The Great­est Shot I’ve Ever Seen

Play­ers and pun­dits pick the shots that made even them say ‘wow, that’s im­pres­sive!’

Golf Asia - - GOLFING SCENE - WORDS KEVIN BROWN, MICHAEL CATLING PIC­TURES GETTY IM­AGES

Rory Mcil­roy hit 4,338 shots on the PGA Tour last year. Dustin John­son hit 5,977. There were 106 ea­gles, 27 aces and one al­ba­tross… Yet none of them make it onto this play­ers’ list of the great­est shots ever seen. To be a truly great shot, it needs some­thing ex­tra spe­cial. The de­gree of dif­fi­culty; what’s on the line; how much risk and re­ward is in­volved... It’s a tough ques­tion – top play­ers and pun­dits have seen a LOT of shots! But that didn’t stop us ask­ing Ma­jor cham­pi­ons and Tour winners to pick the best they’ve ever seen, ei­ther in per­son or on TV. It takes one to know one, and so when the shots in ques­tion im­me­di­ately popped into the minds of the peo­ple we asked, you know they were re­ally good. And it was no sur­prise to us that three names – Tiger Woods, Phil Mick­el­son and Seve Balles­teros – cropped up more than once...

Jor­dan Spi­eth Two-time Ma­jor cham­pion

The shot: “Tiger’s chip-in at the 16th at the 2005 Mas­ters. I’ve been there and seen how dif­fi­cult it was – and still is, with his ball up against the col­lar. It’s just un­be­liev­able that he pro­duced that shot at that crucial time with the feel­ing that the ti­tle is in his hands at that mo­ment... again some­thing which I know all about. To have the nerve to achieve per­fect con­tact, to know ex­actly where to hit it and to pro­duce it at that par­tic­u­lar time... ab­so­lutely un­be­liev­able.”

Rocco Me­di­ate 2008 US Open run­ner-up to Tiger Woods

The shot: “I can’t just pick one! Two Tiger shots are in­grained in my mind. Firstly, at the 2002 US Open at Beth­page Black, where he had 271 yards to the par 5 com­ing in. He was one ahead and struck this sub­lime 2-iron to within about 25ft.

Bern­hard Langer Twice Mas­ters cham­pion

The shot: “At the par-5 18th at the 1983 Ry­der Cup at PGA Na­tional, Seve drove into a bunker. I’d have used a 7-iron to clear the lip and lay up for a wedge or a 9-iron into the green. There was wa­ter ev­ery­where. But Seve pulled out his 3-wood! He didn’t just clear the lip, he drew it, start­ing it over the lake, onto the green... then made birdie! It was mirac­u­lous, and con­firmed Seve was a ge­nius.” Think about that... 2002, 270 yards to the hole, a lit­tle down­wind ad­mit­tedly, and a 2-iron to within 25ft. He two-putted for birdie and went on to win by three or four. Un­for­tu­nately, he hit an­other un­be­liev­able shot when he beat me in the 2008 US Open play-off at Tor­rey Pines. He was 30 yards right of the fair­way in a bunker on No.15 – I’d hit it to 20ft with a 5-iron – and my cad­die Matt says ‘where’s Tiger?’ Then we heard the ball – at the time we didn’t know he was in the bunker – and Matt asked ‘where’s that gone?’ I said just watch the flag and it lands within 15ft. I saw it a few days later on a TV re­play and thought OMG! It was a ridicu­lous shot, al­though he did ac­tu­ally miss the putt.”

Bran­del Cham­blee For­mer Tour player & now Golf Chan­nel an­a­lyst

The shot: “It was at Q School in Ari­zona in the mid-1980s and was a re­ally cold week – so cold I didn’t fancy get­ting out of the car to warm-up, pre­fer­ring to lis­ten to “Eye of the Tiger” – the Rocky movie theme – to get me in the right frame of mind to play. I was play­ing re­ally well and on the last day was paired with Bob Eaks, who not many peo­ple would have heard of – all the tal­ent in the world, but not the great­est dis­po­si­tion to play golf. He was re­ally long and hit the ball straight up in

the air with his pe­cu­liar swing – he had re­ally high hands and didn’t turn his body much. The last hole was a par 5 and he’s right on the bub­ble of mak­ing it, but he’s bal­looned his tee shot into air and it’s fin­ished 50 yards be­hind me. With a creek in front of the green, it’s a clear layup. So I couldn’t be­lieve it when he pulled out his wood. I couldn’t be­lieve it ei­ther when his ball landed in the mid­dle of the green and rolled up by the hole. I said: ‘Bob, that’s the great­est 3-wood I’ve seen in my life’ and he non­cha­lantly replied with ‘it wasn’t a 3-wood, it was a 5-wood!’ No pres­sure like Q School pres­sure.”

Sir Nick Faldo Six-times Ma­jor cham­pion

The shot: “The one that pops into my mind was by Phil Mick­el­son on the 13th at Au­gusta in the 2010 Mas­ters. He was un­der the trees among the pine nee­dles and had to fire over Rae’s Creek to a tight front right pin. He man­aged it and fin­ished a few feet away, but just missed the ea­gle. To imag­ine the shot, to stay steady on the pine nee­dles and to ex­e­cute on one of the trick­i­est holes and in the fi­nal round, was amaz­ing. A great shot has to be cou­pled with the rel­e­vance of the mo­ment, and he went on to win.”

Bernd Wies­berger Shen­zhen In­ter­na­tional cham­pion 2017

The shot: “I was play­ing at the 2014 PGA Cham­pi­onships at Val­halla on the Satur­day with Phil Mick­el­son. On the par-4 3rd, he tried to drive the green. The land­ing area was quite big at the front, but it was a lot nar­rower to­wards the back of the green; maybe three-and-a-half

Justin Thomas Three-time PGA Tour win­ner

The shot: “I was play­ing with Phil Mick­el­son in a US Open prac­tice round at Pine­hurst in 2014 and he was short right of the green, close to a bunker, off this tight lie. Any other player would have putted it, in­clud­ing me! But Phil takes out his lob wedge and tosses the ball inside two feet, al­most jar­ring the hole. Clas­sic Mick­el­son.” paces to each side. Mick­el­son drove right of the green and then had to play off a downs­lope from the rough with a bunker just in front. It was a re­ally tight pin, but he took a re­ally big swing and it landed so softly. It ended up about two feet from the hole. He made it look like the sim­plest shot in the world, but it was a 35-40yard lob shot. That was im­pres­sive.”

Vaughan Taylor 2016 AT&T win­ner

The shot: “I was com­pet­ing at the Bob Hope Clas­sic about six years ago, play­ing with an ama­teur off about 20 who hadn’t been find­ing the club­face in the two pre­vi­ous rounds! We ar­rived at the 204-yard par-3 5th – sur­rounded by wa­ter – fear­ing the worst. He only went and holed out with a 6-iron for the most un­likely of aces. His fa­ther had re­cently died and the chap was flood­ing tears. With Dot­tie Pep­per and the TV crew on site, it made his golf­ing life!”

Ben Crane Five PGA Tour wins

The shot: “I was play­ing with Tiger on the Satur­day at Bay Hill, prob­a­bly 2013, when he hit a kind of spinny 3-wood off the 15th tee. It floated into the wind and didn’t even get up the hole far enough to reach the dog-leg. He’s got this huge bush in front of him and I couldn’t see how he could make the green from there. Wrong. He takes a 3-iron into the wind and from around 210 yards, cuts it maybe 30 yards and puts it to within a foot of the hole. On the next hole, a par 5, he hits a 5-iron about the same dis­tance against the wind to within three feet to go birdie-ea­gle. Pure ge­nius.”

Robert Gar­ri­gus PGA Tour win­ner

The shot:“i’ve got to go with Tiger and his 3-iron out of a bunker at the PGA Cham­pi­onship, 2003 I think. He some­how hooked it 220 yards un­der the wind to within 15ft and made the putt. Prob­a­bly one of the best shots you’ll ever see in your life!”

Ricky Barnes Run­ner-up in 2009 US Open

The shot: “It has to be Tiger on a par 5 at the 2003 US Open at Olympia Fields. Blocked out by trees with his sec­ond shot, he car­ried his 3-wood about 270 yards, cut it about 55 yards and it rolled up and onto the green. He two-putted for birdie. I was play­ing with him and Ernie Els and we sim­ply nod­ded, “great shot”. As good as I’ve seen.

Ted Scott Bubba Wat­son’s cad­die

The shot: “Ob­vi­ously, ev­ery­one talks about the hook shot Bubba hit on No.10 at Au­gusta, but one of my best mo­ments was on No.11 when he was deep in the pine straw on the right on the Fri­day in the 2012 Mas­ters. We were -3 at the time and I said ‘hey, let’s just chip it

out’ be­cause the worst he was go­ing to make was bo­gey. But he said he wanted to make a big old hook, start­ing it left of the wa­ter at the scoreboard from a ter­ri­ble lie. Firstly, I’m think­ing how is he go­ing to keep it low enough, un­der 15ft, for the first 30 yards? And se­condly, how can he hook it about 20-25 yards to miss the wa­ter? He in­sisted ‘I’ve got this’ and I’m think­ing it’s end of tour­na­ment time. He ac­tu­ally over-hooked it and it caught the slope and ran onto the front of the green. A shot I’ll never for­get.”

Aaron Bad­de­ley Four PGA Tour vic­to­ries

The shot:“i was play­ing along­side Phil Mick­el­son dur­ing a prac­tice round at Au­gusta Na­tional. He was left on the mounds on No.8 and the pin was cut on the front; he opens up his new lob wedge, it takes one bounce and on the sec­ond bounce it’s still on the downs­lope, spin­ning on the spot... I was think­ing about check­ing out his grooves!”

Gary Player Nine-time Ma­jor win­ner

The shot: “I’ve seen many in a life­time in the game, but none to sur­pass Seve Balles­teros at the 1979 Open at Royal Lytham. He was only 22 and held a two-shot lead when he drove his ball into a car park along the 16th fair­way. He had a de­cent lie con­sid­er­ing where his ball landed, but there was enor­mous pres­sure and it still im­presses me how he re­mained so fo­cused. That’s the sign of a cham­pion.”

Jack Nick­laus 18-time Ma­jor cham­pion

The shot: “Tiger was play­ing with David Du­val in the 2001 World Cup. The Amer­i­cans needed an ea­gle on the par 5 to force a play-off and Woods faced a chip shot from a downs­lope to an el­e­vated green and hole cut a few paces from the edge. And he made it. I don’t think un­der the cir­cum­stances, I’ve ever seen a bet­ter shot.”

Joost Luiten Euro­pean Tour win­ner

The shot: “I can re­mem­ber watch­ing John Daly play­ing the 18th hole at Hil­ver­sum­sche in the Dutch Open in 2002. It’s a bit of a dog-leg par 5 with trees on the right. The line that he took – straight over the trees – left a 7-iron in. Ev­ery­one else was play­ing safe, but he just pumped it over the cor­ner. It was one of the first times I’d watched a pro tour­na­ment live and that re­ally stuck in my mind. It was so im­pres­sive and it was at a time when he could do things no one else could.”

Ernie Els Three-time Ma­jor cham­pion

The shot: “We were com­plet­ing our sec­ond round at the 2002 PGA Cham­pi­onship at Hazel­tine early in the morn­ing when Tiger found a left fair­way bunker on the par-4 18th. There was a tree in front of it. He was stand­ing out­side the bunker – his feet right up against the bunker’s edge – and this was like 7.30 in the morn­ing. He picks a 3-iron out of the sand, over the tree, onto the green. I mean, you just can’t make this stuff up. He hit this thing, it had to re­ally climb quickly. At 7.30 in the morn­ing, to hit that kind of a shot, crazy.”

An­drew Mur­ray Euro­pean Tour win­ner turned BBC com­men­ta­tor

The shot: “Ja­pan’s Isao Aoki hit the best shot I’ve seen, in the Open Cham­pi­onship at St An­drews in 1990. I played 36 holes with him and on the 12th in the first round he had an im­pos­si­ble shot – 40 yards, down­wind, across a se­vere ridge with pin tight over the other side on a plateau four yards wide! He al­most holed it. He showed imag­i­na­tion at its best, plus skill and bot­tle. And in the Open - just in­cred­i­ble!”

No fear Seve out of the sand with a per­sim­mon 3-wood in his hand... Ber­hard Langer couldn’t be­lieve it.

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