Instruction

Big Play: Rory McIlroy's bunker escape from tricky lie in final round at Honda Classic

Photo: David Walberg / SI

Rory McIlroy's unflappable sand game helped carry him to a win at the Honda Classic.

WHO: Rory McIlroy
WHAT: A 69-foot bunker shot to six feet to save par
WHERE: 179-yard par-3 15th hole at PGA National
WHEN: Final round of the Honda Classic
 
Everybody gushes about McIlroy's gorgeous swing, but his short game is just as awesome, maybe better. He leads the Tour in putting and scrambling and is second in sand saves. McIlroy won the Honda because he made three very special par saves on the back nine on Sunday.

The best might have come at 15. From a greenside bunker, he blasted out with a rock under his ball. I'm not sure if McIlroy knew the stone was there, but he hit the shot as if he knew, because instead of flying the ball most of the way to the hole he landed it well short and let the ball run up toward the flag.
 
THE DRILL: When you have a loose impediment under or against your ball in a bunker, you have to understand that the impediment will affect the spin of the ball. The impediment will probably cause the ball to roll instead of spinning and quickly stopping. At practice in bunkers, most people hit shots only from good lies.

But not all sand shots come with good lies, so you need to practice from bad lies too. Hit shots from buried lies, with stones and twigs under your ball and in other unusual situations. The key is to use not a special swing, but your normal bunker-shot swing. Be sure to account for the fact that the ball will roll rather than stop quickly. When you face similar situations on the course, you won't get nervous. Like McIlroy, you can calmly hit the specialty shots with poise and high expectations.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Jim Murphy teaches at Sugar Creek Country Club in Sugar Land, Texas.

 

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