Top 10 walk-off moments in golf
As if Harry Houdini himself was coaching from the sidelines, Auburn twice (against Georgia with 25 seconds to play and vs. Alabama with no time on the clock) found the magic to steal a pair of victories this college football season.
In tribute to the War Eagles, the favorite birds of reigning PGA Champion Jason Dufner, let’s take a look at what may be 10 of the best walk-off moments in golf history.
10. Tweet, Tweet, Birdie – 2005 U.S. Women’s Open - Cherry Hills Country Club, Englewood, Colo.
South Korean Ju-Yun “Birdie” Kim, competing in her first U.S. Women’s Open, was standing in a greenside bunker at 18, tied for the lead with Morgan Pressel, who watched from the fairway. Kim blasted the ball out of the sand from 90 feet and floated it onto the green. It bounced a few times, then rolled and rolled toward the cup and disappeared. When Pressel, needing a birdie to tie, failed to hole her chip shot from in front of the green, Birdie Kim won the way no golfer in the men's or women's Open ever had - holing out from a bunker on the final green.
9. It was In the All the Way, Mate – 2004 Ford Championship – Doral Country Club, Miami, Fla.
Australian Craig Parry reached for a 6-iron and holed out from 176 yards for eagle on the famed 18th at the Blue Monster at Doral, beating Scott Verplank on the first playoff hole. Parry said that his brother, who was his caddie, said “I feel like a Shaun Micheel at the PGA coming on.” Micheel’s 2003 approach at Oak Hill Country Club stopped two inches from the flagstick, while Parry had the pleasure of a dunk on one of the most challenging closing holes on the PGA Tour.
8. Gamez had the Right Number - 1990 Nestle Invitational – Bay Hill Club, Orlando, Fla.
Robert Gamez had his adrenaline pumping, and decided to shift down to a 7-iron on the 441-yard 18th hole at the Bay Hill Club in the 1990 Nestle Invitational. Trailing Greg Norman by a stroke, Gamez hit his approach from 176 yards at the flagstick, and watched as the ball went out of sight for an eagle. ''When the ball went in,” said Gamez, “I was relieved the round was over and that I didn't have to make a putt for birdie.”'
7. Mr. Aoki Rises – 1983 Hawaiian Open – Waialae Country Club, Honolulu
Isao Aoki holed out a 128-yard wedge for eagle from the left rough of the 18th fairway at Waialae Country Club, defeating Jack Renner by one stroke in the 1983 Hawaiian Open. The shot was heard around the world, making Aoki the first Japanese player to win a PGA Tour event. Renner, who buried his head in his hands after Aoki’s shot caused the gallery to erupt, bounced back. One year later, on the same course, he defeated Wayne Levi in a playoff.
6. A Zinger of an Ending – The Memorial Tournament - Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio
Trailing his closest friend, Payne Stewart by one stroke in the 1993 Memorial Tournament, Paul Azinger dumped his approach on the 18th hole into a left-hand greenside bunker. Stewart, meanwhile, had blasted from a bunker to eight feet above the hole. It was Azinger’s turn. He opened the face of his wedge, blasted out and watched as his ball just cleared the lip of the bunker and rolled 15 feet into the hole. Azinger pulled off his visor, raised his club in the air with his other hand and sunk to his knees in the sand. Stewart then three-putted to finish third, as Corey Pavin slipped into second.
5. Why They Call him King -- 1960 Masters – Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga.
Arnold Palmer followed a birdie on the 17th hole at Augusta National Golf Club by hitting a 6-iron to within six feet of the flagstick at 18 and making that to capture the 1960 Masters, his second green jacket. It was the catalyst for what would be a signature year for the King, as he went on to win the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills with a classic comeback and was runner-up in the Open Championship.
4. Holy Toledo, Bob! – 1986 PGA Championship – Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio
Tour sophomore Bob Tway rallied to catch 54-hole leader Greg Norman on the back nine at Inverness Club. Tway, however, hit his approach on the 18th hole into a front greenside bunker. With his head barely able to peek over the steep bank, Tway blasted out and saw the ball track into the hole. Tway jumped up and down in the sand like a schoolboy who had won a date with the homecoming queen. He became the first player in modern history to win the PGA Championship with a birdie on the 72nd hole.
3. Big Shot for the Little Guy – 1995 U.S. Open – Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y.
Corey Pavin uncorked a 209-yard 4-wood on the 18th hole like he had a tuning fork for a baby grand, and won the 100th U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Pavin’s approach shot landed just short of the slippery, sloping green and ran up and came to rest five feet from the hole. Pavin broke into a run and sprinted a few yards ahead. When he saw his ball stop, he raised his arms in triumph. He two-putted for par, which was two strokes better than Greg Norman.
2. Local Boy Magic – 1987 Masters – Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga.
Again, Greg Norman is a victim of a shot that is etched in golf history. The 1987 Masters came down to a sudden-death playoff featuring Seve Ballesteros, Norman and Augusta native Larry Mize. Ballesteros three-putted the first extra hole, the 10th, to bow out. On the par-4 11th hole, Mize’s approach landed to the right of the green and 140 feet from the hole. His chip bounced twice up a grassy bank and once on the putting surface before it rolled halfway across the green into the hole. What is forgotten is that Mize birdied the 72nd hole after hitting a perfect 3-wood, a perfect 9-iron and a perfect six-foot putt.
1. Misty Legend in the Pines – 1999 U.S. Open – Pinehurst (N.C.) No. 2
Tied for the lead with playing partner Phil Mickelson as a fine mist fell, Payne Stewart hit a 90-yard wedge approach to 18 feet below the hole at the 18th green at Pinehurst No. 2. Mickelson watched from the edge of the green. His wife, Amy, was home expecting to give birth at any time to the couple’s first child. Stewart stroked home the par putt, thrust his fist into the air with one leg stretch out behind. Less than five months later, Stewart died in a plane crash. A bronze statue of Stewart in that victorious pose rests behind the 18 green today.
PGA of America Championships
Baltusrol Golf Club
Hazeltine National Golf Club
Trump National Golf Club
Olympia Fields Country Club
Olympia Fields, Illinois
Quail Hollow Club
Charlotte, North Carolina