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We’ve heard it so often, it’s burned into our collective consciousness: The Masters doesn’t really begin until the back nine on Sunday. For 2015 champion Jordan Spieth, that wasn’t good news. Armed with a five-shot lead at the turn, Spieth began to leak oil. Bogey at No. 10. Bogey at No. 11. Two balls in the water at No. 12, leading to a quadruple bogey. End of Spieth’s dream of back-to-back Augusta titles.
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It was a start so nightmarish, it was almost inconceivable. Ernie Els had a 2-foot putt for par on the first hole of the Masters. He missed, but things like that happen. What doesn’t happen is a 2-footer turning into a 6-putt and a quintuple-bogey 9. It was the highest score ever made on No. 1 at Augusta. “I can’t explain it,” said a shocked Els, who went on to shoot 80, equaling his worst score at Augusta.
3 / 17
For as long as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player have been the unofficial starters of the Masters, they have had a spirited competition among themselves for the best tee shot. This year Palmer, 86, was the winner – without even swinging a club. “I think Gary and I felt it was more about Arnold this morning than anything else,” Nicklaus said, “and I think that was just fine.'' “I dedicated my first tee shot to him in respect,” Player said. “It's a very special moment.''
4 / 17
The Masters is one of the few tournaments that have highlights even before play officially begins. The annual Wednesday Par-3 contest is always a fan favorite, but this year was extra special because of a proliferation of holes-in-one. There were a record nine of them in all, including the 31st ace of Gary Player’s career and back-to-back aces by Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler. The fireworks weren’t over, either. In Round 4, Louis Oosthuizen made the third ace of the day at No. 16 by banking in his tee shot off the ball of J.B. Holmes.
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For Tom Watson, the decision was a no-brainer. “If I could still play this golf course,” he said, “I wouldn’t be retiring.” So after shooting a 78 that left him two shots away from making the cut, Watson, 66, began thanking the fans. He had won two Masters titles – in 1977 and 1981 – and made 21 straight cuts in the year’s first major. But he hadn’t made a cut since 2010, and he knew the time had come to close this chapter. ''I've made the decision that the kids hit the ball too hard,'' he said. ''This course really shows the difference.''
6 / 17
There was a day when it would have been no surprise to see Bernhard Langer near the Masters lead after 54 holes. But that day would have occurred in the 1980s, when Langer won his first green jacket, or the 1990s, when he won his second, not 2016. Yet there he was, just two shots off Jordan Spieth’s 54-hole lead. But there would be no third green jacket for Langer, who closed with a 79 and finished tied for 24th.
7 / 17
Few accomplishments are valued more highly than a career Grand Slam. Only five men – Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Gene Sarazen, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods – have won each of the four current majors at least once. Rory McIlroy figured to be the next to join the exclusive club, lacking only a green jacket. Starting 70-71, he put himself in the final Saturday pairing with Jordan Spieth. But a third-round 77 torpedoed McIlroy’s chances, and he wound up finishing tied for 10th.
8 / 17
Danny Willett wasn’t widely known by casual golf fans, but he had given indications he was ready to win a big tournament. He had won three times on the European Tour and had been just one shot off the lead midway through The Open in 2015 (he finished tied for sixth). At Augusta, Willett was steady through three rounds (70-74-72), then put the hammer down with a final-round 67. He became the first British player to win the Masters since Nick Faldo in 1996.
9 / 17
It was only a matter of time before Dustin Johnson won his first major. He had had several close calls – the 54-hole lead at the 2010 U.S. Open, the club-grounding incident that cost him a spot in a playoff at the 2010 PGA, the T-2 finish in The Open in 2011, the final-hole three-putt in the 2015 U.S. Open, the 36-hole lead at The Open in 2015 – but had never been able to close the deal. Until the 2016 U.S. Open. At Oakmont, he won by three shots despite a controversial after-the-fact penalty.
10 / 17
Dustin Johnson had a two-shot lead in the final round of the U.S. Open as he went to the 12th tee. That’s when two USGA officials approached him and basically said “Not so fast, buddy.” On the fifth green, Johnson had backed away from a putt after his ball moved. He conferred with a rules official, who agreed that Johnson had not caused the ball to move. But on the 12th tee, DJ was being told the ruling might be overturned and he would be docked a penalty stroke. Eventually, that is what happened, but fortunately for all concerned, it did not affect the outcome.
11 / 17
Let’s face it, it wouldn’t be a U.S. Open without some complaints. It was no different this year at Oakmont, which is a difficult enough course even without a major championship setup. During the first round, Jordan Spieth went off when his approach shot spun off the 17th green and rolled into a bunker. "This is such crap,” he could be heard saying. “You've got to be kidding me! How is that in the bunker?" And Charley Hoffman took to Instagram to take the USGA to task, although he didn’t offer any details: “Just venting a bit. Can't play a professional event run by amateurs. The PGA Tour staff is amazing week in and out. Hopefully one day we will separate ourselves."
12 / 17
The Masters had produced a surprising first-time winner in Englishman Danny Willett, and for a while it appeared that the U.S. Open would follow suit. Shane Lowry of Ireland held a four-shot lead after 54 holes at Oakmont, but there are no trophies for 54-hole leads. Lowry closed with a 76 and finished tied for second, three shots behind Dustin Johnson.
13 / 17
Phil Mickelson was positive the putt was going in. “I don't know how that ball missed because it was perfect speed in the center with a foot to go," Mickelson said. “I want to cry.” In the first round of The Open at Royal Troon, Mickelson turned in the 28th 63 shot in a men’s major championship. If his 16-foot putt on the 18th hole had gone in, it would have been the first 62. How badly did Phil want the record to himself? “I want to cry,” he said.
14 / 17
Rory McIlroy was on his way to a 2-over 73 in the third round of The Open at Royal Troon when he pushed his 3-wood approach shot to the right from the middle of the fairway on the 16th hole. In frustration he took the offending club and hurled it to the ground, where the clubhead snapped off. McIlroy said the clubhead had come loose earlier in the week and he had re-glued it but also allowed that throwing it to the ground probably didn’t help. As a club toss, it wasn’t quite up to the standard of the iron that McIlroy heaved into a lake at Doral in 2015.
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Phil Mickelson took the first-round lead in The Open with a record-tying 63, but it was another 63, this one by Henrik Stenson in the final round, that came between Lefty and a second win in The Open. Stenson birdied the final hole for a three-shot margin over Mickelson, who shot 65 and finished second in a major for the 11th time. Stenson made 10 birdies in capturing his first major. ''I knew I had to keep on pushing, keep on giving myself birdie chances,” Stenson said. “He wasn't going to give it to me, so I had to pull away. I'm just delighted I managed to do that with a couple of birdies at the right time.''
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Jimmy Walker completed the sweep, becoming the fourth player to win his first major in 2016. In Joining Danny Willett (Masters), Dustin Johnson (U.S. Open) and Henrik Stenson (The Open), Walker captured the PGA Championship at Baltusrol by one shot over world No. 1 Jason Day. Day finished with an eagle at the last, forcing Walker to make par to win.
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Wet weather wreaked havoc with the PGA Championship at Baltusrol. Third-round play was suspended for the day at 2:14 p.m. EDT, and only 37 players completed that round. For the final round, the PGA of America declared that lift, clean and place would be in effect. It was believed to be the first time that any round of a PGA Championship, or any other major, for that matter, was played under lift, clean and place.
Image of Bryson DeChambeau and how his body has transformed, through the years, from an NCAA champion to becoming a multiple PGA Tour winner.
Here's a look at some of the best photos of the Match II with Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady from Medalist Golf Club.
A look at some of the best photos from the TaylorMade Driving Relief, won by the team of Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson.