I always measure years by the moments that made them. For golf in 2016, there were a lot of incredible shots, titillating stretches and plenty of heartbreak. The 10 moments below might not have been the 10 most important or the 10 that will lay the foundation for the future. But they are certainly the 10 I'll think of when I think of this year.
1. The eighth hole at the Ryder Cup
I stood next to Tiger Woods as Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed traded historic birdies and swagged their way into Ryder Cup lore. As soon as Reed's putt fell and he finger-wagged the best player alive to his face, this immediately moved to No. 1 on the list and had no chance of being usurped.
Patrick "Dikembe Mutombo" Reed ... ☝️— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 2, 2016
It has a nice ring to it. https://t.co/4P3lFmXJgO
2. Jordan Spieth on No. 12 at Augusta
For better or worse (better for Danny Willett, worse for Spieth), this one is ingrained in my memory. It's not even the tee shot I'll remember. It's the second one. The chili dip right into the water en route to Masters heartbreak. That one is seared into my mind forever. A thick cloud of perspiration, alcohol and pine needle dust engulfed the patrons who pressed into Amen Corner for a look at history. They were given history, all right, just not the kind they expected.
3. Dustin Johnson's shot into No. 18 at Oakmont
In terms of actual golf shots, this was the shot of the year for me. Johnson had so much to lose and was dragging so much baggage around Oakmont. To stick one like this to win the U.S. Open is outrageous. But he did it. His outrageously athletic swing finally met its potential, and he finally swigged alcohol from a major championship trophy.
4. The entire final round of the Open
Henrik Stenson shot a 63 in the final round of the 2016 Open Championship to win at Royal Troon. He beat Phil Mickelson, who shot a 65. There were not any super memorable shots from one of the great rounds in recorded history, but this walk-in birdie putt by Stenson was probably my favorite. He simply could not miss. The entire round should go in a museum somewhere, though. It was jut four straight hours of unadulterated golf bliss.
5. Phil Mickelson's putt for 62 at Royal Troon
Probably the most memorable single moment (although not the biggest) of the tournament, however, was Mickelson's lip-out for 62 on Thursday at Royal Troon. The first 62 in major championship history was not to be had ... yet.
When you're carrying an entire country on your back for long periods of time, sometimes a guy just has to let it go. Reed's hole-out as he dragged Jordan Spieth around Hazeltine was one of a dozen unbelievable moments from the 2016 Ryder Cup. If Reed introduced himself to the Ryder Cup universe in 2014, he made sure his star wouldn't set for another decade (at least) this time around.
7. Dustin Johnson's grounded putter
It wasn't a very memorable specific moment, but the aftermath was insane. Nobody knew what Dustin Johnson's score was as he prowled the back nine at Oakmont during the final round of the U.S. Open. Johnson grounded his putter on the fifth hole which (allegedly) caused his ball to move. There was controversy over whether he would be assessed a one-stroke penalty, which he was after the round. It turned out not to matter as he still won by three. And a "D.J. Rule" was eventually implemented. My favorite part of all of it might have been this tweet which Rory McIlroy landed right as Johnson ended his show on the 18th.
8. Rory McIlroy's $11.5 million club twirl
This got a little bit lost because of when it was, but I can assure you the moment itself was insane. McIlroy hit this shot into the first playoff hole and twirled his putter like he'd just taken $11.5 million (which he thought he had). Then, he missed the putt and had to wait another hour and several more playoff holes before dropping a putt in for the win.
The aforementioned Rory McIlroy club twirl can be seen here: https://t.co/UHaUMgT58D— GOLF.com (@golf_com) September 25, 2016
9. Rory's eagle to win the Irish Open
This was not a PGA Tour event and was not even a big European Tour event, but McIlroy hitting this 3-wood in this spot to win a national open he was hosting was incredible. The emotion that flowed from the Ulsterman afterward was equally stunning. You could tell it meant the world to him to win this tournament in this fashion. I came out of my seat when he hit it and screamed when it landed. What a swing. What a shot.
10. Jason Day's eagle at the 72nd hole at Baltusrol
Another one that was largely forgotten because Day didn't win, but this shot made the 2016 PGA Championship. It forced some pressure on Jimmy Walker and infused the tournament with a little drama after we got basically nothing for the first four rounds. This is definitely a moment I won't soon forget.