The Most Memorable Moments at the 2013 Major Championships
There is a lot more to the golf season than the four major tournaments, but the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship are the highlight events for golfers and fans.
Going into the Masters, the expectation was that Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson would assert themselves in the majors and put their signatures on those events. Mickelson did that, but Woods and McIlroy did not.
Other than the British Open, the majors were dominated by top players who had never won a Big Four event before.
Here are the most memorable moments from this year's majors.
Adam Scott Wins the Masters
Adam Scott is one of the best golfers in the world. The powerful Australian had everything on his resume—except a major championship.
That changed at the Masters. Scott displayed his excellent and consistent tee-to-green game and shook off a career-long reputation for being inconsistent with the putter to get to the top of the leaderboard at Augusta.
Scott found himself tied for the lead with Angel Cabrera at the end of the final round on Sunday with a nine-under-par score of 278. Scott thought he had won the tournament when he rolled in a 20-foot birdie on the final hole, but Cabrera made him work overtime when he matched that birdie on the 72nd hole of the championship.
After both men parred the first extra hole, Scott rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole to become the first Australian to earn a green jacket—something he took great pride in.
"Australia is a proud sporting nation, and this is one notch in the belt we never got," Scott told ESPN.com. "It's amazing that it came down to me today."
14-Year-Old Tianlang Guan Wins Low Amateur at Augusta
Getting an opportunity to play in the Masters is often the realization of a lifetime dream.
Imagine getting that opportunity as an eighth-grader. That's the chance China's 14-year-old prodigy Tianlang Guan had this year. He won the Asian-Pacific Amateur Championship to earn an invitation to compete in the Masters, but many expected him to shoot two rounds in the 80s and fail to make the cut.
While Guan was never a factor in the championship, he did not shoot in the 80s even once. He finished as the low amateur in the tournament, even though he was tagged with a one-stroke penalty for slow play.
Guan did not appear to be overwhelmed by his circumstances at any point in the tournament. While he is not a big hitter, his accuracy and creativity at such a young age made him a golf marvel, and the sporting world took notice.
Tiger's Bad Drop at the Masters
The 15th hole of the second round of the Masters was a big problem for Tiger Woods. While he struck his third shot squarely, the ball rolled off the green and into a water hazard after it careened off the flag stick.
The rules called for a one-stroke penalty, and Woods was supposed to take a drop and hit the ball from a spot as near as possible to the original shot. When a television viewer alerted the rules authorities that Woods' drop was not near the original spot, the rules committee decided to assess Woods a two-stroke penalty.
At the time, the decision was controversial. Woods had signed his scorecard, and the assessment of a two-stroke penalty made his scorecard incorrect.
Golf analyst Nick Faldo of the Golf Channel said he thought Woods should have been disqualified. "Tiger should really sit down and think about this and what it will leave on his legacy," Faldo said. "Personally, I think this is dreadful...That was no intention to drop close to the divot.''
Ultimately, the controversy quieted, and many of Woods' competitors thought the two-stroke penalty was adequate.
Angel Cabrera Gets Close at Augusta
Nobody came closer to taking the green jacket from Adam Scott than Argentinian standout Angel Cabrera.
Cabrera was at nine under par for the tournament midway through the final round and in great shape to win the championship. However, he bogeyed the 10th and 13th holes to drop to seven under. He was particularly upset about the bogey on the par-5 13th hole, where he went for the green on his second shot but found the water instead of the green.
Cabrera bounced back with birdies on 16 and 18 to force the playoff. He had a chance to beat Scott on the first extra hole, but his birdie putt just missed the edge of the hole.
When Scott birdied the second playoff hole, Cabrera fell short of taking his second Masters title. Cabrera defeated Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell in a 2009 playoff to win at Augusta.
“Well, unfortunately in playoffs, it’s one-on-one, head-to-head,” Cabrera told Augusta.com's Wayne Staats. “And there’s got to be only one winner, and he was able to win.”
Rose Becomes First Englishman to Win U.S. Open in 43 Years
Nobody could tame the U.S. Open course at Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania. The course's small fairways and thick rough were simply too tough for the stellar field.
However, nobody came up with a better performance than Justin Rose, who shot a one-over-par 281 to take his first major championship. Rose became the first Englishman to hold the U.S. Open title since Tony Jacklin won the U.S. Open in 1970.
Rose is not known as one of the great putters on the PGA Tour, but he converted five birdie putts en route to a final round of 70.
His iron shot on 18 clinched the championship and put him in position to close the round with a sixth birdie. While he did not make it, he made his par putt and defeated Jason Day and Phil Mickelson by two strokes.
Mickelson Faces Continued Heartbreak at U.S. Open
Phil Mickelson was in prime position to win his first U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club.
Despite having the lead on the final day of the tournament Mickelson so desperately wants to win, he had to settle for the runner-up position for the sixth time in his career.
Mickelson had the lead after three rounds, but he could only manage a final round of 74 that included two double bogeys.
Mickelson did not have much composure on the golf course during the final round, but he found some in explaining how he felt after losing to Justin Rose.
“If I had won today or if I ultimately win, I’ll look back at the other Opens and think that it was a positive play,” Mickelson told the media, via U-T San Diego, after shooting a 3-over-par 283. “If I never get the Open, then I look back … every time I think of the U.S. Open, I just think of heartbreak.”
Surprise, Surprise: Lefty Bounces Back at British
Few golf observers thought Phil Mickelson would find glory at the British Open.
Still hurting from his painful defeat at the U.S. Open the month before, Mickelson tried to prepare for Muirfield's challenging test by competing in the unheralded Scottish Open. Mickelson won that tournament.
Muirfield seemed to be a difficult assignment for him, as he had never played well on links courses—until the Scottish Open—but Lefty never blinked.
He was in striking distance after three rounds at one over par. While the rest of the field struggled on the final day, Mickelson shot perhaps the best round of his life (a 66) to finish at three under par and win the Claret Jug.
"This is the greatest feeling I've had in the game," Mickelson told USA Today. "It's probably the greatest round of my career. I never knew if I would win this tournament. I hoped, but I never knew it "
Westwood Can't Get That First Major
Lee Westwood had it all there in front of him as he teed off to start the final round of the British Open.
Westwood had a two-stroke lead and appeared to have the chance of a lifetime to take home the first major championship of his career.
Westy has been close many times. He has seven top-three finishes in golf's four most important tournaments, but he has never been victorious.
A score of 75 in the final round assured he would remain on the outside looking in. Westwood never found his rhythm on the final day of the Open Championship, and when his lead disappeared, Phil Mickelson barreled through the opening and took the title.
Westwood tried to take the loss in stride.
"I'm not too disappointed," he said after the final round, according to Golf.com. "I don't really get disappointed with golf anymore."
But despite his words, Westwood knew he had not taken advantage of perhaps the best opportunity he would have to win a major.
Dufner Takes the PGA
Jason Dufner may look cool and unperturbed on the outside, but as he made his charge toward the PGA Championship, he felt anxiety on the inside.
However, his solid and consistent golf game allowed him to overcome those nerves. Dufner won the championship when he shot a 68 in the final round to emerge with the Wanamaker Trophy. He had set the tone for the victory when he shot a brilliant 63 in the second round.
"I come across as a pretty cool customer, I guess, but there are definitely some nerves out there, especially when you're trying to win a major championship," Dufner told USA Today.
Dufner said he was able to gain confidence when he made a par putt on the first hole. That putt calmed his nerves, and he played championship golf from that point forward.
The PGA title was Dufner's first major championship.
Tiger, Rory Fail to Fire
The major tournaments were nothing but disappointmenting for Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
Aside from the majors, Woods has enjoyed a stellar 2013 season, with five tournament victories and a sizable lead in the FedEx Cup points race.
However, he tied for fourth in the Masters and sixth in the British Open, and he finished well out of the picture in the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship.
McIlroy started the year as the No. 1 player in the world. He surrendered that ranking to Woods and has struggled throughout 2013. McIlroy's best finish in the majors came when he tied for eighth in the PGA Championship.
He failed to make the cut in the British Open and was far behind in the Masters and U.S. Open.
Golf fans will be waiting to see if Woods can win his first major since 2008 next year and if McIlroy can rebound after a poor 2013 season.