When those big gambles pay off on TOUR

'Let's see what he can do'

Tiger Woods' shot from a fairway bunker at the 2000 Bell Canadian Open was a big gamble that goes down as one of his greatest shots.
October 16, 2013

With the PGA TOUR in Las Vegas this week for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, it only seemed natural to explore the world of gambling on the PGA TOUR.

No, we're not talking about friendly wagers during practice rounds. Nor are we talking about cutting-edge apparel, or a swing or equipment change after a successful year.

Instead, we're focusing on players who took a gamble with a particular shot ... and won. The player who opted for the high risk/high reward shot instead of the conservative play and came away with a big payout. And we didn't limit ourselves to Vegas-only tournaments. The best players in the world, after all, don't mind taking risks at any tournament and at any time.

We asked several staffers on the PGA TOUR for their help. Tom Alter, the TOUR's unofficial historian, weighed in with his random thoughts:

Instead of laying up out of the fairway bunker, Tiger Woods hits it right at the flag across a pond on the 72nd hole at Glen Abbey in Canada en route to victory at the 2000 Bell Canadian Open (video above) Watch the video
Phil the Thrill hits his second shot at No. 10 in the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship in 2007 through the trees onto the green en route to victory (tells his caddie Bones that he didn't want to tell him how small a hole he had in the trees because Bones would have tried to talk him out of trying the shot) Watch the video
Phil through the trees at Augusta National's 13th hole in the final round to set up easy birdie en route to 2010 Masters win  
Instead of taking a drop, Bill Haas hits ball out of the water in 2011 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola playoff and eventually wins the tournament and the FedExCup (although I don't know if it was much of a gamble because he pretty much had to do it to keep up with Hunter Mahan in the playoff) Watch the video
Kyle Stanley decides not to take a drop and plays a ball from under a cactus on the 71st hole at TPC Scottsdale; chips onto green and makes birdie en route to victory at the 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open Watch the video
Up against a tree, Sergio Garcia closes his eyes and slices a ball onto the green at Medinah to keep the pressure on Tiger Woods; ultimately finishes second at the 1999 PGA Championship Watch the video
Gary Player took on a tree and a pond from the deep rough at Oakland Hill's 16th hole and hit the shot over the trees and across the pond to a couple of feet; his birdie helped him win the 1972 PGA Championship  
Bubba Watson tries wicked hook shot from woods on second extra hole of the 2012 Masters; pulls it off for victory  
David Toms gambles on himself by laying up at the 72nd hole at Atlanta CC; still makes par to win the PGA Championship  


'Imagination incredible'

Phil Mickelson seems to take more gambles than anybody else on TOUR ... and he usually pulls them off. David Logue, Executive Producer for Multimedia, thinks Mickelson's decision in the 2012 HP Byron Nelson Championship to use a 3-wood to find the green instead of safely wedging it back on the fairway is typical of Phil's gambling style.

We asked our followers on Twitter for their input. Check out this response:

'Trick shot stuff'

PGATOUR.COM producer Ryan Smithson suggested this gamble by Steve Marino at the 2011 Sony Open in Hawaii. After Marino's tee shot found the bunker, he opted to use a 3-wood from an awkward stance instead of chipping back on the fairway. His decision paid off.



Multimedia content manager Jason Boddy cited the decision made by Vijay Singh at THE PLAYERS Championship in 2001.

Singh was making a final-round charge to catch Tiger Woods when his second shot at the par-5 16th came to rest against the collar of the green. He decided he couldn’t really putt it nor chip it. So he flipped his putter on its side and used the toe to nudge the ball toward the hole – and in for a remarkable eagle. He finished in second place, just one shot back.

That shot was one of the 40 most dramatic moments in PLAYERS history. Click here to check out the full list.


Two gambles came to mind for multimedia producer Ryan Stone.

One was Arnold Palmer's attempt to drive the green on his opening hole in the final round of the 1960 U.S. Open. Palmer pulled off the shot at Cherry Hills and eventually rallied from seven shots down, shooting 65 to win.

Palmer's 1960 U.S. Open win is referenced in this video on the 10 essential things you need to know about him.

The second was Lon Hinkle's intentional skip shot off water at Firestone in the 1979 World Series of Golf. Using a hooded 6-iron at the 16th hole in the second round, Hinkle deliberately aimed at the water, pulled off the shot, saved par and eventually won the tournament.

"Sometimes you just have to invent a shot," Hinkle told Sports Illustrated in explaining the shot. "You don't go out and practice skipping the ball over the water, but when you've got a bare lie and you can get to the ball, and when your other choice is to play backwards, it seems worth the gamble. Maybe it was dumb."

Hinkle's shot can be seen on the top 10 shots at Firestone Country Club.



A few of PGA TOUR's facebook friends also weighed in with their opinions.

Don McCracken
David Feherty letting John Daly hit driver with the ball teed up in his mouth. All risk, zero reward.

Robert Bradley Cressor
The Jimenez stone wall shot at the British Open a few years back was quite the gamble

Cameron Carter
Tigers chip in at the 17th at Torrey Pines. US OPEN 2008

Jill Mohnen Hartjes
Seve Ballesteros's shot on his knees through the trees at the '97 French Open! Amazing!