Sand SaveSeptember 8, 2015

How He Hit That: Rickie Fowler's Deutsche Bank bunker blast

Storybook PGA Tour playoff endings often involve a player putting on a stripe show -- hitting fairways like a machine and making a ton of birdies.

Other times, it's all about surviving.

Rickie Fowler came out for the final round at the Deutsche Bank trailing Henrik Stenson by a shot, and his play over the first few holes didn't inspire much confidence he could catch up. Fowler was wild off the tee and off with his distances, and trailed the cruising Stenson by three going into the seventh hole.

Fowler found a bunker 25 yards from the hole with his second on the par-5 seventh, but he executed a perfect explosion to get inside five feet, make birdie and keep contact with his playing partner -- who he would eventually catch on the 16th hole.

"Long bunker shots are some of the hardest for average players to hit, but Rickie made it look easy here," says top New York teacher and SiriusXM PGATour radio host Debbie Doniger, who is based at the GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford. "Everything about his set-up is getting him in position to hit the right shot. He creates a slightly wider base for stability, and almost looks like he's sitting down with more knee flex. His hands are lower and the face is wide open -- both which increase the loft of the club."

On the swing, Fowler produced the most clubhead speed after coming into contact with the sand -- instead of swinging fast from the top.

"You want to feel like you're throwing the clubhead and swinging past your body," says Doniger, who hosts The Golfer Girls show with Natalie Gulbis. "Smack the sand a couple of inches behind the ball and commit to a full follow-through. Practice hitting this shot with a variety of wedges to see how far each one flies. You might need a gap wedge instead of a 56-degree for a shot this long."


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