It was the mission of all missions, but Golf Monthly has given it a go! Through hours of research, we have brought together our list of the 100 greatest golf shots ever played. From old-school legends like Ben Hogan to the modern-day mavericks of John Daly, it’s time to pour yourself a brew, sit back and enjoy…
Playing with Fuzzy Zoeller at Gleneagles on the BBC’s Pro-Celebrity Golf show, Terry Wogan joked: “I need a driver from here” when faced with a putt of around 100 feet. However, seconds later the ball was in the bottom of the cup and Wogan was being rugby tackled by Zoeller in celebration. Described as the longest putt holed on television until swimmer Michael Phelps beat him at the 2012 Alfred Dunhil Links Championship.
GM Rating 70/100
89. Nick Faldo -Wedge to 5ft, 1995 Ryder Cup singles versus Curtis Strange
Nick Faldo thrived on pressure, but even this seemed beyond him. One down with two to play against America’s wild card selection Curtis Strange, Faldo pulled the match back to all square on the 17th. With Strange wilting as the Oak Hill galleries sensed the unthinkable, Faldo, having to play his third shot from 100 yards out after missing the fairway with his drive, hit the perfect wedge to five feet. Strange bogeyed and when the Englishman rolled home the ensuing putt for par, the Ryder Cup was heading back to Europe. Not surprisingly, everyone started crying…
GM Rating 70.2/100
88. Brian Watts – Bunker shot, 1998 Open, Royal Birkdale
On the final day of the 1998 Open, Brian Watts needed to get down in two from a deep greenside bunker at the 18th to force a play-off with Mark O’Meara. Despite an awkward stance and a downward lie, Watts hit what O’Meara called “an amazing shot”, narrowly avoiding the lip and almost converting. “I heard the crowd, but couldn’t tell if it was an inch or three feet. It was less than a foot,” enthused Watts.
GM Rating 70.6/100
87. Phil Mickelson – Putt on 18 to win the 2004 US Masters
After 11 holes of the final round at Augusta in 2004, an elusive first Major seemed to have yet again slipped through Phil Mickelson’s fingers. He rallied, however, with three consecutive birdies from the 12th. Tied with Ernie Els after 17 holes, he hit his approach to 18 feet on the last, and celebrated with joy amid cacophonous cheering after watching his birdie putt catch the lip and topple into the hole.
GM Rating 71/100
86. Jonathan Byrd – Hole-in-one, play-off for 2010 Shriners Open
In rapidly fading light, Jonathan Byrd, Martin Laird and Cameron Percy had a discussion about whether it was too dark to continue after they’d tied the first three holes of a sudden-death play-off. They decided to play one more – the 204-yard 17th. Byrd had the honour and fired a six-iron into the dusk. He couldn’t see the result but it pitched just short and rolled straight into the hole. No need to worry about the dark anymore, lads, it’s tournament over!
GM Rating 71.4/100
85. Lanny Wadkins – Final hole wedge against Canizares, 1983 Ryder Cup
In 1983 the Ryder Cup became a contest once more, with Europe coming a mere hair’s breadth from victory. They might well have done it too, but for the feisty Wadkin’s superb 72-yard three-quarter wedge to a foot to halve the third-from-last singles. “To pull that shot off under those circumstances was something I’ve remembered for a long time,” Lanny later reflected. Captain Nicklaus was so impressed he kissed the divot from whence it had been struck!
GM Rating 71.8/100
84. Nick Faldo – Final putt for 18 consecutive pars, 1987 Open, Muirfield
A day after his 30th birthday, during the last round of the 1987 Open and in weather so gloomy Gary Player joked he’d “shrunk a bit”, Nick Faldo had the opportunity to win the ultimate present, his first Major. Faldo had parred the previous 17 and was so pumped he nailed a 5-iron to within 40 feet. He hit his first putt five feet right, but sunk his second for a faultless final-round 71. Soon after, Paul Azinger’s bogey on the same hole meant the title was the Englishman’s.
GM Rating 72/100
83. Jimmy Demaret- Bunker shot, 1951 Ryder Cup
All square with Dai Rees with three to play, Demaret looked in trouble when his ball found a terrible plugged lie in the greenside bunker, while the Welshman was on the putting surface in regulation. But the American miraculously holed the splash shot and Rees missed his putt. Demaret got up and down from sand 10 times during the 36-hole match to break Rees’ spirit and win by two holes.
GM Rating 72.6/100
82. Annika Sorenstam – Eagle approach at 18, 2008 US Open
Annika Sorenstam didn’t win the 2008 Women’s US Open (she finished tied 28th), but after announcing her retirement from the professional game earlier in the year, this would be the last time she would tee it up in an event she had won three times. Standing over the ball 199 yards from the front of the green, she caressed a 6-iron, her ball rolled onto the green before dropping dead weight into the hole. Not a bad way to say goodbye.
GM Rating 73/100
81. Ignacio Garrido – Bunker shot, 1997 Ryder Cup
With the score 7.5 – 3.5 in Europe’s favour during the middle morning of the 1997 Ryder Cup, the fourball between Jose-Maria Olazabal/Ignacio Garrido and Phil Mickelson/Tom Lehman came at a critical point of the Saturday session. On the 17th, Garrido was in a bunker behind the green. He faced a downhill lie and a sloping green towards water, but the Spaniard got up and down with arguably the shot of the week. Quite brilliant. The Spanish duo would hold on for a half as Seve Ballesteros’ side maintained their advantage.
GM Rating 73.2/100