Bubba Watson, This Week's Tour All-Stars, and What You Can Learn From Them

Wednesday November 12th, 2014

Every week, the editors of Golf.com assemble an all-star cast of stat-busting superstars -- players whose dominance in key areas of the game left the rest of the Tour in the dust. This week, the selection committee does double-duty, choosing the A-Team from the WGC-HSBC Champions, held at Sheshan International in Shanghai, China, and the Tour’s stateside event, the Sanderson Farms Championship, staged at the Country Club of Jackson, Miss. WGC winner Bubba Watson made our cut, thanks to a spectacular hole-out from the bunker on the 72nd hole to secure a spot in a two-man playoff with Tim Clarke. Learn Bubba’s bunker tricks, and the winning moves from our other All-Star players, to take your scores super-low this Saturday.

 

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Best Driver

Peter Uihlein

2rd season on European Tour

Official World Golf Ranking: 139

Former U.S. Amateur champion and Oklahoma State standout Peter Uihlein, 25, competes mostly on the European PGA Tour, but when he pops up in America, his blasts can still be felt overseas. In Jackson, Uihlein and his 124-mph swing cruised to the top of the driving distance stat column with a 316-yard average. So on most par 4s, the Big U, who actually stops short of parallel at the top of his backswing, was able to pull gap wedge for his approach. That’s hardly fair. But props to Peter. You can’t hate on speed. You can only envy it.

His secret? According to Top 100 Teacher Dave Phillips, it’s stability. “All power hitters turn more than they sway,” he says. “It's as though they've rooted their lower body to the ground, which enables them to create coil -- the tension between the upper body and lower body -- instead of simply turning back.” Phillips suggests “rooting” your backswing. “To stop your sway, pretend your right leg is a tree trunk and root it firmly in the ground, from your right hip all the way down to your toes.” Your goal? Maintain the position your right leg holds at address all the way to the top of your backswing. Now, you’re coiled like a true power hitter.

 

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Best Iron Player

William McGirt

5th season on Tour

OWGR: 137th

North Caroline native William McGirt, 35, is still chasing that elusive first Tour victory, but if he keeps pummeling greens like he did at the Sanderson Farms Championship, he’ll pass Tiger’s win total in 2017. McGirt hit 61 greens in regulation out of a possible 72 en route to a rare Top 10 finish. Our guess? His short game’s gonna feel mighty rusty next week.

McGirt stands 5’ 8” and weighs 200 pounds. He should be moving pianos, but when you look at his swing, it’s as smooth as ivory. He’s a “high-track” iron swinger, moving the club back and through along the plane defined by his shoulders, sort of the opposite of what Rickie Fowler does. Both methods work. “It depends on what your body can do,” says Top 100 Teacher Mike Adams. “If you feel more comfortable swinging back and through on your shoulder plane, don’t fight it. Simply picture a steeper downswing, with your shoulders powering the club into impact rather than your body or arms.” Is there a way to “feel” a shoulder-plane swing? “Absolutely,” says Adams. “Feel like you're turning your right shoulder under your chin with your left shoulder higher than your right as you strike the ball.” More greens with less effort. We like it.

 

Carlos Barria/Reuters

Best Short Game Player

Bubba Watson

10th season on Tour

OWGR: 3rd

Despite handing the field three stokes on Nos. 16 and 17 during the final round of the WGC–HSBC Champions with a string of bad chips and pitches, Bubba Watson is our short game player of the week, thanks to what’s easily the shot of the young 2014-2015 season. Needing eagle to make a playoff, Watson holed a 20-yard blast from the left bunker on the final hole that was good as soon as it hit the green. Even more impressive was that Bubba stopped his first attempt mid-backswing due to obvious camera noise. He’s got a flair for the dramatic, no doubt. He also has some world-class bunker mechanics.

“Bunker shots should be easy,” notes Top 100 Teacher and Tour short game coach James Sieckmann. “Just swing through the sand under the ball.” The reason why you’re having trouble is that you’re not entering the sand in the right place. “If you hit too far behind the ball, you’ll be hitting your next shot from the sand, too,” says Sieckmann. “Try this: Make practice swings in a practice bunker and note where the club enters the sand relative to the position of your feet. Do this until you have a good idea of where your typical entry point occurs. When you hit a shot for real, position the ball about two inches ahead of your natural entry point.” Perfect ball position fuels perfect entry points -- and YouTube-worthy hole-outs like Bubba’s.

 

Andrew Hancock/SI

Best Putter

Brandt Snedeker

9th season on Tour

OWGR: 46th

Surprise, surprise -- Brandt Snedeker gets recognized for his putting. In China, Sneds was Boss of the Sheshan Moss, compiling a 51.4 one-putt percentage. Let that number soak in for a minute. Got it? Now imagine making every other putt you face. You’d be a scratch by New Years. Snedeker’s career one-putt percentage is in the mid-40s. When you watch Sneds putt, you’re watching perfection.

Funny enough, the six-time Tour winner doesn’t use what you’d call a “traditional” putting style. He sort of “pops” the ball with a miniscule throughstroke. “Don't bother with a long followthrough,” instructs Snedeker. “It has nothing to do with accuracy or distance.” As for all that talk about matching the length of your throughstroke to the length of your backstroke, Snedeker says to forget it. “My stroke stops at impact. To vary distance, vary the length of your backstroke and see how far the ball rolls. Just make sure to flex your right wrist back on your backstroke, as though you're flipping the putterhead away from the target. Releasing the hinge at impact is all the power you need.” Click here for more tips from Brandt Snedeker, the hottest putter on the planet.

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