Top 10 clutch shots of the past 10 years
Monday, September 26, 2011
Bill Haas’ watery par save during the Tour Championship finale was pretty clutch . . . but was it the most clutch shot in the past 10 years?
Certainly it was the most lucrative; Haas took home $11.44 million for winning the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup titles on Sunday. But in the past few years, we’ve experienced so many indelible moments. Tiger authored a few of them. Phil the Thrill contributed one, too. And how can you top a walk-off ace?
So, debate away: Here are our 10 most clutch shots of the past 10 years:
No. 10: Craig Perks at the 2002 Players Championship
There is no finish on Tour quite like the final three holes on the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. No one knows that better than Perks. In the final round of the 2002 Players, the New Zealander chipped in for eagle on the par-5 16th, birdied the island 17th and chipped in for par on the 18th to win for the first (and only) time on Tour. Pick any one of the three – they’re all clutch.
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No. 9: Bronson Burgoon at the 2009 NCAA Championship
Then a senior at Texas A&M, Burgoon stuffed his approach to 3 inches on the final hole at Inverness to clinch the 2009 title for the Aggies. In the first year of the match-play format at the NCAAs, Burgoon muscled a gap wedge out of thick rough for a tap-in birdie, closing out Arkansas’ Andrew Landry. The Aggies won the title, 3-2.
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No. 8: Shaun Micheel at the 2003 PGA Championship
His triumph at Oak Hill remains one of the most unlikely conquests in major-championship history, and his 7-iron shot from 175 yards into the final green – which snuggled to within a foot – is replayed every year. Eight years later, however, Micheel still boasts only one Tour victory.
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No. 7: Craig Parry at Doral in 2004
On the first hole of a playoff with Scott Verplank at the ’04 Doral Championship, Craig Parry holed his 7-iron approach into the 18th hole at the Blue Monster for the win. Take that, Johnny. Earlier in the week, controversial NBC announcer Johnny Miller said Parry’s unorthodox swing was “enough to make Ben Hogan puke.” Or applaud.
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No. 6: Birdie Kim at the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open
Fittingly, it was a birdie that launched Kim to the title. Bunkered on the 18th hole at Cherry Hills, the South Korean holed her third shot to stun Morgan Pressel, then 17, who was watching from the fairway. Kim, however, sustained facial injuries during a 2009 car accident, and this season missed nine cuts in 11 starts. The victory at Cherry Hills represents her only LPGA title.
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No. 5: Phil Mickelson at the 2010 Masters
You remember the details: Sunday, par-5 13th, 209 yards, 6-iron, off the pine needles, through the trees, over water, to 5 feet. Sure, it would have been more impressive had Mickelson made the putt for eagle. But that shot – and the ensuing birdie – is etched in tournament lore, for it propelled Lefty to his third green jacket.
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No. 4: Graeme McDowell at the 2010 Ryder Cup
The biennial competition came down the final match, Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell vs. American Hunter Mahan. Just the way G-Mac wanted it. McDowell sank a curling 12-footer on the 16th hole to go 2 up, then secured the decisive point a hole later when Mahan flubbed a chip. It was the defining moment in a memorable season for McDowell, who won the U.S. Open title at Pebble Beach, clinched the Ryder Cup for Europe, then topped Tiger at the former World No. 1’s own event.
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No. 3: Tiger Woods at the 2005 Masters
Tiger's shot was certainly better than the ensuing high-five. The former World No. 1 shook Augusta National at its core with a seemingly impossible chip-in from behind the 16th green on Sunday. Woods played his chip up onto a ridge, watched it slowly trickle down the slope, pause on the edge of the cup and tumble in for an improbable 2. Though he bogeyed the last two holes and fell into a playoff with Chris DiMarco, Woods holed a 18-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to win his fourth Masters.
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No. 2: Jonathan Byrd at the 2010 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open
With barely enough daylight to continue, Byrd brought the Vegas event to a swift and stunning conclusion. He made a hole-in-one on the fourth playoff hole (204 yards) at TPC Summerlin to win his fourth Tour title. It was the first time a player had won a Tour event with an ace.
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No. 1: Tiger Woods at the 2008 U.S. Open
NBC announcer Dan Hicks said it best: “Expect anything different?” In an epic U.S. Open that went the distance, Woods sank a 12-foot putt on the final green to force an 18-hole Monday playoff with Rocco Mediate. Woods, in a storybook finish, went on to win the next day, despite hobbling after every shot. Shortly after the Open, Tiger revealed that he had played the past 10 months with a torn ligament in his right knee and that he had suffered a double stress fracture in his left leg. The legend only grew.
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Tiger Woods’ 60-foot bomb on the island 17th at TPC Sawgrass at the 2001 Players; Y.E. Yang’s hybrid into the 18th at the 2009 PGA; Padraig Harrington’s 5-wood at the 2008 British; Brittany Lincicome's 210-yard hybrid to set up victory at the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship; Jim Furyk’s up-and-down from the bunker on the 18th to win the 2010 FedEx Cup; Keegan Bradley’s emphatic birdie putt on the 17th hole at the PGA, which he eventually won in a three-hole playoff.