July 16, 2008

Tiger Woods: Hitting greens from the sand

Same as from the fairway, the release controls the curve

U.S. Open: This is on 15 in the playoff. I drew it around a tree and onto the green.

U.S. Open: This is on 15 in the playoff. I drew it around a tree and onto the green.

Under normal circumstances I aim for the middle of the green from fairway bunkers. There are times, though, when I have to go for the flag, and that requires knowing how to shape a shot out of the sand.

The key, of course, is the lie. It helps if the stance is fairly level, with the ball sitting cleanly. The latter is critical to imparting spin on the ball to curve it. If it's a green-light lie, then I approach the shot like I would a normal fairway bunker shot, except I rehearse my intended release before I step into the sand.

Once in the bunker, I play the ball toward the middle of my stance to promote ball-first contact. For that same reason, I grip down the same amount as I dig my feet into the sand, maybe an inch or half inch. I set my feet slightly open for a cut shot or slightly closed for a draw. Then I swing along my stance line. Here's where the proper release comes in. If I want to fade it to a pin tucked on the right portion of the green, I hold off the release a millisecond. To hit a draw, I release the club naturally.



Ask Tiger

Comeback

Q: What is your timetable for returning to competition from the knee surgery?

--Nanette Johanssen / Decatur, GA.

A: To be honest, I don't have one. That's the frustrating part. I'm pretty much taking it day by day and listening to my doctors, which as I've said before, isn't the easiest thing for me to do. I really want to get to work on rehabbing it, but I obviously don't want to do anything that's going to set me back even further.

Disappointment

Q: How tough is it going to be for you to sit out the rest of 2008 and miss tournaments at places that seem to set up well for you?

--Rusty Clapton / Wilmette, IL.

A: It's very difficult. When I had the first surgery, after the Masters, I was hoping it would get me through the year -- so I could play at Birkdale for the British and Oakland Hills for the PGA. I knew my ACL wasn't very good, but I thought my workouts would keep me going. Guys have competed in other sports without an intact ACL, especially in skiing. But when I got the stress fractures in my leg during my rehab after the Masters, I was lucky to even get through the U.S. Open. I'm still not sure how I did it.

Staying Sane

Q: What are you going to do to keep yourself occupied when you can't get out and hit balls?

--Ann Recosa / San Diego

A: I spend a lot of time icing my knee. Initially, I watched Wimbledon, and that helped kill off the mornings. I'm reading a lot more and playing video games. I'm also getting more time with my family, which is one great upside to the time off. I won't watch a ton of golf, but I'll be rooting for our team to get the Ryder Cup back.

Tiger Woods writes instruction articles only for Golf Digest. To ask Tiger a question, click here.

Mark Soltau is a contributing editor to Golf Digest and the editor of TigerWoods.com.