Connoisseurs OF the game have always swooned over a particular player's mastery of a certain type of shot. For example, the cognoscenti greatly admired Jack Nicklaus's ability to hit a high, soft-landing one-iron. Nowadays, however, that sort of appreciation has been overwhelmed by the virtuosity of Tiger Woods, who has all the shots. Therefore, here is a paean to the shots that have lost their cachet.
Bruce Lietzke's drives
His high fade remains one of the game's most automatic shots. Lietzke, 49, almost never practices, yet he is one of the longest and most accurate drivers on Tour.
Jesper Parnevik's five-woods
Parnevik loves working the ball, and this is his favorite club for slicing, dicing and pureeing. If there were a one-club tournament, Parnevik and his five-wood would be the favorite.
Sandy Lyle's one-irons
He crushes them off the tee with a natural fade and during his peak in the late 1980s gave up nothing to players hitting driver. Some say Lyle's skill with his one-iron made the difference in Europe's win in the '87 Ryder Cup.
Mark McCumber's iron shots from the rough
With a steep downswing, an open stance that produced a fade and Popeye-like forearms that kept the club from turning over, McCumber was even better than Nicklaus from heavy bermuda.
Fred Couples's geared-down iron shots
Couples can change speeds like Pedro Martinez, and his 120-yard eight-irons have almost no spin and land dead, prompting others to call the shot a drop fade, a parachute or, simply, splat.
Paul Azinger's punched wedges
Classic old-school shots from 100 yards, they are loaded with backspin and are deadly accurate. Azinger (above) uses a compact backswing and delivers a sharply descending blow. His hands are well ahead of the ball on impact, and he has an abbreviated finish.
Phil Mickelson's chips
Everyone identifies Mickelson with the flop shot, but he's even better when he keeps the ball closer to the ground around the green. When precise contact is mandatory, as it was on Pinehurst's tight turf during the '99 U.S. Open, he's the best.
Jos� Mar�a Olaz�bal's clutch putts
Olaz�bal has the best combination of great stroke and competitive heart in the game. He's impeccable from within six feet, as his nervy downhiller for birdie at 16 during the '99 Masters exemplified.