Micheel's 7-iron evokes memories of 'Grand Slam Bag'

By Rex HoggardAugust 6, 2013, 8:54 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Shaun Micheel wandered over to the left side of Oak Hill’s 18th fairway on Sunday to see, not swing.

A decade ago Micheel made history when he hoisted his 7-iron approach high into the upstate sky and to within inches of the cup to secure his first, and to date only, PGA Tour title at the PGA Championship.

“Two guys were standing there, and I wanted to hit a 6 (iron), but they wouldn't let me hit a 6, so I hit a 7 and came up 10 yards short of the green,” Micheel said on Tuesday at Oak Hill.

Many say Micheel’s final approach shot at the 2003 PGA is the greatest 7-iron ever hit in a major championship, which begs the question – if you went through the bag what would be the 13 other Grand Slam “bests?”

“Whatever 14 clubs Tiger had in the bag in 2000 (at the U.S. Open),” Zach Johnson smiled early Tuesday.

GolfChannel.com took a tad more scientific approach, polling players, caddies and officials to come up with the Grand Slam bag:

Driver. Arnold Palmer’s tee shot at Cherry Hills’ first hole during Round 4 at the 1960 U.S. Open. Palmer began the final round in 15th place and mentioned to Pittsburgh Press golf writer Bob Drum during lunch that, “If I drive (the first) green, I could shoot a hell of a score. I might even shoot a 65. What'll that do?”

“Nothing,” Drum told him. “You're too far back.”

'Well, it would give me a 280. Doesn't 280 always win the Open?” asked Palmer, who drove the first, closed with a 65 and won with a 280 total.

3-wood. Phil Mickelson’s second shot at the par-5 17th hole during the final round at last month’s Open Championship. “I hit two of the best 3-woods I ever hit on that hole,” Mickelson said of the 260-yard shot that set up a two-putt birdie.

4-wood. Gene Sarazen’s shot heard around the world at the 15th hole for double eagle during the 1935 Masters didn’t win the green jacket, but it certainly paved the way for the Squire.

5-wood. Padraig Harrington’s second shot into the 71st hole from 272 yards at the 2008 Open Championship. In his quest for his second consecutive Open title, the Irishman’s second bounded onto the green, ran up a ridge and stopped 4 feet away for an eagle and a four-shot cushion.

Hybrid (3-iron). Y.E. Yang’s second shot from 210 yards into the 72nd hole at the 2009 PGA Championship to complete his upset victory over Tiger Woods at Hazeltine National. “It just went as true as I tried to hit it,” he said.

1-iron. Ben Hogan’s approach shot into the final hole at the 1950 U.S. Open. It should be noted that the Hawk’s approach set up a two-putt par at the last that forced a playoff with Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio, but it is still the most iconic 1-iron ever hit.

4-iron. Justin Rose’s final approach at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion. Although the Englishman missed the green, considering the pressure and Sunday’s pin he called it the greatest shot he’s ever hit.

5-iron. From 191 yards Jerry Pate roped his approach to 2 feet at the final hole during the 1976 U.S. Open at Atlanta Athletic Club. Pate wanted to hit 4-iron, but his caddie talked him into the 5-iron and, some would say, victory.

6-iron. Mickelson’s second shot into the par-5 13th hole on Sunday at the 2010 Masters. Lefty weaved this gem between the trees and off the pine straw, but the best part of the story is that his caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay tried to talk Mickelson out of the shot not once, but twice.

7-iron. Shaun Micheel’s walk-off into the final hole to inches at the ’03 PGA to beat Chad Campbell. The one-time Tour winner may not be a legend, but he covered his final 173 yards like one at Oak Hill.

Sand wedge. Tom Watson’s chip-in for birdie on the 71st hole at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. From a tough lie behind the green and locked in a duel with Jack Nicklaus, Watson told caddie Bruce Edwards before hitting the chip he was going to hole it. Nothing like calling your shot.

Gap wedge (52 degree). Bubba Watson’s carving approach at the second playoff hole during the 2012 Masters. From the woods right of the fairway, Watson hooked his approach some 50 yards to 15 feet to claim the green jacket. “I told my caddie, I said, ‘If I have a swing, I've got a shot,’” Watson said.

Lob wedge (60 degree). Tiger Woods’ chip in for birdie at the 16th hole on Sunday at the 2005 Masters.  “All of a sudden, it looked pretty good, and all of a sudden it looked like really good and it looked like how could it not go in and how did it not go in and all of a sudden it went in, so it was pretty sweet,” Woods said.

Putter. Jack Nicklaus during his final nine holes at the 1986 Masters. Pick a putt, any of them on that closing loop of 30 were historic, but based on the emotion of the moment his par putt to seal his fate as the greatest to ever play the game is pretty good.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”