September 29, 2011
With the conclusion of the Tour Championship, we're at a natural break point for the PGA Tour. So why not take a moment to reflect back on the best moments of this year? It was a time when unknowns seized the stage and unbelievable drama resulted in some of the best tournaments in years. Now, we'll look at the five best shots of '11:
Steve Stricker's second shot on 18 at John Deere Classic: It was really tough for us to pick between Stricker's second shot here and the putt that won him the tournament, but come on, just look at the shot again. Ball below his feet, in a bunker, and having to hit it over water with par for a playoff and birdie to win, Stricker hits the perfect shot at the perfect time to beat Kyle Stanley by one.
Rory McIlroy's near-ace in final round of the U.S. Open: By the time McIlroy had reached the 10th tee on Sunday at Congressional, the only thing that wasn't settled was who would finish second, but it didn't stop Rory from pulling off some dramatics. I was standing behind the 10th green when it happened, and as his ball landed on the hill and started rolling back, it looked inevitable that he was going to walk away with a "1" on his card. Still, it was the best shot from the best performance of the year.
Tom Watson's ace at the British Open: It didn't really change the golf tournament's outcome, but come on, when Watson knocks a tee ball in the hole at the championship he's owned over the years, it has to make the list. During the second round, as Watson was paired with an amateur playing out his mind, he dropped his tee ball in the hole for the one, taking a bow for his efforts. It was really a special moment for everyone watching, and especially for Watson, who can still play links golf with the best of them.
Keegan Bradley's birdie on 71st hole at PGA Championship: A slippery green, a must-make putt and about 35 feet or so to go, the rookie that didn't seem to have a chance with four holes to play but needed to make this putt disappear to put the pressure on Jason Dufner. The ball found the middle of the cup, his reaction was priceless, and the rest is history. The putt was definitely the most clutch of the year, and gave him a chance to put his arms around a major trophy for the first time.
Bill Haas' water-ball in the Tour Championship playoff: It isn't hard to think back to last week when Bill Haas yanked his iron shot into a water hazard during a playoff with Hunter Mahan, but it will be a long time before we forget it. Standing in water, Haas flipped the ball up on the green, made it check instantly, and his par save from the drink was what propelled him to a win on the next hole, snagging both the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup with one incredible par save.
We've got our preference, but we'll let you decide. Which among these gems was your pick? Got another nominee? Go!