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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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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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.