Most clutch performances in 2011

By Rex HoggardDecember 13, 2011, 4:18 pm

Every great golf season is defined by clutch performances. They're the performances that win major championships, capture Cups and claim money titles. They're the feats you'll always remember - for the most part. senior writers offer up their most clutch performances of the year.

Rory McIlroy


Most clutch in 2011? Easy, Rory McIlroy, end of list.

With due respect to all others, the European Solheim Cup team immediately comes to mind, the Ulsterman played in his own division in 2011. A U.S. Open victory is good stuff, but McIlroy distanced himself from the rest of the pack based on the degree of difficulty of his singular achievement.

Four starts removed from what could be for others a career-crushing loss at the Masters, McIlroy rebounded with rounds of 65-66-68-69 to lap the field by eight strokes at Congressional.

Graeme McDowell said there wasn't even going to be an under-par round this week or anybody finishing under par. Rory, I don't even know what he is,” Robert Garrigus said.

McIlroy’s closing 80 at Augusta National, an adventurous round that exposed weaknesses in his game that never surfaced at Congressional, only serves to point out how clutch the 22-year-old was at the U.S. Open.

From the ashes of Augusta National McIlroy singlehandedly rewrote the U.S. Open record book, shattering the 72-hole scoring record by four strokes, the relation-to-par scoring record and becoming the youngest to win the Open since Bobby Jones in 1923.

Clutch by any definition.

Charl Schwartzel


Charl Schwartzel delivered far more than the most clutch performance in golf this year.

He delivered one of the best finishes under pressure we’ve ever seen.

Making birdie at the 72nd hole to win a major championship is impressive, but birdies at the 69th, 70th, 71st and 72nd holes to win the Masters gives deeper meaning to the definition of clutch.

Schwartzel trumped anything Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan or Tiger Woods ever did to close out a major. He did what none of them ever did in winning with four closing birdies.

Luke Donald's Sunday rally to win at Disney and clinch the PGA Tour money title was gritty. Yes, Bill Haas was impressive late this summer with his escape from the water to win the FedEx Cup. Keegan Bradley was terrific under pressure coming from five shots down with three holes to play to win the PGA Championship in his first appearance in a major. Steve Stricker’s closing birdie to win the John Deere Classic made you shake your head in wonder. The European Solheim Cup team’s late turnaround to win will go down as one of the best finishes to an international team event, but nobody topped what Schwartzel did to earn a green jacket this year.

With the pressure ratcheted up on that Masters’ Sunday, with eight different players holding or sharing the final-round lead, with five players holding the lead at the same time, Schwartzel separated himself in historic fashion. 

Richard H. Lee


Maybe I’ve just got a short-term memory, but my clutch performance of the year came just last week courtesy Richard H. Lee’s at PGA Tour Q-School.

The former All-America selection from the University of Washington was well off the number to qualify for a 2012 card following a 6-over 78 in the fourth round. He bounced back with a 65 the next day, but still found himself off the pace. In fact, with only five holes left to play in the final round, he was four strokes off the magic number, his fate apparently sealed with a trip to the Nationwide Tour.

That’s when Lee turned into Mr. Clutch.

Finishing on the front nine of the PGA West Stadium Course, he closed eagle-birdie-par-birdie-birdie to claim his playing privileges in the big leagues with a shot to spare.

Q-School lore is filled with hard-to-believe stories of success and failure. Lee’s tale ranks up there with the best of ‘em.

There’s no perfect way to compare the clutch performance of Lee against, say, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and his four closing birdies, but think about it this way: If Schwartzel lost, he still had a job. We can’t say the same for Lee.

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Watch: Reed races in 40-footer to put away Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 10:19 pm

Three up with three holes to play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Patrick Reed missed an opportunity to close out his match with Jordan Spieth when Spieth won the 16th hole with a birdie.

But Reed wouldn't let the match move to 18. Putting for birdie from the apron, 40 feet from the hole, at the par-3 17th, Reed raced in this putt to end the match.

With the win, Reed moved to 3-0-0 for the week and advanced to the weekend at Austin Country Club.

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Garcia's win-win situation: Move on or baby time

By Rex HoggardMarch 23, 2018, 9:45 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Given his status as one of Europe’s preeminent Ryder Cup players, Sergio Garcia’s record at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is nothing short of inexplicable.

In 15 starts at the event, the Spaniard has played the weekend just once – in 2010 when he lost in the semifinals to Ian Poulter – and since the event pivoted to round-robin play he’s never made it out of the group stages.

His fortunes have changed dramatically this year, with Garcia going undefeated in pool play and cruising to the Sweet 16 following a 3-and-1 victory over Xander Schauffele on Friday.

“I would love to have done a little better than I have,” said Garcia, who will play Kyle Stanley in the Round of 16 early Saturday. “I have had some good weeks here. But not probably as good as I should have. So hopefully this week it will be better.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Garcia made no secret of the source of his turnaround following the birth of his first child last Wednesday, a girl named Azalea. Even on Friday when he found himself 2 down through 11 holes and in danger of not advancing he kept an upbeat attitude.

“The way I looked at it, when I was 2 down, we're going to try to turn it around, but if we don't, it means that I get to spend more time with [his wife] Angela and Azalea for the weekend,” Garcia said. “I tried to look at it in a good way.”

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DeLaet: WGC's robin-robin format 'sucks'

By Grill Room TeamMarch 23, 2018, 9:20 pm

Graham DeLaet isn't teeing it up at Austin Country Club this week because he didn't qualify for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, but that doesn't mean he lacks an opinion on the event's format.

DeLaet hopped on social media Friday during Day 3 of the WGC-Match Play to torch the round-robin format that's been in place for three years, saying he much preferred the single elimination that was in place when he played in 2014.

"Played Match Play in Tucson in 2014. Early group on Wednesday, lost. Threw clubs in my car and was on my couch in Scottsdale by 2:00 pm. Collect 30K and spend the weekend at home, he tweeted. "That’s a good format. This one sucks."

DeLeat's comments may be the strongest to date, but he's not alone in his opposition to pool play. Several players lamented Friday's "meaningless" matches earlier this week, and Henrik Stenson cited the lack of a do-or-die atmosphere as his reason for skipping the event.

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Watch: Kuchar makes ace at WGC-Dell Match Play

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 9:09 pm

In his bid to advance to the weekend at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Matt Kuchar aced the par-3 seventh hole Friday at Austin Country Club.

With an 8-iron from 181 yards, Kuchar landed his ball short of the flag and watched it roll and roll ... and drop.

The hole-in-one moved Kuchar 3 Up in match against Ross Fisher. 

The last hole-in-one at the Match Play came in Sunday's consolation match last year, when Hideto Tanihara aced the same hole before later losing to Bill Haas.