Hal Sutton on the real reason for that Tiger-Phil pairing, which equipment change had the biggest effect, and "Be the right club today!"

February 24, 2020

Al Messerschmidt

For most golfers, winning a major championship would be the crowning achievement in a career. For Hal Sutton, he's most proud of a victory in the game's next-biggest event. And it's certainly what golf fans remember most about the 14-time PGA Tour winner.

There aren't a lot of people who can say they beat Tiger Woods during his historic 2000 season. There are even fewer who can claim they beat the superstar head-to-head in the final group. But that's exactly what Sutton did at the 2000 Players Championship, holding off the future 15(and counting)-time major champ by a shot at TPC Sawgrass. Because of the trajectory of Tiger's career, Sutton even ranks that victory ahead of his one-shot win over Jack Nicklaus at the 1983 PGA Championship.

"At the time, he had turned back everybody on Sunday because, I guess they succumbed to—the world didn't think anybody could beat him," Sutton said of winning his second Players title in 2000. "They spent all night Saturday night saying how foolish I was for thinking I could beat him. It got so frustrating it was unbelievable. So that's why it was my biggest win."

That win also produced one of the most well-known—and most copied—phrases in golf. As Sutton's approach on the final hole sailed toward a dangerous back flag, he yelled, "Be the right club today!" It was. And as we near the 2020 Players, Sutton joined this week's Golf Digest Podcast (35:26) to talk about taking down Tiger and his famous catchphrase. The 61-year-old also discussed the reasoning behind that infamous Tiger-Phil pairing when he captained the 2004 Ryder Cup team, the equipment change he feels had the biggest effect on the pro game, and what he's up to these days.

Plus, Sam Weinman and Daniel Rapaport joined me to discuss Patrick Reed's WGC-Mexico win (10:27) and his bunker controversy that won't go away, Viktor Hovland's thrilling first pro win, and Daniel's debut as a PGA Tour caddie. Please have a listen: