Golf Power Rankings: The 12 Most Incredible Sand Players in PGA and LPGA History
For the average golfer, they are feared. For the tour golfer, only somewhat feared. They are sand traps. Coming in all shapes and sizes, they can wreak havoc on a round or produce some of the most incredible finishes in tournaments.
Bunkers truly show who's on top of their game, as it's a completely different shot. It's not like a pitch where it's a small version of the swing. Most people believe that an open stance, open club face, and swinging with your arms at a spot about an inch and a half behind the ball is the best way to get it out of green-side bunkers.
Let's take a look at some of the most prolific sand players in more recent golf history (I used players as far as 15 to 20 years back. Beyond then, not so much).
No. 12: Tiger Woods
He barely makes it on the list, but Tiger is a consistent bunker player who makes the shots that he needs to make.
However, he may end up leaning a little too much on this part of his game should he return early.
Long and short of it, is Tiger's one of the best there ever will be and to say his sand game is awful is completely wrong. There's just 11 more people better than him in the last 10-15 years consistently.
No. 11: K.J. Choi
A complete unknown fact, to myself included, K.J. Choi is an excellent bunker player. He has a handful of years with top-10 numbers out of the bunker.
Watching video of his bunker play, it's simple to see how well executed every out is.
K.J. just needs to find a smaller putter grip and then his sand saves would go through the roof.
No. 10: Paula Creamer
Since the LPGA began recording sand-save stats for the public to see, Paula Creamer doesn't finish outside the top 30 in sand saves for the season.
Her swing isn't tailored for bunkers either. Any rotation and it's a skulled shot and in others you're still stuck in the bunker.
That hasn't stopped Creamer from being one of the best women out of the beach.
No. 9: Vijay Singh
Vijay didn't steal the top spot from Tiger for no reason. He earned it, fine tuning each part of his game to make him an elite player.
However, his bunker play has always been up to par. Singh is a consistent force in the top 25-30 players in sand saves.
Right now it's the hope that Vijay's health concerns won't sideline him too long from golf because he's a great bunker player. Oh, and a great guy for the game as well.
No. 8: Ian Poulter
Poulter may not have the green-side short-pin bunker shots to a point like many on this list, however his mid-short range (30 yards) bunker shots are phenomenal.
This list is all about those who perform out of the sand and Poulter has more than proven that fact.
Of course, when you play courses with six foot walls, a two-inch lip looks awfully generous.
No. 7: Corey Pavin
When you see the Champions Tour events take place, you notice how important the short game is.
Corey Pavin's bunker game has always been there. Pavin is a seasoned pro, posting great numbers out of the sand for parts of the 2000s.
If he keeps up the steady play out of the bunkers, it may save him enough strokes for a Champions Tour Major.
No. 6: Tim Clark
Although a bum wrist has kept him from playing much of the season this year, Tim Clark is an excellent sand player.
His percentages show it, and it's why Clark was able to get all those second place finishes before his breakthrough win at the PLAYERS Championship.
No. 5: Brian Gay
His game may not always do all the talking, but out of the bunkers it sure does.
Even in the years he wasn't relevant, he was still one of the top 25 bunker players on tour.
If Gay's game were equivalent to his sand game, he would be a truly elite player. Instead, he settles for a streaky player with so much more potential.
No. 4: Lorena Ochoa
When she was around, she was the girl for Rolex. Where did you see the watch?
On her wrist of course. But then they'd match it up with a bunker shot to add dramatic effect.
Good thing Ochoa can hit well out of bunkers, otherwise that commercial could have easily flopped.
Lorena Ochoa is the second best female on this list, and feel free to guess who the best is.
No. 3: Mike Weir
If Mike Weir's sand game was the worst part of his game, he'd be unbelievable. On average, Weir finishes no worse than top 30 every season in bunker play.
There are of course down years, but one part of his game that is consistent is out of the sand.
Unfortunately, Weir hasn't found the rest of his game lately, and looks to be headed into oblivion.
No. 1: Luke Donald
Luke Donald's short game is well noted. We know that especially after this year, with Donald yet again the best bunker player in the world.
When you only average 270 off the tee and it isn't straight, the rest of your game has to be incredible to keep up on tour. That includes bunker play.
Luke Donald seems to have the sand traps mastered, as he is by far the best sand player in the past 15 years. He makes it look so simple which, to him, it is.