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…
40. Lee Trevino – Chips in at 17, 1972 Open, Muirfield
Coming down the stretch on the last day of the 1972 Open and with Tony Jacklin leading, Lee Trevino made five consecutive pars before reaching 17. There, he was confronted by a difficult chip involving a downhill stance with Jacklin already on the green. Remarkably, he found the hole for par. His third chip-in of the tournament put him one up and left Jacklin “broken by what had happened. I had the heart ripped out of me.”
GM Rating 88/100
39. Nick Faldo – Plugged bunker shot on 12, Final round, 1990 US Masters
If there is one place you don’t want to be on Augusta National’s 12th hole – apart from in the water – it is in the back traps having to play towards the drink. But that is where Nick Faldo’s ball went in the final round of the 1990 US Masters. Not only that, it was plugged, and with tournament leader Ray Floyd still in the lead, this was make or break. What followed was, as Faldo called it, “the best bunker shot of his life” as his ball came to rest on the fringe of the far side of the green. He saved par, forced a play-off, and everyone knows what happened next…
GM Rating 88.2/100
38. Justin Rose – 40ft birdie putt on 17, 2012 Ryder Cup singles, Medinah
Phil Mickelson – who had been seemingly in control on the back nine in this singles battle with Justin Rose – almost saw out the match as his chip rolled inches past the cup. However, Rose, facing a huge left-to-right break over a steep ridge, hit his putt with force. It dropped at pace for a birdie. Mickelson, ever the gent, could only stand and applaud.
GM Rating 88.7/100
37. Tom Watson – 2-iron to the final green, 1983 Open
Tom Watson had a ten minute wait to contemplate his approach to Royal Birkdale’s 72nd hole in 1983: a 213-yard second shot into the wind at the longest par 4 on the course. Under the most strenuous pressure, surrounded by an enormous gallery and knowing a par would give him victory, he executed the best 2-iron shot of his life, setting up a fifth Open title and the eighth and final Major of an illustrious career.
GM Rating 88.9/100
36. Tom Watson – 7-iron, 72nd hole, 1977 Open
It was the final hole of The Open’s legendary ‘Duel in the Sun’, but when Nicklaus missed a short birdie putt on 17, Watson found himself one ahead. He split the 18th fairway, then, with Nicklaus seemingly in trouble, put the boot in with a gorgeous 7-iron to three feet, the importance of which only became fully apparent when Nicklaus somehow mustered a birdie.
GM Rating 90/100
35. Tiger Woods – Lob wedge, 16th at Muirfield Village, 2012 Memorial
One behind, Tiger miscued on the par-3 16th, going through the green. He was left with 40 feet back towards the pin, downhill with a water hazard lurking behind. To add to the difficulty, his ball was buried in the rough. He played a full flop, landed it softly on the green and watched it roll into the cup. “The most unbelievable, gutsy shot I’ve ever seen,” said tournament host Jack Nicklaus.
GM Rating 90.1/100
34. Seve Ballesteros – chip on 18, 1988 Open, Royal Lytham
One of Seve’s finest Open rounds was finished off with one of his most exquisite chips. He missed the 72nd green long and left in a reasonable spot, but with his ball sitting down a touch. A bogey would let Nick Price in, but Seve picked the club up steeply before striking the ball positively, but delicately, just as intended. It lipped out, leaving a simple tap-in for the Claret Jug.
GM Rating 90.3/100
33. Vicente Fernandez – Putt to win English Open, 1993
When Fernandez came to The Brabazon’s fearsome 18th needing par for a play-off, finding the bottom tier with the pin 80ft away on the top-level was not what he was after. But with three putts very much on the cards, he rolled his ball up the tiers and straight into the hole before doing a spontaneous celebratory somersault on the green.
GM Rating 90.5/100
32. Ben Hogan – 1-iron at Merion, 1950 US Open
Needing par to make a play-off, a weary Hogan, still not fully healed from his near-fatal car crash 16 months earlier, had left himself a long way back on the closing 458-yarder. Opting for a 1-iron, he struck a sweet shot onto the green, safely two-putted, then won the play-off the next day. The famous 1-iron was actually stolen between the final round and play-off, and didn’t resurface until 1982.
GM Rating 90.8/100
31. Ernie Els – Bunker shot, 13th hole, 2002 Open Championship, Muirfield
Ernie Els had extended his two-shot lead to three before he found the sand trap at Muirfield’s tricky par-3 13th on the final day of the 2002 Open. The South African could barely see over the bunker and his ball lay in a furrow, yet with his left leg on the bunker wall he managed to splash out effortlessly to within 18 inches. The shot was voted the European Tour’s best of the year.
GM Rating 91/100