Punch Shot: Best shot of the PGA Tour season

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 30, 2015, 12:00 pm

With the 2014-15 PGA Tour campaign in the rear-view mirror, GolfChannel.com writers offer up their pick for best shot of the season.


Give Jordan Spieth the shot of the year – as well as nearly every other season-ending accolade, for his magic trick on the 54th hole at the Masters – more for the degree of difficulty than the gravity of the moment.

Although there was still plenty of golf to be played on his way to a green jacket, Spieth’s bold flop shot from right of the final green proved to be a pivotal moment not just for his maiden major but beyond.

Reeling after a double bogey-6 at the 17th hole, Spieth pushed his approach right of the greenside bunker at the iconic 18th hole and into the patrons. From that precarious spot he executed a high-risk pitch to 10 feet from where he salvaged a par to break the 54-hole scoring record at 16 under par.

The par save also maintained Spieth’s four-stroke advantage going into the final round, but more importantly it gave him the confidence to know that he could execute the most demanding of shots under the most intense pressure.

“I took enough time looking at that chip shot to really calm myself down and pick the right play and just trust it,” Spieth said at the time.


Shane Lowry’s towering sand wedge. Lowry had a couple of great escapes from the trees in winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August, but his blast over the timber at the 10th in the final round to set up birdie was even better than his play through the trees at the 18th because there wasn’t a bit of luck in the former.

After hooking his tee shot into trouble at No. 10, Lowry got line-of-sight relief and dropped 101 yards from the hole. It looked like his only play was to punch through the trees, but he went over the top of them, air mailing his shot to 3 feet of the hole. The play was as bold as it was skillful.


A year after coming so close at Augusta, Jordan Spieth opened with a 64 at this year’s Masters. He increased his lead (from three shots to five) after a Friday 66, and his 14-under 130 was a 36-hole Masters scoring record. It’s probably true that no one was going to beat him that week, not the way he was striking the ball, not the way he poured in virtually every putt he had. But there was a moment during that third round when it could have gone the other way.

Spieth led by seven shots at one point Saturday and was on cruise control when he made an out-of-nowhere double on 17. That cut his lead to four. Then he flew his approach into the gallery on 18, an impossible spot, with almost no green to work with. Now it looked like his advantage could be three shots, maybe even two, at the end of the day.

Then Spieth clipped a high, soft, perfect flop shot that landed over a bunker, onto a downslope and trickled out to 10 feet. “That took some guts,” he would say later. Of course, he made that par putt, because he made everything that week, and maintained his four-shot lead. The rest is history.


When he stepped to the 70th hole at The Players Championship, Rickie Fowler was little more than an afterthought on the leaderboard. That changed quickly, though, as Fowler offered up the shot of the year in the midst of an all-time hot streak.

Fowler had 243 yards left for his second shot into the par-5 16th at TPC Sawgrass and opted for a fairway wood, taking an aggressive line over the water that lines the front right of the green. The ball carried the hazard by only a couple feet, bounding toward the hole and setting up a kick-in eagle.

Fowler would go on to win the trophy, emerging in a sudden-death playoff after playing his final six holes in 6 under. There were plenty of great shots in that stretch, sure, but the one that sparked his run to the title, the one that led to the biggest win of his career, came in the 16th fairway and helped to re-shape his season.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."