At last year's PGA Championship, Tiger Woods made what I believe was the most important shot of his career—a downhill eight-foot putt for par on the 71st hole to maintain a one-stroke lead over Sergio Garc�a. It was a classic Savor Shot, the kind that's almost as much fun to relive as it was to hit. Here are the shots nine of the best players savored most.
By ramming home a double-breaking, downhill four-footer on the 71st hole of the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont, he remains tied for the lead with Arnold Palmer, whom he beats in a playoff the next day for his first major win. "Just thinking about that putt still gives me goose pimples," says Nicklaus.
His two-iron from 188 yards ends up four feet from the cup on the 10th hole at Oakland Hills during his epic final-round 67 at the '51 Open. He rarely rated his shots, but this one "went exactly as I played it every inch of the way," he said.
After losing a three-stroke lead with four holes to play at the '29 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, he sinks a curling, downhill 12-footer for par on the 18th to tie Al Espinosa. Jones beats Espinosa the next day in a playoff. Experts believe there would've been no Grand Slam in '30 if Jones had missed.
His 230-yard three-wood over Rae's Creek lands 20 feet from the pin on the 13 th hole at Augusta during the final round of the '37 Masters, and the resulting eagle gives him his two-shot margin of victory over Ralph Guldahl. Nelson says he went for the green after telling himself, The Lord hates a coward.
His nine-iron recovery from the woods stops two feet from the cup on the 38th hole of the final match of the '23 PGA at Pelham Country Club. His foe, Walter Hagen, responds by duffing a pitch and loses one up. Said Sarazen, "The hour after that match was the only time I saw Hagen depressed."
After missing a two-foot par putt at the 15th hole during the final round of the '72 PGA at Oakland Hills, he hits a nine-iron over trees and water to four feet at the 16th. He rolls in the winning birdie. "I needed the bleak awareness that nothing but that precise shot would do to trigger the act," he says.
Stalking Fred Couples down the stretch at the '92 Masters at age 49, he punches a 60-degree wedge from point-blank range into the hump that bisects the 14th green. The ball takes two spinning hops and dives into the hole for a birdie. "Shot of my life," says Floyd, who still finished second.
On the first hole of the final round of the '73 Open at Oakmont, a 469-yard par-4, he plays a five-iron to four feet, setting up the first of nine birdies during a historic 63. The shot validates a preround adjustment to a drastically open stance. Says Miller, "I didn't miss a shot all day."
A five-iron through the wind and onto the 18th green at Muirfield locks up his victory in the '87 British Open. "The most important shot of my life," he says. "Straight at the flag. I went hot and cold at the same time."