Nick Bonfield picks out his nine best USPGA Championship shots since the turn of the millennium…
9 Best USPGA Championship Shots Of The Century
Nick Bonfield picks out nine of best shots hit at the USPGA Championship since the turn of the millennium.
In no particular order…
1) YE Yang – 2nd shot to 72nd hole – 2009 USPGA (Pictured above)
Before the start of the final round at Hazeltine, Tiger Woods sat atop the leaderboard. This was significant for two reasons: one, he’s possibly the greatest golfer ever to have played the game, and two, he’d never lost a 54-hole lead in a Major Championship. And who was the man hoping to deprive him of that? YE Yang, a man who’d won once on the PGA Tour and never breached the top 30 in a Major. Still, he went toe-to-with Woods on a pulsating Sunday, edged ahead with a chip-in eagle on the 13th and sat one clear standing over his approach to the 18th. His 3-hybrid narrowly avoided overhanging trees, stayed in the air for an eternity and pitched inches away from the hole. He went on to hole the six-footer and become the first ever Asian to win a Major Championship.
2) Shaun Micheel – 2nd shot to 72nd hole – 2003 USPGA
Shaun Micheel entered the 2003 USPGA Championship well outside the world’s top 150 and winless in 169 events on the PGA Tour. But he played some stunning golf to lead Chad Campbell by one shot standing in the semi-rough on the left side of the 72nd fairway. With Campbell straight down the middle, Micheel’s 7-iron carried a grassy knoll, ran up the green and finished some 2 inches from the cup.
3) Martin Kaymer – putt on 72nd hole – 2010 USPGA
The 18th hole at Whistling Straits was an absolute brute all week long, playing well above its par of 4. Martin Kaymer came to the 72nd hole needing a par to tie Bubba Watson, who finished with a final-round 68. He tugged his approach, though, and left himself a slick left-to-right 15-foot par putt to force a playoff. It never looked anywhere else, and his pumped his fists with vigour before defeating Watson in the ensuing three-hole play-off.
4) Rich Beem – putt on 16th hole during final round – 2002 USPGA
The USPGA Championship boasts an illustrious list of past winners, but also has a habit of throwing up some surprise victors. In fact, surprise is a bit of an understatement in some situations. In 2002, Tiger Woods was in his prime, and breathing down Rich Beem’s neck. But Beem responded to two back-to-back Woods birdies at 15 and 16 (Woods would birdie his last four holes) by sinking a 35-footer on the 16th green. He would go on to win by a shot.
5) Keegan Bradley – putt on 17th hole during final round – 2011 USPGA
On the 15th hole during the final round at Atlanta Athletic Club, Keegan Bradley made a triple-bogey to give Jason Dufner – playing in the group behind – a four-shot lead. But Dufner also made three bogeys in a row and they were tied after Bradleys incredible shot on 17. Some 40 feet right of the flag he amazingly holed the significantly sloping right-to-left downhiller. Bradley went on to triumph in the three-hole play-off.
6) Rory McIlroy – 3 wood on 10th hole during final round – 2014 USPGA
McIlroy was trailing Phil Mickelson in the final round after shooting +1 on the front nine and was faced with 283 yards on the par-5 10th. He hit a 3 wood to six feet and holed the putt for eagle to spark probably the best back nine of his career. He eagled 10 and then birdied 13 and 17 to win by one. Nick Faldo was commentating and initially called it a neck but then apologised. McIlroy drove it in with a low fade and ran it up perfectly.
7) Tiger Woods – 3 iron on 18th hole during second round – 2002 USPGA
Woods produced one of the best shots of his career at the 2002 USPGA Championship. He had 200 yards to the pin uphill and with a strong left-to-right wind. His ball was in the bunker and he had to stand outside of it to play the shot – most golfers would pitch out. Not Tiger though. He pulled out a 3 iron and hit a high draw to around 20ft and then made the putt for birdie.
8) Brooks Koepka – 4 iron on 16th hole during final round – 2018 USPGA
Coming to the long par-3 16th hole at Bellerive Country Club, Brooks Koepka was being chased down by the likes of Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Justin Thomas. A 239-yard hole that could easily have seen his chances gone, Koepka stepped up and ripped a 4-iron right down the throat of the green to roughly 7 feet.
A huge moment both psychologically and in the context of the tournament, it was this shot that gave him a two-shot lead with two to play. He didn’t relinquish that and he collected his third Major title.
9) Tiger Woods – putt on the 1st playoff hole – 2000 USPGA
We could have put several incredible shots from the final round of the 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla. Bob May shot 31 on the back nine to round off a third 66 in a row but it still wasn’t enough thanks to Tiger. He too shot 31 on the back-nine and the playoff was the result.
On the first playoff hole, Tiger holed one of his most famous putts chasing after it and pointing in his famous red shirt. It gave him a one shot lead with two to play. That was the way it stayed and Tiger won his third Major in a row, on his way to securing the Tiger Slam at The Masters at the next Major.
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