Best major championship moments of 2016

Arnold Palmer
USA Today Sports Images
We didn't know it at the time, but back in April at the 2016 Masters would be the last time we'd see Arnold Palmer on the first tee as an honorary starter (he did not hit a shot that day).
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Friday, December 02, 2016 | 2:05 p.m.
It's no surprise that the best moments in golf each year come from the four major championships.
 
This year was no exception.
 
Here is an extensive list of all our favorite moments from the Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship.
 
The Masters
 
Arnold Palmer as an honorary starter on the first tee at Augusta National. We didn't know it at the time, but this would be the last time we'd see Arnie at the Masters. Sure, he didn't hit a tee shot like his fellow honorary starters -- Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player -- but the King's presence was special and his declining health was evident.
 

Jordan Spieth opens his title defense with a 6-under 66 and an early two-stroke lead. Given the amazing 2015 season Spieth enjoyed -- a win at the Masters, a victory at the U.S. Open, a T4 at the Open Championship and a runner-up finish at the PGA Championship -- his start to the 2016 Masters was nothing short of remarkable. The bogey-free round was Spieth's ninth consecutive Masters round of par or better.
 
 
Rory McIlroy's 39-foot putt at the par-3 16th in Round 2 to pull within one of the lead at the time. The Masters is the only tournament missing in McIroy's quest for a career grand slam. He didn't win in 2016, but with putts like this, you've got to believe a green jacket will one day be his.
 
 
Then-amateur Bryson DeChambeau's Day 2 charge had him within one of the lead at one point before a triple-bogey on the final hole of the day did him in. Even still, it was fun to watch an amateur hit shots like this one at the par-3 12th during the Masters.
 
 
Two-time Masters champ Tom Watson pars the 18th on Day 2 in his farewell to the tournament. That par capped off what was 134 rounds played in the Masters for Watson in 43 appearances.
 
 
Though he shot a 74 in Round 2, Spieth led the Masters for a sixth consecutive round at day's end, tying the record set by Palmer in 1960-61.
 
 
Bernhard Langer, at age 58, moved into contention on Day 3 with a 2-under 70. The two-time Masters champion moved the clocks back in that third round, putting himself within two shots of the lead with 18 holes to play.
 
 
Jordan Spieth held the lead at the Masters for the seventh consecutive round, a new tournament record, and the third straight year after 54 holes. Strong stuff from a 22-year-old.
 
 
Sunday's aces. Shane Lowry, Davis Love III and Louis Oosthuizen all made holes in one at the par-3 16th hole in the final round.
 
 
 
 
Englishman Danny Willett fires a final-round, 5-under 67 to win the Masters. He began the final nine holes trailing by five strokes. With the victory, Willett became the first Englishman to win the Masters since Nick Faldo in 1996.
 
 
The U.S. Open
 
Lee Westwood's eagle hole-out from 124 yards on the 14th hole in Round 1.
 
 
Matthew Fitzpatrick's slam-dunk bunker shot for birdie on the second hole in Round 1.
 
 
Lee Slattery's 72-foot putt for birdie on No. 15 when his first round resumed on Friday after weather cut the round short on Thursday.
 
 
Jim Furyk's long putt from off the green at No. 12 on Day 2 for a highly unlikely birdie.
 
 
Romain Wattel's incredible eagle from a tough lie at the 17th hole on Day 3.
 

 

 
Shane Lowry shot a stellar 5-under 65 in Round 3 to take a four-shot lead into the final round.
 
 
Brooks Koepka's eagle hole-out from 108 yards on No. 10 in the final round.
 
 
Dustin Johnson's par save on No. 16 to maintain a one-shot lead in the final round.
 
 
Dustin Johnson hits the "Shot of his life" with his approach to the final hole on his way to securing his first major title.
 
 
The Open Championship
 
Colin Montgomerie's monster putt on No. 13 in Round 1 at his home course -- Royal Troon -- in what will likely be his final Open.
 
 
Louis Oosthuizen's hole-in-one on the 14th hole on Day 1 -- his second ace in a major in 2016.
 
 
Henrik Stenson's eagle on the sixth hole in Round 1... A sign of things to come.
 
 
Phil Mickelson very nearly aces the Postage Stamp on Day 2. What a shot.
 
 
... And Martin Kaymer too.
 
 
Andrew "Beef" Johnston introduces himself to the world.
 
 
Those tremendous snaps and video of planes landing at the airport right by Troon.
 
 
Bubba Watson's fortuitous bounce of a sprinklerhead in Round 3.
 
 
The Bill Haas hole-out from the Postage Stamp bunker on Day 3.
 
 
On Sunday, it was all about the epic duel between Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson. What a tremendous day of golf. Mickelson shoots a final-round 65. Stenson came out on top for his first-ever major victory with a final-round 63.
 
 
PGA Championship
 
Phil Mickelson's second-round, even-par 70. How the heck is that on a list of memorable moments, you ask? An even-par round on the second day of the season's last major in ideal conditions for scoring? Well, it deserves a spot on the list for two reasons: 1. Mickelson's awful start; 2. Mickelson's remarkable perseverance.
 
Mickelson won the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in 2005, the last time it was contested there. He had high hopes in 2016, coming off a runner-up finish in the Open Championship... and then a first hole, triple-bogey 7 happened to immediately put Lefty behind the 8-ball on Day 2.
 
He could have packed it in right there. But, he didn't. Mickelson buckled down, got locked in and bounced back with four birdies against one bogey the rest of the way for his even-par total. An awesome display.
 
 
Andrew "Beef" Johnston... all week long. The man affectionately known as "Beef" endeared himself with fans in arguably the toughest sports market in the country and became a cult hero. He may have tied for 60th by tournament's end, but Beef was the people's champion at Baltusrol.
 
 
 
 
Rich Beem turning back the clock and a very special chip-in for the fans on Sunday. The 2002 PGA Champion at Hazeltine, Beem doesn't play a whole lot of tournament golf these days, spending more of his time as an on-course reporter. At Baltusrol, he showed a flash of brilliance with a 1-under 69 in Round 1. He eventually tied for 73rd, but gave fans this memorable moment on Sunday.
 
 
The work of the Baltusrol grounds crew. It isn't the most glamorous job in the world and it's probably one of the more thankless, but if it weren't for the effort of these tireless men and women at Baltusrol, the tournament never would have finished on Sunday. Hats off to them.
 
 

The little kid who got up in Jason Day's face... for a high-five on Friday. Probably my favorite moment of the tournament, personally. Day played his shot from outside the ropes and this little dude didn't miss his opportunity to get a high-five from the world's No. 1 player and defending PGA Champion.

 
 
Rickie Fowler waits behind the 18th green to congratulate his buddy Jimmy Walker after the win. Just a cool gesture.
 
 
Jimmy Walker's hole-out birdie for his first birdie of the final day at the 10th hole. Walker needed something to jumpstart his final round and this sure was it.
 
 
Day's eagle on the 72nd hole to put pressure on Walker. Getting an eagle when you absolutely need it to have any chance at all is no easy feat. Doing it in a major makes the task that much more difficult. Day did it and made Walker sweat. What a finish.
 
 
Walker's winning moment. It was a short putt and maybe not the flashiest of moments, but it was a putt that Walker had to have after Day eagled up ahead of him. I don't care what the length of the putt is -- when it's to win your first major, the pressure must be like nothing you've ever experienced before.
 
 
 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.