Ranking the 10 Most Incredible Golf Shots of 2013
Clutch. Improbable. Pressure packed. Never before seen. These are just a few ways to describe the incredible when we see it unfold off the clubs of the world’s finest golfers.
Although just shy of midway through the 2013 season, we've already seen some amazing golf shots that are etched into our memories because they delivered a meaningful championship, caused agony or despair, defied the logic of the game or just displayed a level of creativity more the exception than the norm.
Here are the top 10 Most Incredible Golf Shots of 2013…at least right up to this moment.
10. Nothing but Hole. Jim Furyk Drills Bunker Shot on 18th at Harbour Town
In what was an otherwise brutal final round at Harbour Town Golf Links last month, former RBC Heritage champion Jim Furyk managed to walk away from the 18th hole with a smile on his face after making the shot of the tournament from a green-side bunker.
It wasn't just that Furyk made birdie by holing out from the deep bunker that fronts the famous 18th green but how the popular American did it. The shot went from impact in the bunker to directly into the hole without ever touching the putting surface or the pin for that matter.
The unconventional birdie was a merciful end to a day that saw Furyk fall out of contention for a second tartan jacket by shooting a 78. It was only the fifth birdie at the difficult 18th during the windy final round on Hilton Head Island.
9. Luke Donald Makes Birdie from Behind Large Tree at Riveria.
Standing directly behind a rather large tree is anything but an enviable position to attack a green nearly 200 yards away; unless, of course, you happen to have the skill and confidence of former world No. 1 Luke Donald.
Playing in the third round of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club, Donald managed to bend a shot played with a utility club around a large oak just in front of him and through several other trees to within just three feet on the par-four 13th hole. Donald then cleaned up the final three feet for one of the more improbable birdies of the tournament.
The shot, which helped Donald to a third-round 70 and a 16th-place finish overall, landed in the rough surrounding the right side of the green, bounced onto the putting surface and gravity did the rest. Donald played the shot just as CBS golf announcer Gary McCord predicted he had to and reaped the birdie benefit as a result.
8. Teenage Texan Jordan Spieth Records First Hole-in-One as Professional
With the majority of the golf world watching Tiger Woods at the Cadillac Championship at Doral, Jordan Spieth provided even more proof that he will be a significant factor in the future of golf while competing in the 2013 Puerto Rico Championship.
Displaying talent beyond his years, Spieth aced the 203-yard, par-three 11th in the third round of the tournament played opposite the World Golf Championship event at The Blue Monster won by Woods. With a four-iron in hand, the 19-year-old Spieth launched an arrow that landed seemingly a mile shy of the pin and raced directly into the hole several seconds later.
Unlike many aces that die softly in the hole, Spieth's effort, which helped earn him a tie for second, raced home at a pace that would have left it at least 10 feet past had the direction not been spot on. Instead, the ball dropped, the crowd roared its approval and the fast-rising American took another step toward star status on the PGA Tour.
7. One Painful Missed Putt Short of a 59 for Phil Mickelson
Rarely is a missed 20-foot putt for birdie in the first round of a PGA Tour event as incredibly frustrating and memorable as Phil Mickelson's was on the 9th hole during the 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Mickelson came to the ninth hole at 11-under on the day and needing only a birdie to realize the magical and elusive score of 59. As he often does, Phil hit a pure putt under real pressure and began to celebrate the huge single-round feat as the ball disappeared into the cup.
Problem is, the ball re-appeared an instant later, rolled around nearly the entire cup and finished devilishly outside the intended target. Just like that, Mickelson lost his 59 and was forced to settle for an opening-round 60.
To put the putt in context, had it gone down, Mickelson would have been only the sixth player in history to shoot a 59 in a sanctioned PGA Tour event and the first since since both Stuart Appleby and Paul Goydos did it in 2010.
Mickelson would go on to win the Waste Management, giving further proof the golf gods enjoy giving as much as they do taking away.
6. Luke List Makes Birdie from the Deep Trees to Make Valero Texas Open Cut.
There are unlikely birdies to make a Friday cut on the PGA Tour, and then there are simply unbelievable ones to keep a golfer around for the weekend. Playing the ninth hole at the 2013 Valero Texas Open, Luke List had one of the latter from dense trees that couldn't have come at a better time for the American.
Playing his final hole of the day, List found his tee shot imprisoned among trees some 174 yards from the green and seemingly miles away from the birdie he needed to stick around for Saturday. Yet somehow List found an opening, and his unlikely approach stopped just two feet from the hole for a tap-in birdie and a ticket to the third round.
List would take advantage of the stunning shot to finish the tournament in a tie for 46th, making the unbelievable shot on the ninth hole worth $16,580.
5. Nicholas Thompson Makes Par from Green-Side Water Hazard at Bay Hill.
Doing his best Bill Haas impersonation, Nicholas Thompson attempted and pulled off a water-logged shot from a green-side hazard on the 17th hole during the third round of the 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
While struggling to a 3-over 75, Thompson’s tee shot on the par-three went right and found itself resting in shallow water some 50 or 60 feet from the hole. Rather than surrendering a stroke to find solid ground, Thompson chose to lose his shoes and socks, roll up his pants and play the ball from its water-soaked position. As Haas did to help him win the 2011 Tour Championship in a playoff, Thompson pulled the shot off, hitting it to within several feet of the hole for an unexpected par.
While Thompson’s shot didn't carry the pressure of Haas’ effort, which delivered a $10 million FedEx Cup payday, it was the highlight of the third round and the tournament; that is until Sergio Garcia decided to go climb a tree one day later...
4. No, It's Not Garcia off the Tee, but from a Tree
Given his flair for the dramatic and willingness to try the unconventional, Sergio Garcia has hit shots from many unexpected and unusual positions on the golf course. Yet not even the enigmatic Spaniard could have envisioned his remarkable shot from high up in a tree before attempting it during the final round of the 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
The always-adventurous Garcia sprayed his second shot on the par-four 10th hole into an oak that swallowed the ball rather than releasing it. Instead of a penalty drop, however, Sergio opted to climb 15 feet up said tree and execute a back-handed shot that amazingly sent the ball back into the fairway and the small final-round crowd around him into frenzied disbelief.
The shot, however, was the lone highlight of the day for Sergio, who hurt his shoulder on the attempt, made double-bogey and later withdrew from the tournament when final-round play was suspended due to weather.
The shot might have been typical “style over substance” Sergio, but it was also the most memorable of an entertaining Arnold Palmer Invitational won by Tiger Woods.
3. Tiger Woods' Now Larger Than Life Wedge on the 15th Hole at Augusta National
Not every incredible shot comes with a happy ending; just ask Tiger Woods. Playing the 15th hole in the second round of The Masters, Woods hit a laser wedge shot to the par-five green that was so good it struck the pin but so unlucky that it bounced back and rolled into the water.
Not only did the already-legendary approach result in a bogey for Woods, it kicked off a chain of events that included a bad drop, a subsequent viewer phone call to tournament officials regarding the drop, a near disqualification and ultimately a two-shot penalty that seriously damaged Tiger's chances for a fifth green jacket.
It’s rare that one shot could cause such disruption and controversy, but the ricochet wedge had two significant things going for it; it was played by Tiger, the world’s best golfer, and done so during The Masters, the sport’s most prestigious event. Granted, the shot did not decide the 77th Masters—that play came two days later from Adam Scott—but it did cast a significant shadow over the tournament, and for that, it certainly ranks as equal parts famous and infamous.
2. Angel Cabrera Stiffs Approach on 72nd Hole to Force Masters Playoff
On Thursday, an iron from the 18th fairway to within three feet of the hole at Augusta National is a sweet sight. On the 72nd hole of the major tournament with a birdie needed to force a playoff, that same shot is one that legends are carved from.
That's the exact shot eventual runner-up Angel Cabrera hit during the fourth round of the 2013 Masters with his son on the bag and an entire golf world waiting for the result. Cabrera, who had just watched Adam Scott make a 20-foot birdie to take a one-shot lead on that same 18th green, matched the Aussie with an incredible seven-iron to three feet. A relative tap-in later, Cabrera finished tied with Scott at nine-under to force a second consecutive Masters playoff.
Had Cabrera won the two-hole playoff rather than losing it to Scott, the shot would certainly be remembered as one of the greatest in the history of the Masters. Yet even without it securing a second green jacket for the Argentinian, it remains one of a handful of classic birdie-producing iron shots on the 72nd hole in Masters memory.
1A/1B. Adam Scott Sinks Bridie Putt(s) to Capture First Career Major
Two putts. Two memorable moments. Two amazing landmark accomplishments. Adam Scott's breakthrough victory at Augusta National was both his first career major championship and the first green jacket triumph for a professional golfer from Australia. It's fitting that a triumph this big and so immensely popular has two incredible shots associated with it as one wouldn't be the same without the other.
Scott nearly won the 2013 Masters with a gutsy putt on the 72nd hole. The Australian finally did win the Masters about 30 minutes later with an equally dramatic birdie effort on the 10th green to beat Angel Cabrera. In a typical final round of a regular PGA Tour event, the combination of the two putts would have been noteworthy. On a rainy late afternoon at Augusta National, the championship effort, capped by the 15-foot putt for victory, was otherworldly.
With an entire nation behind him, Scott buried a pair of putts that erased years of frustration in golf's biggest tournaments and announced once and for all his arrival as one of the best players in the world. Like others before him who have had that signature moment or moments at Augusta National, Scott's putts will stand in Masters lore for decades to come and certainly rank as the most incredible of the 2013 season to date.