The Worst Tee Shots Hit by the World's Best Golfers
PHIL MICKELSON has won five majors and more than 40 titles on the PGA Tour. He has achieved this despite being one of the worst drivers of a golf ball in professional golf. It got so bad that he once turned up at The Masters with two drivers in his bag, one with a draw bias, the other with a fade bias.
Despite this, his magical short game skills mean that he has won all of golf's major prizes apart from the US Open, where he has finished runner-up on six occasions. He was at it again during the Safeway Open, the first tournament of the 2017-18 PGA Tour season. Mickelson somehow managed to finish third despite hardly managing to hit a single fairway in 72 holes. In fact, his driving was so bad that at one point when he finally did manage to find a fairway he turned to the gallery and said: "I think we should all take a moment to admire the fact that I have finally managed to hit the ball in the fairway."
It got us thinking about the worst tee shots the professional game as seen, and Mickelson figures at the top of our list.
Phil Mickelson, Winged Foot, 2006 US Open
Above all else, Mickelson craves the US Open and in 2006 he appeared to have it in his pocket. He was two ahead of the field after 15 holes and came to the 18th still leading Geoff Ogilvy by a stroke. A par would give the American the title. Instead, he hit a wild slice into the trees via a hospitality tent. He next tried to cut a three iron around a tree but hit the trunk. A bogey would still be good enough to get him into a playoff, but he walked off the green with a double-bogey, his chance gone. “I still am in shock that I did that," he said afterwards. "I just can't believe that I did that. I am such an idiot. I can't believe I couldn't par the last hole. It really stings.”
Ian Baker-Finch, St Andrews, 1995 Open Championship
The Australian is one of the most likeable men in golf. He came close to winning The Open and finally managed to pick up the Claret Jug in 1991 when he beat the best golfers in the world at Royal Birkdale. Shortly afterwards he began to have problems with his driver. There are countless stories of world-class golfers who are afflicted by the yips on the putting green, but for Baker-Finch the problem was with his driver. It came to a head at the 1995 Open when he stood on the first tee, which has probably the widest fairway in golf. Baker-Finch hooked his drive so badly that it finished out of bounds, fully 120 yards to the left.
Seve Ballesteros, Royal Lytham, 1979 Open Championship
When he won The Open in 1979, the Spaniard spent much of the final round playing his second shots from the rough. But he truly excelled himself with his tee shot at the par four 16th, when his wild drive found a temporary car park. In entirely typical style, Seve not only found the green with his approach, he holed the 20-foot putt for a birdie. He went on to beat Ben Crenshaw by three strokes and, at the age of 22, become the youngest Open champion since Willie Auchterlonie won in 1893. He later claimed that he deliberately hit his drive at the 16th into the car park.
Jordan Spieth, Royal Birkdale, 2017 Open Championship
During the final round of The Open, the wheels were coming off in major way when Spieth came to the 13th tee. He was clinging on for dear life when he pulled out his driver and promptly hit possibly the worst slice ever seen at The Open. His ball finished not only right of the fairway, but right of the rough. It was a shocker. After much to-ing and fro-ing, he took a penalty drop and, almost 30 minutes after striking his drive, holed a putt for a bogey. He then went birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie to break Matt Kuchar's heart.
Jim Furyk, Olympic Club, 2012 US Open
Tied for the lead in the final round of the US Open at, Furyk stood on the tee at the par-five 16th hole, one of the easiest on the course. He had only one thought in his mind - to make a birdie. It should have been a cinch. It wasn't. The American hit a horrible duck hook into the rubbish, bogeyed the hole and his chances were gone. Bizarrely, he blamed the tee shot on the fact that the tee had been moved forward. Eh? Webb Simpson was the beneficiary of Furyk's largesse.
Tom Kite, Bellerive, 1992 US PGA Championship
For almost three decades, Kite was one of the most consistent golfers on the PGA Tour. His crowning achievement was to win the US Open in 1992. One of his greatest strengths was his arrow-straight driving. So imagine the stunned reaction when he climbed aboard the 11th tee during the US PGA Championship - and hit his drive no more than 60 yards!
Rory McIlroy, Augusta, 2011 Masters
McIlroy is, of course, still searching for the Masters victory that would complete the career Grand Slam. His best chance came in 2011, when he stepped to the 10th tee with a one-shot lead but hit possibly the worst drive of his life. He hit it so far left that it finished beyond the trees, between two of Augusta National’s famous cabins. It would lead to a triple-bogey seven and the end of his chances. he went on to shoot a final round of 80.
Rod Pampling, Quail Hollow, 2017 US PGA Championship
There are times when Australian golfer Rod Pampling can get a little hot under the collar. He was on the ninth tee at Quail Hollow, knowing that he was certain to miss the cut. The hooter sounded to stop play, so Pampling teed up his ball and took a reckless, unthinking swing at the ball. He smothered it, with the ball travelling no more than 80 yards, left into the trees. Pampling recorded rounds of 77 and 79 to miss the cut by a country mile, not knowing that the TV cameras had been rolling when he hit the tee shot at the ninth.
Jim Furyk, Firestone, 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
Furyk is one of the straightest hitters on the PGA Tour so imagine the shock when he came to the final hole in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational leading Keegan Bradley by a shot and proceeded to smash his drive into the trees. It cost him a double-bogey - and the tournament.
Tiger Woods, 2013 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
In recent times we have seen Woods fluff chips and duff bunker shots. It comes as a shock, but not as much as the tee shot he struck during the Abu Dhabi championship in 2013. The 14-time major champion was still world number one when he let fly at a drive and completely topped the ball. It was a stone cold duff, so bad that his ball did not even reach the fairway.
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