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

Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports /
3 of 11

Embed from Getty Images

9. (tie) Bobby Jones-1929 U.S. Open, Winged Foot, 18th hole

Larry Nelson, 1983 U.S. Open, Oakmont, 16th hole

Here’s your little bonus that I mentioned earlier. Both of these shots needed to be on this list and I didn’t want to exclude Arnold Palmer from the list so I decided to go ahead and put these in the number nine spot.

Bobby Jones is one of the biggest stars the sport has ever seen and by the time he got to Winged Foot in 1929, the best amateur golfer the world has ever known had already won a U.S. Open, having emerged victorious at Inwood Country Club in 1923. When he came to the 18th hole of the final round in 1929, the three-stroke lead he’d held over Gene Sarazen and the four-shot lead over Al Espinosa heading into the final 18 holes was gone.

However, he still just needed to play the final four holes in 3-over to win but a disastrous triple at 15 and a bogey at 16 knocked him out of the lead. A par at 17 left him tied with Espinosa and he needed a par at the last to force a 36-hole playoff on Sunday. But his second shot found the bunker and he needed to get up and in and did just that, holing a massive left-to-right 12-footer to tie. Jones would go on to win the playoff by 23 strokes.

Unfortunately, there’s really no video of three-time major champion Larry Nelson’s shot on the 18th hole at Oakmont at the 1983 U.S. Open — it’s tacked on to the end of the 1982 U.S. Open footage — but golf historians everywhere will tell you that his putt on the 16th hole during the final round is one of the best in U.S. Open history. Trailing by seven shots after 36 holes, Nelson shot a 65 on Saturday to close the gap to one shot and continued to play well in the final round, tying leader Tom Watson with a birdie on the 14th.

As he prepared to play the 16th, a storm rolled through and play was suspended until Monday morning. Nelson didn’t hit the greatest approach shot but then drilled the multi-tiered 60-foot putt for birdie. He would go on to win by one stroke and his weekend total of 132 remains the best final two rounds in U.S. Open history.