The absolute worst shanks, chunks, duffs and golf shots of 2014
Golf pros are always hitting amazing shots, so why not review the year with the “Best of” the bad ones? These are the most excruciating and amusing shots we remember from this season.
For several years now, one of the PGA Tour’s main marketing slogans is “These Guys are Good.” And they are. Every season, every month, every week, and every round, the average hacker fan will repeatedly see shots they can only dream of making. But because they’re so good — all of them — it’s often the horrendous shanks, chunks, flubs, and duffs that you see regularly from a weekend chop at your local course (it’s you) that entertain us most.
These shots from the best in the world are often more startling than the aces or hole-outs, and they’re definitely the shots that make us laugh. Remember when Steve Stricker, in contention at the U.S. Open at Merion, simply forgot how to swing a club and sprayed his ball sharply across the fairway and out of bounds? We do, and probably more so than any shot eventual winner Justin Rose hit in his final round (the shot tracer technology that’s used now didn’t help).
A second view of Steve Stricker’s shot tracer pic.twitter.com/oiAnTLue82
— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) June 16, 2013
We do our best to catch as many of the horrendous shots shown each week on various Tours. There was an ample offering of ghastly shots this year, many from the best players in the world on the stateside PGA Tour. We tried to pare it down to the ones that went beyond poor and would have a high-handicapper shaking his head, cursing, or throwing his club. So instead of some “Best Of” list to remember the year, we decided to embrace, enjoy, and revel in the awful.
Scott Brown shanks it into the Maui mountainside
We’ll start with the first tournament of the year, last January’s Tournament of Champions in Maui. Scott Brown is a relatively unknown player, and was a longshot to win this limited-field event of the previous season’s champions. So this shot flew under the radar a bit, but we didn’t forget about this early season rocket off the side of the mountain at Kapalua.
A video posted by Brendan Porath (@brendan_porath) on Jan 1, 2014 at 2:26pm PST
Stacy Lewis tops it
This shot was so shocking because it came from the No. 1 player in the world and at an LPGA major championship. Michelle Wie had the best year of her career, but Lewis remains the top American woman in the game. It’s difficult to take a wood off the deck, especially from what looked like a downhill lie. But this top right into the turf still makes you yelp out loud.
Russell Henley whiffs
There are always plenty of misadventures at the Open Championship, which presents a style of course that much of the field rarely plays. The 2014 Open featured many horrible shots — Tiger Woods bounced a drive off a marshal’s face, popped up a 3-wood, and yanked it into the gallery on several occasions. So there was a lot to choose from in just the Tiger library, but the roughest pass came from Russell Henley, whose ball actually went backwards as his club breezed on by. It can be tough hitting an accurate shot out of that Open fescue and heather, but you have to at least advance it somewhere, anywhere.
Ernie Els checks out
While Henley may have had the uglier result taking a full swing, no one had it worse on the green than Ernie Els. This sequence didn’t make you laugh as much as cringe for Els, who was a bit shaken after clocking a fan on his opening drive. The putter has always given Els trouble, but this three-putt from inside two-feet on the very first green of his week essentially ended his tournament right from the start.
Richard Lee uses 2 different clubs to miss the ball twice
We’ve seen plenty of bizarre things happen at the famous island 17th green at TPC Sawgrass, but this was a first. With his ball close to the collar of the fringe and a small patch of thicker grass bordering the island green, Lee tried to delicately nudge it onto the putting surface. He moved his ball only an inch or so on the first try, regrouped, took a new club, and did it again. It’s hard to land safely on the island and then take three strokes just to get on the green, but Lee did it.
Tiger is 45 yards short on a simple par-3
There were many to choose from with Tiger this past year, the worst of his career. He was wild off the tee, inconsistent with his irons, and shaky with his putter. He said he was healthy at Firestone until he “jarred” his back on Sunday. This came before that injury, and was just a basic 5-iron shot off the tee on a course he’s owned and a hole he knows exactly how to play. But Tiger didn’t even come close to the green, leaving it 45 yards short on a part of mowed down grass that isn’t really in play for the Tour pros. The “goddddd dammitttt” as he follows through still didn’t prepare you for how short it would come up on this par-3.
Tiger forgets how to use a wedge
Tiger’s Hero World Challenge was technically part of his calendar year, but for him, it was a reboot and a chance to test out a new swing for the upcoming season. The swing did not look too bad, but his repeated chunked and duffed chips were the takeaway highlights from his return after almost four months away. These were chunks you might see once a season from Tiger, but it kept happening and happening, and sometimes on the same hole and in the same round. Adam Sarson compiled one main GIF of 9 separate horrid chunks, which almost look like replays of the same shot. But the worst probably came on the 13th hole, where he flubbed one just a couple yards moments after watching his first attempt roll back to his feet.
Shot tracer is unkind to Sergio
The precocious Spaniard was once again a pest for the European side in another Ryder Cup rout of the Americans. But at least we got a bit of momentary schadenfreude and were able to laugh at this miserable hook out of bounds. The shot tracer is what does it … wheeeeeeeee, and you’re off the golf course.
The Justin Rose chunk-toss combo
Just a couple months earlier in Tampa Bay, we thought we’d witnessed Justin Rose hit what had to be the worst chunk of his career. But this one at the U.S. Open was a work of art, the best of the year. Rose’s instantaneous follow-through club toss makes it a masterpiece.
The Stenson shank
This was our favorite bad shot of the year. It came at Doral at one of the bigger early-season events. Henrik Stenson was coming off a dominating finish to 2013, becoming the first person to sweep both the FedEx Cup Playoffs on the PGA Tour and the Euro Tour’s postseason Race to Dubai. That run made him obscenely wealthy and also arguably the best player in the world at the top of the 2014 season. To see this happen to that talent was astonishing.
Shanks happen on Tour. But it’s much more common to see them with a mid-iron off a full swing from the middle of the fairway or off the tee. Stenson was just 138 yards out, holding a wedge, and taking a relatively easy pass at the ball. He might miss the green, but certainly he’d get it close. Instead, he didn’t even put it in the general direction of the green. This tour de force of abomination promptly rocketed right, cracked off a cart path, and bounded into some native South Florida junk. It was the shank of 2014 and it came from one of the best players on the planet.
We recall these not out of cruelty, but appreciation. They are entertaining and are often the only way our games relate to these pros, who almost always laughed at these sequences afterwards. These guys all hit incredible golf shots all year long, so a Best Of list might as well commemorate the spectacularly bad moments. It was a wonderful year for great bad shots and here’s hoping 2015 can match it.