SI Vault
Big Play
February 09, 2009
WHO Rory McIlroy
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
February 09, 2009

Big Play

View CoverRead All Articles

Rory McIlroy

Greenside bunker shot to four feet

564-yard par-5 18th hole at Emirates Golf Club

Final round of the Dubai Desert Classic

McIlroy is only 19, but his game is as sophisticated and polished as that of a thirtysomething Tour pro. Yet what most impresses me is his courage and cool under pressure. After blowing a six-shot lead on the back nine, McIlroy needed an up-and-down from a bunker behind the 18th green to win by one. Hitting toward a greenside water hazard, he deftly blasted to four feet and sank the putt. Bouncing back from adversity like that is the sign of a real star.

Bunker Rx: Think Break the Tee

For a greenside bunker shot, imagine your ball is on a tee beneath the sand, then swing down hard enough to break that tee. (You can practice with a real tee in the sand.) Trying to break the tee makes you swing assertively, but the sand between the club and ball deadens the shot so that the ball lands softly.

AJ Bonar teaches at Encinitas Ranch Golf Course in Encinitas, Calif.