We recount our best five shots of the year:
5. Rory McIlroy’s five wood on the 18th at the Honda Classic
McIlroy hit many great shots this year; his 5 iron at the 18th in The Open, setting up eagle and a six shot final day lead; his 3 wood in the final round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla, a skirting cut of 280 yards finishing six feet from the pin which he holed for eagle; even his bunker shot later in the same round on 17, ensuring a final birdie and sealing the win for his second major of the year. But long before that he hit a shot far sweeter in execution than all of them; a shot that hinted of the kind of season he was going to produce in 2014.
Entering the final round of the Honda Classic at PGA National with a healthy lead he all but lost it by the time he reached the 72nd hole. Needing a birdie just to get into a playoff he hit 5 wood 240 yards, that drew gloriously into a tight pin, over water to set up an eagle putt that would have won the tournament outright. He missed that putt and then lost out to Henley for his first PGA title in over twelve months, but if anything, that shot showed his heart, grit and character. He would go on to capture four of the biggest titles on either side of the Atlantic and catapult himself back to the top of the world rankings.
4. Jamie Donaldson’s pitching wedge to a foot to win the Ryder Cup
It was billed as a Ryder Cup Europe couldn’t lose and unsurprisingly they didn’t. Tom Watson’s players came up against better shot making, more passion and greater conviction on the greens at Gleneagles. Donaldson epitomised this; when asked the question in his singles match against Keegan Bradley he delivered without missing a stride. He hit the best wedge shot of his career which finished so close Bradley could do nothing but concede. It finished as a 16.5 – 11.5 point win for Europe but it was a culmination of the hard work put in by players like Donaldson on the European team.
3. Andy Sullivan shot takes him into space
There have been plenty of holes in one this year, but not all of them come with a prize attached as interesting as a trip to space! Yet it was offered on the short 15th hole at the KLM Open on the European Tour where Sullivan’s 9 iron dived into the hole. There has never been a prize so out-of-this-world in golf and the Englishman’s fear of heights might be tested when he takes up the $130,000 prize.
2. Victor Dubuisson’s double escape at the WGC Matchplay
At number two, fittingly, are two shots in one. The quiet Frenchman could not have announced himself to world golf any louder than his recovery play at Dove Mountain in his playoff defeat to Jason Day at the WGC Matchplay. Two unbelievable escapes for par, inves that even Seve Ballesteros might well have displayed on his mantelpiece, could not have been played more nonchalantly. The first, played through desert scrub and rocks was breathtaking enough, but to repeat the feat on the very next hole will have golf fans talking about it for years. It caused Day to shrug his shoulders, consider the phrase ‘C’est la vie’ and admit how difficult it has been to get his second PGA Tour win banked.
1. Billy Horschel’s clutch putt at the Tour Championship
Horschel dominated the weekend at the Tour Championship in Atlanta, but when things looked like they might come unstuck he pulled out one of the best clutch putts ever to secure what will undoubtedly be the biggest purse of his career. After driving wildly on the par four 16th and sensibly chipping out, he left his wedge approach woefully short by thirty feet. He holed that putt and tested the stitching on his colorful pants with some celebratory lunging. It’s hard to say whether he would have won if he had missed his par putt, but he didn’t miss it and went on to win the tournament and the FedExCup with it!
There have many other memorable shots on Tour this year and everyone will have their favourites, perhaps Bubba Watson’s monster drive at the 13th at Augusta was yours or maybe it was Phil Mickelson playing from the stands at the Barclays – or come to think of it, any tournament he plays in! We look forward to hearing yours.