WHO: Bill Haas
WHAT: 20-yard pitch from the water to three feet
WHEN: Second playoff hole at the Tour Championship
WHERE: 453-yard par 4 17th hole at East Lake
The odds against Bill getting up-and-down from the water were at least 100-1, and I definitely didn't expect him to hit it close and make a par. I thought Bill would get the ball onto the green, yet much farther from the hole. But Bill is a super-talented kid who has always played mostly by feel, so his instinctual ability and creativity took over when he was in the water.
His ball was barely submerged and he had good footing. Also, it was an all-or-nothing predicament, because Hunter Mahan was on the green in regulation and probably going to two-putt for par. So hitting the ball was the right choice.
The Drill: If you're lucky enough to hit into water and still have a shot, take advantage of the situation. But never forget the only rule to follow from water: get out in one shot and don't be cute. If that means taking a penalty and a drop, do it.
Attempt to hit from water only if the ball is half or less submerged. Play it like a sand shot, but don't open the clubface as much as on a regular sand shot. Opening the clubface will make the club bounce off the water. Instead, you want the clubface basically square at address and impact so the leading edge cuts through the water and digs under the ball. Also, the backswing and downswing should both be very vertical, coming up and down abruptly and steeply.
Finally, swing harder than usual. You need power and force to propel the club through the water.
Bill Harmon, who has been Bill Haas's instructor since Haas was a child, teaches at Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells, Calif.