Rory Pulls Off Ridiculous Recovery Shot

Aaron Ungvarsky

Aaron Ungvarsky

PGA of America Professional, SwingU Instructor

Friday afternoon’s foursomes matches at the 42nd Ryder Cup will be looked back upon as the key session in Europe’s 17½ – 10½ win. Trailing 3-1 after the morning fourballs, Europe swept the afternoon session to take a 5-3 lead and they never looked back.

Not only did Europe sweep the session, but they did so in dominating fashion winning by margins of 5&4, 5&4, 4&2 and 3&2. The closest match — the 3&2 win by Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter over Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson — was essentially clinched when McIlroy hit what will likely be remembered as the shot of the event.

At 2-up in the match and playing the par-4 13th hole, Poulter hit his drive towards a water hazard, but it hung up on the bank leaving McIlroy with a tricky shot with the Americans already on the green with a birdie putt. 

McIlroy pulled off the incredible recovery shot, shaping the shot over and around trees and putting it into Poulter’s range, which he converted to give Europe a 3-up lead in the match.

SwingU instructor Aaron Ungvarsky explains what you can learn from Rory’s incredible shot and hopefully turn a good break into a birdie.

The Setup

  • With the ball so far below your feet, look to build a stance with added knee bend and more spine tilt from the hips, which will lower your chest. This allows us to create a swing arc that has a low point under the level of our stance.
  • Play the ball back of center to ensure solid contact. If the ball is too far forward, we risk a thin or bladed shot and since the trajectory from this type of lie is lower, that would be disastrous.
  • Anticipate gravity pulling you down into the ball and with the slope. To counter this, shift your weight slightly to your heels before you being your backswing.

The Shot

  • The nature of the lie creates a very steep swing plane, but many amateurs tend to swing to up and down from this lie and fail to get any power at impact. Fight to make a wider backswing and facilitate the maximum amount of body turn while keeping a quiet and stable lower half.
  • As you make the transition down into the ball, swing into a very rigid lead side. This keeps the hips from opening too early and minimizes the chances we slide through impact. If we were to slide or rotate open too early, the contact would be comprised along with the angle of the clubface at impact. Picture the hands and arms swinging down and past the lead leg.
  • The finish will be very abbreviated and low. It is ok to walk down the slope after the shot and this is a good sign you were able to transfer power through the hitting area, assuming that unlike Rory, walking down the slope won’t result in you falling into a lake. 

NOTE: Remember if the scenario is exactly like Rory’s, you are in a hazard and should be cautious addressing the ball. Make sure not to ground your club. Also, access all your options and consider laying up if the situation, lie or shot dictates it.

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