Golf

The Five Greatest Shots In The History Of The Open

The Five Greatest Shots In The History Of The Open

1. Padraig Harrington 2008, 17th hole

As defending champion heading into the Open Championship in 2008, Padraig Harrington admitted that a wrist injury in the run-up to the major worked in his favour.

The Dubliner received treatment in the days leading up to the event at Royal Birkdale and flew into the action in Royal Birkdale under the radar.

Moving steadily through the field on Friday and Saturday, he found himself leading the charge on Sunday evening. After three bogeys on the front nine, Harrington turned the corner and picked up shots on 13 and 15.

With one hole left to play and England’s Ian Poulter breathing down his neck just two shots back, Harrington produced one of the finest shots of his career to win secure the Open.

His five wood on the 17th hole was perfectly judged against the blustering winds and fell just feet short for an eagle putt which Harrington duly converted.

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2. Lee Trevino 1972, 17th hole

On his way to winning a second consecutive major championship, Lee Trevino found himself in a spot of bother coming down the final stretch against Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus.

Nicklaus had taken a share of the lead with a final round of 66, while Jacklin was in pursuit of “Super Mex” at Muirfield.

Both Jacklin and Trevino were neck and neck heading through the final holes, a series of unlikely putts and remarkable chips kept Trevino’s dreams alive - but only just.

On the 17th, Trevino couldn’t find the green while Jacklin had a 15ft putt for birdie and the chance to take the outright lead.

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Remarkably, Trevino chipped in from off the green and a visibly shaken Jacklin three-putted to concede the lead.

“I never really featured in major championships after that,” Jacklin said in 2013.

“And for me golf is all about winning majors. It changed my outlook somehow. I always believed to succeed all you needed was to dedicate yourself and put your time in. I was competitive, mentally tough, but obviously not tough enough to endure that.”

3. Justin Rose 1998, 18th hole

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We return to Royal Birkdale, where a teenage Justin Rose was dazzling the crowds in 1998. The 17-year-old, playing as an amateur, threatened to make a charge during his second round after carding a 66, but couldn’t sustain his challenge and slipped back with a third round 75.

On the final day of action and on the final hole, Rose struck his approach shot into the rough. With a difficult lie, the Englishman holed what seemed an incredibly difficult shot and the crowds erupted.

The commentary summed up the feeling toward young Rose’s performance at British golf’s showpiece: “When we were 17 and in High School, we were worried about getting a date and other things. Here, this kid is playing some kind of golf!”

Rose finished fourth, in what was the best performance by an amateur in the Open since Frank Stranahan was second behind Ben Hogan in 1953.

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4. Tom Watson 1977, 18th hole

The Duel in the Sun in 1977 between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus will long be considered one of the greatest ever head-to-head battles in the history of golf.

The pair, two of the greatest golfers of all time in their own right, separated themselves from the field at the Open and traded blows back and forth over the course of the final round.

Locked on -7 heading into the final round of action, Watson emerged victorious by a solitary stroke and much of this is contributed to his approach shot on the 18th hole.

The pair were never more than three shots away from one another at any time and with the accuracy of his 7-iron approach on 18 falling just feet short, Watson effectively wrestled the major away from Nicklaus.

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5. Ernie Els 2002, 13th hole

Despite a two-shot lead in the final round of the 2002 Open Championship at Muirfield, Ernie Els knew his work was not yet complete.

Denmark’s Søren Hansen was closest to the South African and behind him were a list of suitors ready to snatch the Claret Jug from underneath him - including Irish duo Padraig Harrington and Des Smyth.

If slow and steady was on the agenda, Els had torn up the script and insisted on doing it his own way.

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Birdies around the turn, picking up shots on 9, 10 and 12 was followed by the two-time US Open winner making a terrific recovery shot on 13.

His drive down the right found the deepest bunker on the course, from which he was forced to chip out of to preserve his four-stroke lead.

With his second shot, Els conjured an exquisite chip that sat just feet short of the hole. The chip allowed him to save par and kept his momentum heading into the final holes.

Els would go on to win the Open in a four-way play-off and his par save on 13 was named shot of the year.

Cian Roche

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