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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8. Jerry Pate-1976 U.S. Open, Atlanta Athletic Club, 18th hole

22-year-old rookie Jerry Pate was in contention all week at the 1976 U.S. Open in Atlanta. He carded a 1-over 71 on Thursday, good for a tie for seventh, three shots behind amateur Mike Reid. He followed it up with a 69 on Friday to get to even for the tournament, closing the gap to two shots behind leader John Mahaffey and maintained that position heading into the final round.

Mahaffey still led by two after 14 holes on Sunday but Pate got within one by sticking a 1-iron (remember when players still used those?) on the 15th and converted the short birdie putt. Mahaffey then bogeyed the 16th, which left the two in a tie and Pate took a one-stroke lead after another untimely bogey from Mahaffey on 17.

Both found the rough off the tee on the 460-yard, par-4 finishing hole and after Mahaffey found the water on an aggressive second shot, Pate stepped up and played the same way, deciding to go for it and seal the victory, which he did with a beautiful five-iron from 191 yards. The ball did indeed clear the water, stopping just three feet from the hole and Pate knocked in the birdie for the first and only major championship win of his career.

He tied for second at the U.S. Open three years later but shoulder injuries would get the better of him and he didn’t win a PGA TOUR event past the age of 28 but his shot at the 1976 U.S. Open remains one of the best of all time.