Forced to stand closer to the ball than you'd like? Here's how to pull off the shot anyway like Patton Kizzire did on Sunday

By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Problem Area: Bunkers
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Monday, November 13, 2017 | 11:40 a.m.

The pressure was on for Patton Kizzire on the final hole of the OHL Classic in Mayakoba on Sunday.

He had a one-stroke lead over Rickie Fowler, but found himself in a difficult spot after his tee shot on 18 drifted ever so slightly to the left. When Kizzire arrived at his ball, he had to be a little disappointed with what he saw.

The ball came to rest in the rough just on the edge of a bunker. As he reviewed his options, it looked like Kizzire could do one of two things: Either stand in the bunker, well below the ball, to play the shot; or, stand outside the bunker, much closer to the ball than usual with an upright stance to try and play the shot.

Kizzire opted for option 2 and it could not have worked out better:

After pulling it off, Kizzire would two-putt for par and his first PGA Tour victory.

The situation that Kizzire faced on Sunday is all too familiar for most of us. Whether it's a shot close to a bunker, up near a tree, or maybe a fence, we've all been there.

Lou Guzzi, 2013 PGA National Teacher of the Year, told us the shot doesn't have to be as daunting as it appears.

"You can really hit some amazing shots when you let your instincts as an athlete take over," Guzzi said. "Patton let those instincts take over on Sunday and look at the result."

Kizzire was successful because he took a fairly uncommon situation and made it as normal as possible.

"He could have gone in the bunker, but then he would have been well below the ball and who knows what would have happened," Guzzi said. "Instead, he did what you'd want to do in that spot, or one of those situations where you're close to a tree or an out of bounds fence. He got tall because he knew he was going to have a steeper swing. He also kept the lower body quiet. If you try to drive your body into a shot like that, you're going to lose your balance and fall into the bunker. Patton let his upper body and arms do all the work and then he stayed flat-footed on the finish to keep his balance.

Here's how to play a shot that requires you to be closer to the ball than usual:

1. Stand taller with more weight in your heels.

2. Focus on taking a swing that is more upper-body and arm driven.

3. Maintain balance by staying flat-footed with your follow through.

"Let the athlete inside of you come out," Guzzi said. Find a way to play. Patton adjusted and you can too when you're in a spot like that. It's fun manufacturing a shot."

 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.


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