The defining shots of the major champions
The putt that Adam Scott thinks about most wasn’t the one that
won him the Masters. The best shot Justin Rose hit at the U.S. Open
didn’t even stay on the green.
The majors were filled with great shots, even if they didn’t
produce the obvious outcome.
Scott’s putt on the 18th at Augusta National ultimately got him
into a playoff when Angel Cabrera answered with a great birdie of
his own. Rose’s 4-iron into the 18th at Merion ran off the back of
the green into a collar. It was a relatively simple up-and-down
from there, though such a great shot deserved better.
Every major has a signature shot. Some are easier to define than
And with every major champion, there is another shot that is
just as pleasing to them, even if it doesn’t get as much
The putt that made Scott the first Australian in a green jacket
was a 12-footer for birdie on the second playoff hole at No. 10.
Scott, however, believes the defining moment of this Masters was
the 20-foot birdie putt he made on the 18th in regulation.
Adding to the significance of the putt was his reaction. Scott,
the image of GQ, transformed into WWF as he screamed with all his
might, ”C’mon, Aussie!”
”No matter what I do in my career from now on, I think it’s
going to be the one I’m remembered for,” Scott said. ”Even if I
do happen to win other big tournaments or majors, it might not
quite be everything that Augusta was.
”There’s no doubt, as I look back in my career, that’s going to
be the one moment I’ll think of first as a far as a signature
He won’t forget the 6-iron, either, as good as any shot he
struck all week.
On the second playoff hole, Scott had 191 yards from a hook lie
in the 10th fairway. Cabrera already was on the green with a
reasonable look at birdie.
”I didn’t want to sling a 7-iron in there,” Scott said. ”It
wasn’t the right shot. The atmosphere was heavy and I was jacked
up, but I had to hold a 6-iron. Somehow, I managed to hit such a
beautiful shot. If you asked me to do it right now, I couldn’t. But
I had it at that moment. Absolutely, it’s the best shot of my life
Rose had a one-shot lead on the 18th hole at Merion. He was 229
yards from the pin, and just 15 feet behind the plaque that
commemorates Hogan’s 1-iron into the 18th during his 1950 U.S. Open
victory. While it was not as historic as Hogan’s moment, it was the
signature shot of his first major.
”It has to be the 4-iron into 18, given the poignancy of the
hole, the iconic photograph we’ve all grown up with and the 18th
hole of a major,” Rose said. ”That was the one that put it
Adding to the pressure was the wait. Luke Donald was taking a
penalty drop, leaving more time for Rose to contemplate the
consequences of the shot.
”I appreciated the situation I was in and relished it,” Rose
said. ”And luckily, the shot came off. I drilled it. It came off
He believes the 18th hole played a big role earlier in the week.
Rain kept the second round from being completed on Friday, and Rose
was in the last group that managed to finish without having to
return Saturday morning. He watched Phil Mickelson ahead of him
make birdie to share the 36-hole lead. Rose missed the fairway,
hacked it out of rough and had 115 yards to a pin that was just
over the false front, a shot that required close to perfection.
He delivered, hitting wedge to 7 feet.
”It was pretty dark by this time,” he said. ”But I wanted to
hit the putt. Even if I missed, the advantage was there to sleep
in. It was a slippery, downhill, left-to-righter for a 69 to stay
even par. From a momentum point of view, just finishing and giving
myself time in bed for the rhythm of the week … that was
Mickelson didn’t hesitate when asked for the signature shot of
his British Open victory – the 3-wood on the par-5 17th that set up
a two-putt birdie.
”Very simply put, there was no margin for error,” he said.
”If I miss it a little bit to the right, it goes in a bunker and I
have a very difficult par. I have to go out sideways and try to get
up-and-down for par. If I miss it left, it’s the worst rough on the
golf course and I could lose my ball or have an unplayable lie. But
if I hit it perfectly, there’s a good chance I could have a
two-putt birdie. And that’s what happened.
”I hit it dead perfect at the time I needed it most,” he said.
”If I made birdie, I felt like I would win.”
Mickelson’s closing 66 at Muirfield is considered the best round
of the year, and one of the best final rounds in any major. He made
birdie on four of the last six holes. As much attention as that
3-wood receives, Lefty was equally pleased with a 5-iron into 8
feet for birdie that started his big run.
It was on the 13th hole, 190 yards and dead into a strong wind
to a narrow green.
”If you miss it at all, the ball gets blown off sideways, and
you saw it with just about every player behind me,” Mickelson
said. ”I hit it so solid and perfect through the wind the ball
just soared. It was the prettiest shot.”
Jason Dufner had a two-shot lead with three holes to play. Leads
like that can disappear quickly at a major, especially with the
tough, two closing holes at Oak Hill.
Jim Furyk hit his approach to 10 feet on the 16th, easily birdie
range. Dufner followed with a sand wedge from 105 yards that spun
back to a foot, which stands out as his signature moment at the PGA
Championship (though a case could be made for the love tap he gave
his wife when it was over).
”I was trying to take it a little bit past the pin on the
right,” Dufner said. ”Obviously, with a wedge in hand, I was
thinking it could be a makeable birdie effort. Inside a foot is
great for me because I struggle with the putter.”
Not so obvious – except to Dufner – was how he played the par-3
11th hole for the week. At 226 yards, it was the sixth-toughest
hole at Oak Hill. Dufner never had a birdie putt outside 20 feet in
all four rounds, and he played the hole in 1-under par for the
”It was one of the tougher holes, and I made it easy for me,”
he said. ”The 16th is the shot people are going to remember. The
one people will forget about is to play that hole (No. 11) in 1
under and never sweat a bogey. That’s a pretty good deal.”