What's a cuff? That's what I call a well-struck cut that stays low and rolls. To pull it off, you've got to delay the release of the club and keep the face open through impact. Sergio was 261 yards out on the par-5 9th hole on Sunday and probably could have reached the green with a hard two-iron, but he used a three-wood so he could swing easy, which helped him maintain his balance from such an uneven stance.
Do or die
The cuff can be a dangerous play under any circumstances, and the degree of difficulty for Sergio went up a couple of notches because his natural ball flight is right to left (as we saw with those effortless sweepers he shaped into the Plantation course's many dogleg lefts). Compare Sergio's result on the telltale 9th with that of his playing partner, Mark Calcavecchia, a natural fader. Calc was only 211 yards out, but he came up and out of the shot and hit a balloon short of the green, illustrating how tough it can be to execute a cuff under the gun.
A lot has been made of Sergio's preswing twitching, and the feeling I get is that most people believe it's a sign of weakness. I think it's a show of strength. Sergio is simply cuing himself up to perform, asking his subconscious for permission to swing away. Everybody does this differently. Lee Trevino shuffled his feet, and Hubert Green endlessly milked the club, but, like Sergio, these guys wouldn't pull the trigger until they were completely committed to the shot. You can't argue with their results.
The keys to hitting from a downhill lie are taking enough club, so you can produce a languid action, and swinging along the contour of the hill. At address, move the ball back a couple of inches in your stance and adjust your shoulders so they match the angle of the slope. To hit a fade, open and widen your stance a smidgen. As Sergio proved on Sunday, executing the fundamentals on the toughest of shots is how tournaments are won.