OK, you are in a greenside bunker in two strokes on a par 4 and your opponent is on the green in regulation. This is the 18th hole. Let's assume he's going to take two to get in the hole and get his par. Big money match is on the line. You need to get up and down out of this bunker to preserve victory. Let's also assume that the golfing gods are magically going to turn you into the best sand scrambling pro player on the PGA tour so you can take the bet.
Before you assume your new identity, let's understand that the PGA tour defines Scrambling from the Sand as "the percent of time that a player misses the green in regulation, but still makes par or better when the birdie stroke is taken from the greenside bunker."
Now, without the benefit of looking at the PGA Tour Statistics, I probably would have guessed the top five sand scramblers in the game are McIlroy, Garcia, Stricker, Dufner and Furyk. Before you read any further, write down your top five and see how it matches up to reality. You may be surprised.
So, you grab the bunker rake and enter the trap. You dig in with your Footjoys just like the video lessons teach you. And suddenly the magical dust from the golfing gods lands on your shoulders and you turn into-------------that's right, you missed it cuz there's no way in hell you knew you were about to become..............
Jonas Blixt?. Yep. Jonas, King of Sand. Makes par or better from a greenside bunker 68.67% of the time on 57 out of 83 attempts. If you guessed correctly then you really need to get outdoors more often and work on your own sand game!!
Number 2 on the list is Jim Furyk. (Yay, I got one right!!!) Furyk makes par or better from a greenside bunker 67.95% of the time on 53 out of 78 attempts.
Number 3 is Justin Rose at 66.67% of the time on 40 out of 60 attempts.
Number 4 sand man is Brian Gay at 66.36% of the time on 71 out of 107 attempts. In a greenside bunker 107 times in 77 rounds of golf? Dude, get some approach game help!! Work on those mid to long irons!! No wonder Gay is so good from the sand with all that practice he gets!!!
And, finally our number 5 Sand Scrambler is Aaron Baddeley at 65.85% on 54 out 82 attempts.
My other picks ranked this way:
McIlroy tied at 113th place with 48.28% on 14 of 29 attempts;
Garcia at 18th place with 60.47% on 26 of 43 attempts;
Stricker at 83rd place with 51.02% on 25 of 49 attempts; and
Dufner at 12th place with 61.76% on 42 of 68 attempts.
Understand that this is only one of several different categories on scrambling and sand play. If you have any questions about sand saves or scrambling then pass them along and I'll dig out the info for you. And thanks for reading. Now get out there and hit 100 sand shots tonight.
NOTE: all data is as of September 9th and the completion of the BMW Championship.