Punch Shot: Greatest shot ever witnessed

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2014, 9:40 pm

Victor Dubuisson amazed golf fans Sunday with not one, but two incredible recovery shots to keep alive his chances at the WGC-Accenture Match Play. In honor of the Frenchman's dramatics, GolfChannel.com writers offer up the amazing shots they've ever witnessed.

By REX HOGGARD

Based on degree of difficulty and situational style points, Tiger Woods’ famous chip shot on the 16th hole on Sunday at the 2005 Masters is in a class all by itself.

Clinging to a one-stroke lead over Chris DiMarco, Woods pulled his tee shot at the par 3 into the collection area left of the green. After studying the shot for an extended period of time, he pitched his second just onto the putting green and watched as the ball slowly tracked from left-to-right.

Woods’ ball would hang on the lip of the hole for what seemed like an eternity, an iconic moment that has been replayed hundreds of times, before finally dropping and the roar could be heard across Washington Road.

Although he would bogey his last two holes and need overtime to beat DiMarco for his fourth green jacket, the chip at No. 16 was the turning point.

“It’s not that the chip went in,” explained John Engler, a former PGA Tour player who has played Augusta National on numerous occasions, “it’s that it nearly stopped before going into the hole. That’s impossible.”

Woods has authored many memorable shots in his career, but under Sunday pressure on golf’s grandest stage he delivered at just the right time.


By RANDALL MELL

When it comes to awe-inducing shots, Craig Parry gets the edge on my own father’s miracle shot, but just barely.

Eight years ago, my pop and I were playing the Dye Course at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Ted Mell is a high-handicapper who insists he will never forgive me for the suffering I brought into his life introducing him to golf when he was in his mid-50s.

Back in ’06, from 150 yards out in a fairway at the Dye Course, my father hit a hideous “worm burner” that screamed into a right, greenside bunker. The ball appeared certain to rocket on through the bunker and disappear in a water hazard, but it fortuitously struck a rake in the bunker, violently ricocheting 90 degrees left and jumping onto the green.

The ball slammed hard into the pin before disappearing for an eagle 2. Lighting a cigar moments later, pops quipped: “The bump and run is a lost art.”

Parry’s shot was amazing because of the skill, not the luck. Standing behind the green on the Doral Blue Monster’s diabolical 18th hole in ‘04, I watched Parry hole out a 6-iron from 176 yards for eagle to beat Scott Verplank in a playoff at the Ford Championship. The ball took two hops and with just the right speed rolled into the cup. At that moment, the 18th at Doral was ranked the toughest hole on the PGA Tour.


By JASON SOBEL

Shaun Micheel’s tournament-clincher at the 2003 PGA Championship wasn’t the most awe-inspiring shot you’ll ever see. It wasn’t the one you’d continually YouTube and watch over and over. He didn’t blast a 240-yard bunker shot onto the green or climb a tree to smack it out.

His ball was sitting in the left rough on Oak Hill’s 18th hole and he hit it to within 2 inches of the hole. Ho-hum. Nothing we haven’t seen before.

But the context of this Punch Shot is the most “amazing” shot we’ve seen – and Micheel’s 7-iron dagger from 174 yards ranks as amazing for other reasons.

Entering that week, Micheel had never even won a PGA Tour event, let alone a major championship – or even seriously contended in a major. Just one year earlier, while trying to keep his card, Micheel turned a 54-hole lead at the B.C. Open into a share of third place with a final-round 74. This wasn’t the type of guy who was going to enter the final round of a major and play his best golf. But that’s exactly what he did. When he absolutely needed to hit the best golf shot of his life, he did it. To me, that qualifies as amazing.

I still believe – and I spoke with Micheel about this not too long ago – that if this shot was hit by Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els, we’d more quickly rank it as one of the best shots of the past quarter-century, if not ever. Really, though, wouldn’t it have been less fascinating if it had come from the club of a player with experience in dazzling crowds during crunch time?

The fact that Micheel had never won before – and has never won since – is what makes his famous 7-iron to claim a major exactly what we’re seeking here: amazing.


By WILL GRAY

For me, the craziest shot was authored by golf’s most interesting man, at one of the game’s iconic holes.

When the ball of Miguel Angel Jimenez nestled next to the wall lining the 17th hole at St. Andrews during the 2010 British Open, it appeared that the Spaniard had few, if any, options at his disposal.

Unable to make a backswing, Jimenez instead flipped things around and hit one of the rarest shots in golf – the bank shot. Taking a sizeable backswing in the opposite direction, Jimenez jammed his ball into the wall and got out of the way in time to watch it soar back over his head and land on the green some 20 feet away from the pin.

Now, Jimenez went on to make double bogey – the bank shot was his fourth on the hole – and carded a 74 during the third round four years ago, but he still finished a respectable T-27 for the week.

Consider the degree of difficulty, though: not only getting the distance right, but trying to guess the trajectory for a shot after it caroms off a stone wall.

Victor Dubuisson is getting credit for his miraculous desert shots following the Match Play final, as well he should. But remember, those shots were the definition of all-or-nothing, since the worst that could happen was a loss of hole.

Outside the confines of match play, the potential penalties for a high-risk shot are much greater. If Jimenez had hit the wall incorrectly, his ball could have bounced sideways, or even hit him for a two-stroke penalty. If he was on line but a touch firm, it could have easily bounded into the famed “Road hole bunker.” Instead, the Spaniard pulled the shot off as though he had practiced it all summer, only adding to the lore of one of golf’s coolest characters.

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Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

Log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.