How Rory McIlroy hit one of the best Ryder Cup recovery shots you’ll ever see

September 28, 2018

Le Golf National in France puts a heavy premium on hitting fairways. There’s lots of water and heavy rough ready to punish even the slightest mis-hit. But regardless of how many obstacles you put in the way, when you hit recovery shots like Rory McIlroy did on the 13th hole on Friday afternoon, it doesn’t matter much.

With McIlroy’s playing partner Ian Poulter leaving the Northern Irishman in a tricky spot off the tee, Rory preceded to hit what will probably end up being the shot of the tournament.


The ball was well below his feet and about a yard from the hazard, but Rory managed to thread the needle masterfully to leave Poulter a makeable birdie putt, which he converted to put the pair 3 up over Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson.

So, how’d he do it? Let’s break it down.

As you can see in our video below, there are three key elements to hitting a ball well when it’s well below your feet:

  1. Stand closer to the ball
  2. Don’t fight the slope; allow it to move the ball left-to-right.
  3. Make a smooth swing

And you can see Rory do all these on this shot.

Check out how close his hands are to his body; he’s standing far closer to the ball than he ordinarily is.

He’s also not trying to fight the slope. He’s preparing for the ball to shift from left-to-right — which, with the green tucked behind those trees on the right, actually fits quite well with this hole

And, crucially, Rory’s not trying to hit this shot very hard; you can see that in his abbreviated follow through. Swinging too hard makes it more likely that you’ll come out of your posture, which is a disaster waiting to happen on an uneven lie like this. Rory’s just trying to hit a nice, easy punch shot and maintain his spine angle throughout.

YOUR TAKEAWAY: Remember these three simple tips when the ball is below your feet, and you’ll be hitting Rory-esque recovery shots in no time.