Seven Magical Moments that Sealed the Deal
THERE are many ways to win a golf tournament. Sometimes a player will arrive at a venue in the form of his life and leave the rest of the field in his wake, winning by seven or eight shots. What really gets the crowds going, however, is when two or three players come down the stretch on Sunday throwing birdies and eagles at one another, with everything on the line until the 72nd green, when somebody conjures a moment of magic to either steal the trophy or force a playoff.
And then there are those once in a lifetime moments when a golfer stands in the 18th fairway, strikes the ball and looks on as it lands on the green and disappears into the hole. It doesn’t happen often, but more often than you may think.
Here, we look back on seven magical moments that spectators who witnessed will remember for the rest of their lives.
Jordan Spieth, Travelers Championship, 2017
Spieth and Daniel Berger had finished the tournament in a tie for first place, so off they went to play the 18th hole again in a playoff. Berger looked to be in pole position when Spieth put his approach into a green side bunker. But the 2017 Open champion had other ideas. He splashed the ball out of the sand and then went crazy as the ball vanished into the hole, throwing his club into the air and performing a memorable chest-bump with his caddie, Michael Greller, Needless to say, Berger missed his birdie putt and Spieth celebrated his 10th PGA Tour title.
Dustin Johnson, St Jude Classic, 2018
The Dustinator’s pride had been hurt after being replaced as world No 1 by fellow American Justin Thomas. And he responded in magnificent fashion at the St Jude Classic. As he stood on the 72nd tee he was already four shots clear of Andrew Putnam, who was looking for his maiden PGA Tour victory. Johnson found the rough, 179 yards from the hole. He pulled out a nine iron, struck the ball and started walking towards the hole. He couldn’t see the ball land but the crowd’s reaction told him that he wouldn’t be requiring his putter. The ball dropped into the hole to give him a six-shot win - and a return to the top of the rankings.
Craig Parry, Ford Championship, Doral, 2004
The chunky little Australian was a tough competitor. His swing was not exactly a thing of beauty but it was good enough to ensure he enjoyed a fair amount of success around the globe. At the 2004 Ford Championship at Doral he finished level with American Scott Verplank. The two men headed back to the 18th at the Blue Monster course. Perry found the middle of the fairway with his drive and pulled out a six iron for his approach and looked on in disbelief as it left his club - it was bang on line, bounced on the green and fell into the hole for an eagle. Verplank’s response has not been recorded!
Jonathan Byrd, Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, 2010
The 2010 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open ended in a three-man playoff which looked like it was turning into a marathon. After three holes, the light was beginning to fade and it seemed that they would have to come back the following day. Byrd obviously had alternative plans. The 17th hole is a 196-yard par three and Byrd chose the perfect moment to hit a hole in one.
Paul Casey, Ryder Cup, K Club, 2006
Casey was partnering David Howell in a foursomes match at the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club. They were playing Stewart Pink and Zach Johnson and Casey played brilliantly from the off. He hit a succession of brilliant iron shots and the European pair came to the 14th hole five up with five to play. Casey pulled out a four iron at the 213-yard par three. He struck yet another magnificent blow - straight into the hole. It was good enough to win the match 6&4, the only time in Ryder Cup history that a match has ended with a hole in one.
Isao Aoki, Hawaiian Open, 1983
Aoki had won a house for recording a hole in one at the World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth in 1978 but was still searching for his first win on the PGA Tour. At the 1983 Hawaiian Open he finally got himself into contention to break his duck. He came to the final hole requiring a birdie to force a playoff with Jim Renner. It didn’t look good when the Japanese golfer hit his drive into the rough. He was 136 yards from the hole and pulled out a wedge. You’ve already guessed it - he holed the shot for an eagle to win the tournament by a stroke. "I was just hoping it would get close," he said. "Nothing like this has happened to me before. This is the greatest thrill of my career. I know the Japanese people have expected me to win in the United States. It has been their dream, too, that Aoki wins. I am so happy I could make that dream come true."
Robert Gamez, Nestle Invitational, 1990
Game was a 21-year-old rookie when he played himself into contention at the 1990 Nestle Invitational. He arrived at the final hole needing a birdie to force a playoff with Greg Norman. Norman, you will remember, is the man who lost The Masters when Larry Mize holed an outrageous chip and the US PGA Championship when Bob Tway holed a bunker shot at the 72nd hole. Gamez was 176 yards from the hole after hitting his drive. He reached for a seven iron. ''When it was in the air, I thought 'this is going to be close,' '' Gamez said later. ''When the ball went in, I was relieved the round was over, that I didn't have to make a putt for birdie.’’ He had originally chosen a six iron but changed clubs to take account of the adrenalin pumping through his body. It was a good choice!
Costatino Rocca came to the final hole at the 1995 Open Championship requiring a birdie to force a playoff with John Daly. Rocca’s drive finished about 40 yards short left of the 18th green. He had a simply chip left but completely duffed it. It was a shot that would have embarrassed a 28-handicapper, and the Italian had done it with the world watching. He had choked. Devastated, he reached for his putter for his next shot, stroke the ball and then leapt into the air as the ball trundled on and on and on - into the hole. He threw himself on the ground, beating the ground in celebration. Sadly, he had used up all his good luck and Daly cruised to victory in the playoff.
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