Bubba Watson used some late-round magic to hole a greenside bunker shot for eagle on the 18th hole Sunday, placing him in a playoff with Tim Clark that he would eventually win to take the crown at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China.
Despite dropping three shots on 16 and 17 to fall out of the lead, Watson never lost hope, as he drained his final shot in regulation from a location that most amateur golfers fear.
Tour players are well known for their bunker play, and Watson's finish will only add to that perception.
Statistically, however, the average Tour player is just as likely to hit a sand shot on the green and two-putt as he is to get it up and down.
For most players, it is very important that they are good enough from greenside bunkers that it should never take more than three shots to get the ball in the hole.
Holing it out like Bubba is always nice, but here are some tips to help you get the most from your bunker play:
• Learn to hit the sand. If bunkers scare you, start by finding a practice bunker and learning how to hit the sand. Draw a line in the bunker perpendicular to your target line and simply make practice swings with the club entering the sand on the line. By controlling where the club hits the sand, you will be on your way to good bunker play.
• Set up consistently. I’ve seen too many players get twisted up like a pretzel because they think they have to set up a certain way in a bunker. With the ball slightly forward in your stance, the only adjustment you may want to make will be to slightly open the clubface (pointing right of the target for right-handed golfers) and your stance (left of the target for right-handed golfers) to match.
• Finish the swing. Allowing the sand to stop or significantly slow down the club through impact cannot happen. Keep the club moving through the sand and hold your finish an extra second or two to reinforce your balance. The length of your follow through should closely match the length of your backswing.
For more tips from Golf Channel to help you improve your bunker play, click here.