Mickelson's masterful putt tops the list

Updated: December 12, 2004, 5:37 PM ET
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

As a rule, golfers never remember the bad shots.

That putt you made to close out the Nassau with your buddy? The green you reached in two on the long par-5? That birdie chip-in on 18 after 17 atrocious holes? Those are the ones you'll never forget.

After all, each of us has heard a partner say, "That'll keep you coming back!" after witnessing your best shot of the day.

Phil Mickelson
APMickelson's jump for joy following his birdie is an image that will go down in Masters history.

There were probably only a few million golf shots hit in 2004, but the Weekly 18 has chosen the most unforgettable dozen-and-a-half of the year. Herewith, the shots heard 'round the world.

1.

Masters, final round, 18th hole
If goosebumps didn't form on your arms and the hair didn't stand up on the back of your neck when the former Best Player Never To Win A Major finally shed that label, you may need an adrenaline boost. When Mickelson's 18-foot birdie putt dropped in the side pocket, the People's Champion reached the pantheon of dramatic sports moments. The image of his ensuing leap will be burned into our memories for years to come, right alongside Kirk Gibson's fist-pump and Al Michaels' query of our thoughts on miracles. The most dramatic shot ever? It's quite possible.

2.

Ford Championship, final round, 1st playoff hole
In any other year, Parry's more of a lock to claim the top spot on this list than John Daly is to lead the tour in the Most Diet Cokes Drank category. Parry's 6-iron approach from 176 yards landed on the front of the green and rolled right into the hole -- golf's version of a walk-off home run. The Blue Monster's signature hole was no pushover, either; it ranked as one of the toughest on tour this year, surrendering just 31 birdies all week. And one magical eagle.

3.
John Daly

Buick Invitational, final round, 1st playoff hole
Daly's 100-foot shot from the greenside bunker was an amazing bit of skill, even if you don't know The Legend of Long John. But when a shot of this caliber -- Daly's ball rolled to within inches of the hole; he won the tournament when Luke Donald and Chris Riley each missed short birdie putts -- is made by a man who perhaps trails only Tiger Woods in popularity ... and clinches his first win in nine years ... and reduces the giant to a quivering pile of tears ... and symbolizes his full comeback from a bout with alcoholism, well, that's worthy of making this list any year.

4.

U.S. Amateur, final match, 36th hole
Simply put, Moore had the best year of any golfer not named Vijay or Annika. After winning the NCAA Division I championship, the U.S. Amateur Public Links and the Western Amateur, the UNLV rising senior looked like he wouldn't complete the amateur grand slam, trailing Luke List, 2-down, through 32 holes in their 36-hole final match. But Moore won each of the next four holes, putting an exclamation mark on his accomplishment with an 8-iron from 169 yards that stopped dead six feet from the pin and essentially clinched the match.

5.

Ryder Cup, Day 3, 18th hole
OK, so it didn't mean anything, since Europe had already clinched the Cup. Big deal. You try making a 25-foot putt on one of the slickest greens in America with 11 of your cronies waving adult beverages and stogies right in your line. "Oh, I saw them alright," Harrington later said. "They were right in my sightline. It wasn't exactly an easy situation." Easy? Maybe not. Symbolic? Absolutely. During a three-day span when seemingly no U.S. player made a putt of longer than eight feet, the Irishman calmly added insult to misery, ramming home the putt to the delight of his mates and clinching a 1-up singles win over Jay Haas.

6.

British Open, final round, 4th playoff hole
Golfers around the world were scurrying to the nearest pro shop in search of a "utility club" following Hamilton's British victory. Through the first three holes of the PGA Tour rookie's playoff with Ernie Els, Hamilton held a one-stroke lead. With his third shot lying 40 yards short of the green on the final hole, he executed a perfect bump-and-run that skipped, skidded and, finally, stopped two feet from the hole. Hamilton actually used a hybrid metal club for the shot that originally had 17 degrees of loft, but was bent to 14 degrees -- an unconventional club for a man who took an unconventional route to his first major victory.

7.
Meg Mallon

U.S. Women's Open, final round, 15th hole
We could have picked the improbable 50-foot birdie on the 4th hole. Or the 18-foot birdie on the 11th hole that gave her the lead for good. Instead, it's Mallon's 25-foot par putt on the 15th hole at The Orchards that makes this list, considering Annika Sorenstam was in the process of making a charge down the stretch and the 41-year-old New England native was trying to clinch her first Open win in 13 years. Had that putt, which Mallon stroked from off the green, not found the hole, it could have rolled several feet past; had she missed the one coming back, her final two-stroke cushion would have meant 18 holes on Monday against the LPGA's best golfer. Instead, the putt fell and Mallon's final-round 65 became the best finish by a winner in the history of the tournament.

8.

PGA Championship, final round, 1st playoff hole
Before he became the No.1-ranked player in the world, before he won nine PGA Tour events, before he was a lock for Player of the Year, Vijay Singh -- dare we say it? -- choked in the final round of a major, shooting a birdie-free 76 at Whistling Straits. Luckily for Singh, he was given a chance (thanks to Justin Leonard's putting mishaps on the back nine) to play more than those 18 holes. On the first playoff hole -- the 361-yard par-4 10th hole -- he striped a drive off the tee that nearly reached the green. A simple chip and putt later and Singh had his only birdie of the day and the only birdie of the playoff. Can one shot lead to two months of momentum? Maybe. Leonard and Chris DiMarco went on to combine for three more top 10s during the season; Singh claimed four more titles.

9.

Sony Open, second round, 16th hole
Cynics think it was no big deal, superstar-to-be Michelle Wie playing a course she knows well and still missing the cut by a stroke. Believers think it was the single most impressive feat of the year, a 14-year-old girl besting 47 PGA Tour professionals (and tying 16 others) in their own event. Either way, the kid showed she could hang with the world's best, especially late in her second round. Standing on the 16th tee at Waialae CC knowing she had to go low over the final three holes, Wie unloaded a 311-yard bomb -- her longest measured drive of the week. That shot springboarded her to a birdie-par-birdie finish and certainly helped to earn a sponsor's exemption again in '05.

10.

Tour Championship, final round, 16th hole
Buried on a day when Tiger Woods entered a co-leader and exited a runner-up by four strokes was Goosen's final-round masterpiece at East Lake. The U.S. Open champ made six birdies, but none of his 64 shots was sweeter than the 195-yard 5-iron that stopped three feet from what was considered to be an unreachable pin. It was, in fact, the only birdie of the day on the 16th, part of a round so good that even the Iron Goose flashed his pearly whites when it was over.

11.

Scottish Open, final round, 18th hole
Two years ago, Levet made it to a sudden-death playoff in the British Open, eventually losing to Ernie Els. This year, Levet wasn't even entered in the field at Royal Troon, planning instead to go on "holiday" for the week. That was before the Frenchman produced one of the more dazzling rounds of the year on the Euro Tour, an 8-under 63 that was punctuated by an 8-iron on the final hole at Loch Lomond that landed three feet from the pin. After knocking in the putt, Levet's biggest problem was his wardrobe for the next week -- "I don't have any more clothes with me," he claimed -- because the win qualified him for the Open, where he finished T-5.

12.

Wachovia Championship, final round, 17th hole
In its short time as a PGA Tour event, the Wachovia has become known for the special perks it gives to competitors. Is there any better perk for a player than receiving your first victory in 370 starts? That's exactly what the 46-year-old Sindelar got to take home, but first he needed to hit a 4-iron on the 217-yard par-3 to within three feet, one of two birdies he made on Quail Hollow's final three holes. Sindelar later clinched the tournament on the second playoff hole, sending Arron Oberholser home with only a second-place check and some lovely parting gifts.

13.

The Tradition, third round, 16th hole
What kinds of winged animals do walruses like? Birdies? Sure. Eagles? Of course. But it was the rare double-eagle that piqued Stadler's interest on this August Saturday in Aloha, Ore. The Walrus knocked a 4-iron 207 yards into the hole en route to winning the tournament. Like he said afterwards, "I've never seen a double-eagle or an eagle that hurts."

14.

The International, final round, 17th hole
This shot was golf's version of a desperation 3-point heave in basketball -- except it counted for five points. Using the Modified Stableford scoring system, Pampling curled in a 21-foot eagle putt from the fringe on the tournament's penultimate hole, then reacted as any sharpshooting hoopster would -- with a huge fist-pump. The International's unique scoring system is set up for big comebacks, and Pampling's resulted in his first career win.

15.
Pete Oakley

Senior British Open, final round, 18th hole
Major tournaments across the pond have produced some unlikely heroes in the past, but Oakley may have made Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton look like household names. The former club pro from Delaware, who was playing the European Seniors Tour just to keep his brother company, saw Hall-of-Famer Tom Kite getting closer in his rearview mirror down the stretch and almost faltered on the final hole while needing a par to win. Oakley dumped his second shot on the par-4 into a greenside bunker, then chipped out to within 10 feet. With the pressure on ... and under the watchful eye of Kite ... and with the oversized first-place check lingering nearby, Oakley sank the biggest putt of his career -- an understatement to say the least. The win earned him $295,000, pretty good coin after his previous career high of $14,801.

16.
Grace Park

Kraft Nabisco Championship, final round, 18th hole
Heading to the final hole of the first major of the year, Park held a two-stroke cushion over 17-year-old rookie Aree Song. Just a few minutes later -- after Song bombed a drive on the 485-yard par-5, reached the green in two and sank a 30-foot eagle putt while yelling, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" as it dropped -- Park found herself standing over a knee-knocking six-footer that she needed to make for her first career major victory. Perhaps distracted by the gallery's adrenaline after Song's putt, perhaps needing a better read on the line, Park addressed the ball, then stepped away twice before sinking the putt -- the shortest, but maybe the most nerve-racking, shot on this list.

17.

U.S. Open, first round, 17th hole
You didn't think you'd finish a list of shots of the year without seeing an ace, did you? There were plenty of holes-in-one on tour this year, but we chose this one by the 20-year-old amateur because, well, there weren't many pretty shots to speak of at Shinnecock Hills. Levin, now a junior at the University of New Mexico, aced the 179-yard hole before the tricked-out greens took hold of the weekend, and finished as low amateur at T-13.

18.

Mercedes Championships, final round, 18th hole
The 663-yard final hole at Kapalua sounds like a monster, but plays downhill and downwind, giving tour pros a chance to grip it and rip it at the season's opening event. No one ripped harder than Love, who bombed his drive a PGA Tour-record 476 yards. But you've got to feel for Rory Sabbatini, who broke Chris Smith's five-year-old record with a 448-yard poke earlier in the day, only to lose the distinction to Love a few hours later.


Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com.

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.

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