By Andrew Both
(Reuters) - Brendon Todd's once-promising professional golf career was in danger of petering out until one of his friends last year mentioned an e-book written by a retired touring pro.
With little to lose, he bought the book -- "The Golf Swing... The Great Ball Strikers" -- written by Brad Hughes and neither player nor author has looked back since.
Todd has made one of the most astonishing comebacks of recent times, and has just finished the PGA Tour year as the hottest player on the planet, winning two consecutive events before finishing fourth in a bold quest for a rare hat-trick.
Hughes' instruction business, meanwhile, has taken off.
It's an unlikely partnership considering Todd and Hughes had never met until the latter stumbled upon the former.
Todd was a very good tour player who won the 2014 Byron Nelson tournament, only to lose his exempt status two years later as his swing and confidence disintegrated in a vicious circle of sprayed shots and frayed nerves.
Four long and frustrating years later he bought the Hughes e-book and booked a lesson with the South Carolina-based Australian.
So what exactly was the magic elixir imparted by Hughes?
"We just changed his swing a little bit," Hughes said, launching into a technical explanation before reverting more to layman's terms.
"I just gave him some freedom to release (the club) again, give it a smack and then we worked on some footwork to get his body to be able to move faster as well. And we shallowed out his downswing a fraction."
Improvement was immediate, according to Hughes, and Todd went home to Georgia and worked on the changes, before visiting Hughes again in April of this year.
"We had lunch afterwards and he said: 'That felt unreal. That's the first time I've been free, forever. I'm going to win again'. I told him: 'I believe you'."
Todd played well enough on the developmental secondary tour this past northern summer to regain his card back to the big time for the 2019-20 PGA Tour season, before going on to win the Bermuda Open and the Mayakoba Classic.
A straight driver, excellent iron player and superb putter, perhaps the only ingredient Todd lacks is length off the tee, an important factor as courses get stretched longer in an effort to guard against being plundered by the likes of Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy.
But on a horses for courses tour, Hughes thinks 34-year-old Todd can continue to contend regularly if he chooses a schedule to suit his game, with the British Open particularly on the radar.
"He loves playing the British Open. That's a great set up for him," said Hughes.
"He's got lofty goals, he's very level headed and he works hard."
As for Hughes, his e-book has been flying off the proverbial shelf since Todd started talking about it publicly.
"I've probably sold 1,000 in the last year-and-a-half and I've sold another 1,000 in the last two weeks," Hughes said, adding that his instruction schedule was fully booked.
"It's nuts at the moment," he said. "I've probably got $1 million or $2 million of free coverage from Brendon talking about me."
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Christian Radnedge)