December 17, 2013

COMMENTARY — ON GOLF: Every major has ‘the’ shot

Look back on defining hit

By Doug Ferguson
Ap Golf Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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FILE - In this April 14, 2013 file photo, Adam Scott, of Australia, front, celebrates with caddie Steve Williams after making a birdie putt on the second playoff hole to win the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga. Every major championship features a signature shot, some easier to define than others. And with every major champion, there is another shot that is equally pleasing to them even if hardly anyone else noticed. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

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 big.”

BRITISH OPEN

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.”

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

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 week.

“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.”

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