Top 10 Golf Shots Of All Time
Golf is a quite remarkable game. Frankly, pinging a small ball across a field looking for a tiny hole is a bizarre concept for a sport and yet it’s one of the most watched, most played, most loved and most betted on games in the whole of sport. And like any super sport, it has also thrown up many iconic names, faces, match-offs and shots that, under pressure or way out in front, leave fans purring and bookmakers weeping, making it all the more sweeter prospect for a sports bet. Just when all is lost, the unthinkable happens as a bunker shot lands sweetly on the tee, or a curler is hit crisply around a tree.
Luckily golf has provided many such moments, but which is the greatest?
1.) Tiger Woods – 2005 US Masters
To be honest, Tiger could have his own top 10 run down for the regular quality of his shots. But, in keeping with one shot per player, there can only be one winner when it comes to Woods’ greatest and it has to be that sublime chip for a birdie hit from the edge of the 16th green at Augusta. The unforgettable dink took the ball to within 20 feet of the hole before it carried rolling left and then right all the way to hole’s edge where it teased the audience with a brief pause before moving on again and dropping in. He won the Masters that year with the championship decided by a play-off against Chris DiMarco and many see that shot as the turning point.
2.) Tom Watson – 1982 US Open
This under pressure chip bought Watson the US Open title he so desperately craved, but not before adding a little drama on the way. Watson, needing to make par to just to play off with Jack Nicklaus, looked like he would be denied his dream again after landing in the thick rough cut on the edge of the 17th green. Never mind, up stepped Watson, who took a short swing and hooked that ball up out on the long grass and onto the short, where it found its way into the hole causing the hitter to set off on a celebratory run.
3.) Bubba Watson – 2012 US Masters
Having already bagged four birdies in a row to force the final day of the 2012 Masters into a play-off, Bubba Watson was showing true champion’s form. Form that had almost been matched shot for shot by Louis Oostuizen but, on the tenth, Watson hit the sweetest drive possible from what looked like an unsalvageable situation having landed his previous hit in dense woodland. The drive that followed not only found its way through the narrowest of bush gaps and curved almost 90 degrees coming to a stop just 15 feet from the hole, allowing the soon-to-be winner, to putt home.
4.) Padraig Harrington – 2008 British Open
On an extremely windy 17th hole at the Royal Birkdale for the final day of the British Open in 2008, defending champion Harrington took the risk, but reaped the rewards. The chasing pack was headed by Ian Poulter and Greg Norman, only two and three shots behind respectively. Choosing instead to play into the wind and use the bluster to his advantage, Harrington aimed away, and caught the ball so perfectly that it switched left and right in the air before landing gracefully on the green and flirting with the hole it was circling, before coming to a stop to set up an eagle and a second consecutive Open title for the Irishman.
5.) Paul Casey – 2006 Ryder Cup
To this day, Paul Casey’s historical shot back in 2006 at Ireland’s K Club remains the only time a match at the Ryder Cup has ended on a hole in one. This push from the par three, 14th hole bought the day two foursomes match featuring Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson for the US, to an end as Casey drives a stone cold beauty straight over the waterfall and watching crowds below giving team Europe, for which Casey was teamed with David Howell, a much-needed point on their way to Sunday’s retention of the Ryder Cup.
6.) Jack Nicklaus – 1970 British Open
This one makes the list purely because it’s such a neat demonstration of brute force and raw power. In the midst of an 18-hole playoff, Nicklaus decides to demonize his competitor Doug Sanders, over whom he has already established a one shot lead. On a blustery St Andrews, the American conjures up one of the game’s great images as he rips off his sweater, hands to his caddie and drives a shot so hard, that it flies straight past the flag and into the rough beyond the hole.
7.) Sandy Lyle – 1988 Masters
Needing to make par in order to force a playoff with Mark Calcavecchia, Lyle hit the left side bunker at the 18th making the challenge even tougher. However, from said bunker, he showed his true mettle, striking a thoroughbred hit that not only found the green but also doubled back quietly on itself to sit nicely next to the pin. The simple putt that followed, made for a match-winning birdie and set Lyle up as the first golfer from the UK to win the Masters.
8.) Seve Ballesteros –1984 Open
By the time Ballesteros had reached the final green, he was completely unaware that his nearest rival for that year’s British Open, Tom Watson, had hit a bogey one hole back. The upshot of Watson’s bogey was, should the Spaniard make the 15 foot birdie putt, he would be the champion for 1984. Not that he knew he had a one-shot lead but, all the same, he caressed the ball on a swirly roll towards its goal, which it found, sending Seve on a fist shaking celebration that remains one of golf’s all-time favorite images, starring one of St Andrews’ favourite adopted sons.
9.) Phil Mickelson—2010 Masters
Another one from the Masters at Augusta, this time back in 2010, when eventual winner Phil Mickelson found himself in the woods and behind a tree while trying to reach the 13th on the Sunday. His second shot, hit off the nestled pine straw, couldn’t have come much closer to striking the tree, with the club even, but was driven so directly and perfectly not only did it dig the player out of a jam, it also cleared the water and plopped down almost directly in front of the pin, instantly rewarding Mickelson’s bravery. Ultimately, he dropped the birdie on 13, made another two over the remaining six holes and won the Masters by three clear shots.
10.) Sergio Garcia -1999 PGA Championship
One of the game’s all-time great recovery shots, came from the then teenage Spanish starlet who was going head to head with Tiger Woods, when at Medinah’s 16th, he found his ball directly at the base of an old oak tree, from where there should be no chance of hitting the ball without taking a tree lump too.
Instead, with a bravado motivated do-or-die attitude or pure stupidity, Garcia, eyes closed, swung and swung hard finding the green, before chasing the flying ball up the hill in a pattern of runs, skips, and jumps. Instantly, he became a golfing star although one that never really lived up to the promise he displayed on that final day in 1999. In the end, he lost the competition to Woods by a single stroke, and to this day, he has never claimed a major.