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EXCERPT | June 26, 1995
Corey Pavin won the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills
Widely regarded as the best player never to have won a major, Pavin teed off at the par-4 18th on the Open's final day with a one-stroke lead over Greg Norman, who was back on 16. Pavin chose a four-wood for his second swing, a 228-yard blind uphill shot to the hole. Rick Reilly reported for SI.
Pavin took a rip and knew he'd flushed it. Of course, proving he'd flushed it was another matter. Because he is short and the hole was so high, Pavin had to run to see the ball land. So he sprinted after the shot as though he wanted it back. "The ball was blocking out the flagstick," he says, "and I thought, Oh, man, that thing might go in!" It didn't, but it rolled to within five feet of the hole. Talk about your Heaven Wood.
Pavin was so overcome by the moment that it nearly felled him. He raised his fists, then stopped in his tracks and squatted in the middle of the fairway to catch his breath, say a prayer and compose himself. "I let my emotions get loose," he said. "I had to get them back inside me."
If Pavin's wasn't the Greatest 72nd Hole Shot in U.S. Open History, it's in contention. If they ever build a case for such things, Pavin's four-wood should go in there with Ben Hogan's one-iron (from Merion), Jack Fleck's seven-iron (from Olympic) and Jerry Pate's five-iron (from Atlanta). For sure, Pavin's is the Greatest Uphill Metal Wood Ever Hit by a Guy Who Had to Run to See the Hole.
Norman bogeyed the 17th hole, and Pavin won his only major title by two strokes. Pavin, now 50, is the captain of the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
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Photograph by BOB MARTIN
LITTLE BIG MAN The 5'9" Pavin was notoriously short off the tee—he ranked 150th on the PGA Tour in driving distance—but that was a bonus at Shinnecock, where winds swirled all weekend.
SHEEDY & LONG
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