20 of the Most Unforgettable Golf Images
I am somebody who scrapes his living together through the written word but even I accept that sometimes I just don’t have what it takes within me to describe an unforgettable moment in time. It is all about the image. And that is where photographers are in a league of their own. Over the years, there have been some iconic golf images, and, in no particular order, here are 20 of my favourites. Let us know if I have forgotten any of yours.
Tiger Woods, Augusta, 16th hole, 2005
This is the moment Woods watched his Nike ball complete its incredible journey after that unbelievable chip, hanging over the hole for a second before toppling into the hole.
Jack Nicklaus, Augusta, 17th green, 1986
The moment when Nicklaus follows the ball into the hole with his putter high in the air on the way to becoming the oldest man ever to win The Masters.
Bernhard Langer, Kiawah Island, 18th green, 1991
The moment when Langer’s short putt to tie the Ryder Cup slides agonisingly past the hole sums up exactly what it feels like when things go wrong. But Langer is made of special stuff - he went out the following week and won.
Greg Norman, Augusta, 18th fairway, 1986
Needing a birdie at the final hole, Norman pushed his approach right. His shoulders slumped, his eyes looked to the ground as he knew his chance had gone.
Tiger Woods, Torrey Pines, 18th green, 2008
Woods came to the last needing a birdie to force a playoff, He left himself with a difficult downhill putt of fully 18 feet. Rocco Mediate, the clubhouse leader, told a TV interviewer that Woods would hole the putt. He did, and his celebration, putter raised high to the sky as he punched the air, is one of the most memorable in US Open history.
Nick Faldo, Augusta, 18th green, 1996
Faldo overcame a six-shot deficit as Greg Norman’s game deserted him. The most unforgettable image from that day came on the final green when Faldo warmly embraced the Australian, telling him: “Greg, I just don’t know what to say to you…” And he genuinely meant it.
Payne Stewart, Pinehurst, US Open, 1999
We didn’t know it at the time, but this would be Stewart’s final victory - and his celebration when he holed that putt on the final victory still lives in the memory.
Phil Mickelson, Augusta, Masters, 2004
Lefty had waited a long time for his first major victory. Too long. And when he finally secured it with a birdie on the 72nd green all the emotion came pouring from his body as he leapt into the air.
Patrick Reed, Hazeltine, Ryder Cup, 2016
Captain America was pretty fired up during his final-day match against Rory McIlroy, but none more so than when he holed the winning putt.
Rory McIlroy, Hazeltine, Ryder Cup, 2016
Earlier in the same match a highly animated McIlroy drained a massive putt for a birdie two at the eighth hole. It was greeted in relative silence. But McIlroy was having none of it. He screamed: “Come on!” And then cupped his right hand to his ear and twice yelled: “I can’t hear you”, before bowing to the crowd.
Seve Ballesteros, St Andrews, The Open, 1984,
The Spaniard came to the final green battling it out with Tom Watson, who was playing the 17th and in trouble. Seve had a birdie putt and knew that he had to hole it. As it toppled into the hole Seve began the celebration that we still remember him for today. It still causes goosebumps.
Phil Price, The Belfry, Ryder Cup, 2002
The Welshman was never known for his extrovert behaviour but after beating Phil Mickelson in the final-day singles at The Belfry, he was seen bounding down the 18th fairway, hopping and skipping, to watch Paul McGinley clinch the Ryder Cup for Europe.
Sam Torrance, The Belfry, Ryder Cup, 1985
European golf had waited an awfully long time to win the Ryder Cup and it fell to Torrance to hole the winning putt, a snaking right-to-left effort on the final green. His eyes full of tears, he raised both arms in the air. An unforgettable moment of sheer joy.
Jack Nicklaus and Doug Sanders, St Andrews, The Open, 1970
Nicklaus had just almost decapitated his fellow American when he threw his putter skywards after beating him in an 18-hole playoff at the Old Course, but one of the most memorable images of that tournament was of both men warmly embracing afterwards.
Sandy Lyle, Augusta, The Masters, 1988
Lyle had won The Open three years earlier and was one of the best players in the world. He came to the final hole at Augusta needing a birdie to win but put his tee-shot into one of the two bunkers on the left of the fairway. Faced with a huge lip, he found a perfect lie, and hit a seven iron that found the back slope and rolled back towards the hole. As he holed the putt, this most undemonstrative of men broke into a jig of delight.
Costantino Rocca, St Andrews, The Open, 1995
The Italian had just stone-cold fluffed a simple chip and was left with almost the same shot again, needing to hole it to force an improbable playoff with John Daly. He put his wedge back in his bag, pulled out his putter and watched in disbelief as his ball began its unlikely journey through the Valley of Sin, up the bank, onto the green and into the hole. The image of Rocca lying on his front beating the ground is an unforgettable one.
Jean Van de Velde, Carnoustie, The Open, 1999
Needing a six at the par-four 18th to win The Open, Van de Velde produced the most famous final-hole meltdown in the history of the game, and the image that lives forever is of him standing in the Barry Burn, hands on hips, wondering what on earth he is going to do next.
Sergio Garcia, Medinah, US PGA Championship, 1999
Garcia, the new kid on the block at just 19 years of age, was daring to challenge Tiger Woods for the final major of the season when he put his drive behind a tree. He later admitted that he closed his eyes as he hit the shot. The iconic image is of him hopping and jumping down the fairway to find out where his ball had finished.
Darren Clarke and Ian Woosnam, K Club, Ryder Cup, 2006
The 2006 Ryder Cup was a deeply emotional affair, coming soon after the death of Clarke’s wife. In an ideal world, Clarke would have holed the winning putt. That didn’t happen, but the Ulsterman played a full part in Europe’s victory and the image of Clarke and Woosnam in tears after Clarke won his singles match is one of the most emotional the Ryder Cup has ever seen.
Ian Poulter, Medinah, Ryder Cup, 2012
There are so many images to choose from when it comes to Poulter and the Ryder Cup. Remember his fourball match in partnership with McIlroy on the Saturday afternoon? When McIlroy holed a birdie putt on the 13th green, Europe trailed 10-4. Poulter then birdied five holes in a row, but the one that mattered the most was the one he drained on the 18th green to win the match and reduce the deficit to 10-6. With his eyes popping out of his head, The Postman turned towards the European team, pumping his arms furiously. It was the turning point as Jose Maria Olazabal’s team staged a stunning fighting in the singles the following day, inspired by Poulter’s heroics.
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