Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Jonathan Wall take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing email@example.com, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @jonathanrwall. Today, we consider where Tiger's most recent gem fits into his pantheon.
Busbee: When we saw Tiger Woods hit that amazing shot on 16 on Sunday at the Memorial, we all knew it was a classic. (I believe I instant-messaged you a reaction that can't be repeated here.) But with a couple days' perspective, let's try to see how it fits into Tiger's all-time best shots. In terms of what it meant, I believe it's got to go top 10, with the chance of going top 5 if this is the start of a Tiger revival. Think about it: The shot is amazing in its own right, it happens on a Sunday, it propels him to victory, and it may herald the return to greatness of one of golf's immortals. Where does it rank in your favorite Tiger shots, and what tops your list?
Wall: There's no question the shot on No. 16 has to go into Tiger's all-time best shots. The degree of difficulty was incredibly high (Woods even admitted anything could've happened if he flew it past the hole), and the fact that he actually holed the shot and went on to win the tournament has to catapult it into the career highlight reel. But where exactly does it go on the list? It certainly doesn't beat out the chip-in at the 2005 Masters, the shot from the fairway bunker and over the water at the 2000 Canadian Open, the 40-foot-roller-coaster ride on the 16th green at the 2001 Players Championship, or the shot in the dark on the 18th hole of the WGC-NEC Invitational. However, you can make a case that it could slot in somewhere around number six or seven. It really was that good. As far as what tops my list, you can't even find video of the shot! That would be the fairway bunker shot at the 2002 PGA Championship. If you don't play golf it wouldn't seem all that difficult, but let's consider what he actually did on the shot. He hit a 3-iron from an awkward stance in the fairway bunker (with the bunker lip staring him in the face) from 215 yards out, into a 30 mph crosswind and over a tree that was directly in front of him ... and still managed to get it to within 12 feet of the pin. Tiger Woods is the only guy on the planet who could've pulled off that shot.
Now, if I'm going for one with actual video evidence, it has to be the chip-in at the 2005 Masters.
I mean, how can it not be the greatest shot he's ever hit? I still get goosebumps when I hear Verne Lundquist's call.
Busbee: Yeah, I want to know why there's never been a hint of conspiracy around that chip. You know Nike arranged it so that ball would hang right there with the logo visible! I was at 16 this year (#humblebrag) and spent a good five minutes standing right near where Woods was, trying to figure out how the hell he saw that shot in the first place.
Me, I like the "better than most!" triple-twist you mentioned at The Players:
The way Woods built that shot in his mind, then executed it -- that was nothing short of amazing. You could watch that video a hundred times and never see the line he saw. Others, my friend?
Wall: I know it's not a hole-out or unthinkable chip-in from off the green, but I'll always remember the putt Woods made on the final hole of the 2008 U.S. Open. He was already playing on a shredded knee at the point, which I think only added to his legend. Needing a birdie putt to force an 18-hole playoff with Rocco Mediate, he rolled the putt in to one of the loudest roars we've ever heard.
It wasn't a difficult putt, but considering what was on the line, it has to rank high on the list.
Busbee: Here's one of mine:
Tiger's 1997 ace in Scottsdale. He was still a kid, right on the cusp of celebrity, and he's so absolutely out-of-his-mind jubilant, engaging the crowd. It was shortly after this that he began to shut down and transform into the Tiger we know today -- or, at least the one we knew heading into late 2009. This is why he became a global icon.
Wall: Now that's a classic! For some reason that clip always brings back memories to playing Tiger Woods '99 (it was part of the intro video) on my computer when I was in eighth grade. If I'm going to throw one more in the mix, it has to be the shot in the dark at the 2000 WGC-NEC Invitational. Tiger was already up by 10 shots at the time when he approached the final hole of the tournament, so he didn't have a whole lot on the line. But what he managed to do in the dark on that approach shot was downright impressive. I've heard stories about how dark it really was (it was like hitting a shot with the dimmer switch on the lowest level) when he arrived at his ball. To be able to trust your instincts and pull the trigger on a shot like that, and then stuff it to within a couple feet for birdie? That's just silly.
With as many times as he's won at Bridgestone, they might as well rename the tournament after him. Got one more to close things out?
Busbee: Just this:
And you, friends?
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- Tiger Woods