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December 19, 2016 - 12:08pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Justin Rose
USA Today Sports Images
Here's a look at five individual performances from 2016 that really stood out above the rest, including Justin Rose's march to golf in the Rio Olympics.

When it comes to the five most impressive individual performances in men's golf in 2016, no one would argue if you pointed at the four majors and the Olympics.

Case closed? Perhaps. What tops winning a major?

But with this list -- while some of those are included -- we also wanted to recognize a couple you may not have otherwise remembered.

RELATED: Best aces of 2016 | 15 best shots from 2016 | Best golf quotes

Here are what we believe to be the five most impressive individual performances of 2016.

5. Hideki Matsuyama at the WGC-HSBC Champions
Why?:
The WGC-HSBC Champions is also known as "Asia's major." So imagine the pressure Matsuyama had to have felt before the tournament even began. He is his continent's best player in the game today and is not only establishing himself as a regular contender on the PGA Tour, but also a frequent major contender. The 24-year-old Japanese star blew the doors off the competition at the HSBC. He holed an 18-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to shoot a final-round, 6-under 66 to win by seven strokes over runners up Henrik Stenson and Daniel Berger. Matsuyama's masterpiece was the largest margin of victory at the HSBC Champions, and the largest in a WGC since Tiger Woods won by seven in the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Matsuyama should be on everyone's "first-time major champion" radar for 2017.

4. Justin Rose in the Rio Olympics
Why?:
For the first time in 112 years, golf was a part of the Olympics. Unfortunately, due to health concerns over the Zika virus, many top players -- most notably Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy -- decided to take a pass on the opportunity to play for an Olympic medal. Even in their absence, the Games went on... and it was spectacular. In the first round, Rose became the first known player to make a hole-in-one in Olympic play, jarring an ace with a 7-iron on the 189-yard, par-3 fourth hole on the Olympic Course in Barra da Tijuca. On the final day, Rose was tied with Stenson going to the 72nd hole. Rose hit a magical shot to within a few feet and converted the birdie putt, while Stenson 3-putted for a bogey, giving Rose the gold. Afterward, Rose said, "That felt better than anything I've ever won." And that's coming from a man who won the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion.

3. Dustin Johnson at the U.S. Open
Why?:
Even though he's still in his early-30s, it's not unfair to day Johnson was long overdue for a major win. He'd gotten himself close so many times -- including heart breakers at the 2010 U.S. Open and PGA Championship -- but hadn't yet closed the deal. Until he arrived at Oakmont this past June. Johnson entered the final round trailing leader Shane Lowry by three strokes, but quickly snagged the top spot on the leaderboard. Then came the famous "moving ball" penalty on the fifth green. Johnson would go on to play his final 13 holes not knowing whether or not he would be assessed a penalty. As if winning a major championship on what many would argue is the most difficult course in North America wasn't enough, Johnson had to play wondering where he actually stood score-wise... and so did the rest of the field. Like the major champion he was soon to become, Johnson brushed it off and played brilliantly the whole way in. He capped off his first major title with a glorious approach to the final hole and nailed the birdie putt. We was assessed a penalty for that mishap at No. 5 before signing his card, but it proved to be a moot point. Now instead of wondering if Johnson will win a major, we're left to ponder Oakmont as the first of how many majors?

2. Billy Hurley III at the Quicken Loans National
Why?:
This might just be my favorite story from 2016. It requires a little background. Hurley is a veteran of the Navy and this particular tournament played right around Fourth of July weekend, is incredibly supportive of our military. In 2015, however, this tournament week was a dark one for Hurley. He announced at a pre-tournament press conference that his father was missing and begged for the public's help in locating him. Hurley's father turned up in Texas and said he was there on his own accord. Something clearly wasn't right and in August of 2015, Hurley's father was discovered dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Now fast forward to 2016 and the same event where Hurley III revealed what was going on a year earlier. Certainly there had to be some anxious memories that he'd rather not have to recall. But Hurley marched on, playing the best golf of his life and -- in the end -- earned his first PGA Tour victory. Now don't get this twisted -- life is far more precious than anything. But after the heartbreaking 12 months the Hurley family experienced, this gave them -- and the rest of the golf world -- something to smile about.

1. Henrik Stenson at the Open Championship
Why?:
In one of the greatest major duels in the game's history, Stenson outlasted Phil Mickelson -- to 40-somethings -- during an epic week at Royal Troon to claim his first major championship. Stenson and Mickelson entered the final round six and five shots, respectively, ahead of the next closest competitor. That equaled a one-stroke advantage over Mickelson for Stenson with just 18 holes to play -- a two-horse race. Mickelson went out and fired 6-under 65, surely enough to win any major handily with a final-round number like that, right? Not so fast. Stenson played the round of his life, matching Mickelson shot for shot and then some and carded a mind-blowing, 8-under 63 to top Mickelson by three. J.B. Holmes finished alone in third at 6 under, an astounding 14 shots behind the winner. It was a performance for the ages.

 

December 18, 2016 - 1:44pm
Posted by:
Matt Craig
matthew.craig's picture
hole in one, ace
USA Today Sports Images
Is anything in golf more fun to watch than a hole in one? These aces will have your jaw on the floor.

For anyone who's ever played golf and stood on the tee box of a par 3, you know.

Practically, it's more important to make all of your par putts, or hit every fairway with your driver. But you know, there's nothing like standing on the tee box and seeing the flag a mere 150 yards away and thinking, "I could make this."

As someone who has never made a hole-in-one in my life, I can tell you that there's nothing I want more than to see my ball disappear on a par 3 for my first ace.

The people on this list don't have that problem. Not only did they record a hole-in-one, but they did so in the most epic ways possible. These are the best aces of 2016.

9. Derek Jeter's (fake?) ace at his own celebrity golf event. Well we ought to address this right off the start. The mere possibility of Jeter nailing a hole-in-one at his own event, the Derek Jeter Celebrity Invitational in Las Vegas in April, makes this shot worthy of this list. Yet the video, posted by his sister Sharlee on Instagram, raises the question as to the legitimacy of the ace. Personally, I'm on the side of thinking it's fake. What do you think? Take a look and decide for yourself.

 

 

Love my job!!! Hole in one by #DerekJeter...or is it? #DJCI #Turn2is20 #Turn2 #DJCI2016

A video posted by Sharlee Jeter (@sjeter2) on

 

8. Justin Rose hits first hole-in-one in modern Olympic history. While it's impossible to confirm due to the fact that the last Olympic golf competition was held 112 years ago, Rose's ace is thought to be the first hole-in-one in all of Olympic golf history. And the Englishman was not done making history after this single shot, as he went on to claim the first individual gold medal in modern Olympic golf history as well. You can watch the video of the now legendary shot here.

7. The first ace of Lydia Ko's decorated career coming at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Not to be outdone, Ko drained her tee ball at the 140 yard 8th hole during the third round of the women's Olympic competition. At just 19 year's old, she has already claimed 14 LPGA Tour victories and a pair of major championships. However, she had never made an ace in competition until this sawed-off 7 iron in Rio. Ko went on to claim the silver medal. You can watch the video of the shot here.

6. Woman makes hole-in-one in her first golf lesson. Well it's all downhill from here. One story we couldn't stop talking about last month was a woman reportedly recording an ace in her very first golf lesson. Apparently she took the lesson of "golf is about putting this little white ball into the hole" very literally. While this video could also be fake, the swing and reactions seem real to me!

5. A hole-in-one at the most famous par 3 in golf. Will Wilcox had perhaps the best reaction to an ace of the entire year after making his ball disappear into the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. It was the seventh hole-in-one on the hole in the history of The Players, and the first since Miguel Angel Jimenez did it in 2002. Pure joy.

4. Louis Oosthuizen's ball bounces off playing partner's and into hole at the Masters. Another of the most storied par 3 holes in the world is undoubtedly the 16th at Augusta National, which has given golf fans incredible drama throughout the years. One thing that it has never seen is an ace like Oosthuizen's at this year's Masters. The South African hit the third ace on the hole of the day in special form, as his ball ricocheted off of playing partner J.B. Holmes' and into the hole.

3. Brooke Henderson wins hole-in-one car, gives it to caddie sister. This entry gains bonus points due to the story surrounding it. The LPGA's breakout star had promised her sister and caddie Brittany that if Brooke were to earn an automobile for an ace it would be hers. It finally happened during the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, en route to the first major championship victory of Henderson's young career. Brooke made good on her promise, and handed the keys to her sister with thanks for the correct yardage.

 

A hole-in-one, a car, and...a kiss. Nice shot, @brookehendersongolf.

A video posted by PGA.com (@pgacom) on

2. A walk off ace at high school event in Tennessee. One of the craziest golf stories of the year occured during the girls' portion of the Matt Cunningham Baylor Preview high school golf tournament in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. Two freshmen golfers made holes-in-one with consecutive swings early in the day, marked at 17 million-to-one odds by the Hole in One Registry, and that wasn't even the story of the day! That came from Mississippi State commit Ashley Gilliam, who came to the par 3 closing hole with her team trailing by a single stroke before an unbelievable walk-off ace gave her Coffee County Lady Raiders a 293-294 victory.

1. Tiger Woods witnesses boy's first hole-in-one at opening of his course. It's incredible to think a walk-off ace wouldn't be the best ace of the year, but listen to this. Woods was on hand for the opening of his 10-hole par 3 course at Bluejack National, which included a group of young golfers getting a chance to break it in, when 11-year-old Taylor Crozier stepped up to the first tee and drained a hole-in-one on the very first shot in the course's history. He was rewarded with a huge hug from Woods and a memory he will never forget.

 

December 17, 2016 - 12:32pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rocco Mediate
PGA.com
After hundreds and hundreds of hours of watching golf in 2016, we've compiled this list of what we believe to be the 15 best shots in the last 12 months.

So many tournaments. So many rounds of golf. So many phenomenal golf shots.

Professional golfers truly are magicians and you really can't appreciate just how good they actually are unless you're up close and personal at an event.

We watched hundreds of hours of golf in 2016 and compiled this list of what we believe to be the 15 best golf shots over the last 12 months.

RELATED: 2016 golf superlatives | Best PGA of America photos | Best golf quotes

Enjoy.

15. Billy Hurley III's 35-yard pitch in on the 15th hole during the final round of the Quicken Loans National. Hurley, a Navy veteran, would go on to win -- his first PGA Tour victory. It was extra emotional because during the same tournament a year earlier, Hurley's father was missing and then found. A month later, his father took his own life. Life is far more important than golf, but it was something else to watch Hurley hoist the trophy after the awful 12 months he and his family endured.

14. Rory McIlroy's 253-yard approach shot to the par-5 closing hole in the Irish Open. All class. Stuff it from 253 yards out to within 3 feet for an eagle to finish off a victory? Does it get any better?

13. Phil Mickelson's flop shot at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Mickelson is the master of the flop shot. The execution on this one is another example of why.

12. Louis Oosthuizen's hole-in-one at Augusta National in the final round of the Masters. I realize aces are all about luck. This one, though, is as cool a "1" as you'll ever see. Oosthuizen hits a glorious shot into the green at the par-3 16th, the ball hits the backstop and starts tracking toward the hole, but -- OH NO! -- it hits the ball of playing partner J.B. Holmes... and then gets right back on line and drops into the cup. What a cool shot.

11. Patrick Reed's hole out at Hazeltine in the Ryder Cup. Playing the sixth hole in a Saturday fourballs session with Jordan Spieth, Reed fired up the home crowd with this dazzling shot for an eagle.

10. Jimmy Walker's final-round bunker hole-out for birdie in the PGA Championship. Walker hadn't made a birdie all day to that point and that kick-started him for the remainder of the day in helping him claim his first major title.

9. PGA Professional John DalCorobbo's hole-out eagle to close out a 65 in the first round of the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. DalCorrobo, the reigning Senior PGA Professional Champion was playing his first tournament round of the year when he hit this amazing approach shot into the 18th green at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich.

8. Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed's matching birdie putts to halve the eighth hole in Sunday's singles matches during the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine. This match was incredible. The level of play and the emotions shown by these two throughout the singles match is what the Ryder Cup is all about.

7. Will Wilcox hole-in-one on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. When you ace one of the most iconic par-3 holes in all of golf -- especially during the Players Championship -- your going to earn a spot on a list like this. And the celebration? A+.

6. Jordan Spieth's chip in for birdie on the 71st hole of the Dean & DeLuca Invitational at Colonial. Spieth would win the tournament by three strokes over Harris English and this birdie provided some nice insurance for the final hole.

5. Henrik Stenson's long birdie putt on the 16th hole at Royal Troon to take a two-shot lead in the final round of the Open Championship. Stenson would go on to shoot a mind-boggling 63 in the final round to top Phil Mickelson for his first major win.

4. Rocco Mediate's bunker hole-out in the final round of the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Mediate was in total control all week at Harbor Shores. But this hole-out for birdie from a greenside bunker at the par-3 17th hole was the dagger that put the tournament away on Mediate's stroll to his first major triumph.

3. Dustin Johnson's approach shot on the final hole at Oakmont on his way to winning the U.S. Open. We all know the drama that was the final round of the U.S. Open. Johnson didn't let it get in his head. On the final hole, he struck what he called, "the shot of my life," to set up a birdie that closed out his first major victory.

2. Rory McIlroy's eagle on No. 16 at East Lake in the Tour Championship. The four-time major champion needed to rally late at East Lake if he was going to win the tournament and the $10 million prize for winning the FedExCup. He did just that with this remarkable eagle on the 16th hole. Of course, he would have to battle Ryan Moore in a sensational playoff before finishing off the tournament, but if this eagle at 16 doesn't happen, there is no playoff.

1. Rich Berberian Jr.'s putt that won the PGA Professional Championship. This particular shot might fly a little lower on the radar than the others on this list, but that doesn't mean it isn't deserving of our top honor. Faced with a 33-foot, uphill birdie putt to take the lead on the 72nd hole of the PGA Professional Championship at Turning Stone Resort's difficult Atunyote course, Berberian made it look like a piece of cake. The putt dropped and it proved to be the winning putt -- the type of scenario golfers dream about -- when Omar Uresti was unable to match.

 

December 16, 2016 - 3:59pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Phil Mickelson
USA Today Sports Images
With a new year comes new resolutions. Here's a list of five shots we're all very familiar with -- like the flop shot -- that we resolve to eliminate from our games in 2017.

With a new year comes resolutions -- the empty promises we make to ourselves to improve something in our lives.

Cynical? Absolutely. Have you ever visited a gym on Jan. 5? You practically need to pull a ticket to use anything like you're at a deli counter.

Go back to that same gym on March 5. Suddenly that huge back up you experienced two months prior is actually at... the deli counter in the supermarket next door.

It's OK, people.

Here, we're all about golf, which means with a new year nearly upon us, we need to make some golf resolutions.

Here are five shots we resolve to eliminate from our games in 2017 (it's never going to happen):

5. The chili dip. You know -- when you cover the ball in sod and practically miss it, taking a divot the size of a "WELCOME" mat. This vicious little devil typically pops up when you have an important chip from a tight lie in a close match. Maybe you peek too soon. Whatever the case may be, you just jam that club right into the turf... and usually have the chance to attempt the same shot again. No more of that, OK?

4. A topped 3-wood. One of my favorites. You know how it goes. After busting a drive on the screws straight down the middle of the fairway on a par 5, you know you have a legitimate chance to reach the green in two. So, you reach for the 3-wood, address the ball and... swing way too hard and hit right on top of it. Now all you can hope for is that you topped it hard enough to advance it to the point where you can hit a mid-iron in for your third shot.

The best is when there's a foursome on the green on a par 5 and you're on the fence about whether you can reach with the 3-wood. Instead of waiting for the green to clear, you fire away. Ten times out of 10, that ball finds the green and you get dirty looks if not yelled at for not waiting.

Those times you wait? That's when you're going to top it.

3. The flop shot. It's one of the coolest shots in golf. Two things to consider the next time you want to hit one -- even if the lie and the terrain calls for it: 1. Remember that you're not Phil Mickelson; 2. Be honest with yourself. When's the last time you successfully hit a flop shot? If more often than not you're either getting nothing but air or blading it 200 yards past your ended target, what's the point? (First opportunity to attempt a flop shot in 2017, we're all trying it).

2. The pop-up drive. With technology being as spectacular as it is these days, we're all programmed to follow the adage, "Tee it high and let it fly." Sometimes, however, that whole teeing it high part can get a little dicey. Particularly if you have a tendency to hit down on your drives. Suddenly you're hitting pop-fly drives and leaving those dreaded "idiot marks" all over the crown of your shiny, new, $500 drivers. How are you going to eliminate it? Pray to the Golf Gods. That's really all you can do.

1. Bladed bunker shots. I have one golf buddy who this became such an issue for that he literally only uses a putter if he's in a greenside bunker -- it doesn't even matter how deep it is (and, where we play for the most part, he's not dealing with the kind of pot bunkers you see in Scotland). Desperate times call for desperate measures, but we're not advocating resorting to a putter when you're in the sand. All we're saying is to study your lie. Is the sand like hardpan? Maybe you're better off trying to play it like a chip shot from a tight lie in the fairway. Is the bunker extra fluffy? Try hitting that "chunk and run" Johnny Miller is always talking about on TV. Lastly, if you must try and hit a textbook-type bunker shot, always remember to hit the sand first.
 

December 16, 2016 - 1:38pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Michael Jordan, Josh Donaldson
tos_bor20 on Instagram
Along with being arguably the greatest basketball player to ever take the court, Michael Jordan is also regarded as possibly the greatest trash talker in world history. This story from Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson drills that home.

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman found himself in the right place at the right time recently.

He was invited to play a round of golf with 2013 PGA Champion Jason Dufner and arguably the greatest basketball player ever to take the hardwood, Michael Jordan.

Jordan is a decent golfer, but just like his NBA days, the six-time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist is notorious for his trash talking.

Donaldson was well aware of this.

On MLB Network's Intentional Talk, Donaldson told hosts Chris Rose and Kevin Millar about that time on the course when he beat Jordan, saying, "I don't know if I've had a better time talking trash to an icon. It was unbelievable. The guy is talking trash to me, I'm talking trash to him. But at the end of the day, I was able to prevail.

From there, Donaldson shares an awesome story giving an example of the trash talking that went on.

 

 

Good Lord! What did Reggie Miller do to deserve that?!

And here's a photo of Donaldson with MJ the day they teed it up:

 

 

Took cash from the MJ. Got to say it was a good day!

A photo posted by Josh Donaldson (@tos_bor20) on