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Ryder Cup: Tips for being victorious in match play

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Sundays at the Ryder Cup are always exciting and intense, as the world’s best players go head-to-head in match play, where an old adage is to always expect the unexpected.

And don’t expect things to be any different this Sunday at Medinah, as most believe the 2012 Ryder Cup will be closely contested.

Competing in match play is substantially different than playing in a stroke play event, especially in terms of strategy, and SwingFix instructor Kevin Lacey has some great advice to help you emerge victorious the next time you find yourself in a match-play situation:

• Match play is a hole-by-hole competition, so golfers can take more risks. Also, the play of your opponent will often dictate what your next shot will be. If your opponent is not in play, then it is wise to play a safer shot. But the reverse is true when your ball is in trouble. You can play an aggressive shot that you might not normally try in stroke play. Your score doesn’t matter, it’s just about doing what it takes to win as many holes as possible.

• Even though you take more chances in match play, you need to know when to play conservatively. If your opponent hits it close to the flag, that will be your key to try to do the same, even if it's a tucked flag position that you would not go after in stroke play. However, if it's a long par-5 that you never reach in two, but your opponent can, you have to tell yourself that your wedge play will keep you in the hole.

• My preference in match play is to hit second no matter what my opponent does with his shot. In stroke play, I hardly ever watch my playing competitors hit a shot. The exact opposite is true in match play. You can observe what the wind is doing to your opponent's shot, how the ball bounces on the green, etc. When you get ready to hit your shot, you want all the information you can get from your opponent's shot.

• And lastly, always count on your opponent to hit a good shot, no matter how difficult their situation appears. It seems to happen in match play more often, especially near the end of the match. Expecting good shots from your opponent will help keep you calm and focused so you can perform your best.

Take an online lesson with Kevin Lacey.