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Make fairway bunker shots look easy like Stenson

Henrik Stenson Tour Championship 304
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DAYTONA BEACH, FL - DECEMBER 02: Taylore Karle plays a shot during the final round of the LPGA Qualifying School at LPGA International on December 2, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)  - 

Henrik Stenson became the latest $10 million dollar man on the PGA Tour by completing a wire-to-wire win in the Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup.

Going wire-to-wire to win on the PGA Tour is rare. Stenson accomplished this feat by hitting nearly 80 percent of his greens in regulation and finishing second in the field in putting.

But what impressed me most was his steadiness down the stretch. After opening with blistering rounds of 64 and 66, he cooled slightly with a third-round 69 and a 68 in the final round.

One of the many impressive moments from Stenson came when he hit his drive in a fairway bunker 166 yards from the pin on the 17th hole Sunday.

Holding a three-shot lead, he would go on to hit one of the better shots of the tournament by knocking his approach shot within 18 feet of the hole, resulting in a two-putt par.

As difficult as many amateur golfers make greenside bunkers out to be, fairway bunkers pose a completely different challenge.

The bottom line is this … the ball doesn’t know it’s in a bunker. This means if you can hit the ball first, the same way you would if in the fairway, you have nothing to worry about.

This becomes more challenging in a fairway bunker because of the loose sand under your feet and the slim margin of error if you hit the sand before the ball.

Here are a few tips to help you the next time you need a big shot from a fairway bunker:

• If the ball is above or below your feet, contacting the ball before the sand will become a challenge. Stand slightly closer to the ball if it is below your feet, and either grip down on the club or stand farther from the ball if it is above your feet. Remember that the more you dig your feet in the sand for added stability, the more the ball is effectively going to be above your feet.

• Avoid the temptation to lift the ball at impact to clear the lip of the bunker, and choose a club with enough loft. Then focus on making solid contact by having more weight on your front foot at impact. In other words, complete your swing with a balanced finish on your lead leg.

For more tips from Golf Channel to help you with your sand play, click here.