And make no mistake, the shy man in the solid-color shirt, wearing the steel spikes, carrying the $50 putter, reading his own yardages and doctoring his own swing, would love to keep the Claret Jug for another year.
"All that stuff I told you about the media attention being a pain in the neck?" he says with a laugh. "I'd love to have to do that again."
The Todd Hamilton Shot
"That shot is going to be my legacy. It will be on my tombstone," Todd Hamilton says, only half joking. He is referring to the thirty-six-yard bump-and-run he knocked stiff on the last playoff hole at Royal Troon last year to beat Ernie Els and claim the Open Championship. Hamilton played the shot with a hybrid club—a fourteen-degree Sonartec MD—that doubled as his three-wood.
Actually, he chipped with the club about a dozen times during the tournament and got up and down every time except one—a phenomenal success rate. "I practiced the shot before every round, so I felt confident with it," he says.
There's nothing complicated about the shot. "The stroke is basically a putt, except you're not using a putter," he says. "I choke down and try to put the club a little more upright so it gives me room to move without getting the end of the shaft caught on my clothes. If I'm wearing a jacket, a lot of times I'll tuck it into my pants."
In the afterglow of Hamilton's upset victory, spectators and the media began referring to the "Todd Hamilton Shot." But Hamilton is quick to point out that he didn't invent it. "Tiger used to do it a lot with his three-wood," he says. "A friend of mine, Glen Day, used it a couple of times in a tournament. It's not new."
The shot was tailored to the firm turf conditions prevalent on British links courses. An actual putter, Hamilton says, "would just hit the ball into the ground, and it wouldn't roll out as well. I could have hit that shot with a seven-iron, but I would have had to hit it harder. Trusting my ability was probably the biggest thing on that shot. I would rather get over a shot having the wrong club, yet trusting what I'm trying to do, than get over a shot with the right club and not trusting it."
The Hamilton File
WORLD RANK: 35
2004 PGA TOUR MONEY RANK: 11 ($3,063,778)
PGA TOUR VICTORIES: 2 (2004 Honda Classic; 2004 British Open)
OTHER PROFESSIONAL VICTORIES: 14 (11 on Japan Tour, 3 on Asian Tour)
2005 TOUR STATS: eighty-seventh in scoring average (71.35); ninety-fifth in driving accuracy (62 percent); forty-fifth in putting average (1.76); fifteenth in total birdies (169)
ACCOLADES: 1992 winner of the Asian Tour's Order of Merit; three-time NCAA all-American at the University of Oklahoma
As of May 16, 2005