10 of the Very Best Golf Celebrations
GOLF is a game that generates emotion and when things go right, the people who play it at the very highest level can be excused for letting their feelings get the better of them. Footballers rehearse their goal celebrations. Thankfully, golfers are rather more spontaneous. Here we share 10 of our favourite celebrations from this wonderful game of ours…
Jose Maria Olazabal, 1987 Ryder Cup
The entire European team celebrated wildly after inflicting a historic defeat upon the USA. It was Olazabal’s debut. “I had never known anything like it. Woosie, Langer, Sandy Lyle, Faldo, Seve - they were the best in the world, my heroes. And I was with them."
Olly stole the show as Europe created history with a first win on American soil as he broke into a joyous samba dance. An unforgettable moment.
Phil Mickelson, 2004 Masters
Lefty had waited a long time for his first major victory so it came as no surprise that when he holed the winning putt on the 72nd green at Augusta the emotions exploded and he leapt into the air, arms aloft.
Justin Leonard, 1999 Ryder Cup
Brookline is not a venue that brings back too many fond memories for European golf fans, but you simply cannot take anything away from Leonard. Knowing he had to beat Jose Maria Olazabal, the American faced a huge putt on the 17th green. When it disappeared into the hole he raised his hands in the air, stuck out his chest and started striding up the green. What happened next, with his teammates, officials, wives and girlfriends running on to the green, was a disgrace. But Leonard deserved to savour his moment. And he did.
Jordan Spieth, 2017 Travelers Championship
Spieth should have won the tournament in regulation play but did his best to throw it away. He finished 72 holes tied with Daniel Berger and off they went for a playoff. Spieth won it when he holed a bunker shot. He threw his club. His caddie, Michael Greller, threw the bunker rake. And the pair leapt into the air and did the chest bump to end all chest bumps.
Patrick Reed, 2014 Ryder Cup
Reed divides opinion but what it beyond doubt is that he is a passionate American. A very passionate American. It was never more in evidence than during the final day of the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Playing against Henrik Stenson, who had just birdied the seventh hole, Reed followed him in to halve the hole and immediately turned to the partisan home crowd with his finger to lips, shushing them.
Rory McIlroy, 2016 Ryder Cup
McIlroy has attracted much comment over his travails on the greens, and would probably be the first to admit that he misses too many short putts. But, just like so many other Europeans, the Ryder Cup brings out the best in him. Who will ever forget his incredible run of figures as he thrashed Rickie Fowler at Gleneagles in 2014? But it was two years later at Hazeltine that he showed what the event really meant to him when he holed a huge putt on the eighth green in his singles match against that man Reed. “Who can’t putt? I can’t hear you" he yelled as the ball disappeared into the hole.
Costantino Rocca, 1995 Open
Rocca came to the last at St Andrews needing a birdie to tie John Daly and force a playoff. He had driven the ball just short of the 18th green and chose to pitch the ball. But he stone-cold duffed it. His chance was gone. Or was it? He pulled out his putter and set the ball on its way. Off it went. On and on and on it rolled, up and over the Valley of Sin, onto the green - until, incredibly, it disappeared into the hole. The Italian fell to the ground, beating the turf. It was a celebration any World Cup-winning footballer would have been proud of. Sadly, he had celebrated a little too hard and has nothing left for the playoff, which was duly won by Daly.
Ian Woosnam, 1991 Masters
Woosnam came to the 72nd hole leading The Masters and chose to hit his drive miles left in order to avoid the bunkers that have caught out so many. He missed the green with his second, pitched onto the green and holed a tricky putt to win the Green Jacket. He bent down on one knee, punching the air. And then he was scooped up by his caddie, Phil Morbey, who lifted him in the air. Joyous scenes.
Jack Nicklaus, 1970 Open
Nicklaus was given a second chance when Doug Sanders missed a short putt on the 72nd green. It meant they finished in a tie and had to return the next day to pay another 18 holes. Nicklaus removed his sweater on the 18th tee and hit a huge drive. He badly wanted to win The Open at the Home of Golf and when his winning putt disappeared he leapt into the air, letting go of his putter, which flew skywards - and very nearly hit a hapless Sanders when it landed.
Seve Ballesteros, 1984 Open
Surely the most iconic celebration of them all. With Tom Watson coming to grief behind him at the Road Hole, Seve stood on the 18th green with a birdie putt he knew that he needed to hole to collect the Claret Jug at the Home of Golf. He set it on its way. For a moment it looked like it wasn’t going to drop but then it did and boy did Seve enjoy it. His celebration has been immortalised in a logo that is instantly recognisable as the late, great Spaniard.
What are your favourite celebrations?
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