Clutch golf shots: 10 of the most unlikely pressure shots

Tiger Woods
USA Today
Tiger Woods has been known to hit some amazing shots over the course of his career.
By T.J. Auclair
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Sunday, November 26, 2017 | 2:50 p.m.

French golfer Victor Dubuisson became a household in 2014 with his mind-blowing performance in a playoff loss to Jason Day in the final of the WGC-Match Play Championship.

Yes -- a playoff loss.

To jog your memory, Dubuisson pulled off two of the most amazing (OK, luck was certainly a factor too) shots you'll ever see in order to stay alive on the first and second playoff holes respectively.

Dubuisson's ability to pull off these two highly unlikely shots got us thinking of some other clutch shots in recent history.

As you look through the list, keep in mind these shots are in no particular order. Also, keep in mind that there are surely others that could make the list. The items below just stuck out in our memory most from recent memory. We also tried to spread the wealth, seeing as Tiger Woods could have a top-10 list of clutch shots all to himself.

MORE: 17 of Tiger Woods' most eye-popping achievements | 10 greatest golfers of all time

10. Phil Mickelson's approach shot at Colonial on the 72nd hole in 2008. In the hunt for another PGA Tour win, Mickelson lost his tee shot way right of the fairway and looked to be in jail, surrounded by trees in heavy rough. While many thought he might simply punch out, Mickelson instead took a wedge from 140 yards, hoisted it high over the trees and within 9 feet of the hole to set up a winning birdie putt.

9. Miguel Angel Jimenez on the Road Hole at St. Andrews in 2010 British Open. Ah, the dreaded Road Hole at St. Andrews -- one of the most famous and most difficult holes in golf. At the 2010 British Open, Jimenez launched an approach that sailed wide right of the green, across the road and against the stone wall. An unplayable lie for sure, right? Not for Jimenez. Instead -- with his back to the hole -- Jimenez hit the ball into the wall. The ball popped up over Jimenez's head and landed on the green about 15 feet from the cup.

8. Bill Haas from the water on the par-4 17th hole at East Lake in a playoff at the 2011 Tour Championship. Surely you remember this one. Haas was vying not only to win the tournament, but also the FedExCup title. His playoff opponent was Hunter Mahan, who was in full control. Haas's golf ball was half submerged in water left of the green and he not only put it on the green, but knocked it to within 2 feet to set up a par and eventually won the tournament on the very next hole.

7. Tiger Woods chip in for birdie on No. 16 at Augusta National during the 2005 Masters. Pretty simple (yeah, right). The announcers explained it would be impossible for Woods to get close to the hole from his position after a poor tee shot on this famous par three. So what did he do? Woods chipped the ball about 30 feet past the hole into a backstop and watched with the rest of the world as it rolled back before dying into the cup for the most unlikely of birdies.

MORE: 5 of the best announcer calls in golf history


6. Fred Couples gets a "hole-in-three" at the 1999 Players Championship. No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass is one of, if not the most popular par-3 in golf. Like many before and after him, Fred Couples came up short and watched his ball splash into the water. He quickly re-teed and proceeded to knock the shot in on the fly -- a hole-in-one... or, in this case, "a hole-in-three" and the best par save you'll ever see. (Skip ahead to the 1:46 mark of the video below.)



5. Australian Craig Parry's walk-off eagle in a playoff at the 2004 Ford Championship at Doral. On the 18th hole at the Blue Monster, Parry was on the first hole of a playoff with Scott Verplank. It didn't last long. From the middle of the fairway, Parry hit a perfect 6-iron that tracked to the hole and dropped in for an eagle that ended the tournament before the pair even reached the green.

4. Speaking of walk-off wins, there may be none better than Jonathan Byrd's in the 2010 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. On the fourth hole of a three-man playoff and with light -- or a lack thereof -- becoming a serious factor, Byrd aced the 17th hole from 196 yards to end it.



3. Steve Stricker on the 72nd hole at the 2011 John Deere Classic. This is a "two for the price of one" offering. First, Stricker's remarkable approach from 182 yards out and an awkward lie in a fairway bunker that settled in the fringe, 25 feet from the hole. Then, he knocked in the putt for a birdie and the win.

2. Jordan Spieth's bunker shot to win the 2017 Travelers Championship. Spieth's 10th career PGA Tour victory came in dramatic fashion at the Travelers Championship. On the first playoff hole against Daniel Berger, Spieth faced an important bunker shot to try and make par and extend the match. Instead of par, the 3-time major champion delivered one of the more exciting birdies (and celebrations) you'll ever see which led to the win.

1. Paul Casey's walk-off ace in the 2006 Ryder Cup. In a foursomes match on the Saturday of the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club in Ireland, Casey closed out the match on the 14th hole with an ace from 213 yards. It remains the only time in Ryder Cup history that a match has ended with a hole in one. (Skip ahead to the 3:12 mark of the video below.)

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.


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