lesson teeJune 23, 2013

Tiger To The Rescue

What we learned from his awesome 5-wood recovery shot at The Players Championship

TIGER: "That was probably the best shot I hit all week. It was a high, inside fastball, and I just turned on it and hit it up there just short of the green."

Sidehill lie, ball in light rough, 253 yards to the hole. That's the situation Tiger Woods faced after driving left into a water hazard on the 481-yard 14th hole on Sunday at the Players Championship.

What came next was one of the best rescue shots I've ever seen--he nearly knocked it on the green! Although he still wound up with a double bogey on the hole, the shot helped him stay in position to win the tournament. Next time you have to chase one up the fairway after an errant tee shot, here's what to remember from Tiger's great recovery:

1. ASSESS THE LIE

Tiger's feet were below the ball. When you sole the club flush on the ground from this type of lie, the face will be pointing left of your target, and you're likely to hook the shot. Tiger counteracted this by opening the clubface, which allowed him to start the ball to the right and curve it back to the target. When you address any shot from a hilly lie, pay attention to where the face is pointing when you sole the club and adjust it toward your target before taking your grip.

2. CHOOSE THE RIGHT CLUB

Tiger pulled a 5-wood because he knew he could reach the green. But if you can't, select a club you consistently hit well and lay up to a comfortable yardage. Put yourself in position to knock it close on your next shot.

3. SWING FROM A STABLE BASE

He couldn't risk slipping, so Tiger had to make a swing with minimal lower-body movement. The rotation of his upper body provided the power. Stability is your first priority. Swing as aggressively as you can without losing your balance or posture. Solid contact is everything.

4. KEEP THE SHAFT LEANING FORWARD

To catch the ball flush from an awkward lie where your lower body can't rotate much, you have to rely on your arms to hit the ball with a forward-leaning shaft. Feel as if you're pulling the grip through impact ahead of the rest of the club. You'll put enough hit on it to bite off some yardage.

SEAN FOLEY, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, is based at the Core Golf Junior Academy near Orlando.