Swing Analysis: The 18th at Merion: McIlroy and Westwood Navigate the Bunker

By Wayne | Videos: Swing Analysis

As I was going through my DVR of the 1st round of the U.S. Open I was reminiscing about my own play there in the 1981 championship, and I recalled hitting a few practice shots out of the bunker to the right of the 18th green. From the bottom of the bunker I could barely see the top of the wicker basket, and the green was like a tabletop, so anything other than a perfect shot was going to be a bogey, and that on a hole that I was hitting 2-iron or fairway wood to the green for my second shot. The shots here played by McIlroy and Westwood give a great visual of the difficulties presented by the 18th and by Merion in general, and it is of further interest to watch how they approach each shot differently with their set-up and swing. McIlroy goes for the conventional open stance set-up, and his swing tracks on that body line, but the follow through is short and punchy, which many may find odd but is actually quite common on shots that require instant height and maximum spin. Westwood, probably due to the ball being above his feet, chooses a more closed stance and again finishes low and left with his left knee still bent. It appears that he makes the stance adjustment in the spur of the moment, as his rehearsal swings are taken with a stance much like McIlroy’s. I see that as an example of the high level player practicing the art of variability, or in other words adjusting instantaneously to a shot that is not played from a standard lie. He probably sensed that the heel of the club was going to hit the ground first (Azinger makes note of this) which would tend to close the face and send the ball somewhat more left than he wanted, so he changed to the closed stance to get the ball started at the pin.
 

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