U.S. Open: 10 most clutch shots of all time

Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports /
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10. Arnold Palmer-1960 U.S. Open, Cherry Hills, 1st hole

It’s hard to imagine that a shot at the first hole of the final round of the U.S. Open could be considered clutch, but there’s no denying that Arnold Palmer’s opening tee shot at the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills is one of the most important shots in the history of this great championship.

The 1960 U.S. Open is widely considered to be one of the best in history. Mike Souchak got off to a hot start, firing rounds of 68 and 67 to get to 7-under for the tournament after 36 holes. Little did the patrons know that they were in for a wild ride on the weekend. After two rounds, an amateur named Jack Nicklaus was seven shots back and 1960 Masters winner Arnold Palmer, who had already won five tournaments that year, was eight shots behind.

Souchak came back to the field on Saturday with a 73 and Nicklaus shot a 69 to pull within three. However, Palmer still couldn’t really get things going, carding a 72, and was still seven shots back heading into the final round, which was also played on Saturday as that was the format back then.

The 1st hole at Cherry Hills was a 346-yard par-4 and hadn’t been overly kind to Palmer that week. He actually started his tournament with a double-bogey on the hole after a wayward drive so when he stepped to the first tee for the final round, he was a little hesitant. But being behind seven strokes, he decided to let it rip and go for the green, figuring that if he could make birdie at the first, he could get on a roll and overcome the 14 players in front of him on the leaderboard. He was right.

He actually did drive the green, two-putted for a birdie and set up the best final round in U.S. Open history. He then chipped in on two for another birdie, made two more at the third and fourth holes and then added two more at six and seven on his way to a front-nine 30 and it all started with the confidence to go for the green at the first. Without that drive, he may not have gotten the momentum he did, may not have gone on to win his only U.S. Open and may not have become the Arnold Palmer that the world came to know and love.