Golf’s best of the 21st Century

by Dan M | Posted on Monday, June 17th, 2013

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Another major is in the rear-view mirror. It provided a good bit of anticipation but not a whole lot of delivery in this veteran golf viewer’s opinion. Happy to see Justin Rose claim a major title, but he didn’t really give us a definitive moment. He actually did what a man needs to do to win the U.S. Open, he played kind of a boring round.

Phil Mickelson gave us hole-outs and double bogeys and finished second. That’s what makes him Phil.

By the time it was time to turn our attention to NBA Finals Game 5, the U.S. Open was over without giving us much of a defining moment. So in the absence of that, here’s a look at our top 10 golf moments of this century so far (complete with a few video clips):

10) Adam Scott became the first Australian to win The Masters.
The most recent moment of glory took a great deal of persistence from Scott, who sunk a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole at Augusta National only to see Angel Cabrera cover him up. Scott stuck with it and fended off El Pato on the second playoff hole by making a 12-footer for birdie on the par-4 No. 10 marking the second straight year that the tournament was decided on the second playoff hole.

9) Stewart Cink outlasted Tom Watson in the 2009 Open at Turnberry.
This list sort of gives context to the fact that we didn’t get to see 59-year-old Tom Watson win his sixth Open Championship. If Watson had finished it off, it would be No. 1 on the list. Easy. The fact that it was so close means it still comes in at No. 9.

8) Padraig Harrington outlasted Sergio Garcia in a playoff for the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Segio Garcia, who has finished fourth or better at every major championship but never won one, had his best chance with a 12-footer on the 18th green at Carnoustie. It slid by and Padraig Harrington edged Garcia by a stroke in the four-hole playoff.

7) Tiger won his first major after his father Earl Woods’s death at the 2006 Open at Liverpool.
Tiger tends to be a bit robotic. When he does express emotion, it’s often in the form of anger at a bad shot or bad round. So to see the deep well of joy mixed with sadness that poured out of him after he won the 2006 Open proved one of Tiger’s more endearing moments.
“I’m kind of the one who bottles things up a little bit and moves on,” Tiger said after the win. “But at that moment, it just came pouring out. And of all the things that my father has meant to me and the game of golf, I just wish he would have seen it one more time.”

6) Rory McIlroy seized his first PGA Tour win at Quail Hollow in 2010.
I’m only putting one non-major moment in this list, but McIlroy’s emphatic arrival at the top of golf deserves a place. McIlroy hit amazing shot after amazing shot, including an incredible 7-iron out of the bunker to five feet on the 16th. He played the final five holes in 5-under to shoot a final-round 62 and defeated second-place Phil Mickelson by four strokes.

5) Tiger outlasted Rocco Mediate in a 19-hole playoff at Torrey Pines in 2008.
Every year, I hope for a tie at the end of the day on Sunday so that there will be an 18-hole playoff for the U.S. Open on Monday. Because the only thing better than chilling out watching the final of a major on Sunday is watching the intense 18-hole battle for the U.S. Open on Monday. In this case, we got to see Tiger under that microscope and the sport of golf has scarcely been more dramatic as the lead went back and forth all day. Finally, Tiger, playing on an injured left knee, won with a par on the first sudden-death playoff hole.

T3) Phil won the 2004 Masters.
Mickelson was the best player to never win a major for a long time. He finally got that monkey off his back when he dropped an 18-footer for birdie on the 18th at Augusta National, edging Ernie Els by a shot.

T3) Phil’s second shot on No 13 at The Masters off the pine needles effectively won the 2010 masters.
It’s difficult to separate the two Mickelson entries on this list. I think most golf fans would reasonably argue that 2004 was a much bigger deal. But this is my list and I remember where I was (The Dunvegan in St Andrews, Scotland) when Mickelson hit this amazing shot that put him in the driver’s seat.

2) Bubba Watson hit an amazing hook shot out of the rough to defeat Louis Oosthuizen in the 2012 Masters.
After their drives on No. 10, Oosthuizen appeared to be in the driver’s seat as Watson was in the woods. But Oosthuizen played a mediocre approach and Watson seized the moment with an amazing one. Watson’s sweeping hook rolled to a stop nine feet from the hole and suddenly he was in control. Oosthuizen couldn’t get up and down from in front of the green, so Watson two-putted and went to slip on his green jacket.

1) Tiger chipped in at 16, helping him to a victory at the 2005 Masters and helping Nike sell golf balls.
In one of golf’s all-time greatest highlight clips and definitely the golden moment of fortunate product placement, Woods’ chip on the 16th at Augusta National rolled slowly toward the hole, hung on the lip showing the Nike logo and then dropped. More than eight years later, all I remember is that Tiger chipped in at 16 and won The Masters (I didn’t remember that he bogeyed 17 and 18 and had to defeat Chris DiMarco in a playoff).

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