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Top 10 most important golf shots of 2013

Alex Perry
December 6, 2013
Adam Scott celebrates holing out on Augusta's 18th... but where does it rank in our top 10? © AP
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10. Phil Mickelson

Phoenix Open, TPC Scottsdale, 1st round, 9th hole, 3rd shot

While everyone was starting the year discussing whether or not Tiger Woods would return to the major championship winners' circle, Mickelson was quietly going about his business.

At the Phoenix Open in January, the likeable American left himself around 20-feet at the last for a 59 and what would have been just the sixth sub-60 round in PGA Tour history.

Scottsdale's famously raucous galleries were deadly silent as the ball trickled on down the hill towards the hole. It hit the cup on the right-hand side, performed a full 180 and re-emerged on the same side it had entered.

Agonising to watch, but it kick-started a quite remarkable year for Mickelson. But more on that later...

9. Jim Furyk

BMW Championship, Conway Farms, 2nd round, 9th hole, 2nd shot

Furyk embraces caddie Mike "Fluff" Cowan after completing his 59 © Getty Images
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Fast forward eight months to the BMW Championship at Conway Farms and Furyk did become the sixth player to card that magic 59.

Standing on the middle of the 72nd fairway with a wedge in his hand, the American needed to get up and down to earn his place in history.

He made no mistake, stiffing a gutsy approach to just two feet to set up a tap-in.

Remarkably, it could have been even better as Furyk became the first person to shoot 59 with a bogey on his card.

8. Matt Wheatcroft

British Par-3 Championship, Nailcote Hall, 1st round, hole unknown, 2nd shot

"I tell you what, Mickelson couldn't have done it."

Former Ryder Cup star Brian Barnes gushes over Matt Wheatcroft's shot at the British Par-3 Championship after the Derbyshire businessman, competing in the pro-celeb-am event at Nailcote Hall, rifled his ball into a fence post before watching it drop within inches of the pin.

The video of the shot went viral and will leave every club golfer believing that, rightly or wrongly, they can do anything.

7. Jordan Spieth

John Deere Classic, TPC Deere Run, 4th round, 18th hole, 3rd shot

2013 has been a remarkable year for 20-year-old, who turned professional barely 12 months ago.

Playing early-season tournaments as an invitee, Spieth earned Special Temporary Member status on the PGA Tour thanks to top-10 finishes at the Puerto Rico Open, Tampa Bay Championship and RBC Heritage.

Spieth's remarkable run continued, notching three more top-10s before clinching his first title to become the first teenager to win on the PGA Tour in 82 years. The victory propelled Spieth, who went on to finish second in the season-ending Tour Championship and clinch eighth place on the PGA Tour money list. Not bad for a season in which he started with no playing status.

But it might not have been but for a remarkable bunker shot at the 72nd regulation hole at TPC Deere Run. Spieth splashed from the greenside trap and watched on as his ball bounced once, cannoned into the flagstick and dropped straight into the cup.

The birdie moved Spieth to 19-under par, a score matched by Zach Johnson and David Hearn. Spieth won the play-off and the rest, they say, is history.

6. Matthew Fitzpatrick

US Amateur, Brookline, 2nd round, 15th hole, 4th shot

Fitzpatrick shows off the Havemeyer Trophy © Getty Images
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The 18-year-old thrust himself into the attention of the watching world by becoming just one of two amateurs to make the cut at the Open Championship at Muirfield.

But it was at the US Amateur a month later where we all started to really stand up and take notice.

Facing Australian Oliver Goss in the 36-hole match-play final at Brookline, home of Francis Ouimet's infamous US Open win precisely 100 years before, it was a closely-fought encounter until midway through the second round when Fitzpatrick edged clear.

And then, on the 33rd hole of the match, the Sheffield teenager curled home an eight-foot par putt to clinch the match 4&3 and become the first Englishman to win the amateur game's most prestigious title since Harold Hilton in 1911.

5. Phil Mickelson

The Open Championship, Muirfield, 4th round, 17th hole, 2nd shot

Mickelson slots in again halfway down our countdown with the shot that enabled him to get his hands on the Claret Jug for the first time and edged him one step closer to the career grand slam.

Co-leader at 1-under par with two holes to play, Mickelson found the middle of the fairway with his drive at the par-5 17th.

What happened next was quite remarkable.

With more than 300-yards left to the green, the 43-year-old pulled out his trusty 3-wood and unleashed the most outrageous shot that soared through the East Lothian air before taking a hop, skip and jump before settling on the dance floor.

Mickelson two-putted his way into the lead and cruised to another birdie down 18 to leave his opponents in his dust. But who knows what might have happened if he hadn't hit that career 3-wood, which you can see at 4:10 in this short highlights package:

4. Justin Rose

US Open, Merion, 4th round, 18th hole, 2nd shot

It is all too easy for players to crumble under this kind of pressure - particularly when they haven't been in this position in a major championship before. (Jean van der Velde, anyone?)

The flag position on 18 was absurd and no one had made birdie on it all day. With this knowledge, Rose knew that one final par would all-but seal the his maiden major and an Englishman's first US Open victory since Tony Jacklin in 1970.

But do not underestimate the guts it took to pull off this shot. 4-iron in hand, Rose struck the ball as sweetly as he'll ever hit it and left himself 10-feet to two-putt his way to the title.

The most clutch iron shot of the year.

3. Tiger Woods

The Masters, Augusta, 2nd round, 15th hole, 3rd shot

The shot heard round the world.

The drop that cost Tiger a shot at the Masters? © Getty Images
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Playing Augusta's 15th hole during the second round of The Masters, the world No. 1 lasered a wedge at the flag-stick - and subsequently hit it.

The ball pinged back into the water protecting the front side of the green and Woods is forced to take a drop and try again. This time he puts it a couple of inches left of the flag and gets away with a bogey.

But in his post-round interview, Woods admitted that he stepped back a few feet in order to allow a fuller shot into the green. But that is not allowed and one eagle-eared viewer called tournament officials to make them aware.

Luckily for Woods, the rules had been changed just months before to protect players from being disqualified should they accidentally sign for an incorrect score. In this case, Woods was not aware he had breached the rules.

The critics were up in arms. "Any other player would have been disqualified!" they squawked, while Woods' fans calmly informed them of the aforementioned rule change.

But, most importantly, it was the moment it became apparent that Woods was not going to add to his tally of 14 major titles. Yet.

=1. Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera

The Masters, Augusta, 4th round, 18th hole, 3rd shot (Scott), 2nd shot (Cabrera)

We've gone for a joint winner of the award of most important golf shot of 2013, because how do you separate these two? Allow me to go into story-telling mode...

It was the most thrilling of finishes at The Masters in April. As the rain drenches Augusta and all who accommodate golf's most sacred grounds, Angel Cabrera stands in the middle of the fairway on the 18th hole on the final day, a second green jacket within his grasp.

The larger-than-life Argentinean watches on as, up ahead of him, the only man standing between him and that famous coat, Australian Adam Scott, stands over a 25-footer for birdie. The whole world watches on, too scared to even blink. The ball hits the back of the cup and drops. Scott erupts. Augusta erupts. Australia erupts. "Come on, Aussie!" he screams, before sharing hugs and high-fives with those closest to him.

But Cabrera is the calmest man on the planet. He waits for the celebrations to pass and weighs up the challenge ahead. Scott's putt means he must get up and down from 160-odd yards. He turns to the crowd and issues a gentle "quiet please". He takes a couple of practice swings and wastes no time in addressing his ball and hitting one of the sweetest approach shots you are ever likely witness under that kind of pressure. He leaves barely three-feet to force the play-off.

As we all know, Scott went on to win sport's most famous item of clothing, but this was without doubt the most exhilarating passage of play in golf this year, crowned by these two incredible shots played under unenviable pressure. Just thinking about it still sends a shiver down the spine.

If you have some time spare, this video is well worth 20 minutes of your day:

Alex Perry tweets at @AlexPerryESPN

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