DADE CITY, Fla. – Moritz Ackerhans can see what others cannot.
The 22 year-old captain of the DePaul golf team possesses the ability to envision the trajectory of his shots before hitting the golf ball.
“It helps me to see the shot before I hit it,” said Ackerhans. “Then I can execute it a little better.”
Ackerhans, one of two seniors on the team, partially attributes his two-stroke improvement this season in scoring average to this pre-shot routine.
Going into this week’s USF Invitational he had been playing solid golf, leading the Blue Demons in mid-February to a second-place finish at the Carlton Oaks Invitational in Santee, Calif.
The DePaul captain responded positively to the four-over 76 that he posted during the first round at the Lake Jovita Golf Course by sticking to his strategy, recording an impressive 73 in Round 2 on Monday – one stroke below his 2013 fall average.
“Hitting balls into the green, you definitely want to stay below the hole and leave yourself uphill putts so you can be more aggressive,” he said. “I think I did a decent job with that today.”
The Kiehl, Germany native demonstrated this philosophy in several situations on Monday, none more emphatically than his phenomenal shot on the fifth hole.
Blocked out from the green by a large tree in the right rough after hitting a conservative tee-shot with a three wood, Ackerhans surveyed his options and decided that his best course of action was to hit a low-running, seven-iron bump shot onto the putting surface.
The ball bounced several times, rolling more than 100 yards before settling onto the front right section of the green. Ackerhans missed the putt, but seemed completely satisfied making par after being out of position.
Ackerhans’ ability to anticipate his shots even encompasses his putting technique.
“I don’t know if you noticed,” he said, “but on some of the putts today, I closed my eyes and visualized the shots before I hit them.”
The pace of play slowed to a crawl on the sixth hole after a judge’s ruling, two groups ahead of Ackerhans’, had caused a long delay.
Ackerhans, who had hit 10 of 14 greens in regulation up to that point, emphasized the importance of distracting one’s self during a long break in play and the necessity of returning to one’s pre-shot routine immediately before play resumes.
“I try to stay away from my bag, look around and waste time somehow,” he said. “If you make the mistake of starting your routine 15 minutes early and you do your routine over and over again…you will lose focus and the results won’t be there.”