'This game is hard enough as it is. You need to make it easy for yourself.'"

Happily, some of Lorie's feel started rubbing off on me. After unilaterally awarding myself a change-of-driver mulligan, I won the tenth hole with a two-putt par following one of Lorie's few miscues of the day. On the eleventh, a 197-yard par three playing into a stiff headwind, I popped a choked-down three-wood to the center of the green. But Lorie quickly dashed any illusions I harbored of staging a come-from-behind victory by chipping in for birdie. As I gamely struggled to keep making pars, she went on to birdie two of the next four holes, sticking iron shots inside my own from approximately the same distances on both the thirteenth and the fifteenth, en route to a three-under-par sixty-eight.


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