Tiger's tank-top, Phil's "worm," and an actual wild goose chase: The top 10 buzzworthy golf moments of 2018
So far, we at Golf Digest have given you the newsmakers of the year and the feel-good stories of the year, but I promise you, the buzzworthy golf moments of the year will be totally different! Well, other than Ho-sung Choi, who deserves to be on every single non-WAGs-related year-end list. Our favorite follow-though in golf makes this exclusive cut as do several other familiar faces, but for single moments that caused a stir rather than their overall body of work. So follow along as we count down this top 10 of our favorite viral moments of 2018. That is, our top nine plus Ho-sung Choi. Obviously.
10. Dustin’s drive
The first tournament of 2018 produced the most jaw-dropping shot of the year when Dustin Johnson nearly made a hole-in-one on a 433-yard par 4 during the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Yep, a 433(!)-yard par 4. Here’s proof, not that you need it since this was replayed more times on Golf Channel in January than The Legend of Bagger Vance:
Fellow players, fans and pundits rightly lost their minds over this close call from a quarter of a mile away. And Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee even called it "the greatest shot” in golf history.
Of course, that take was rebuked pretty harshly, but we'll leave all Chamblee social media reaction to our year-end list of Twitter spats. Bottom line, DJ hit an outrageously good shot.
9. Steph Curry’s round
Celebrity golfers made quite an impact this year from John Smoltz qualifying for the U.S. Senior Open to Tony Romo making his PGA Tour debut to Larry Fitzgerald having his handicap questioned following a dominant performance at Pebble Beach. Seriously, Larry? A 10.6? But none of those guys quite caught the attention of golf fans as Stephen Curry during the opening round of the Ellie Mae Classic. Playing as a sponsor’s invite in the Web.com Tour event for a second consecutive year, Curry was firing at flagsticks with the same precision he usually displays when shooting a basketball, and he had people scrambling to find coverage of the tournament (again, a Web.com Tour event on a Thursday to all the haters who somehow think his presence is a bad thing for golf) as he flirted with breaking 70.
Amazing stuff from Steph. Unfortunately, a three-putt par on the last resulted in a one-over round of 71, but what an impressive effort for a guy who doesn't do this for a living.
8. Phil’s dancing
It was an interesting year for Phil Mickelson between ending a long winless drought, hitting a moving ball, joining social media for the sole purpose of promoting THE MATCH against Tiger Woods, and then winning THE MATCH and its $9 million prize so we don’t have to worry about Phil feeding his family this Christmas. But nothing was quite as grabby as this Mizzen+Main commercial in which he showed off a variety of surprisingly nimble dance moves:
Big hat tip to Amy Mickelson who got the ball rolling on this. "Amy said, 'You should just tell them that you know how to do the worm,'" Mickelson told reporters after the opening round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. "So after she said that, it was over, we were doing it." And thus, multiple memes, imitations, and deep think pieces (OK, maybe not the last one) were spawned. Thanks, Phil, for continuing to be golf's content king.
7. Michigan golf's goose chase
As in an actual goose chase, just with the goose doing the chasing of some poor, unsuspecting high school golfer in Michigan. It's not quite as horrifying as the scene from Planet Earth II: Islands in which all those snakes chase that iguana (Seriously, that gives me nightmares), but it's still pretty scary:
This couldn’t quite, um, flap its way to the top of our list, but there were no better photos taken on a golf course in 2018. And thankfully, we can laugh about it because no one was hurt. Or pooped on. Well, we're not 100 percent sure about the latter. And while we're on the topic of crapping on things. . .
6. Reed’s Fenway tickets
Only Patrick Reed could lose more fans than he gained during a year in which he won the Masters, but that’s exactly what he did thanks to a series of non-PR-savvy decisions that included a post-Ryder Cup meltdown. We’ve decided to focus on Reed’s experience as a fan, though, which came at a Boston Red Sox game. Reed publicly complained about his seats in Fenway Park’s “line drive section” (There is no such thing) to the PGA Tour and the Red Sox and hinted he got different treatment from fellow tour pros in attendance. And he did it with an accompanying photo of he and his wife, Justine, smiling, which just added to the deliciousness of it all:
Needless to say, a mega-rich athlete bitching about complimentary tickets to a sporting event in one of the country's most sacred venues did NOT go over well. Don't expect to see Reed throwing out the first pitch at Fenway Park anytime soon.
5. Bryson’s meltdown
Somehow, this video captured during the British Open of Bryson on the practice range didn’t start spreading around the Internet until about a week after it occurred. But once it did, like Newton’s First Law of Motion (sort of) states, it's inertia couldn't be stopped (Hopefully, Bryson likes my attempt at a physics reference):
To be clear, I have no problem with the way Bryson acted in this clip nor am I making fun of him. The young star was clearly struggling with something in his game — and possibly a shoulder injury suffered the week before — at one of the year’s biggest events and he let his emotions run. I actually think the video is awesome, because it serves as a reminder that these guys aren’t robots and that doing incredible things on the golf course isn’t as easy for them as they often make it look. What’s also great about this is that a couple months after this, DeChambeau caught fire, winning two FedEx Cup Playoff events and then his lone official start of the 2018-2019 season in Vegas. And now I'm definitely going to incorporate some range meltdowns into my game next year.
4. The Golden Bear's grandson's ace
Jack Nicklaus has won 18 majors, including slipping on the green jacket six times, during his illustrious career, but his "No. 1 moment in golf" came courtesy of grandson Gary, better known as GT. The 15-year-old caddied for Jack during this year's Masters Par 3 contest and took what has become a customary shot for loopers in the event on the ninth and final hole. What's not customary is that subbed-in player making a hole-in-one, however, but that's exactly what GT did, drawing hugs from three of golf's biggest legends (Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson) and possibly the loudest ovation in Par 3 history. Check it out:
GT's ace was also celebrated far and wide on social media as golf fans scrambled to learn more about the (strapping) young lad. Turns out, he's a plus-2 handicap (his full game was on display at the PNC Father/Son Challenge, but he might be even more talented behind the microphone with a guitar in his hands:
He's positively dreamy, isn't he? The Golden Bear may have more hardware, but the Golden Voice is going to get more female attention in college. Speaking of voices. . .
3. Golf's Frank Caliendo(s)
OK, so technically, this isn't a moment, but a collection of moments created by two very talented. . . artists? Yes, we're going with artists. First, no one had us laughing more in 2018 than Connor Moore. An impressionist who focused more on copying voices — and laughter (Sorry, Sergio) — Moore first went viral in the U.S. (his soccer-related work was pretty well-known in Ireland and the UK) with this hysterical Masters preview video in which he plays 11 different players (plus swing coach/analyst Butch Harmon) in a span of two minutes:
Moore’s video won him scores of fans and eventually even earned him a gig with Golf Channel. And having met Moore a couple times, his impressions are just as funny in person. Then there's Jack Bartlett, who went viral imitating the swings — and mannerisms — of some of golf’s biggest stars. It started with this flawless execution of Dustin Johnson:
But there were also hilarious renditions of Keegan Bradley:
And Bubba Watson:
That is some serious physical talent. But seriously, why doesn't he just swing like DJ all the time? Has he not seen that near ace on a 433-yard par 4?
2. Tiger’s entrances
Tiger Woods was the biggest story in golf (sports?) in 2018 so there were a lot of things we could have focused on here, but we’re going with the Big Cat’s big entrances at tournaments. Two in particular that jump out came on Sundays at the PGA Championship and the Tour Championship, where he had fans in a frenzy hours before he teed off. Here's Woods arriving at Bellerive, where he wound up shooting 63 to nearly track down Brooks Koepka:
And here he is showing up to East Lake GUNZ blazing before putting away his first PGA Tour title in more than five years:
What. A. Stud. Unfortunately, I didn't draw quite the same reaction when I tanked up on my way to work the following day:
Too intimidating, I guess. Anyway, the non-existent award for our favorite buzzworthy golf moment of the year goes to. . .
1. Ho-sung Choi’s swing
As if this could end any other way. No golfer had so many U.S. fans up at all hours of the night than this late bloomer from South Korea, who lost a thumb as a teen in a factory accident and didn’t start playing golf until he was in his 20s. Now 45, Choi's crazy/hysterical/great swing first went viral during the Korean Open:
Unfortunately, Choi couldn’t close out that tournament to earn a spot in the British Open, but he won a second career Japan Golf Tour event in November with two of the wildest clutch shots on a finishing hole you’ll ever see:
And his reactions on the green might be even better!
I'm not sure how this guy escaped widespread attention for so long, but I know one thing for sure. If Augusta National Golf Club is truly serious about growing the game, it will extend this dude a 2019 Masters invite.