Here's Kevin: Robert Rock's fairway bunker shot on the 14th hole of the final round was a key to his win. Rock hit a pure 6-iron from 190 yards to eight feet, then rolled in his birdie putt and cruised to victory despite a shaky bogey on the final hole. Rock went on to birdie the 16th as well with another great iron shot. Let's take a closer look at Rock's stellar fairway bunker shot, which can be seen in the video here.
The first thing to remember in playing a fairway bunker shot is that it is not at all similar to how a greenside bunker shot is played. In a greenside bunker, your goal is to hit the sand, not the ball, and have the sand propel the ball onto the green (see Mark Wilson's holed bunker shot from last week's "How he hit that"). In a fairway bunker it is essential to contact the ball first, then the sand. If there is any sand between the ball and the clubface at impact you'll lose considerable distance. Rock's contact had to be perfect to hit a 6-iron 190 yards from a bunker. Here are the keys to good fairway bunker play...
At address, dig your feet into the sand enough to solidify your base. Because you've effectively lowered yourself, be sure to grip down a bit on the club. Play the ball in the middle of your stance, with the shaft and weight leaning slightly toward the target. Be careful not to overdo this. Otherwise you'll create too steep an angle of attack into the sand. In general, your setup should feel quite "normal."
For the average player, it's a good idea to take one extra club. This will allow for a slight mis-hit, as well as encouraging a more controlled swing. Rock hitting 6-iron from 190 obviously was a full swing. One thing that Rock does well is keep his body very stable in his backswing.