PGA Tour: 25 Best Shots in Major Championship History
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It may only be February, but it’s never too early to think about the Masters.
With an eight-month wait between “Glory’s Last Shot” and the magnificent event at Augusta, it’s almost inevitable to think ahead early and wish for greener pastures as the brutal winter creeps along at a glacial pace.
There is still golf to watch at this time of the season, and some exciting golf at that, but nothing compares to the major championships. Many are excited to watch the action unfold in Phoenix this week, yet more are yearning for that major tournament in the state of Georgia.
With thoughts of the Masters and the major championship season grabbing a hold of the minds of almost all golf fans, it seems like a good time to look at some of the greatest shots in these tournaments’ histories.
In honor of the upcoming majors season, here is a list of the greatest shots in major championship history. It’s a tough list to compile, because one must weigh both the difficulty of the shot and its importance in the event. Trying to keep this balance is tough, but I tried my best to do so.
So without further ado, counting down from No. 25 to No. 1, here are the greatest shots in major championship history.
25. Costantino Rocca 1995 British Open
(Skip to 1:36 in the video for the shot)
The first shot on this list is the only one that did not secure a major victory. However, the shot was too incredible to keep off the list.
Costantino Rocca, down one shot to John Daly playing the 72nd hole, made a major mistake. After hitting his drive on St. Andrews’ par-four 18th hole within 30 yards of the green, Rocca did the unthinkable, outright flubbing his chip.
Stuck in the infamous Valley of Sin and over 65 feet from the hole, Rocca needed a miracle to force a playoff—and that’s exactly what happened.
Rocca stroked the putt with great force, watched it roll perfectly on line and celebrated when it astonishingly disappeared into the cup. The emotional Italian immediately went down to his knees, fist pumping his arms in the air in utter joy, as Daly looked on in pure shock.
Nevertheless, Daly regrouped and won the ensuing four-hole playoff rather easily, as if Rocca left all he had on that 18th green.
This was a great shot, but with Rocca failing to close out the win it stands at the bottom of this list.
24. Jack Nicklaus 1975 Masters
(Skip to 1:11 for the shot)
The Golden Bear was vying for his fifth green jacket in 1975, but his competitors weren’t making it easy. Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf, two extremely talented young players, were giving Nicklaus all that he could handle as he reached the 16th hole.
After a mediocre tee shot, Nicklaus was left with a 40-footer up a huge slope for birdie. Down one to Weiskopf, this was crucial for Nicklaus. And like the Golden Bear often did, he stepped up to the important putt, hit it right on line and drained it.
True, the putt left him only tied with Weiskopf and just two ahead of a dangerous Miller, but it demoralized his two young foes.
Knowing that this man could summon these shots was too much for Weiskopf and Miller to handle, and allowed Nicklaus to secure his record fifth green jacket.
23. Nick Price 1994 British Open
(Skip to 2:22 for the shot)
This tournament seemed to be Jesper Parnevik’s to lose as he carried a two-shot lead to the 72nd hole at Turnberry. However, Parnevik came up short with his approach shot and made a bogey, dwindling his lead to just one.
This opened the door for Zimbabwe’s Nick Price, who was eyeing a 50-footer for eagle on 17 to take the lead. As soon as Price hit the putt, he loved it. He was becoming visibly excited as the ball was 10 feet from the hole, moving to his right as his ball wiggled right at the hole.
The ball caught the right edge of the cup and dropped, sending Price into the air in jubilation. The unlikely eagle gave Price the one shot cushion that he would secure for a victory and his second major championship.
22. Hale Irwin 1990 U.S. Open
Stephen Munday/Getty Images
Hale Irwin had already won two U.S. Opens and was seemingly finished. After all, he was 45 years old, and well past his greatest days.
Even after playing well at Medinah in the 1990 U.S. Open, the chances were slim that Irwin could pull in a third U.S. Open trophy. He was two back of Mike Donald and had a 45-footer with five feet of break left for birdie at 18.
But Irwin, one of the game's best putters, proved his prowess on the greens here, sinking the long putt and storming around the green in a euphoric celebration.
The amazing putt still left Irwin one back, but it gave him a fighting chance. Sure enough, Donald dropped a stroke, and the next day in the playoff Irwin secured an unlikely third U.S. Open title.
21. Gary Player 1972 PGA Championship
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
This may be one of the more under appreciated shots in golf history. Player, after bogeying holes 14 and 15, had given up his lead to Jim Jamieson. And, to make matters worse, Player was in deep trouble on 16 after he pushed his drive far to the right.
The South African was seemingly out of it now, as he had a giant willow tree and a pond impeding his path to the green. But Player, without being able to see the flag, hit one of the best shots of his career.
Player stepped up to the ball and whacked a nine iron that sailed right over the tree and right over the pond, stopping four feet from the cup.
The resulting birdie got Player back into the tournament and was the shot that put him back on track. Two holes later, Player was holding the Wanamaker Trophy as he secured his second PGA and his sixth major championship.
20. Tiger Woods 2008 U.S. Open
(Skip to 2:29 for the shot)
Going into the U.S. Open in 2008, Woods was not in a good place. He hadn’t played any competitive golf since the Masters and, unbeknownst to the public at the time, he had a torn left ACL and two stress fractures in his left leg.
Despite the immense pain, Woods not only played in the U.S. Open, but played well. He was only one off the lead after the second round.
However, by the time he got to the 13th hole Saturday, Woods was five back and in danger of falling out of contention. Then, something amazing happened.
Woods hit a great second shot to the back of the 13th green, leaving him a lightning quick 65-foot eagle putt that broke more than five feet to the left. Woods stroked the putt and watched intently as the ball dove to the left.
The putt took seemingly an eternity, but when it finally dropped Woods let out a massive celebration. This unbelievable putt was the key moment in the event.
With the confidence he gained from dropping this seemingly impossible putt, Woods stormed back up to the lead and eventually secured the victory.
19. Phil Mickelson 2010 Masters
Mickelson has always had a reputation as a golfer who will go for broke, and he didn't disappoint here. Up by one stroke late in the final round, this was no time for the lefty to go soft.
On the par-five 13th, Mickelson hit his drive into the pine straw, leaving him a shot of over 200 yards that forced him to shoot a narrow gap between two trees. Not only that, Mickelson had to carry the creek that lurked in front of the green.
With such a slim margin of error, many things could've gone wrong, but Mickelson executed the shot perfectly. He made clean contact, shot the gap and landed the ball just over the creek and within four feet of the hole.
Although Mickelson missed the ensuing eagle putt, his daring shot paid off, netting him an easy birdie and giving him the confidence to hold onto his lead.
He indeed did hold on, winning his third green jacket and his fourth major championship.
18. Tom Kite 1992 U.S. Open
(Skip to 3:19 for the shot)
Pebble Beach is one of America's most beautiful courses, but when the winds pick up, this course can be a menace. This is precisely what happened during the last two rounds of the U.S. Open here in 1992.
The winds howled and players dropped strokes like crazy. In fact, Gil Morgan, who was 12-under-par early in his third round, finished the tournament 5-over, losing 17 shots to par in less than 30 holes.
On the final day, Colin Montgomerie sat in the clubhouse nicely at even par. Even though there were players still ahead of him, it was certain that the winds would get them and they would all fall back. Jack Nicklaus even went as far as personally congratulating Montgomerie on his victory after he finished.
Yet, Tom Kite, at age 42 and still major-less, would not concede the fight. Starting the day at 3-under-par, Kite had played the first five holes in 1-over, but after a long birdie putt dropped on 6, he was back to 3-under.
However on the treacherous seventh, Kite found trouble, hitting his tee shot left into the rough. Kite would be forced to chip downwind onto an impossibly fast green. The best he could seemingly hope for was bogey.
Kite's chip came out clean and sped across the green, as he was imploring it to stop. All of a sudden, the ball hit the flagstick and dropped in the hole for an unlikely birdie two. The birdie moved Kite to 4-under-par and into a four shot lead.
From there, Kite played valiantly in tough conditions to finish at 3-under and win by two. Nicklaus had been embarrassingly wrong, not only had Montgomerie not won, he didn't even finish 2nd.
17. Bobby Jones 1929 U.S. Open
Michael Heiman/Getty Images
Bobby Jones was no doubt one of the greatest golfers to ever live. That being said, Jones could still struggle at times, and in the final round of the 1929 U.S. Open he nearly blew everything.
It didn't seem like anything was out of the ordinary at Winged Foot early on—Jones held the lead, and when Al Espinosa imploded with an eight on the 12th hole (giving Jones a six-shot lead), it seemed like Jones would coast to his third U.S. Open win.
Things changed quickly though. With the pressure off, Espinosa made two birdies in the last six holes, and Jones imploded with a triple bogey on 15 and a three-putt bogey on 16. By the time he had reached the penultimate hole, Jones had lost all six shots of his lead.
Jones parred 17 and needed another one on 18 to force a playoff. But he struggled, missing the green and chipping up to 12 feet, leaving him a slippery par attempt to force the playoff.
A 12-footer may not seem that daunting, but this one was different—it had almost a foot and a half of break to the right, and had the championship on the line.
Jones took his time on the putt, tapped it at the hole and watched it slowly trickle down towards the cup. The ball was on a good line and was slowing down right as it reached the cup. For a moment the ball looked like it would stop short, but history wouldn't have it that way.
The putt had just enough gas and barely rolled in for the par Jones desperately needed.
The clutch putt saved Jones' U.S. Open as he won in a 36 hole playoff the next day by 23 strokes. Thanks to this putt, Jones won his third U.S. Open and possibly gave him the confidence to win the Grand Slam just a year later.
16. Jerry Pate 1976 U.S. Open
A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Pate may be best known for throwing Deane Beman and Pete Dye into the water, but his moment came when he avoided the hazard.
At the age of 22 in 1976, Pate held a one-stroke lead with one hole to play in the U.S. Open. After hitting his tee shot in the rough, Pate exuded the brashness of a young tour star.
He decided to use a five iron from thick rough that, if it didn't carry to the green, would find the water in front. With no fear, Pate hit his shot.
The shot sounded good, and it was—landing three feet from a tucked left pin, no more than 10 yards from the water. This shot counts as one of the most daring and best executed in the annals of golf.
If he missed the shot even slightly, he would've lost the tournament. Yet Pate took the risk and it paid off with a beautiful shot and a beautiful trophy.
This was Jerry Pate's only major championship win, so at least he made it memorable.
15. Tom Watson 1977 British Open
(Skip to 1:10 for the shot)
When Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson competed, it was magic. The 1977 British Open at Turnberry was a prime example, with both men elevating their play higher and higher, as if the rest of the field didn't exist.
In fact, the rest of field would've done well to not show up, as not one player finished within 10 shots of Nicklaus or Watson.
Anyway, on Sunday the match became really intense. Nicklaus and Watson made birdie after birdie as each tried to gain the upper hand. Watson had a one-shot lead over Nicklaus going into the last.
On 18, Watson hit his tee shot in the fairway, while Nicklaus visited the gorse bushes. Watson, going first, had a chance to close out the tournament. A great shot here and the Bear was finished. Watson took out a seven iron and attempted to get it close.
He took the swing and the ball came off perfectly, going right at the hole and ending up no more than two feet from the cup. This was a perfect exclamation point to Watson's performance, essentially eliminating Nicklaus.
Although Nicklaus miraculously found the green from the gorse and nailed his 40-footer, he fell one short of Watson.
On this day, one of golf's great shots helped to defeat the great Jack Nicklaus.
14. Shaun Micheel 2003 PGA Championship
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Out of all of golf's greatest shots, this one might be most forgotten, and it makes sense why. The shot was hit by Shaun Micheel, a likable guy, but not one that pushes the needle.
So here is your recognition, Mr. Micheel: you are on this list because your shot to secure the 2003 PGA Championship is without a doubt one of the major championships' all-time best.
On the 18th hole at the PGA Sunday, Micheel held a one-shot lead over Chad Campbell. After Campbell hit his approach just 10 feet from the cup, the pressure turned to Micheel. This was his chance to prove what he could do.
Micheel didn't disappoint, launching a seven iron from the first cut of rough right at the hole. Micheel's caddie was so sure of the shot that he yelled "Be right!" and it was, landing 10 feet short of the hole and rolling up to four inches from the cup.
This punctuating blow secured Micheel a victory and his only major championship. He can go home with a major trophy and the knowledge that he can produce marvelous shots under great pressure.
13. Arnold Palmer 1960 U.S. Open
The first hole at Cherry Hills had not been kind to Arnold Palmer in the first round. He had hit his first shot in the water there and started off the championship with a double bogey six. But in the final round, the first hole proved to be a catalyst for Palmer's furious comeback.
Standing seven shots back with 18 holes to play, Palmer was given no chance to win. However, few knew just what Palmer could do.
Palmer decided to go for broke right away, attempting to drive the par-four first green. It was a shot that could quickly derail any comeback effort, but could also fuel it as well.
Palmer cracked his drive far down the hole, heading right towards the green. The ball finally landed, bouncing in the green's front rough, before trickling onto the putting surface.
Palmer had done it, he had driven the green!
The incredible shot was a harbinger of greater things to come that day, as a final round 65 gave Palmer the victory the experts thought he had no chance at. The lesson learned is, good or bad, don't underestimate Palmer.
12. Corey Pavin 1995 U.S. Open
(Skip to 1:57 for shot)
Corey Pavin, one of the shortest hitters on tour, was left with well over 200 yards for his approach shot to the 18th green at Shinnecock Hills. At the time, he held onto a one-shot lead over Greg Norman, making this a high-stakes situation.
Pavin needed at least a par to quell Norman, and he did just that. Sending his approach with a four wood, Pavin hit a low shot that bounced up in front of the green, gathered onto the green and almost went in before finishing five feet from the cup.
The glorious strike was a test under immense pressure, and Pavin passed. He missed the short birdie putt, but par was all he needed to hold off a charging Greg Norman.
Pavin finally one his first major and was, as he said, "just happy to get the old monkey off my back."
11. Ben Hogan 1950 U.S. Open
(No shot actually in video, just analysis)
In 1949, Ben Hogan was lucky to be alive. His car collided head-on with a Greyhound bus, and Hogan sustained a fractured pelvis, a fractured collarbone, a fractured ankle and a chipped rib. The 36-year-old also nearly died in the hospital from blood clots.
After such an accident few thought he would ever play the game of golf again, but Hogan somehow recovered. Amazingly, just 16 months later, he would be standing in the 72nd fairway of a U.S. Open tied for the lead.
However, not all was well with Hogan—he was still in major pain, and had to use a great deal of his energy just to walk. On the final day, he had to walk 36 holes, and by the time he reached his tee shot in the 18th fairway, he must've been nearing exhaustion.
Hogan persevered though. Needing a par on the last to secure a playoff, Hogan gamely fought through the pain. Over 200 yards from the green, Hogan hit a beautiful one iron that landed on the green 40 feet from the hole.
The tremendous shot, even as Hogan experienced great pain, was crucial. He two-putted from there and forced a playoff. Hogan finished off one of the sport's greatest miracles with a victory the next day.
10. Arnold Palmer 1962 Masters
Augusta National/Getty Images
This one may seem like a confusing pick at first, but hear me out.
Palmer had come back to Augusta in 1962 seeking redemption. Holding a one-shot lead over Gary Player on the final hole the previous year, Palmer did the unthinkable, pushing his approach shot right, blasting out of the bunker beyond the green, chipping up 20 feet away and missing the putt.
Palmer had made a horrific double-bogey and had blown the tournament.
Things seemed to be going the same way in 1962, as Palmer had started the final round with a two-shot lead, but quickly dropped shots. The two-time Masters champion struggled mightily, playing the first 15 holes in 5-over-par and lagging two shots behind Gary Player and Dow Finsterwald with three holes to play.
Palmer made it even worse on 16, pushing his tee shot on the par-three to the right, leaving him an extremely quick 50-foot chip down a massive slope. With Gary Player 10 feet from the hole for birdie and poised to move at least three ahead of Palmer, it was time to make a shot.
"The King" chipped it and watched as it rolled quickly down the slope. The ball was right on line, taking the right-to-left break right towards the center of the hole, and when the ball hit the flagstick and dropped, Palmer had made a miraculous birdie two.
Player missed his putt, leaving Palmer one back. Arnie then birdied 17, forced a playoff and won it the next day. Player was mesmerized by the shot, later saying that it was so good that Woods' chip-in on 16 was a quarter of Palmer's shot.
While I respectfully disagree, Palmer's amazing chip is no doubt one of golf's greatest shots.
9. Francis Ouimet 1913 U.S. Open
The underdog story is beloved in sports, and Francis Ouimet may have been the greatest story of them all.
The 20-year-old from Brookline, MA was an unknown in 1913. On the other hand, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray were British giants who ruled the golfing scene with their invasion of America in the summer and fall of 1913.
Few thought that an American could keep the U.S. Open trophy from traveling over to the other side of the pond, and the few who did thought it would be two-time defending champion John McDermott—not Francis Ouimet—to take home the crown.
This turned out to be Ouimet's finest hour. He stayed close for the whole tournament, and by the time he reached the penultimate hole in the final round, he was just one shot back of Vardon and Ray.
Actually, Ouimet was lucky to be there—he had been two shots back with six holes to play and needed a chip-in birdie on 13, a miraculous par save on 15 and a slippery nine-footer for par on 16 to keep his hopes alive.
On 17, Ouimet was left with a 20-footer for a birdie and the tie. It was a slippery putt sliding to the right in an atmosphere with enough tension to break the spirit of many a weaker man.
Ouimet was strong though and as focused as ever. As Ouimet took his putter back, a blare of automobile horns went off, but the young man, for reasons still unclear, didn't notice.
Somehow ignoring the sound, Ouimet stroked his putt right towards the cup. The putt picked up speed and broke right at the hole. As the ball moved closer, it looked like it had too much speed. The ball hit the back of the hole with force, popping the ball up two inches in the air, before dropping back into the cup.
The crowd erupted in a frenzy as the American boy tied the two British giants. The shot propelled Ouimet, who beat Vardon and Ray the next day, won his first major championship and kicked off a huge American interest in golf.
8. Bobby Jones 1923 U.S. Open
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Although it seems implausible now, there was a time when Bobby Jones was not a great champion. The young Georgia phenom started his major championship career at the 1916 U.S. Amateur (back when it was a major) at the age of 14.
However, despite all of his talent, Jones just couldn't win one of the big four. He came within striking distance, but he struggled to close, and his temper didn't help matters.
In 1923, though, he finally looked ready to pull through. With three holes left to play in the final round of the U.S. Open, Jones held a lead that it didn't look like he'd relinquish.
It wouldn't be that easy though. Jones finished bogey-bogey-double bogey and fell into a tie with Bobby Cruikshank.
Jones regrouped and was tied with Cruickshank on the final hole of the playoff at the 18th the next day. He faced a tough decision on his approach though—he had to carry a water hazard in front of the green, and with his ball resting in loose dirt on the edge of the rough 190 yards from the hole, there was no reason why he shouldn't have laid up.
Even though Cruickshank had already laid up, that wasn't Jones' style—he was going to go for the daring shot. Hitting a two iron from dirt is tough enough in itself, but with water guarding any less than a perfect shot and all of the pressure of a major championship on the line, Jones was faced with an unenviable task.
Jones was one of the best for a reason though. He got right up to the ball, took a solid whack and watched as the ball sailed onto the green and ended eight feet from the hole. He missed the meaningless putt, but it was enough to win by two and secure Jones' first major.
Many more were to follow.
7. Bob Tway 1986 PGA Championship
(Skip to 2:04 for shot)
Greg Norman had control of this tournament through three rounds. He had a four-shot lead and looked like a lock to secure his second consecutive major after his triumph a month earlier at Turnberry.
Norman, though, like he usually did, couldn't hold it together. Starting at 11-under, he dropped four strokes to par and stood on the 18th hole tied for the lead at 7-under. Still, Norman looked in good position to wrap up the title.
The Aussie was just off the green with his approach and had a relatively easy up and down for par. His playing partner, Bob Tway (who was tied with Norman), on the other hand, had hit his second shot into the front green side bunker and was in dire straits.
From that front bunker, the 18th green at Inverness is frighteningly quick, meaning Tway needed an amazing shot just to get within 10 feet. He did better though.
Tway blasted his shot out of the sand and watched as it landed just a foot on the green. The ball sped across the surface, taking the right-to-left break as it moved towards the cup. And, to Norman's dismay, the ball hit the flagstick and went right in the cup.
The holed-out birdie was too much for Norman too handle, as he couldn't hole his chip and was left to mull losing another 54-hole lead. Norman definitely let Tway back in the tournament, but give Tway some credit, his last shot, especially under pressure, was remarkable—and surely one of the game's greatest.
6. Jack Nicklaus 1972 U.S. Open
(Skip to 0:44 for shot)
Nicklaus was always a master with the long iron. Carrying a three-shot lead with two holes to play in the final round of the U.S. Open, Nicklaus was just trying to avoid trouble.
The 17th hole at Pebble Beach is a long, demanding par three that can bury a player if they lose focus. So, Nicklaus was looking to keep his lead: he would take a par, heck even a bogey—just not a big number.
What he did next was incredible. Taking out a one iron in gusting winds, Nicklaus would've been lucky to find the green. But he struck the one iron so that the ball knifed through the air, landed five feet from the flag, touched the flagstick and rested two inches from the hole.
Nicklaus now had a four-shot lead and would go on to his third U.S. Open victory one hole later.
As the old phrase goes, even God couldn't hit a one iron. But Nicklaus could, which is another testament to his greatness.
5. Jack Nicklaus 1986 Masters
(Skip to 1:02 for shot)
The Golden Bear was supposed to be finished. He was 46 years old, hadn't won an event in two years and hadn't won a major in six.
And Nicklaus didn't appear as if he would get his sixth green jacket on Masters Sunday in 1986, anyway. He was four shots back with 10 holes to play and had too many players in front of him to pass.
Still, there is a reason why he is Jack Nicklaus—he can turn it on when he needs to. Nicklaus led a great charge Sunday, birdieing nine, 10 and 11 to get to 5-under for the tournament. He bogeyed 12, but quickly birdied 13, and when his 15-foot eagle putt dropped on the 15th, Nicklaus was 7-under and within two of the lead.
Coming to the par-three 16th, a hole Nicklaus had owned over the years, he needed to continue the magic. A five iron in hand, Nicklaus struck the shot and knew right away that is what good.
Jackie Nicklaus, Jack's son and his caddy for the week, yelled "Be right!" as soon as the swing was finished. Jack, picking up his tee calmly, winked at him and said, "It is."
The ball soared high in the air, landed 10 feet short of the hole, bounced twice, spun to the left and nearly went in before resting three feet away. The Nicklaus magic produced a massive roar, so much so that Tom Watson couldn't even putt on the 15th green.
Nicklaus made his birdie putt, birded 17 and watched as all his competitors failed to catch him.
The 16th hole proved a place of excellence once again for Nicklaus and netted him an unlikely sixth green jacket.
4. Tiger Woods 2005 Masters
(Skip to 1:23 for shot)
After two and a half years and ten majors winless, Tiger Woods finally seemed ready to return to the major championship winners' circle. He had a three shot lead going into the final round and only had to fight off a player named Chris DiMarco—a decent, but far from great player.
Woods didn't find it easy though. DiMarco was a fighter, and by the 16th hole he was just one shot back. Things looked even better for DiMarco when he knocked his tee shot 20 feet from the pin and watched as Woods sailed his tee shot over the green, leaving him a remarkably difficult chip.
As noted with Palmer's shot here, the 16th green has a massive slope on its right side, so Woods couldn't just chip the ball right at the hole. He had to land the ball 30 feet left of the hole and let the slope take it down.
The difficulty in the shot lay in trying to get the distance just right, so the ball would roll down and finish close. Woods judged it perfectly.
After deliberating for what seemed like an eternity, Woods took one last look and hit the shot. The ball flew off the club face low and with a lot of spin, landing just on the green and bouncing three or four times before the slope took over.
The ball trickled down the slope taking the right-to-left break and moving closer to the cup. The ball was dead on line and looked like it would fall when it stopped one roll short.
But this was Tiger's day. With the ball's Nike emblem sticking up, the ball took one last revolution and dropped in the cup.
Woods' chip in was key as it gave him the two-shot lead that he ultimately blew before winning in a playoff. With one of golf's greatest shots, Woods resumed his quest for Nicklaus.
3. Gene Sarazen 1935 Masters
Stephen Munday/Getty Images
Despite the fan fare the Masters sees today, it wasn't always that important. Actually it was just a small tournament where Bobby Jones invited some of his golfing friends to play.
However in just its second year, the tournament would take off, as golfing legend Gene Sarazen produced a shot for the ages.
In the final round of the tournament, Gene Sarazen stood on the fairway at the par-five 15th mulling his options. Three back of clubhouse leader Craig Wood, it was time to decide, play it safe or go for the green over the water.
Sarazen chose the latter—and it's a good thing he did. From 235 yards out, the New York man lashed a low driving four wood. The ball carried the water, landed on the green and, unbelievably, rolled into the hole. Sarazen had made a double eagle two and was now tied for the lead!
This was a momentous shot in Masters history and it is often called "the shot heard 'round the world."
Sarazen's amazing four wood gave him and the Masters the jolt of energy they needed, and when he won in a playoff the next day, Sarazen had marked the Masters path to greatness.
2. Tom Watson 1982 U.S. Open
(Skip to 0:23 for shot)
The U.S. Open was Tom Watson's favorite tournament. He had always wanted to win there the most, but unfortunately, he kept falling short year after year.
This all changed in 1982.
In a final round duel at Pebble Beach with Jack Nicklaus, both men brought out their best golf (how surprising). With Nicklaus in the clubhouse at 4-under, Watson needed two pars to tie or a birdie and a par to win.
On 17 though, Watson made it difficult. He pulled his 2-iron tee shot in heavy green side rough, leaving him a 20-foot chip with little green to work with on a very fast surface.
Bogey seemed likely in hand, but Watson has never lacked the ability to pull off great shots. In fact, Watson actually told his caddie that he was going to make this shot. He proved prophetic.
Watson took a driving downward blow into the ball that shot up into the air, hit on the edge of the putting surface and rolled straight into the center of the cup. The man who wanted this tournament so bad put his hands in the air and jogged around the green after he had taken the lead.
A birdie on 18 sealed a two shot victory and gave Watson his long awaited U.S. Open title.
1. Larry Mize 1987 Masters
(Skip to 0:41 for shot)
In a playoff against Greg Norman in the Masters, Mize was supposed to have no chance. The Augusta native, not used to the spotlight, would fold under pressure to the supremely talented Greg Norman.
This looked like the case as Mize pushed his second shot far to the right on the 11th hole. Norman left his approach 40 feet from the hole and was in prime position to bring home a par and the victory.
But what happened next would shock everyone. In what the Washington Post's Tom Boswell classified as "the most ridiculously perfect shot I've ever seen in almost 30 years of covering golf," Mize did the unthinkable.
Mize had 110 feet to go and was pitching onto a typically fast Augusta green. It seemed that there were just two options, he could leave it short of the green or the ball could roll all away across into the water.
Mize created a third option though. His pitch bounced twice before the green and then rolled across the surface, as if it was glass. The ball to the big right-to-left break and dropped into the hole.
Mize jumped high in the air (or as high as he could) and ran around pumping his fists in pure jubilation. The shot sunk Norman, who missed his putt and lost out to Mize in his sole major championship win.
Although Mize was not golf's greatest player, he hit golf's greatest—and that is saying a lot in a game filled with amazing moments.