Golf Buzz

Jonathan Byrd
PGA Tour via YouTube
Jonathan Byrd hit his tee shot on the par-3 17th hole exactly pin-high on Friday.
Earlier today, we nominated Kevin Chappell's hole-out from a bunker for eagle as our shot of the day at the RSM Classic. A little later, Jonathan Byrd almost made us change our minds.
Byrd missed a hole-in-one by an inch on the 192-yard, par-3 17th hole on the Seaside Course. The hole was playing 192 yards, and Byrd hit a pretty draw and let the breeze carry it right at the flagstick.
And I mean right at it. The ball bounced hard, checked up and settled down pin-high, just an inch or so to the right of the cup. 
As the TV announcers noted, anytime J-Byrd knocks it close on a par 3, we immediately think of arguably the greatest ace in PGA Tour history – his hole-in-one in a playoff to win the 2010 Invensys Classic in Las Vegas. Aces are fairly common on the PGA Tour, but a sudden-death hole-in-one is a rare bird.
Byrd also made a gorgeous ace on a 215-yard par 3 at Innisbrook during the Valspar Championship last March. You can see his close call, and those two aces right here:
Kevin Chappell chips in from bunker for eagle to take lead at RSM Classic
PGA Tour via YouTube
Kevin Chappell and his caddie shared a handshake after Chappell grabbed the lead with an eagle from the bunker.
The second round of the RSM Classic still has a few hours to go this afternoon, but I've already got a pretty good idea of what the shot of the day is – Kevin Chappell's hole-out from a bunker for eagle to take the lead.
Chappell went for the green with his second shot on the 566-yard, par-5 15th hole on the Seaside Course. Instead, his ball chased into a long, narrow greenside bunker, finishing up short and left of the green and leaving him a tricky 45-yard shot up to the flag.
He had to get his ball up over a knee-high lip yet still hit it far enough to reach the pin. He didn't take a lot of sand, and generated just the distance he needed – the ball flew about two-thirds of the way to the pin, bounced a couple times and curled slighty to the right – and right into the hole for the unlikely eagle.
That bumped to him to 11-under and put him atop the leaderboard. He parred his final three holes for a 65, and is still on top as the second round plays out.
Here's his shot:
Jim Herman
PGA Tour via YouTube
Jim Herman got a fist-bump from his caddie after chipping in for birdie on the 18th hole Thursday at the RSM Classic.
The two courses hosting the RSM Classic this week on St. Simon's Island, Ga., are more subtle than spectacular, and there weren't many jaw-dropping highlights in today's first round of the final PGA Tour event of the 2015 calendar year.
That doesn't mean there weren't some special shots, though, and Russell Henley and Jim Herman provided two of the best.
Henley missed the green on the par-3 17th hole on the Seaside Course, and his ball came to rest about 30 feet down the shaved apron off to the left of the putting surface. He faced a delicate chip back up the shaved slope and then down onto the green – and chipped his ball completely over the slope. 
The ball barely cleared the top of the slope – this was no Phil Mickelson flop shot – and landed barely on the putting surface. It bounced lightly a couple of times, then motored directly into the cup for a birdie.
By contrast, Jim Herman had a shorter but tougher shot on the 18th green of the Plantation Course. His third shot came to rest in some thick rough just a few feet off the putting surface, leaving him the tough task of getting the ball out but not blasting it way past the close-in pin.
He opened his stance way up, and hit the ball solid – maybe slightly more solid than he meant to – but his line was perfect. His ball flew about halfway to the flag, settled quickly and rolled confidently into the center of the cup for a birdie.
Herman wound up with a 6-under 66 on the par-72 Plantation Course, while Henley carded a 4-under 66 on the par-70 Seaside Course. Which of their shots was better? You tell us.
Rory McIlroy
European Tour via YouTube
Rory McIlroy's walk-off bunker birdie kept him close to Danny Willett in the seasonlong Race to Dubai title.
This week is a big one for Rory McIlroy. He's running neck-and-neck with England's Danny Willett for the top spot in the Race to Dubai – essentially the European Tour's version of the FedExCup – and this week's season-ending DP World Tour Championship will decide the title.
McIlroy was chugging through a so-so-round today, and dumped his third shot on the par-5 closing hole into a deep bunker just off the front right of the green. His lie was flat, which was good, but the bunker's face rose straight up about three feet in front of him, which was bad. 
Also bad: The green sloped sharply down, meaning that stopping the ball close to the hole would be difficult. But good: At least he had a fair amount of green to work with.
He blasted up and out, and his ball landed pretty softly up on the slope. It settled down quickly, then ran down the slope – and dropped in the front left part of the cup for a birdie.
That walk-off bunker birdie gave him a 4-under 68 – and left him tied with Willett after the first round. They're two shots off the lead heading into Friday's second round.
Here's Rory's bunker blast:
November 18, 2015 - 10:48am
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November 16, 2015 - 10:25am
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Graeme McDowell
PGA Tour/Twitter
Graeme McDowell picked the perfect time to hit a perfect 5-iron.

Graeme McDowell hadn't won on the PGA Tour in two seasons, but he raised the trophy in celebration Monday morning after this clutch approach shot on the first playoff hole at the OHL Classic.

This 5-iron is a beauty, particularly under the circumstances and conditions. If you're going to hit the shot of the tournament, do it when it counts.




McDowell sank the three-footer with authority and walked off the winner over Russell Knox and Jason Bohn.