September 24, 2009

Big Splash

First playoff hole, 2009 British Open: I blasted out and made my par. Here's how

This'll sound crazy, but when I got up to my ball on that first hole and saw the green ran downhill then uphill, I remembered a tip I read as a kid, probably in this magazine. It said, when a green slopes like this, try to land your ball at the lowest spot: If you land short, the downslope will kick it forward; if you land long, the upslope will kill it. I wound up hitting the shot a little heavy -- I didn't want to thin it into the lip -- and my ball hit the downslope and ran. I made the six-footer, which really settled me.

My technique on bunker shots is pretty simple. I think about only two things: FIRST, get set up correctly, and SECOND, stay aggressive. To me, the swing is just like a wedge shot from the fairway. I use my 60-degree, play the ball halfway between the middle of my stance and my left heel, and then pick a spot in the sand about five inches behind the ball. That's the last time I look at the ball. I open the clubface a little and then aim left because the sand will push the ball out in the direction the face is pointing.

Once I'm set, I take my normal wedge swing. Sometimes I think about making a smooth start down from the top, which helps me accelerate through the sand. My last thought before hitting this shot at Turnberry? Be aggressive. I wanted to make sure to get through the ball and give it enough to reach the hole. And just like that old tip promised, I got the result I wanted.