Shots that de­fined the year in golf

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - SPORTS - By Doug Fer­gu­son

Ev­ery club in the bag had a story to tell this year.

Some of them were breath­tak­ing, such as Gary Wood­land boldly go­ing for the green on the 14th hole at Peb­ble Beach in the U.S. Open. Some of them were dev­as­tat­ing, such as Francesco Moli­nari go­ing into Rae’s Creek at the Masters.

What fol­lows are 14 shots from ev­ery club in the bag of those who won ma­jors, those who didn’t and some who didn’t win at all. DRIVER » Jor­dan Spi­eth was in range of the lead Satur­day in the AT&T Peb­ble Beach Pro-Am when he hit a drive so far left on the 13th hole he had no idea where it was. He looked along the edge of the ad­ja­cent ninth fair­way. He even went down to­ward the ocean in case the ball ran through the ninth fair­way and over the cliff. Fi­nally, it was found 150 yards off the tee af­ter strik­ing a tree. Spi­eth made dou­ble bo­gey, and then another on the 18th with a drive off the rocks and into the ocean. It was the one club that con­trib­uted to a sec­ond straight year with­out a win.

Gary Wood­land had a one-shot lead in the fi­nal round at Peb­ble Beach, with Brooks Koepka one shot be­hind and ap­ply­ing enor­mous pres­sure. He had 263 yards on the par-5 14th. Miss left and there’s no chance to get it close. Outof-bounds stakes were on the right. He pulled 3-wood and nar­rowly cleared a cav­ernous bunker, leav­ing him a sim­ple up-and-down for birdie that sent him to his first ma­jor.

For the first time in 68 years, the Bri­tish Open re­turned to Royal Portrush in North­ern Ire­land, the home­land of Rory McIl­roy. This is where he shot 61 to win the North of Ire­land Am­a­teur, herald­ing his fu­ture as a star. This is what the peo­ple came to see. And on Thurs­day, af­ter a rau­cous ova­tion, McIl­roy hit 2-iron left and outof-bounds. He made quadru­ple-bo­gey 8 and wasn’t around on the week­end.

Jen­nifer Kup­cho was two shots be­hind with six holes to play in the in­au­gu­ral Au­gusta Na­tional Women’s Am­a­teur when she hit 3-hy­brid twice that added her to the back­nine lore at the home of the Masters. With the ball above her feet, she hit her sec­ond to the par-5 13th from 211 yards to 6 feet for

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ea­gle to tie for the lead.

Two holes later, she hit a hard draw with her 3-hy­brid around a tree, over the wa­ter to the back edge of the green on the par-5 15th. She played the last six holes in 5 un­der to win.

Shane Lowry had a two-shot lead over Tommy Fleet­wood late Satur­day at Royal Portrush when he came to the par-3 16th known as “Calamity Cor­ner,” with a 50foot drop to the right that is daunt­ing with a back pin. Lowry ripped a 4-iron that never left its target and rolled out to 10 feet for birdie. Another birdie on the 17th sent him to a 63, a four-shot lead, the loud­est noise he’d ever heard on a golf course and his first ma­jor at the Bri­tish Open.

Dustin John­son went from a six-shot deficit to one shot be­hind in one hour on the back nine Sun­day at the PGA Cham­pi­onship at Beth­page Black. He was in per­fect po­si­tion on the 16th fair­way to ap­ply enor­mous pres­sure on Brooks Koepka. He had 194 yards into the wind on a slightly el­e­vated green. He switched from a 4-iron to a 5-iron to be sure to stay short of the flag. He still doesn’t know how that 5-iron one-hopped over the back of the green, lead­ing to bo­gey to end his chances. John­son ended another year with­out a ma­jor. “I don’t know how it flew 200 yards into the wind like that,” he said.

Rory McIl­roy was com­ing off a bo­gey and sud­denly was one shot be­hind Sun­day at The Play­ers Cham­pi­onship when he sent his tee shot well right

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and into a bunker right of the 15th fair­way. It was an awk­ward an­gle and a tough shot. He went with 6-iron into 15 feet for a birdie and was on his way to vic­tory. McIl­roy called it one of his best shots of the year. His cad­die, Harry Di­a­mond, might have said it in sim­pler terms as the ball was in the air. “Some shot, there.” In­deed.

Jim Furyk wasn’t even el­i­gi­ble for The Play­ers Cham­pi­onship un­til a top-10 fin­ish two weeks ear­lier made him one of the last into the field. He al­most wound up first. Furyk hit 7-iron into the 18th at the TPC Saw­grass so good he started walk­ing af­ter it be­fore it plopped down 3 feet from the hole for birdie and a clos­ing 67. That gave him a one-shot lead un­til McIl­roy ral­lied to beat him. At 48, af­ter his Ry­der Cup cap­taincy, the fin­ish made Furyk el­i­gi­ble for the last three ma­jors of the year.

Francesco Moli­nari ap­peared to be in to­tal con­trol at the Masters. He had a two-shot lead and had made only one bo­gey in 54 holes. Go­ing with a chip 8-iron, he caught enough wind on the par-3 12th that his ball landed on the bank and rolled into the wa­ter, a dou­ble bo­gey that en­abled Tiger Woods to tie for the lead. Woods took the lead for good two holes later, and Moli­nari’s hopes ended with a dou­ble bo­gey on the 15th.

Tiger Woods stood on the 12th tee in the fi­nal round of the Masters as the two other play­ers in his group, Moli­nari and Tony Finau, went at the pin and wound up in the wa­ter. Woods chose 9-iron

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and played it some 60 feet away from the flag, safe in the heart of the green. He two-putted for par. There was noth­ing ex­cit­ing about the shot ex­cept for the de­ci­sion that went into it, which ul­ti­mately led to a fifth green jacket.

PITCH­ING WEDGE » Jeff Mag­gert was given new life in the sea­son-end­ing Charles Sch­wab Cup Cham­pi­onship when Retief Goosen missed a

3-foot birdie in a play­off for the win. Two holes later, with Goosen al­ready 8 feet away for a birdie chance, Mag­gert hit pitch­ing wedge into the 17th that landed in front of the cup and dropped for ea­gle. The fi­nal shot of the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons sea­son was one he won’t for­get.

GAP WEDGE » Brooks Koepka al­ready had mauled Beth­page Black into the PGA Cham­pi­onship record book with the low­est 36hole score in ma­jor cham­pi­onship his­tory and largest 54-hole lead (seven shots) in tour­na­ment his­tory. While it turned tight at the end, one mo­ment il­lus­trated his sheer power. On the 502yard 10th hole with a help­ing wind, Koepka hit gap wedge to 2 feet for birdie that gave him a six-shot lead. It was big enough that not even a sloppy back nine could keep him from re­peat­ing as PGA cham­pion.

LOB WEDGE » Gary Wood­land added his own mem­ory to the 17th hole at Peb­ble Beach in the U.S. Open. He was on the far right side of the hour­glass green, with the pin in its Sun­day po­si­tion to the left. Brooks Koepka was just be­hind the green on the par-5 18th, two shots be­hind. Wood­land couldn’t af­ford bo­gey. With the ridge in the mid­dle mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to get it close, Wood­land opted for a 64-de­gree wedge that came off so per­fectly he nearly holed it. In­stead, he tapped in for a par and had a beau­ti­ful stroll to the 18th green for his first ma­jor ti­tle.

PUTTER » Suzann Pet­tersen was a last-minute pick for the Sol­heim Cup, and she had the last shot on Sun­day at Gle­nea­gles. Make the 7-footer and Europe wins the Sol­heim Cup. Miss it and the Amer­i­cans win. Pet­tersen thrust her arms in the air as the ball took its last turn into the cup. Not since 1933 had any of the pro­fes­sional Cups been de­cided by a putt with the last stroke. Pet­tersen, still soaked in cham­pagne, an­nounced her re­tire­ment an hour later. The ul­ti­mate walk-off.

DAVID J. PHILLIP — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS, FILE

Tiger Woods hits on the 12th hole dur­ing the fi­nal round for the Masters in Au­gusta, Ga., on April 14. Woods hit 9-iron to the fat of the green af­ter watch­ing two other play­ers hit into the wa­ter.

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