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…
20. Seve Ballesteros – Putt on 18th at St Andrews, final round, 1984 Open
Ballesteros didn’t know Tom Watson had bogeyed the 17th as he stood over a 15-foot birdie putt on the final green. It meant the Spaniard had a one-shot lead and the putt was effectively for the title. He allowed for a right-to-left borrow and he looked to have overdone it. But the ball seemed compelled to drop and it turned, hovered and fell in before Seve repeatedly drove his fist into the air like a victorious matador.
GM Rating 94.2/100
19. Jerry Pate – 5-iron from the rough on 18, 1976 US Open
Standing on the 72nd tee at Atlanta Athletic Club in the 1976 US Open, 22-year-old Jerry Pate knew a par would hand him victory. But he found the rough with his drive, leaving a 191-yard 5-iron approach over water. “As soon as it left the clubface, I knew it was good,” he said, but he didn’t realise just how good. It settled some two feet from the hole, setting up a first and only Major triumph.
GM Rating 94.3/100
18. Payne Stewart – Putt, 18th, 1999 US Open, Pinehurst
After draining a 25-foot par putt on 16 and boxing a six-footer for birdie on 17 to take the lead, it seemed a big ask for Payne Stewart to find one more par-saving putt on 18 after drawing a terrible lie off the tee. Staring down the 20-footer, Stewart, less resplendent than normal with the sleeves ripped off his jacket, put a perfect stroke on it, then watched in disbelief as the ball dropped dead centre. Frenzied roaring, rather than any attempt at normal speech, ensued! We miss you Payne…
GM Rating 94.6/100
17. Bob Tway – Bunker shot to win 1986 USPGA
In 1986, having finished second after leading the Masters and US Open, Greg Norman hoped to add the USPGA to his Open success. Bob Tway, who hit a record 64 on the Saturday, had other ideas. Level at the last on Sunday, Tway chipped in from a greenside bunker. He floated the ball onto the edge of the green and it rolled slowly before smacking into the hole. “I was just trying to get it close,” he said.
GM Rating 95/100
16. Hale Irwin – Putt to force play-off in US Open, 18th, 1990, Medinah
By the late 1980s Hale Irwin’s best days seemed behind him, but when the 45-year-old arrived at Medinah’s final green he was right in the hunt for US Open number three. He then slotted a remarkable 50-footer for a closing birdie, before taking off round the green, high-fiving the gallery in uncharacteristic fashion. It got him into an 18-hole play-off with Mike Donald, which he went on to win with a birdie on the 19th hole.
GM Rating 95.2/100
15. Larry Mize – Chip on 11 to win play-off, 1987 Masters
When Larry Mize bailed out of his approach to the 11th in the play-off, the only upside was that it beat finding the water left. What happened next remains one of golf’s most indelible images. His deft chip bounced twice in the fringe before making an unstoppable beeline for the cup. “Words do not do justice to the greatness of that shot,” exclaimed the commentator. Greg Norman remained understandably expressionless, the victim of a second successive improbable Major theft.
GM Rating 95.7/100
14. Sandy Lyle- Bunker shot, 18th hole, 1988 Masters
Standing on the 18th tee, Lyle needed a par to force a play-off with Mark Calcavecchia. His drive found the left-hand bunker, leaving a hugely difficult shot. He struck an awesome 7-iron from the sand that cleared the high lip in front of him, it landed 30 feet by the pin and rolled back to about 10. He holed the birdie putt to win by a shot and become the first Briton to win the Masters.
GM Rating 96/100
13. Phil Mickelson – 6-iron from the pine straw, 13th hole, 2010 Masters
On the way to his third US Masters title, Phil Mickelson played a shot that would not only be a defining moment of the tournament, but could well be the one with which his sparkling career is most remembered. Struggling with his driver throughout the round, the American had managed to draw level on the front nine with overnight leader Lee Westwood – mainly due to the Englishman’s one-over-par 37. A birdie on 12 had given Mickelson the lead for the first time, but a loose drive on 13 meant he was in trouble in the pine straw to the right of the fairway behind two trees. Here was Westwood’s chance to not only draw level, but possibly even retake the lead itself. Mickelson then played a remarkable 6-iron from 207 yards between the trees, landing just over the creek in front of the green to just four feet from the hole. He did miss the resulting eagle chance and Westwood also birdied the hole, but it was a body blow from which the Englishman never recovered as Mickelson went on to win by three. Never has a shot been so well timed to grab momentum from your opponent, and in such spectacular fashion
GM Rating 96.2/100
12. Seve Ballesteros – Wedge on 18 at Crans-sur-Sierre, 1993 European Masters
Seve slashed his tee shot into the trees on the right of the home hole. He had half a backswing, a tree in his way, an eight-foot wall just in front of him and a dinner plate-sized gap through the trees. Caddie Billy Foster urged him to chip out, but Seve brushed him aside. He blasted a shot over the wall, through the gap to the front of the green. Then, typically, he chipped in for a three.
GM Rating 96.5/100
11. Ian Poulter- Putt on 18, Saturday fourballs, 2012 Ryder Cup
We all knew the Ryder Cup brought out the best in Ian Poulter, but nobody ever thought he was capable of the golf he played on the inward stretch during Saturday’s fourballs at this year’s Ryder Cup. After birdies at 14, 15, 16 and 17, Poulter, playing alongside Rory McIlroy, had managed to keep the charge of Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson at bay. But when Dufner holed out for a closing birdie, it looked like a half was the best Europe could muster from the match, which would leave them trailing the Americans by five points. However, Poulter, with a downhill putt of 15 feet that had a slight break from the left, was having none of it, and when he holed, it lifted the spirits of Jose Maria Olazabal’s team. Cue emotional speeches and the greatest ever European Sunday fightback.
GM Rating 96.8/100