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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6. Hale Irwin-1990 U.S. Open, Medinah, 18th hole

In 1990, 45-year-old Hale Irwin came to the U.S. Open on a special exemption from the USGA but was given no real chance to win. He had won the tournament twice before (1974, 1979) but hadn’t won on the PGA TOUR in five years and his week at Medinah was almost looked at as a bit of a swan song. However, Irwin had other ideas.

He opened his week with a 3-under 69 and trailed the leaders by three strokes. He followed up with a 70 on Friday to move into a tie for fifth and kept within striking distance on Moving Day with a 2-over 74, trailing leaders Billy Ray Brown and Mike Donald by four strokes heading into the final round. However, he had 19 players ahead of him on the leaderboard on Sunday but that didn’t matter.

After going out in 1-over 37, Irwin was brilliant on the back nine, shooting 5-under in eight holes before heading to the par-4 finishing hole. His approach shot wasn’t the greatest and he was left with 45 feet to shoot 67 but that didn’t bother him one bit. When you’re hot, every putt seems to want to go in and that’s exactly what happened. He hit a beautiful putt that ever-so-softly dropped into the cup and Irwin couldn’t contain his excitement and took a victory lap around the 18th green in one of the most thrilling moments in U.S. Open history.

Irwin still had to wait for the leaders to finish and Donald actually had a chance to win on the 18th but a two-putt par forced an 18-hole playoff on Monday, a playoff that turned out to be 19 holes for the first time in tournament history. Donald had a two-shot lead with three to play but Irwin birdied the 16th following a solid 2-iron. Both made par on 17 and Donald once again had a chance to win at the 18th but his par putt just missed and Irwin birdied the first playoff hole to take home his third U.S. Open title.