Thursday, 2 October 2008

Best Ever Golf Shots

This post contains a list of the finest golf shots that I have seen or read about. The pressure of the situation, what was at stake and the risk taken are taken into account as that's when true class shines through. I will update the list as I see/hear/think of new contenders.

Best 3 wood - If it's one of the greatest shots Jack Nicklaus ever saw, then it's good enough for any list! Seve Ballesteros' 3-wood from under the lip of a bunker to the green 245 yards away in his 1983 Ryder Cup match against Fuzzy Zoeller takes some beating.

Best 4 wood - Gene Sarazen, US Masters, 1935. They don't call it "the shot that was heard around the world" for nothing. A 235 yard chip in for albatross to make up the 3 shots he trailed by, helped the 5' 4" giant of the game to win his only Masters title in a play off. If Sarazen hadn't achieved that rare bird, he mightn't have won the career grand slam.

Best 5 wood - Padraig Harrington, British Open 2008. OK, he was almost home and hosed on the par 5 17th, but he still had to close it out. And close it out he did, and in some style too. Common sense might have made him lay up, but not our Padraig. A spectacular 5 wood to 3 feet set up an eagle and less heart attacks for Irish fans up the 18h than the previous year.

Best 1 iron - Jack Nicklaus, US Open 1972. They say you should never have a "friendly" wager with a guy who carries a 1 iron in his bag. Best avoid the Golden Bear then (as if you didn't know already!) if this pin seeking 1 arrow to the difficult par 3 17th at Pebble Beach into a gale is anything to go by. His tap in birdie cemented another major for the great man.

Best 2 Iron - Christy O'Connor Jnr., Ryder Cup 1989. And it's not because he's from the West of Ireland! The unfancied O'Connor was up against the very fancied Fred Couples and the duo were all square coming up the difficult 18th at The Belfry. Christy's magical 2 iron under pressure from the fairway to 4 feet unnerved Couples and led to a famous victory.

Best long bunker shot (iron) - Tiger Woods, US PGA 2002. An amazing 3 iron over trees into the wind to about 15 feet at the 18th at Hazeltine. If his stance was better, he might have got it to within 5 feet!

Best long bunker shot (wood) - See best 3 wood above.

Best short bunker shot - Bob Tway US PGA 1986. Poor old Greg Norman. He was sitting pretty after 3 rounds, but let Tway back in. Still, going up the last Norman was still in with a chance being on the green in 2 with Tway in the greenside bunker. Well, that was until Tway exploded out of the sand and straight into the hole. Norman's goose was cooked and he missed his putt for good measure to end up losing by 2.

Best chip - Tiger Woods, US Masters 2005. Who will ever forget his chip on the 16th when he was in deep trouble trying to fend off Chris DiMarco? Left in an awkward spot, he had to chip away from the flag and hope the ball would trickle back close to the pin. And trickle back it did, all the way to the bottom of the cup, complete with a theatrical pause for a Nike ad at the very end. Classic Tiger, who needless to say, went on to win.

Best pitch - Larry Mize, US Masters play-off 1987. A fantastic shot into the hole on the lethal 11th green which sloped away from him towards a pond. A one in a hundred shot perhaps, but good enough to win the Masters. Whom did he beat? No need to ask really! Poor old Greg Norman again.

Best shot to rob Greg Norman of a major - As above, although there were many candidates!

Best short putt - Tiger Woods, US PGA Championship 2000. Journeyman Bob May hit 66 on the final day, including a snaking 15 footer for bird at the last. Against anyone else, it would have been enough, but poor old Bob was up against the Tiger. Woods duly holed a dangerous 6 foot curling putt to force a play off, which he won of course.

Best medium putt - Tiger Woods, US Open 2008. The then one legged superstar needed a sliding 12-14 footer at the last in regulation to tie Rocco Mediate. If you had to put your house on anyone to make that putt under that sort of pressure, you'd put it on Mr. Woods, who duly obliged. Of course, he also went on to win a 19 hole play off the next day.

Best long/Hail Mary putt - Constantina Rocca, British Open 1995. A 60+ foot bomb from the Valley of Sin which defied the odds to land in the cup. It only delayed John Daly as he won in the ensuing play off. Still, who will ever forget the celebrations of the jovial Italian after that putt?

The best recovery ever from a fluffed chip - As above!

Best putt from a bunker - Yes, you read that right! An unorthodox up and down from Jim Furyk at the British Open. I can't remember what year or hole it was, but it was an amazing shot, with Jim putting away from the hole!

Best shot from a car park - Seve Ballasteros, British Open 1979. Who else could win this accolade, but the swashbuckling Spanish short game maestro? It was a blessing that he was wayward off the tee as it gave us a chance to marvel at his brilliant inventiveness and touch. He was often all over the shop and just as often recovered spectacularly. A case in point was the 16th at Royal Lytham where the young Spaniard birdied from a temporary car park on the way to his first Open victory.

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