The Shot That Won Tiger The Tour Championship

Aaron Ungvarsky

Aaron Ungvarsky

PGA of America Professional, SwingU Instructor

Even the best players in the world have some negative thoughts enter into their head; Tiger Woods admitted as much in his post-round press conference.

After hitting his second shot on the par-5 18th hole into the front greenside bunker, Woods allowed that he had the same thought as any weekend hacker would when facing a tough shot to close the door. 

“The tournament wasn’t over yet,” Woods said “I still had a two-shot lead, but anything could still happen. I still needed to play the hole.

“When I was hitting that bunker shot, just like every weekend hacker, (I told myself), ‘just whatever you do, don’t blade this thing out of bounds.’ I just went for a little chunk and run — and I didn’t try and play the lobber all the way back to the flag — just a little chunk and run, and the tournament was over.”

So how can you learn to hit that safe shot short of the hole when there’s trouble beyond the green or a lot on the line and getting up-and-down isn’t absolutely necessary? SwingU instructor Aaron Ungvarsky explains how to hit the chunk and run.

The Setup

  • Unlike the majority of bunker shots we see, the player has no intention of flying the ball the majority of the distance to the hole with spin. Instead, with a slightly different setup, the player enters the sand a little steeper and further behind the ball, taking more than the normal amount of sand.
  • Contacting the sand earlier ensures the carry distance of the shot is short, dissipates any spin and as a result, the ball will roll out.
  • Place the ball forward of center and take a stance slightly wider than shoulder width. The wider stance ensures a more shallow angle of attack — we normally look to get steep in the bunker — so we hit behind the ball almost 3inches. Moving the ball forward is another measure ensure we hit the shot “chunky.”
  • While taking an open stance, shift the majority of body weight to the lead side. this helps transfer pressure and power towards the target as the club fights through the sand after we chunk it.
  • Use a normal grip and keep the club square to the target.

The Swing

  • The length of your backswing will dictate how much speed you can generate into impact. Rehearse a length of swing that meets the needs of the shot.
  • ACCELERATE through the shot! While the follow through won’t be long, you will need the club head speed to move through the excess sand you take while making this shot.
  • Remember, this shot is all about where the ball lands. Taking more sand will shorten the carry distance and swinging harder impacts the amount of roll. Adjust these variables to fit the scenario you are facing.