The Players’ Tribune caught up with PGA TOUR winners Brendan Steele, Pat Perez, Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald, Byron Smith and Jason Gore at the 2015 Humana Challenge. Each of them weigh in on the best shot of his career, from a long-distance putt and one golfer’s first PGA TOUR victory to a 7-iron shot that aided one of the biggest comebacks in Ryder Cup history.
“I had one to win the 2010 Barclays. It was a playoff against Martin Laird to win the 18th hole. It was one of my career highlights and a lot of luck was involved. It was a 7-iron from out of the rough that chased up the green to the back fringe and then trickled back down to about three feet. It came off just right, and I didn’t expect it to run up on the hill and trickle back down so close. I knew it was going to be a really good shot but it turned out even better than I expected.”
“The best shot I ever hit was a 6-iron at the 2009 Bob Hope Classic, on the 18th hole at PGA West. The wind was popping off to the right and I had to make par to win but I didn’t want to lay up because I could’ve screwed up if I was too cautious. I took the 6-iron and the ball landed perfectly, about two-and-a-half feet from the hole. I knocked it in to win the tournament. That was the by far the best shot I hit considering the circumstances. I knew I was going to work it off the wind and get it just inside the bunker. To be able to do something when you actually need to is an incredible feeling.”
“At the 2011 Valero Tournament, I had a putt from about seven feet to win the tournament. It was my 12th PGA tour start. As a kid you dream about winning your first PGA tournament when you’re practicing on the putting green. So, the moment had finally arrived and I had a talk with myself right before I hit it: Look, give this everything you got, make sure you hit a solid putt on your line. If it doesn’t go in, then it doesn’t go in but at least you could live with yourself. If you hit a weak one up there, or if you get a little timid on it, then you’re going to think about that the rest of your life. I was able to get up there and make a solid stroke, and it went in. I was just in that zone and had a calm come over me. After it went in, it was very surreal. I was just worried about getting my scorecard right. My hands were shaky. I had to go through all the steps of the trophy ceremony, talking to the media, meeting with sponsors — after the putt it was was all just a blur. ”
“My best shot ever was at the Louisiana Open on the Web.com tour two years ago. It was the sixth hole and I used a 7-iron on a par-3. It just flew right into the hole. I was kind of close to the cut line on Friday. I had a nice opening round on Thursday, show up on Friday and I start shanking golf balls. It was a golfer’s worst nightmare. It was almost like that scene out of Tin Cup where you’re almost hitting guys. You’re trying to figure out what’s going on here — let’s get it back together and start from scratch. So all day I had it in the back of my mind, Don’t shank it. I hit a good shot and it flew right in the hole.” That got me back on track. I had a good week and made the cut.”
“I was at the 2012 Ryder Cup Medinah Country Club in Chicago, playing with Sergio Garcia against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker on Saturday afternoon. It was the 17th hole, par-3 — Tiger had just won the 16th hole, and we were only one up. The pressure was on us. We didn’t want to lose the match because we were already being beaten pretty heavily. I stepped up and hit a 7-iron to about two feet, and we both made birdie. We ended up winning the match one up. Under those circumstances and under that pressure, when you’re playing for your teammates, sometimes you feel a bit more pressure than you do just playing for yourself.”
“My best shot ever came in 2005 at the 84 Lumber Classic in Pittsburgh. I was on the 18th hole and it was a putt from about 85 feet out. I had a two-putt to win my first PGA event, and I knocked it up there about two feet from the hole. I was looking over at my caddie and the crowd was going nuts. I remember looking over and yelling, ‘Do you like them apples?!’ That was the best shot I ever hit. I tried to envision the shot beforehand but it was up and over a dead elephant, and a big huge mound. This was an exhilarating way to lock up my first PGA tour win.”
This is the latest installment of The Best Play I Ever Made, a series where athletes break down (you guessed it) the best play (or shot) they ever made. You can read other athletes’ entries here.